Come Out With Pride announces new board president

By : Jeremy Williams
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New Come Out With Pride board president Jeff Prystajko.

ORLANDO | Come Out With Pride (COWP) announced the appointment of Jeff Prystajko as the board’s new president March 19 after Brian Riha completed his two-year term in the same position.

Prystajko has been with COWP for several years, most recently serving as director of marketing and communications. He has also held leadership positions with both the Metropolitan Business Association (MBA Orlando) and the Human Rights Campaign in Orlando.

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Hillsborough County math teacher alledgedly bans cross necklaces from classroom

By : Staff Report
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The Liberty Counsel filed a complaint against a Riverview High School math teacher April 19.

The letter to Jeff Eakins, Hillsborough schools superintendent, stated that Lora Jane Riedas “has prohibited at least three children from wearing Christian cross necklaces in her classroom, claiming on occasion that they are ‘gang symbols.'”

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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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Gay rights activists detained by Georgian Orthodox Church

By : Wire Report
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MOSCOW (AP) — Police in the former Soviet republic of Georgia say they have detained 10 gay rights activists who were painting graffiti on the fence of the Georgian Orthodox Patriarch’s office.

Despite its political and economic rapprochement with the West, Georgia remains a deeply conservative country when it comes to family and gender. The capital, Tbilisi, this year is hosting the conservative World Congress of Families.

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Fake engagement at Cruz rally protests his same-sex marriage view

By : Wire Report
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BOSTON (AP) – Two Massachusetts students say they staged a marriage proposal at a Ted Cruz rally as a demonstration against the Republican presidential hopeful’s stance on gay marriage.

Emerson College sophomores Arden Jurskis and Kenzy Peach tell The Boston Globe the fake engagement at the Jan. 31 rally in Iowa was “spur of the moment” and a “demonstration of values and activism.”

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1.28.15 Editor’s Desk

By : Billy Manes
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Billy Manes

Billy Manes

Where were you while we were getting high?

By virtue of political plate tectonics and the mahogany-and-starched-shirt drudgery of a state legislative cycle in full swing during a presidential election year, you wouldn’t be wrong to suggest that the earth is actually moving under your feet right now. Nope, not vertigo. Nah, you aren’t drunk (maybe?). High? Hopefully!

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#GayGoal2016: Set a goal, check in, keep the LGBT equality movement rolling

By : Jamie Hyman
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Some say there’s hardly a need for LGBT activism in a post- marriage equality world, and while we can’t deny that a sense of urgency and injustice has been deflated, we’re not quite ready to give up on fostering, nurturing and reporting about a tight-knit, active LGBT community.

Yes, there is still political work to do. Activists are – and should continue – fighting for workplace protections, against bullying, to ensure young LGBTs can come out safely and to add gender identity and sexual orientation to existing anti-discrimination policies where LGBT-specific protections are far too frequently excluded.

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12.31.15 Editor’s Desk

By : Billy Manes
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Billy Manes

Billy Manes

“And you may find yourself living in a shotgun shack. And you may find yourself in another part of the world. And you may find yourself behind the wheel of a large automobile. And you may find yourself in a beautiful house, with a beautiful wife. And you may ask yourself, “Well … How did I get here?” the Talking Heads once rattled over a thumping bassline. “Once in a Lifetime,” indeed.

2015 was certainly a big year for the LGBT community, seemingly allowing decency to coast atop the terrible notions of people like Gov. Rick Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi into a panacea of hopefulness. In our coverage area, so much change happened: new leadership, new businesses, a new outlook, and, gasp, a new editor.

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Overheard in Tampa Bay: Hamburger Mary’s Pub House

By : Anonymous
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Mary’s loves sports
You may have noticed that if you now head to Hamburger Mary’s in Ybor City Monday through Friday afternoons that the restaurant’s doors are locked up tighter than the Krusty Krab formula. Don’t worry though, everyone’s favorite burger joint has not been closed down, but it will only be opened in the evenings as weekday lunch time is moving next door to the all-new Hamburger Mary’s Pub House. HM Pub House opened their doors last month and since then is becoming THE place to catch the latest Bucs or Lightning game while enjoying a variety of beers and wing flavors. Monday Night Football won’t be the same when you’re watching the game on the big screen with tons of Ybor friends and unlimited chicken wings. They also got you set with a late night breakfast menu, full bar and delicious eye candy. See ya on game day!

Award winning activism
Anyone who has met Ashley Brundage knows that she is absolutely remarkable. Not to brag but we have known it for some time, naming her one of Watermark’s Most Remarkable People in 2014 and it seems like the city of Tampa realizes how amazing she is as well. On November 19, the Tampa City Council unanimously voted to award Brundage a commendation from the city of Tampa. The motion was made by Councilman Guido Maniscalco of District 6 and seconded by Councilwoman Lisa J. Montelione of District 7. The honor is in recognition of Brundage’s community volunteerism and her being presented with the 2015 Performance Award PNC Bank this past November. Brundage not only is a community activist for transgender rights but she is also the president of the Tampa Bay Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, on the board of directors for the TampaBay International Gay & Lesbian Film Festival and by large one of the nicest people you will ever meet. A ceremony will be held at Tampa City Hall Dec. 17. Congratulations Ashley!

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Watermark’s 15 Most Remarkable People of 2015

By : Watermark Staff
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Every year, Watermark chooses stand-outs from the LGBT community – remarkable individuals who made a mark in the past year, whether through activism, generosity or beating the odds.

For 2015, we took nominations from readers and selected the 15 Most Remarkable People of 2015: seven from the Central Florida area, and eight from Tampa Bay. See our selections and read their exceptional stories:

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Trans-positive: Tristan Byrnes, a compassionate voice for the transgender community

By : Krista DiTucci
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Amidst the transgender community’s tragedies and struggles in 2015, local hero Tristan Byrnes has been fighting to raise awareness and celebrate the community’s victories.

Byrnes, licensed mental health counselor, provides assistance in gender issues through his private practice, New Transition Therapy. But he feels his advocacy for the transgender community should extend beyond one-on-one work in order to make a real difference.

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Islamic State group targets gay men with brutal public killings

By : Wire Report
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REYHANLI, Turkey (AP) – Before a crowd of men on a street in the Syrian city of Palmyra, the masked Islamic State group judge read out the sentence against the two men convicted of homosexuality: They would be thrown to their deaths from the roof of the nearby Wael Hotel.

He asked one of the men if he was satisfied with the sentence. Death, the judge told him, would help cleanse him of his sin.

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