2019 was a year for the LGBTQ record books

By : Jeremy Williams & Ryan Williams-Jent
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Should auld acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind? Of course not! That’s why after a historical 365 days, Watermark has assembled our annual year in review.

2019 was a landmark year for us here at Watermark. In August, we proudly celebrated 25 years of serving Central Florida and Tampa Bay’s ever-expanding LGBTQ communities.

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Nina Borders, Pasco Pride President

By : Diana Shanks, Pasco Pride Director of Marketing/Social Media
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Nina Borders is the hero I needed in Pasco County when I was growing up.

Nina took over as President of Pasco Pride in its second year, and has brought it to a new level of brilliance and power. Under her leadership, Pride has developed a regular presence in local politics, created a Metro fund for low income patients, attended regional and national conferences, and even adopted a road formerly adopted by the KKK.

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Cole Foust, Metro Inclusive Health LGBTQ+ Division Manager

By : Hannah Powell, Metro Inclusive Health LGBTQ+ Program Specialist
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Step into the Metro LGBTQ Welcome Center in St. Petersburg or take a stroll down Central Avenue, and chances are you’ll see a powerful message delivered on shirts and stickers bearing the signature FOUST logo: “Love is my philosophy.” If you live in Tampa Bay, I can guarantee that the love, empathy and leadership of Cole Foust has touched your life somehow.

Cole is an activist, community organizer, artist, musician and an incredible friend and coworker. When I think of him, I recall the Harvey Milk quote: “If you are not personally free to be yourself in that most important of human activities – the expression of love – then life itself loses meaning.”

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What does Undetectable = Untransmittable mean for U?

By : J.D. Cerna
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Thomas’ libido was especially high that Thursday night. The Orlando resident, who prefers not to use his real name, met a man at his Grand Bohemian Hotel room on the dating application Grindr.

They became sexual rather quickly and Thomas, lost in the delirium of his sex drive, says he allowed the man to penetrate him without a condom. Thomas snapped, “Wait. I’m not on PrEP, pull out.”

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St. Petersburg marks Transgender Day of Remembrance 2019

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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ABOVE: Transgender Day of Remembrance at Metro LGBTQ Welcome Center Nov. 20. Photo by Ryan Williams-Jent.

ST. PETERSBURG | LGBTQ community advocates and allies gathered Nov. 20 on Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) at Metro’s LGBTQ Welcome Center to honor the known transgender lives lost in 2019.

According to the Human Rights Campaign, at least 22 transgender and gender non-confirming people were killed this year. Equality Florida adds that since 2018, seven transgender women of color have been murdered in Florida, the most of any state in the country.

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Mama Bearings: Field Trip!

By : Sylvie Griffiths
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My 10-year-old son Jake and I recently spent a Sunday afternoon at the Florida Aquarium. My youngest was excited to see a tank that would allow him to touch actual stingrays.

The field trip was an outing for parents and their children organized by a friend and former co-worker of mine at Metro Inclusive Health. It consists of transgender children ages 12 and under and provides them with fun environments to socialize while their parents get support from others with similarly-identified children.

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Central Florida, Tampa Bay mark Transgender Day of Remembrance 2019

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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LGBTQ community advocates and allies will gather for vigils throughout Central Florida and Tampa Bay Nov. 20 to mark Transgender Day of Remembrance 2019.

According to the Human Rights Campaign, at least 22 transgender and gender non-confirming people were killed in 2019. Equality Florida adds that since 2018, seven transgender women of color have been murdered in Florida, the most of any state in the country.

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SMART Ride cycles into record-breaking 16th year

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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ABOVE: SMART Ride 16’s reveal banner, photo courtesy the SMART Ride’s Facebook page.

KEY WEST, Fla. | Organizers revealed Nov. 16 that SMART Ride 16 raised a record $1,325,427, 100% of which will be used for HIV/AIDS services throughout Florida.

The annual trek is a two-day, 165-mile bicycle ride from Miami to Key West. It is the nation’s second largest AIDS bicycle ride and the only one of its size to donate the entirety of funds raised to AIDS service organizations.

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PHOTOS: Metro’s annual party raises funds, welcomes Deborah Cox

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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ST. PETERSBURG | Metro Inclusive Health‘s annual Cocktail Party featuring recording artist Deborah Cox raised nearly $110,000 on Nov. 9.

Metro utilizes the annual event to raise awareness and funds for its essential health and community services. The organization served more than 27,000 individuals in Tampa Bay last year and is on course to significantly increase that number in 2019.

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Metro Inclusive Health announces annual party honorees

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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ABOVE: Honorees Matthew McGee, Deborah Cox and Sabine Niehaus. Photo courtesy Metro Inclusive Health.

ST. PETERSBURG | Metro Inclusive Health has announced the honorees for its annual Cocktail Party, scheduled for Nov. 9.

Metro utilizes the annual event to fundraise for its many essential health and community services offered throughout Tampa Bay. The 2019 gathering will be headlined by recording artist and LGBTQ advocate Deborah Cox.

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LGBTQ youth lead Come OUT St. Pete project for SHINE Mural Festival

By : Tiffany Razzano
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ABOVE: LGBTQ youth from Metro Inclusive Health and volunteers finalize the first mural for the fifth annual SHINE Mural Festival on Sept. 28. Photo courtesy Chad Mize.

Since the inception of St. Petersburg’s SHINE Mural Festival in 2015, multimedia artist and gallery owner Chad Mize has incorporated a community project into the annual art event.

SHINE transforms the city’s streets by curating large-scale murals painted by renowned artists from across the globe, he says. “We bring international talent to the city to elevate the scene here. It puts us on the map.”

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PHOTOS: Come OUT St. Pete celebrates annual festival, parade

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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ST. PETERSBURG | Come OUT St. Pete (COSP) celebrated its third annual festival and second annual parade in the Grand Central District on Oct. 5.

The festivities began simultaneously at 11 a.m., welcoming more than 20 parade entries flanked by proud participants enjoying 100 vendors. The route began at 20th St. and moved west on Central Ave to 30th.

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