Trans of Thought: GayDayS and Inclusivity

By : Maia Monet
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I hope all of you have had a chance to recover from the marches and celebrations that marked Pride month. My feet and liver barely survived intact and may yet give out because, for those of us in Central Florida, the party isn’t quite over yet. Even as corporate-backed, rainbow merchandise-palooza 2019 has faded into the rearview mirror of June, we now have upon us the queer calendar outlier that is GayDayS after its move to mid-August.

Full disclosure: as a transgender woman and lesbian, I have never considered going to GayDayS because it has the reputation of being heavily gay male focused. In most other years, during the first weekend in June, I can be found around the pool at Girls in Wonderland. However, since there are no competing LGBTQ+ events on the social calendar, I have found myself wondering if I should attend.

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High Fidelity: Talking the talk

By : Miguel Fuller
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Not long before the beginning of Pride season I was asked to be the keynote speaker at the 36th Annual International AIDS Candlelight Memorial Service in Pinellas Park. I was nervous because I didn’t want to speak on a subject I wasn’t very versed in.

After having conversations with friends living with HIV and doing a lot of research, I sat down and wrote the speech that I shared from the heart. I shared the story about the first time I went for an HIV test. 

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Ladyfingers: Stupid makes me sweat

By : Sabrina Ambra
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I walked into the bar; that’s nothing new, but it’s not a drinking problem until I’m 30, right? Don’t answer that. I sat down with full intention of writing and absolutely no idea what to write about. I feel like, more often than not, I use my crutch of “Here’s how the world sucks and here’s how to not get sucked into the suckiness.” I also feel like way more often than not, I can barely practice what I’ve preached.

For example, I left work P-I-S-S-E-D the day of this writing. It happens from time to time, as I’m sure it does for anyone else that, I don’t know, lives on this earth. I had been triggered, my mind wandering to a state of mild paranoia and self-consciousness. I become consumed by the thought of failure and I end up kicking my own ass for not knowing how to stick up for myself properly.

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Mama Bearings: Happy Birthday, Jake!

By : Sylvie Griffiths
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Summer is upon us and my children have four weeks left until they go back to school. I am happy to say they are as eager to get back into the grind of public education as I am.

My oldest son will be a senior in high school and is excited to be in the home stretch. My daughters are super social and love the access to friends, gossip and picking out outfits daily. Jake, my youngest, is having a wonderful summer—what I would guess is the best summer of all four of them. Regardless of the fact that his dad moved out and that his parents are divorcing, my little guy is happier than ever. That’s in part because three summers ago he became himself.

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#LoveHandlin: Family

By : Jerick Mediavilla
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Everywhere I’ve been in my life—every memory filled with laughter, companionship and solidarity—has been defined by family. From my own family in Puerto Rico, to the families that have cared for me in D.C., Mexico City and now Orlando, to the co-workers I spend so much time with; they have shown me the true magic that two or more people loving each other can create.

It is an insuperable feeling when in hard times, sickness or peril someone from your family circle comes to the rescue, calls you or even texts you. It is our innate response to always be available to others, especially those we have grown up with, shared a life-changing moment with, those we have decided to marry or those who are brought to this earth as our children. I am sure that as your read these lines, many people come to mind, along with flashbacks of those milestones that have defined your relationships to them.

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Keeping It Real: Grit, grace and gaps across our LGBTQ+ generations

By : Nathan Bruemmer
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Pride Month is a wrap. This year was monumental—50 years since Stonewall.

What began as a single confrontational event that turned into a one-day march, grew into a weekend and then blossomed into a weeklong festival, has matured into a month of non-stop activities for all ages. However, we can’t seem to agree on how we define Stonewall. An uprising? Protests? Riots? What happened and who was there continues to be debated. But 50 years ago, the world changed.

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The Wonderful World of Wanzie: Penguins, same-sex couples and making babies

By : Michael Wanzie
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Do gay penguins provide the example same-sex human couples should emulate when it comes to their desire to raise a child?

It’s just a question to pose for which I have no clue as to the answer. I am not being critical or taking a particular stance on the subject, I am but musing. In this column I’m going to ask an indelicate question that is likely to raise the ire of same-sex couples who have enlisted the assistance of a surrogate to bring a child into the world or who have borrowed a little sperm to get the job done.

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Positive Living: Ruby slippers, raising a flag and serious questions

By : Greg Stemm
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I recently had the wonderful experience of participating in the inaugural Gulfport Friends of Dorothy march, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. It began a month-long whirlwind of events sponsored by the award-winning LGBTQ Resource Center of the Gulfport Public Library, of which I am privileged to serve on the board of directors, to celebrate Pride season.

As I was marching up Beach Blvd. in a rainbow wig, ruby slippers and with several hundred members of my Gulfport “family,” I couldn’t help but reflect on the significance of what Stonewall started and what it has meant to the LGBTQ community in the past 50 years. I was most moved by the fact that the carriers of the lead banner were an openly gay vice mayor and an openly gay state representative. That would have been unthinkable in June of 1969.

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The Other Side Of Life: Hashtag Amity

By : Jason LeClerc
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I was recently honored to be a guest of Pulse founder Barbara Poma for an intimate talk and tour of the interim #PulseMemorial organized by Equality Florida. As regular readers of this column know, I’m Watermark’s token conservative columnist: a red soul in a sea of blue, even as I have advocated for a just-right-of-center, nuanced approach to political discourse that I call Radical Centrism.

Arguing from a position of empathy and fact-driven rationality in favor of such positions as climate change resiliency, justifiable local taxation and the Florida Competitive Workforce Act, I have riled members of my own Party. In the age of Trump, I’ve become a bit of a #RINOsaur. While there are members of the current Republican power structure who are ready to revoke my membership card for some of my #RadicalCentrist positions, my attendance of an Equality Florida event would likely push them further toward apoplexy.

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Sweet Divinity: An Open Letter to Homophobes during Gay Pride

By : Divine Grace
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Hello, Dolls!

I am fully aware that the only thing more annoying than a sore loser is a sore winner, but you’ll please pardon me today as I gloat, full-blast.

50 years ago, the Stonewall Riots took place in New York City, and the gay liberation began in earnest. For the next five decades, we gays have struggled to be recognized as more than the second-class citizens that you detractors would have us labeled as.

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Fit For Print: Stop It with the Elitism

By : Steve Blanchard
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We live in a weird time. That may be the understatement of the year if I were talking about the political world here and abroad or even the amazing technological advances that seem to make it into the headlines almost every day.

I’m talking about the odd social world that permeates our everyday lives, either in person or through our computer and cell phone screens. This new (or maybe not so new) elitist trend of making a public point of sharing our dislike of popular things and making a big deal about it has got to stop. It’s exhausting and a waste of energy.

One case in point: HBO’s “Game of Thrones.”

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Homo Erectus: The Evolution of Us: The top 6 leadership competencies every LGBTQ+ leader (yes: that’s you!) should know and grow

By : Dr. Steve Yacovelli
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We’ve all seen them in the breakroom or on some cool workplace swag: somewhere in your workplace there’s a list of your employer’s “core values” that anyone within the workplace should embody. You’ll likely see things like “integrity,” “team work” and “customer focus” listed. This is the social contract that anyone working for your organization should abide by.

Regardless of what those values are, it’s showing time again—especially in today’s modern workplace—that there really are six fundamental competencies that any LGBTQ+ leader—regardless of workplace, profession, level within the business or role—should focus their energy on if they want to not just survive but thrive in today’s workplace. And the best part, as a member of the LGBTQ+ Community, you probably already have an awesome handle on most of them.

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