10.18.18 Central Florida Bureau Chief’s Desk

By : Jeremy Williams
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Ah, Halloween. That time of year when you get to dress up, pretend to be someone else for a night and beg strangers for candy if you’re a kid, or for a drink if you’re an adult.

I must admit, I’m not a huge fan of Halloween. I’m one of those people who most others complain about because while everyone is deciding what nine costumes they are going to wear to each party they are attending, I’m the guy walking up and down the Christmas aisle figuring out what colors and pattern my tree will be this year.

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PHOTOS: Pride Rally at Lake Eola brought the love

By : Jeremy Williams
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ORLANDO | Come Out With Pride held a Pride Rally at the Walt Disney Amphitheater during Saturday’s celebration at Lake Eola.

The crowd heard from Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, Orlando City Commissioner Patty Sheehan, State Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith and more.

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One Orlando Alliance names Board Chair Jennifer Foster as new Executive Director

By : Jeremy Williams
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ORLANDO | Jennifer Foster, who served as board chair for the One Orlando Alliance since formation, was named the organization’s founding executive director Oct. 11.

Foster’s appointment as the Alliance’s director comes on National Coming Out Day and during Orlando’s Pride Week — a weeklong celebration led by Alliance member Come Out With Pride.

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PHOTOS: Church bells fill downtown Orlando as Pulse shooting hits 2-year mark

By : Layla Ferris
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ORLANDO | The First United Methodist Church in downtown Orlando tolled its bells 49 times at noon June 12 to honor those who died in the Pulse nightclub shooting two years ago.

“It’s such a beautiful thing to know that your loved ones will never be forgotten,” Robin Maynard-Harris says to nearly 100 people who gathered at the church.

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One Orlando Alliance’s Acts of Love and Kindness

By : Maia Monet
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Acts of Love and Kindness is a movement grown out of the spirit of giving and good deeds witnessed in the aftermath of the tragedy at Pulse Nightclub on June 12, 2016. The One Orlando Alliance — a coalition of more than 30 Orlando LGBTQ+ organizations — mobilizes this movement to inspire the Orlando community and beyond to engage in volunteerism, share stories and show support through acts of love and kindness. Those participating are encouraged to share their stories on social media using the hashtag: #ActLoveGive.

Two years later many groups, individuals will honor and remember those affected by the Pulse tragedy

By : Jeremy Williams
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ABOVE:  The Pulse memorial will be one of several locations with events June 12.

ORLANDO | It’s been nearly two years since our community woke to the news that a gunman entered one of our LGBTQ nightclubs in downtown Orlando on Latin Night with a semi-automatic rifle and handgun. 49 patrons were killed and another 53 injured while they danced, drank and celebrated with friends and family.

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One Orlando Alliance retracts ED offer after Patricia Todd suggests Alabama Gov. is lesbian

By : Jeremy Williams
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ORLANDO | The One Orlando Alliance has retracted the offer of employment made to former Alabama Rep. Patricia Todd to serve as the organization’s executive director after Todd suggested on Twitter May 15 that Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey is a lesbian.

“The Board affirms that Ms. Todd’s recent comments are not aligned with the values of One Orlando Alliance. We strongly believe that coming out is a personal choice and we do not support involuntarily outing,” said Jennifer Foster, Chair of the Board of Directors and one of the original co-conveners of the Alliance, in a press release. “This has been a challenging situation. While Ms. Todd has a well-established record of outstanding service to the community, her lapse in judgment has led us to end our relationship with her. We admire her many decades of exemplary service and believe that, with the right opportunity, Ms. Todd will continue to use her many talents to make significant progress advocating for justice and equality.”

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One Orlando Alliance names former Alabama Representative as new executive director

By : Jeremy Williams
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ORLANDO | The Board of Directors of One Orlando Alliance announced the selection of former Alabama Rep. Patricia Todd as the organization’s executive director in a press release May 1. The selection follows an extensive nationwide search that began in August 2017.

Todd becomes the first executive director for the One Orlando Alliance, a non-profit group of more than 30 LGBTQ organizations formed in the days after the Pulse shooting on June 12, 2016.

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05.03.18 Tampa Bay Bureau Chief’s Desk

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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Whoever said money can’t buy happiness was never a chubby Ohio kid on vacation at Disney World.

At a ripe and round 13, my parents used the money they’d received after my dear grandmother’s passing to take me to the most magical place on earth. It was my first foray into Florida, and while I’d have gladly moved into the castle that day—it was transformed into a birthday cake for its 25th anniversary and I was chubby for a reason—I had no intention of moving here until a decade later.

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05.03.18 Central Florida Bureau Chief’s Desk

By : Jeremy Williams
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This past weekend officially kicked off (at least for me) the summer season with the release of “Avengers: Infinity War” in theaters. No spoilers, I promise, but at the time of writing this I have seen the film three times and it may be the greatest movie ever made. From here on out until July—along with a few more weekends of blockbuster cinema—we have Fringe, Orlando’s Big Gay Weekend, Pride month and my birthday among the events to look forward to.

Since starting here at Watermark as an account manager for the sales department more than five years ago, I have developed quite a few traditions within the LGBTQ community.

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2018 WAVE AWARD WINNERS – CENTRAL FLORIDA

By : Watermark Staff
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FAVORITE LOCAL POLITICIAN/ACTIVIST

First: Patty Sheehan, Orlando City Commissioner – District 4

Second: Buddy Dyer, Orlando Mayor

Third: Carlos Guillermo Smith, Florida House Representative – District 49

GREATEST STRAIGHT ALLY TO THE LOCAL LGBTQ COMMUNITY

First: Buddy Dyer, Orlando Mayor

Second: Anna Eskamani, Florida House candidate – District 47

Third: Darren Soto, U.S. House of Representatives – Florida’s 9th District

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2016 was the worst year ever, and 2017 was the year we found our footing

By : Jeremy Williams
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In these very pages one year ago we proclaimed 2016 to be the worst year ever. It started off with so much promise and optimism, with the official passing of the torch as the former owner of Watermark turned the reins over to new owner Rick Claggett and Watermark Media became Watermark Publishing Group.

President Barack Obama was heading into the final year of his second term and everything seemed in place for another torch to be passed, that of the first black president passing the country off to the first female president.

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