Pulse survivor Brandon Wolf releases gun violence speech ahead of meeting with Congress

By : Jeremy Williams
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ORLANDO | Brandon Wolf, Equality Florida’s media relations manager and survivor of the Pulse shooting, will meet with the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Ways and Means to address the need for common sense gun legislation.

Wolf released the speech he intends to give to Congress to Out magazine ahead of the Sept. 19 hearing. In it he talks about the night of the shooting which left 49 killed and dozens more injured, losing his friends Drew Leinonen and Juan Guerrero that night to the shooter, and how his story is not a unique one in the U.S.

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LGBTQ youth who are making a difference: Ian Siljestrom

By : Jeremy Williams
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27 | Gay | He/Him/His

Ian has made his way around Florida. Born in Cocoa Beach, he left for the University of Florida in Gainesville and then settled in Jacksonville where he was a science and health teacher for fifth graders.

“So I didn’t ever want to [work in the LGBTQ community]. It wasn’t ever of interest to me. I was all science everything. I studied sustainability in college. I intended to be an elementary school teacher to get my kid excited about science. And that’s what I did and that’s everything that drove me,” Ian says.

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LGBTQ youth who are making a difference: Prin Ocea

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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24 | Queer, Genderqueer, Transgender | They/Them/Theirs

Prin Ocea is passionate about environmental justice and creating safe spaces for the LGBTQ community, marrying the two whenever possible.

It’s one of the reasons they started Outside the Binary in 2016, a nonbinary peer support group that operates in Tampa twice per month and in St. Petersburg monthly. The group exists for the benefit of nonbinary individuals and Ocea formed it to fill a void. “I had been to trans support groups and I couldn’t relate to a lot of experiences of binary trans people as a nonbinary person,” they recalls. “I wanted a space to be able to talk about the issues I was having and have a community that understood what I was talking about.”

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Sen. Rick Scott blocked millions of dollars for HIV prevention when he was governor of Florida

By : Jeremy Williams
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ABOVE: Then-Gov. Rick Scott speaking at CPACFL in Orlando in 2011. (Photo by Gage Skidmore, from Flickr)

Republican Sen. Rick Scott and his administration rejected $70 million in federal funds to address HIV in Florida while Scott was the state’s governor, according to an investigative report released by The Guardian on Sept. 11.

The Guardian states that between 2015-2017, Florida returned $54 million in grants to the federal government intended for combating HIV. This was “due to an apparently deliberate failure on the part of state health bosses to secure legislative permission to spend such desperately needed funds.”

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Bee Love killed in South Florida, 18th trans murder this year

By : Lora Korpar
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ABOVE: Bee Love Slater. (From Facebook)

Bee Love Slater was found burned in a vehicle in Clewiston, Florida the morning of Sept. 4, just a week shy of her 24th birthday.

The Hendry County Sheriff’s Office is investigating her death as a homicide. While they are still trying to establish a motive, Slater’s best friend Kenard Wade and many others believe that this was a targeted attack that had to do with her being transgender.

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09.05.19 Tampa Bay Bureau Chief’s Desk

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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When my husband and I meet our friends on the weekend and I happen to partake in enough libations to get a bit tipsy, I tend to find myself grappling with one of three levels of intoxication.

Thankfully it doesn’t happen too often, but the first is “Disney drunk” when it does. It leads to a whole new world of one-man productions featuring every animated classic under the sea. The second is “drive-thru drunk,” in which I spend ridiculous amounts of money on food that goes straight to my hips.

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Tampa Bay lawmakers lead fight for statewide LGBTQ protections

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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ABOVE: Sen. Darryl Rouson (D-St. Petersburg), Rep. Jackie Toledo (R-Tampa) and Rep. Jennifer Webb (D-St. Petersburg.) Graphic via Equality Florida.

ST. PETERSBURG | Equality Florida announced Aug. 28 that Tampa Bay lawmakers intend to pass the Florida Competitive Workforce Act (FCWA) with bipartisan support in 2020, extending statewide civil rights protections to the LGBTQ community.

The FCWA prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity or expression in employment, housing and public accommodations. It would amend the Florida statute currently prohibiting discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex national origin, age, handicap and marital status.

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Equality Florida Action PAC endorses Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer for re-election

By : Jeremy Williams
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ORLANDO | Equality Florida Action PAC endorsed the re-election of Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer in a Facebook post Aug. 22.

“Equality Florida Action PAC is proud to endorse Mayor Buddy Dyer – a champion for our LGBTQ community,” the organization posted.

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2 Pulse survivors to hold ‘ex-gay’ march in Orlando same week leaders look to ban conversion therapy in Orange County

By : Jeremy Williams
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ORLANDO | As LGBTQ leaders and community supporters gathered Aug. 15 at Stonewall Bar in Orlando to hold a rally to ban conversion therapy in Orange County, two Pulse shooting survivors appeared on a Christian podcast to discuss an ex-gay march they plan to hold at Lake Eola next month.

Luis J. Ruiz and Angel Colon—both survivors of the June 12, 2016 mass shooting at Pulse— are claiming they are no longer gay and want to spread their message of “ex-gay” conversion by holding a march at Lake Eola Park in Orlando, less than two miles from Pulse, on Sept. 14.

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Issue: 26.16 There’s No Place Like Home

By : Dylan Todd
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While setting the stage for its August 2019 outing, GayDayS paves way for June 2020 return, petition launched demanding Orange County ban conversion therapy, Tampa hosts National LGBT Chamber of Commerce conference, local news, celebrity interviews, photos, events and much, much more!

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Support builds as LGBTQ groups call on Orange County to ban conversion therapy

By : Jeremy Williams
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ABOVE: (L-R) Heather Wilkie, Andrew Chang and Eric Rollings are among the community leaders helping to ban conversion therapy in Orange County. (Photo by Jeremy Williams)

ORLANDO | A petition calling for the ban of so-called gay conversion therapy for minors in Orange County has been launched on the website Change.org.

The petition, which can be found at ConvertToLove.org, has the support of local, state and national LGBTQ organizations including Equality Florida, Orlando Youth Alliance (OYA), One Orlando Alliance, The Trevor Project and the Zebra Coalition.

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LGBTQ cops talk about being out and proud in Central Florida and Tampa Bay

By : Jeremy Williams
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Tom Woodard had law enforcement in his blood. His parents were both officers; his mother was a detective for the Polk County Sheriff’s Office and his stepfather was a major in the Winter Haven Police Department. Woodard wanted nothing more than to go into the family business, and in Oct. 1988, he got his wish. Woodard became a deputy with the Orange County Sheriff’s Office (OCSO) on Halloween.

Less than a year later, Woodard’s world would be turned upside down when a fellow officer outed him as a gay man.

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