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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Editor’s Desk 6.1.17

By : Billy Manes
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For most of us, it’s been the year of our discontent: a slack-jawed reckoning with a grief that stretches city and countywide, a mourning that, for 12 months, confounded and consumed the entire world.

Even the uncomfortable cultural things that swarm in after the bomb drops – helicopters and newscasters and national media hovering around each tear we’ve been able to drop, each one of those drying our wells of stamina and breaking our private slouches – have served as difficult oil clouding our water. But never once have they cracked our resolve. Orlando strong? Yes. Orlando hurt? More than you can even imagine.

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Trans of thought: Parent’s Day

By : Melody Maia Monet
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As we pass through this brief period of the year when it is no longer Mother’s Day but not quite yet Father’s Day, it occurs to me that this is an apt analogy for how many transgender parents sit between motherhood and fatherhood.

After our transitions, many of us struggle to redefine ourselves as parents within our reconfigured families. Sometimes the choice is not up to us. After consulting a psychologist before I came out to my son, she suggested that for his comfort, it was important to allow him to choose what he would now call the new me. After mulling over the different possibilities, including “father” in multiple languages, he decided to call me by my own created name of Maia. Admittedly, it is not what I prefer as my public identity as his parent has been rendered invisible. Kids don’t usually call their mothers or fathers by their first names.

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5.18.17 Editor’s Desk

By : Billy Manes
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Billy Manes

It’s time for a glorious distraction. It’s time to look up and out of our socioeconomic boxes and tear-rusted cages to remind ourselves that we still know how to have fun, whether in red shirts or in swimming trunks that bear a startling resemblance to underwear. It’s time to remind ourselves of what has happened and what is yet to come for the LGBTQ community. In short, it’s time to party.

Though everything feels like it’s being viewed through a dilated pupil right now via our political refractions and their requisite reactions, there is still a lot to be happy about, and much of this issue of Watermark – our annual issue that pays tribute those days for the gays in early June – will throw confetti at your face and kiss you on your cheek, slipping you a number on a cocktail napkin and leaving with a sideways glance.

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The Wonderful World of Wanzie: Merry Fringemas!

By : Michael Wanzie
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Christmas used to be my favorite time of the year. That’s until the Orlando International Fringe Theater Festival got into my blood. Now Christmas has dropped to distant second as Orlando Fringe ranks number one among the things for which I am most grateful and for providing the most fun ever to be crammed into 12 days or so.

Seasoned Fringe-goers might think there is no need for a Fringe tutorial of sorts because to us Fringing is second nature. But as I share my passion for Orlando Fringe to strangers I encounter as part of my duties acting in the capacity of non-official, self-appointed Fringe Ambassador to the Uninitiated Masses, I never fail to encounter persons on a daily basis who somehow have never heard of Fringe and have no idea what it is.

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The Other Side of Life: ARC of the Covenant

By : Jason Leclerc
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Remember when, in Raiders of the Lost Ark, the NAZIs found the Ark of the Covenant and thought it would make them invincible? Remember that scary scene when they opened it and out came a host of spirits that eviscerated the evil warmongers, stripping them of their skin down to bare bones? I was seven when that movie came out and that scene was so frightening that I was escorted from the theater in a trail of horrified tears.

I was a sensitive child.

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