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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Tampa Pride kicks off 2019 fundraising, highlights Tampa mayoral candidates

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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(L-R) Tampa Pride President Carrie West and Tampa mayoral candidates David Straz, Ed Turanchik, Jane Castor and Topher Morrison outline their vision for Tampa Nov. 17. PHOTO BY RYAN WILLIAMS-JENT

TAMPA | Tampa Pride held its first 2019 fundraiser at ZooTampa Nov. 17 to highlight the organization’s fifth year and introduce Tampa mayoral candidates Jane Castor, Topher Morrison, David Straz and Ed Turanchik.

“You’re just seeing the beginning of what our new Tampa Pride is going to be all about,” Tampa Pride President Carrie West shared with those gathered for Pride-Zoo-La, stressing the celebration’s climbing attendance. “We thought we’d have 10,000 our first year and had over 20,000. Our second year, we said we’ll have 20,000 and we had 30,000.

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PHOTOS: Tampa Pride gets wild for inaugural Pride-Zoo-La

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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TAMPA | Tampa Pride kicked off fundraising for its fifth year with the organization’s inaugural Pride-Zoo-La at ZooTampa at Lowry Park Nov. 17.

The evening began with a performance by the Tampa Bay Pride Band. Guests subsequently moved to an artists’ showcase highlighting local talent, participated in over 50 raffles and were given the opportunity to participate in a giraffe feeding with ZooTampa staff.

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PHOTOS: Watermark Wednesday benefits Project No Labels

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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TAMPA | Watermark’s bi-monthly Tampa Bay social networking event Watermark Wednesday benefited area nonprofit Project No Labels (PNL) at The Franklin Manor Nov. 14.

PNL exists to unite all LGBTQ+ supporters in Tampa Bay through positive activities and events, Development Director Jonathan Soots shared with attendees. The organization promotes volunteerism and activism for a fulfilling LGBTQ+ lifestyle.

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Jane Castor officially kicks off mayoral campaign

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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Tampa | Tampa’s former chief of police and out LGBTQ advocate Jane Castor officially launched her campaign for Tampa mayor on May 17 to outline her vision for the city’s future.

“The message for the campaign kick-off is Tampa Strong,” Castor told Watermark ahead of the event, held at Columbia Restaurant in Ybor. Castor’s campaign will focus on a strong foundation for the city, including building stronger neighborhoods and a stronger economy.

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5.17.18 Publisher’s Desk

By : Rick Claggett
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It’s easy to forget. I forget things all the time. In fact, I forget things so easily that I am pretty sure our sales director Danny Garcia uses it against me. He’ll say I approved something in a conversation we never had knowing that I will assume we had the conversation and I don’t remember it. It works for us.

I also get so caught up in day to day “adulting” that I forget what it’s like to be alone in a new city, to start a new relationship, to be a kid or to plan for college. All of which I have been reminded of this past month, and I love it.

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Jane Castor officially enters Tampa’s mayoral race

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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Tampa | Tampa’s former Chief of Police and out local Jane Castor officially announced her candidacy for Tampa mayor on April 19.

Castor, who served as one of 2018’s Tampa Pride grand marshals and has a long history of LGBTQ community involvement, made the formal announcement via her new website “Jane Castor for Mayor.”

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PHOTOS: Tampa Pride 2018

By : Maia Monet
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Tampa | The 4th annual Tampa Pride occured March 24 in all its glory on the streets of Ybor City. Leading things off in the morning was the Festival Marketplace on the campus of Hillsborough Community College Ybor. Filled with vendors, artisans, churches and theater groups, there was a lot to take in and enjoy for the rainbow-bedazzled public greatly enjoying the perfect early spring weather.

The action shifted in the afternoon to the Diversity Parade led by Grand Marshals Rev. Jakob Hero-Shaw, Jane Castor and Christopher Sean. As the parade participants slowly made their way down 7th Ave. through the heart of Ybor City, they were met by thousands of cheering people dressed-to-express their LGBTQ pride and waving rainbow as well as transgender pride flags. Watermark was lucky enough to have a float in the parade and capture some of the sights for your viewing pleasure. Check out our pics after the jump below.

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Tampa Pride announces 2018 grand marshals, grand couple and award recipients

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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Tampa | Tampa Pride has announced the event’s 2018 grand marshals, grand couple and community award recipients ahead of their fourth annual celebration.

Former Tampa Police Department Chief Jane Castor spearheaded the list of grand marshals, with the organization touting her decisive leadership which endured for her 31-year career. Castor was the first woman to lead the Tampa Police Department, and has previously served as a grand marshal.

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Tampa Police chief leaves Safe Places for victims of hate crimes, bullying as he announces his retirement

By : Rachel Dececco
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TAMPA – Tampa Police Chief Eric Ward announced his retirement from the Tampa Police Department in a press conference with Mayor Bob Buckhorn July 6.

Ward has served 29 years with the TPD, the last two years as its police chief. Ward was appointed to replace former Police Chief Jane Castor in 2015. Castor was Tampa’s first female and openly gay police chief.

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Suzanne Westenhoefer slays at The Palladium in St. Pete

By : Jeremy Williams
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St. Petersburg – Suzanne Westenhoefer brought down the house at The Palladium in St. Petersburg Dec. 13.

Tampa’s own Jane Castor took the stage to introduce Westenhoefer and throw out a few jokes of her own (maybe a new career for the recently retired police chief).

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Police Chief Jane Castor set to retire after more than 30 years with Tampa Police Department

By : Steve Blanchard
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Tampa – At the close of business on May 8, Jane Castor will no longer be the chief of police for the Tampa Police Department. After more than three decades in law enforcement, the recent grand marshal of Tampa Pride is finally retiring—kind of.

Castor will run a nonprofit that will “start its work where the city budget stops,” she said.

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