International drag superstar Pabllo Vittar headlines Orlando’s Pride Stage

By : Jeremy Williams
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Pabllo Vittar may not be as recognizable in the U.S. as she is in other parts of the world yet, but be prepared to remember that name because she is on the verge of becoming a global superstar. Vittar is a musical sensation in her home country of Brazil, has been called “the world’s most popular drag queen” by Vogue magazine and is widely seen as an important voice for South America’s LGBTQ community.

Vittar burst onto the scene in 2014 with an appearance on a Brazilin music-focused television show where she brought the house down with a rendition of Whitney Houston’s “I Have Nothing.” Since that performance, Vittar has released two albums, collaborated with some of music’s hottest stars and became the first ever Grammy-nominated drag queen.

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Come Out With Pride to go eco-friendly for festival and parade

By : Jeremy Williams
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Come Out With Pride will have a lot of the same things that you have come to expect over the last 15 years since the parade and festival have been held in and around Lake Eola. Food vendors, parade floats, live entertainment, fireworks and thousands upon thousands of attendees.

Some things you won’t see this year—or any upcoming years—will be single-use plastic straws, plastic bags and polystyrene foam single-use food containers. This is because the Orlando City Commission voted unanimously to ban these items from all city properties back in June.

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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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Patty Sheehan, Orlando’s first openly gay city commissioner to run for re-election

By : Abigail Brashear
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ORLANDO | Patty Sheehan, Central Florida’s first openly gay City Commissioner, announced Feb. 19 that she is running for re-election.

Sheehan is city commissioner over Orlando’s District 4, which consists of the majority of historic districts in downtown. During her time as commissioner, Sheehan has overseen the restoration of the Lake Eola fountain, the preservation of the Eola House, the addition of 1.3 acres to Lake Eola Park and the construction of sidewalks for children going to and from school.

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Jerick Mediavilla: Educator and Central Florida LGBTQ Activist

By : Ida Vishkaee Eskamani
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Ida Vishkaee Eskamani

It’s fall 2017 and we are somewhere in Tallahassee. Legislative committee weeks had commenced and Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, Florida’s first LGBTQ Latinx lawmaker, was telling me about a new man in his life.

He was both giddy and bewildered by how well they were vibing. This guy was handsome (I immediately verified this with some light social media lurking), kind, funny, attentive, smart, successful and, most importantly, emotionally available and into Carlos. His name is Jerick Mediavilla and my friends—This man is remarkable!

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Rep. Anna V. Eskamani (HD47): first Iranian-American woman lawmaker elected in Florida

By : Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith (HD49)
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Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith (HD49)

If you haven’t heard the name Anna V. Eskamani, you have probably been living under a rock … especially since Republicans spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in negative ads to portray Eskamani as a vulgar, radical extremist (they actually made her look like a badass in a leather jacket). Voters made history in November by electing Anna as the first Iranian-American to serve in the Florida Legislature, rewarding her with 57 percent of the vote.

Odds are you have heard of Eskamani, who has become a role model for young people across Orlando. You saw her on the cover of TIME magazine featured as one of many women across the country running for public office hoping to make real change. You read in local newspapers about her healthcare expertise as a senior director for Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida. You watched her lead the Orlando Women’s March or proudly walking in the Come Out With Pride parade at Lake Eola. If not, you more than likely overheard her signature Eskamani-style laugh in person at any number of local community events, since she makes it a point to attend every single one of them.

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PHOTOS: COWP’s Most Colorful Parade brings pride, pageantry and politics to Lake Eola

By : Jaime Donelson
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ORLANDO | Come Out With Pride had the eyes of the city on them as The Most Colorful Parade passed through the streets of downtown Orlando for thousands of attendees Oct. 13.

The parade route was filled with rainbow-colored floats, performers and — this being an election year — lots of voters, activists and politicians.

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PHOTOS: Pride starts the day off with the wedding of Debo Ofsowitz and Milena Jacobina

By : Rick Claggett
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ORLANDO | Come Out With Pride kicked off with a special celebration Oct. 13.

COWP’s Debo Ofsowitz and fiancee Milena Jacobina shared their wedding vows at noon on Lake Eola, surrounded by friends and family.

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Paintball shooting in Lake Eola linked to potential LGBTQ hate crime

By : Jeremy Brener
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ORLANDO | Police are investigating a possible hate crime at Lake Eola Park in Orlando after several LGBTQ individuals were attacked by a paintball gun being shot from a moving vehicle on July 27. The attacker also shouted homophobic slurs at the victims.

One Orlando resident, who asked not to be identified by name, was shot in the leg with paintballs while playing the popular app game “Pokemon Go” with a friend at Lake Eola Park. He also says that a lesbian couple in the park told him they were also hit with paintballs.

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2018 WAVE AWARD WINNERS – CENTRAL FLORIDA

By : Watermark Staff
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FAVORITE LOCAL POLITICIAN/ACTIVIST

First: Patty Sheehan, Orlando City Commissioner – District 4

Second: Buddy Dyer, Orlando Mayor

Third: Carlos Guillermo Smith, Florida House Representative – District 49

GREATEST STRAIGHT ALLY TO THE LOCAL LGBTQ COMMUNITY

First: Buddy Dyer, Orlando Mayor

Second: Anna Eskamani, Florida House candidate – District 47

Third: Darren Soto, U.S. House of Representatives – Florida’s 9th District

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2018 WAVE Awards Spotlight: Orlando Pride soccer

By : Jeremy Williams
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CENTRAL FLORIDA’S FAVORITE LOCAL LGBTQ SPORTS LEAGUE/ORGANIZATION

If you want to know how many members of the LGBTQ community support Orlando Pride soccer all you need do is check out the backs of our cars. Affixed to our bumpers— next to our yellow and blue HRC equal sign— you will see the Orlando Pride magnet.

The purple and light blue logo featuring the famous Lake Eola fountain can be found throughout the city. Sure, it is usually side-by-side with Orlando City Soccer’s purple and yellow lion shield, but when the ballots were counted it was the women’s team that had our readers busting with pride–maybe next year, boys.

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Hope & Help Center expands clinic services, hosts Orlando AIDS Walk at Lake Eola

By : Randa Griffin
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ORLANDO | The Hope & Help Center of Central Florida held a grand re-opening Jan. 26 to unveil their new building and expansion of LGBTQ health services. The center added a medical clinic to their services where clients can receive primary care, screening, treatment and urgent care for medical issues.

The center has expanded its fight against STDs by offering a full panel of testing. The clinic offers services for people in the transgender community as well.

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