Orange County gets its first transgender deputy

By : Billy Manes
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ORLANDO – As transgender rights continue to snowball at the end of Pride month – despite political opposition via religious freedom and bathroom bills – Rebecca Storozuk has hit the message homeward in Central Florida. Her message? People should be who they are. In an Orlando Sentinel article published June 23, Storozuk made it clear to the masses that she was indeed the Orange County Sheriff’s Department’s lone transgender deputy with a headline reading, “I’m becoming who I want to be.”

As the story goes, Storozuk always identified as a female – even though born as “Peter” – and played the role of high-school jock fairly well all the way up to military service

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Tampa Bay’s Overheard: St. Gina’sBurg, Newton picks sides and The Studio @ 620 has Tunnelvision

By : Anonymous
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Duncan in the ‘Burg

You may see a familiar face more often as you run your errands around downtown or grab a latte at your favorite coffee shop in St. Petersburg. Equality Florida’s Director of Transgender Equality Gina Duncan announced May 25 on her Facebook page that as of the end of June she will call St. Pete her new home after living in Orlando for 37 years.

“While I will always have a soft spot in my heart for the City Beautiful and its amazing people, I am excited about this next adventure. Fortunately my position with Equality Florida lets me live anywhere in the state,” Duncan wrote. Along with those heartfelt words Duncan, posted a photo of herself on St. Pete’s amazing beach at sundown calling it “heaven.”

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TransPride March joins St. Pete Pride

By : Staff Report
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ST. PETERSBURG – St. Pete Pride is making history again. Not only is it the largest LGBTQ Pride celebration in the state of Florida, but it is about to become the first Pride in the state to hold a TransPride March in conjunction with their annual parade.

The TransPride March will kick off St. Pete Pride’s parade and will consist of members of the transgender, gender-non-conforming, queer communities, their families, friends, allies and supporters.

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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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