Watermark’s Most Remarkable People 2017: Terri Lipsey-Scott, Chair of the Executive Board for the Dr. Carter G. Woodson African-American Museum

By : Samuel Johnson, Tampa Bay freelance reporter and Watermark contributor
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Samuel Johnson

Sometimes finding the balance between administration, civic engagement and social curator can seem like alchemy. Adding the right amounts of each will yield gold; one false step in the process and you’re left with a lump of coal. Terri Lipsey-Scott has discovered that magical equilibrium. Her title—chair of the executive board for the Dr. Carter G. Woodson African-American Museum—belies just what she embodies for the St. Petersburg community.

The museum is located in the neighborhood The Deuces; arguably the most famous of the city’s historic black neighborhoods. The building in which the museum is situated was the flashpoint for the civil rights movement in St. Petersburg in the late 1960s. Yet, when the St. Petersburg Housing Authority wanted to sell the property, Terri Lipsey-Scott sounded the alarm bell. Grassroots organizations and community leaders drummed up vocal opposition to the measure, eventually allowing this historic landmark to remain.

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Watermark’s Most Remarkable People 2017: Ed Gonzalez, Owner Enigma St. Pete

By : Jeremy Fetters, bartender for Enigma St. Pete
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Jeremy Fetters

At the age of 14, Ed Gonzalez asked for a work permit to start working at a Country Club in South Florida. Many years later Ed has run, owned and operated two of Tampa Bay’s most iconic establishments: Georgie’s Alibi and Enigma St. Pete.

Through role models like his father and mother and his strong work ethic and attention to detail, he has made sanctuaries for all of us to feel comfortable and call home. I’ve had the privilege of working for this amazing man for upwards of 13 years and everything I’ve learned about the hospitality industry I owe to Ed. When you work for him you become family to him. Any employee past or present will tell you that if you ever need anything he is always there to help.

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Watermark’s Most Remarkable People 2017: James Keane, Metro Wellness & Community Centers’ Director of LGBTQ Programs and Development

By : Lorraine Langlois, CEO Metro Wellness & Community Centers
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Lorraine Langlois

James Keane has become a remarkable local leader in the Tampa Bay area. He advocates for justice, inclusivity and equality whenever he sees a need.

James joined the Metro team in June 2014 as the Fundraising and Events manager. With a strong event planning background and passion for community he succeeded in making it a great first year. James’ major contributions to our organization and the LGBT community were exemplified in 2016 as his responsibilities increased. He became director of LGBT Programming and Development and he began to work to strengthen existing relationships and to develop new relationships with businesses and other non-profit organizations.

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Watermark’s Most Remarkable People 2017: Nathan Bruemmer, ALSO Youth’s Executive Director and organizer for St. Pete Pride’s Trans March

By : Gina Duncan, Equality Florida’s State Director of Transgender Equality
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Gina Duncan

I am so pleased and honored to recognize my close friend, advocate and leader of LGBTQ social justice, Nathan Bruemmer. Nathan is a member of Equality Florida’s TransAction Advisory Council, our Speakers Council and a Workplace Transgender Cultural Competency trainer. I have had the good fortune of sharing the stage many times with Nathan in speaking out for LGBTQ equal rights across Florida.

Nathan currently serves as the executive director of ALSO Youth Sarasota and is a member of the Pinellas County Office of Human Rights. He has an extensive legal background having served as a teaching assistant at the Stetson University College of Law, a Federal judicial extern for the U.S. District Court and serving as a Andrew S. Cray Law Fellow at the National Center for Transgender Equality in Washington, D.C., all while pursuing his Juris Doctorate at Stetson where he will graduate with honors in 2018. While a law student at Stetson, he was a Trial Team member, ADR Board member, American Bar Association representative and vice-representative, Lambda Legal Society president, Stetson Law Democrats president, American Constitution Society president, and a member of the Phi Alpha Delta law fraternity.

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Watermark’s Most Remarkable People 2017: Beth David and Esteban Bravo, Creators of animated short, ‘In A Heartbeat’

By : Scott Skyberg, Executive Director of the Tampa Bay International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival
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Scott Skyberg

In a Heartbeat is an amazing animated short that brings to light the parallels of relationships between any beings regardless of gender.

This film, created by Beth David and Esteban Bravo, was produced by Ringling College of Art and Design and has been watched more than 32 million times on YouTube.

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Watermark’s Most Remarkable People 2017: John and Nancy Desmond, Members of Tampa Pride and PFLAG Tampa

By : Carrie West, President of Tampa Pride
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Carrie West

What a delight it was to have met John and Nancy Desmond at a GaYBOR District meeting in 2010.

They have been a super positive force that trumps a lot of gays and lesbians in their commitment to the LGBTQ community.

They are outgoing, funny, empathetic, stellar and confident. These two speak their minds and are great team players in all they participate in and volunteer to do. Organizations that I have personally had the great honor of working with them includes: GaYBOR Distinct Coalition, Hillsborough County Homeless and Tampa Pride.

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Watermark’s Most Remarkable People 2017: Sandi Hulon, Tampa Bay documentarian/filmmaker

By : Topher Morrison, Professional speaker and Professor of Practice at The University of Tampa
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Topher Morrison

In my career I get to meet thousands of people each year. But in 2017, there was one person who stood out beyond all the others: Sandi Hulon, the founder of St. Pete Productions. She is an award-winning producer who has Clios, Addys, and even a Silver Lion from the Cannes Film Festival to boast of.

But if you ask Sandi, that’s not what she will say are her greatest accomplishments. For her, she takes greater pride in knowing that she fed a homeless person, or transported a drug addict across the country to be admitted into a drug treatment facility, or helped support the life of a horse at the RVR Horse Rescue.

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Gay-owned and operated Bambú the Eco Salon goes green(er)

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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St. Petersburg | Gay-owned and operated Bambú the Eco Salon, which in its first four years sent only six bags of trash to its local landfill, is pairing with the Green Circle Salons program to go even greener.

Now in its fifth year, Bambú has generated over 300 bags of recycling through the efforts of out co-founding owners Chris Kiss and Joshua DeBlock, dedicated to leading their industry in reducing its carbon footprint.

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Anti-LGBTQ group files suit against Tampa’s conversion therapy ban

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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Tampa | An anti-LGBTQ group known as Liberty Counsel has filed a suit against the city of Tampa for banning the practice of conversion therapy on minors, citing a violation of the First and Fourteenth Amendments.

The ban was first proposed by Councilman Guido Maniscalco in early 2017, and Tampa’s City Council voted unanimously on April 6 to ban the practice of attempting to psychologically change an individual’s sexual orientation.

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“Liberal Redneck” Trae Crowder talks about his ties to the LGBTQ community and incoming tour

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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Trae Crowder, the 31-year-old comedian better known as the “Liberal Redneck,” gained national notoriety after he and his southern drawl supported transgender rights in April 2016.

He’d been a stand-up comedian for nearly six years at the time, but it was his condemnation of North Carolina’s bigoted HB2 “bathroom bill” that thrust him into the viral video spotlight. That first video, originally uploaded to his personal Facebook page, has garnered over 980,000 YouTube views to date. In total, his hot takes have drawn over 50 million.

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PHOTOS: Tampa goes gaga for Lady Gaga

By : Danny Garcia
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Lady Gaga stormed upon Tampa with hordes of her Little Monsters hanging on every word she sang at the Amalie Arena Dec. 1.

The show sold out within minutes last year soon after becoming available to the public, with rumors circulating that tickets sold on the secondary market were going for as much as $1,000 each.

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Stories from gay and straight women in Central Florida, Tampa Bay and the nation during the AIDS epidemic

By : Greg Stemm
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It was the late 1980s. All across America, including right here in Central and West Central Florida, gay and straight women were suddenly finding that their gay male friends and relatives were dying from a tragic and perplexing new disease.

From our vantage point in 2017, AIDS has become a chronically manageable disease instead of a death sentence and PREP has dramatically reduced the likelihood of transmissions. It can be hard to remember just how dire a time it was.

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