10 LGBTQ youth in Central Florida and Tampa Bay who are making a difference in their communities

By : Jeremy Williams & Ryan Williams-Jent
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We may be biased, but the LGBTQ communities in Central Florida and Tampa Bay are overflowing with passionate leaders, trend-setters and inspiring champions. That’s why each year we select the cream of the crop and name them as our Most Remarkable People of the Year.

As we looked around our community we noticed something interesting—that many of the community advocates standing up to be leaders, making a difference in the world and all-in-all being remarkable were getting younger and younger. That’s why we decided to recognize the tremendous work these amazing individuals are doing.

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WFTV’s Jorge Estevez tackles LGBTQ issues in new podcast ‘Under The Rainbow’

By : Jeremy Williams
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Podcasts are fast becoming a primary medium for people to get their news. A CBS News poll conducted earlier this year found that nearly two-thirds of Americans listen to podcasts at least occasionally, with nearly a quarter of the people polled saying they listen several times a week.

With numbers like those, Central Florida’s WFTV Channel 9 knew they needed to get into the podcast business.

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New LGBTQ dive bar opening in Orlando’s Milk District

By : Lora Korpar
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ORLANDO | If you are someone who appreciates a good dive bar, then the team behind Southern Nights Orlando and Southern Craft has something right up your alley.

District Dive is opening in Orlando’s Milk District at 2401 E. South St. and is nestled in between your two favorite Southern establishments.

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North American Bathhouse Association to hold its annual convention in Orlando

By : Lora Korpar
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ABOVE: Club Orlando. (Photo from Club-Orlando.com)

ORLANDO | The world of men’s saunas will make its way to Orlando this fall when the North American Bathhouse Association (NABA) holds its annual convention at the Embassy Suites by Hilton on International Drive Sept. 23-25.

Equipped with pools, steam rooms, hot tubs, video rooms and more, men’s saunas are a place for gay and bisexual men to meet other men.

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Hope & Help announces move to new facilities

By : Jeremy Williams
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ABOVE: Hope & Help’s Re-Start group marches in the Orlando AIDS Walk at Lake Eola in 2018. (Photo by Jake Stevens)

ORLANDO | The Hope & Help Center of Central Florida will be moving to a new location in Winter Park, the health organization announced in a press release Aug. 28.

“Due to increased demand of HIV-related services, the company is relocating to a larger facility,” the release reads. The new facility is located at 4122 Metric Drive, #800 in Winter Park. Hope & Help moved into their previous facility at 707 Mendham Blvd. in Orlando two years ago.

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Come Out With Pride announces 2019 parade grand marshals

By : Jeremy Williams
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ABOVE: Come Out With Pride’s Most Colorful Parade in 2018. (Photo by Brian Becnal)

ORLANDO | Come Out With Pride (COWP) will have four grand marshals for its 2019 Most Colorful Parade in downtown Orlando Oct. 12. COWP made the announcement in a press release Sept. 2.

The 2019 grand marshals are Miss International Queen 2019 Jazell Barbie Royale, founder of The Orlando Ribbon Project Ben Johansen, Central Florida Sounds of Freedom Band and Color Guard and, in memoriam, LGBTQ pioneer Joel Strack.

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Watermark celebrates its silver anniversary with a look back at the LGBTQ headlines of the past 25 years

By : Jeremy Williams
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For 25 years, in nearly 700 issues, Watermark has been telling the stories of Central Florida and Tampa Bay’s LGBTQ communities.

First premiering in Orlando in 1994, and then expanding into Tampa Bay in 1995, Watermark now covers more than a dozen counties across the state. We can be found in many Florida cities including Daytona Beach, Orlando, Tampa, St. Petersburg, Clearwater and Sarasota—and thanks to WatermarkOnline.com, we have developed an international audience which relies on us for news, politics, sports, arts and entertainment as it pertains to the LGBTQ community.

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PHOTOS: Watermark celebrates its 25th anniversary in Central Florida

By : Jeremy Williams
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Watermark celebrated its 25th anniversary in Central Florida Aug. 23 with an event at the Orlando Museum of Art in Orlando.

The event featured a blessing from the Central Florida chapter of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, as well as city and county proclamations. Mayor Jerry Demings was on hand to read the Orange County proclamation and City Commissioner Patty Sheehan read the proclamation form the City of Orlando.

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Equality Florida Action PAC endorses Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer for re-election

By : Jeremy Williams
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ORLANDO | Equality Florida Action PAC endorsed the re-election of Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer in a Facebook post Aug. 22.

“Equality Florida Action PAC is proud to endorse Mayor Buddy Dyer – a champion for our LGBTQ community,” the organization posted.

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2 Pulse survivors to hold ‘ex-gay’ march in Orlando same week leaders look to ban conversion therapy in Orange County

By : Jeremy Williams
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ORLANDO | As LGBTQ leaders and community supporters gathered Aug. 15 at Stonewall Bar in Orlando to hold a rally to ban conversion therapy in Orange County, two Pulse shooting survivors appeared on a Christian podcast to discuss an ex-gay march they plan to hold at Lake Eola next month.

Luis J. Ruiz and Angel Colon—both survivors of the June 12, 2016 mass shooting at Pulse— are claiming they are no longer gay and want to spread their message of “ex-gay” conversion by holding a march at Lake Eola Park in Orlando, less than two miles from Pulse, on Sept. 14.

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Orange County Mayor names new LGBTQ+ Community Liaison

By : Jeremy Williams
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ORLANDO | Chief of Staff to Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings, Roseann Harrington announced Marc Espeso as Special Assistant to Demings during the One Orlando Alliance quarterly meeting held on Aug. 14. Espeso will act as the LGBTQ+ Community Liaison for Demings.

Espeso, who is currently Orange County’s Digital Communications Editor, will expand his responsibilities to include the new position.

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While setting the stage for its August 2019 outing, GayDayS paves way for June 2020 return

By : Jeremy Williams
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In the story “The Wizard Of Oz,” a young girl named Dorothy—with dog Toto in hand—is taken over the rainbow by a tornado to the magical land of Oz. While there, she encounters a cast of characters that help her on her journey to the Emerald City to meet the Wizard of Oz who she says can get her back to her home in Kansas because, as she realizes by the end of the story, “there’s no place like home.”

Some similarities between that classic story and the events of GayDayS makes it even more fitting that next year’s theme for GayDayS, which will also be the 30th Anniversary of the original Gay Day at the Magic Kingdom, will be “Emerald City” as the organization returns its events back to its traditional dates in June.

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