Winter Haven man found guilty of murder in death of Mercedes Successful

By : Amanda Espinosa
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Haines City, Fla. | The trial over the death of a Central Florida transgender woman concluded with her killer being found guilty of first-degree murder Dec. 20.

A Polk County jury deliberated for less than five hours before convicting 19-year-old Re’shaunte Jermaines Anglin for the 2016 murder of 32-year-old drag entertainer Mercedes Successful. Jurors also found Anglin guilty of robbery and tampering with physical evidence.

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A toast and a stumble through 2016, the year we will never forget

By : Billy Manes and Jeremy Williams
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We could go on and on about our gripes with the letter “P” this year, generally circulating around two terms: “Pulse” and “Politics.” So, indeed, that’s what we’ll do. Though we may have seen some wonderful developments in the year that God forgot, for the most part, many of us are grabbing at straws, trying to make sense of how it is that we descended so deeply, that we became the eye of the target of absolute terror.

Some may say that 2016 was the backlash for all of the gifts we were given by 2015, most notably marriage equality in both state and nation. Others might opine that there is something else going on here with the media, with conspiracies, with a new Cold War. We can’t be certain, but we certainly have each other’s backs, as has been proven by the many acts of kindness that rose up to meet the beast of an election year gone awry and a local community cut to its core. We are not a weak people; we have seen trouble before. But this year owns a special place in our hearts, one we hope that heals over without forgetting those who suffered and those who commandeered offenses that none of us could have been prepared for.

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Parting Frames of Empowerment

By : Jake Stevens
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The tone of issue 23.17’s cover story, “We Are All Mercedes Successful,” is obviously pretty heavy. We’re discussing the murders of 19 members of the trans community. How can it not be?

Death is no easy topic to talk about, especially when it involves the murder of your peers. We asked a lot of our trans brothers and sisters who gave us themselves for the story. We asked them to go to that mental place and tell us about the times that they didn’t feel safe. We asked them to stand in front of a camera and present an image of a person who’s fate they could easily share. We asked them to unapologetically present their authentic selves to the world through our readership and demand to be noticed. We asked for a lot. For some, it was understandably just too much, and I am especially grateful for all the people that made the decision to be a part of this story.

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Mercedes Successful is one of 19 reported transgender murders in the U.S. this year. When will it stop?

By : Jeremy Williams and Anna Johnson
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Mercedes Successful was found shot to death in the back parking lot of a Big Lots and Tractor Supply Co. in Haines City May 15. She was 32 years old. Successful identified as a transgender woman.

Successful was a performer and a native of Kingston, Jamaica. She moved to Haines City by way of New York. She represented Jamaica in the 2014 Gay Caribbean USA pageant, shown on the pageant’s Facebook page wearing a Jamaican flag dress and high-heeled black boots.

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8.25.16 Editor’s Desk

By : Billy Manes
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Billy Manes

Billy Manes

We are all Mercedes Successful. We are all vulnerable. We are all show-stopping superstars while part-timing as human beings in need of love.

There has been an overflow of emotion toward the LGBT community since the Pulse shooting on June 12 – concerts, banners, memorials, donations – but there’s still a fairly large closet within which many of our community are forced to reside, often full of life, sometimes not alive at all. By now, we know that all too well.

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