Orlando becomes first Florida city to recognize LGBTQ-certified businesses

By : Jeremy Williams
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ORLANDO | Mayor Buddy Dyer, City Commissioner Patty Sheehan and members from both the Metropolitan Business Association (MBA Orlando) and the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) gathered at Se7enBites in Orlando to announce a new LGBTQ business initiative April 2.

The LGBTQ+ Business Inclusion Resolution allows the city to develop a database and registry of LGBTQ-certified businesses with the NGLCC that will track city contracts and spending with LGBTQ-owned businesses and ensure the inclusion of LGBTQ-owned businesses in Central Florida.

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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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MBA Orlando selects 2019 board of directors, announces new RED Group

By : Jeremy Williams
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ABOVE: Board members (L-R) Michael Deeying, Tom Yaegers, James Llewellyn, Brianna Rockmore, Sherri Absher and Dawn Kallio at the MBA Orlando holiday mixer. Photo by Jeremy Williams

ORLANDO | The Metropolitan Business Association (MBA Orlando) announced its new board of directors during its Holiday Business Connect mixer at the Tupperware World Headquarters Dec. 5.

The announcement was made by current MBA Board President Tom Yaegers and Executive Director Kellie Parkin.

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Equality Florida brings transgender workplace training to Orlando

By : Melanie Ararat
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ABOVE: Gina Duncan speaking at an Equality Florida event at Orlando City Hall in 2015. Photo by Dana Ng

ORLANDO | Equality Florida will host the organization’s Transgender Dynamics in the Workplace workshop at the Orlando Regional Chamber of Commerce on Oct. 16.

The workshop includes a panel discussion with corporate leaders, as well as an appearance from Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer. The event looks to educate attendees on transgender workplace issues and concerns, as well as offer ways to improve policies and protocols for transgender employees.

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Homo Erectus: The Evolution of Us – Like a shiny unicorn, the gay mafia does exist! (and other homo business advice)

By : Dr. Steve Yacovelli
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I have a secret to tell you: The “gay mafia” is real. I know because I met them a few weeks ago.

In early August, the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) held its annual conference in Philadelphia. Targeted at both LGBTQ+ owned businesses as well as the purchasing professionals for many Fortune 500 companies, the event was a combination of educational sessions to run your business better to focusing on how to more effectively engage with minority vendors. The conference was strongly attended by many members of Central Florida’s Metropolitan Business Association (MBA), our local LBGTQ+ Chamber of Commerce (who awesomely won Chamber of the Year in 2017).

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PHOTOS: MBA Orlando rocks Universal’s CityWalk with its 2018 Pride Gala

By : Jeremy Williams
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ORLANDO | MBA Orlando went all out for its 2018 Pride Gala Business Awards at Universal CityWalk’s Hard Rock Live Aug. 4.

The show opened with Alina Alcantara and the Brunch Bunch performing the Academy Award-winning song “This Is Me” from the 2017 film musical “The Greatest Showman.” Emcee’s Jorge Estevez and Miss Sammy then took the stage with their always entertaining comedy back-and-forth.

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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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Watermark’s Most Eligible – Central Florida: Michael Deeying

By : Jeremy Williams
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Age: 33

Hometown: Orlando, Florida

How you identify: Gay

What’s your sign: Aquarius

Michael is a self-professed nerd; he loves golf, Pokemon Go and board games. Above all, he values one thing the most: intelligence.

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MBA Orlando introduces new board of directors

By : Jeremy Williams
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ORLANDO | The Metropolitan Business Association announced their 2018 board of directors at a reception held at the Hard Rock Live in Orlando Jan. 27.

MBA Orlando Executive Director Kellie Parkin spoke to the event’s attendees before introducing them to the board.

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Watermark’s Most Remarkable People of 2017

By : Watermark Staff
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In a year filled with many setbacks and obstacles, the LGBTQ communities in Central Florida and Tampa Bay have met those challenges with amazing resilience and resisted all forms of discrimination.

The individuals selected as Watermark’s Most Remarkable People of 2017 come from many walks of life but all share one thing in common, they all were truly exceptional this year.

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Watermark’s Most Remarkable People 2017: Kellie Parkin, MBA Orlando’s Executive director

By : Lu Muller-Kaul, MBA Orlando President
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Lu Muller-Kaul

Kellie Parkin is a friend, supporter and the best employee I could have hoped for. In title and job description, she is responsible for running MBA’s operations, but she adds volunteer time for the One Orlando Alliance and other projects.

Kellie has also been working with founding MBA members, most importantly Debbie Simmons and Michael Thomas, to connect MBA’s past of now 25 years to a successful future, always ensuring equality through economics for our business members and the whole LGBTQ community of Central Florida.

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Watermark’s Roundup of Marriage Ceremonies and Celebrations

By : Staff Report
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With same-sex marriage finally being recognized and legal in the State of Florida on Jan. 6, many people are looking for ways to celebrate this historic event – whether they’re looking to get married or not.

Here is a list of some wedding ceremonies and celebrations that are taking place throughout Central Florida and Tampa Bay that you can attend in honor of marriage equality coming to Florida Jan. 6.

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