LGBTQ youth to connect, be educated at Orlando Youth Empowerment Summit

By : Lora Korpar
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ABOVE: City of Orlando’s Diversity, Inclusion and Equity Senior Specialist Felipe Sousa-Rodriguez gives a speech at last year’s Orlando Youth Summit. (Photo by Melanie Ararat)

ORLANDO | The City of Orlando, Zebra Coalition and LGBTQ organizations across Central Florida will be celebrating and educating LGBTQ youth with the upcoming Orlando Youth Empowerment Summit.

The fifth annual summit will take place at Valencia College’s West Campus on Oct. 19 from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. The event is free of charge.

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Hope & Help announces move to new facilities

By : Jeremy Williams
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ABOVE: Hope & Help’s Re-Start group marches in the Orlando AIDS Walk at Lake Eola in 2018. (Photo by Jake Stevens)

ORLANDO | The Hope & Help Center of Central Florida will be moving to a new location in Winter Park, the health organization announced in a press release Aug. 28.

“Due to increased demand of HIV-related services, the company is relocating to a larger facility,” the release reads. The new facility is located at 4122 Metric Drive, #800 in Winter Park. Hope & Help moved into their previous facility at 707 Mendham Blvd. in Orlando two years ago.

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Hope & Help to increase HIV awareness as Orlando among top areas with new diagnoses

By : Jeremy Williams
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ABOVE: Members of Hope & Help’s staff at their Orlando offices. (Photo by Jeremy Williams)

ORLANDO | In the wake of the latest stats on HIV in the U.S., Hope & Help is looking to increase its visibility in the LGBTQ community. According to the latest numbers from AIDSVu, Central Florida ranks second in the U.S. for most new HIV diagnoses, only behind the Miami-Dade area.

The fact that the top two areas with the largest number of new cases are both in Florida is not surprising to Abby Silverman, operations director at Hope & Help.

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06.27.19 Publisher’s Desk

By : Rick Claggett
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Here we are again, the keystone of Pride around the world. We’ve celebrated Pride in Kissimmee and Polk County, and are still reveling in the joy that St Pete Pride brings. Now we turn to the event that started it all, Stonewall. This year is special, though. Stonewall turns 50 and the world is set to celebrate and honor the brave people who began a movement that would change lives for half of a century, with no signs of slowing down.

Stonewall 50 is going to be a massive event. The parade itself is expected to last longer than the average workday with over 150,000 participants and millions of spectators. My, how far we have come!

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RED Shirt Pride Day looks to continue Orlando’s traditional Gay Day at the Magic Kingdom

By : Jeremy Williams
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In June 1991, a group of LGBTQ Central Floridians—led by openly gay Orlando resident Doug Swallow—decided to meet at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom to say to “The Most Magical Place On Earth” that “We’re here, we’re queer and we’d like to see Cinderella’s Castle!”

“[Doug said] ‘let’s go be somewhere where we can be ourselves and let people see that we’re normal people, but let them know that we are gay … we’ll do something like wear a red shirt so we can know who each other are.’ That was totally Doug’s idea, to make that day what it is,” said Michael Wanzie, a Central Florida entertainer who was at the very first event, in an interview with Watermark in 2018.

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AIDS Walk Orlando raises over $52K for Hope & Help

By : Jeremy Williams
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ORLANDO | More than 400 walkers gathered at the Walt Disney Amphitheatre at Lake Eola Park in Orlando April 27, helping raise over $52,000 for Hope & Help’s 29th annual AIDS Walk.

AIDS Walk Orlando was moved back to the morning hours after two years as an evening walk around Lake Eola, kicking off at 7:30 a.m. with registration and guest speakers at the amphitheater. Speakers included City Commissioner Patty Sheehan and Hope & Help’s community developmental director Joshua Myers, also the AIDS Walk Orlando event director.

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Hope & Help moves annual Orlando AIDS Walk back to the a.m.

By : Amanda Espinosa
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ABOVE: QLatinx marches in the 2018 Orlando AIDS Walk at Lake Eola. (Photo by Maia Monet)

ORLANDO | The Hope & Help Center of Central Florida, Inc. is bringing the annual AIDS Walk back to the morning hours at Lake Eola Park in Downtown Orlando on April 27.

“This year, the event returns to the morning,” announced Hope & Help’s Executive Director Lisa Barr on Facebook. “With the community’s support, we will continue to work hard in reducing new HIV transmissions in our area. Every step we take around Lake Eola is a step towards progress.”

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We look back on 2018, a midterm year for a country that’s just living on a prayer

By : Jeremy Williams and Ryan Williams-Jent
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It’s been two years since we, as a country, entered into the reality that is the Trump Administration. The country feels more divided than ever and the phrases “fake news” and “it’s all a witch hunt” are commonplace.

The violence that seems to define who Americans are these days is also there, particularly in Florida, where there has been no justice for the five transgender women of color who were murdered and yet another mass shooting—this time at a high school in Parkland, Fla.—pulled the focus of the world to our state.

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Hope & Help ditches the headdress for its annual gala

By : Melanie Ararat
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ABOVE: Hope & Help’s Headdress Ball from 2017. Photo by J.D. Casto

ORLANDO | After 28 years as the Headdress Ball, Hope & Help has changed the name of its signature event to the Hope & Help Gala.

The 29th annual HIV/AIDS fundraiser will be at the Rosen Centre Hotel on International Dr. in Orlando Sept. 8, and it will not solely focus on HIV/AIDS prevention.

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Watermark’s Most Eligible – Central Florida: Michael Deeying

By : Jeremy Williams
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Age: 33

Hometown: Orlando, Florida

How you identify: Gay

What’s your sign: Aquarius

Michael is a self-professed nerd; he loves golf, Pokemon Go and board games. Above all, he values one thing the most: intelligence.

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PHOTOS: Orlando’s Hope & Help Raises over $40K with AIDS Walk

By : Maia Monet
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News 6 anchor Julie Broughton, joined by fellow News 6 meteorologist Troy Bridges and traffic safety expert Steve Montiero, hosted this year’s AIDS Walk to benefit Orlando’s nonprofit Hope & Help center. Also on hand were Pride Radio Orlando’s Ricky and Sondra Rae as well as Pulse Nightclub owner Barbara Poma.

In keeping with the appearance of local notables, walk participants were encouraged to dress as their favorite celebrities for the mile-long walk around Lake Eola. According to their website, a total of $41,965 was raised to assist Hope & Help with its HIV/AIDS services including free testing, community education initiatives, and case management.

More photos after the jump.

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01.11.18 Central Florida Bureau Chief’s Desk

By : Jeremy Williams
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I have been working at Watermark for several years now, and words that I have pieced together into sentences and strung into readable stories have appeared hundreds of times in dozens and dozens of issues of this publication.

This is however the first time that I have been asked to write something that would appear on this page. It’s not an interview or a news article on an upcoming event. It’s words strung together from me to form an opinion. I wasn’t thrilled at first to be writing anything with my opinion in it.

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