UPDATE: Publix to begin covering HIV preventative drug PrEP for employees

By : Jeremy Williams
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UPDATE:

After meeting with state Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, Publix announced they would begin allowing PrEP to be covered for their employees under their prescription benefits.

The company took to Twitter saying:

Publix appreciates the concerns shared by our associates and customers. We offer generous health coverage to our eligible full-time and part-time associates at an affordable premium and are committed to the health and well-being of our associates and their families.

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01.11.18 Tampa Bay Bureau Chief’s Desk

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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I’ve never made a New Year’s resolution—at least that I can remember.It isn’t because I don’t hope for a better year than the last, particularly after a rather polarizing 2017. It’s just something that never really occurs to me, especially now that I have to wrangle my husband for my midnight-mandated “kissy” photo op. He hates pictures of people kissing.

There’s nothing wrong with people making resolutions. It works for some, and that’s wonderful. I try to make every day the best it can be, so an over-arching 365-day look-ahead just doesn’t do it for me.

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Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith kicks off re-election campaign at The Abbey

By : Jeremy Williams
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ORLANDO | “We have all heard him say, and I want you to say it with me, ‘I am a proud progressive, liberal, feminist, gay, Latino, Democrat,’” state Rep. Amy Mercado (D-48) said from the stage, speaking of state Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith (D-49), at The Abbey Jan. 5.

Mercado, along with many liberal progressives—among them Florida House District 47 candidate Anna Eskamani, former state Rep. Joe Saunders and Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer—joined Smith as he kicked off his 2018 re-election campaign .

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2016 was the worst year ever, and 2017 was the year we found our footing

By : Jeremy Williams
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In these very pages one year ago we proclaimed 2016 to be the worst year ever. It started off with so much promise and optimism, with the official passing of the torch as the former owner of Watermark turned the reins over to new owner Rick Claggett and Watermark Media became Watermark Publishing Group.

President Barack Obama was heading into the final year of his second term and everything seemed in place for another torch to be passed, that of the first black president passing the country off to the first female president.

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Issue 24.25 Remarkable People

By : Jake Stevens
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OGC artistic director James Rode expanded the chorus in 2017 and mad the art world take notice, out city council chair Darden Rice’s re-election and remission, Florida Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith name breakthrough LGBTQ politician, anti-LGBTQ group files suit against Tampa’s conversion therapy ban, local news, celebrity interviews, photos, events and much, much more!

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Florida Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith named breakthrough LGBTQ politician, dedicates award to Pulse first responder being let go from duty

By : Jeremy Williams
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Carlos Guillermo Smith (R) shows off his Breakthrough Award from the Victory Institute with the honor’s namesake, Wisconsin Sen. Tammy Baldwin (Photo courtesy Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith’s Facebook).

ORLANDO | Florida State Representative Carlos Guillermo Smith (D-Orlando) was recognized with the Victory Institute’s inaugural Tammy Baldwin Breakthrough Award during the 2017 International LGBTQ Leaders Conference in Washington, DC on Dec. 6.

Smith was nominated along with five other LGBTQ elected officials including sitting mayors, councilpersons and legislators from across the country. The award was designed to recognize an “up-and-coming LGBTQ elected official who is driving equality forward.”

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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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