St. Pete Pride Executive Director Resigns

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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St. Pete Pride announced this week that the organization’s Executive Director, Eric Skains, has resigned to “pursue new opportunities.”

In a press release, Skains said that his five years with the organization“have been extremely fulfilling and always challenging,” noting that “retooling and strengthening [the] organization tested [him] in ways [he] never expected.”

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Tampa Bay’s soulful singer Jennifer Real is ready to go global

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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Watch out, J.Lo: Tampa Bay has a Jennifer of its own, and she knows a thing or two about being “Real.”

Jennifer Real’s commitment to her craft has ensured that her career has flourished in the St. Petersburg community. The sultry singer won last year’s “Favorite Local Performer – Musician” WAVE Award and performs regularly throughout Tampa Bay, including last year’s WAVE Award celebration and (you may have heard of it), St. Pete Pride.

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Central Florida and Tampa Bay softball leagues celebrate milestone anniversaries this season

By : Steve Blanchard
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For more than two decades, LGBTQs in Central Florida have enjoyed friendship and sportsmanship on the softball field. The area’s two largest leagues are celebrating milestones this fall season.

The Suncoast Softball League in Tampa celebrates its 25th anniversary this year and the Central Florida Softball League will mark its 20th year when the first pitches are thrown out this fall. Besides their incredible growth over the years, both leagues have plenty of reasons to celebrate their respective milestone anniversaries in 2017.

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Aaron Carter gets emotional in front of crowd at Hamburger Mary’s in Brandon

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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Tampa-born Aaron Carter crooned, crushed and cried from the stage last night at Hamburger Mary’s in Brandon—and hey, there’s video!

Ever the social media aficionado, Carter had previously announced his first performance since his heartfelt coming out on Twitter via Facebook. “Looking forward to seeing all my fans in my hometown of Tampa Bay Aug. 10 at Hamburger Mary’s Brandon​,” Carter had written, calling his upcoming performance an “intimate evening and pop up acoustic showcase.”

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Watermark Wedding Bells: Ryan and Wade Williams-Jent

By : Holly V. Kapherr
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It wasn’t love at first sight for Ryan and Wade, but four years later, they walked down the aisle together.

When Ryan, a Cincinnati native, first met Wade from Port Charlotte, sparks didn’t fly immediately. They were in the same friend group for about a year and a half before dating, but were never involved romantically.

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LGBTQ+ youth wow and “Take the Stage!” at Metro Wellness & Community Center

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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ST. PETERSBURG |Who run the world? Youth.

On August 5, Metro Wellness & Community Centers’ summer camp program for youth presented“Take the Stage!” – its second annual talent show featuring LGBTQ+ youth. The show gave its audience the chance to witness the many talents of Tampa Bay’s young LGBTQ+ community, with participants from middle school and up.

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In move befitting royalty, sixteen queens and Enigma raise $8000 for one of their own

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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ST. PETERSBURG | Following a tragic motorcycle accident that cost Enigma bartender Ryan Stroehlein his life on July 11, the St. Petersburg LGBTQ community came together to honor his memory and raise funds for his surviving passenger.

On July 27, the Enigma family hosted its “Celebration of Life for Ryan Stroehlein,” which included a video tribute of the late bartender, a breathtaking floral arrangement in his honor and most dearly, words of remembrance, love and support from and for Stroehlein’s friends and family.

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From Sarasota to Pulse, Tampa Bay filmmaker Sandi Hulon looks at the life of Eddie Sotomayor in ‘One of 49: A Legacy of Love’

By : Jeremy Williams
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In the middle of the night on June 12, 2016, documentarian and filmmaker Sandi Hulon was doing the same thing as many of us throughout Orlando, Tampa Bay and across the world: sitting with eyes glued to the TV in horror as we watched the outside of Pulse nightclub covered in blinking blue and red lights from emergency vehicles on the national news.

There was a shooting. By the morning we would know that 49 were killed and 53 injured in the nation’s worst mass shooting in modern times. But in those early hours, waiting to find out what happened, we got the identity of the first confirmed victim. He was a 34-year-old male from Sarasota. His name was Eddie Sotomayor.

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Four LGBTQ Central Florida and Tampa Bay chefs on finding their tribe in the restaurant life

By : Holly V. Kapherr
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The idiom “love is love” became a rallying cry throughout the LGBTQ community since the Supreme Court made same-sex marriage legal in 2015. But for these four gay and lesbian chefs in Orlando, Tampa and St. Petersburg, food is love.

Most of them grew up cooking at the feet of their families. Jeannie Pierola, chef and owner of the Edison Food + Drink Lab in Tampa, learned from her Spanish and Cuban grandmothers. Top Chef Seattle alum and executive chef at St. Pete boîtes BellaBrava and Stillwaters Tavern, Jeffrey Jew, learned from his father and half-Chinese grandfather.

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Balance Tampa Bay’s 3rd Annual Masquerade Ball was a black (and white) tie affair

By : Jeremy Williams
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What’s black and white and was the talk of Tampa on July 28? The answer is Balance Tampa Bay’s Third Annual Masquerade Ball at The RITZ Ybor.

Tampa Bay came out— dressed to the nines— to dance, mingle and to eat cake. Global superstar DJ Toy Armanda, all the way from the Philippines, kept the music pumping and the dance floor filled with masked strangers.

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Remembering Ryan: Ryan Stroehlein lives on in the hearts of Enigma family, LGBTQ community

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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ST. PETERSBURG | When news broke that Ryan Stroehlein had tragically lost his life in a motorcycle accident July 11, shockwaves were felt throughout St. Petersburg’s LGBTQ community.

Some knew him well, and others just as a community ally with an infectious smile and uplifting demeanor; a young man standing behind the bar at local hotspot Enigma. But all agreed that he would be missed.

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It’s all Black & White for Balance Tampa Bay’s Masquerade Ball at The RITZ Ybor

By : Sophia Mackrides
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TAMPA | Balance Tampa Bay is back, masks on and ready, for the Third Annual Masquerade Ball coming to the Ritz Ybor July 29.

Balance Tampa Bay’s first two Masquerade Balls —2015’s inaugural party that had hundreds of paper faces on parade and last year’s Summer Olympics-inspired Rio-themed bash— were some of the biggest celebrations in Tampa Bay, and there is no reason to think that this year will be any different.

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