02.08.18 Central Florida Bureau Chief’s Desk

By : Jeremy Williams
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Love is in the air. Even the most cynical of us who publicly curse the day of St. Valentine, I’m sure feel a bit of warmth when no one is looking. Valentine’s Day was always a happy day in our family, a day of celebration. After all, it was the day Daddy proposed to Mama, and every year since then he brings her flowers and a box of chocolates.

Mama always said life is like a box of chocolates. No, wait. She didn’t. That was Forrest Gump’s Mama. My Mama had some good advice, though. Never go to bed angry, never be afraid to say I love you and if you ever want to meet a good man always start at the gay bar. After all, that is where she met Daddy.

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02.08.18 Tampa Bay Bureau Chief’s Desk

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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I don’t know which genius opted to name a size of children’s blue jeans “husky,” but I do know that in the fourth grade I had to wear them. It does wonders for a kid’s self-esteem.

It was the year that my parents and I moved, resulting in a new elementary school mid-year for my husky-clad self. In hindsight, it was the best move my parents could’ve made for our family. At the time, however, I drowned my sorrows in Snapple—likely resulting in an even huskier pair of jeans by the end of the year.

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Wonderful World of Wanzie: By all means – LET’S GO TO WAR!

By : Michael Wanzie
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Much of what I have to say here I’ve said before, from many podiums and in many written diatribes.It bears repeating. Especially with all that is happening presently, including the recent unseemly situation where the Christian right was willing to send Roy Moore—a probable pedophile—to Washington. Why? Because he insisted he would put God above country and Christianity back into government while exposing his hatred of homosexuals and his fervent goal to reverse our advances and disenfranchise us by every possible means. Yes, my “viewpoint” has to do with a “war” for which I have become an advocate.

It is an egregious waste of the people’s time and money when elected officials engage in arguing matters of law and government policy by referencing the Bible and invoking the name of Jesus or God. Heed the words of our founding fathers and the cherished documents that established this nation, which so clearly set forth the framework for how our government is meant to function: “…shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.” That is crystal clear. There is no room for argument or debate. An absolute mandate for every legislative body in this county is that they “shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.” Period!

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Keeping It Real: The Reality of Growing Up LGBTQIA+ Today

By : Nathan Bruemmer
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What’s it like growing up LGBTQIA+ in 2018? It depends on whom you ask and where you live. The general perception from generation to generation is that youth have it better, but for this generation of LGBTQIA+ youth, even before the change in administration, it is a much more complicated answer.

The progress of social equality has been impressive over the last decade or two. Today we live in country with marriage equality, more resources, more support and fewer challenges than in the past. However, not all Florida communities have embraced this progress. Even communities with a progressive citizenry may not have progressive city councils, county commissions, school boards or school board policies. 

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The Tender Activist: You’re Not Responsible Enough to Have a Gun

By : Scottie Campbell
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In the aftermath of the June 12, 2016, shooting here in Orlando, my dad and I had a discussion about guns.

Like all of our discussions on that topic, nobody was swayed. I certainly didn’t help things when I had a knee-jerk reaction to a “the gun doesn’t kill people” bon mot he lobbed at me. Fresh off hearing Rick Scott regurgitate an impotent cliché for the national media about the Second Amendment itself not killing everyone, I snapped.

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1.25.18 Publisher’s Desk

By : Rick Claggett
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It’s good to be back. Last issue Jeremy Williams took over this space in Central Florida and Ryan Willams-Jent wrote the column for Tampa Bay. They will continue their columns every other issue, and I will continue mine in the alternating weeks.

I’ve made no secret of the fact that I have been on a journey to live a healthier and better life—while I still have a few good years ahead of me. There is the physical: regular personal training sessions with Max Dunley at Rock Hard Fitness, eating well, LASIK and braces. There is also the mental, or my version of spirituality. With the help of a twelve step program, I spend a lot of time looking at my past to understand the responsibility I have in the choices I’ve made in the hopes that I will make better decisions in the future.

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The Other Side of Life: Join or Die

By : Jason Leclerc
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Dear Self,

If 2017 was the worst year of your life, bookended by incomprehensible tweets about Inauguration crowd sizes and climate change, I invite you to look beyond your cynical hysteria and forward to 2018.

I invite you to reflect on the future in light of history’s—recent and less so—actualities. Whether you want to attribute the actuality of Trump’s inertia to lack of vision, to political ineptitude or to strategic design, most of the doomsday scenarios predicted by a combination of #NeverTrump Conservative purists and #NotMyPresident activists still remain in the realm of circumstantial allegation.

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Sweet Divinity: A new year, a new me!

By : Divine Grace
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Hello, Dearest Darlings!

Good news! As 2017 came screeching to an end like a locomotive driven by an orangutan with glaucoma and a history of substance abuse issues, I took stock of my life.

Some around the global world were popping champagne and exchanging kisses. Mariah Carey made her annual attempt at hitting whistle notes during another frigid wintertime performance. This year, rather than braving the blustery December Times Square air dressed in a nude leotard, she was swaddled in an open Muppet skin coat. Her own exposed meat puppets were warmed by a cozy diamond necklace and an evening gown that made the top half of her body look like a can of biscuit dough that had been forgotten in the trunk of her car. The blame for her need to sing at a register lower than a baritone in a barbershop quartet this year was awarded to the denial of her request for a piping hot cup of Orange Pekoe, instead of blaming her incessant desire to dress as if her breasts are attempting to escape through a rhinestone chain link fence. But me? What was I doing, you ask?

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01.11.18 Tampa Bay Bureau Chief’s Desk

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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I’ve never made a New Year’s resolution—at least that I can remember.It isn’t because I don’t hope for a better year than the last, particularly after a rather polarizing 2017. It’s just something that never really occurs to me, especially now that I have to wrangle my husband for my midnight-mandated “kissy” photo op. He hates pictures of people kissing.

There’s nothing wrong with people making resolutions. It works for some, and that’s wonderful. I try to make every day the best it can be, so an over-arching 365-day look-ahead just doesn’t do it for me.

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01.11.18 Central Florida Bureau Chief’s Desk

By : Jeremy Williams
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I have been working at Watermark for several years now, and words that I have pieced together into sentences and strung into readable stories have appeared hundreds of times in dozens and dozens of issues of this publication.

This is however the first time that I have been asked to write something that would appear on this page. It’s not an interview or a news article on an upcoming event. It’s words strung together from me to form an opinion. I wasn’t thrilled at first to be writing anything with my opinion in it.

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Lady Fingers: Bye 2017!

By : Sabrina Ambra
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Welp, we’re almost there, folks. Soon enough we’ll all be able to put this bizarre and “tryin’-ass” year behind us. It has been a doozie for just about everyone I know, but we survived. I have been tested, I’ve met new limits, I’ve stopped myself from drop-kicking many morons and I have a new cat.

Alongside the shitty, I have had the honor to not only witness but also be a part of incredible movements. I walked with thousands as history was made and stuck a big middle finger up to everyone who tried to make me feel anything less than my worth.

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12.28.17 Publisher’s Desk

By : Rick Claggett
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New Year’s Eve is upon us. This day has changed for me over the past few years. Usually I’d spend the evening getting drunk and complaining about how awful the year was. At midnight my friends and I would hug each other in the hopes for a better new year.

December 31, 2014 would be much of the same. In the early morning hours of that day my father passed away, pretty much sealing the deal on making 2014 an awful year. Later that evening my family joined me at my favorite watering hole before we all retreated back to my place where I drank the year away. That was the last New Year’s Eve I would spend drunk.

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