Equality Florida announces inaugural class of TransAction Leadership Academy

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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ABOVE: The inaugural class of Equality Florida’s TransAction Leadership Academy. Photo courtesy Gina Duncan.

ST. PETERSBURG | Equality Florida’s transgender inclusion initiative TransAction Florida has announced the inaugural class of its TransAction Leadership Academy.

The academy is designed to train and develop the next generation of transgender or gender nonbinary (enby) leaders in the areas of advocacy, policy and management. Participants range from ages 18-30 and were required to live in St. Petersburg, commit to attending all classes and present a final dissertation to be considered.

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Human Rights Campaign close to naming next president: sources

By : Chris Johnson OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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ABOVE: Current HRC president Chad Griffin, who announced late last year he will depart the organization.

Fresh from the successful U.S. House vote on the Equality Act, the Human Rights Campaign is close to naming a new president to lead the nation’s largest LGBT advocacy group, insiders have told the Washington Blade.

LGBT advocates said this week they’ve heard board members for the Human Rights Campaign, which began a search for the organization’s next president after Chad Griffin announced late last year he’d depart the organization, are nearing their decision. One person familiar with board deliberations said the process is “going well.”

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PHOTOS: Equality Florida’s 2019 St. Pete Gala

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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ST. PETERSBURG | Equality Florida welcomed supporters to the Mahaffey Theater on May 11 to celebrate the organization’s annual St. Pete Gala.

The evening began by honoring Linda Lerner with the Voice for Equality Award. Lerner, an advocate for LGBTQ issues in her role on the Pinellas County Schools board, retired in 2018 as its longest-serving member. Fan favorite artist John Gascot then received the Amy S. Mandel Service & Leadership Award for his work with Diversity Arts, his nonprofit which serves disenfranchised, mostly LGBTQ youth.

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Bill threatening every LGBTQ nondiscrimination ordinance in Florida moves forward

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. | The Florida House State Affairs Committee debated HB 3 on March 14, a bill threatening to repeal every local LGBTQ nondiscrimination ordinance and conversion therapy ban across Florida.

Equality Florida, the state’s largest LGBTQ civil rights organization, along with the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBTQ civil rights advocacy group, condemned the bill at the state capitol March 12. The groups noted 13 million LGBTQ Floridians are protected by the ordinances being targeted.

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2019 WAVE Award Spotlight: Nadine Smith

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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Tampa Bay’s Favorite Local Activist, Favorite Charitable Event (Equality Florida’s St. Pete Gala)

As the executive director of Equality Florida, the state’s largest civil rights organization dedicated to securing full equality for all LGBTQ Floridians, Nadine Smith is no stranger to activism.

In addition to her work with the organization, she was one of the four national co-chairs of the 1993 March on Washington and made history by taking part in the first Oval Office meeting between a sitting president and LGBTQ community leaders. Smith also served on the founding board of the International Gay and Lesbian Youth Organization and serves as chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights Florida Advisory Committee.

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PHOTOS: Equality Florida’s 2019 Tampa Gala

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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TAMPA | Equality Florida held its annual Tampa Gala at TPepin’s Hospitality Centre Feb. 23, highlighting the organization’s fight for statewide equality.

The gathering featured live entertainment, silent and live auctions and honored community champions throughout the evening. John and Nancy Desmond received the 2019 Voice for Equality Award, Prin Ocea received the 2019 Youth Voice for Equality Award, the University of South Florida Office of Multicultural Affairs received the 2019 Partner in Equality Award and Gene Webster-English received the 2019 Community Service Award.  

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12.27.18 Publisher’s Desk

By : Rick Claggett
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It’s hard to believe the end of the year is here. It’s cliche to say, but when you live your life in two week cycles across two metropolitan areas—time flies. 2018 zoomed by in the blink of an eye.

Watermark did well in 2018. We saw an increase in sales, so thank you to the businesses and organizations that support us and help us to continue bringing the latest in LGBTQ news to our readers—and congratulations to Senior Account Manager Sam Callahan who had a stellar year. We also saw an increase in distributions sites and are now available at over 600 locations in Central Florida, Tampa Bay and surrounding areas.

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PHOTOS: Equality Florida holds 2018 Suncoast Celebration

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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SARASOTA | Equality Florida held its annual Suncoast Celebration at the Sarasota Municipal Auditorium Nov. 18, benefiting the organization’s work in fighting for statewide equality.

The evening featured live entertainment from Josh Walther and the Phase5 Band and honored community advocates throughout the celebration, beginning with Dr. Fred and Lee Brockmann. The duo, known for their outspoken advocacy, received the 2018 Voice for Equality honor. Dorothy Neufeld received the 2018 Spirit of Service and Leadership honor.

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PHOTOS: St. Petersburg holds ‘We Won’t Be Erased’ transgender support rally

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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ST. PETERSBURG | LGBTQ community leaders and advocates gathered Nov. 4 at Williams Park for St. Petersburg’s “We Won’t Be Erased” transgender support rally.

Nathan Bruemmer organized the rally following reports that the Trump administration may attempt to define gender as an immutable condition determined at birth. Partner organizations included Equality Florida, TransAction Florida, Metro Wellness & Community Centers, St. Pete Pride, the Tampa Bay Diversity Chamber of Commerce and Project No Labels. “We rally for our rights, for our future and for our lives,” Bruemmer shared with Watermark ahead of the event. “These rallies are happening all over our country right now. I hope the politicians who need to hear this message do so and act.”

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LGBTQ groups gather in South Florida to announce Gillum for Governor endorsements

By : Jeremy Williams
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MIAMI | Three LGBTQ organizations—one local, one statewide and one national—gathered at the CIC in Miami Sept. 24 to jointly announce their support for Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum in his bid to become Florida’s next governor.

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) joined with Equality Florida, the state’s largest civil rights organization, and SAVE, a South Florida LGBTQ advocacy group, to commit working together to secure full equality for Florida’s LGBTQ community, according to an HRC press release.

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Lawyer seeking Pinellas-Pasco judgeship reiterates anti-LGBTQ views

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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TAMPA | Pinellas-Pasco circuit judgeship candidate Donald McBath is standing by his anti-LGBTQ and anti-Muslim commentary ahead of Aug. 28’s primary election.

“If the homosexual continues committing that sin of sodomy, his soul faces ETERNAL damnation,” McBath shared via Facebook Feb. 25, as reported by the Tampa Bay Times May 30. “Abstain, if you really have that mental illness. It’s not love.”

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Never again, but why now?

By : Jamie Hyman
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In the weeks since a shooter killed 17 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., survivors have been featured in a town hall on national television, visited the Florida Legislature and led a march of more than a million protesters nationwide, demanding sensible gun control.

In the weeks following the shooting at Pulse nightclub in 2016, the levels of advocacy and response were far more muted, which is forcing members of the LGBTQ community to wonder why, after a mass shooting that at the time was the deadliest in U.S. history, government officials, the media and the nation failed to rally behind the Pulse survivors with the volume and intensity that are leading millions to take action today.

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