10.04.18 Publisher’s Desk

By : Rick Claggett
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I like beer. This month marks 3 years since I stopped drinking. I talk about it all the time because I think it’s not talked about enough in our community.  Not talking about it perpetuates a stigma about alcoholics that is false. Since truth is now my everything, I talk about it. I like beer.

It is weird to me, turning terrible behavior into something to celebrate. Congratulations, Rick, on three years of doing something you should have been doing all along. Although, it is a celebration of sorts: It’s like coming out. It’s about owning who you are and choosing an honest path.  It’s about taking bad life choices and turning them into good, or at least attempting to. This is why every year in the month of October, I share my story. I don’t do it so I get likes on Facebook or some pat on the back. I do it so people can see how addiction affected my life, as well as those around me. I do it so people who might see similarities in their lives can know there is a better way.

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Inaugural Drag Queen Story Hour Tampa Bay draws anti-LGBTQ protest

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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Participants in the first Drag Queen Story Hour Tampa Bay (DQSHTB) were greeted by religious protestors at St. Petersburg’s Community Cafe Sept. 29.

DQSHTB was formed by Adira Elham and is exactly what it sounds like, she advises. It features area drag entertainers reading stories to children in libraries, schools and bookstores. It aims to capture the imagination and play of childhood and give children glamorous, positive and unabashedly queer role models.

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The Other Side of Life: Strange Bedfellows

By : Jason Leclerc
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The excessive spectacle surrounding our recently-passed statesman and war martyr, Senator John McCain, came as little surprise. To the disinterested observer, that the vast and broad anti-McCain rhetoric questioned his status as a hero and his credentials as a statesman was nothing if not predictable. To an observer who’d lived on a planet outside of our galaxy since 2016, the epithets and animus coming from McCain’s own party might have been shocking.

For the rest of us who’ve observed the takeover of that party by an unprincipled impostor—a POW belittler and recent Democrat himself—nothing remains that can shock us. The most visceral post-mortem disdain was shoveled out from a hole deeper than the Everglades-are-wide by folks who’ve overtaken a Grand Old Party that once nominated McCain for the presidency. Liberal institutionalists came to his defense alongside institutional Reagan-Bush conservatives. Strange bedfellows, indeed.

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09.20.18 Central Florida Bureau Chief’s Desk

By : Jeremy Williams
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Video games have changed a lot since I was young. They have always been an expensive gift for most kids, so when we (“we” being me and my siblings) were gifted our Nintendo, Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo on the various Christmases throughout the late 80s and 90s, they were always a “family gift.”

This process made me feel bad for my sister, who among her three brothers, was the only girl in the house growing up and was not much of a gamer. But being the only girl in the house, she also got her own room and I had to share one with my two brothers. So sorry sis — you win some, you lose some.

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09.20.18 Tampa Bay Bureau Chief’s Desk

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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Thanks to the wonders of Facebook’s “On This Day,” a feature which allows users to grin or grimace at their social media posts from yesteryear, I recently discovered I’ve been living in Florida for 11 years.

For whatever reason, I still tell folks I’m from Cincinnati, Ohio when they ask. They tend to figure out that I’m from the North when I correctly describe Diet Coke as “pop,” but I suppose I should really start telling my Lyft drivers that I’m from St. Pete. I put too much thought into small talk, which is probably why I’m so bad at it.

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Mama Bearings: Why I am here

By : Sylvie Griffiths
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“Why are you guys even here?” This was the very direct and rude question my husband was asked in March during this year’s Tampa Pride. We were sitting at a crowded table shared with friends, old and new, at Hamburger Mary’s Ybor. Our eight-year-old son Jake was with us.

My husband, being the kind and patient human being he is, answered in great detail. He explained to his interrogator that we were attending Tampa Pride in support of our youngest child, who identifies as transgender. Jake was even on a float and gave out beads in the parade. It was an important and magical day for us as parents seeing our little dude being himself. Celebrating diversity is one of my fondest memories with Jake so far.

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Homo Erectus: The Evolution of Us – Like a shiny unicorn, the gay mafia does exist! (and other homo business advice)

By : Dr. Steve Yacovelli
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I have a secret to tell you: The “gay mafia” is real. I know because I met them a few weeks ago.

In early August, the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) held its annual conference in Philadelphia. Targeted at both LGBTQ+ owned businesses as well as the purchasing professionals for many Fortune 500 companies, the event was a combination of educational sessions to run your business better to focusing on how to more effectively engage with minority vendors. The conference was strongly attended by many members of Central Florida’s Metropolitan Business Association (MBA), our local LBGTQ+ Chamber of Commerce (who awesomely won Chamber of the Year in 2017).

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09.06.18 Publisher’s Desk

By : Rick Claggett
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I’ve been told I communicate too much. I really am an open book and there isn’t much I won’t talk about, no matter how personal it is. I also tend to divulge all the information I have when telling a story. It’s strange to me that everyone doesn’t do this, yet I assume they do anyway. This often gets me in trouble with my roommate.

“Why did she do that?” she asks when I’m done with my story. To which I reply, “I’ve given you all the information I have.” “Why didn’t you ask more questions?” she retorts. I explain that I just go by the information people give me. She calls me weird and I call her weird. After 18 years of living together, I assure you we are both weird.

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Metro Wellness, CAN Community Health open Clearwater Health Center

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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ABOVE: Rose Addison, Vilma M. Vega, Priya Rajkumar and Caroline White-Smith open Metro and CAN’s Clearwater location Aug. 30. Photo by Ryan Williams-Jent.

Metro Wellness & Community Centers and CAN Community Health leadership gathered Aug. 30 to introduce the community to their Clearwater Health Center and its team.

“I’m the Medical Director at this office and I’m really blessed to be here and to be able to provide care,” Dr. Vilma M. Vega shared at the opening. “I am blessed to see this. We’re here for all patients, whether insured or not insured; they are all treated exactly the same.”

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Balance Tampa Bay’s Avant Garde raises over $16K for EPIC

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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ABOVE: Balance Tampa Bay’s fourth annual masquerade was held Aug. 4. Photo by Ryan Williams-Jent.

LGBTA volunteer organization Balance Tampa Bay announced Aug. 31 that its fourth annual masquerade ball raised $16,000 for Empath Partners in Care (EPIC).

“On behalf of Balance Tampa Bay’s Executive Board, Committee Members, and EPIC, we would like to thank you for your support of Avant Garde, our 4th Annual Masquerade at the Armature Works,” masquerade Event Chair Ryan Young shared with attendees. “Because of your support and generous sponsorship, Balance Tampa Bay was able to raise over $16,000 to deliver to EPIC to help them continue to change the everyday lives of HIV/AIDS impacted clients.”

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Positive Living: We’re Here…We’re Queer?

By : Greg Stemm
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There is a move afoot among millennials and younger generations to dump the ever-growing “alphabet soup” of letters (LBGTQIA) describing our community and simply call all of us “queer.”

I admit I am conflicted about this argument. In many discussions I’ve had with a variety of people who might all fall under the “queer” label across a wide range of ages, the conversation brings up deeper topics about who and what we are as a community, where we want to go and where we fall in mainstream society. It may seem like a simple and silly thing, but in actuality we should all probably give it some consideration.

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The Wonderful World of Wanzie: Florida heat and summer schools

By : Michael Wanzie
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michael wanzie atheist

Why is it when a svelte, smooth-chested, swimmer-type guy goes jogging shirtless on a scorching Orlando summer day, it is said of him that his luscious perspiration, glistening in the sunlight, gleefully beckons adoring tongues to lap up his liquid masculinity from a bronzed canvas of sensual, sun-drenched flesh, but when a big boned (read: fat) guy like me does the same thing the only thought it brings to anyone’s mind is, “Christ that tub of lard sweats like a fucking pig!?”

Never mind your snarky answers. It was a rhetorical question to which I already know the answer all too well—and thus Summer is in full stride in Central Florida. Thus continues my annual stint of carefully navigating my way into various pools at various parties with my shirt still on because I have body issues regarding my man boobs. Too much information? OK then, we’ll move on.

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