Watermark Year in Review: September 2015

By : Jamie Hyman, Billy Manes and Jeremy Williams
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Finally, finally, Kentucky Clerk of Courts Kim Davis ends her 15 minutes of fame. She went out by apparently exaggerating her “meeting” with Pope Francis. Davis’ anti-gay attorney says it was a cozy one-on-one, the Pope’s camp said, nuh-uh! Just a meet-and-greet.

Former Exodus International pariah Alan Chambers releases his autobiography My Exodus, a curiously self-congratulatory collection of memories of not really being honest. Atonement is cute.

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Screened Out – The Martian

By : Stephen Miller
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Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Jeff Daniels, Kristen Wiig, Kate Mara, Michael Peña, Sean Bean, Aksel Hennie, Sebastian Stan, Daniel Glover

Visually stunning, intellectually intriguing, and emotionally charged, The Martian is a fiercely appealing story of survival. It’s also director Ridley Scott return to form – jettisoning gravitas for entertainment, injecting heart into his pictures again.

It’s all based on Andy Weir’s wonderful best-selling novel. This is the type of adaptation authors probably pray for – smart, tight, and full of life, energy, tension, and humor.

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9.24.15 Editor’s Desk

By : Billy Manes
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Billy Manes

“It’s not going to stop ‘til you wise up.” That’s the song, the notoriously tear-dredging anthem of internalized polar angst penned by Aimee Mann for the film Magnolia nearly two decades ago, that was dragging my internal jukebox into the ground this morning before work. No, it’s not because I’m an alcoholic, or a drug addict, or a cop, or a former child star, or a dying television host, or a survivor of sexual abuse, or a frog falling from the sky – though none of those were lost on me in various moments of central casting, hanging out by the craft service table of existential self-mythology. I’ve been down. I am out. I’ve moved up.

We all have, in many ways. Or so you would think. I don’t want to pussyfoot around the issues of rising ships and incremental gains at this point, because that’s something that implies an apathy that doesn’t necessarily ring with truth: not in this guy, not in this paper. Yes, it is important to mind our tempers as we watch prospective politicians toss our names into the gutter in order to gain base-minded cheers in election years, just as it is important that we scream from the tops of our lungs (and/or social media fingers) at the injustices still lying before us, sometimes in the simple code of Facebook speak.

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Issue 22.20: Come Out With Pride

By : Jake Stevens
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What a difference a year makes: Come Out With Pride Come s out of the mess and into the magic, Dr. Dave brings LGBT health care downtown, Ex-Exodus leader Alan Chambers talks atonement in the face of doubt, Stonewall throws a brick at gay history , local news, celebrity interviews, and much, much more!

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A convenient truth: Former president of conversion-therapy church Exodus International publishes a book, apologizes

By : Billy Manes
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There’s a sly production moment, a flash of informed camerawork, during a remarkable 2013 special on Oprah Winfrey’s OWN Network, “Our America with Lisa Ling: Special Report: God and Gays,” (still on YouTube). A look of disbelief caught in frame.

Former reparative-therapy icon Alan Chambers, in full-court apology mode with wife Leslie at his side (they married in 1998 and have two daughters), tries to make sense of more than a decade of heading up conversion-therapy church Exodus International, which was located in Central Florida, with a mea culpa. He was wrong, he says, as he stares into the faces of a gathered gaggle of former patients (for lack of a better word). He came to OWN to sit in front of that jury who, he says, haven’t had their fair shake in contributing to the conversation on his “side” of the argument, which, of course, is the side of the Christian right. It’s a weak apology, really, one that came only a couple of months after his notorious public statement, and the subsequent statement from the Exodus camp, that the ministry was over. It was all a big mistake, apparently. The same message that was sent to the victims of Exodus at their most vulnerable stages of development, he now admits.

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“I Am Harvey Milk”: An Elijah for LGBTQ People

By : Michael Kilgore
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Tampa Bay – Una Voce’s evening of choral music Friday, June 12 at St. Petersburg’s Palladium, then reprised at Tampa’s new USF Concert Hall June 13, was brilliantly conceived and executed. The main event was the Florida premiere of famed Broadway composer Andrew Lippa’s I Am Harvey Milk. Milk, the first elected openly gay official in the country, is an iconic transformative figure for the LGBTQ community. As important as his efforts were, the chorale’s program acknowledged other leaders for social justice upon whose shoulders we stand.

“The music we’re singing tonight,” ventured Tom Barker, Managing Director of Una Voce, “is important for all people in the Tampa Bay area. The evening honors heroes who have led the way for social justice.”

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Screened Out – Exodus: Gods and Kings

By : Stephen Miller
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Christian Bale, Joel Edgerton, Sigourney Weaver, Ben Kingsley, Aaron Paul, John Turturro, Isaac Andrews

It might be funny to imagine an inspiring Biblical story rendered as a distracting, schlocky blockbuster – something worth a Saturday Night Live skit. Actually, Ridley Scott (Bladerunner, Aliens, Prometheus) does it but takes himself seriously. The rest of us cannot. This is just a big, loud piece of popcorn fluff.

In truth, Exodus was plagued from the get-go. Biblical scholars disparage it for its reinvention of the Moses mythology. Actors hate it because it casts well-known white people as Egyptians (a problem it shared with the 1956 Cecil B. DeMille version, The Ten Commandments). As a special effects orgy of the ten plagues and the parting of the Red Sea, Exodus is trite fun. As a sensitive tale about a man discovering his true origin, connecting with God, and then freeing his people, it’s pretty hollow and bombastic.

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Religious parents with gay children challenge church

By : Wire Report
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Rob and Linda Robertson did what they believed was expected of them as good Christians.

When their 12-year-old son Ryan said he was gay, they told him they loved him, but he had to change. He entered “reparative therapy,” met regularly with his pastor and immersed himself in Bible study and his church youth group. After six years, nothing changed. A despondent Ryan cut off from his parents and his faith, started taking drugs and in 2009, died of an overdose.

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Top 5 Orlando news stories of 2013

By : Staff Report
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Epic battle over GSA
It all started with a simple request: openly bisexual (then) 8th-grader Bayli Silberstein wanted to fight bullying at her school, so she submitted an application for a Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) at her school, Carver Middle School in Leesburg. School officials simply ignored Bayli’s request, so the ACLU got involved, and Bayli’s quest for a GSA hit the courts, was debated at nearly half a dozen Lake County School Board meetings and made national headlines. Bayli did eventually get her GSA, as a judge granted her permission to form the club for the remainder of her 8th grade year. That injunction has expired, Bayli has moved onto high school and now, the GSA no longer meets at Carver Middle School.

Orlando goes for the Gay Games
The application was probably a long shot. Cleveland is hosting Gay Games 2014 and the selection committee generally doesn’t select two U.S. cities in a row. However, that didn’t stop Converge Orlando from submitting an application to host the Gay Games in 2018. Orlando made it pretty far in the process, cut when the committee narrowed the candidates from top five to top three. Along the way, Orlando’s bid had a number of local partners working together and even picked up an endorsement from President Barack Obama. Paris eventually won the hosting honor.

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Issue 20.20: John Waters at Come Out With Pride

By : Anonymous
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Crass with Class: Legendary director John Waters brings his strange, wonderful sensibilities to Orlando for Come Out With Pride, Rollins College revisits history with The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later, Two local movies debut at TIGLFF, Fundraiser spotlights upcoming Sarasota Pride, local news, celebrity interviews, photos, and much more!

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Former Exodus International headquarters sold

By : Jamie Hyman
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Orlando – After being on the market since December 2012, the Orlando headquarters of Exodus International, Inc. have been sold to a private entity.

The sale comes after the June 2013 announcement that the world’s largest “ex-gay” organization, which has spent nearly 40 years providing “reparative” therapy to thousands of Christian gays seeking to live a “righteous” life as a heterosexual, would be shut down. Former Exodus president Alan Chambers publicly apologized to the gay community for any damages the controversial ministry may have caused.

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Thinking out loud: Must we forgive the ex-gays?

By : Abby Dees
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AbbyDeesHeadshotWhen Alan Chambers, the president of Exodus “ex-gay” Ministries publically apologized for the hurt he has caused LGBT people, I forgave him. There are few things more powerful to change attitudes about LGBT lives than religious leaders publically sharing their personal journeys toward understanding.

No need to flagellate him for past wrongdoings; he’s here now. Let’s look forward.

My fellow LGBT commentators haven’t been so eager to hand out forgiveness to anyone who asks for it. Look no further than the comments sections of LGBT media reports on the apology to see a litany of the psychological and spiritual torture that Chambers and his ilk have perpetuated, however well-intended his apology. Their issue with Exodus wasn’t that they simply disagreed with the message, but that the message caused real harm, even death. In light of this, how could I have been so willing to let it all go and move on?

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