Tampa Pride kicks off fundraising with a Spooktacular Halloween party

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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Tampa Pride won’t be held until March 24 next year, but fundraising officially began with a bang and a boo on Oct. 19 at Hamburger Mary’s Brandon.

The event’s board, its sponsors and the Mary’s crew joined forces for the “Spooktacular Halloween Kick Off Party,” and Watermark was on hand to celebrate Tampa Pride 2018’s official launch. The audience was treated to a fantastic show hosted by Desireé DeMorney, with special performances by Chris Knolton and the Sanderson Sisters themselves: Daphne Ferraro, Kathryn Nevets and Chi Chi LaLique.

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The 41st All Hallows Ball brought out the creativity of Tampa Bay

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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The silver, scary and scantily-clad descended on the Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI) Oct. 14 for the 41st Annual All Hallows Ball, partying until 2:00 a.m.

With over 20,000 square feet to mingle, dance and drink, guests inspired by (or completely ignoring) the “Clara Futura” theme enjoyed music by local spin-master D.J. Reagan.

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Watermark’s Wedding Bells: Lucas Wehle and Rachyl Carey

By : Holly V. Kapherr
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“It seemed the universe was intent upon us meeting,” says Rachyl Carey of her fiancé, Lucas. They met through Instagram, where Lucas was featured on a profile called Barbells and FTMs, which stands for “fine trans males.” Lucas told Rachyl she was pretty. Rachyl told Lucas she thought he was fine. It worked out.

Lucas says, “After a couple of days of conversing on Instagram, we learned that we had a few mutual friends, which was really random considering she was in the area – home from college for the summer – for the first time in seven years!” According to Lucas, there were probably a few times when the pair could have met otherwise, but they ended up coming together via social media.

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Following controversy, Sarasota Pride renews focus ahead of Pride Fest 2017

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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SARASOTA | As the Sarasota LGBTQ community and its allies readied themselves for Pride Fest 2017 on Oct. 21, Sarasota Pride board members and community leaders met to renew the upcoming celebration’s focus.

“Perception is a reality and the past 48 hours has proven that statement to be true,” Joél Pozo, Berry Ayers (Beneva Fruitville) and Sarasota Pride released in a joint statement following an Oct. 3 meeting. “Everyone in this community has a voice and that has been reflected in our collaboration.”

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Calling all authors: Gulfport gears up for weekend of lesbian literature

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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GULFPORT | The Gulfport Public Library’s LGBTQ Resource Center is seeking authors for its first ReadOut event, self-described as a “weekend of lesbian literature.”

The event is currently scheduled for Feb. 17 at the Gulfport Public Library, and will also feature “other lesbian events taking place during the week leading up to it,” Readout 2018’s press release reads.

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Longtime community advocate joins Equality Florida board

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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ST. PETERSBURG | LGBTQ-inclusive and celebrated law firm Carlton Fields has announced that its Chief Operating Officer, Anastasia “Annie” Hiotis, has been elected to serve a three-year term on the board of Equality Florida.

“We are thrilled about the addition of Annie to our board of directors,” says Equality Florida CEO Nadine Smith. “Annie has been a long-time advocate in the St. Petersburg community and she and her colleagues at Carlton Fields have provided countless hours of support for our work to advance LGBTQ equality. Annie’s experience and energy on Equality Florida’s board will help us continue to achieve our mission.”

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‘On Your Feet!’ dancer Joseph Rivera talks dance, touring and the Estefans ahead of the show’s Florida run

By : Jeremy Williams
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Dancer Joseph Rivera is heading to the Sunshine State with the company of the hit Broadway musical, On Your Feet! in both Orlando at the Dr. Phillips Center Oct. 17-22 and in Tampa at the Straz Center Oct. 24-29.

On Your Feet! is based on the life and love of 26-time Grammy Award-winning power couple Emilio and Gloria Estefan. The show is packed with many of Estefan’s chart-topping hit songs, as well as some of the most intense dancing you will see on any stage.

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Nominate the Most Remarkable People of 2017

By : Jeremy Williams
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Since the end of 2012, Watermark has highlighted “Remarkable” people of the year in Central Florida and Tampa Bay. It is that time of year again where we ask you to help decide who deserves recognition for their inspiration, contribution or achievement in the 2017 calendar year.

Who are those unsung heroes who have gone out of their way to improve the community? Who has made an impact in Central Florida and Tampa Bay to make the lives of LGBTQ people better?

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Big Gay Busch Gardens Day celebrates its fifth anniversary at Tampa Bay Park

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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Autumn may have begun on Sept. 22, but no one told Tampa Bay or its LGBTQ community. On Oct. 7, they’ll rally together to celebrate the fifth annual Big Gay Busch Gardens Day, presented by local drag favorite Kori Stevens.

The event, which last year drew 250 participants, calls upon the LGBTQ community to come together for familial fun in the sun at Busch Gardens, the popular theme park and zoo in the Tampa Bay area.

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Tampa Bay’s Overheard: OUT-standing

By : Anonymous
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Sarasota OUT, the city’s LGBT directory of events and businesses, will hold the first annual Sarasota OUT Awards on Sunday, Oct. 8 from 8:00 – 10:00 p.m. at the Purple Rhino Lodge.

“I think Sarasota OUT could be the driving force to help make the LGBT community come together,” Sarasota OUT manager Josh Beadle told Watermark in January. It’s a mission he and his team have accomplished: the community voted for the area’s best of the best in September, and will now come together to celebrate the winners.

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Tampa Bay’s Overheard: Calling All Queens

By : Anonymous
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St. Petersburg’s Flamingo Resort has announced “Tampa Bay Drag Race,” a seven-week competition coming in November.

“Who has what it takes to become the next drag superstar?” the establishment’s advertisement asked, noting that the grand prize winner will receive $2,500 cash—and the event will offer $4,000 in cash and prizes.

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Tampa Bay’s Overheard: A Bear Goodbye

By : Anonymous
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The Body Shop, self-described as “Tampa’s favorite neighborhood bear bar,” held its farewell party on Sept. 30, closing its doors forever.

“It is with great sadness that we are announcing that the Body Shop will be closing within the next week or so,” the bar announced via its website on Sept. 25. “The building, while it is no secret has been for sale for quite some time, has been purchased.”

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