Judge strikes down Tampa’s conversion therapy ban

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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ABOVE: Tampa Pride 2018. Photo by Russ Martin.

TAMPA | U.S. District Judge William Jung issued a ruling Oct. 4 striking down Tampa’s ban on the discredited practice of conversion therapy.

Conversion therapy purports to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. It is widely opposed by prominent health associations including the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Psychological Association.

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The Tampa Bay International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival turns 30

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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Police officers and protesters far outnumbered patrons during the inaugural Tampa Bay International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival (TIGLFF) in 1990.

It was the result of animus and interest surrounding one of the earliest publicized LGBTQ gatherings in downtown Tampa. While details surrounding TIGLFF’s founding are scarce, early accounts advise leaders from the Tampa Bay Gay Men’s Chorus, Bay Area Human Rights Coalition and Tampa Bay Business Guild formed the festival for two purposes.

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PHOTOS: Watermark celebrates its 25th anniversary in Tampa Bay

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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ST. PETERSBURG | Watermark celebrated its 25th anniversary in Tampa Bay on Aug. 30 with an evening at Metro Inclusive Health.

Ahead of the gathering, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman proclaimed Aug. 30, 2019 as “Watermark Newspaper’s 25th Anniversary Day” in St. Petersburg. Tampa Mayor Jane Castor joined him, proclaiming it “Watermark Publishing Group Day” in Tampa.

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Tampa recognizes LGBTQ-certified businesses by executive order

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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ABOVE: Tampa Mayor Jane Castor presents her executive order to recognize LGBTQ-certified businesses at the 2019 NGLCC conference Aug. 14. Photo courtesy Tampa Mayor Jane Castor.

TAMPA | The city of Tampa will formally recognize LGBTQ-certified businesses in contracting and procurement opportunities, Mayor Jane Castor announced Aug. 14 during the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) International Business & Leadership Conference.

The conference, held at the Tampa Convention Center Aug. 13-16, is the largest gathering of LGBTQ business leaders and allies in the world. Castor, Tampa’s 59th and first openly LGBTQ mayor, detailed her executive order directing the city to formally recognize LGBTQ businesses during a luncheon interview with NGLCC President Justin G. Nelson.

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PHOTOS: Tampa Bay Diversity Chamber hosts NGLCC Opening Reception

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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TAMPA | The Tampa Bay Diversity Chamber of Commerce (TBDCC) hosted the opening reception for the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) International Business & Leadership Conference at the Italian Club in Ybor Aug. 13.

The NGLCC’s 2019 conference is being held in Tampa Aug. 13-16 and is the largest gathering of LGBTQ business leaders and allies in the world. More than 1,000 of its attendees gathered for the opening reception at the historic venue, which was chosen to highlight Tampa’s Cuban and Italian heritage.

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Florida LGBTA Democratic Caucus holds summer conference in Tampa

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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ABOVE: The Florida LGBTA Democratic Caucus President Stephen Gaskill, Vice President Nik Harris, Secretary Dave Cutler and Treasurer Adam Sabin. Photo courtesy Florida LGBTA Democratic Caucus’ Facebook page.

TAMPA | LGBTQ community activists, allies, elected officials and more will gather in Tampa July 19-21 for “Defining and Defending our LGBTQ Future,” the Florida LGBTA Democratic Caucus’ summer conference.

The caucus represents the LGBTQ community to Florida’s Democratic Party. The organization has nearly 20 statewide chapters—including Hillsborough, Manatee, Pasco, Polk, Pinellas and Sarasota counties—all of which will be represented at the conference. Leaders advise the organization’s strength lies in its size and their local chapters, whose individual members stand up for equality statewide.

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PHOTOS: Tampa Bay Rays win Pride Night 2019

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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ST. PETERSBURG | The Tampa Bay Rays triumphed over the Los Angeles Angels during the team’s annual Pride Night at Tropicana Field June 14.

A total of 21,598 Pride and sports enthusiasts attended the game, which began after Tampa Mayor Jane Castor threw the first pitch, Congressman Charlie Crist said a few words and fan favorite entertainer Jennifer Real sang the National Anthem. The Rays spent five innings behind at 4-0 before scoring five times in the sixth and adding four runs in the seventh, winning 9-4.

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Broadway showcase to benefit Project No Labels

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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TAMPA | Tampa Mayor Jane Castor will provide opening remarks June 22 during the 13th production of Life Amplified Connections, a Broadway-themed showcase benefiting Project No Labels (PNL) at Stageworks Theatre.

Life Amplified has tackled issues like human trafficking, bullying, PTSD and sexual violence to raise funds for nonprofits since 2013. The gathering is produced by the philanthropic side of marketing company WriteOne Creative Services and will feature 21 performers from throughout Tampa Bay. A number of community partners will showcase their services ahead of the event.

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PHOTOS: Tampa Bay Diversity Chamber welcomes Mayor Jane Castor

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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TAMPA | Community advocates and allies gathered at the Centre Club June 6 for the Tampa Bay Diversity Chamber of Commerce (TBDCC)’s annual luncheon featuring keynote speaker Mayor Jane Castor.

The gathering featured the luncheon’s first marketplace expo, highlighting local LGBTQ and LGBTQ-friendly businesses as over 150 attendees networked and dined.

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05.02.19 Publisher’s Desk

By : Rick Claggett
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Nobody likes to be called ignorant, but we all are. I certainly am. I’m ignorant when it comes to Venezuelan politics, cooking Indian cuisine and the quantum mechanics of time travel. I just saw an article this morning that suggested the present and the future exist simultaneously and now I have a headache. I can’t even discern how there is still only one Marty McFly and how he always finds the DeLorean.

It’s okay to be ignorant, but somewhere along the way people decided being called ignorant meant that you were stupid or dumb—instead of just simply lacking knowledge of something. Some years ago I was hanging out with my brothers, drinking beer around a fire pit and listening to old country music; a favorite pastime for the Claggett boys. One of my brothers, a genuinely nice person who tends to lean to the right with his political views, started talking about the Affordable Healthcare Act. Yes, family + holidays+ alcohol + politics = disaster.

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Jane Castor sworn in as Tampa’s 59th, first openly LGBTQ mayor

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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TAMPA | Jane Castor was officially sworn into office in a historical ceremony at Armature Works May 1, becoming Tampa’s 59th and first openly LGBTQ mayor.

The gathering began with a procession of Mayor Castor and her family, including longtime partner Ana Cruz and sons Sergei and Seely. Her oath was administered after an invocation, several performances and the swearing in of Tampa’s city council members Joseph Citro, Charlie Miranda, John Dingfelder, Bill Carlson, Orlando Gudes, Guido Maniscalco and Luis Viera.

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Tampa Mayor-Elect Jane Castor, equality organizations celebrate historic win

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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TAMPA | Tampa’s former chief of police Jane Castor made history April 23 when she was elected the city’s first openly LGBTQ mayor.

Mayor-Elect Castor faced retired banker and philanthropist David Straz in the city’s runoff election. According to unofficial returns from the Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections, 23.19% of Tampa’s 230,193 registered voters cast 53,385 ballots April 23. Of the 53,144 votes cast for mayor, Castor received 38,854, or 73.11% of the vote. Straz received 14,290, or 26.89%.

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