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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Central Florida Overheard: Hope & Help’s new home

By : Anonymous
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Now that they’re finally getting settled into their new digs, Hope & Help is having a house warming party and everyone’s invited.

We checked in with Joshua Meyers, the community director at Hope & Help, on what we can expect to see at the grand re-opening.

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Hope & Help to take an evening stroll around Lake Eola for the annual Orlando AIDS Walk

By : Jeremy Williams
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ORLANDO | The Hope & Help Center of Central Florida returns with their annual AIDS Walk on Feb. 3 at the Walt Disney Amphitheater at Lake Eola Park in Downtown Orlando.

Hope & Help moved the event, typically held in the morning, to an evening time last year which proved a huge success, according to Joshua J. Myers, Hope & Help’s community developmental director.

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Central Florida and Tampa Bay recognize World AIDS Day with events from coast to coast

By : Jeremy Williams
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World AIDS Day is the first ever global health day and has taken place every Dec. 1 since 1988. It is a day which the entire planet comes together to remember the nearly 40 million lives lost to the virus, but also to acknowledge those still living with the disease today and to celebrate the advances made in fighting HIV/AIDS.

From candlelight vigils to luncheons and HIV testing sights, several groups and organizations have events throughout Central Florida and the Tampa Bay area for you whether you want to pay your respects or know your status.

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Hope & Help’s 28th Annual Headdress Ball was pure “Imaginarium”

By : Jeremy Williams
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Attendees let their “Imaginarium” run wild as they pulled out some of the most amazing, elaborate outfits ever for Hope & Help’s 28th Annual Headdress Ball Sept. 23.

The evening’s Steampunk theme left the Marriot World Center in Orlando filled with an fashionable blend of industrial age meets science fiction-inspired costumes filled with gears, gadgets and goggles that seemed to blend the worlds of Wicked, Wonderland and Mad Max.

Want to see what we mean, check out the stunning photos from last Saturday’s event.

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