St. Pete Pride seeks 2019 grand marshal nominations

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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St Pete Pride is now accepting grand marshal nominations for the organization’s 17th annual celebration, currently scheduled for June 21-23.

“In 2014 we introduced Community Grand Marshals, allowing the community to vote on who they felt should be the St Pete Pride Grand Marshals,” the organization’s website reads.

“St Pete Pride is now accepting nominations for the 2019 Community Grand Marshals,” it continues. “Tell us your story about your local hero, activist or hidden gem. Let us know who we should recognize with the honor of St Pete Pride Grand Marshal.”

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Gulfport welcomes readers, writers to ReadOut 2019

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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GULFPORT, Fla. | The second annual Gulfport ReadOut—three days of events held primarily at the Gulfport Public Library for LGBTQ readers, writers and their allies—will take place Feb. 15-17.

Festivities begin Feb. 15 with “An Afternoon of Romance,” bringing together lesbian romance authors for afternoon tea ahead of a reception. They continue Feb. 16 with a full day of events beginning at 10 a.m., where keynote speaker and workshop leader Leslea Newman—author of 70 books including “A Letter to Harvey Milk,” “A Song for Matthew Shepard” and “Heather Has Two Mommies”—will present “It Takes a Village to Raise a Writer and Activist.”

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Straz Center announces ‘Hamilton’ ticket lottery for Tampa run

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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TAMPA | Producer Jeffrey Seller and the Straz Center for the Performing Arts announced Jan. 31 that a digital lottery for “Hamilton” tickets will begin in conjunction with the popular production’s opening night in Tampa Feb. 12.

The musical details the story of America’s Founding Father Alexander Hamilton, an immigrant from the West Indies who became George Washington’s right-hand man during the Revolutionary War. It features a score that blends hip-hop, jazz, blues, rap, R&B and Broadway by Lin-Manuel Miranda.

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PFLAG Tampa paves the way for love in Ybor

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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Watermark’s Most Remarkable People John and Nancy Desmond – community activists known for their work with Tampa Pride, PFLAG and more – have long shared their support for the LGBTQ community throughout Tampa Bay.

On most weekends, the duo can be seen on 7th Ave. in Ybor City proclaiming that support and love, pro-LGBTQ signs in hand across from religious protesters. Now, even if they can’t make it, the protesters will be greeted from below with a paver reading “I love my gay son, PFLAG.”

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Tampa Bay LGBTQ sports leagues hold inaugural winter event

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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LGBTQ athletes and supporters from across Tampa Bay will hold the inaugural winter Tampa Bay LGBTQ+ Sports Day at Enigma Jan. 13.

Presented in partnership with Tampa and St Pete Pride, the gathering seeks to raise awareness about LGBTQ athletic opportunities throughout Tampa Bay. It follows the creation of an area marketing group focused on LGBTQ sports, spearheaded by Suncoast Softball League (SSL) Producer and Tampa Pride LGBTQ+ Sports Liaison Gerre Reynolds as well as fellow SSL Hall of Fame player Andrew Cohen.

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Watermark’s 2019 WAVEs – Tampa Bay/Sarasota nomination round

By : Watermark Staff
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Welcome to 2019! Fresh off the historic blue wave that swept progressives into political offices in Central Florida, Tampa Bay and across the country; we bring you a wave of our own … the purple WAVE!!!

The Watermark Awards for Variety and Excellence, or the WAVEs for short, recognize the best in Tampa Bay and Sarasota’s LGBTQ community in the areas of activism, service, entertainment and more.

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St Pete Pride announces new leadership

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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Following its successful 16th year, St Pete Pride announced Nov. 19 that the organization’s board president, vice president and secretary would transition and that its treasurer had been re-elected.

“St Pete Pride voted in new leadership, including three newly-elected officers from various backgrounds,” the organization shared, highlighting Chrys Bundy-Brennan’s election as president. Bundy-Brennan follows Scion Crowder’s four-year term which oversaw St Pete Pride’s largest period of growth.

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St. Petersburg to hold ‘We Won’t Be Erased’ transgender support rally

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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LGBTQ community leaders and advocates will gather Nov. 4 from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. at St. Petersburg’s Williams Park for the area’s “We Won’t Be Erased” transgender support rally.

Nathan Bruemmer organized the rally following reports that the Trump administration may attempt to define gender as an immutable condition determined at birth. Partner organizations include Equality Florida, TransAction Florida, Metro Wellness & Community Centers, St. Pete Pride and Project No Labels.

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Venice announces first ever Pride Festival

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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Venice’s LGBTQ community and its allies will celebrate diversity and visibility during the inaugural Venice Pride Nov. 3.

The celebration will be held on the five-acre campus of SunCoast Cathedral Metropolitan Community Church, described as a safe spiritual home for the LGBTQ community and its allies, from 1-5 p.m.

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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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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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