09.05.19 Tampa Bay Bureau Chief’s Desk

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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When my husband and I meet our friends on the weekend and I happen to partake in enough libations to get a bit tipsy, I tend to find myself grappling with one of three levels of intoxication.

Thankfully it doesn’t happen too often, but the first is “Disney drunk” when it does. It leads to a whole new world of one-man productions featuring every animated classic under the sea. The second is “drive-thru drunk,” in which I spend ridiculous amounts of money on food that goes straight to my hips.

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09.05.19 Central Florida Bureau Chief’s Desk

By : Jeremy Williams
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Sheryl Crow has a special place in my heart. She found her way there when I was in high school and I heard her belting out “If It Makes You Happy” from the car radio for the first time.

She had a huge hit in “All I Wanna Do” two years prior but that song did not have the same punch the first single from her second album had on me.

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Watermark 25: Tampa Bay Bureau Chief’s Desk

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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Watermark began covering Tampa Bay’s LGBTQ community in 1995, not long after its 1994 founding in Orlando.

It was more than a decade before I would move to Florida and more than two before I would be fortunate enough to become Watermark’s Tampa Bay Bureau Chief, but it’s a decision I’m very thankful that our founder Tom Dyer made just the same.

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Watermark 25: Central Florida Bureau Chief’s Desk

By : Jeremy Williams
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I moved back to Orlando in 2008. It was my first time living in Central Florida as an adult. I was born in Colorado and, as a kid, the family moved to Florida where we lived up and down I-4—settling in Orlando then St. Petersburg and eventually Plant City where I attended high school. Sometime after graduation, life led the family to southern Georgia and from there I joined the Air Force and traveled all over the world.

I tell you that quick trek through my past because in my 40 years I have lived in many places, but no place has ever felt more like home to me than living in Orlando right now, and a good part of that feeling is due to Watermark.

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08.08.19 Tampa Bay Bureau Chief’s Desk

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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I was young, probably around 12 or 13, but I vividly remember the first death I helped cause. They say you never forget your first.

I was in middle school and likely clad in a pair of husky jeans, the free whale necklace that came with the “Free Willy 2” VHS and a “Batman and Robin” tee beneath my Starter Jacket. Clutched against my side was the thickest Trapper Keeper a family like mine could afford, something I rarely let out of my sight during school hours because it protected two of my dearest possessions.

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08.08.19 Central Florida Bureau Chief’s Desk

By : Jeremy Williams
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As we were coming into this latest issue, I had a lot of things that I wanted to rant about on this page, and Lord knows there is plenty to rant about.

I wanted to talk about the most recent round of Democratic presidential debates, which had Twitter all abuzz in support of author and “self-help guru to the stars” Marianne Williamson.

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07.11.19 Central Florida Bureau Chief’s Desk

By : Jeremy Williams
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Anyone who is involved in the LGBTQ community can tell you June is a busy month, especially this past June. Not only was it LGBTQ Pride month, which ushered in a month full of Pride festivals, parades and parties; but it also began with the inaugural Red Shirt Pride Days which gave way to the three-year mark of the Pulse tragedy and concluded with the 50th anniversary of The Stonewall Inn riots and WorldPride in New York.

I didn’t make it to WorldPride, but many LGBTQ Central Floridians did and, from what I saw on social media, they represented us all proudly. While watching parts of the all-day parade online I couldn’t help but wonder what life was like 50 years ago. With the cheers of millions of people in the streets of New York in the background, I pulled out my phone and Googled “1969.”

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07.11.19 Tampa Bay Bureau Chief’s Desk

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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In 1905, Sigmund Freud coined the term “childhood amnesia.” It describes the inability of adults to recall our earliest memories, a phenomenon that psychologists continue to research today.

One study found that few adults can remember anything that happened in our lives before the age of three—go on, try it—and determined that memories begin fading at age seven. Research has also shown that emotions play a role in storing our memories and that at a certain age our experiences become more meaningful to us, leading to stronger recall.

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06.13.19 Tampa Bay Bureau Chief’s Desk

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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I was recently asked by a fellow member of the LGBTQ community if my husband is transgender because he dabbles in drag.

While I often point out jokingly that he didn’t don drag until after we were married, something I’ve mentioned here before, I have a tremendous amount of respect for his craft. It’s one thing to be handsome, which he is, but it’s just a work of art to be beautiful on top of that. Which she is.

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06.13.19 Central Florida Bureau Chief’s Desk

By : Jeremy Williams
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It was the late 1980s and I was hanging around the house with my brother and our friends. My brother and I are only 11 months apart so we shared everything—clothes, friends, a bedroom—I basically had nothing of my own until I was into my 20s.

We were all in the family room watching TV. The movie “Teen Wolf” was on. For those unfamiliar,“Teen Wolf” is a 1985 film where heartthrob Michael J. Fox turns into a werewolf and plays basketball really well. The movie is very 80s, right down to the nonchalant use of the word “fag.”

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05.15.19 Central Florida Bureau Chief’s Desk

By : Jeremy Williams
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Change scares a lot of people. You get so comfortable with the way things are—whether they are ideal for you or not—and you figure why change it up? What if you make things worse? What if the payout isn’t what you thought it would be in the end?

I have always been a fan of change. I’ve rarely lived in the same place more than a few years, opting to pack up and change homes, roommates and, in some cases, entire states for a change of scenery. It’s why I always fit well in the military lifestyle, a lifestyle I would most likely still be a part of if not for that pesky “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” thing. No, I wasn’t discharged because I was gay but the hardship of hiding who I was and having to come up with inventive, new ways to explain to my commander why my “roommate” accompanied me to all work functions, family gatherings and annual vacations was more work than I wanted to put into a lie.

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05.15.19 Tampa Bay Bureau Chief’s Desk

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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I despised many things as a child. Some were warranted—like corn, which remains my arch nemesis—but others not as much, like doing nothing on a Saturday. Of the many things that cultivated my childhood angst, however, one in particular stands out: Easter.

I didn’t hate the holiday. There wasn’t much to hate in my family because we rarely did anything for it; gatherings were reserved for “major holidays” like Thanksgiving or Christmas. I wasn’t even aware families congregated for Easter until I was in college, and I was still surprised this year when Publix was closed for the day.

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