Equality Florida celebrates two decades of making change happen for our LGBTQ community

By : Billy Manes
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“Does this look OK?”

There are yachts. There is a breeze. There is Charlie Crist’s condo out of the corner of the eye. But on this day in St. Petersburg, March 22, there is only one figure that absolutely matters, and she’s sitting on a tree close to Cassis American Brasserie, posing for her cover shot.

Nadine Smith is the force behind most LGBTQ measures that have changed Florida’s societal landscape. Her calm tones weighted by heavy thoughts have come to define the nature of Equality Florida, the organization she formed with Miami’s Stratton Pollitzer 20 years ago. She played rugby at the Air Force academy, she says, but she didn’t know where the score would go thereafter.

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Local leaders weigh in on the way we were and the way we will be

By : Billy Manes
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Dumbfounded. Knocked out. Afraid. Broken. These are just a few of the things that many of us are feeling in the wake of Donald Trump’s historic rise to presidential power on Nov. 8.

If you’re anything like us, you have a lot of questions. You may have even been harassed already. We reached out to some of our best and brightest for answers, options, hope. And they provided just that. We’re not done yet. And so we rise. Here are some words from our friends. Stay strong.

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Tampa Bay’s Overheard: Streisand at Amalie and Equality Florida at UT

By : Anonymous
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Hello Gorgeous!

Most people at the age of 74 are kicked back in retirement, sipping on a cocktail and enjoying the warm weather of a tropical climate such as that in Florida, but most people aren’t Barbra Streisand. Babs has had a year that would exhaust a person in their twenties, but this Funny Girl has been globetrotting to promote her new album Encore and looking flawless along the way.

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Parting Frames of Empowerment

By : Jake Stevens
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The tone of issue 23.17’s cover story, “We Are All Mercedes Successful,” is obviously pretty heavy. We’re discussing the murders of 19 members of the trans community. How can it not be?

Death is no easy topic to talk about, especially when it involves the murder of your peers. We asked a lot of our trans brothers and sisters who gave us themselves for the story. We asked them to go to that mental place and tell us about the times that they didn’t feel safe. We asked them to stand in front of a camera and present an image of a person who’s fate they could easily share. We asked them to unapologetically present their authentic selves to the world through our readership and demand to be noticed. We asked for a lot. For some, it was understandably just too much, and I am especially grateful for all the people that made the decision to be a part of this story.

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Issue 23.17: We Are All Mercedes Successful

By : Jake Stevens
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Haines City’s Mercedes Succesful is one of 19 reported transgender murders in the U.S. this year. When will this stop? Local news, celebrity interviews, photos, events and much, much more!

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Mercedes Successful is one of 19 reported transgender murders in the U.S. this year. When will it stop?

By : Jeremy Williams and Anna Johnson
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Mercedes Successful was found shot to death in the back parking lot of a Big Lots and Tractor Supply Co. in Haines City May 15. She was 32 years old. Successful identified as a transgender woman.

Successful was a performer and a native of Kingston, Jamaica. She moved to Haines City by way of New York. She represented Jamaica in the 2014 Gay Caribbean USA pageant, shown on the pageant’s Facebook page wearing a Jamaican flag dress and high-heeled black boots.

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VA LGBT Pride Month Celebration

By : Alex Storer
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June 10 was a gay day at the VA, and Watermark headed over to set up a table and talk LGBT news.

The Orlando VA Medical Center hosted their annual LGBT Pride Month Celebration to honor the LGBT veterans who served in the U.S. military.

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Sarasota County School Board continues debate on trans-inclusive bathrooms

By : Jeremy Williams
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The Sarasota County School Board heard public opinion yet again on whether to implement new trans-inclusive bathroom policies countywide at the March 1 board meeting.

The community has been divided on the issue since the school board first heard public debate on the subject at the Feb. 2 board meeting. A Feb. 16 workshop left the board divided on whether or not to implement the policy leading to a request from them to hear more public discussion.

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Workforce protections bill postponed after tie vote

By : Jamie Hyman
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The Florida Competitive Workforce Act, which would prohibit discrimination against LGBTs in the workplace, is postponed to the Florida Senate Judiciary Committee’s Feb. 9 meeting after initially failing on a tie vote.

It was the first time the bill, which has been filed and refiled every Legislative session since 2007, made it before a committee.

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Watchdog group debunks bathroom myth

By : Jamie Hyman
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The bathroom myth is an argument hate groups consistently trot out whenever LGBT equality measures are up for discussion, claiming that if we allow transgender people to use preferred bathrooms, predatory men will exploit this access to assault women and children.

A bathroom bill, requiring people to use bathrooms that correspond to their gender at birth, even made it through a few committees in the Florida House before the 2015 legislative session came to a close.

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Transgender woman held at Orlando Airport, TSA says did nothing wrong

By : Jamie Hyman
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Orlando International Airport TSA and American Airlines are getting some negative attention after a transgender woman live-tweeted her travel nightmare trying to fly to Minneapolis out of Orlando.

Shadi Petosky tweeted that she was held by the TSA because of an “anomaly.” 

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TransAction Florida brings attention to the ‘T’ with a successful white party

By : Aaron Alper
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TransAction Florida brought their A-game for this year’s White Party at Georgie’s Alibi. Hosted by Kori Stevens, the event brought both awareness and much needed funds in support for the trans community who, as we know, are fighting as hard as they can for the basic civil rights afforded to other citizens.

“TransAction would like to thank Georgie’s Alibi management, staff and performers for choosing TransAction for this year’s recipient of donations,” says Gina Leigh Duncan, the trans inclusion director for Equality Florida. “Funds raised will go to fund TransAction’s efforts in working for safe schools, conducting media and law enforcement training, pushing for fully inclusive Human Rights Ordinances and transgender health and wellness issues. These initiatives will support LGBT Floridians across the state.”

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