Overheard in Tampa Bay: Blowing out birthday candles with George Takei

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Happy Birthday, Mr. Sulu
As part of their Frontier Forum lecture series, the University of South Florida’s College of Arts and Sciences beamed over the one and only George Takei. Mr. Takei played the usual crowd favorites of OH MYYY and LIVE LONG AND PROSPER, but he also spoke about the strength of diversity and acceptance in the U.S. He spoke to the crowd of his time behind physical fences in the Japanese Internment Camps during World War II and of the political and social fences he lived behind as a closeted gay man. The lecture continued with a Q&A where it was revealed that Mr. Takei would be turning 79 years old April 20. The dean led the audience in a round of “Happy Birthday” as they carted out a six-layer, rainbow inspired cake with the good Mr. Takei sprawled across the top in frosting. Mr. Takei later invited the student volunteers, and one lucky Watermark staffer, backstage to enjoy an impromptu birthday party. OHHHH MYYYYYY.

Congratulations, Mr. Drake
Out and proud USF student Hunter P. Drake has been giving his time to ASAP/Empath Health as a volunteer for the last couple of years. The people of ASAP/Empath have not only benefited in the respect and compassion he has for each and every person that comes through their doors, but he also is pretty handy around a computer being a huge support with IT. Well, that support hasn’t gone unnoticed as Hunter was recently the recipient of not one, but two separate scholarships. The first is the Theodore R. and Vivian M. Johnson Scholarship, a need-based scholarship program for undergraduate, degree-seeking students with disabilities attending state universities in Florida, awarded to Hunter April 4. The other is a scholarship from the USF Alumni Association. The $2,000 scholarship is awarded to a USF student that has made a significant contribution to the LGBT community. Hunter was honored from the USF Alumni Association at the 12th Annual LGBT Community Gala April 20. Thanks for all the work you do, Hunter.

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Anti-transgender bill finds opponents in tourism industry and its benefactors

By : Wire Report
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Sioux Falls, S.D. (AP) – Opponents of a bill that would prohibit transgender students in South Dakota from using the bathroom of their choice are taking aim at the state’s $3.8 billion tourism industry.

Activists this week used a Twitter hashtag created by South Dakota’s Tourism Department to criticize lawmakers for advancing legislation the activists believe would lead to bullying and discrimination, the Argus Leader newspaper reported.

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Around the World: Four romantic getaways for V-Day

By : Aaron Drake
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Aaron Drake

There’s something about arguing with your hubby while navigating the tumultuously windy backroads of Maui through a tropical forest – or clinging to each other at 3 a.m. during a downpour that rumbles like freight train on the tin roof of the cottage you’re staying in – that just spells the word “R-O-M-A-N-C-E.” I mean, it’s said that you never get to know someone better than when you travel together. What better way to kick off the most romantic month of the year than with a trip made for two? 2016 is the year to put it to the test, or perhaps re-spark that languishing LTR.

Inspired by the wintry weather, which is making its presence felt even here in the Sunshine State, we’ve got love and warmer temps on the brain.

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City of Orlando to host 3rd annual Youth Empowerment Summit

By : Adam Manno
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Orlando – For the third year in a row, community mentors will team up to empower Orlando’s LGBT youth at the Orlando Youth Empowerment Summit Feb. 6.

The City of Orlando, in partnership with the Orlando Youth Alliance, GLSEN, Darden Restaurants and other local organizations, will host O-YES from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Orlando City Hall first floor rotunda.

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Overheard in Tampa Bay: Hamburger Mary’s Pub House

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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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Se7en Bites moving, expanding

By : Jamie Hyman
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Soon, Se7en Bites’ customers will be able to fill their pie holes at a much bigger location.

TrinaAndVAThe bake shop, owned by Trina Gregory-Propst and Va Propst, is currently located on a small green building on Primrose Drive and opened in 2013. Over the next six months, they’ll work on renovating the 3500-square-foot building that used to the home of Sunshine School Uniforms, just north of Se7en Bites’ current location at 617 N. Primrose Drive.

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Screened Out – Mistress America

By : Stephen Miller
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Greta Gerwig, Lola Kirke

The small-scale, metropolitan comedy Mistress America is a great idea done better in other films. Stilted execution and juvenile characters hinder it here. I quit caring for these people; I even started disliking them.

“Do you know what an autodidact is?” one character asks another.

“Yes.”

“Autodidact is one of the words I self-taught myself,” the first replies – the line is funny, but it sounds like it’s coming from a precocious eighth grader, not a 30-year-old. Actually, and eighth grader is more intelligent and aware than this lady.

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Guest Column: Saying goodbye to Zebra Coalition

By : Dexter Foxworth
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Dexter Foxworth

I am driving in traffic on my way to our Zebra Coalition Youth Center. It’s summer in Florida and I can see the rain behind me, following me, laughing at me as I try to beat it and get thru traffic. I pull up to our youth center and the rain falls. Of course, my umbrella is sitting inside the office. The unforeseen benefit of this is that with nothing to do but wait for the rain to let up, you have some time to reflect, to look back, to take stock. And what better time to do that than when you are just days from ending your time with a job that has changed your life.

Three-and-a-half years ago, I stepped into my new office to begin my journey as director for the Zebra Coalition, a nonprofit with a mission to provide support, services and programming to Central Florida’s LGBT+ youth. I spent my first two days meeting youth in our residential program and learning. Fast forward two weeks later; I was on the side of the road, in my car ready to walk, no run, away from it all.

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Youth summit to feature Jane Castor

By : Staff Report
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JaneCastorMugTampa – Jane Castor, the Tampa Police Chief, will be the guest speaker at the first-ever Empower Tampa LGBTQ Youth Summit this weekend in Ybor City.

The event will be held at Metro Wellness & Community Centers Ybor location and runs from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, March 7.

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The Poly-Triad

By : Steve Blanchard
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Lady Aalyanna, her husband, Mhirokata, and Belle describe their family unit as a Poly-Triad. Belle is the submissive to the couple who have been married for 13 years. Belle has been a part of the family ever since she met the married couple online 12 years ago and says they are a house of Synergy because they all share a fetish for fire and electricity.

The three share a home in Lakeland.

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MBA board will likely to go to police with fraud allegations

By : Jamie Hyman
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Orlando – After weeks of internal investigation, the Metropolitan Business Association is expected to go to the authorities with their findings of alleged financial fraud by the organization’s former president.

Mikael Audebert resigned from the MBA in October and was fired from his post as executive director of Come Out With Pride in November. Since then, the MBA Board and its subsidiary organizations have revealed a financial mess, blaming Audebert, but until now had not accused Audebert of any criminal wrongdoing.

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Diva Gospel Brunch

By : Samantha Rosenthal
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Funky Monkey Wine Company Pointe Orlando hosted a special Gay Days edition of their regular Sunday Diva Gospel Brunch, where diners enjoyed mimosas, amazing breakfast dishes and a little joyful sound provided by the lovely cast of divas themselves.

The show started at 12:30 p.m. and the cast of fabulous divas took attendees through their “Heaven and Hell” showm inviting invite the audience to “pay repentance” (through having a good time) for the “sinning” they did all weekend long. The ladies sang many Gospel choir tunes and then moved on to some diva-ballad classics.

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