Orlando, St. Pete, Tampa receive perfect HRC scores

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) announced Nov. 19 that the cities of Orlando, St. Petersburg and Tampa each received a perfect score of 100 in the organization’s eighth annual Municipal Equality Index (MEI).

The MEI examines how inclusive municipal laws, policies and services are for LGBTQ people who live and work in the 506 cities rated. The score is based on non-discrimination laws, the municipality as an employer, municipal services, law enforcement and the city leadership’s public position on equality.

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Central Florida, Tampa Bay mark Transgender Day of Remembrance 2019

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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LGBTQ community advocates and allies will gather for vigils throughout Central Florida and Tampa Bay Nov. 20 to mark Transgender Day of Remembrance 2019.

According to the Human Rights Campaign, at least 22 transgender and gender non-confirming people were killed in 2019. Equality Florida adds that since 2018, seven transgender women of color have been murdered in Florida, the most of any state in the country.

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Orange County Democrats rally against GOP as they look ahead to general elections

By : Jeremy Williams
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ABOVE: (L-R) OCDEC chairman Wes Hodge, DNC Secretary Jason Rae and FDP Chairwoman Terrie Rizzo at the OCDEC Masquerade Ball in Orlando. (Photo by Jeremy Williams)

ORLANDO | It was an evening of magic and masks as the Orange County Democratic Executive Committee (OCDEC) hosted its 2019 masquerade ball at The Mezz in Orlando Nov. 16.

While the atmosphere was one of celebration, the evening’s message was one of focus and readiness as the democratic speakers spoke of the dangers of the current administration.

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SMART Ride cycles into record-breaking 16th year

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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ABOVE: SMART Ride 16’s reveal banner, photo courtesy the SMART Ride’s Facebook page.

KEY WEST, Fla. | Organizers revealed Nov. 16 that SMART Ride 16 raised a record $1,325,427, 100% of which will be used for HIV/AIDS services throughout Florida.

The annual trek is a two-day, 165-mile bicycle ride from Miami to Key West. It is the nation’s second largest AIDS bicycle ride and the only one of its size to donate the entirety of funds raised to AIDS service organizations.

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onePULSE Foundation releases information on The 49 Legacy Scholarships program

By : Jeremy Williams
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ORLANDO | The onePULSE Foundation announced Nov. 18 that the application period for the inaugural 49 Legacy Scholarships will begin Dec. 1.

The 49 Legacy Scholarships program will award 49 individual scholarships annually — each up to $10,000 — for use at an accredited institution of higher learning, including career and technical schools.

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Morgan Unger and the cast of ‘Escape to Margaritaville’ bring Jimmy Buffett fun to Dr. Phillips Center

By : Jeremy Williams
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We may be heading into the holiday season, but this week it is all tropical getaways and beach weather at the Dr. Phillips Center in Orlando as the Fairwinds Broadway series presents “Escape to Margaritaville,” the Broadway musical based on the songs of Jimmy Buffett.

“Escape to Margaritaville” was first performed in San Diego in 2017 and is based on a book by Greg Garcia and Mike O’Malley. The show played in New Orleans, Houton and Chicago before making its Broadway stage debut in Feb. 2018.

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The Last Page: Lisa Brown and Dawn Kallio

By : Jeremy Williams
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The Last Page is dedicated to individuals who are making a positive impact on the LGBTQ community in Central Florida and Tampa Bay.

This issue, we check in with Bowled Over Promotions owners Lisa Brown and Dawn Kallio from Orlando. Keep an eye on this space to learn more about the movers and shakers of your community.

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LGBTQ community rallies behind former LGBT+ Center Orlando ED Terry DeCarlo after cancer diagnosis

By : Jeremy Williams
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(Photo from Ben Johansen’s Facebook page)

ORLANDO | Terry DeCarlo, the former executive director of the LGBT+ Center in Orlando who headed The Center in the aftermath of the Pulse tragedy, announced that he is battling Stage 4 neck and face cancer.

According to the Orlando Sentinel, DeCarlo underwent a 10 and a half-hour surgery Oct. 15 to remove the bulk of a tumor and to rebuild his face and jaw.

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Central Florida and Tampa Bay survivors of conversion therapy tell their stories

By : Holly V. Kapherr
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It’s been 46 years since the American Psychological Association removed homosexuality from the list of mental illnesses, yet the pseudoscientific practice known as “conversion therapy,” as well as other socio-religious theories intended to change homosexuals into heterosexuals still exist.

The American Medical Association says plainly that the theories behind the ideas that sexual orientation and gender identity are malleable are “not based on medical and scientific evidence.” They go on to assert that conversion therapy and other similar practices can cause “significant psychological distress,” including increased rates of depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts and behaviors.

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OPD LGBTQ liaison announces retirement, will continue as GOALcfl president

By : Lora Korpar
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ABOVE: Grace Harris-Peek (center) with other GOALcfl founding board members. (Photo courtesy GOALcfl.com)

ORLANDO | After a career with the Orlando Police Department (OPD) spanning just over 20 years, LGBTQ liaison Sgt. Grace Peek-Harris has decided to retire, but will still be involved in the Orlando community as president of the Gay Officers Action League’s Central Florida chapter (GOALcfl).

Peek-Harris initially got involved in law enforcement after serving in the U.S. Naval Security Forces. After retiring from the Navy, law enforcement seemed like the logical transition to make.

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PHOTOS: Halloween was scary, good fun at Parliament House

By : Danny Garcia
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ORLANDO | Even with Halloween being on a Thursday this year, crowds packed into the Parliament House in Orlando Oct. 31 to show off their costumes, as well as participate in the club’s weekly Latin Night party and Bearoke in the Bear Den.

The main pool stage was the location for the night’s $3,000 grand prize costume contest. The final two consisted of Saturday night’s costume contest runner-up, Maleficent — with an impressive wingspan — and “Game of Thrones” villain White Walker riding a dragon who breathed actual fire.

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Orlando Gay Chorus to welcome the holiday season with ‘Sleigh Queen’

By : Lora Korpar
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ORLANDO | The Orlando Gay Chorus (OGC) will be performing their annual holiday performance that they promise will “put the jingle in your bells” on Dec. 14 and 15.

Titled “Sleigh Queen,” the concert will feature a variety of holiday music, featuring everything from Christmas classics like “Run, Run, Rudolph” to songs by Sia and Eric Whitacre. There will also be a special guest appearance by “one who knows a thing or two about reindeer games,” according to a press release.

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