Parents join the conversation at 2016 Orlando Youth Empowerment Summit

By : Adam Manno
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From Tumblr to transgender trends, the leaders, teachers and students who attended the third annual Orlando Youth Empowerment Summit tackled a wide range of topics of interest to modern LGBT youth.

Co-sponsored by the City of Orlando in partnership with GLSEN, the Orlando Youth Alliance, and Zebra Coalition, O-YES is a collaborative workshop and panel-based conference aimed at empowering Orlando’s LGBTQIA+ community through dialogue and discourse.

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City of Orlando Oath of Office Ceremony

By : Jamie Hyman
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Patty Sheehan, Orlando’s first openly gay city commissioner, was sworn into her fifth term of office Jan. 11 at Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts.

At the Oath of Office ceremony, in addition to Sheehan, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer was sworn into his fourth full term, District 2 Commissioner Tony Ortiz was sworn into his third term, and District 6 Commissioner Samuel B. Ings was sworn into his third full term on the City Council.

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VIDEO! City of Orlando highlights marriage equality in 2015 retrospective

By : Jamie Hyman
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Marriage equality is front and center of the City of Orlando’s 2015 accomplishments retrospective video.

It kicks off with “Vowed and Proud,” the mass wedding ceremony held at City Hall in January. Check out the video after the jump: 

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Viewpoint: The Tender Activist, Reclaim Your Vote

By : Scottie Campbell
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scottie campbell“I like Bernie Sanders,” said my friend across the patio of his Winter Park condo, where we gathered with longtime friends. His soft, kind voice did little to cushion the rest of his opinion: “But he’s unelectable.”

Unelectable. The word shot into my ear, easily cutting through the still Florida-muggy September night air. Three beers in, there was the slight danger of my reaction landing disproportionate to the moment, but I managed, “The only way to change that is to vote for him.”

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Orlando Police Department introduces Transgender Person policy

By : Jeremy Williams
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Orlando – The Orlando Police Department announced in a press release Nov. 6 that it will adopt new Transgender Persons procedures to ensure that all officers are in line with the agencies policy “to treat all people with dignity and respect.”

“Orlando is a city that embraces diversity and welcomes people of all ages, races, religions and sexual orientations,” OPD Media Relations stated in an email. “Mayor Buddy Dyer and Commissioner Patty Sheehan, in particular, have worked diligently to have an inclusive government that fosters diversity by establishing programs, ordinances and initiatives that benefit the LGBT community.”

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2015 General Election Results

By : Watermark Staff
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Polls are closed on the 2015 General Elections and results are rolling in.

Find out who won after the jump:

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The gay gloves are off: Log Cabin Republicans endorse Paul Paulson for Orlando Mayor

By : Billy Manes
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(Editor’s note: This post has been edited to reflect late info and to remove the image of someone who did not want to be associated with it.)

We don’t really want to come off negative on the Log Cabin Republicans (in fact, we publish an LCR viewpoint on occasion), but the fact that mayoral candidate Paul Paulson, he of the Doug Guetzloe money train and all that that legally implies, is openly touting his Republican leanings in a nonpartisan race is cause for some alarm.

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Watermark owner refutes East Orlando Post story

By : Tom Dyer
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TomDyerHeadshotWatermark is thrilled to have Billy Manes as our new editor. I agree with East Orlando Post writer Jacob Engels that Manes’ writing is “daring and refreshing.” I hope readers are enjoying his unique take on the vibrant LGBT communities in Orlando and Tampa Bay.

But little else in Engels’ mostly unattributed story is true. (“Billy Manes ‘Saves’ Watermark, Ad Revenue & Readership Skyrocket,” Oct. 13.) His claim that Manes ‘literally saved Watermark from going out of business’ makes for good reading, but it has no basis in truth. And it’s an insult to our 12 talented and hard-working full-time staff members, as well as our numerous freelance contributors.

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Pride Gala 2015

By : Jamie Hyman
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The Metropolitan Business Association honored Orlando’s best in LGBT business Aug. 22 during Pride Gala 2014 at JW Marriott.

See all the great photo from the night and a complete list of winners after the jump:

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Georgia writer pens tribute to John “Tweeka” Barber

By : Jamie Hyman
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Calling him “The drag queen who changed my life,” a Georgia Voice columnist has written a loving tribute to the late John ‘Tweeka’ Barber, an Orlando drag performer who died Oct. 2011 of a rare and aggressive form of cancer. Barber was just 38 years old.

“When he plopped down on that couch to introduce himself to me I knew I was hanging with royalty. There must have been something about me that told him I needed a friend,” writes Bill Kaelin in his Aug. 9 column

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Watermark’s Wedding Bells: Alexx Dyer and Nikky Dills

By : Samantha Rosenthal
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WeddingBells2213_1“Within the first month of being together, I ended up being deployed, and we had to go through that. I think that is honestly what kind of set the tone for our relationship.

We became best friends, and she ended up staying there for me when I came back from deployment,” Alexx says. “I just realized that I didn’t want another day without her.”

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Six couples say ‘I Do’ at the Tidal Wave Wedding

By : Gina Avile
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Tidal Wave Wedding at the Lake Buena Vista Holiday Inn June 6 proved to be a tear jerker as six couples pledged their love for all eternity in the midst of Gay Days.

Officiating the wedding was Rev. Bryan Allen Demeritte, with Watermarks Founder Tom Dyer appearing to say a few special words to the happy couples.

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