WFTV’s Jorge Estevez tackles LGBTQ issues in new podcast ‘Under The Rainbow’

By : Jeremy Williams
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Podcasts are fast becoming a primary medium for people to get their news. A CBS News poll conducted earlier this year found that nearly two-thirds of Americans listen to podcasts at least occasionally, with nearly a quarter of the people polled saying they listen several times a week.

With numbers like those, Central Florida’s WFTV Channel 9 knew they needed to get into the podcast business.

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The Pride Chamber honors LGBTQ professionals, community leaders at the 2019 Pride in Business Awards Gala

By : Jeremy Williams
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The Pride Chamber, formerly known as MBA Orlando, recognized LGBTQ business professionals and community leaders at the 2019 Pride in Business Awards Gala, presented by Two Spirit Health, at Hard Rock Live at Universal’s CityWalk in Orlando Aug. 3.

Hosted by Spectrum News 13’s Eric Levy and the legendary Miss Sammy, the evening featured a VIP reception, live entertainment and an epic after party in CityWalk.

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Equality Florida announces inaugural class of TransAction Leadership Academy

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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ABOVE: The inaugural class of Equality Florida’s TransAction Leadership Academy. Photo courtesy Gina Duncan.

ST. PETERSBURG | Equality Florida’s transgender inclusion initiative TransAction Florida has announced the inaugural class of its TransAction Leadership Academy.

The academy is designed to train and develop the next generation of transgender or gender nonbinary (enby) leaders in the areas of advocacy, policy and management. Participants range from ages 18-30 and were required to live in St. Petersburg, commit to attending all classes and present a final dissertation to be considered.

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The Last Page: Brianna Rockmore

By : Rick Claggett
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To run a regional, niche newspaper you need to have a passion for the community you serve and a passion for how your newspaper is connected to that community. You can only hope that those who work with you share your enthusiasm. With Brianna Rockmore, Watermark won the employee lottery.

I usually write a narrative on this page after submitting questions to each employee, but I was so impressed with what Brianna had to say that I decided to use her words to show you who she is. As a self-described goofy class clown, Brianna sees things in a positive and funny way, using comedy to bring people out of despair and into a “full of life kind of way.” This is Brianna Rockmore!

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Anti-LGBTQ activists target Pasco County Schools

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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PASCO COUNTY | Anti-LGBTQ activists are targeting Pasco County Schools for the district’s internal efforts to support LGBTQ students, utilizing a 26-page “pastor packet” to mobilize for the “Protect our Children Project” during school board meetings and more.

The project is spearheaded by anti-LGBTQ activist Terry Kemple, president of the Community Issues Council. The organization’s website advises its primary method of operation “is conducting small local gatherings of pastors” to protect “the traditional family” and shield “our children from indoctrination in the public schools.”

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Arrest, charge made in murder of Londonn Moore

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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North Port, Fla. |The North Port Police Department (NPPD) announced Dec. 19 that Juan Salazar-Diaz had been arrested and charged with the murder of Londonn Moore, the fifth reported transgender woman of color murdered in Florida this year.



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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: 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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With 2018’s third transgender murder in Jacksonville, advocates seek justice and solidarity

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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At least 28 known transgender men and women were murdered nationwide in 2017, the highest number on record. On June 24, just over 2018’s midpoint, the murders of two transgender women brought this year’s total to half that—prompting community advocates to demand justice for the 14 transgender lives lost.

One of those murders was that of Cathalina Christina James, a transgender woman of color who lived her life as more than a disturbing statistic stemming from Jacksonville, Fla. James’ death sparked outrage and stoked fear for the transgender community in Florida’s fourth most populous city, with local leaders fearing a serial killer stalked Jacksonville’s streets.

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Celine Walker becomes fourth reported transgender homicide victim in 2018

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. | Celine Walker became the fourth reported transgender homicide victim this year on Feb. 4, though news of her death was delayed after local police reportedly misgendered her and utilized her birth name in official reports.

Walker, a 36-year-old transgender woman of color, was pronounced dead from a gunshot wound at an Extended Stay America hotel near the St. Johns Town Center. According to transgender advocate Monica Roberts of the TransGriot blog, “the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office is claiming they have a policy that does not refer to victims as transgender.”

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Watermark’s Most Remarkable People 2017: Nathan Bruemmer, ALSO Youth’s Executive Director and organizer for St. Pete Pride’s Trans March

By : Gina Duncan, Equality Florida’s State Director of Transgender Equality
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Gina Duncan

I am so pleased and honored to recognize my close friend, advocate and leader of LGBTQ social justice, Nathan Bruemmer. Nathan is a member of Equality Florida’s TransAction Advisory Council, our Speakers Council and a Workplace Transgender Cultural Competency trainer. I have had the good fortune of sharing the stage many times with Nathan in speaking out for LGBTQ equal rights across Florida.

Nathan currently serves as the executive director of ALSO Youth Sarasota and is a member of the Pinellas County Office of Human Rights. He has an extensive legal background having served as a teaching assistant at the Stetson University College of Law, a Federal judicial extern for the U.S. District Court and serving as a Andrew S. Cray Law Fellow at the National Center for Transgender Equality in Washington, D.C., all while pursuing his Juris Doctorate at Stetson where he will graduate with honors in 2018. While a law student at Stetson, he was a Trial Team member, ADR Board member, American Bar Association representative and vice-representative, Lambda Legal Society president, Stetson Law Democrats president, American Constitution Society president, and a member of the Phi Alpha Delta law fraternity.

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