Voters elect a more liberal, progressive Central Florida

By : Jeremy Williams
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ORLANDO | Voters called for a bluer state Nov. 6 as progressive candidates won several key races and many Democrats held onto their Central Florida Congressional and Legislative seats in the 2018 midterms.

State representative races placed a big blue dot in the middle of Florida as Rep.-Elect Geraldine Thompson, Rep.-Elect Anna Eskamani, Rep. Amy Mercado and Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith all won in their districts.

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Equality-focused organizations, candidates and voters hope to turn the tide Nov. 6

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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The LGBTQ vote matters. According to the Human Rights Campaign (HRC)—the nation’s largest LGBTQ civil rights organization—it made up five percent of the electorate in 2016’s general election.

The organization stresses that LGBTQ voters were one of the few voting blocs to increase its turnout following 2012’s cycle, noting one critical element. “Here’s the key thing to remember,” HRC President Chad Griffin tells Watermark. “Because we are intentionally excluded from the census—the Trump-Pence administration eliminated what would have been a census that included us—we know that number by independent exit polling data.

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11.1.18 Publisher’s Desk

By : Rick Claggett
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I have a terrible sense of humor. I’ve written about this before and how I credit my father for just how bad it is. Dad jokes are the best, and the worse they are the harder I laugh.

Here’s an example: I have an insane love of ice cream, so much so that my trainer and my scale yell at me about it all the time. St. Pete has this wonderful little shop that sells mini-doughnuts basking in a tower of ice cream. Every time we drive by it, my partner says, “We can get mini-doughnuts.” To which I reply, “How many?” Then I laugh like I’ve never heard it before. I don’t mind laughing alone.

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PHOTOS: ‘We won’t be erased’ rally held at Orlando City Hall after Trump administration’s anti-trans memo leaked

By : Melanie Ararat
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ABOVE: An audience gathers on the steps of City Hall Plaza in Downtown Orlando for the Orlando We Won’t Be Erased Transgender and Allies Support Rally on Oct. 27. Photo by Melanie Ararat

ORLANDO | Colorful flags and posters waved in the air as people chanted “We won’t be erased” outside City Hall Plaza in Downtown Orlando on Oct. 27. The chant was led by Gina Duncan, Equality Florida’s director of transgender equality.

“We send this message to the White House saying that the Orlando transgender and gender nonconforming communities will not be erased,” Duncan says. “We will not be defined out of existence.”

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PHOTOS: Equality Florida Action PAC hosts fundraiser for State Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith

By : Jeremy Williams
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ORLANDO | The Equality Florida Action PAC hosted State Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith’s final re-election fundraiser before the Nov. 6 general election at The Venue in Orlando on Oct. 23.

Dozens of Central Florida voters listened as The Venue owner Blue Star and Smith’s partner Jerick Mediavilla spoke about the importance of voting for the self-professed “proud progressive, liberal, feminist, gay, Latinx, democrat.”

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PHOTOS: Florida Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith says YAS! to Pride proposal from partner Jerick Mediavilla

By : Jeremy Williams
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ORLANDO | Come Out with Pride 2018 had a lot of memorable events, but few came close to the marriage proposal during the Pride Rally at the Walt Disney Amphitheater Oct. 13.

LGBTQ activist Jerick Mediavilla went down on one knee in front of thousands of Pride attendees and proposed to his partner, State Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith.

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PHOTOS: Pride Rally at Lake Eola brought the love

By : Jeremy Williams
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ORLANDO | Come Out With Pride held a Pride Rally at the Walt Disney Amphitheater during Saturday’s celebration at Lake Eola.

The crowd heard from Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, Orlando City Commissioner Patty Sheehan, State Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith and more.

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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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