Watermark 25: Publisher’s Desk

By : Rick Claggett
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With this issue Watermark celebrates 25 years of publishing, 25 years of sharing information and helping to build a community. I am beyond proud to be a part of this organization.

As I sat down to write this column, I visited the words of Founder and Guiding Light Tom Dyer as he shared his thoughts on the 20th Anniversary of Watermark. It’s funny to see how much has changed, and how little has changed. We still operate with a small, dedicated staff who are as passionate about their work as they are talented. Watermark still focuses on local community news in its pages, offering a voice to stories other publications will not; and at times we still walk the fine line between financial gain and commitment to community partnerships.

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07.25.19 Publisher’s Desk

By : Rick Claggett
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Watermark is in the midst of celebrating 25 years in publication. It’s a huge milestone for many reasons that I will get into in my next column, so stay tuned. However, I bring that up now because—in preparation for the celebration—I am going back through the years and highlighting some of the stories we’ve covered.

You may have noticed these pages popping up toward the end of the past two issues, covering 2014 and 2015. Tom Dyer had done a similar retrospective for the 20th anniversary, so I wanted to carry on the tradition leading up to our 25th anniversary issue slated for late August. In this issue we reflect on 2016, a devastating year in so many respects.

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06.27.19 Publisher’s Desk

By : Rick Claggett
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Here we are again, the keystone of Pride around the world. We’ve celebrated Pride in Kissimmee and Polk County, and are still reveling in the joy that St Pete Pride brings. Now we turn to the event that started it all, Stonewall. This year is special, though. Stonewall turns 50 and the world is set to celebrate and honor the brave people who began a movement that would change lives for half of a century, with no signs of slowing down.

Stonewall 50 is going to be a massive event. The parade itself is expected to last longer than the average workday with over 150,000 participants and millions of spectators. My, how far we have come!

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05.30.19 Publisher’s Desk

By : Rick Claggett
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Hi! My name is Rick and I am queer. How does that make you feel? Does the word queer invoke anger or fear? Or is it something you embrace? Is this a generational question?

I understand and respect completely that the word queer is a trigger for some. I vividly remember being asked if I was queer when I was younger. It was usually accompanied by some snarl-faced look that let me know being queer was not a good thing in their eyes. Not knowing what queer meant, I would answer “no,” which would result in my gender being questioned or chased around the playground. By the time I was called “as queer as a three dollar bill,” I knew what they were saying.

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05.02.19 Publisher’s Desk

By : Rick Claggett
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Nobody likes to be called ignorant, but we all are. I certainly am. I’m ignorant when it comes to Venezuelan politics, cooking Indian cuisine and the quantum mechanics of time travel. I just saw an article this morning that suggested the present and the future exist simultaneously and now I have a headache. I can’t even discern how there is still only one Marty McFly and how he always finds the DeLorean.

It’s okay to be ignorant, but somewhere along the way people decided being called ignorant meant that you were stupid or dumb—instead of just simply lacking knowledge of something. Some years ago I was hanging out with my brothers, drinking beer around a fire pit and listening to old country music; a favorite pastime for the Claggett boys. One of my brothers, a genuinely nice person who tends to lean to the right with his political views, started talking about the Affordable Healthcare Act. Yes, family + holidays+ alcohol + politics = disaster.

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04.04.2019 Publisher’s Desk

By : Rick Claggett
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“Never put it in writing,” my mom always says. “You can’t put middle class values on a lower class society,” my 12th grade English teacher taught me. My former boss and mentor often advised me not to speak in absolutes. Most recently, my sponsor tells me to “do the next right thing.”

This is all fantastic advice from important people to me, and I try to obey these words of wisdom in daily life. Oh, I fail. Sometimes I fail miserably. However, the idea is progress, not perfection.

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03.07.2019 Publisher’s Desk

By : Rick Claggett
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I try not to watch the president when he’s on TV. I’m sure somewhere there is an argument to be made that I should watch so I am informed, but I’d rather just read about the highlights. It’s like watching a comedian fail. I get uneasy, embarrassed for him and the country. Why is it so difficult to speak in coherent sentences?

Now I have this image of the commander in chief hugging the American flag while mouthing, what appears to be, the word “mama” at the Conservative Political Action Convention. This of course preceded an hours-long stream of consciousness oration that mimicked a cocaine-induced rant.

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02.07.2019 Publisher’s Desk

By : Rick Claggett
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Love is in the air and I’m a sap. In fact, I’m an Air Supply listening, rom-com loving, “This Is Us” crying sap. You have to be pretty close to me to see it, but it’s there. When 90 percent of your social life is work related, it’s easy to have work-mode walls up. What may seem like an all-business exterior is really just all mush inside.

I can’t say where this love of love stems from. My earliest memories are of growing up with little means in Houston, Texas. There were five kids, my parents and an uncle in the house. Making ends meet and raising a herd of kids didn’t leave a lot of room for romance. Although, my parents did go on a date to see Willie Nelson’s New Year’s Eve concert every year and I thought that was sweet.

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01.10.19 Publisher’s Desk

By : Rick Claggett
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Everything I need know about drugs I learned from Nancy Reagan. Don’t smoke cigarettes as a kid or you’ll end up a homeless junkie scrounging for next dime bag of crack.

Don’t smoke pot or you’ll end up dead on the street with a needle in your arm. Don’t drink underage or you’ll find yourself pushing everything you own around in a shopping cart, dumpster diving for food and keeping warm with trash can fires.

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12.27.18 Publisher’s Desk

By : Rick Claggett
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It’s hard to believe the end of the year is here. It’s cliche to say, but when you live your life in two week cycles across two metropolitan areas—time flies. 2018 zoomed by in the blink of an eye.

Watermark did well in 2018. We saw an increase in sales, so thank you to the businesses and organizations that support us and help us to continue bringing the latest in LGBTQ news to our readers—and congratulations to Senior Account Manager Sam Callahan who had a stellar year. We also saw an increase in distributions sites and are now available at over 600 locations in Central Florida, Tampa Bay and surrounding areas.

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11.29.2018 Publisher’s Desk

By : Rick Claggett
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“Print is dead.” I’ve heard this for at least 10 years and it is just as false a statement today as it was back then. The internet has made strides that some newspapers couldn’t survive, but dead? We’re still breathing and we are in good company.

I was in college by the time the internet was taking off—thanks, Al Gore. Only a few students even had a personal computer. My roommate was one of them. He spent a lot of time in AOL chatrooms, dialing long distance to meet and talk to new people all over the world. I never really warmed up to that aspect of the internet. I never felt “internet cool.” Maybe it’s because I say things like “internet cool.” I always preferred meeting people face to face.

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11.1.18 Publisher’s Desk

By : Rick Claggett
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I have a terrible sense of humor. I’ve written about this before and how I credit my father for just how bad it is. Dad jokes are the best, and the worse they are the harder I laugh.

Here’s an example: I have an insane love of ice cream, so much so that my trainer and my scale yell at me about it all the time. St. Pete has this wonderful little shop that sells mini-doughnuts basking in a tower of ice cream. Every time we drive by it, my partner says, “We can get mini-doughnuts.” To which I reply, “How many?” Then I laugh like I’ve never heard it before. I don’t mind laughing alone.

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