Award-Winning Community: MBA celebrates 25 years at annual Pride Gala Business Awards

By : Jeremy Williams
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ORLANDO | The Metropolitan Business Association celebrated 25 years, as well as the recognition of being named the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce’s Chamber of the Year, at their annual Pride Gala Business Awards for 2017 at the Rosen Shingle Creek in Orlando Nov. 4.

The community was dressed to the nines as they honored the best in LGBTQ business in Central Florida.

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British LGBTQ film event #FiveFilms4Freedom comes to The Abbey Orlando

By : Jeremy Williams
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The British Council and the British Film Institute have teamed up for the third year to bring the world’s first global digital short-film program, #FiveFilms4Freedom, to audiences, and they are bringing it to The Abbey in Orlando tonight, Nov. 9, starting at 6:00 p.m.

The program is a collection of both dramatic and documentary short films that tell the LGBTQ experience.

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Helping Hands: Pulse survivors, families join LGBTQ groups and politicians to send support, supplies to Puerto Rico

By : Jeremy Williams
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ORLANDO | As the sun was coming up on the east coast of the United States Sept. 30, the responses by the president in Washington, D.C., and the people of Orlando to the devastation wrought by Hurricane Maria on the island of Puerto Rico could not have been more different.

“The Mayor of San Juan, who was very complimentary only a few days ago, has now been told by the Democrats that you must be nasty to Trump,” the commander-in-chief tweeted. ”Such poor leadership ability by the Mayor of San Juan, and others in Puerto Rico, who are not able to get their workers to help. They want everything to be done for them when it should be a community effort. 10,000 Federal workers now on Island doing a fantastic job.”

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Central Florida elected officials gather at JOY MCC to stand with the transgender community

By : Jeremy Williams
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(ABOVE: (L-R) Orange County District 5 Commissioner Emily Bonilla, Florida Senator Linda Stewart, Orlando District 5 Commissioner Regina Hill, JOY MCC Senior Pastor Rev. Terri Steed Pierce, Orange County District 3 Commissioner Pete Clarke, Florida House District 49 Representative Carlos Guillermo Smith, Orlando District 4 Commissioner Patty Sheehan.)

ORLANDO | Nearly two dozen elected officials are standing in solidarity with the transgender community after President Donald Trump’s tweets last week announcing a ban on trans people serving in the U.S. military.

Eric Rollings, Orange County’s Soil and Water Conservation Chair, spoke from the pulpit at JOY Metropolitan Community Church July 30, reading from a list of Central Florida politicians who stated they unequivocally stand with the LGBTQ community, especially with the transgender community in light of the recent attacks.

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Staunch liberal Anna Eskamani to take on State Rep. Mike Miller in HD 47

By : Billy Manes
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ORLANDO – “It’s been wild. It’s been incredible, and just the support has been overwhelming and humbling.” As director of public affairs and communications at Planned Parenthood of Central and Southwest Florida, Anna Eskamani should know. Florida has not been kind to women, to the LGBTQ community, to minorities or to teachers, really. On July 3, Eskamani launched her campaign to unseat State Rep. Mike Miller (R-Orlando) in a bid to bring some reason back to the region.

Miller’s victory over former State Rep. Linda Stewart in 2014 didn’t exactly ring with a shock, though Stewart has now advanced to the state senate. Florida’s governmental bodies have generally leaned to the right, and Stewart couldn’t be much more left. That is, unless, you consider the Eskamani campaign.

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Equality Florida celebrates two decades of making change happen for our LGBTQ community

By : Billy Manes
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“Does this look OK?”

There are yachts. There is a breeze. There is Charlie Crist’s condo out of the corner of the eye. But on this day in St. Petersburg, March 22, there is only one figure that absolutely matters, and she’s sitting on a tree close to Cassis American Brasserie, posing for her cover shot.

Nadine Smith is the force behind most LGBTQ measures that have changed Florida’s societal landscape. Her calm tones weighted by heavy thoughts have come to define the nature of Equality Florida, the organization she formed with Miami’s Stratton Pollitzer 20 years ago. She played rugby at the Air Force academy, she says, but she didn’t know where the score would go thereafter.

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Two state legislators aim to scrub contentious gun legislation from the Florida books

By : Billy Manes
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It may have seemed like a non-issue, especially considering that the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta ruled it unconstitutional just last month, but two Florida legislators are making a point of removing the controversial Firearm Owner’s Privacy Act from the state’s statutes. The law, passed in 2011, was television news fodder for weeks, as it challenged the ability of doctors to speak with patients about weapons in their homes. In 2011, a couple complained about being asked by their doctor about having firearms in their home. The confusion arose between limits on free speech and the Second Amendment. But it’s more than that, says state Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, D-Orlando, who just filed HB 6033 in tandem with Sen. Gary Farmer, D-Broward.

“It’s really important, because guns are a major cause of death and suicide,” Smith says. “Doctors simply ask about the common sense of their patients, like they ask about cleaning products, about chemicals in their pools. The fact that the Florida Legislature irresponsibly passed the first law of its kind is not only unconstitutional, it’s irresponsible.”

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Emboldened by Trump victory, new Florida legislature aims rightward

By : Billy Manes
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Though early reports of Florida’s arriving House of Representatives and Senate seem to indicate a kinder, gentler edge to proceedings – including more transparency, less nepotism, fewer spouses on airplanes during official business – at least one Democratic legislator isn’t really convinced. Carlos Guillermo Smith, who was officially elected to represent east Orlando this fall, making him the first Latino LGBTQ house representative to take that office, isn’t convinced.

“I think the Florida legislature is preparing to take a hard right turn,” he says. “They have been unapologetic already.”

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Orlando’s Overheard: Defying expectations, P-House entertainment, Orlando Gay Chorus and Ida heads to Tally

By : Anonymous
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Pride takes a seat

Over the Thanksgiving Holiday weekend, Orlando City Soccer and Orlando Pride’s Phil Rawlins certainly gave us something to be thankful for. He shared an image of the new soccer stadium.

In the image was a set of seats he called the Pulse tribute seats designed in rainbow colors to honor the victims of the Pulse massacre with the hashtag #DefyExpectations. In the world of sports, founder and president of Orlando City Soccer Rawlins has been very actively involved in supporting the LGBTQ community, and with the audience the Orlando City and Orlando Pride games attract, it’s no surprise the LGBTQ community supports them in return!

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Local leaders weigh in on the way we were and the way we will be

By : Billy Manes
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Dumbfounded. Knocked out. Afraid. Broken. These are just a few of the things that many of us are feeling in the wake of Donald Trump’s historic rise to presidential power on Nov. 8.

If you’re anything like us, you have a lot of questions. You may have even been harassed already. We reached out to some of our best and brightest for answers, options, hope. And they provided just that. We’re not done yet. And so we rise. Here are some words from our friends. Stay strong.

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LGBTQ Voting Rally on Sunday! It’s your last chance to be early!

By : Billy Manes
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We are aware of the symptoms of exhaustion. We, likewise, have the vapors and the terrors in equal measure as Nov. 8 approaches. What if it all goes wrong? What if we’re all ruined by a megalomaniac whose interests lie solely in his swish of hair and swap of values, his latest wife and latest strife.

It’s not OK. We’ve done almost as much as we can to encourage your suffrage, but, just in case, there is a souls-to-the-polls-style voting rally happening this weekend, and we thought you should know about it.

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Equality Florida’s Carlos Guillermo Smith announces run for State House seat

By : Jeremy Williams
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ORLANDO – Equality Florida’s Carlos Guillermo Smith announced he will run for Florida House Representative in District 49 in the upcoming election year.

Smith, who is also the current Chair for the Orange County Democrats, decided to run after former State Representative Joe Saunders made the decision to not make another bid for the Florida House in 2016.

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