Equality Florida’s Michael Thomas Farmer announces departure

By : Jeremy Williams
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ABOVE: Michael Thomas Farmer speaks at the Equality Florida Greater Orlando Gala at the Orlando Museum of Art earlier this month. Photo by Meghan Sweeney

ORLANDO | Equality Florida is losing one of its star players. Statewide Deputy Development Director Michael Thomas Farmer announced via Facebook that he will be leaving the statewide equality organization on Nov. 30.

“When I started working at Equality Florida nearly 10 years ago, I never could have imagined where I, and we, would be today,” Farmer wrote. “It’s been the honor of my life to have been part of the leadership team at Equality Florida. Although at times the work was daunting, trying and challenging, the rewards of the work far outweighed any of the cons.”

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PHOTOS: Voting is the message of the night at Equality Florida’s Greater Orlando Gala

By : Jeremy Williams
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ORLANDO | Equality Florida had a huge turnout for its Greater Orlando Gala at the Orlando Museum of Art Nov. 2, and its message to everyone in attendance: “Get out and vote this Tuesday!”

The event was a who’s who of Central Florida’s LGBTQ, Democrat and progressive communities. The crowd watched as Pulse survivor and gun safety advocate Brandon Wolf was awarded the Voice For Equality Award and Michael Thomas of John Michael Exquisite Weddings and Events accepted the Equality Means Business Award.

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PHOTOS: Venice Pride holds inaugural celebration

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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VENICE, Fla. | Venice’s LGBTQ community and its allies celebrated diversity and visibility during the inaugural Venice Pride Nov. 3.

The celebration, which proclaimed “We Are Here” with its theme, was held on the five-acre campus of SunCoast Cathedral Metropolitan Community Church from 1 – 5 p.m. According to Senior Co-Pastor Rev. Vickie Miller, one of the organizers, the theme was chosen to make a statement that the LGBTQ community exists in the area. “We want our voices to be a part of the community,” she shared with Watermark. “We want to be unified and work together on issues that impact us.”

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PHOTOS: St. Petersburg holds ‘We Won’t Be Erased’ transgender support rally

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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ST. PETERSBURG | LGBTQ community leaders and advocates gathered Nov. 4 at Williams Park for St. Petersburg’s “We Won’t Be Erased” transgender support rally.

Nathan Bruemmer organized the rally following reports that the Trump administration may attempt to define gender as an immutable condition determined at birth. Partner organizations included Equality Florida, TransAction Florida, Metro Wellness & Community Centers, St. Pete Pride, the Tampa Bay Diversity Chamber of Commerce and Project No Labels. “We rally for our rights, for our future and for our lives,” Bruemmer shared with Watermark ahead of the event. “These rallies are happening all over our country right now. I hope the politicians who need to hear this message do so and act.”

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St. Petersburg to hold ‘We Won’t Be Erased’ transgender support rally

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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LGBTQ community leaders and advocates will gather Nov. 4 from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. at St. Petersburg’s Williams Park for the area’s “We Won’t Be Erased” transgender support rally.

Nathan Bruemmer organized the rally following reports that the Trump administration may attempt to define gender as an immutable condition determined at birth. Partner organizations include Equality Florida, TransAction Florida, Metro Wellness & Community Centers, St. Pete Pride and Project No Labels.

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The 2018 Amendment Guide

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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This year’s ballot lists 12 potential amendments to the Florida Constitution. Only two of those were proposed by Florida’s citizens, including Amendment 4. It is the only amendment Equality Florida has taken a stance on, advising that the eligibility to vote is fundamental to democracy and that voting yes “is the first step in helping LGBTQ people with former convictions.”

For more information about 2018’s proposed amendments, read on below.

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PHOTOS: ‘We won’t be erased’ rally held at Orlando City Hall after Trump administration’s anti-trans memo leaked

By : Melanie Ararat
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ABOVE: An audience gathers on the steps of City Hall Plaza in Downtown Orlando for the Orlando We Won’t Be Erased Transgender and Allies Support Rally on Oct. 27. Photo by Melanie Ararat

ORLANDO | Colorful flags and posters waved in the air as people chanted “We won’t be erased” outside City Hall Plaza in Downtown Orlando on Oct. 27. The chant was led by Gina Duncan, Equality Florida’s director of transgender equality.

“We send this message to the White House saying that the Orlando transgender and gender nonconforming communities will not be erased,” Duncan says. “We will not be defined out of existence.”

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PHOTOS: Equality Florida Action PAC hosts fundraiser for State Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith

By : Jeremy Williams
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ORLANDO | The Equality Florida Action PAC hosted State Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith’s final re-election fundraiser before the Nov. 6 general election at The Venue in Orlando on Oct. 23.

Dozens of Central Florida voters listened as The Venue owner Blue Star and Smith’s partner Jerick Mediavilla spoke about the importance of voting for the self-professed “proud progressive, liberal, feminist, gay, Latinx, democrat.”

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PHOTOS: Florida Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith says YAS! to Pride proposal from partner Jerick Mediavilla

By : Jeremy Williams
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ORLANDO | Come Out with Pride 2018 had a lot of memorable events, but few came close to the marriage proposal during the Pride Rally at the Walt Disney Amphitheater Oct. 13.

LGBTQ activist Jerick Mediavilla went down on one knee in front of thousands of Pride attendees and proposed to his partner, State Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith.

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Equality Florida brings transgender workplace training to Orlando

By : Melanie Ararat
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ABOVE: Gina Duncan speaking at an Equality Florida event at Orlando City Hall in 2015. Photo by Dana Ng

ORLANDO | Equality Florida will host the organization’s Transgender Dynamics in the Workplace workshop at the Orlando Regional Chamber of Commerce on Oct. 16.

The workshop includes a panel discussion with corporate leaders, as well as an appearance from Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer. The event looks to educate attendees on transgender workplace issues and concerns, as well as offer ways to improve policies and protocols for transgender employees.

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Fifth black transgender woman murdered in Florida this year

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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North Port, Fla. | North Port police are investigating the murder of Londonn Moore, 20, the fifth known black transgender homicide victim found in Florida this year.
Moore’s body was discovered Sept. 8, miles from her hometown of Port Charlotte in a remote area of Sarasota County’s North Port. Local outlets and law enforcement have repeatedly misgendered Moore and utilized her dead name, prompting criticism from community advocates.

Equality Florida and other national organizations released a call for urgent action Sept. 14, citing the 2018 Florida murders of Sasha Garden, Cathalina Christina James, Antash’a English and Celine Walker. Along with Moore, their deaths account for a quarter of all reported anti-transgender murders nationwide.

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Equality Florida Action PAC endorses Andrew Gillum for governor

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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MIAMI | Equality Florida Action PAC, Florida’s only political committee working to end discrimination against LGBTQ Floridians, announced its endorsement ofgubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum Aug. 31.

“Andrew Gillum has been a consistent champion for LGBTQ equality, and Floridians will see the stark contrast between his record on equality and his opponent who has embraced the anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and policies of the Trump-Pence administration,” PAC Chair Stratton Pollitzer released in a statement.

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