Watermark’s 5 Questions for a Fringe Regular

By : Watermark Staff
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Orlando Fringe is in full swing and from what we have seen so far this is one of the best year of shows we have ever seen.

But any Fringe veteran will tell you that the shows are only part of the experience. You have the food, the drinks, the parties and of course chilling on the Fringe lawn and making some new friends.

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Dean Trantalis becomes Fort Lauderdale’s first openly gay mayor

By : Jeremy Williams
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Wilton Manors attorney Dean Trantalis defeated former police chief and current vice mayor Bruce Roberts with 64 percent of the vote March 13 to become Fort Lauderdale’s first openly gay mayor.

Trantalis was also Fort Lauderdale’s first openly gay city commissioner. Trantalis was elected to the city’s District 2 seat in 2003 and served until 2006. Trantalis was re-elected to the seat in a 2013 special election and served up until his mayoral win.

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Pride-banning Ronda Storms announces bid for Florida House

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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Republican Ronda Storms, who spearheaded Hillsborough County’s now-defunct ban on the recognition of LGBTQ Pride, has announced her candidacy for Florida’s House District 59.

“I’m Ronda Storms,” the two-term state senator and Hillsborough County commissioner announced via social media on March 9. “I want to thank each of you that have stopped [to encourage] me to run for office. After much prayerful consideration, my family and I have decided to step forward and make the personal sacrifice necessary to run… this time, State House, District 59, Republican.”

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British LGBTQ film event #FiveFilms4Freedom comes to The Abbey Orlando

By : Jeremy Williams
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The British Council and the British Film Institute have teamed up for the third year to bring the world’s first global digital short-film program, #FiveFilms4Freedom, to audiences, and they are bringing it to The Abbey in Orlando tonight, Nov. 9, starting at 6:00 p.m.

The program is a collection of both dramatic and documentary short films that tell the LGBTQ experience.

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Former State Representative Joe Saunders returns to Equality Florida as Senior Political Director

By : Jeremy Williams
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Florida’s largest LGBTQ civil rights organization, Equality Florida announced Aug. 9 that former State Representative Joe Saunders would be rejoining the staff as the new Senior Political Director.

Saunders previously held the position of Field Director with Equality Florida for nearly a decade before running for, and winning, a seat in the Florida House of Representatives in 2012. Saunders, along with Miami Beach’s David Richardson, became the first openly gay Floridians elected to the legislature.

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Equality Florida celebrates two decades of making change happen for our LGBTQ community

By : Billy Manes
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“Does this look OK?”

There are yachts. There is a breeze. There is Charlie Crist’s condo out of the corner of the eye. But on this day in St. Petersburg, March 22, there is only one figure that absolutely matters, and she’s sitting on a tree close to Cassis American Brasserie, posing for her cover shot.

Nadine Smith is the force behind most LGBTQ measures that have changed Florida’s societal landscape. Her calm tones weighted by heavy thoughts have come to define the nature of Equality Florida, the organization she formed with Miami’s Stratton Pollitzer 20 years ago. She played rugby at the Air Force academy, she says, but she didn’t know where the score would go thereafter.

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Equality Florida’s Carlos Guillermo Smith announces run for State House seat

By : Jeremy Williams
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ORLANDO – Equality Florida’s Carlos Guillermo Smith announced he will run for Florida House Representative in District 49 in the upcoming election year.

Smith, who is also the current Chair for the Orange County Democrats, decided to run after former State Representative Joe Saunders made the decision to not make another bid for the Florida House in 2016.

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Joe Saunders not running for Florida House seat in 2016

By : Jeremy Williams
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ORLANDO – Former State Representative Joe Saunders will not make another run for the Florida House in 2016.

Saunders was considering another run after current District 49 State Representative Rene Plasencia (R-Orlando) announced he would run for the District 50 seat in the next election.

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Joe Saunders may try to reclaim his seat in the Florida House of Representatives in 2016

By : Staff Report
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Orlando – Former State Representative Joe Saunders may make another run for Florida House in 2016. Saunders said he’s considering running again after current District 49 State Representative Rene Plasencia (R-Orlando) announced he would run for the District 50 seat in the next election.

“Some game changing news for House District 49 this week,” Saunders said via Facebook April 26. “Rene Plasencia’s decision not to seek re-election in District 49 has taken me as much by surprise as the rest of you and given me a lot to think about.”

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Zebra Coalition scholarship helps fund college for LGBT youth

By : Samantha Rosenthal
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Orlando – The Zebra Coalition, in partnership with UCF, will start a fund to provide a scholarship opportunities to LGBT youth as they continue their higher education.

The Zebra Coalition LGBTQ Scholarship Foundation will establish a $25,000 fund that would be dispersed to LGBT youth that may have difficulty securing funding for college.

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Joe Saunders named a gay candidate to watch by MSNBC

By : Staff Report
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With November coming closer into sight, what better way to embrace Pride Month than by acknowledging the hard work of LGBT politicians across the United States. MSNBC recently released a photo essay titled “12 gay candidates to watch in 2014,” where Florida House District 49, Democratic state Rep. Joe Saunders of Orlando was named onto the list.

Elected in 2012 as one of the first openly gay legislators in Florida, Saunders represents what is better known as the “UCF seat” in the Florida Legislature. Since being appointed, he has introduced the Florida Competitive Workforce Act; acted as a voice for LGBT students and against bullying; fought for rights and benefits for same-sex military spouses; and uplifting the arts and cultural institutions in his district.

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Rep. Saunders stands up for LGBT vets

By : Staff Report
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On the opening day of Florida’s 2014 Legislative Session, State Representative Joe Saunders (D-Orlando) grabbed an opportunity to stand up for LGBT veterans.

The House was debating HB 7015, a bill addressing veteran and service member support, specifically how to support the families of military members.

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