Orlando 7-Eleven employee accused of attacking customer for being gay

By : Jaime Donelson
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ORLANDO | Orlando resident John Richards took to Twitter Sept. 27 claiming he and his friends were assaulted in a hate crime perpetrated by an employee at a downtown 7-Eleven late evening on Sept. 26.

Richards, in an email to Watermark, says he and five friends attend an art show in Downtown Orlando and, on the way back to their car, decided to stop in the 7-Eleven located at 124 W Pine St. Downtown Orlando to purchase drinks and use the restroom.

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HRC, NextGen America encourage UCF students to “charge your vote”

By : Jaime Donelson
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ORLANDO | NextGen America, a nonprofit and political action committee focused on environmental advocacy, dispatched teams across Florida for National Voter Registration Day Sept. 25, attempting to register as many students as possible before the Oct. 9 deadline.

The organization claims it has registered almost 40,000 voters in the state so far for the 2018 election and received over 15,000 pledges to vote.

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Watermark Film Company’s new documentary ‘Greetings From Queertown’ shines a light on Orlando’s LGBTQ history

By : Christen Kelley
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From KKK members threatening Pride-filled parade marchers to a sea of red shirts ascending on Disney World for Gay Day at the Magic Kingdom to standing “Orlando Strong” around Lake Eola, Central Florida has come a long way for the LGBTQ community. It’s a rich history that Watermark Film Company plans to detail in their upcoming documentary, “Greetings From Queertown: Orlando.”

Spearheaded by Watermark owner, publisher and editor Rick Claggett, director/producer Sandi Hulon, director of photography Tye Belcher and others from Team Watermark, the film company was created to share the story of “Queertown.”

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Watermark owner creates film company, premieres first movie’s trailer

By : Staff Report
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ORLANDO | Watermark Film Company premiered the first trailer to its documentary film “Greetings From Queertown: Orlando” at a private fundraising event at The Venue in Orlando Aug. 23.

Watermark Film Company was launched by Watermark Publishing Group owner Rick Claggett as a way to create, produce and distribute films that inform and educate audiences on the LGBTQ experience, according to a press release.

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Bernie Sanders endorses several progressives ahead of primaries

By : Jeremy Williams
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Sen. Bernie Sanders has achieved rockstar status ever since running in the 2016 presidential election. While he didn’t win, he has maintained that status, so when he rolled into town to speak at a rally for Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, who is running to be the Democratic nominee in the Florida gubernatorial race, it was no surprise that several hundred young, progressive voters turned up at UCF’s CFE Arena for a chance to hear him speak.

Governor-hopeful Gillum, who earned an endorsement from Bernie, spoke about the same values that Bernie campaigned on: affordable healthcare, increasing the minimum wage and equality for all. Before Bernie and Andrew came to the stage, the crowd was greeted by our own proud progressive, feminist, queer, Latinx, Democrat, state Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith.

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LGBTQ and ally candidates talk Florida’s Aug. 28 vote

By : Samuel Johnson
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The midterm election primaries are right around the corner on Aug. 28. The LGBTQ community numbers nearly 900,000 Floridians, comprising 4.1 percent of the adult population of Florida. Of that adult LGBTQ population, more than a quarter of them are raising children. Based on these numbers, the LBGTQ vote can impact elections, especially in the primaries.

In Florida there are candidates throughout the state who are advocates for the LGBTQ community. They are vowing to protect and promote equality for LGBTQ—and all—Floridians. The midterm primaries in Florida are boasting at least eight openly gay candidates, plus a slew of advocates and allies who are running.

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08.09.18 Publisher’s Desk

By : Rick Claggett
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“Guys in Orlando suck!” “The gay community in Orlando is so transient.” I heard these phrases way too often in the early 2000s, but I never bought into that way of thinking.

I moved to Central Florida in 1986. This was back in the days when the 408 was just two lanes each way, The Winter Park Village was an enclosed Mall and Ronnie’s was serving the Mogambo Extravaganza (a sixth grade ice cream lover’s dream dessert). I didn’t know it at the time, but I was on track to meet some amazing people with incredible stories to tell, and who would disprove the notion that Orlando was not a strong LGBTQ community.

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Central Florida Overheard: A Powerful Community

By : Anonymous
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It’s always good to have friends in high places, and based on Orlando Magazine’s 2018 list, the LGBTQ community not only has some good friends, they also have some pretty powerful ones too.

Orlando Magazine’s “50 Most Powerful of 2018” issue was released recently and it was no surprise one of the community’s best buds, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer topped the list in Government and Politics.

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PHOTOS: St. Pete Pride 2018 begins with the Stonewall Opening Reception

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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St. Petersburg | St. Pete Pride’s Sweet 16 officially began June 20 with the Stonewall St. Pete Pride Reception party at the Museum of Fine Arts.

The evening was hosted and sponsored by the museum and featured the annual event’s largest turnout yet. Guests included a who’s-who from around Tampa Bay and beyond, including Mayor Rick Kriseman and Florida Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith.

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Never again, but why now?

By : Jamie Hyman
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In the weeks since a shooter killed 17 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., survivors have been featured in a town hall on national television, visited the Florida Legislature and led a march of more than a million protesters nationwide, demanding sensible gun control.

In the weeks following the shooting at Pulse nightclub in 2016, the levels of advocacy and response were far more muted, which is forcing members of the LGBTQ community to wonder why, after a mass shooting that at the time was the deadliest in U.S. history, government officials, the media and the nation failed to rally behind the Pulse survivors with the volume and intensity that are leading millions to take action today.

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Homo Erectus: The Evolution of Us – Hope (and Thoughts and Prayers) for Our Gun-Totin’ Future

By : STEVE YACOVELLI
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Steve Yacovelli

The Parkland shooting has yet again re-ignited the great American gun control debate. Both sides of the coin have brought out their best arguments for control/freedom. It’s sadly yet another repeat of the same ol’ “thoughts and prayers” responses we have heard time and time again: from Sandy Hook to Virgina Tech to Las Vegas to our own Pulse massacre. Yet this time something feels a bit different; it feels like a tipping point of sorts.

While there was ample focus after Pulse within our community and beyond to look at common sense gun control, sadly we were constantly met with that “thoughts and prayers” shenanigans from politicians on both sides of the aisle. Some – like Orlando City Commissioner Patty Sheehan and Florida State Representative Carlos Guillermo Smith – passionately reached out to lawmakers to change things. Groups like the Orlando chapter of Gays Against Guns and The Dru Project formed and shouted for gun reform. But nothing seemed to change. Some thought that, gee, if Washington wasn’t moved into action when kindergarteners were gunned down in their own classroom at Sandy Hook, maybe nothing could really turn the dial.

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Florida Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith recognized by The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation

By : Jeremy Williams
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WASHINGTON | Florida Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith (D-Orlando) was awarded the Legislative Leadership Award at The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation’s AIDSWatch in D.C., according to a press release issued March 27.

Smith was selected for his HIV advocacy and, more specifically, for his part in helping to convince Publix Supermarkets to cover the HIV preventative drug known as PrEP for their employees.

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