Watermark’s Top headlines of 2017

By : Watermark Staff
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2017 was a roller coaster of a year. Our highs were marked with great achievements and big celebrations, and our lows were filled with the passing of great LGBTQ leaders and fear-filled headlines we thought we would never read.

Below we look back on the top 5 LGBTQ headlines out of Central Florida, Tampa Bay, from the state of Florida and across the nation, and the world.

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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: James Keane, Metro Wellness & Community Centers’ Director of LGBTQ Programs and Development

By : Lorraine Langlois, CEO Metro Wellness & Community Centers
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Lorraine Langlois

James Keane has become a remarkable local leader in the Tampa Bay area. He advocates for justice, inclusivity and equality whenever he sees a need.

James joined the Metro team in June 2014 as the Fundraising and Events manager. With a strong event planning background and passion for community he succeeded in making it a great first year. James’ major contributions to our organization and the LGBT community were exemplified in 2016 as his responsibilities increased. He became director of LGBT Programming and Development and he began to work to strengthen existing relationships and to develop new relationships with businesses and other non-profit organizations.

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Central Florida and Tampa Bay recognize World AIDS Day with events from coast to coast

By : Jeremy Williams
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World AIDS Day is the first ever global health day and has taken place every Dec. 1 since 1988. It is a day which the entire planet comes together to remember the nearly 40 million lives lost to the virus, but also to acknowledge those still living with the disease today and to celebrate the advances made in fighting HIV/AIDS.

From candlelight vigils to luncheons and HIV testing sights, several groups and organizations have events throughout Central Florida and the Tampa Bay area for you whether you want to pay your respects or know your status.

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Metro Wellness & Community Centers celebrates 25 years with the Great Gatsby Gala

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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(ABOVEMetro’s James Keane gives Watermark’s Tampa Bay team a tour of their expansion project. Photo by Jake Stevens.)

ST. PETERSBURG | Metro Wellness & Community Centers will commemorate its 25th year during their annual gala on Nov. 11, and the community it does so much to support is invited to help celebrate the organization’s landmark anniversary.

Community members can attend the organization’s Great Gatsby Gala, held at the appropriately-titled Gatsby’s, from 7:00-11:00 p.m. in Clearwater. For $50, attendees will enjoy an open bar, dinner, dancing and live entertainment, with collected funds used to support “life-changing LGBT programs for the youth, seniors, and transgender members of our community.”

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14th Annual SMART Ride hits pause in Hurricane Irma’s wake

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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TAMPA BAY | The SMART Ride (Southern Most AIDS/HIV Ride), the second largest HIV/AIDS bicycle ride in the country and the only one of its size to donate 100% of funds raised to AIDS/HIV research, will ride again this year—albeit later than normal.

The not-for-profit organization, which in its 13 years has distributed over $8.5 million to local HIV/AIDS charities like the Metro Wellness & Community Centers in Tampa Bay, was forced to postpone its 14th annual trek following the destruction caused by Hurricane Irma.

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As sexually transmitted diseases are on the rise, the battle for LGBTQ sex ed in schools is more important than ever

By : Samuel Johnson
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Another tale of twin cities is encapsulated in twin counties, both nestled on the Tampa Bay. St. Petersburg occupies the southern borders of the bay and Tampa hugs the northern shoreline; Pinellas County and Hillsborough County respectfully.

Like most twin cities, these twin counties are dealing with some of the same civic and social challenges: shared infrastructure or shared natural resources or even shifting residential patterns. Another aspect that these twin counties share is the startling rates of sexually risky behavior among their youth, which manifests itself in high rates of sexual infections and diseases.

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