Parents join the conversation at 2016 Orlando Youth Empowerment Summit

By : Adam Manno
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From Tumblr to transgender trends, the leaders, teachers and students who attended the third annual Orlando Youth Empowerment Summit tackled a wide range of topics of interest to modern LGBT youth.

Co-sponsored by the City of Orlando in partnership with GLSEN, the Orlando Youth Alliance, and Zebra Coalition, O-YES is a collaborative workshop and panel-based conference aimed at empowering Orlando’s LGBTQIA+ community through dialogue and discourse.

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LGBT tech hero Carlos Carbonell hailed at Sentinel’s Central Floridian of the Year gala

By : Billy Manes
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Betwixt the rain, the rush-hour traffic and a packed concert next door, the Orlando Sentinel held its first Central Floridian of the Year event on the evening of Jan. 28 at the Pegasus Ballroom within the University of Central Florida’s student union. Hosted by everybody’s favorite “aw, shucks” political columnist Scott Maxwell, and attended by all of the mucky-mucks and the editorial board members that have crossed them at one time or another (plus Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and his entourage … oh, and the amazing philanthropist Harriet Lake, who left the house for the first time in a long time despite her illness), the catered soiree was just about what you would expect it to be. We had the stuffed chicken.

What we didn’t expect, however, was the presence of LGBT tech entrepreneur Carlos Carbonell, who was shortlisted as one of the finalists for the prestigious Sentinel award. We’ve known other winners and nominees in the past, and you’re not allowed to talk about it. What happens in the paper’s mahogany boardroom STAYS in said boardroom.

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City of Orlando Oath of Office Ceremony

By : Jamie Hyman
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Patty Sheehan, Orlando’s first openly gay city commissioner, was sworn into her fifth term of office Jan. 11 at Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts.

At the Oath of Office ceremony, in addition to Sheehan, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer was sworn into his fourth full term, District 2 Commissioner Tony Ortiz was sworn into his third term, and District 6 Commissioner Samuel B. Ings was sworn into his third full term on the City Council.

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Watermark Year in Review: November 2015

By : Jamie Hyman, Billy Manes and Jeremy Williams
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Following a long, long negotiation, Parliament House solidifies its future by finalizing a deal for a $3.9 million refinancing loan. The loan was announced before Halloween, finalized the first week of November and frees the resort to remain an Orlando LGBT icon.

Orlando’s mayor and Orlando’s first openly gay commissioner will both remain in office another term. Buddy Dyer and Patty Sheehan both win their re-election campaigns in November, emerging victorious from races that both involved their fair share of mud-slinging.

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VIDEO! City of Orlando highlights marriage equality in 2015 retrospective

By : Jamie Hyman
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Marriage equality is front and center of the City of Orlando’s 2015 accomplishments retrospective video.

It kicks off with “Vowed and Proud,” the mass wedding ceremony held at City Hall in January. Check out the video after the jump: 

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Viewpoint: The Tender Activist, Reclaim Your Vote

By : Scottie Campbell
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scottie campbell“I like Bernie Sanders,” said my friend across the patio of his Winter Park condo, where we gathered with longtime friends. His soft, kind voice did little to cushion the rest of his opinion: “But he’s unelectable.”

Unelectable. The word shot into my ear, easily cutting through the still Florida-muggy September night air. Three beers in, there was the slight danger of my reaction landing disproportionate to the moment, but I managed, “The only way to change that is to vote for him.”

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Orlando Police Department introduces Transgender Person policy

By : Jeremy Williams
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Orlando – The Orlando Police Department announced in a press release Nov. 6 that it will adopt new Transgender Persons procedures to ensure that all officers are in line with the agencies policy “to treat all people with dignity and respect.”

“Orlando is a city that embraces diversity and welcomes people of all ages, races, religions and sexual orientations,” OPD Media Relations stated in an email. “Mayor Buddy Dyer and Commissioner Patty Sheehan, in particular, have worked diligently to have an inclusive government that fosters diversity by establishing programs, ordinances and initiatives that benefit the LGBT community.”

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2015 General Election Results

By : Watermark Staff
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Polls are closed on the 2015 General Elections and results are rolling in.

Find out who won after the jump:

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The gay gloves are off: Log Cabin Republicans endorse Paul Paulson for Orlando Mayor

By : Billy Manes
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(Editor’s note: This post has been edited to reflect late info and to remove the image of someone who did not want to be associated with it.)

We don’t really want to come off negative on the Log Cabin Republicans (in fact, we publish an LCR viewpoint on occasion), but the fact that mayoral candidate Paul Paulson, he of the Doug Guetzloe money train and all that that legally implies, is openly touting his Republican leanings in a nonpartisan race is cause for some alarm.

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Screened Out – Black Mass

By : Stephen Miller
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Johnny Depp, Joel Edgerton, Benedict Cumberbatch, Dakota Johnson, Kevin Bacon, Peter Sarsgaard, Adam Scott, Corey Stoll

In Catholic parlance, a Black Mass is a satanic inversion of the Holy Mass, where one sacrificed others instead of oneself, and no good can come of it. The metaphor fits this dark, slow, unforgiving film – a mob biopic about James “Whitey” Bulger. It’s a cold, methodical, violent piece about a cold, methodical, violent character.

With this as a theme, Black Mass is watchable, but it never illuminates Bulger to us – specifically, why he does what he does. He’s one note: just pure evil. People are loyal to him and we never find out why except for fear.

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Screened Out – Meru

By : Stephen Miller
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Documentary by Jimmy Chin, Elizabeth Chai Vasarheyli

What drives people to try the impossible?

The very first shot of Meru would make most audiences ask that while shaking their heads. A tent clings to the 90-degree side of a granite mountain, 1800 stories above sea level. A blizzard of snow whirls around, the wind ripping at the fabric. Three men wait inside – either for death or for the opportunity to finish climbing a sheer rock face that most experts say is not climbable.

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Pride Gala 2015

By : Jamie Hyman
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The Metropolitan Business Association honored Orlando’s best in LGBT business Aug. 22 during Pride Gala 2014 at JW Marriott.

See all the great photo from the night and a complete list of winners after the jump:

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