LGBTQ Resource Center established as independent nonprofit, launches scholarship

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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GULFPORT, Fla. | The award-winning LGBTQ Resource Center at the Gulfport Public Library announced April 9 that it will now operate as an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

The community resource, which previously functioned as a project of the nonprofit Circle of Friends of the Gulfport Public Library, began in 2014 with a donation of hundreds of LGBTQ-themed books. A committee was formed to cultivate the materials and the collection opened to the public in 2015.

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Gulfport welcomes readers, writers to ReadOut 2019

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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GULFPORT, Fla. | The second annual Gulfport ReadOut—three days of events held primarily at the Gulfport Public Library for LGBTQ readers, writers and their allies—will take place Feb. 15-17.

Festivities begin Feb. 15 with “An Afternoon of Romance,” bringing together lesbian romance authors for afternoon tea ahead of a reception. They continue Feb. 16 with a full day of events beginning at 10 a.m., where keynote speaker and workshop leader Leslea Newman—author of 70 books including “A Letter to Harvey Milk,” “A Song for Matthew Shepard” and “Heather Has Two Mommies”—will present “It Takes a Village to Raise a Writer and Activist.”

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Positive Living: LGBTs in Gulfport helping to redefine what a library can be

By : Greg Stemm
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In a normal community, if you want to find gay people you might visit a bar or go to a gay pride celebration.

But Gulfport is far from being a “normal” town.

If you want to meet gay people in this small artsy community, virtually surrounded by our bigger but just as gay cousin St. Petersburg, you visit the Gulfport Public Library.

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Mom calls gay bar for advice after son comes out

By : MARIAH COOPER OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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A mother decided to reach out to a gay bar for advice after her son came out to her as gay.

Bartender Kara Coley, who works at Sipps in Gulfport, Mississippi, recounted the conversation she had with a woman who called the bar while Coley was working her shift.

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Calling all authors: Gulfport gears up for weekend of lesbian literature

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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GULFPORT | The Gulfport Public Library’s LGBTQ Resource Center is seeking authors for its first ReadOut event, self-described as a “weekend of lesbian literature.”

The event is currently scheduled for Feb. 17 at the Gulfport Public Library, and will also feature “other lesbian events taking place during the week leading up to it,” Readout 2018’s press release reads.

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Mississippian sentenced to 49 years in anti-transgender hate crime

By : Wire Report
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Joshua Vallum

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) – For the first time in the U.S., a person was sentenced on federal hate crimes charges for killing a transgender person.

Joshua Vallum appeared before a federal judge May 15 in Gulfport, Mississippi, after pleading guilty in December to hate crimes charges in the 2015 death of 17-year-old Mercedes Williamson.

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The Grand Central District looks to celebrate coming out this October with a new event

By : Jeremy Williams
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St. Petersburg – The Grand Central District Association announced plans for a series of events in St. Petersburg and Gulfport in October that will celebrate the LGBTQ community in the bay area in conjunction with National Coming Out Day Oct. 11.

“We want to acknowledge the importance of coming out and celebrate it in St. Pete,” says Shawn Connelly, Committee Chair for Come Out St. Pete. “What is also great about the timing of it is it will run concurrently with the Tampa Bay International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival (TIGLFF), which occurs every October. Our timeline will follow along that festival so we are collaborating with them on the planning and implementing of these events.”

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Dining Out For Life supports Tampa Bay HIV/AIDS efforts

By : Felicia Roopchand
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TAMPA BAY – Dining Out For Life is a charity event both your stomach and your wallet can get behind. In cities all across the world on April 27, selected restaurants will be participating in the event by donating at least 25 percent of their proceeds from that day to the licensed HIV/AIDS service agency in their city. In exchange for their financial support, restaurants are listed in a citywide marketing campaign in an effort to increase customer traffic. The Tampa Bay area will be among the various cities included.

“You know, Gulfport kind of comes in with a vengeance. All the restaurants in Gulfport participate and we’ve got a couple of new restaurants coming on over towards the Tampa side. I think we’re going to have a really good year.” said Joy Winheim, executive director of Empath Partners in Care (EPIC).

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The Mother of Necessity: as more people turn to streaming movies online, what’s the answer to saving film festivals?

By : Jeremy Williams
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Reinvention can sometimes be seen as an ugly word, especially when it is applied to something that has a rich history full of tradition, but in the world of cinema, reinvention is the very thing that breathes life and keeps film fresh and relevant.  After 25 years of following the same formula, the TampaBay International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, or TIGLFF, is at a point where they are reinventing the way they present the festival to the community.

For the first time in TIGLFF’s 26 year history, the festival will not center around the well-known Tampa Theatre. In May 2015, TIGLFF announced that they would be moving the main events – the opening, closing and several high profile films – to The Palladium Theater in St. Petersburg.

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Gulfport Library prepares for renovated LGBTQ Resource Center

By : Greg Stemm
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GULFPORT, Fla. – On Thursday May 14 the Gulfport Library hosted a program entitled “Sunshine and Rainbows” focusing on issues of LGBTQ law with a special emphasis on legal issues surrounding marriage. The program is part of a series of events hosted by the library as it prepares to reopen after weeks of renovation. A main reason for the work was to make room for over a thousand new pieces of fiction and nonfiction work in the facility’s new LGBTQ Resource Center.

“It is the only center of its kind at a public library in the state of Florida and we’re pretty proud of that” said Dave Mather, director of the library. “We’ve had great support putting this collection together. Given the makeup of our community with such a strong LGBTQ presence it only seemed appropriate that we should house such a great collection.” About a third of Gulfport’s 13,000 residents identify as being LGBTQ. Mather pointed out that the library tries to be responsive to the other needs of the Gulfport community as well. He notes the facility has a larger than usual collection of art literature serving the strong artisan presence in Gulfport.

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New Year’s Butch: Butchlesque brings in 2014 with Gulfport show

By : Greg Stemm
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Gulfport – Every year we face the same challenge: How do we say goodbye to the old year and welcome in the new in a different and unique way. For those in Tampa Bay and Sarasota, there’s a new option that also helps support the LGBT community.

“Butchlesque” is a showcase of participants displaying their individual perceptions of the “butch identity.”  Through these interpretations, those participants open the door to possibilities that does not require renouncing one’s self in order to feel desirable and accepted.  As the women display their personal choices of attire and swagger, they reflect the spirit that has moved them to step out of expected roles and into their authentic lives.

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