Homo Erectus: The Evolution of Us – Flexing Your Leadership Courage

By : Dr. Steve Yacovelli
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Remember in “The Wizard of Oz” how the Cowardly Lion — when he got to see the Wizard — was like, “What? I already had courage? WTH?” I mean, it was kinda poopy that the Wizard made the poor cat go through that drama, only to say, “That gift you want? You already got it!”

Well, leadership courage is a lot like that. When leaders ask me, “How can I get more courageous in my leadership?” I share that — like the Lion — you already got this, just tap into it (or click your heels a few times like Dorothy)!

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Queerly Beloved: When “No” is the Greatest Gift

By : Rev. Jakob Hero-Shaw
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It’s a painful reality that “the most wonderful time of the year” is often quite brutal. We get invited to events and parties and told to leave the essence of ourselves behind. Nothing says “happy holidays” like the reification of gender norms. Heteronormativity appears to be at the center of our holiday celebrations, whether of the religious or secular variety. Just because something is expected to be a certain way, does not mean it is right.

There is nothing sacred or holy that sets heterosexuality and gender normativity above queerness. We have been taught so many lies about ourselves, eventually we start to believe them. This is the time of year when self-doubt can run wild. Somewhere between the cheerful music and the shopping we can easily lose our resolve.

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11.27.19 Central Florida Bureau Chief’s Desk

By : Jeremy Williams
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As singer Andy Williams (no relation) stated in 1963 — and nearly every other singer and musician since then — “it’s the most wonderful time of the year!”

That’s right, it’s the holiday season, and this Central Florida Bureau Chief’s Desk publishes the day before Thanksgiving and my next one, the final one of 2019, will be out the day after Christmas. So this is my final opportunity to let you all know what I want for Christmas this year.

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11.27.19 Tampa Bay Bureau Chief’s Desk

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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My husband and I recently marked three years of marriage, which is as strange to type as it was to celebrate. Not because I didn’t think we’d make it, I looked forward to our decades to come long before our wedding day, but because I’ve lost my perception of time.

A number of factors have contributed to my inability to understand the calendar year, Tampa Bay Bureau Chief among them operating in Watermark’s two-week press cycle, but I mostly attribute it to living in Florida. Even though I moved here more than a decade ago, I have yet to adjust to the lack of proper seasons; time flies when you’re having sun.

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The Tender Activist: Harry Potter & the Dark Art of Othering

By : Scottie Campbell
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I was in a planning meeting for a Harry Potter-focused event and the lead of the meeting thought it would be a fun idea to go around the table and introduce ourselves and say what house we’re in. At this point, I had only managed to get through one chapter of the first book, I had seen the movies and ridden the Orlando rides, but I had not chosen a house (or let a talking hat do it for me) nor did I care. So when it was my turn, my answer to the house question was: “I am none of that.”

You would have thought my nose had fallen off and I had revealed myself to be He Who Must Not Be Named himself. Every drop of oxygen was sucked out of the room and I was immediately transported back to middle school when I had decided to try-out for basketball without knowing how to actually play basketball. How all my friends and classmates appeared to intuitively know how to play is still a mystery to me. I’m confident Mister Rogers would have been proud of me for trying, but as I was dribbling toward the coach, and could clearly see in his eyes that I didn’t know what I was doing, I wanted to be anywhere else. Six feet under would have been a welcome relief.

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Mama Bearings: Field Trip!

By : Sylvie Griffiths
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My 10-year-old son Jake and I recently spent a Sunday afternoon at the Florida Aquarium. My youngest was excited to see a tank that would allow him to touch actual stingrays.

The field trip was an outing for parents and their children organized by a friend and former co-worker of mine at Metro Inclusive Health. It consists of transgender children ages 12 and under and provides them with fun environments to socialize while their parents get support from others with similarly-identified children.

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The epidemic of transgender violence in Florida and the missteps that follow

By : Gina Duncan
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ABOVE: Equality Florida Director of Transgender Equality Gina Duncan speaks during the “Rally to End Hate” in 2016. Photo courtesy Equality Florida

As the State Director of Transgender Equality at Equality Florida, I have been advocating for transgender civil rights for a decade. As a white, trans woman, I have never felt personally vulnerable, afraid or concerned for my personal safety until these last two years.

Recently, I have felt the weight of fear and rapid beating of my heart as I experienced being verbally attacked, intentionally misgendered and physically threatened by hate-filled people gaslighted by our current anti-transgender national rhetoric. In 2018, more than two dozen transgender Americans were reported murdered in the United States.

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11.14.19 Publisher’s Desk

By : Rick Claggett
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Progress, not perfection: One of the many mantras for those in a 12-step program. The idea is that no one is perfect; therefore striving for or searching for perfection is futile. One should simply try to do the next right thing, work toward being better one day at a time. It sounds nice on paper, but putting it in practice is much more difficult. It takes tools and time to train your brain to think this way.

I can’t say if this is the way things have always been or if I am just opening my eyes to it in the wake of information overload, but our society seems too preoccupied with perfection — giving way to an all or nothing culture.

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High Fidelity: Dumbledore and Decisions

By : Miguel Fuller
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There’s a scene in one of the “Harry Potter” books where the character’s mentor Professor Dumbledore spars with a bad guy, releasing magic from his powerful wand to block out evil forces. Even though I grew up in a religious household where my grandmother wanted nothing to do with the books because they were witchcraft in her eyes—and that’s the devil. I always read that scene and thought about her.

She was always a powerful but quiet force of nature who knew exactly what was going on. When she spoke, people listened. People moved. That was the grandmother I knew while growing up.

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Trans of Thought: Dying to be seen

By : Melody Maia Monet
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A few weeks ago, the very first National Trans Visibility March was held in Washington, D.C. As described in their call to action, the purpose of the march was to bring attention to “the social structures that have oppressed us and disenfranchised our communities.”

Thanks to the One Orlando Alliance and generous sponsors, about 50 transgender people, including myself and a few allies, made the road trip to our nation’s capital to participate. It was without a doubt a profound and inspiring experience for all of us who went, but perhaps not as successful in making our issues more “visible” to the cisgender, queer community.

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10.31.19 Tampa Bay Bureau Chief’s Desk

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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I’m nearly two years younger than the educational organization D.A.R.E., or Drug Abuse Resistance Education, and my early schooling reflects that. Preventative programming was all the rage in the early 90s.

D.A.R.E. was designed to provide students with the tools to resist drugs, alcohol and other high risk behaviors. It still exists today, albeit without the same fanfare, led by police officers in thousands of classrooms across the country. Among other things, it’s committed to helping students from kindergarten through grade 12 “resist peer pressure and live productive drug and violence-free lives.”

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10.31.19 Central Florida Bureau Chief’s Desk

By : Jeremy Williams
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I’m always fascinated to hear stories about how people different from me grew up. The traditions and rules, comparing notes to find ways their families did things verus how my family did things makes for an interesting discussion.

Something that was never seen as odd to anyone in my family but was shocking to my friends, is that we had a TV in each of the bedrooms. I remember the wide-eyed look from friends when they saw my brother and I not only had a TV in our shared bedroom, but we also had cable. We were living the highlife.

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