Nominate the Most Remarkable People of 2017

By : Jeremy Williams
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Since the end of 2012, Watermark has highlighted “Remarkable” people of the year in Central Florida and Tampa Bay. It is that time of year again where we ask you to help decide who deserves recognition for their inspiration, contribution or achievement in the 2017 calendar year.

Who are those unsung heroes who have gone out of their way to improve the community? Who has made an impact in Central Florida and Tampa Bay to make the lives of LGBTQ people better?

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From coast-to-coast, Central Florida and Tampa Bay celebrate Pride in the fall

By : Jeremy Williams
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Many people think of the month of June when someone says Pride, but thanks to National Coming Out Day and the state’s cooler temperatures, October is fast becoming Florida’s big Pride month.

Whether you are looking to march through the streets or spend a few hours in the park with your friends, October has got a Pride for you.

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Four LGBTQ Central Florida and Tampa Bay chefs on finding their tribe in the restaurant life

By : Holly V. Kapherr
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The idiom “love is love” became a rallying cry throughout the LGBTQ community since the Supreme Court made same-sex marriage legal in 2015. But for these four gay and lesbian chefs in Orlando, Tampa and St. Petersburg, food is love.

Most of them grew up cooking at the feet of their families. Jeannie Pierola, chef and owner of the Edison Food + Drink Lab in Tampa, learned from her Spanish and Cuban grandmothers. Top Chef Seattle alum and executive chef at St. Pete boîtes BellaBrava and Stillwaters Tavern, Jeffrey Jew, learned from his father and half-Chinese grandfather.

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Central Florida’s Hope & Help to relocate, launch new website

By : Rachel Dececco
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Hope & Help announced the grand opening of a new location, along with the launch of their new website, both occurring Aug. 1, less than two months before the annual Headdress Ball.

The beloved non-profit organization, which opened in 1988, will be located at 707 Mendham Blvd in Orlando as it continues as Central Florida’s oldest and largest HIV/AIDS testing, education and care center.

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Central Florida celebrates Watermark’s 2017 WAVE Awards at Parliament House

By : Jeremy Williams
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Watermark celebrated with the Central Florida winners of the 2017 WAVE Awards at the Parliament House in Orlando March 10.

Guests were greeted in Parliment House’s main bar with tunes being spun by DJ Lindsey Leigh, decorated with beautiful arrangements by Lee James Floral Design and a delicious spread courtesy of John Michael Exquisite Weddings and Catering. First place winners took home awards in elegant frames courtesy of Tyrone’s Frame and Mirror from St. Petersburg.

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2017 WAVE Award winners – Central Florida

By : Watermark Staff
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FAVORITE LOCAL POLITICIAN/ACTIVIST
First: Orlando City Commissioner Patty Sheehan
Second: Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer
Third: Orange County Democrats Chairman Wes Hodge

GREATEST STRAIGHT ALLY TO THE LOCAL LGBTQ COMMUNITY
First: Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer
Second: Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs
Third: Mama Dee Richter

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2017 Watermark WAVE Awards – WAVES FINALIST ROUND

By : Watermark Staff
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Watermark spent the last week sorting through and counting every ballot, and here it is – the FINAL round for the 2017 Watermark WAVE Awards!

Below are links to the FINALISTS for Central Florida and Tampa Bay/Sarasota.

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Watermark’s 2017 WAVE Awards – nomination round

By : Watermark Staff
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It’s that time of year again, time to do the WAVE!

Watermark Awards for Variety and Excellence, best known in these parts as the WAVE Awards, look to award the best in both the Central Florida and the Tampa Bay area LGBTQ community in the realms of activism, service, fun and more.

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2017 Watermark WAVE Awards – Central Florida

By : Watermark Staff
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This is the FINAL round for the 2017 Watermark WAVE Awards – Central Florida.

For your ballot to count, please take a moment to vote for your favorites in a minimum of 15 categories.

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LGBT chamber is recognized for its networking program, RED

By : Billy Manes
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Lu Mueller-Kaul isn’t one to sound overexcited. As board president of Orlando’s LGBT chamber of commerce, she’s got some ghosts to address. Though the Metropolitan Business Association has broken so much ground in the Central Florida region, it’s also broken a heel or two.

“Advocacy is something we really need to work with,” Mueller-Kall says. “I know it’s not all rosy. There are still people who are suspicious.”

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Pulse victims need more than the millions raised

By : Wire Report
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ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) – The OneOrlando Fund has raised $23 million and counting for Pulse nightclub shooting victims, but experts say the donations won’t be enough to completely offset medical and other expenses incurred from the mass shooting.

The Orlando Sentinel reports that as generous as the donations have been to aid victims of the June shooting that left 49 dead, it won’t be enough to cover all of their medical bills, long-term care and lost wages. In addition to worrying about their recovery, victims are now concerned by mounting medical bills and normal routine living expenses because many are still in treatment and have not yet been able to return to work.

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Badges of Courage: Local authorities across Central Florida and Tampa Bay aim in the direction of tolerance, not discrimination

By : Anna M. Johnson
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The Orlando Police Department Headquarters is tucked away inconspicuously on the Amway side of I-4. The “Ultimate Improvement Project” construction blocks most of the adjacent parking, leaving the closest available open spaces directly under the overpass. A stone staircase leads to the office.

Inside, all visitors are required to wear bright neon visitor passes. There is a small gift shop that sells police merchandise right next to the enclosed information desk. It is called the “Cop Shop.”

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