Rock Hard Fitness worked out bodies and hearts raising funds for the Zebra Coalition

By : Jeremy Williams
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With Gay Days, Pride month and summer weather all just around the corner; Rock Hard Fitness had more than 30 attendees sweating for their beach bods all while helping out a good cause May 21.

Rock Hard Fitness’ “Sweat For a Cause” boot camp event pushed, pulled and squatted  the group to firmer abs and bigger hearts as they raised over $1,000 for the Zebra Coalition.

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Local blood bank turns to Pulse survivors in ad campaign

By : Billy Manes
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ORLANDO – A recent push for blood donations has raised some concerns in the gay community. On the days following June 12, people lined up around blocks to help save those who were not among the 49 killed onsite. Last week, OneBlood – Central Florida’s blood bank – began using images of five Pulse survivors in a campaign to draw in more blood. The problem? Gay men are effectively forbidden from donating blood by the Food and Drug Administration, despite the fact that all donations are carefully screened. That should not diminish the importance of blood resources, OneBlood says.

“The week of the Pulse tragedy OneBlood collected nearly 28,500 units of blood,” OneBlood vice president of marketing and communications Susan Forbes says in an email. “It is an unprecedented amount of blood to be collected in such a short amount of time. That said, ten days after the tragedy, 85 percent of what we collected had already been distributed to our hospital partners. As quickly as blood is donated it is tested, processed and distributed to hospitals. Usually within 2-3 days of a person donating their blood, it will be sent to a hospital. The turnaround is that quick, the need is constant.”

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Orlando’s Metropolitan Business Association receives award from National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce

By : Billy Manes
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“Even though we’re celebrating our 25th anniversary this year, most of the rest of the community doesn’t know that we exist,” Metropolitan Business Association executive director Kellie Parkin says.

That may not be exactly true. For more than two decades, the organization has been bridging ideological and business-oriented gaps between small and large businesses alike, finding common threads for economic growth within those operations while projecting an inviting atmosphere that surpasses just tolerance across the Greater Orlando region.

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Scholarships will honor Pulse victim Cory Connell

By : Wire Report
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ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) – Tara Connell didn’t see her son’s last text until hours after she found out he was never coming home.

Cory Connell, 21, told his mother June 11 he was going to the Pulse nightclub with his girlfriend Paula Blanco and her teammates from the Orlando Anarchy, an all-female football team he helped coach. The women wanted to teach him to salsa.

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Orlando Fringe runs the gamut from hysterical to controversial to heartbreaking. Here are some of our favorite picks for this year!

By : Billy Manes
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In year 26 of everybody losing their minds in the Orlando theater scene for over a week, the Orlando Fringe once again brings the surprises and the guffaws – all the hurry-up-and-wait of queuing for your next aesthetic indulgence, along with the gratification of seeing some of your best friends, old and new, make theater an organic experience.

In many ways, this is Orlando’s centrifugal core for spinning and buttoning and ticketing your way toward bliss. As usual, there’s something for everybody: kids, teens, grown-ups, grown-ups who should know better. After a fantastic teaser show on April 17, appetites have been duly whetted, Excel charts and maps have been printed, the fiercest of the fierce are readying their Fringe game. There are hundreds of shiny things to see! Bring on May 16-29!

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Festival veteran David Lee rises to the challenge of making a dark reality into an Orlando Fringe show

By : Anna M. Johnson
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The lights went out at the Orlando Fringe Theatre Festival 2017 local teaser show. A hush dawned over the audience that filled the sold-out theatre.

Twelve groups had performed two-minute excerpts from their shows in the festival that starts May 16. The 13th performance started completely dark. A light went on from center stage, illuminating the face of a woman. She stood in the dark for a moment before beginning to speak.

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This morning’s announcement of the Pulse memorial was short on information, full of emotion

By : Billy Manes
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This morning, May 4, 2017, a pall fell over the inside of the tribute gates of the oft-visited Pulse Orlando nightclub, where thousands have paid their respects to the 49 killed on June 12, 2016. The event was announced nearly a week before, but the details of what was going on were amorphous at best. The Pulse site would become a permanent memorial, the original April 25 press release read, leaving out any finite details.

“Pulse has always been a part of me, but after this tragedy which took 49 lives, it became a part of this community and the world,’’ Poma explained in the press release. “When this event happened, I had no clue how expansive the love for Pulse was. It’s important that we as a community be mindful and take great care to preserve, honor and help heal.”

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Planned Parenthood celebrates a century

By : Billy Manes
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ORLANDO – “Hey! I want to talk to you about life,” said a woman holding a picture of a fetus, a picture likely from the canon of propaganda offered by whatever anti-abortion group she clung to. When a black man left his car, the response was even worse: “You know, they’re killing black babies! Are you OK with that?”

Just another day at a Planned Parenthood event, then.

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Spooky Empire: Retro left fans with a bloody good time

By : Danny Garcia
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Spooky Empire: Retro returned to the Wyndham Orlando for three days of SPOOK-tacular fun; including unique vendors, original art, guest celebrities and more.

Spooky also offered the most impressive collection of cos-players, tattoo artists, horror film collectibles and lots of entertainment, both indoors and out.

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Tim Evanicki talks naked people, bathhouses and cabaret as he waltzes back to the stage in Orlando

By : Billy Manes
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The last time we sat down with Tim Evanicki, the sort of everything-producer for Orlando Parliament House’s Footlight Theatre, there were some rather attractive bits of exposure nearby — attached to the recent run of Naked Boys Singing. Towels were everywhere.

But Evanicki, a graduate of Julliard and a classically trained singer, isn’t one to hide behind the scenes or a laugh. Having traveled the world and worked his stagecraft as one does, the multitalented musician, director and manager of Parliament House’s aesthetic leanings is ready to tell his story in song. We caught up with Evanicki in advance of his new season of dramatics, including a one-man cabaret about Tim Evanicki, My Turn on April 22. It’s his time to shine now.

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Wedding Bells: Robin and Tracy Maynard-Harris

By : Samantha Rosenthal
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Photo by Yvette Waters Photography.

“She shows immense love and kindness, whether it’s directed at me or directed at our friends and family or complete strangers,” Robin says. “I always tell her she’s the most beautiful person I’ve ever met, and then I say the outside ain’t so bad either.”

Tracy, who is a senior sales manager of jewelry distribution, and Robin, who is the founder and executive director of Libby’s Legacy Breast Cancer Foundation, started dating almost four years ago but originally met 13 years ago.

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Barry Miller of the Closing Agent does his part to make the drum for equality keep beating

By : Billy Manes
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Orlando – Perhaps we’re feeling a bit of hubris on the LGBTQ end about coverage of the Pulse massacre. Or, in a brighter light, maybe we’re pooling our resources into something larger, something more important to keep LGBTQs in Florida afloat. Realtor and attorney Barry Miller is doing the hard work, starting The 49 Fund as a means of pushing through the tragedy and into something more. The fund is, in fact, for college education. The fund is for moving past this nightmare. There are other funds in the pipeline from alternate sources, but Miller’s is the first of its kind in the wake of the June 12 tragedy. Watermark spoke with Miller recently, and he showed that his roots in the community are strong, and his aim is true.

“I’ve always been involved in the arts and the LGBTQ community for the last 20 years,” Miller says. “At one point I was the president of The Center and I was president when we spearheaded it, and it was my idea to get those buildings over there. I had an apartment downtown; I’ve always been trying to get the community to move forward and be visible and stand up [for LGBTQ concerns].”

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