05.02.19 Publisher’s Desk

By : Rick Claggett
Comments: 0

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.

Continue Reading >>

04.04.2019 Publisher’s Desk

By : Rick Claggett
Comments: 0

“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.

Continue Reading >>

03.07.2019 Publisher’s Desk

By : Rick Claggett
Comments: 0

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.

Continue Reading >>

02.07.2019 Publisher’s Desk

By : Rick Claggett
Comments: 0

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.

Continue Reading >>

01.10.19 Publisher’s Desk

By : Rick Claggett
Comments: 0

Share this story:

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.

Continue Reading >>

12.27.18 Publisher’s Desk

By : Rick Claggett
Comments: 0

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.

Continue Reading >>

11.29.2018 Publisher’s Desk

By : Rick Claggett
Comments: 0

“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.

Continue Reading >>

11.1.18 Publisher’s Desk

By : Rick Claggett
Comments: 0

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.

Continue Reading >>

10.04.18 Publisher’s Desk

By : Rick Claggett
Comments: 0

I like beer. This month marks 3 years since I stopped drinking. I talk about it all the time because I think it’s not talked about enough in our community.  Not talking about it perpetuates a stigma about alcoholics that is false. Since truth is now my everything, I talk about it. I like beer.

It is weird to me, turning terrible behavior into something to celebrate. Congratulations, Rick, on three years of doing something you should have been doing all along. Although, it is a celebration of sorts: It’s like coming out. It’s about owning who you are and choosing an honest path.  It’s about taking bad life choices and turning them into good, or at least attempting to. This is why every year in the month of October, I share my story. I don’t do it so I get likes on Facebook or some pat on the back. I do it so people can see how addiction affected my life, as well as those around me. I do it so people who might see similarities in their lives can know there is a better way.

Continue Reading >>

09.06.18 Publisher’s Desk

By : Rick Claggett
Comments: 0

I’ve been told I communicate too much. I really am an open book and there isn’t much I won’t talk about, no matter how personal it is. I also tend to divulge all the information I have when telling a story. It’s strange to me that everyone doesn’t do this, yet I assume they do anyway. This often gets me in trouble with my roommate.

“Why did she do that?” she asks when I’m done with my story. To which I reply, “I’ve given you all the information I have.” “Why didn’t you ask more questions?” she retorts. I explain that I just go by the information people give me. She calls me weird and I call her weird. After 18 years of living together, I assure you we are both weird.

Continue Reading >>

08.09.18 Publisher’s Desk

By : Rick Claggett
Comments: 0

“Guys in Orlando suck!” “The gay community in Orlando is so transient.” I heard these phrases way too often in the early 2000s, but I never bought into that way of thinking.

I moved to Central Florida in 1986. This was back in the days when the 408 was just two lanes each way, The Winter Park Village was an enclosed Mall and Ronnie’s was serving the Mogambo Extravaganza (a sixth grade ice cream lover’s dream dessert). I didn’t know it at the time, but I was on track to meet some amazing people with incredible stories to tell, and who would disprove the notion that Orlando was not a strong LGBTQ community.

Continue Reading >>

07.12.18 Publisher’s Desk

By : Rick Claggett
Comments: 0

I’m not a very religious person. Actually, I’m not religious in the traditional sense at all. Organized religion and I have not seen eye to eye for some time. That’s not a secret to those who know me well, but sometimes I find it harder to admit that to people than to say that I am a gay man.

In a previous article of mine, I described in detail a story of how I felt manipulated by “the church,” which was the beginning of the end for me. I then attended a very religious college, which to a young and outspoken liberal just seemed like a propaganda machine and torture device.

Continue Reading >>