Equality Florida Action PAC endorses Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer for re-election

By : Jeremy Williams
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ORLANDO | Equality Florida Action PAC endorsed the re-election of Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer in a Facebook post Aug. 22.

“Equality Florida Action PAC is proud to endorse Mayor Buddy Dyer – a champion for our LGBTQ community,” the organization posted.

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Orange County Mayor names new LGBTQ+ Community Liaison

By : Jeremy Williams
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ORLANDO | Chief of Staff to Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings, Roseann Harrington announced Marc Espeso as Special Assistant to Demings during the One Orlando Alliance quarterly meeting held on Aug. 14. Espeso will act as the LGBTQ+ Community Liaison for Demings.

Espeso, who is currently Orange County’s Digital Communications Editor, will expand his responsibilities to include the new position.

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Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith and Jerick Mediavilla tie the knot in ceremony at The Venue Orlando

By : Jeremy Williams
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Love is love, and it was definitely in the air in Orlando this past weekend!

Florida House Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith and LGBTQ activist Jerick Mediavilla were wed in a ceremony at The Venue in Orlando Aug. 4, exactly two years to the day and in the same location that they first met.

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City of Orlando, Orange County proclaim June 12 ‘Orlando United Day’

By : Jeremy Williams
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ABOVE: Artwork from Orlando County Regional History Center’s 2018 exhibit “Another Year Passes: Orlando After the Pulse Nightclub Massacre.” (Photo by Layla Ferris)

ORLANDO | Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings, along with the Orlando City Commissioners and Orange County Commissioners jointly proclaimed June 12, 2019 to be “Orlando United Day.”

“As we approach the three-year mark of the Pulse tragedy, our community continues to honor the 49 innocent lives taken on June 12, 2016, and support the survivors and victims’ families,” said Dyer. “I am proud to join Mayor Demings to proclaim this June 12 as ‘Orlando United Day’ in the City of Orlando and Orange County and help show that we are still responding to that hateful act with love, compassion and unity.”

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PHOTOS: The 49 Fund announces scholarship winners at Orlando City Hall

By : Jeremy Williams
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ORLANDO | The 49 Fund at Central Florida Foundation announced its four scholarship recipients at a ceremony held at Orlando City Hall’s Rotunda on June 8.

Created in 2017 as a partnership between Central Florida attorney and LGBTQ activist Barry Miller and The LGBT+ Center Orlando, The 49 Fund awards scholarships of $4,900 to students who self-identify as an out member of the LGBTQ community, attend an accredited two- or four-year institution of higher learning on a full-time basis, earn a 3.0 GPA or higher and demonstrate a commitment to making Central Florida a better place.

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Orlando remembers 3-year mark of Pulse tragedy this June

By : Jeremy Williams
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ORLANDO | June 12, 2019 will mark three years since a gunman walked into the Pulse nightclub, killing 49 people and injuring dozens more.

Several organizations will hold vigils, memorials and events in and around Central Florida to honor the victims leading up to and on June 12. We have gathered information on a few and provided it below. Watermark will continue to update this list over the next two weeks with more events as information becomes available.

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RED Shirt Pride Day looks to continue Orlando’s traditional Gay Day at the Magic Kingdom

By : Jeremy Williams
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In June 1991, a group of LGBTQ Central Floridians—led by openly gay Orlando resident Doug Swallow—decided to meet at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom to say to “The Most Magical Place On Earth” that “We’re here, we’re queer and we’d like to see Cinderella’s Castle!”

“[Doug said] ‘let’s go be somewhere where we can be ourselves and let people see that we’re normal people, but let them know that we are gay … we’ll do something like wear a red shirt so we can know who each other are.’ That was totally Doug’s idea, to make that day what it is,” said Michael Wanzie, a Central Florida entertainer who was at the very first event, in an interview with Watermark in 2018.

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PHOTOS: Orlando recognizes Jazell Barbie Royale with city proclamation

By : Jeremy Williams
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ORLANDO | Mayor Buddy Dyer recognized the current Miss International Queen Jazell Barbie Royale with a proclamation to the city declaring it “Jazell Barbie Royale Day” in the city of Orlando on April 11.

Dyer and Royale were joined on the steps of City Hall by City Commissioner Patty Sheehan, Parliament House Entertainment Director Darcel Stevens, Orlando Police Captain Jim Young, Bliss CARES Medical Director Dr. Roberto Ortiz and many of Royale’s family, friends, fans and supporters.

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Orlando becomes first Florida city to recognize LGBTQ-certified businesses

By : Jeremy Williams
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ORLANDO | Mayor Buddy Dyer, City Commissioner Patty Sheehan and members from both the Metropolitan Business Association (MBA Orlando) and the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) gathered at Se7enBites in Orlando to announce a new LGBTQ business initiative April 2.

The LGBTQ+ Business Inclusion Resolution allows the city to develop a database and registry of LGBTQ-certified businesses with the NGLCC that will track city contracts and spending with LGBTQ-owned businesses and ensure the inclusion of LGBTQ-owned businesses in Central Florida.

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Miss International Queen Jazell Barbie Royale to be recognized by City of Orlando

By : Lauren Lee
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ORLANDO | The City of Orlando will recognize Parliament House entertainer Jazell Barbie Royale, who made history as the first black transgender woman to be crowned Miss International Queen in Thailand, with a ceremony at City Hall on April 11.

“We always see trans rights in such a hostile way,” says Darcel Stevens, Parliament House’s entertainment director. “There’s so much brutality in the community, so it is wonderful to see trans issues in such a positive light.”

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Drag Queen Story Hour comes to life with Gidget Galore at The LGBT+ Center in Orlando

By : Lauren Lee
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ORLANDO | Central Florida drag queen Gidget Galore was not on her usual stage March 21 at The LGBT+ Center in Orlando, but instead sat in a circle with nearly 20 children reading stories to them.

“I look like a clown. I’m big, bright, sparkly and colorful and kids love it,” says Galore. “I have been looking forward to this since [we did it at] the Kids Fringe Festival and George [Wallace, The Center’s executive director] asked, and I said ‘Yes, this is for me!'”

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The 2019 WAVE Awards: Central Florida

By : Watermark Staff
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FAVORITE LOCAL POLITICIAN
First: Buddy Dyer, Orlando Mayor
Second: Patty Sheehan, Orlando City Commissioner
Third: Carlos Guillermo Smith, Florida Representative- District 49

FAVORITE LOCAL ACTIVIST
First: Patty Sheehan, Orlando City Commissioner
Second: Dr. Edwin DeJesus, Orlando Immunology Center
Third: Ben Johansen, The Ribbon Maker

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