The reigning queen of Broadway, Idina Menzel, is on top of the world and she isn’t letting it go anytime soon

By : Jeremy Williams
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Idina Menzel has the billion-dollar voice – that is billion with a “B.” It is in no small part because of that voice singing the hit song “Let It Go” that Disney’s Oscar-winning animated musical Frozen became the highest-grossing animated film of all time with a $1.2 billion worldwide box-office showing. Menzel’s powerful vocals in Wicked also began that Broadway musical’s ascension over the billion-dollar mark, which it crossed in 2016, only the third time that feat has been accomplished on Broadway.

The Tony-winning Broadway icon released her fifth studio album, Idina., in September 2016, starred in Lifetime’s remake of Beaches and will soon begin recording the voice of Queen Elsa for the much anticipated animated sequel, Frozen 2.

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Baker action: Opponents of former mayor Rick Baker sound off on his equality record

By : Samuel Johnson
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ST. PETERSBURG – We will go forward; we’ve come too far to go back. This was the overarching sentiment of some 20 LGBTQ advocates at a press conference in Saint Petersburg May 11. They gathered on the front steps of City Hall to voice their concerns about ex-St. Pete mayor, Rick Baker, and his announcement that he is entering the city’s mayoral race for this year.

Ed Lally is a St. Pete resident who works with Equality Florida. He was on hand for the event, brandishing a “Rick Baker Never” sign. Lally didn’t mince words in his assessment of Baker. “He’s not a man for equality for the whole community. I don’t trust the guy and would never vote for him. … His prior actions with the LGBT community would rate a big fat F,” he says.

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Out of the Closet brings HIV/AIDS awareness and discount shopping together under one roof

By : Jeremy Williams
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ST. PETERSBURG – Out of the Closet, a thrift store with a twist which benefits the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, is opening a new location in St. Petersburg with a big grand opening celebration May 13.

Out of the Closet St. Pete is located at 3400 26th Ave. South and offers up designer clothes, furniture and housewares at a fraction of the cost.

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Tampa launches its inaugural festival of freaks and fun with the Tampa International Fringe Festival

By : Billy Manes
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It didn’t come out of nowhere. Trish Parry and William Glenn – both of the revered 2014 Orlando Fringe show A History of Beer – knew the ropes, the challenges and the fun of a Fringe Festival without even having to think or drink too much. While Orlando’s Fringe is touted as the oldest in the country at 26 years now, Tampa has never had one before. That changes on May 11.

“Three years ago, we brought our show to Tampa, because my show partner William Glenn, he was from there, and I went to college there,” Parry says. “We brought our show there and we were produced by this company called Jobsite Theater. We sat down with the artistic director of that and told him all about Fringe and we told him all about how we had been touring with that after college on the Fringe circuit.”

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The Harvey Milk Festival brings art, dance and music together to remember those lost to hate crimes

By : Krista Di Tucci
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SARASOTA – The Harvey Milk Festival opens its eighth season in Sarasota May 11 with a transgender media art exhibit inspired by a quote from the slain LGBTQ civil rights icon for whom the festival is named.

“Hope Will Never Be Silent,” Milk said after becoming the first openly gay person elected to public office when he was elected to the San Francisco County Board of Supervisors in 1978.

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Hillsborough County math teacher alledgedly bans cross necklaces from classroom

By : Staff Report
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The Liberty Counsel filed a complaint against a Riverview High School math teacher April 19.

The letter to Jeff Eakins, Hillsborough schools superintendent, stated that Lora Jane Riedas “has prohibited at least three children from wearing Christian cross necklaces in her classroom, claiming on occasion that they are ‘gang symbols.'”

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And your 2017 St. Pete Pride Grand Marshals are…

By : Staff Report
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Just as in the last few years, St. Pete Pride gave the responsibility of choosing the 2017 St. Pete Pride Grand Marshals over to the people, and this year you did not disappoint.

After counting up all of the votes, St. Pete Pride announced the winners at a ceremony earlier this month.

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Passing of beloved Tampa Bay drag queen spurs fight against silicone procedures, memorial fund

By : Alexis Vilaboy
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(Photo by Erika Wagner Artistry, from Tanisha Cassadine’s Facebook page.)

TAMPA – In the month since Tanisha Cassadine died due to complications from silicone injections, almost $600 has been raised toward the memorial fund in her honor.

“Tanisha wasn’t just an employee at Hamburger Mary’s,” says Kurt King, who owns multiple franchises of the restaurant. “She was loved all over the United States. She is the Cassadine. Her name was everything.”

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With a ban in Tampa and a proposed ban in St. Petersburg, the Bay area is saying no to conversion therapy

By : Jeremy Williams
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TAMPA – The practice of conversion therapy has not only been deemed ineffective, but has been called harmful by every major medical organization, including the American Psychological Association, the American Psychiatric Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Even with all this opposition to conversion therapy, there is still no nationwide ban on the practice, so some state, county and city leaders have taken it upon themselves to get it banned at local levels, including right here in the Bay area.

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Equality Florida honors community heroes at 2017 St. Pete Gala

By : Jeremy Williams
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Equality Florida had another successful St. Pete Gala at The Mahaffey Theater as the celebration the 20th year of the LGBTQ rights organization continues.

The evening honored Tampa Bay Rays President Brian Auld, Largo City Commissioner Michael Smith, attorney Joanna Garcia Parkin and volunteer Karen Goforth.

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Designer Armando “Mondo” Guerra talks being on ‘Project Runway,’ coming out as HIV-positive and representing Dining Out For Life

By : Jeremy Williams
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Denver designer Armando “Mondo” Guerra first made a splash with TV audiences in the eighth season of Lifetime’s Project Runway. Guerra not only wowed with his stylish designs but  also with his openness and honesty as he revealed he was HIV-positive on the show.

Guerra gained recognition on Project Runway opening up opportunities to come back and win the first season of Project Runway All-Stars, have his collection sold at Neiman Marcus and to be a mentor to aspiring designers on Tim Gunn’s spinoff series, Project Runway: Under the Gunn; but no other title gives him more pride than that of spokesperson for the Dining Out For Life, the annual dining fundraiser event to raise money for HIV/AIDS service organizations.

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Watermark Giveaway: Tickets to see Bianca Del Rio’s “Not Today Satan” at the Straz Center in Tampa

By : Jeremy Williams
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Bianca Del Rio, the alter ego of comic Roy Haylock and season six winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race, is a self-professed “clown in a gown.”

This hilariously hateful comic is known for her foul mouth and unapologetic humor, but her victims hardly have time to feel the sting before she zips on to the next topic, and now you and a guest have the chance to see it all live as Bianca Del Rio brings her eye of judgement to the Straz Center for the Performing Arts in Tampa April 7 at 8:00 P.M. in her new global comedy tour, “Not Today Satan.”

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