After a yearlong delay, renovated GLBT Center set to open in February

By : Jamie Hyman
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Sometimes, a fire escape is a simple safety mechanism. But sometimes (or this time), it’s the final piece in the much-anticipated, long-delayed renovation of the GLBT Center of Central Florida’s headquarters, located on Mills Ave.

The fire escape isn’t solely to blame for setting the project back about a year longer than planned. “The building was built in 1941,” says Terry DeCarlo, executive director of The Center. “There have been no major upgrades or renovations until this came about. Code enforcement in 1941 was a lot different than [now], and we had to bring everything up to code.”

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Watermark Wedding Bells: Brad and Zadin Lawson

By : Samantha Rosenthal
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“Zadin is genuine,” Brad says.“He sees the best in everybody; he sees the best in every situation.”

Brad Lawson, who is a nurse at South Lake Hospital in Clermont, and Zadin Lawson, who is a clinical IT at Leesburg Regional Medical Center, met online. They texted and emailed back and forth for a while, but Brad had to go out of town to take care of some family business in a place that had no cellphone reception and no access to a computer for three weeks. He was nervous at first that Zadin thought he was just flacking out on him because he really liked him.

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Watermark Year in Review: September 2015

By : Jamie Hyman, Billy Manes and Jeremy Williams
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Finally, finally, Kentucky Clerk of Courts Kim Davis ends her 15 minutes of fame. She went out by apparently exaggerating her “meeting” with Pope Francis. Davis’ anti-gay attorney says it was a cozy one-on-one, the Pope’s camp said, nuh-uh! Just a meet-and-greet.

Former Exodus International pariah Alan Chambers releases his autobiography My Exodus, a curiously self-congratulatory collection of memories of not really being honest. Atonement is cute.

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Project No Labels launches return of One Love

By : Jeremy Williams
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The Flamingo Resort will be the new home for Project No Labels’ One Love Party as they re-launch the Tampa Bay event Jan. 16.

One Love Party, which began at FreakiTiki in Clearwater Nov. 2014, was started by Project No Labels founder Claire Eli.

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Orlando gay organizations add groups

By : Jamie Hyman
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Two Central Florida LGBT organizations are offering new groups to benefit the community they serve.

Older, Wiser, Learning (OWL), a program for older LGBTs run out of the GLBT Center, now offers a weekly “Lady Hoots,” a forum for women to discuss issues and topics they face in their daily lives.

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Israel to begin enlisting HIV-positive soldiers

By : Wire Report
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JERUSALEM (AP) – The Israeli military said Dec. 1 it will begin enlisting soldiers who are HIV-positive, in a policy shift putting the country at the forefront of military inclusivity toward people with the virus that causes AIDS.

Military service in Israel is compulsory for Jews, but until now people with HIV were automatically deemed unfit to serve for medical reasons.

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Thrill ride inventor hosts Clinton fundraiser

By : Tom Dyer
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Orlando – A local thrill ride inventor will host a fundraiser for Hillary Clinton that is expected to draw numerous supporters from the LGBT community. Bill Kitchen, founder of US Thrill Rides, will open his impressive Windermere residence to Clinton supporters on Wednesday afternoon, Dec. 2. Kitchen shares the waterfront home with his partner, CamiloEspinel.

Kitchen is the founder of U.S. Thrill Rides, and one of the visionaries behind The Skyscraper at SKYPLEX, the proposed “worlds’ tallest skyscraper” (with a rollercoaster) envisioned for International Dr.

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Wisconsin Republicans push bill restricting transgender students

By : Wire Report
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MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Republicans pushed Nov. 19 for Wisconsin to become the first state in the nation to prohibit transgender public school students from using a bathroom or locker room assigned to the gender with which they identify.

Opponents, including students who stood and sat on the floor in a packed hearing room, argued the proposal is a violation of federal Civil Rights law. The soonest that the state’s GOP-controlled Legislature could act on the bill is January, and it’s unclear whether the measure has enough support to pass.

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Transgender Day of Remembrance 2015 Events

By : Staff Report
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Transgender Day of Remembrance is a day to commemorate and reflect upon transgender individuals who have passed away due to transgender-related violence.

The day began after a transgender woman named Rita Hester was brutally stabbed in her Massachusetts apartment in 1998. Graphic designer and advocate Gwendolyn Ann Smith held a candlelight vigil in memory of Hester. Every year, there are services and candlelight vigils held across the nation to commemorate the death of Hest and all transgender people lost to violence.

See a full listing of 2015 events:

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Kansas panel considers whether same-sex couples should be foster parents

By : Wire Report
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TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas legislative committee’s chairman raised questions Nov. 17 about whether gays and lesbians should be allowed to serve as foster parents for abused and neglected children.

Testimony in front of the joint Special Committee on Foster Care Adequacy touched on “family structure considerations” in placing children in foster care. It came from several sources – a sociology professor and Roman Catholic priest who published a recent study suggesting that children with same-sex parents fare worse than children in traditional, two-parent families, as well as an official of the American Psychological Association who said there’s no valid reason to discriminate against gays and lesbians in making foster care placements.

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Wedding Bells at Watermark: Rob Ackerman and Russel Hiett

By : Samantha Rosenthal
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Rob Ackerman, who is a retired interior architectural designer and remodeler, and Russel Hiett, who is a retired family and marriage therapist, both have many things in common: They’re both family oriented, lovers of art, and have been previously married to women who they had children with.

“When my wife and I married in the early ‘70s, we had talked about the fact that I was gay, but at that time they had nothing written about it, and she was a professor at UCF,” Russel says.“Since there had been literally nothing written about the subject, we thought, ‘Well, maybe we really were attracted to each other, and maybe that was just a passing fancy.’”

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Team Watermark: Meet our Intern!

By : Jamie Hyman
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Like a teaching hospital, Watermark is a teaching publication, and we consider it a priority to hire student interns in the hopes to teach them not only about journalism, but about the LGBT community which we serve.

Our current intern is Ciara Varone, 21, a senior journalism student with a minor in cinema studies. Here’s a little more about Ciara:

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