LGBT tech hero Carlos Carbonell hailed at Sentinel’s Central Floridian of the Year gala

By : Billy Manes
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Betwixt the rain, the rush-hour traffic and a packed concert next door, the Orlando Sentinel held its first Central Floridian of the Year event on the evening of Jan. 28 at the Pegasus Ballroom within the University of Central Florida’s student union. Hosted by everybody’s favorite “aw, shucks” political columnist Scott Maxwell, and attended by all of the mucky-mucks and the editorial board members that have crossed them at one time or another (plus Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and his entourage … oh, and the amazing philanthropist Harriet Lake, who left the house for the first time in a long time despite her illness), the catered soiree was just about what you would expect it to be. We had the stuffed chicken.

What we didn’t expect, however, was the presence of LGBT tech entrepreneur Carlos Carbonell, who was shortlisted as one of the finalists for the prestigious Sentinel award. We’ve known other winners and nominees in the past, and you’re not allowed to talk about it. What happens in the paper’s mahogany boardroom STAYS in said boardroom.

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Florida leads states in new HIV infections

By : Staff Report
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Florida is the top state for newly-diagnosed HIV infections.

That’s according to new numbers released by Centers for Disease Control, which states Florida had 5,377 new HIV cases in 2013 and 6,147 new HIV cases in 2014.

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PHOTOS! Orlando Meltdown 2016

By : Deanndra Meno
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More than 900 softball players hit the field Jan 15-17 for the 16th annual Orlando Meltdown Tournament, hosted by the Central Florida Softball League.

50 teams participated in Orlando Meltdown 2016. Here’s who came out on top:

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After a yearlong delay, renovated GLBT Center set to open in February

By : Jamie Hyman
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Sometimes, a fire escape is a simple safety mechanism. But sometimes (or this time), it’s the final piece in the much-anticipated, long-delayed renovation of the GLBT Center of Central Florida’s headquarters, located on Mills Ave.

The fire escape isn’t solely to blame for setting the project back about a year longer than planned. “The building was built in 1941,” says Terry DeCarlo, executive director of The Center. “There have been no major upgrades or renovations until this came about. Code enforcement in 1941 was a lot different than [now], and we had to bring everything up to code.”

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Win tickets to see Rise!

By : Jamie Hyman
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Watermark is giving away a pair of tickets to see Rise, appearing for one night only at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts.

Find out how to win after the jump: 

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12.31.15 Editor’s Desk

By : Billy Manes
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“And you may find yourself living in a shotgun shack. And you may find yourself in another part of the world. And you may find yourself behind the wheel of a large automobile. And you may find yourself in a beautiful house, with a beautiful wife. And you may ask yourself, “Well … How did I get here?” the Talking Heads once rattled over a thumping bassline. “Once in a Lifetime,” indeed.

2015 was certainly a big year for the LGBT community, seemingly allowing decency to coast atop the terrible notions of people like Gov. Rick Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi into a panacea of hopefulness. In our coverage area, so much change happened: new leadership, new businesses, a new outlook, and, gasp, a new editor.

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Watermark Year in Review: September 2015

By : Jamie Hyman, Billy Manes and Jeremy Williams
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Finally, finally, Kentucky Clerk of Courts Kim Davis ends her 15 minutes of fame. She went out by apparently exaggerating her “meeting” with Pope Francis. Davis’ anti-gay attorney says it was a cozy one-on-one, the Pope’s camp said, nuh-uh! Just a meet-and-greet.

Former Exodus International pariah Alan Chambers releases his autobiography My Exodus, a curiously self-congratulatory collection of memories of not really being honest. Atonement is cute.

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Watermark Year in Review: October 2015

By : Jamie Hyman, Billy Manes and Jeremy Williams
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Cindy Barnes is a woman who knows how to leave on a high note. After six years as chairwoman of Sarasota Pride, in 2015 Barnes announced she’s stepping down as the successful event’s big cheese.

Come Out With Pride caps a comeback year with a vibrant, crowded, but well-organized event. After the firing of COWP’s executive director in late 2014, the Pride committee worked overtime in overdrive to ensure that 2015 Orlando Pride would do Orlando proud. Mission accomplished.

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Watermark Year in Review: November 2015

By : Jamie Hyman, Billy Manes and Jeremy Williams
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Following a long, long negotiation, Parliament House solidifies its future by finalizing a deal for a $3.9 million refinancing loan. The loan was announced before Halloween, finalized the first week of November and frees the resort to remain an Orlando LGBT icon.

Orlando’s mayor and Orlando’s first openly gay commissioner will both remain in office another term. Buddy Dyer and Patty Sheehan both win their re-election campaigns in November, emerging victorious from races that both involved their fair share of mud-slinging.

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Orlando gay organizations add groups

By : Jamie Hyman
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Two Central Florida LGBT organizations are offering new groups to benefit the community they serve.

Older, Wiser, Learning (OWL), a program for older LGBTs run out of the GLBT Center, now offers a weekly “Lady Hoots,” a forum for women to discuss issues and topics they face in their daily lives.

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The New ‘It’ Gay Destination: St. Pete Set to Host Global LGBT Travel Convention

By : Aaron Drake
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St. Petersburg will be the first on Florida’s Gulf Coast to host the International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association’s Annual Global Convention. Sunshine City will doubly welcome LGBT travelers and the LGBT travel industry as a whole when travel professionals convene at the Vinoy Renaissance St. Petersburg Resort and Golf Club on May 3-6, 2017.

“In recent years, this event has been held in Brazil, Madrid, Los Angeles—and this coming year to Cape Town, South Africa. Now St. Petersburg joins the list,” St. Pete Mayor Rick Kriseman said in a statement to Watermark. “We are honored and look forward to sharing with the LGBT travel community the many diverse offerings we have to offer.”

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12.17.15 Editor’s Desk

By : Billy Manes
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Billy Manes

Yes, it’s that time of year when everything is filtered through its appropriate way-back machine and Vaseline and all things are bright and beautiful and all that, and if you read one more retrospective account of how life happens and why it matters, you’ll be coughing up eggnog clichés with your spilt milk. Oh, we’ve all been there – wiry and wrought at the family gatherings, wishing sentimentality would find its deserved end at the ledge of the wet bar. But we’re also prone to appreciation of those who might have helped us and those who are helping others. We have to be buoyed by something other than gravity (which is really a downer, though), so it might as well be a brightly wrapped package of benevolence, right? Oh, come on. Put on your holiday pants and play along.

As we have in the past, Watermark has assembled a gaggle of deserving folk from across Central Florida to highlight in their best lights. Our tributes aren’t eulogies, though. Quite the contrary: They are celebrations of lives that make our own lives better. This is one of my favorite issues of Watermark, actually. If you’ll forgive the seeming senility, stories about people who are improving lives and adding to our culture are things of beauty to this guy. Remarkable? Maybe, but that term doesn’t seem to do any of our subjects justice. Incredible? That suggests that these folks are things of fiction. Wonderful? Yeah, I’ll go with that for now.

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