11.16.17 Publisher’s Desk

By : Rick Claggett
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Thanksgiving has a long history of being my least favorite holiday. The reason is simple: turkey sucks! There, I said it. It’s ok to have a different opinion, but I’m right. No offense to my mother, but it’s always dry. It isn’t her fault. There isn’t enough water in the ocean to make turkey moist. My childhood memories of Thanksgiving involve two ounces of turkey swimming in four cups of gravy. Not even gravy could save Thanksgiving.

There is one exception to this rule and that is the Thanksgiving sandwich at PomPom’s Tea House and Sandwicheria. They have locations in both St. Pete and Orlando, so check it out. This is not a paid advertisement nor do I expect free sandwiches in return. It’s just that good and needs to be mentioned in any discussion I have about Thanksgiving. I digress.

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The Wonderful World of Wanzie: Thanksgiving is a fraud!

By : Michael Wanzie
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As I flip over the hardware-store calendar to November and see that big-busted gal sitting on her John Deere in her daisy dukes…oh who I am kidding. My calendar’s November picture is of a group of Catholic nuns in full-on black & white habits playing ice hockey, but I digress. As we stumble from the bar into the month of November our thoughts unavoidably turn to “The Holidays.”

November is the month of our annual fraudulent celebration feast commemorating the “First Thanksgiving,” which by now we should all know did not take place anywhere near Plymouth Rock. The actual, fact-checked-and-proven, “First Thanksgiving” was celebrated a full 50 years prior to the Massachusetts gathering by Catholic colonists who were following Spanish explorer Don Pedro Melendez de Aviles. As far as commemorating the first Thanksgiving goes we don’t even get the month right! Records indicate Melendez first spotted what is now Florida on August 28, 1565. When he finally guided his 800 Catholic pals ashore on September 8, he declared the spot would hence forth be known as “St. Augustine” in honor of the saint on whose feast day Melendez had first glimpsed the Florida shoreline through his spyglass.

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The Other Side of Life: The Other Hands, The Other We

By : Jason Leclerc
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Hands, it seems, are the new eyes: tools for feeling our way through the many ways we see our America.

Given the flurry of historical reassessments we are currently experiencing, I find that many of my conservative friends are torn between seeing and feeling, between their commitment to their ideals and their short termer’s allegiance with political expediency.

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11.02.17 Publisher’s Desk

By : Rick Claggett
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The death of Matthew Sheppard on October 12, 1998, shook me to my core. It was a devastating, brutal reminder of the misguided hatred some had, and still have, for the LGBTQ community. It was also a reminder to me of how lucky I was to have survived college relatively unscathed.

I identified with Matthew a great deal. We were close in age, just under two years apart; we both went to small, remote colleges; and neither of us was quiet about being gay.

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High Fidelity: Beyond the summer of single

By : Miguel Fuller
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“To my neurotic friends, calm down and take a breath. When you go on a date, treat it like you are having drinks and cheese sticks with your best friends.”

Well my friends, cheese sticks happened. That quote was from a column this summer where I was giving you, the reader, and myself tips on dating. The last column I wrote I talked about my summer of single and how I learned so much about myself. Apparently, life has a way of opening itself up and making magic happen. Yes, I’m about to get super corny.

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Ladyfingers: Spine-chilling buzz kill

By : Sabrina Ambra
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‘Tis the season for scary stories, I hear. Somewhere between the “Dr. Feltersnatch” OBGYN costume and the human skull beer funnel is the timeless Halloween tradition of inducing panic through the telling of horrifying tales.

They are passed down from generation to generation and then, at some point, from generation to Internet where they will live forever alongside funny cat videos and 2 Girls, 1 Cup. It’s like the circle of life, but with scat. That being said, I think there’s no better time than now to hunker down and write my very own frightening tale. And by write, I mean type “www.WikiHow.com” into the address bar. I would be doing a disservice if I didn’t mention that my address bar auto-filled the page for WikiHow: To Get Down From a Bad High (long story, short: Molly from Manhattan is NOT your friend).

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10.19.17 Publisher’s Desk

By : Rick Claggett
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We are nearing the end of Pride season; Oct. 21 marks bi-coastal celebrations in Volusia County and Sarasota, and we close with Sanford Pride Nov. 5. As the Pride door shuts the holiday door swings open.

You can always tell when the holidays are coming, and I include Halloween as the official kickoff to the end of year holiday extravaganza. Pumpkin spice is everywhere, people are complaining that Christmas trees are already on sale and the temperature drops from a balmy 98 degrees to a cool 92. Ah yes, fall in Florida. There really is nowhere I’d rather be. I’m so basic that I love everything pumpkin, it’s never too early for tree shopping and nothing is better than warm weather. Fall is arguably the best time of the year.

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Addison Mizner: The likely gay father of South Florida architecture

By : Graham Brunk, Special to Watermark from the LGBT History Project
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Addison Mizner

Addison Mizner came to Palm Beach in 1918 to die. Instead, he would change South Florida forever, especially Boca Raton, with his enduring signature Spanish revival architecture. Eighty-four years after his death, that imprint is hard to miss.

While many in Palm Beach County know who Mizner was, few probably suspect he may have been gay.

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The Tender Activist: King & Queens

By : Scottie Campbell
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Mom would tell it like she told all of her best stories, barely getting the words out through her laughter and sometimes joyful tears. She and Dad had been to see Carrie. Someone in their party grabbed someone’s arm just prior to Carrie’s hand reaching out of the grave causing that first someone to scream, which made the audience scream, all before the scream Brian De Palma intended but, not to worry, they all screamed then, too.

So I might have connected who the author was when I bought my first Stephen King book when I was 11, but I’m fairly certain it was the cover that drew me in. A silver front with a faceless boy’s head floating on it. The store was B. Dalton Bookstore in the Marquette Mall. That small mall and the McDonald’s down the street were our family’s touchstones to civilization while stationed in the frigid Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Can I tell you about the smell of that book? I cannot, because it smelled like nothing else. The scent of those dull, off-white, pulp pages can only be described in intangibles: raw potential and adventure; that whole store smelled that way.

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Positive Living: What is family?

By : Greg Stemm
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I am honored to be the chairman of the new Equality Florida Family Values Potluck Picnic on Sunday, October 15 from 2 to 6 pm at Pavilion Seven on Gulfport Beach. The event is on the last day of Come Out St. Pete, our big new LGBTQ celebration in the Sunshine City that not only coincides with National Coming Out Day on October 11, but also is running in collaboration with the Tampa Gay and Lesbian Film Festival that week.

Working on this event has me thinking about my own coming out experience and how that traumatic event for me contributed to my own perspectives about family. While I was sitting in the heat and the dark in the six-day power outage after Irma, I had a lot of time to think about things. I asked myself the question…what does family mean to a 56-year-old single only child with a slightly homophobic 82-year-old father in Ohio and very little else in the way of blood kin, living the life of a Quaker gay activist in St. Petersburg, Florida?

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10.5.17 Publisher’s Desk

By : Rick Claggett
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On June 11, 2016, I was out celebrating the birthday of a co-worker and friend. We had plans to have dinner, see a movie and possibly hit a local hot spot to end the festivities. We had a friend with us who spent every Saturday night at Pulse and we were prepared for him to drag us older fellows out there.

The restaurant was crowded so the wait for the table was over an hour. This changed the course of the evening. We missed our movie and had to settle for a later, more obscure film called The Lobster. The birthday boy was ecstatic because we ended up seeing the movie he wanted to see anyway.

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Stonewall Rebellion: It wasn’t Judy!

By : Perry Brass
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Judy Garland, while a gay icon, was not the reason for the Stonewall riots in 1969.

Many things have been said and written about “Stonewall,” the historic confrontation in June 1969 after a police raid at the Stonewall Inn, a Mafia-run gay bar on Christopher Street in New York City’s Greenwich Village that ignited the Gay Revolution—and an incredible change in attitudes and feelings about queer people throughout the world.

Among them, it happened on the night of a full moon, so a lot of the craziness on the streets can be blamed on that—not true. Another rumor is that it was all sparked by the death—and funeral, at Frank E. Campbell’s mortuary, uptown on Madison Avenue and 83rd, around the corner from the Metropolitan Museum—of gay icon Judy Garland. The “girls” were just so discombobulated by grief that they let go of all restraint and started breaking windows, uprooting parking meters (remember them?), throwing 40-pound garbage cans through the windows and even biting cops on the legs.

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