Watermark 25: Central Florida Bureau Chief’s Desk

By : Jeremy Williams
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I moved back to Orlando in 2008. It was my first time living in Central Florida as an adult. I was born in Colorado and, as a kid, the family moved to Florida where we lived up and down I-4—settling in Orlando then St. Petersburg and eventually Plant City where I attended high school. Sometime after graduation, life led the family to southern Georgia and from there I joined the Air Force and traveled all over the world.

I tell you that quick trek through my past because in my 40 years I have lived in many places, but no place has ever felt more like home to me than living in Orlando right now, and a good part of that feeling is due to Watermark.

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Military reports no discharges under trans ban, advocates have doubts

By : Chris Johnson OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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ABOVE: Donald Trump’s tweets, image via The Washington Blade.

More than two years after President Trump tweeted he’d ban transgender people from the U.S. military “in any capacity,” the military services say the policy hasn’t resulted in denials of service for otherwise qualified individuals—a claim transgender advocates say is dubious at best.

The Washington Blade reached out to each of the military services—the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard—to obtain numbers of discharges and denials of enlistment of transgender people since the Defense Department implemented the policy, DTM-19-004, on April 12.

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05.15.19 Central Florida Bureau Chief’s Desk

By : Jeremy Williams
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Change scares a lot of people. You get so comfortable with the way things are—whether they are ideal for you or not—and you figure why change it up? What if you make things worse? What if the payout isn’t what you thought it would be in the end?

I have always been a fan of change. I’ve rarely lived in the same place more than a few years, opting to pack up and change homes, roommates and, in some cases, entire states for a change of scenery. It’s why I always fit well in the military lifestyle, a lifestyle I would most likely still be a part of if not for that pesky “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” thing. No, I wasn’t discharged because I was gay but the hardship of hiding who I was and having to come up with inventive, new ways to explain to my commander why my “roommate” accompanied me to all work functions, family gatherings and annual vacations was more work than I wanted to put into a lie.

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04.18.19 Central Florida Bureau Chief’s Desk

By : Jeremy Williams
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When I was younger my parents, as most parents do, would ask me and my siblings what we wanted to be when we grew up. We were a group that felt destined for greatness, so our responses reflected those dreams with future aspirations to be things like an astronaut, a world-famous actor, a global pop star or a professional wrestler, to name a few. The answers usually changed up a bit among my two brothers and sister.

When my parents would ask me my answer never faltered. “I want to be the president of the United States,” would be my reply. When they tell the story it is always in this cutesy way with an awkwardly high-pitched voice. When I look back I remember standing in a Superman pose with my balled-up fists on my hips and an American flag cape blowing in the wind.

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No proclamation (again) from Trump for Pride month

By : Chris Johnson OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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The first day of June has arrived and President Trump again declined to issue a proclamation recognizing Pride month, breaking a tradition when Democrats occupied the White House.

Meanwhile, Trump has issued proclamations in recent days recognizing National Caribbean-American Heritage Month, National Ocean Month, Great Outdoors Month, National Homeownership Month and African-American Music Appreciation Month.

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New NRA chief once compared fighting gay rights to fight against slavery

By : Chris Johnson OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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Oliver North, the new head of the National Rifle Association, has a controversial past as the central figure in the 1980s Iran-Contra affair — a scandal in which the Reagan administration illegally sold arms to Iran with the intent to use proceeds to fund rebels in Nicaragua — but he has also courted controversy for his views on gay rights.

In a speech at the 2014 Conservative Political Action Conference, North, a retired lieutenant colonel in the Marine Corps, compared fighting against gay rights to the abolitionists’ fight during the 19th century against slavery.

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Pulse Activist: I ‘misspoke,’ Pence wants gays in ‘conversion camps’

By : Chris Johnson OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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Under fire from the right-wing media for comments he made about Vice President Mike Pence wanting gays in “concentration camps,” one of the survivors of the 2016 shooting at Pulse nightclub now says he “misspoke.”

Brandon Wolf — who’s now head of the Dru Project, an organization that supports GSAs in schools — told the Washington Blade via email on Monday he intended to say Pence wants gay people in “conversion camps” to subject them to the widely discredited practice of “ex-gay” conversion therapy.

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Pompeo grilled over anti-LGBTQ statements during confirmation hearing

By : Chris Johnson OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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ABOVE: The confirmation hearing on CIA Director Mike Pompeo‘s nomination to become the next secretary of state took place before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on April 12, 2018. Washington Blade by Michael Key.

Mike Pompeo on Thursday during his confirmation hearing to become the next secretary of state faced questions about his previous anti-LGBTQ statements.

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The Other Side of Life: Co-opting love

By : Jason Leclerc
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Third grade can be tough for husky-gened boys with dual penchants for strawberry-scented redheads and other boys. Elementary schoolyards can easily become home base for meanness and reductionism, two proclivities that inhabit most eight-year-old bosoms.

Those same third graders easily immerse themselves in the rhetoric of love: in the clear and unambiguous enunciations of who is and is not deserving of one’s love. Implied in such proclamations is ownership of love, that it is somehow off limits to those not included in the normative society of lovers. In my 1983, love and hate coupled and grew alongside the concepts of “opposites” and “revenge” with as much ferocity as long division and times tables.

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Meet The 92-Year-Old WWII Vet Who Fought ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’

By : Wire Report
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UPPER ARLINGTON, Ohio (AP) — Like thousands of other young men in the 1940s, Rupert Starr joined the Army, fought overseas and saw his share of hardship, including several weeks as a German prisoner of war. He returned to Ohio with a Bronze Star for heroism and a secret.

Not until his service as a military man was needed once again — this time as an activist against the Pentagon’s “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy — did Starr, who is gay, slowly step out of the closet.

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Seattle cyclist killed was attorney who fought DADT policy

By : Wire Report
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SEATTLE (AP) – The bicyclist who died in a collision with a truck in downtown Seattle was identified as a well-respected attorney who was part of the American Civil Liberties Union legal team that successfully challenged the U.S. military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy for gay service members.

The King County Medical Examiner’s office identified the bicyclist as Sher Kung, 31, who had been working for the firm Perkins Coie.

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11.08.12 Editor’s Desk

By : Steve Blanchard
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SteveBlanchardHeadshotElation. That’s the emotion LGBTs felt on election night when Ohio turned blue shortly after 11 p.m. on election night and the major networks projected President Barack Obama had won his re-election campaign.

It’s a moment in history where a majority of us will remember what we were doing and who we were with when we heard the news.

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