Author Rob Sanders revolutionizes picture books with ‘Stonewall’

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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Self-described “writer who teaches and teacher who writes” Rob Sanders appreciates anniversaries. In celebration of the LGBTQ pride flag’s 40th in 2018, he released “Pride: The Story of Harvey Milk and the Rainbow Flag,” the first picture book detailing the LGBTQ symbol’s origin. Now, just ahead of the Stonewall Uprising’s 50th, he’s made history again with “Stonewall: A Building. An Uprising. A Revolution.”

The openly LGBTQ author’s follow up is the first picture book to detail the Stonewall Inn and its role in the LGBTQ civil rights movement. Its story of strength, unity and equality was released April 23 from Random House Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books; the world’s largest English-language children’s trade book publisher.

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Watermark’s Wedding Bells: Tommy and Nathan Whitehead

By : Aaron Drake
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“I wanted to make our engagement special. Nathan had always been going on and on about taking me on a cruise. Since I had never been, I thought it would be a great idea to propose on our first trip.”

Tommy Whitehead says about his proposal to hubby Nathan Whitehead on Carnival Valor. “I brought a bottle of key lime sparkling wine onboard, which was one of Nathan’s favorites. As the sun was going down, I suggested we open the bottle and have a glass while we are sitting on our balcony. Little did he know that I had a ring hidden in my pocket.”

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TIGLFF announces ‘Evolution of Drag’ fundraiser

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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The Tampa Bay International Gay & Lesbian Film Festival (TIGLFF) has announced “The Evolution of Drag: Drag through the Decades!”—scheduled for June 1 at the Palladium in St. Petersburg—will serve as a fabulous fundraiser benefiting their upcoming 30th anniversary.

The drag production is described as a mixture of comedy, dance and history. Through the eyes of a drag queen, it transports audiences with “an exhilarating voyage through ten decades and has packed houses near and far!”

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PHOTOS: Equality Florida’s 2019 St. Pete Gala

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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ST. PETERSBURG | Equality Florida welcomed supporters to the Mahaffey Theater on May 11 to celebrate the organization’s annual St. Pete Gala.

The evening began by honoring Linda Lerner with the Voice for Equality Award. Lerner, an advocate for LGBTQ issues in her role on the Pinellas County Schools board, retired in 2018 as its longest-serving member. Fan favorite artist John Gascot then received the Amy S. Mandel Service & Leadership Award for his work with Diversity Arts, his nonprofit which serves disenfranchised, mostly LGBTQ youth.

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Gulfport Public Library, LGBTQ Resource Center celebrate Pride, national honor

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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GULFPORT, Fla. | The Gulfport Public Library has received the nation’s highest honor given to libraries and museums ahead of the LGBTQ Resource Center’s month of Pride programming.

The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) announced Gulfport Public Library as one of 10 recipients of the 2019 National Medal for Museum and Library Service May 7. The winners were chosen from 30 nationwide finalists for addressing unique issues and challenges confronting communities through their services. Programming provided by the LGBTQ Resource Center, housed in the library and established as an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit in April, was singled out for recognition.

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Mama Bearings: Leap of Faith?

By : Sylvie Griffiths
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PQ: I fully understand that the world might not love my child because he identifies as a transgender male. It is sad, enraging and a terrible truth.

I’ve had an “it’s complicated” relationship status with organized religion since I was a child. My mother converted to Judaism, the religion my father’s family raised him within, and on Friday nights and many holidays, took us to synagogue. We were far from orthodox and we celebrated Christmas with my maternal grandparents annually. I also frequently attended Catholic church when spending Saturday nights at my best friend’s home growing up. Overall, I would say I’ve flirted with religion but never fully committed.

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LGBTQ Christians preach their gospel

By : Michael Wanzie
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LGBTQ Christian.

For many that’s a combination of terms which illustrates the ultimate oxymoron. Those non-LGBTQ Christians, as well as non-Christian members of the LGBTQ community, who believe the two states are incompatible—if not incomprehensible— usually point to scripture to validate their arguments.

“Much of the arguments against homosexuality come from a complete misunderstanding of the cultural milieu in which these texts were written,” says Rev. Jakob Hero-Shaw, senior pastor of Metropolitan Community Church (MCC) of Tampa in Seminole Heights. “When we attempt to apply biblical ideas to our lives today, we are wholly unable to do so without taking into account the cultural context of the text and our own current social location.”

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Watermark among Tampa Bay Business Journal’s 2019 Business of Pride honorees

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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TAMPA | The Tampa Bay Business Journal has announced the honorees for the 2019 Business of Pride awards, including Watermark Publishing Group Inc. which will be honored as an LGBTQ-owned company.

The annual awards, presented in partnership with the Tampa Bay Diversity Chamber of Commerce, were created to recognize individuals and companies who work to advance LGBTQ equality in the workplace. Honorees were chosen by members of the Tampa Bay Business Journal editorial team and a panel of outside advisers.

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Jane Castor sworn in as Tampa’s 59th, first openly LGBTQ mayor

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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TAMPA | Jane Castor was officially sworn into office in a historical ceremony at Armature Works May 1, becoming Tampa’s 59th and first openly LGBTQ mayor.

The gathering began with a procession of Mayor Castor and her family, including longtime partner Ana Cruz and sons Sergei and Seely. Her oath was administered after an invocation, several performances and the swearing in of Tampa’s city council members Joseph Citro, Charlie Miranda, John Dingfelder, Bill Carlson, Orlando Gudes, Guido Maniscalco and Luis Viera.

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Harvey Milk Festival holds 10th annual celebration

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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SARASOTA | The Harvey Milk Festival (HMF) will hold its 10th annual celebration May 9-11, honoring the life and legacy of activist Harvey Milk by fostering the arts as a catalyst for change.

“It feels comforting,” founder and HMF Executive Director Shannon Fortner says of entering the festival’s 10th year. “I feel proud of our community that we’re able to sustain festivities.”

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St Pete Pride 2019 welcomes Lisa Loeb, Rita Ora

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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ST. PETERSBURG | St Pete Pride announced April 24 that entertainers Lisa Loeb and Rita Ora will headline concerts for the organization’s 17th annual celebration in June.

Loeb is a singer-songwriter who began her career with the platinum-selling hit “Stay (I Missed You)” from “Reality Bites.” Other singles include “Do You Sleep” and “Let’s Forget about It,” which she’s sure to perform as she headlines the organization’s SP2 Concert June 21 from 7-10 p.m.

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Equality Florida urges lawmakers to pass FCWA ahead of SCOTUS decision on LGBTQ rights

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. | With the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS)poised to determine if federal law bars anti-LGBTQ discrimination, Equality Florida is urging lawmakers to pass the Florida Competitive Workforce Act (FCWA) to protect LGBTQ Floridians.

Equality Florida, the largest civil rights organization dedicated to securing full equality for Florida’s LGBTQ community, has long supported the FCWA. It would amend the Florida Civil Rights Act of 1992 to add sexual orientation and gender identity, extendingstatewide housing, employment and public accommodation protections to the LGBTQ community.

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