Local filmmaker to hold sneak peek of religious LGBTQ film ‘At the End of the Day’ in Lakeland

By : Jeremy Williams
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LAKELAND, Fla. | Kevin O’Brien, a local-area filmmaker, announced that he will hold a special sneak peek of his first feature-length film “At the End of the Day” at the historic Polk Theatre in Lakeland May 18.

“At the End of the Day” is a dramatic comedy that explores the tensions between the evangelical church and the LGBTQ community. Dave Hopper, played by Stephen Shane Martin, is a conservative professor at a Christian college who goes undercover in a gay support group to try and stop them from launching an LGBTQ homeless youth shelter in his small town.

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Polk County shows its Pride in the Park

By : Jeremy Williams
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Rainbow flags and colorful outfits were out in droves for Polk Pride’s “Pride in the Park” celebration at Munn Park in Lakeland June 17.

Attendees had dozens of vendor tents and food trucks to visit while watching local singers, dancers and drag performers entertain.

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Polk Pride looks to make its third year the biggest one yet

By : Jeremy Williams
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LAKELAND – Nestled on the I-4 corridor between Orlando and Tampa, many visitors don’t realize that Lakeland has quite an LGBTQ presence in Polk County.

“That was never more evident than that first year we held Polk Pride in 2015,” Dustin Shay, a Polk Pride executive committee member, says. “We were thinking we would have like 200 people and it ended up being 3,000. It was great. The following year Pride in 2016 we ended up having around 5,000, so this year we are really hoping to blow it out since we have gotten a little bit more exposure.”

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Local filmmaker brings religion and gays together in Lakeland

By : Christina Diaz
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LAKELAND – A member of a predominantly red city is making a name for himself in the LGBTQ community.

Lakeland resident Kevin O’Brien is a writer and director of a new film called At the End of the Day.

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Watermark is looking for the Most Remarkable people of 2016

By : Watermark Staff
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Every year, Watermark chooses stand-outs from the LGBTQ community – remarkable individuals who made a mark in the past year, whether through activism, generosity or beating the odds.

2016 has been a difficult year for all of us, both politically and personally, especially considering the marriage victory last year, so we’re looking to honor those who have made the most change, been the most inspiring and helped to make our LGBTQ community that much stronger in the face of adversity.

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Tampa Equality Connection at Fresco’s in Lakeland

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Please join us for this free event with complimentary hors d’oeuvres, a cash bar with happy hour specials, and an update on what’s next in the fight for full LGBTQ equality. Our hosts at Fresco’s are really excited to help make this a fun event! Click here to RSVP: http://www.eqfl.org/equalityconnection/tampa4

here is no charge for this event, so please bring a guest! Our Equality Connections are a great way to introduce new people to the work of Equality Florida.

Pups of Polk Pride 2016

By : Alex Storer
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The June 18 street festival at Polk County Pride was full of food trucks, live music, retailer booths and activist groups — and dogs!

From furry friends to service dogs, from rescue dogs to purebreds, there were nearly as many pooches as there were rainbows under the hot Saturday sun at Munn Park in Lakeland.

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Help is here: William Harper and ASAP lead the way in Pinellas HIV/AIDS care

By : Ciara Varone
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William Harper WATERMARK MOST REMARKABLE PEOPLE 2015

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William Harper, executive director of AIDS Service Association of Pinellas, will celebrate 20 years with ASAP in May. During his tenure, he has served in different positions, but all with the same goal: Helping those diagnosed with HIV/AIDS.

“I’ve worked my way through the ranks. I started out as a case manager, supervisor manager and then executive director,” Harper says. “I don’t come from my position of executive director as just strictly a business person. I come to it as a person who understands all of the needs of the organization and the community we serve.”

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Watermark’s 2015 Halloween weekend round-up

By : Jamie Hyman
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Central Florida and Tampa Bay have a lot to offer for Halloween 2015 – including an extra hour of partying on Halloween night when we turn the clocks back for Daylight Savings.

Here’s a roundup of some of the best LGBT-friendly events all Halloween weekend long!

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Wedding Bells at Watermark: Scott Guira and John Partain

By : Samantha Rosenthal
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“I love Scott’s passion for life. With Scott, failure is never an option,” John says.“He does everything 110 percent. He gives himself – all of himself – to everything he does, and that’s one thing I absolutely love about him.”

John Partain, who is the Florida marketing manager for Verizon Wireless, met Scott Guira, who is a Publix Super Markets manager, in 2004. They were young and ambitious, and very attracted to each other from the start.

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Public official attacks gay teen for wanting to bring same-sex date to school dance

By : Staff Report
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Many teenagers stress about finding a date to the school dance, but one Tennessee teen didn’t even have the option. Lance Sanderson, 18, made waves on social media, petitioning for the right to take a same-sex date to Christian Brothers High School’s in Memphis, Tennessee for its homecoming dance after being denied by school officials.

After his cry for help was ignored, Sanderson was suspended for drawing unwanted media attention to the school. To make matters worse, Lakeland commissioner Clark Plunk took to Facebook, blasting Sanderson and the entire gay community, Towleroad reports. According to Towleroad, Plunk posted this hate-driven speech on his private Facebook page.

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Trial set for man accused of hitting a gay couple for kissing

By : Wire Report
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HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (AP) — A former Marshall University running back will face trial on Jan. 26 on charges of hitting a gay couple.

The Herald-Dispatch reports a Cabell County circuit judge set the tentative trial date during a status conference Tuesday for 24-year-old Steward Butler of Lakeland, Florida.

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