Watermark’s Top headlines of 2017

By : Watermark Staff
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2017 was a roller coaster of a year. Our highs were marked with great achievements and big celebrations, and our lows were filled with the passing of great LGBTQ leaders and fear-filled headlines we thought we would never read.

Below we look back on the top 5 LGBTQ headlines out of Central Florida, Tampa Bay, from the state of Florida and across the nation, and the world.

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Orlando’s Overheard: Love, honor and remember

By : Anonymous
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Love is Love

Earlier this year we mentioned that MegaCon Orlando —the Southeast’s largest comics, sci-fi and gaming event —in conjunction with comic book writer Marc Andreyko of DC Comics hosted the “Love is Love” fundraiser in honor of the victims from the Pulse tragedy.

Andreyko, you may recall, was the project organizer for the graphic novel Love Is Love, the oversize comic containing tributes to the victims of Pulse and celebrating the LGBTQ community.

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7.27.17 Founder’s Forum: Remembering Billy Manes

By : Tom Dyer
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Tom Dyer Watermark gay

Billy Manes wore sweaters on the hottest summer days, often with a scarf and beret. He was quirky in that and so many other ways.

With his gangly body and loose-limbed walk, and that shock of peroxide blonde hair, he was like an elfin Muppet. Strange in a stylish and wonderfully appealing way. Disarmingly honest. Transparently vulnerable. Self-effacing to a fault. But also passionate and courageous when moved by injustice.

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Orlando LGBTQ icon and former Watermark editor, Billy Manes, dies at 45

By : Staff Report
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Billy Manes

Billy Manes

ORLANDO | Billy Manes, iconic Orlando LGBTQ activist, former longtime columnist for Orlando Weekly and former editor-in-chief of Watermark, died July 21 just after 4 p.m. from a sudden onset of pneumonia. He was 45. He is survived by his husband, Anthony Mauss.

Manes was from Boca Raton and moved to Orlando in 1997. He began his career in journalism in the sales department at Orlando Weekly and eventually became a staple in the paper, writing the “B-List,” “Blister” and “Happytown” columns. He also attended Orlando city council meetings and recapped them in the column “Council Watch.”

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Editor’s Desk: Feeling down, looking up. This is us now.

By : Billy Manes
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Billy Manes

It’s so easy to get down in times like these. You may not see it coming, but then, there you are rolling off a cliff into the abyss of misspent memories and into that gurgling pool of anxiety. You don’t know what’s next, but you do know that it probably won’t be good, just because. Just because.

This isn’t an attempt to stifle anyone’s New Year’s affectations for 2016’s knock-em-down, kick-em-hard disappointments going away, but more of a knowing glance. We’re seeing things we’ve never seen before – well, we always have been seeing new things (it’s nature), but these things seem to hurt more.

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8.11.16 Editor’s Desk

By : Billy Manes
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Billy Manes

Billy Manes

“You have the right to remain silent and refuse to answer questions.” Such is the launch of the monotonous Miranda poetry recited time and time again over the handcuffed arms of alleged criminals under the swirling bright blue and reds atop the cars of those out to convict them – sometimes rightfully, sometimes in error.

It is no secret to anyone that the lines between right and wrong blur frequently, generally aided by the vectors of pride, bravado, haste, fear and even innocence present in that singular arresting moment. The cacophony of crisis often wins over, and in recent years, we’ve seen a widening schism between freedom and authority, right and wrong – so much so that we’re lining streets, packing political offices, peacefully demonstrating or violently exploding. Black Lives Matter, #sitinforthe49, the Dream Defenders. These trying times don’t represent our first revolution – political or otherwise – but they do remind us that we ought to be looking out for each other more. We could try a little harder, listen a little more.

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7.28.16 Editor’s Desk

By : Billy Manes
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Billy Manes

Billy Manes

There are certain things – scientific remedies, poems, friends, family, rhythms, compassionate beings, Duran Duran, Pet Shop Boys, lovers and losers – that I personally hold dear. If I err on any side of this balance beam we call life, I tend to self-correct and help somebody else up off the ground before I turn turtle and pretend I don’t exist as somebody meant to be of service.

So when given the opportunity last week to cross the state on I-4 for Hillary Clinton’s event at the Florida State Fairgrounds on July 22 – oh, I know; we’re a little heavy on the Hillary this month, but it’s also the month of the convention and just weeks after a massacre, so please forgive our indulgences – I leapt at it. It’s something I’ve always dreamed of. To meet somebody who has done so much good yet taken so much shit peripherally is reaffirming in its own way. Yes, I’m with her. I’m allowed to be.

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06.30.16 Editor’s Desk

By : Billy Manes
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Billy Manes

Billy Manes

As the whole world stares at Orlando through teary eyes after the terrible incident at Pulse that took the lives of 49 vibrant people, stellar individuals from our community, we are in the process of decompressing. If you can only imagine the absolute horror that comes with both the truths and items of speculation about a mass murder in your community – and let us not forget the many more wounded – then maybe you can fathom how far our growing need for a surface, or a horizon, really is. This issue is about finding our footing, about finding our way out.

When I was 28, I worked the door of that very same venue, although it wasn’t called Pulse then; it was a little Italian restaurant called Dante’s, a sort of ramshackle venue for amazing jangle-pop-folk-rock Orlando musical talent. It wasn’t gay; I was, but that didn’t matter to anyone. I was just there out front taking in cash for events, hair akimbo, mind alight.

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Imagine Dragons concert raises $ for One Orlando Fund

By : Deanndra Meno
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The Imagine Dragons show at Hard Rock June 22 raised funds – still an undetermined amount, according to Hard Rock – for the One Orlando Fund.

Watermark’s own Billy Manes took the stage, along with Joey Fatone and Patty Sheehan, to introduce the band and talk about the cause.

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Overheard in Orlando: A Mistaken Marriage

By : Anonymous
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On a personal note
Same-sex couples who legally tied the knot at The Center on Jan. 6 received a special card from Hal and Linda Johansen, who were in town visiting their son, Ben Johansen, and his partner, Tim Vargas. Inside each card was a note personally congratulating the couple and a lottery ticket. The Johansens also gave each couple heart-shaped candy. According to Ben, his parents wanted to make sure each couple felt loved.

Contagious congratulations
The Metropolitan Business Association’s president Nayte Carrick and partner Michael Deeying received plenty of congratulations after a mass wedding on the steps of Orlando City Hall Jan. 6. The problem was, the two were there supporting friends who were married, not getting married themselves. The case of mistaken identity was perpetuated with Channel 13’s looping teaser to the story that showed the couple dressed to the nines and standing side by side. Deeying said he found the experience humorous.

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Overheard in Orlando: Films on the move

By : Anonymous
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Orlando films travel to Tampa
Two of the most anticipated documentaries at the upcoming Tampa International Gay & Lesbian Film Festival have Central Florida connections. In Billy & Alan, director Vicki Nantz tells the true story of a loving but turbulent relationship, a tragic suicide, and a fiery will contest – complete with evil matriarch – that could have been lifted from a Southern Gothic novel. Orlando Weekly columnist Billy Manes is narrator, victim, and ultimately hero of this deeply touching film that runs at the Tampa Theatre on Tuesday, Oct. 8 at 8:30 p.m. The movie played recently played to a sold out audience at the Global Peace Film Festival

And then on Thursday, Oct. 10, Memories of a Penitent Heart will be screened at 6:30 p.m. at Muvico Baywalk in St. Petersburg. In this heartbreaking documentary, director Cecelia Aldarondo explores her uncle’s death and her grandmother’s insistence that he repent his homosexuality on his deathbed. When he dies on Easter Sunday, she is convinced it is a miracle. But the movie is about what was lost in that hospital room, and the painful costs of prejudice.

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