Women, minorities and the LGBTQ community march in St. Petersburg and Orlando for equality

By : Felicia Roopchand
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Groups in St. Petersburg and Orlando participated in the Women’s March that took place across the nation, and world, on Jan. 21.

The marches began with inspiring speeches which were followed by huge crowds marching for equality. Many brought signs, both witty and smart: a majority in protest of the new President of the United States and his proposed policies.

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Tampa Bay Diversity Chamber’s Diamond Awards were the night’s best friend

By : Jeremy Williams
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ST. PETERSBURG – The Tampa Bay Diversity Chamber of Commerce’s Diamonds in Diversity continues to shine brighter with each year as the annual awards gala took over the Hilton Bayfront in St. Petersburg Jan. 21.

Hosts Miguel Fuller and Holly O’Connor of HOT 101.5’s “Miguel & Holly Show” kept the show on pace, and the powerhouse vocals of Jennifer Real kept the show in tune, along with musicians Nathan L. Mitchell and Jonathan Thomas, as the elite of Tampa Bay was dressed to the nines.

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Watermark kicks off 2017 Third Thursdays at Winter Park’s Capen House

By : Staff Report
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Watermark kicked off its monthly networking mixers for 2017, Third Thurdays, at the beautiful historic Capen House located on the ground of the Albin Polasek Museum and Sculpture Gardens. The crowd was not only able to make new business connections but was also able to participate in a raffle that raised money for the museum. Prizes included show tickets for Leslie Jordan, the Enchanted Jungle Party, the coveted City Oasis Orchid, a weekend getaway from Plantation on Crystal River and many more.

Watermark’s Third Thursday Networking mixers are part of the Watermark Gives Back program. Watermark partners up with a current advertiser that will host the mixer and together they raise money for the host’s charity of their choice, often benefitting LGBT organizations or the arts.

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Unforgettable: friends remember Natasha Richards

By : Chelsea Santiago and Jeremy Williams
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TAMPA BAY – On stage, Natasha Richards demanded attention with her immaculate hair-dos, radiant costumes and flair for theatrics. She had the stage presence that kept all eyes on her.

Richards passed away Dec. 2 in her home at the age of 44. She was born in Queens, N.Y., but moved to New Port Richey, Fla., as a child, and later to Clearwater.

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The 13th annual Tampa Bay AIDS Walk is a huge success for newly formed EPIC

By : Jeremy Williams
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Friends, families and co-workers (even Santa!) turned out as more than a thousand people walked in the annual Tampa Bay AIDS Walk at Vinoy Park in St. Petersburg Dec. 10.

The crowd was greeted with complimentary coffee for the chilly St. Pete morning before helping walk the newly formed Empath Partners in Care, or EPIC (the merging of AIDS Service Association of Pinellas and Francis House in Tampa) to more than $100,000.

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St. Pete Pride’s Red & Green Party raises more than $18,000 for local LGBTQ non-profits

By : Jeremy Williams
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St. Pete Pride’s annual Red & Green Party was a hit even before the first string of tinsel was hung from a tree or the first guest showed up dressed in their best holiday garb Dec. 3.

The event, held at the Sunken Gardens in St. Petersburg, sold out long before Saturday as more than 400 of the community’s “closet friends” gathered to celebrate the holidays with light bites, open bar and some of the best entertainment this side of the North Pole.

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Spooky Empire brings the scares before Christmas after Hurricane Matthew forces reschedule

By : Danny Garcia
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Spooky Empire – the leading horror, fantasy and sci-fi convention – returned to Orlando despite having to reschedule the original October dates thanks to Hurricane Matthew.

Packed with iconic horror celebrities from the legendary Elvira, a.k.a. Cassandra Peterson, to the newest kids on the block ,the cast from the hit Netflix show Stranger Things. The weekend included lots of cosplayers, and even local celeb Joey Fatone, a total fan of the genre, got in on the fun.

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MCC Rev. Nancy Wilson honored by Equality Florida

By : Krista Di Tucci
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Rev. Elder Dr. Nancy L. Wilson, Metropolitan Community Churches’ Global Moderator, was presented with the 2016 Voice for Equality Award by Equality Florida at Sarasota’s Suncoast Celebration Nov. 20.

Those in attendance, which numbered more than a hundred people, at the beautiful Michael’s On East also heard from several members of Equality Florida including executive director Nadine Smith, Transgender Inclusion Director Gina Duncan, Tampa Bay Diversity Chamber president Ashley Brundage and Suncoast Steering Team Co-Chairs Jarred Wilson and Pauline Parrish.

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Orlando packed Lake Eola for Come Out With Pride

By : Watermark Staff
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After having to be rescheduled due to Hurricane Matthew from Oct. 8 to Nov. 12, Orlando proved that no matter when they celebrate they can come out with Pride in full force.

The Orlando Police Department say an estimated 150,000 people showed up for the parade. The entire parade lasted nearly two hours on the new expanded route which included parts of Orange Avenue. The festival completely encompassed the entire area of Lake Eola Park, which included bars, outdoor entertainment, vendors and a kid’s zone.

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Equality Florida’s Great Orlando Gala at the Orlando Museum of Art

By : Jeremy Williams
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Equality Florida held the Greater Orlando Gala at the Orlando Museum of Art Nov. 4.

Check out the photos from the event.

Photos by Jake Stevens.

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I-4 corridor politics: Clinton in Tampa, Obama in Orlando

By : Jeremy Williams
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Crowds gathered in both Tampa and Orlando as two the Democratic Party’s rock stars made there way through Central Florida last week.

Presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton visited Curtis Hixon Park in downtown Tampa Oct. 25, followed a few days later by current president Barack Obama making a stop at the University of Central Florida in Orlando Oct. 28.

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Volusia County shows Pride at Old Fort Park in New Smyrna Beach

By : Jeremy Williams
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The crowds turned out for a day of LGBTQ fun and sun as they celebrated Volusia Pride at Old Fork Park in New Smyrna Beach Saturday, Oct. 22.

Dozens of tents and vendors were set up in the park as the attendees shopped, mingled and watched entertainment from local LGBTQ teen dancers, Central Florida Sounds of Freedom, Becky Brabham and the Orlando Gay Chorus.

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