07.12.17 Publisher’s Desk

By : Rick Claggett
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One day at a time. That’s what they tell me. It’s one of the most useful tools in sobriety, especially in the beginning.

I stopped drinking on October 1, 2015. It was nine days before the annual Come Out With Pride celebration at Lake Eola in downtown Orlando and I was nervous. How was someone like me, someone who would binge drink at every opportunity, going to make it through this major weekend-long event at only nine days sober? The answer: 24 hours at a time.

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High Fidelity: It’s dating again

By : Miguel Fuller
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My name is Miguel Fuller. I am 31 years old and I don’t know a damn thing about dating. Do they still make the “For Dummies” books? If so, I need the How to date when you are in your 30s and are severely awkward for Dummies book.

So here I am, six months out of the longest relationship I’ve had and I have been on more dates in that time than all the dates counted together in my 20’s. So what’s wrong? Why am I not connecting? Why do I feel so awkward? Maybe you’ve been down this path of self-discovery and have worked out the kinks of your personality.

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Ladyfingers: An ode to Jim Philips

By : Sabrina Ambra
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Mind if we take a drive down “Let Me Get Real With Ya” Boulevard real quick? Sometimes I find myself scrambling for topics when it’s time for me to write my next Ladyfingers entry (#giggidy).

I’m an expert in over analyzation, procrastination, and self-deprecation. Am I an artist? Debatable. Did I miss my deadline? Absolutely. However, instead of my “occasional” scrambling (I’m sorry; I love you; thank you for your patience), I’m a day late for a completely different reason. As a matter of fact, this time I had no doubt in what, or in this case, who I wanted to write about: Jim Philips.

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The other side of life: Intersections

By : Jason Leclerc
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Over the past year, we’ve tread the intersection of Kaley Street and South Orange Avenue as it’s become a crossroads swollen with mourners, with meaning. It meets the intersection of Christopher and Seventh. It meets the intersection of Pride and unity, where the Rainbow Flag meets an ongoing aggregation of initials. It meets the intersection of politics and partisanship and guns and economic equity.

Even as we make these intersections into hallowed spaces, each carrying the foot traffic of omnipresent ghosts, we are obliged to recognize that history is a gift from the past to the present – another intersection where the crosswalks are overwhelmed by facts and their pedestrian interpretations. The past lives alongside the present.

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6.29.17 Editor’s Desk

By : Billy Manes
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Amid all of the hue and cry about the transformative nature of St. Pete Pride over the weekend – it was all going to be about moving the parade route; it would be new shoes to bear the 15 years upon which the celebration previously stood – most concerns seemed to melt into the violet of the sunset sky along Bayshore Drive on Saturday night, dancing in abandon with the glitter and the confetti to various mixes of pop songs you might be too old to know, much less remember.

What struck me most, though, was just how together – how empathetic, collective and genuine – that a mass gathering that may have attracted 200,000 people could be.

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St. Pete Pride board member Susan McGrath responds to our St. Pete Pride Viewpoint column

By : Billy Manes
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Though we don’t normally do this – not directly, except in our letters section – we’d like to present this rebuttal to one of our Viewpoints. Not everybody is happy with Greg Stemm’s opinion piece in our Viewpoint section about St. Pete Pride. You can read the original here.

This is Pride board member Susan McGrath’s response.

As a St Pete Pride board member and a 19-year homeowner in Historic Kenwood, I cannot express my level of disappointment in opening the “St Pete Pride” Watermark edition to see a page devoted to substantial misinformation and language that is divisive and unproductive for our community.

Let’s begin with the facts.

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The Evolution of Us: Make Oz Great Again!

By : Dr. Steve Yacovelli
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A little while ago, I had the pleasure of watching the musical Wicked in downtown Orlando. I’ve seen this show multiple times throughout the years since its 2003 Broadway premier, however fourteen years later, and only about 120-plus days into our 45th President’s reign, the show has taken on a crazy new perspective for me. Maybe we can learn a little wisdom from the Land of Oz.

For those who are unfamiliar with story of Wicked, it’s a musical by Stephen Schwartz based on the amazing book by Gregory Maguire that tells the story of Elphaba, the “Wicked Witch of the West” most of us feared from “The Wizard of Oz.” But it’s an origin-story, a prequel, telling how she came from an unloving father; how she became green; how she was shunned for being an “outsider” because of her intellect and her, well, greenness; and the relationships she forged once she attended college and beyond. And, of course, it dovetails into the L. Frank Baum story (see the “L-F-B” reference there?) that we’ve come to know, with Dorothy and the slippers, the Yellow Brick Road, and the house that fell on a woman – Elphaba’s sister to be exact. It also explores how the Tin Man, Scarecrow, Cowardly Lion and Glinda all came into being. It’s a great story that puts what I knew as a kid on its head.

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Positive Living: Thanks, Concern and an Open Mind from a Founder of St. Pete Pride

By : Greg Stemm
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As one of the founders of St. Pete Pride, first let me say “thank you.” Over the past 15 years you’ve taken our concept of a truly grassroots community-driven Pride celebration and transformed it into the largest Pride event in the state and one of the premier LGBTQ experiences in the country.

In doing so, you’ve taken it even one step further and helped to transform St. Petersburg from a sleepy retirement community into a blossoming gay mecca becoming known by many as “the San Francisco of the East.” Make no mistake, we are celebrating 15 years of successful Pride celebrations not because of anything we did as founders or the controversial decisions of the current board, but because you supported it. St. Pete Pride was and is your Pride celebration.

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06.15.17 Editor’s Desk

By : Billy Manes
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Billy Manes

“Shame! Shame! Shame!”

So went the missive in unison as thousands marched by the White House on Sunday morning, many having traveled from all over the nation and the world to participate in the Equality March for Unity and Pride.

It was an effective palate cleanser, some might say, from the more corporate, more typical Capital Pride parade just the day before, though, through the looking glass, it was two sides of the same coined message.

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Finding Our Pulse: We Are One Orlando

By : Buddy Dyer
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One year ago, a deranged killer walked into the Pulse nightclub and targeted members of our LGBTQ community on Latin Night. When the horror was over, 49 of our friends and neighbors, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, had been taken from us.

As our community reflects back on the past year, much is going to be made of reliving the tragedy, and retelling the stories of the victims and their families as we honor them.

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Finding Our Pulse: Words matter, actions matter more

By : Teresa Jacobs
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Until June 12, 2016, although I knew of Pulse, I had not realized its significance within our community, the sense of home and family that it provided for so many in the LGBTQ community, or how it served as an anchor for others – especially our LGBTQ young people.

Pulse – a place of love and acceptance, where once our LGBTQ brothers and sisters gathered with laughter and joy. Pulse – a place named to honor the enduring spirit of one woman’s beloved brother, and Pulse – a place that was to become an instant shrine for 49 innocent victims who will forever live within our hearts. But in the early morning hours of June 12, I knew none of that. I knew only the shattering pain and the surreal disbelief we all felt. I knew from the start – literally on that morning – that this was a hate crime, occurring during Pride Month and aimed squarely at the LGBTQ community, as well as the Latinx and Hispanic communities. And above all, I knew that people would need help.

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The Good Fight: Looking beyond the memorials

By : Chad Griffin
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At the stroke of noon on June 12, churches from Ecuador to Michigan will ring their bells 49 times in memory of the lives lost at Pulse Nightclub one year ago. This moment will honor the remarkable people taken that night – and mourn the lives that were tragically cut short.

Luis S. Vielma, 22, worked at Universal Orlando’s Harry Potter ride and was set to start Emergency Medical Technician training just weeks after the massacre.

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