PHOTOS: The Center Kissimmee holds its grand opening and ribbon cutting

By : Jeremy Williams
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KISSIMMEE, Fla. | Politicians, media, local leaders and community members all gathered at the new LGBT+ Center in Kissimmee for the grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony Aug. 15.

George Wallace, executive director of The Center, welcomed guests before introducing a string of political leaders — State Rep. John Cortes, Congressman Darren Soto and Osceola County Commissioner Cheryl Grieb — who all expressed gratitude for The Center coming to Kissimmee. Grieb also presented The Center with a proclamation from the county. 

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PHOTOS: HRC Orlando’s 7th Annual Disco Bowl

By : Meghan Sweeney
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Team Watermark attended Human Rights Campaign Orlando’s seventh annual Disco Bowl Aug. 12 at Aloma Bowl.

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PHOTOS: Balance Tampa Bay goes Avant Garde for EPIC masquerade

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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TAMPA | Balance Tampa Bay held its fourth annual masquerade ball Aug. 4 to benefit Empath Partners in Care (EPIC).

This year’s theme was Avant Garde, a celebration of the new, unusual and artistic. It was evident from the moment attendees entered Armature Works, the fully restored 22,000-square-foot industrial market featuring an open floor plan in Tampa Heights.

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PHOTOS: MBA Orlando rocks Universal’s CityWalk with its 2018 Pride Gala

By : Jeremy Williams
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ORLANDO | MBA Orlando went all out for its 2018 Pride Gala Business Awards at Universal CityWalk’s Hard Rock Live Aug. 4.

The show opened with Alina Alcantara and the Brunch Bunch performing the Academy Award-winning song “This Is Me” from the 2017 film musical “The Greatest Showman.” Emcee’s Jorge Estevez and Miss Sammy then took the stage with their always entertaining comedy back-and-forth.

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With 2018’s third transgender murder in Jacksonville, advocates seek justice and solidarity

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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At least 28 known transgender men and women were murdered nationwide in 2017, the highest number on record. On June 24, just over 2018’s midpoint, the murders of two transgender women brought this year’s total to half that—prompting community advocates to demand justice for the 14 transgender lives lost.

One of those murders was that of Cathalina Christina James, a transgender woman of color who lived her life as more than a disturbing statistic stemming from Jacksonville, Fla. James’ death sparked outrage and stoked fear for the transgender community in Florida’s fourth most populous city, with local leaders fearing a serial killer stalked Jacksonville’s streets.

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PHOTOS: Project No Labels dances into second Prom in Wonderland

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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ST. PETERSBURG | Project No Labels (PNL) kicked off St. Pete Pride weekend June 22 by heading down the rabbit hole and into the organization’s second annual One Love Prom in Wonderland.

“Everyone deserves to experience prom and some LGBTQ+ individuals may have never had the opportunity to attend or bring the person they wanted to go with to this special occasion,” PNL shared ahead of the celebration, which featured beats by DJ Ace Vedo. 

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PHOTOS: St. Pete comes together for 2018’s SP2 concert

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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ST. PETERSBURG | St Pete Pride kicked off its 16th year of festivities with the annual SP2 concert June 22 in North Straub Park.

The concert, a fundraising event which assists in funding various Tampa Bay community organizations, featured a mix of fan-favorite area entertainers and was hosted by “RuPaul’s Drag Race” alum Coco Montrese. Watermark was on hand to help celebrate and you can check out some of our photos below.

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PHOTOS: St Pete Pride celebrates its 2018 Festival

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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ST. PETERSBURG | St Pete Pride held its latest and greatest street festival June 24 in the Grand Central District, the perfect close to the celebration’s 16th year.

Pride-goers browsed block after block of the area’s best eateries, advocates and entertainment throughout the district in style, and Watermark was on hand to help close out St Pete Pride 2018. You can check out some of our photos below.

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PHOTOS: AIDS Healthcare Foundation opens new St. Pete healthcare center

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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ST. PETERSBURG | The AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) opened its newest healthcare center June 25 in St. Petersburg to combat Florida’s growing HIV/AIDS epidemic.

AHF hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate their St. Petersburg expansion, where AHF Tampa Bay Medical Director Dr. Jeanette Cancel was joined at the podium by AHF President Michael Weinstein, Southern Bureau Chief Michael Kahane and other AHF leadership. St. Petersburg Police Department LGBT liaison Markus Hughee, city LGBTQ liaison Jim Nixon, Pinellas County Commissioner Kenneth T. Welch and other community leaders also spoke, thanking AHF for their commitment to St. Petersburg.

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PHOTOS: St Pete Pride Celebrates its Sweet 16

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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ST. PETERSBURG | St. Pete Pride celebrated its 16th parade in style  June 23 along downtown St. Petersburg’s waterfront.

The party officially began at 2 p.m. with fan-favorite entertainers Kori Stevens and Daphne Ferraro kicking off festivities in both North and South Straub Park, readying Pride-goers for the evening parade which began at 7 p.m. with the second annual TransPride March. Hot 101.5’s Miguel & Holly hosted the evening as friends, families and floats invaded Bayshore Dr. en masse.

Watermark was on hand to help celebrate St. Pete Pride’s Sweet 16 and you can check out some of our photos below.

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PHOTOS: St. Pete Pride parties on the rooftop at the Kimpton Hotel Zamora

By : Jake Stevens
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St. Petersburg | St. Pete Pride kicked off its 16th year of festivities on top of the Kimpton Hotel Zamora at St. Pete Beach June 21.

Pride-goers drank and danced the night away against panoramic views of the Gulf of Mexico and the Intercoastal Waterway, and Watermark was on hand to help celebrate. You can check out some of our photos below.

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PHOTOS: St. Pete Pride 2018 begins with the Stonewall Opening Reception

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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St. Petersburg | St. Pete Pride’s Sweet 16 officially began June 20 with the Stonewall St. Pete Pride Reception party at the Museum of Fine Arts.

The evening was hosted and sponsored by the museum and featured the annual event’s largest turnout yet. Guests included a who’s-who from around Tampa Bay and beyond, including Mayor Rick Kriseman and Florida Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith.

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