The Tender Activist: Tips for surviving the political season

By : Scottie Campbell
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I’ll admit it. There are still people who I look at to this day and have a flashback to the 2016 election cycle and have to talk myself through not thinking of them as an idiot. Maybe you can relate: the choice seemed quite clear to me and I was repeatedly flummoxed by my friends and family not being able to see it. And here we are and it’s thanks to these idiots. Alright, they’re not idiots, but I have to talk myself through it.

I’ve shared in these pages how I cautiously approached this election, because the tender in my column’s name is no joke. I’m a fighter, don’t get me wrong, but my heart usually wins in the postmortem: Was that worth it? I truly am not sure. I tried last time around to engage and share and discuss. I worked harder to promote my candidate than ever before; I believed strongly. My behavior wasn’t always the best, I remember one inglorious exchange that ended with me telling the person to go fuck themselves. I’m not sure if they actually took my advice because they don’t talk to me anymore. As my marketing and public relations colleagues would say: It wasn’t a good look.

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01.23.2020 Publisher’s Desk

By : Rick Claggett
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I went to a small, Southern Baptist college in Mars Hill, North Carolina. It was definitely a culture shock. I considered myself a religion-wary, big city boy from Central Florida. Is that even an accurate statement for Orlando in 1993? There were still orange groves everywhere I walked and the East-West Expressway was just two lanes each way, with 25 cent tolls. Although, we had Blockbuster which was more than Mars Hill could boast. Mars Hill was a two-stoplight kind of town.

I didn’t hate it though, in retrospect I loved it. College is where I gained my passion for musical theater. I had the opportunity to stage manage a musical called “American Beauty.” It was a spoof on beauty pageants, but it made my sappy, young, gay heart melt.

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Trans of Thought: Good riddance 2019

By : Maia Monet
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I almost killed myself two or three times in 2019. I know that sounds dramatic, but it is also true. I’m not saying this to garner sympathy, or even worse, elicit advice. Rest assured, I am taking the steps necessary to improve my state of mind. It is just that being trans can often feel like existing in a vat of acid eating away at your dignity and integrity. It is the rare trans person who hasn’t contemplated escaping the pain through drastic means. If you don’t believe me, find a trans person in your life you happen to be close to and ask them if they’ve ever created a suicide plan. Don’t be surprised if they have a ready answer.

Perhaps my first column of the year should be about looking forward with a sense of optimism, but that doesn’t reflect my life as part of the trans community. I sometimes wonder if cisgender people appreciate how difficult it is to be transgender in today’s world. They might be able to quote the suicide rate for trans people, but I suspect they are detached from the reality of our everyday lives. They don’t actually experience the emotional stress of hearing about yet another government policy meant to incrementally erase the legal status of trans people. They can’t comprehend the blinding fear of coming out as a trans woman to a cisgender heterosexual man who might decide violence is the appropriate response.

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High Fidelity: The Journey of Fitness

By : Miguel Fuller
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When I learned that the first issue of Watermark this year would focus on fitness, I could already feel my fingers banging on the keyboard. I have A LOT to say about fitness, especially as a gay man. Where do I begin?

Fitness for me equals journey. I’m still walking down this long, fun, frustrating road that I call my fitness journey. I can’t remember when I started calling myself fat. Maybe it was late in high school, maybe it was college, but at some point while growing up I started this vicious cycle of going to food for comfort.

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01.09.20 Tampa Bay Bureau Chief’s Desk

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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In “Star Trek: First Contact,” the finest film in the popular franchise’s more than 50-year history, the eternal Patrick Stewart’s Captain Picard beams into theaters to lead the U.S.S. Enterprise into battle against the sci-fi staple’s deadliest threat. No, not reboots – the Borg.

The Borg are chilling, cybernetic aliens linked to a hive mind known as “The Collective.” They forcibly transform individuals into zombie-like drones through the process of assimilation, linking their victims to a collective consciousness and erasing all traces of their individuality in the process.

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01.09.20 Central Florida Bureau Chief’s Desk

By : Jeremy Williams
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I’m finding it very difficult to write this issue’s Central Florida Bureau Chief’s Desk. I’m having trouble putting words together which, for anyone who knows me, is not something I normally have trouble with. They might not be the smartest words, or even the correct words many times, but lack of words is usually not a problem.

As this is my first column of the most futuristic sounding year since 2000, I had planned to write all about my goals for 2020. To borrow the frequently mocked “Karen mantra,” it was going to be one of those “New Year, New Me” columns. I planned to climb into my comfy chair, legs tucked under my bum, wrapped in an infinity scarf and holding my latte close to my chest to talk about how 2020 is going to be a year of optimism and rebirth, but as I prepared to do this social media alerts started to ping on my phone about how we were about to enter into World War 3. Groovy.

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The Wonderful World of Wanzie: Wanzie wishes you an Eartha Kitt Christmas

By : Michael Wanzie
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If you were Voguing in the early 90s you likely associate “Santa Baby,” the iconic song of Christmas greed, with Madonna’s 1987 version. Those a bit younger might be more familiar with the more recent version by Kylie Minogue or Gwen Stefani.

No matter how enjoyable any of the enumerable covers may be, none holds a Christmas candle to the original 1953 debut so slowly and provocatively sung by that raspy-voiced enigma that was the late, great Eartha Kitt.

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The Other Side Of Life: American Boxing Day

By : Jason Leclerc
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Christmas, in 2019 America, is as much a secular holiday as it is a religious one. It caps the annual era of good feelings that starts with Thanksgiving and lasts until 11:59 p.m. on Dec. 25.

We’ve often taken the interstice between Christmas and New Years as a celebratory dead zone, a time to recover and prepare for the seeing-out of the old year. History has proven that Dec. 26 has been a date with ups and downs, ranging from the revolutionary to the mundane.

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12.26.19 Central Florida Bureau Chief’s Desk

By : Jeremy Williams
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“Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes / How do you measure, measure a year?”

If you are familiar with the Broadway show “RENT” — and let’s face it, if you’re reading this then you probably are — you know the answer to that question is “love, seasons of love.” Well, for me I measure a year by pop culture’s five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred “best of” year-end lists. All the greatest magazines, entertainment shows, YouTube channels and Starbucks baristas have them. Heck, this very issue of Watermark, our annual Year in Review, has an A-Z list of the best moments in LGBTQ pop culture.

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12.26.19 Tampa Bay Bureau Chief’s Desk

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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As December comes to a close, taking 2019 with it, I’m most thrilled to reflect on the fact that I’ll be entering the next decade of my life as a nonsmoker. While I spent the majority of the last 10 years craving my next cigarette or shackled to a smoking section, I proudly celebrated one year smoke free this month.

I hit the milestone on Dec. 17, just one day before writing this column and six days after hitting another personal milestone, my second year as Tampa Bay Bureau Chief. I couldn’t be more grateful that I’m still serving in this position here at Watermark – it’s been another incredible year and an amazing December, even if I did turn 35.

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Fit for Print: Hanging onto History

By : Steve Blanchard
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I have been captivated by some grave news in Tampa Bay – and yes, that pun is 100% intentional.

Since the late summer months there has been a flurry of news stories about long-abandoned and forgotten cemeteries discovered under schools, apartment communities and businesses in Tampa. Literally hundreds of coffins have been found using ground-penetrating radar technology and the possibility of even more forgotten burials is discussed almost every day.

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Sweet Divinity: Luck Ain’t a Lady Tonight

By : Divine Grace
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Hello, Dolls!

Well, it’s that time of year again. The stockings have been hung, the tree has been decorated and the department stores have been blaring holiday songs for the third consecutive month. Joanne’s Fabric has had a star on top of their conifer tree since at least the Fourth of July. Now with Black Friday out of the way, the emergency rooms are less-crowded, and most of the blood has been wiped off of the flat-screen televisions at Wal-Mart.

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