The Other Side of Life: Jane Castor and American Exceptionalism

By : Jason Leclerc
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LGBTQ is not a qualification. Woman is not a qualification.

These are genetic characteristics, inscribed on a human’s chromosomes at conception (or, in a religio-metaphysical sense, since the conception of the heavens).

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04.18.19 Tampa Bay Bureau Chief’s Desk

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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I don’t recall exactly how the meeting came to be, especially since I hated middle school and spent as little time there as possible, but I remember staying late after school in the eighth grade to learn about our high school’s journalism class.

My freshman year was quickly approaching and student journalists had ventured over to discuss our soon-to-be high school’s news source with potential recruits. While my fellow middle schoolers and I were too busy killing Tamagotchis to draft a news source of our own, our high school had unsuccessfully dabbled in the act and would try again my freshman year.

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04.18.19 Central Florida Bureau Chief’s Desk

By : Jeremy Williams
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When I was younger my parents, as most parents do, would ask me and my siblings what we wanted to be when we grew up. We were a group that felt destined for greatness, so our responses reflected those dreams with future aspirations to be things like an astronaut, a world-famous actor, a global pop star or a professional wrestler, to name a few. The answers usually changed up a bit among my two brothers and sister.

When my parents would ask me my answer never faltered. “I want to be the president of the United States,” would be my reply. When they tell the story it is always in this cutesy way with an awkwardly high-pitched voice. When I look back I remember standing in a Superman pose with my balled-up fists on my hips and an American flag cape blowing in the wind.

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Keep It Real: The queering of a high school ritual – THE PROM!

By : Nathan Brummer
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As the DJ transitioned to a new song, it was eerily quiet for a moment. Then, a few clear strong keystrokes from a single piano could be heard as My Chemical Romance’s “Welcome to the Black Parade” captured the full attention of nearly 200 teenagers as they stood almost at attention waiting for the lyrics to begin. Then you heard “When I was a young boy …” in unison with all of their voices. It was a magical. It was one of those anthem moments.

I have nothing but horrific memories of my high school prom. But you see this prom was different. This prom was an alternative prom held to kick off the 2019 prom season. My organization, ALSO Youth, has been lucky enough to host in partnership with The Out-of-Door Academy an alternative prom for the LGBTQ+ youth of west central Florida for six years. This year was our biggest year yet!

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The Wonderful World of Wanzie: Welcome Spring!

By : Michael Wanzie
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We are now living in a time when we, as citizens and indeed the elected leaders of the United States of America, seem to be constantly at odds with another. Not merely over policies or how best to solve a problem, overcome adversity or deal with a crisis; rather over whether or not the policy was ever really a policy to begin with and whether or not the problem, adversity or crisis actually exists or ever existed.

It is impossible to make any real progress debating solutions when our time is instead spent debating what is fact and what is fiction; what is news and what is fantasy. Never in my lifetime have I witnessed such a crippling of the ability of our government, indeed the ability of our nation as a whole, to achieve consensus on any matter because we the people can’t even agree on the validity or truthfulness of said matter. This my friends will go down in history as the most significant and most harmful blow to our democracy brought about by the election of Donald J. tRump as president.

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Belize: LGBTQ Adventure in the Jungle

By : Aaron Drake
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“Jump in!” one of the tour guides shouted when it was my turn to immerse myself in the crystal clear, freezing cold stream leading into the mouth of the cave. The cave was Actun Tunichil Muknal—better known as ATM by the locals—one of the natural cave systems in Belize that was used by the Mayan civilization for rituals and ceremonies.

It was like something straight out of an “Indiana Jones” movie; after being outfitted with a helmet, headlamp and life vest, we set off on a 45-minute hike through the jungle, crossing three shallow waterways before we literally jumped in. Once inside the cave it got very dark and was a vigorous workout to climb over and through rocks, occasionally stopping to admire the stalagmites and stalactites that had formed over thousands of years.

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04.04.2019 Publisher’s Desk

By : Rick Claggett
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“Never put it in writing,” my mom always says. “You can’t put middle class values on a lower class society,” my 12th grade English teacher taught me. My former boss and mentor often advised me not to speak in absolutes. Most recently, my sponsor tells me to “do the next right thing.”

This is all fantastic advice from important people to me, and I try to obey these words of wisdom in daily life. Oh, I fail. Sometimes I fail miserably. However, the idea is progress, not perfection.

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Our Visibility Matters: Celebrating the 10th Annual International Transgender Day of Visibility

By : Equality Florida
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As a classic book begins, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” So describes the state of the transgender community as we celebrate the 10th Annual International Transgender Day of Visibility.

We come together every year on March 31 to celebrate stepping out of the shadows and being visible and viable members of society. This year has never been more the case, as the transgender community has been visible on a national scale like never before. Sparked by a fractured national dialogue, an administration determined to erase us and daily incidents of alarming violence and overt discrimination; the transgender community has never been more visible or engaged. The transgender discussion spans the globe from the classroom to the White House. Never has there been more awareness of what it means to be transgender, and never has there been more misunderstanding of what it means to be transgender.

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#LoveHandlin’: Together

By : Jerick Mediavilla
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There is a sort of divine spark within each of us that constantly follows us through life wherever we go. Some people call it a vibe, an energy, a wisdom that keeps pulling us towards what some say is our true calling.

I started writing at age 10, right around the same time I first saw the Jean-Claude Van Damme movie “Bloodsport.” My dad loved his movies for the kicking, the punching and the blood. I loved them for… well, obvious reasons. His splits, stretching between two chairs, helped me realize I was gay—Van DAMN!

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Positive Living: A former Methodist laments — It’s Homophobia!

By : Greg Stemm
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As most people are aware, the United Methodist Church’s board of directors recently voted to uphold that body’s ban on performing gay marriages and ordaining gay pastors. For a church that once touted a slogan of “open hearts, open doors, open minds,” it seems to me that they have proven they espouse none of those things.

For a season of my life (mostly because it’s where my parents belonged) I was a card-carrying member of the United Methodist Church. In fact, my senior year of high school I was president of my Methodist Youth Fellowship. I was a closeted kid in a corn field in Ohio and just beginning my spiritual journey. I even went to a United Methodist liberal arts college, Otterbein University in a suburb of Columbus. Today I hardly recognize that earlier version of myself.

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‘Sunday School’ exhibit examines religion, social climate

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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ST. PETERSBURG | John Gascot—Tampa Bay WAVE Award winner for Favorite Local Artist—has announced “Sunday School,” a new exhibit opening April 5 that explores his views on religion.

“As a gay Latino man, I don’t have much positive to say about organized religion or the current administration,” Gascot says. “Creating these pieces has been a fun productive way to let out some of that steam.”

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03.21.2019 Central Florida Bureau Chief’s Desk

By : Jeremy Williams
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Getting older seems worse when you are a kid. I don’t mean getting older as in turning 16 or 18 or 21. As a kid those ages are filled with cool milestones like getting able to drive or graduate or get completely shit-faced legally. I mean like really old. Like you have one foot in the grave, eat your dinner at 4 p.m. and record every CBS show airing on primetime old. You know, like 40.

When I was younger I remember attending a 40th birthday party. I can’t remember so well if it was the birthday of an uncle or family friend, but what I do remember is the party’s theme, “Over The Hill.”

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