Shannon Fortner, Harvey Milk Festival Founder/Executive Director

By : Grace Korley, Harvey Milk Festival Internship Supervisor/Grant Writer and Shannon's Partner
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Selfless. Focused. Resilient. Remarkable. These are the words that describe Shannon Fortner.

Shannon is the founder and president of the Harvey Milk Festival (HMF), a Sarasota nonprofit dedicated to sharing the power of the arts as a catalyst for social and political change. It celebrated its 10th anniversary this year, consisting of a history and art component, performance art and dance, and culminating with its annual music festival.

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The Last Page: Karen Atwood

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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The Last Page is dedicated to individuals who are making a positive impact on the LGBTQ community in Central Florida and Tampa Bay.

This issue, we check in with Mellow Mushroom Pizza Bakers owner Karen Atwood from Sarasota. Keep an eye on this space to learn more about the movers and shakers of your community.

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Fabulous Independent Film Festival returns for ninth outing

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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ABOVE: (L-R) Stills from “Family in Transition,” “Good Kisser” and “Sell By.” All photos courtesy Fabulous IFF.

The Harvey Milk Festival (HMF) will present Sarasota’s ninth annual Fabulous Independent Film Festival (IFF) Sept. 27-29. The celebration will follow a special screening Sept. 25 and a kickoff party Sept. 26.

The Fabulous IFF exists to bring the best in LGBTQ cinema to Sarasota. It was previously gifted to the HMF by founder Magida Diouri, who continues to oversee its annual programming. The move resulted in attendance and support more than doubling, HMF President Shannon Fortner says.

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Harvey Milk Festival holds 10th annual celebration

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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SARASOTA | The Harvey Milk Festival (HMF) will hold its 10th annual celebration May 9-11, honoring the life and legacy of activist Harvey Milk by fostering the arts as a catalyst for change.

“It feels comforting,” founder and HMF Executive Director Shannon Fortner says of entering the festival’s 10th year. “I feel proud of our community that we’re able to sustain festivities.”

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Fabulous Independent Film Festival celebrates eight years

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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SARASOTA | The Harvey Milk Festival’s Fabulous Independent Film Festival (FIFF) will dazzle audiences with its eighth year Sept. 28-30.

“The Fabulous Independent Film Festival is definitely something the community needs,” Harvey Milk Festival President Shannon Fortner says. “We’ve had such great support. Magida Diouri, who founded and gifted it to the Harvey Milk Festival, continues to do its programming and does such a wonderful job.”

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Activists and allies assemble for 9th annual Harvey Milk Festival

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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Sarasota | The ninth annual Harvey Milk Festival, a three-day celebration of music and the arts, will return to Five Points Park May 10-12 to honor the life and legacy of activist Harvey Milk.

“This is a festival that is focused on raising awareness and sharing the life and legacy of Harvey Milk himself,” president and founder Shannon Fortner says, “but also creating a political platform for our community to come together and have a voice. It’s to inspire people to step up and to be heard.”

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05.03.18 Tampa Bay Bureau Chief’s Desk

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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Whoever said money can’t buy happiness was never a chubby Ohio kid on vacation at Disney World.

At a ripe and round 13, my parents used the money they’d received after my dear grandmother’s passing to take me to the most magical place on earth. It was my first foray into Florida, and while I’d have gladly moved into the castle that day—it was transformed into a birthday cake for its 25th anniversary and I was chubby for a reason—I had no intention of moving here until a decade later.

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05.03.18 Central Florida Bureau Chief’s Desk

By : Jeremy Williams
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This past weekend officially kicked off (at least for me) the summer season with the release of “Avengers: Infinity War” in theaters. No spoilers, I promise, but at the time of writing this I have seen the film three times and it may be the greatest movie ever made. From here on out until July—along with a few more weekends of blockbuster cinema—we have Fringe, Orlando’s Big Gay Weekend, Pride month and my birthday among the events to look forward to.

Since starting here at Watermark as an account manager for the sales department more than five years ago, I have developed quite a few traditions within the LGBTQ community.

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Tampa Bay’s Overheard: A fabulous film fest, Christmas queens and EXCELSIOR!

By : Anonymous
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SARASOTA STAYS FABULOUS

Fans of film and fans of the fabulous can rejoice, because the Fabulous Independent Film Festival (FIFF) is about to shante its way back to Sarasota.

The festival is a part of the annual Harvey Milk Festival, and as always, aims to connect the community through independent film. Now in its seventh year, the festival is currently scheduled to take over Burns Court Cinemas from October 6-8. Films are TBA, but you can stay up to date at fabulousiff.com.

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The Harvey Milk Festival brings art, dance and music together to remember those lost to hate crimes

By : Krista Di Tucci
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SARASOTA – The Harvey Milk Festival opens its eighth season in Sarasota May 11 with a transgender media art exhibit inspired by a quote from the slain LGBTQ civil rights icon for whom the festival is named.

“Hope Will Never Be Silent,” Milk said after becoming the first openly gay person elected to public office when he was elected to the San Francisco County Board of Supervisors in 1978.

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Sarasota gears up for Fabulous Independent Film Festival at the Harvey Milk Festival

By : Krista DiTucci
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Film lovers in Sarasota will experience three days of LGBTQ cinema at Harvey Milk Festival’s sixth annual Fabulous Independent Film Festival, Sept.30-Oct. 2.

“Every single one of these films is so interesting in its own way,” Magida Diouri, festival programmer, says. “It’s remarkable. I really was looking for the best I could get for Sarasota – things that would not otherwise come here.”

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Overheard in Tampa Bay: Proud of St. Pete Pride

By : Anonymous
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Proud of our Pride
The annual Pride parade and festival is a sign of, pardon the pun, pride for any city looking to advertise how accepting and diverse they are, but let’s face it: All Prides are not created equal. Next Magazine set out to explore the LGBT communities around the globe and find which Prides are worth traveling halfway around the world for. Next Magazine chose seven Pride destinations and only one in the good ole U.S.A. made the list: St. Pete Pride. The magazine calls it “a vibrant festival featuring art, music and performances of all kind.” They go on to say the highlights of St. Pete Pride include the “lively display that runs right through the heart of the gayborhood” that is Grand Central and gushes about the only parade on the list that starts at sunset. St. Pete Pride is forth on the list behind Tel Aviv, Israel;Sitges, Spain and Toronto, Canada.

Dinner with a cause
A restaurant, a group of friends and a bottle of wine spells out a pretty good night. A great night would be if you could do that and help out your community. Well you can! Dine Out For Life is headed to the Tampa Bay area May 19. Just eat at one of the participating restaurants, and a varying percentage of your check (The Frog Pond in Redington Beach is donating 100 percent)is donated to ASAP.This is the first year that local hot-spot eatery Punky’s will be involved and your friendly neighborhood news. People here at Watermark will be out there alongside them as your Punky’s Dine Out For Life welcoming crew. We can’t help it; we love that everything is purple! So make sure you make your way out to Punky’s, or any of the amazing places listed at DineOutForLIfe.com, and get to eating.

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