LGBTQ community rallies behind former LGBT+ Center Orlando ED Terry DeCarlo after cancer diagnosis

By : Jeremy Williams
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(Photo from Ben Johansen’s Facebook page)

ORLANDO | Terry DeCarlo, the former executive director of the LGBT+ Center in Orlando who headed The Center in the aftermath of the Pulse tragedy, announced that he is battling Stage 4 neck and face cancer.

According to the Orlando Sentinel, DeCarlo underwent a 10 and a half-hour surgery Oct. 15 to remove the bulk of a tumor and to rebuild his face and jaw.

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The Last Page: Ben Johansen

By : Jeremy Williams
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The Last Page is dedicated to individuals who are making a positive impact on the LGBTQ community in Central Florida and Tampa Bay.

This issue, we check in with Embellish FX co-owner Ben Johansen from Central Florida. Keep an eye on this space to learn more about the movers and shakers of your community.

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10.17.19 Publisher’s Desk

By : Rick Claggett
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It’s time for me to see a therapist. In fact, it’s long overdue. I don’t say this because something is wrong; therapy isn’t about having a problem. Really, everyone should see a therapist. It is sad to me that there is a negative connotation to doing so. Communication is so vital and that includes communicating with yourself.

I’ve been a couple of times in my life. My first visit was when I came out to my mom at the age of 16. She wanted to make sure we both had our heads wrapped around the concept of me being gay. The second was a result of my drinking problem, years before I admitted I had one. I had no-called, no-showed to work after a night of binge drinking and then headed back to the bar when I woke up at three in the afternoon. Hindsight’s 20/20, amiright?

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Come Out With Pride announces 2019 parade grand marshals

By : Jeremy Williams
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ABOVE: Come Out With Pride’s Most Colorful Parade in 2018. (Photo by Brian Becnal)

ORLANDO | Come Out With Pride (COWP) will have four grand marshals for its 2019 Most Colorful Parade in downtown Orlando Oct. 12. COWP made the announcement in a press release Sept. 2.

The 2019 grand marshals are Miss International Queen 2019 Jazell Barbie Royale, founder of The Orlando Ribbon Project Ben Johansen, Central Florida Sounds of Freedom Band and Color Guard and, in memoriam, LGBTQ pioneer Joel Strack.

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The Orlando Ribbon Project releases new enamel pin

By : Lauren Lee
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Famous figures including Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi and HRC’s Chad Griffin have worn the now famous rainbow-colored ribbon, now the Dissent Pin Company has partnered with the Orlando Ribbon Project to create enamel versions of the ribbons that traveled the world in memory of the 49 lives lost at Pulse Orlando.

“Its been rather amazing watching the project grow from just a handful of fabric ribbons for volunteers to a worldwide symbol of love and hope,” says founder of the Orlando Ribbon Project, Ben Johansen.

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2019 Watermark WAVE Awards: Editorial Picks

By : Watermark Staff
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Every year, we ask the LGBTQ community of Central Florida and Tampa Bay to tell us who they think are the best of the best in dozens of categories in Watermark’s Awards for Variety and Excellence (WAVEs) and every year they pick the most amazing people, groups, places, things and organizations both areas have to offer.

While we are on board for every one of their picks, the editorial team here at Watermark has a few of our favorite things that we love to tell people about. So below we offer you our 2019 WAVE Editorial Picks.

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The Orlando Ribbon Project announces some big changes

By : Jaime Donelson
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The Orlando Ribbon Project has created nearly 500,000 ribbons since the Pulse tragedy in June 2016. Founder Ben Johansen felt he had to do something to help his community in their time of grief. The ribbons have spread all around the world appearing in multiple countries and pinned to politicians, celebrities and community leaders everywhere. Now, as the organization’s Facebook page says, the project is evolving.

“We have applied for our 501(c)(3) nonprofit license. We are also creating a college scholarship program for GLBTQ students that have been kicked out of their homes. The scholarship will be called The Orlando Ribbon Project, Helping Hands Scholarship program,” the page reads.

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08.09.18 Publisher’s Desk

By : Rick Claggett
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“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.

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Watermark’s 16 Most Remarkable People of ’16

By : Watermark Staff
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Watermark has chosen those who stood out from the LGBTQ community – 16 remarkable individuals who made a mark in 2016; whether through activism, generosity or beating the odds.

It has been a difficult year for all of us, both politically and personally, and those we have selected have made the most change, been the most inspiring and helped to make our LGBTQ community that much stronger in the face of adversity.

Below, our 16 Most Remarkable People of ’16.

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Do you know the ribbon man?: Ben Johansen steps up and steps out with the clear symbol of this year’s tragedy

By : Billy Manes
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Ben Johansen, who you might know as drag fave Eureka Fish (but not really, anymore, he says), helps to run Embellish FX with his man Timothy Vargas. Vargas, a honcho at the GLBT Center in downtown Orlando, was busy handling palates of food and water the day after the Pulse tragedy. The Center was, in fact, the Center of dignity after the event. So Johansen set out to make his peace with the community, to contribute in a way only he could.

“It actually happened the second day I was making ribbons,” he says. “I had a reporter following me around, and I was telling him about Orlando, and he was interested. So, he’s actually the one who coined me the ‘Ribbon Maker’ and wrote the story.”

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