Come Out With Pride expands events to week-long celebration

By : Colton Adkins
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ORLANDO | Come Out With Pride announced they are expanding the Pride festivities from Oct. 11-13 to a full week of events in a press release June 18.

The 14th annual celebration will now begin Monday, Oct. 8 and concludes, as usual, with the parade and festival taking place Saturday, Oct. 13. COWP also announced it has opened the application for the “Pride Gives Back” initiative early. It is now available at ComeOutWithPride.com/about/Pride-Gives-Back.

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Come Out With Pride announces new board president

By : Jeremy Williams
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New Come Out With Pride board president Jeff Prystajko.

ORLANDO | Come Out With Pride (COWP) announced the appointment of Jeff Prystajko as the board’s new president March 19 after Brian Riha completed his two-year term in the same position.

Prystajko has been with COWP for several years, most recently serving as director of marketing and communications. He has also held leadership positions with both the Metropolitan Business Association (MBA Orlando) and the Human Rights Campaign in Orlando.

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Come Out With Pride announces 2017 theme

By : Rick Claggett
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ORLANDO | Come Out With Pride announced the theme for the 2017 Orlando Pride celebration in a statement Aug. 15.

The theme, “#KeepDancingOrlando,” is a continuation from last year’s rallying cry “Celebrate, Honor, Heal” when the community came together for Pride just four months after Pulse, the worst mass shooting in modern American history.

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Orlando Pride clears debt, awards grants

By : Jamie Hyman
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Orlando – We can officially close the books on Come Out With Pride 2015.

The treasury report was finalized last week and Michael Thomas, COWP’s finance director, says the event made $90,000 total, with $70,000 going to pay off debt created by the 2014 Orlando Pride event. Of the remaining $20,000, $15,000 will be used as seed money to pay deposits and other expenses ahead of COWP 2016. The final $5,000 will be distributed in grants via the Pride Gives Back program.

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Come Out With Pride Church Street Block Party

By : Jamie Hyman
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The evening before COWP 2015 main event, LGBTs and allies partied at Church Street Station at the annual block party.

Pride on Church Street featured  live entertainment from Amy & Freddy, NYC’s Red, Hot & Funny Bob the Drag Queen, Beth Sacks, and Ginger Minj & The Minx.

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Come Out With Pride 2015 Parade photos

By : Jake Stevens
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We’re still waiting for the official numbers from Orlando Police Department but from our view atop the Watermark float, this looked like one of the biggest COWP parade viewing crowds ever.

Led by Grand Marshal Ginger Minj, colorful floats and rainbow-clad marchers filled the streets of downtown Orlando.

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Pride Weekend at Parliament House featuring Jordin Sparks

By : Jamie Hyman
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More than 3,400 attendees – a new record, according to Parliament House – packed the Orlando nightclub Oct. 11 for a live show by American Idol winner Jordin Sparks. She headed to PH after appearing in the COWP parade that same afternoon.

Sparks’ opening acts were the Footlight Players and DJ VTech, who kept the crowd moving until the main event.

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Watermark’s complete coverage: Come Out With Pride 2015

By : Jamie Hyman
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Here is your one-stop shop for all of Watermark’s photo galleries, articles and information you need, all weekend long for Come Out With Pride 2015.

From the big parade to Jordin Sparks at Parliament House to the Zebra 5K, Watermark is covering it all!

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Living Loud: COWP 2015 Celebrate, Remember and Fight!

By : Mary Meeks
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MaryMeeksHeadshotCome Out With Pride 2015 is here, and it is time to party! What a year it has been – worldwide, nationwide, statewide and right here in Central Florida. The LGBT community has so much to celebrate and be thankful for this year as we gather around Lake Eola for the annual rainbow shindig. Most especially, we will celebrate how we all have come together this past year to protect, defend and empower our community. That is why the COWP Committee chose “Pride United” as this year’s theme. That is why, after skipping COWP the last two years, I look forward to hosting this year’s COWP Rally.

Obviously the gold prize this year is the realization of marriage equality – Jan. 6 here in Florida and June 26 nationwide. It was a long time coming, and it only happened because an amazing diversity of advocates (and some really great lawyers!) united all over the nation and across state lines to make sure that every state was included. (Come on Alabama, you’ve got some serious loony tunes down there, but no one is left behind!) That alone is cause to pop the corks, but there’s more. President Obama issued an executive order banning discrimination against LGBTs by federal agencies and federal contractors (covering hundreds of thousands of employees), and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued a landmark decision interpreting the employment protections of the federal Civil Rights Act to apply to sexual orientation. The Pentagon is ready to allow transgenders to serve openly in the armed forces. Heck, even the Boy Scouts have opened their tents to LGBTs!

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A look at Orlando Pride’s dedicated team of volunteers, and how they’ve spent the past year putting the pieces of Pride back together

By : Jamie Hyman
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For a while there, things looked so bleak that some were concerned that Orlando Pride was dead.

In November of 2014, the Come Out With Pride Board was suspended, its executive director fired and being investigated for fraud. The books were a disaster and the Metropolitan Business Association – COWP’s umbrella organization – was working overtime to try to untangle the mess and get COWP back on track.

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COWP wants to be UNITED for Pride

By : Jeremy Williams
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Orlando – Come Out With Pride has set the stage for 2015 to be the biggest, most successful Pride event ever when it takes to streets of Orlando October 8-10.

The theme, Pride United, is a call to unite the community after last year’s controversy over the Metropolitan Business Association—COWP’s parent organization—removing Mikael Audebert, the former executive director.

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Wedding Bells at Watermark: Michael Scott and Thomas Lawson

By : Samantha Rosenthal
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Michael Scott (L) and Thomas Lawson. (Photo by Art Faulkner)

Michael Scott (L) and Thomas Lawson. (Photo by Art Faulkner)

“It’s no longer just about yourself. You make this lifelong commitment to the person that you love, and you want to make sure you uphold those vows and what you said on that specific day,” said Michael Scott, 27, about how his wedding day changed him and made him feel.

Thomas Lawson and Michael Scott met two and half years ago at the April 2013 grand re-opening of Savoy Orlando. The pair tied the knot on Jan. 6.

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