Blood donations in need after tragedy, but FDA ban on gay men blood donations remain in effect

By : Anna M. Johnson
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The shooting at Pulse Orlando in the early morning hours June 12 left 50 people dead and more than 50 more injured. Many of the victims were rushed to Orlando Regional Medical Center, some requiring extensive surgical procedures.

Shortly after 10 a.m., the Florida-based, multi-city blood bank OneBlood posted a Facebook message.

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Philanthropic organizations are rallying for more LGBT donations

By : Stephen Miller
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More fundraisers are seeking LGBT funds, and not just from and for our own community.

LGBT people keep coming out, getting involved, marrying and mainstreaming –growing more acceptable in the larger society. Because of this, many fundraisers are reaching out with targeted marketing. It’s a significant shift from once quietly refusing LGBT donations or disregarding us to ones that now actively court our community.

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FDA lifts ban on gay male blood donors

By : Wire Report
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Washington (AP) – FDA lifts formal ban on blood donations from gay men. New policy requires year of abstinence.

The Food and Drug Administration has formally lifted the ban, allowing gay and bisexual men donate blood, so long as they’ve abstained from sex for a year.

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Catering to our needs: Michael Thomas cooks up a culture of giving

By : Jamie Hyman
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If we were to list all of the organizations who receive donated catering from John Michael Catering, readers would click away because who wants to read a list of dozens of names? That relentless generosity is why company owner Michael Thomas is a 2015 pick for Watermark’s Most Remarkable People.

Thomas’ company closed out 2014 with more than $100,000 in catering donated to more than 50 events, mostly fundraising events for non-profit organizations. They’re on track to top that in 2015, the company’s 20th year in business, with Thomas predicting they’ll donate about $125,000 in catering toward 60 events.

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SMART Ride 2015 raises nearly $1 million for HIV/AIDS organizations

By : Ciara Varone
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Miami – 383 bicyclists from 24 states and one from Ottawa, Canada pedaled 165 miles from Miami to Key West Nov. 13 and 14 for The SMART Ride, the annual Southern Most AIDS/HIV Ride, raising almost $1 million for those affected by HIV and AIDS. Now in its 12th year, the event has collected over $7.3 million total, donating every cent of that to the cause.

“That gives me goosebumps, just knowing that what we do is unique and that we attract so many different people from so many different places,” says Glen Weinzimer, The SMART Ride’s founder, adding that as of press time, he’s still receiving donations from the 2015 event.

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Overheard in Tampa Bay: Janet Jackson, a Ybor City impostor and Santa’s little helpers

By : Anonymous
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Janet-Concert-T-shirt-Tampa
Janet Jackson came to Tampa and all she got was this T-shirt, and she could not have been more excited about it. While performing on stage at the Amalie Arena during her “Unbreakable World Tour,” a fan threw a T-shirt on stage. Now gifts being thrown on stage by adoring fans are nothing new to Ms. Jackson, but this one left her visibly giddy as she opened up the shirt, and it read Penny-Charlene-Cleo-Justice, those being the first names of her iconic characters from Good Times, Diff’rent Strokes, Fame and Poetic Justice. The T-shirt was designed by St. Petersburg artist Chad Mize, who was unable to attend the concert, and was tossed on stage by his friend Ryan Prado. The T-shirt design, which lists four similar people, places or things, is becoming quite iconic itself with the World Tour shirt (Paris-London-Tokyo-St. Pete) being all the rage last year. The design even made appearances at this year’s TIGLFF events with the Sundance-Cannes-Toronto-TIGLFF t-shirts. HIGH FASHION!

Can the real Ybor City please stand up?
Hollywood is coming to Ybor… well, sort of. The rights to Tampa Bay writer Dennis Lehane’s novel, Live by Night, were bought by Oscar-winning writer/director/actor/producer/Batman Ben Affleck who will turn it into his next project. The story is set in Ybor City during the 1920s and ‘30s and is about a Boston thief’s rise to power as a Gulf Coast rum runner. Don’t dust off those acting chops just yet though my local performers. While the story takes place in the bay area, the lack of state tax incentives for movie productions has caused Mr. Affleck to head north some 270 miles to Brunswick, Georgia where he is building a fake Ybor City for the film. If you build it, they will come and come he will. The set designers have been busy building since early September preparing for Batman Ben’s arrival to begin shooting the first week of November. Sorry real Ybor and thanks Obama… oops, we mean thanks Rick Scott!

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Biden gets top billing at HRC event

By : Wire Report
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WASHINGTON (AP) – Not yet a presidential candidate, Vice President Joe Biden will have a prime perch to appeal to LGBT voters when he headlines a glitzy national gala. Yet it may be too late to win over influential gay Democrats already committed to Hillary Rodham Clinton should he join the 2016 Democratic contest.

At the Human Rights Campaign’s sold-out soirée Oct. 3 in Washington, it’s Biden who will get top billing. In a way, Clinton will be his warm-up act; she’ll speak to the group’s board and staff in the morning, but won’t be on stage for the star-studded dinner.

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Argentina removes ban on gay men from donating blood

By : Wire Report
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Buenos Aires (AP) – A ban on homosexual men donating blood was lifted Sept. 16 in Argentina, a move the gay community had long demanded.

The country joined others in the region, including Cuba, Chile, Mexico, Nicaragua and Peru, which have ended similar restrictions in recent years.

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Doritos creates rainbow chips to support It Gets Better

By : Wire Report
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Doritos unveiled bags of rainbow-colored corn chips on Sept. 17 in support of the It Gets Better Project, an organization started to encourage gay and lesbian teenagers who’ve been bullied.

Bags of “Doritos Rainbows,” inspired by the LGBT pride flag, will be mailed to people who donate at least $10 to the organization through a special website. Frito-Lay, a division of PepsiCo based in Plano, Texas, said all of the donations will go to the It Gets Better Project.

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Monty Python’s Spamalot brings the humor, the compassion and the geeks together at Orlando Shakes

By : Billy Manes
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“Leave him alone!” Sir Lancelot says. “This poor little chap is your son, sir. All he ever wanted was a little love and affection, but did you ever give it to him? No, no. I’ll wager you denied him. You try to kill him, and worse, far worse, you try to marry him off to some girl, some female that he obviously has no feelings for whatsoever. Yes, yes, I know a little bit about bullying fathers you bastard. Have you no heart? Have you no human tenderness?  Can’t you see that all he’s asking for is a little love and understanding? Is that too much to ask? Is it? Too Much! To Ask!”

“My god! You’re gay.”

Such was but one of the sharp-edged pieces that make up the hilarious diaspora of the Holly Grail, at least as it pertains to King Arthur and his, er, compassionate son Sir Lancelot, but the grail runs far deeper than that, and sillier.

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Debate over ban on gay blood donations gets personal

By : Wire Report
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Sacramento, CA (AP) – A California lawmaker drew from experience in an unusually personal debate over federal rules governing whether gay or bisexual men can donate blood.

Senators voted Sept. 3 to ask President Barack Obama and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to repeal current U.S. Food and Drug Administration policies prohibiting men who have had sex with men from donating blood.

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Watermark Exclusive! Bonus material from our interview with WDW President George A. Kalogridis

By : Kirk Hartlage
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Whether you’re a gay bartender, a lesbian veterinary technician, a bisexual electronics engineer, or a transgender guest services manager, did you know Mickey Mouse is quietly helping to make your workplace a safe environment for being out and equal? A place where you can bring your true authentic self to work every day?

Last month Walt Disney World sponsored and hosted an LGBT workplace equality conference in conjunction with Out & Equal, the two-decade-old non-profit devoted to just such issues. The Out & Equal Equality Institute, held at Disney World’s Coronado Springs Resort in July, brought over 650 business men and women from 300 different organizations together to share strategies and build networks in the efforts to achieve workplace equality. For Disney, the day-long symposium was a dry run for the 2016 Out & Equal Summit, a similarly-themed four-day convention set for October 2016 at several WDW resorts with an expected attendance of nearly 4000.

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