04.18.19 Tampa Bay Bureau Chief’s Desk

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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I don’t recall exactly how the meeting came to be, especially since I hated middle school and spent as little time there as possible, but I remember staying late after school in the eighth grade to learn about our high school’s journalism class.

My freshman year was quickly approaching and student journalists had ventured over to discuss our soon-to-be high school’s news source with potential recruits. While my fellow middle schoolers and I were too busy killing Tamagotchis to draft a news source of our own, our high school had unsuccessfully dabbled in the act and would try again my freshman year.

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04.18.19 Central Florida Bureau Chief’s Desk

By : Jeremy Williams
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When I was younger my parents, as most parents do, would ask me and my siblings what we wanted to be when we grew up. We were a group that felt destined for greatness, so our responses reflected those dreams with future aspirations to be things like an astronaut, a world-famous actor, a global pop star or a professional wrestler, to name a few. The answers usually changed up a bit among my two brothers and sister.

When my parents would ask me my answer never faltered. “I want to be the president of the United States,” would be my reply. When they tell the story it is always in this cutesy way with an awkwardly high-pitched voice. When I look back I remember standing in a Superman pose with my balled-up fists on my hips and an American flag cape blowing in the wind.

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03.21.2019 Central Florida Bureau Chief’s Desk

By : Jeremy Williams
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Getting older seems worse when you are a kid. I don’t mean getting older as in turning 16 or 18 or 21. As a kid those ages are filled with cool milestones like getting able to drive or graduate or get completely shit-faced legally. I mean like really old. Like you have one foot in the grave, eat your dinner at 4 p.m. and record every CBS show airing on primetime old. You know, like 40.

When I was younger I remember attending a 40th birthday party. I can’t remember so well if it was the birthday of an uncle or family friend, but what I do remember is the party’s theme, “Over The Hill.”

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03.21.2019 Tampa Bay Bureau Chief’s Desk

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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Last month, my husband and I were heading home from his birthday dinner with a dear friend when Avril Lavigne came on the radio. This was shocking for a number of reasons.

First, because my radio was on. I tend to default to my Spotify playlist “Pimpin’ Ry Style,” an ever-expanding and eclectic collection of my favorite hits now in its second volume. Volume one, may it R.I.P., was lost when my then-boyfriend and now-husband—who still groans whenever he sees the playlist’s name—deleted it after we briefly broke up.

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02.21.2019 Central Florida Bureau Chief’s Desk

By : Jeremy Williams
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The weekend before the midterms last November, Equality Florida held its Greater Orlando Gala at the Orlando Museum of Art. I have had the privilege of attending this annual event over the last several years and it is always a who’s who of the LGBTQ community throughout the state.

This event was extra special because of a certain celebrity who was attending, recording artist and star of the series “Empire,” Jussie Smollett. I have been a huge fan since I first saw him on the show and was excited and nervous when I got the opportunity to meet and chat with him.

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02.21.2019 Tampa Bay Bureau Chief’s Desk

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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Just ahead of the year 2000, while my parents frantically fought over whether or not we owned enough bottled water and canned corn to survive the impending Y2K apocalypse, I had two main concerns as I entered my freshman year of high school.

The first was “X-Men,” an upcoming film starring Patrick Stewart from “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” Ian McKellen from “Apt Pupil” and Hugh Jackman from … nothing, really. No one knew “Hugh” he was.

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01.23.19 Central Florida Bureau Chief’s Desk

By : Jeremy Williams
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The beginning of a new year is a lot like me sitting down to write this column every other issue. As the day approaches I am filled with so many thoughts and ideas; and then, when it actually comes time to do it, I spend far too much time staring into the void trying to clear out the clutter.

That is why my first New Year’s resolution of 2019 is to be more organized. More organized with my thoughts, more organized with my ideas and more organized with my desk. The stacks of papers, magazines and toys (yes, I have toys on my desk) are a bit overwhelming.

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01.23.19 Tampa Bay Bureau Chief’s Desk

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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To celebrate the 25th year of Watermark and my first column of 2019, I want to share an exclusive with readers. It’s something that you’ve likely never read anywhere else, so feel free to take a moment and mentally prepare because this is big.

Smoking is bad for you.

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12.13.18 Tampa Bay Bureau Chief’s Desk

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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It occurred to me as I began to write this column that it would be my last in the year it began, 2018. It’s been a year I’ll never forget for a number of reasons, “chief” among them that I celebrated one year on Watermark’s staff Dec. 11.

My first column highlighted how writing full-time had always been my lifelong dream, something I’ve reiterated ad nauseam, but I’m still thankful that I get to do it and that I get to do it here. I’m very grateful for the family I’ve made at Watermark, for our readers and for our advertisers who make all of this possible. The stories of our ever-expanding LGBTQ community matter and have to be told.

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11.15.18 Tampa Bay Bureau Chief’s Desk

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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There are a few things people tend to figure out about me rather quickly, whether they get to know me well or only casually.

The first is that I’m into politics. Voting is rad, even more so when it’s done in the name of equality and every vote is counted. Second, I have a totally normal love and appreciation for (read: obsession with) Disney, particularly “The Little Mermaid.” I mean, how many wonders can one movie hold?

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11.15.18 Central Florida Bureau Chief’s Desk

By : Jeremy Williams
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I was sitting at my desk, drinking my coffee and chatting with some coworkers when my team leader came up to me and said that we had a meeting to attend. I didn’t know what she was talking about but in those days I was terrible at managing my schedule so forgetting about a meeting seemed like something I might do.

I was a second-level supervisor at a call center for the company Express Scripts. For those who aren’t familiar it’s a Prescription Benefits Manager. That’s just fancy talk for insurance for medications. I started working there after I discharged from the Air Force in 2007. Six years in the military, of being told where to go, when to go there and to stay in the closet left me in need of a change in my life.

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10.18.18 Tampa Bay Bureau Chief’s Desk

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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I was recently confronted by a woman wearing one of the most disturbing masks I’d ever seen, at least up close.

I’ve seen some frightening things in my time. I’ve trudged through Howl-O-Scream, I’ve watched this administration fill Supreme Court vacancies and I’m from Ohio. But this was different.

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