5.4.17 Editor’s Desk

By : Billy Manes
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In the dirty-fingernail days of the late ’90s, replete with cheap beer and cheaper ambitions, I came to learn about Orlando Fringe – which had much longer hair and some kind of backpack back then – by simply walking among the freaks that used to populate downtown’s major thoroughfare, Orange Avenue. Conditions at the time were Spartan, to say the least, but emotions were high.

Nobody wanted to be surrounded by some TRL conflagration of boybands and cropped tops; they wanted to be entertained in a sound manner, one that implied intention, grass roots and ambitious plans. Or they just wanted to be high and left alone.

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4.20.17 Editor’s Desk

By : Billy Manes
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“An unnatural sex act committed between persons of male sex or by humans with animals is punishable by imprisonment; the loss of civil rights might also be imposed.”

Imagine that for a second. This was Paragraph 175, written into law by the German “Second Reich” in 1871; the law was later changed semantically, but the message remained the same: Gay men are not welcome here.

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4.6.17 Editor’s Desk

By : Billy Manes
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As some of you might recall, I’ve been through a public battle with gun violence, suicide and gay marriage for the past few years. As some of you also know, I am married now to my best friend, Tony (two years and counting). The only reason I bring this up is that I couldn’t have survived the suicide of Alan Jordan, my partner of 11 years, without the assistance of Equality Florida and Orlando attorney Mary Meeks.

This issue, we celebrate 20 years of Equality Florida’s work throughout the state. This is an organization that came from virtually nothing and grew into the leading force for municipal and statewide rulings on LGBTQ rights at a time that most thought Florida was going to drip into the backwoods of the South. Equality Florida published a letter that I wrote to Florida state senators in 2013, one year after Alan took his life in front of me, with a gun, in our backyard. So, for the sake of posterity, as April 8 was the day he left me, I present you with a shortened version of that letter, and I wish you well as we persevere through these difficult times.

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3.9.17 Editor’s Desk

By : Billy Manes
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Billy Manes

Love, exciting and new; come aboard, we’re expecting you! It’s WAVEs week, which means that we’ve been buried in profiles and lost in the madness of photo shoots and the interstate, but it also means that we love you, as do many other people.

Without being too repetitive (see the actual WAVE section inside), this issue is one of our favorites to put together. The Tampa Bay community and Central Florida community have come to know and love the WAVEs for nearly two decades, and this year they turned out in droves. This year, of all years, our LGBTQ community needed it. This year we received one of our largest responses in history.

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2.23.17 Editor’s Desk

By : Billy Manes
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Billy Manes

I had a friend threaten to kill herself this week because she was tired of breathing. I had a collapsing roof that needed to be fixed with haste and all of the nailing and banging and visceral management that comes along with contractors trying to make your life better for thousands of dollars. I watched a famewhore grab a spotlight and run with it, tumbling beneath his own Milo significance, falling somewhere near his pretty little lying face and whatever hair color or sociocultural mythology or, let’s be honest, pedophilia could buy him a headline.

I gazed at the moon; I stared at the ground. And for a few minutes there, I gave up. I mean I really gave up. I won’t even bring up too much of Donald Trump’s scorching of the earth here, because that’s something you all should have expected when you, oh no, hated Hillary for being a woman. My problems get lost in their own translations, and I own my terrors however weak they may be. It’s been a rough patch, to say the least.

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Editor’s Desk: Feeling down, looking up. This is us now.

By : Billy Manes
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Billy Manes

It’s so easy to get down in times like these. You may not see it coming, but then, there you are rolling off a cliff into the abyss of misspent memories and into that gurgling pool of anxiety. You don’t know what’s next, but you do know that it probably won’t be good, just because. Just because.

This isn’t an attempt to stifle anyone’s New Year’s affectations for 2016’s knock-em-down, kick-em-hard disappointments going away, but more of a knowing glance. We’re seeing things we’ve never seen before – well, we always have been seeing new things (it’s nature), but these things seem to hurt more.

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10.20.16 Editor’s Desk

By : Billy Manes
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Billy Manes

It’s always with a sense of consternation that we face down these weeks leading up to the November political sweepstakes, especially in presidential-election years.

The white noise can overpower the progressiveness and inspiration that leadership is meant to ignite; the television advertisements find their way to the nearest drain to see just how low they can go before the gutter becomes the wall; the erosion of trust becomes its own beast, as conspiracy theorists draft their narratives as a means of leveraging their distaste with nearly everything. Meanwhile, pies meet skies in overstated narratives of importance, polls slip into their margins of error and apathy, inevitably, reigns supreme. It’s an ugly story and it always has been. It’s also the key to the core of our nation, and should be treated as such: with respect and the sense of duty that public service requires.

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10.6.16 Editor’s Desk

By : Billy Manes
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Billy Manes

Billy Manes

Betwixt the cacophonous roars of television-news hurricane paranoia – “It’s comin’ right fer us!!!” – and the horrific thought of a swoop of pumpkin hair covering a megalomaniac with a distinct lack of scruples – also, coming right for us, if we’re not careful – it’s hard to imagine that this issue finds us straddling two pride celebrations in their own whirlwinds of flux. Maybe that’s a good thing. It’s a life of surprises, after all. We don’t always want to read the last page first.

For me, personally, Pride celebrations carry with them so many memories of letting go, feeling free (to be, you and me, etc.) and sweating my ass off until the rain comes and turns my head into artificial crab meat fit for the breaking, wanly dripping down a drain. But this year, of course, is different.

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9.22.16 Editor’s Desk

By : Billy Manes
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Billy Manes

Billy Manes

How in the hell are we going to do this? That is the main remnant echo that stays between my ears having spoken to Orlando’s Come Out With Pride board over the last week. The frustration reads clearly on most faces.

Everybody talks about grief in different ways, and many people have yet to even fully process the June 12 massacre at Pulse. If it sounds like we’re harping on it, it’s because the world is watching, waiting to see how Orlando – a slight burg in the shadow of a castle – recovers. We are still in it. Now it’s reaching a different level, as grief does.

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8.25.16 Editor’s Desk

By : Billy Manes
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Billy Manes

Billy Manes

We are all Mercedes Successful. We are all vulnerable. We are all show-stopping superstars while part-timing as human beings in need of love.

There has been an overflow of emotion toward the LGBT community since the Pulse shooting on June 12 – concerts, banners, memorials, donations – but there’s still a fairly large closet within which many of our community are forced to reside, often full of life, sometimes not alive at all. By now, we know that all too well.

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6.2.16 Editor’s Desk

By : Billy Manes
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Billy Manes

Billy Manes

“I think that the Republican Party has been, you know, and I am not the first to say this, I have seen op-eds about it ad nauseam but it certainly makes sense that the Republican Party has been assembling this monster for a very long time with all of their covert racism and sexism and homophobia. And the list goes on and on with the things they want to control and help destroy. You know, rights of women, reproductive rights, the environment and healthcare and poverty and education and healthy eating initiatives. You know, the list is a thousand miles long. They got their monster, but their monster is also unpredictable, and they don’t know what he really is about. So it’s sort of the ultimate endgame for them.”

These are the words that opened my candid conversation with comedian Sandra Bernhard – she’s part of the zeitgeist, you know; fuck Madonna – and the rest of her genius can be witnessed on the pages herein. These are crazy times, rife with any kind of disdain you can muster in even your calmest moods. However, these, too, are amazing times. Bernhard joins a cornucopia of talented performers and concerned exhibitionists in taking Central Florida by storm this week. We would say a certain incorporated term, but for reasons those in the gay-pub business are all too familiar, we’ll just keep it to your Big Gay Weekend, your One Magical Weekend, your GayDayS, and play nice with everyone. And this year’s is going to be a trip.

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5.7.15 Editor’s Desk

By : Steve Blanchard
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SteveCap

After a solid decade at Watermark, it’s time to say goodbye.

On one hand, it feels like I’ve been a representative of this newsmagazine my entire life. On the other, it seems like only a few months ago that I was a freelancer, frantically searching for the “LGBT angle” and the sources required of my assignments.

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