Watermark 25: Tampa Bay Bureau Chief’s Desk

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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Watermark began covering Tampa Bay’s LGBTQ community in 1995, not long after its 1994 founding in Orlando.

It was more than a decade before I would move to Florida and more than two before I would be fortunate enough to become Watermark’s Tampa Bay Bureau Chief, but it’s a decision I’m very thankful that our founder Tom Dyer made just the same.

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Watermark 25: Central Florida Bureau Chief’s Desk

By : Jeremy Williams
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I moved back to Orlando in 2008. It was my first time living in Central Florida as an adult. I was born in Colorado and, as a kid, the family moved to Florida where we lived up and down I-4—settling in Orlando then St. Petersburg and eventually Plant City where I attended high school. Sometime after graduation, life led the family to southern Georgia and from there I joined the Air Force and traveled all over the world.

I tell you that quick trek through my past because in my 40 years I have lived in many places, but no place has ever felt more like home to me than living in Orlando right now, and a good part of that feeling is due to Watermark.

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Watermark 25: Publisher’s Desk

By : Rick Claggett
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With this issue Watermark celebrates 25 years of publishing, 25 years of sharing information and helping to build a community. I am beyond proud to be a part of this organization.

As I sat down to write this column, I visited the words of Founder and Guiding Light Tom Dyer as he shared his thoughts on the 20th Anniversary of Watermark. It’s funny to see how much has changed, and how little has changed. We still operate with a small, dedicated staff who are as passionate about their work as they are talented. Watermark still focuses on local community news in its pages, offering a voice to stories other publications will not; and at times we still walk the fine line between financial gain and commitment to community partnerships.

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Trans of Thought: GayDayS and Inclusivity

By : Maia Monet
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I hope all of you have had a chance to recover from the marches and celebrations that marked Pride month. My feet and liver barely survived intact and may yet give out because, for those of us in Central Florida, the party isn’t quite over yet. Even as corporate-backed, rainbow merchandise-palooza 2019 has faded into the rearview mirror of June, we now have upon us the queer calendar outlier that is GayDayS after its move to mid-August.

Full disclosure: as a transgender woman and lesbian, I have never considered going to GayDayS because it has the reputation of being heavily gay male focused. In most other years, during the first weekend in June, I can be found around the pool at Girls in Wonderland. However, since there are no competing LGBTQ+ events on the social calendar, I have found myself wondering if I should attend.

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High Fidelity: Talking the talk

By : Miguel Fuller
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Not long before the beginning of Pride season I was asked to be the keynote speaker at the 36th Annual International AIDS Candlelight Memorial Service in Pinellas Park. I was nervous because I didn’t want to speak on a subject I wasn’t very versed in.

After having conversations with friends living with HIV and doing a lot of research, I sat down and wrote the speech that I shared from the heart. I shared the story about the first time I went for an HIV test. 

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08.08.19 Tampa Bay Bureau Chief’s Desk

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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I was young, probably around 12 or 13, but I vividly remember the first death I helped cause. They say you never forget your first.

I was in middle school and likely clad in a pair of husky jeans, the free whale necklace that came with the “Free Willy 2” VHS and a “Batman and Robin” tee beneath my Starter Jacket. Clutched against my side was the thickest Trapper Keeper a family like mine could afford, something I rarely let out of my sight during school hours because it protected two of my dearest possessions.

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08.08.19 Central Florida Bureau Chief’s Desk

By : Jeremy Williams
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As we were coming into this latest issue, I had a lot of things that I wanted to rant about on this page, and Lord knows there is plenty to rant about.

I wanted to talk about the most recent round of Democratic presidential debates, which had Twitter all abuzz in support of author and “self-help guru to the stars” Marianne Williamson.

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Ladyfingers: Stupid makes me sweat

By : Sabrina Ambra
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I walked into the bar; that’s nothing new, but it’s not a drinking problem until I’m 30, right? Don’t answer that. I sat down with full intention of writing and absolutely no idea what to write about. I feel like, more often than not, I use my crutch of “Here’s how the world sucks and here’s how to not get sucked into the suckiness.” I also feel like way more often than not, I can barely practice what I’ve preached.

For example, I left work P-I-S-S-E-D the day of this writing. It happens from time to time, as I’m sure it does for anyone else that, I don’t know, lives on this earth. I had been triggered, my mind wandering to a state of mild paranoia and self-consciousness. I become consumed by the thought of failure and I end up kicking my own ass for not knowing how to stick up for myself properly.

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Mama Bearings: Happy Birthday, Jake!

By : Sylvie Griffiths
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Summer is upon us and my children have four weeks left until they go back to school. I am happy to say they are as eager to get back into the grind of public education as I am.

My oldest son will be a senior in high school and is excited to be in the home stretch. My daughters are super social and love the access to friends, gossip and picking out outfits daily. Jake, my youngest, is having a wonderful summer—what I would guess is the best summer of all four of them. Regardless of the fact that his dad moved out and that his parents are divorcing, my little guy is happier than ever. That’s in part because three summers ago he became himself.

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07.25.19 Publisher’s Desk

By : Rick Claggett
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Watermark is in the midst of celebrating 25 years in publication. It’s a huge milestone for many reasons that I will get into in my next column, so stay tuned. However, I bring that up now because—in preparation for the celebration—I am going back through the years and highlighting some of the stories we’ve covered.

You may have noticed these pages popping up toward the end of the past two issues, covering 2014 and 2015. Tom Dyer had done a similar retrospective for the 20th anniversary, so I wanted to carry on the tradition leading up to our 25th anniversary issue slated for late August. In this issue we reflect on 2016, a devastating year in so many respects.

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#LoveHandlin: Family

By : Jerick Mediavilla
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Everywhere I’ve been in my life—every memory filled with laughter, companionship and solidarity—has been defined by family. From my own family in Puerto Rico, to the families that have cared for me in D.C., Mexico City and now Orlando, to the co-workers I spend so much time with; they have shown me the true magic that two or more people loving each other can create.

It is an insuperable feeling when in hard times, sickness or peril someone from your family circle comes to the rescue, calls you or even texts you. It is our innate response to always be available to others, especially those we have grown up with, shared a life-changing moment with, those we have decided to marry or those who are brought to this earth as our children. I am sure that as your read these lines, many people come to mind, along with flashbacks of those milestones that have defined your relationships to them.

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Keeping It Real: Grit, grace and gaps across our LGBTQ+ generations

By : Nathan Bruemmer
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Pride Month is a wrap. This year was monumental—50 years since Stonewall.

What began as a single confrontational event that turned into a one-day march, grew into a weekend and then blossomed into a weeklong festival, has matured into a month of non-stop activities for all ages. However, we can’t seem to agree on how we define Stonewall. An uprising? Protests? Riots? What happened and who was there continues to be debated. But 50 years ago, the world changed.

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