onePulse Foundation announces design finalists in national memorial and museum competition

By : Jeremy Williams
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ORLANDO | The onePULSE Foundation released six potential designs for the National Pulse Memorial and Museum on Oct. 3.

Each of the six concept designs are available for the public to view at the Orange County Regional History Center, located at 65 E. Central Blvd. in downtown Orlando, or online via the accompanying digital exhibition at onePULSEFoundation.org.

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Orlando City Commissioner Patty Sheehan goes up against new-to-politics Corey DeVogel for District 4

By : Jeremy Williams
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ORLANDO | While most political eyes are set squarely on 2020’s election year, the City of Orlando is holding general elections Nov. 5 for mayor and several city council seats; including that of District 4, currently occupied by the city’s first openly LGBTQ commissioner Patty Sheehan.

Sheehan, who was first elected to the District 4 seat in 2000, is running for her sixth term. During Sheehan’s fifth term as a city commissioner, she helped to pass the Orlando Police Department’s Safe Place Initiative, which provides safe spots for those within the LGBTQ community throughout Orlando should they find themselves victims of crime. She also assisted in the creation of the Orlando Youth Empowerment Summit, which is a free conference dedicated to empowering LGBTQ youth and allies through education and support.

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Watermark’s Wedding Bells: Carlos Guillermo Smith and Jerick Mediavilla

By : Marianella Falbo
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“When we met and we first started flirting, in my mind I couldn’t accept that someone so sweet, so kind, and so handsome would actually take an interest in me that had NOTHING to do with politics,” says Florida Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith.

Carlos met Jerick Mediavilla at The Venue in Orlando during an event supporting the Latinx community impacted by the Pulse shooting in 2016.

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onePULSE Foundation makes land purchase for future location of museum

By : Lora Korpar
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ABOVE: The Pulse Interim Memorial. (from onePULSE Foundation’s Facebook)

ORLANDO | The onePULSE Foundation took its next step toward creating the National Pulse Memorial & Museum with a $3.5 million purchase of land near Pulse nightclub in Orlando, the organization announced in a press release Sept. 16.

Scheduled to open in 2022, the museum will honor the 49 victims of the 2016 Pulse shooting. The 1.75-acre parcel of land purchased is located at 438 W. Kaley St.

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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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