Las Vegas shooting surpasses Orlando as deadliest in U.S. history

By : Chris Johnson of the Washington Blade, courtesy of the National LGBT Media Association
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A deadly shooting at a concert Sunday night in Las Vegas has left more than 50 dead and 400 wounded, surpassing the shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando as the deadliest in U.S. history.

The perpetuator — identified as Stephen Craig Paddock, 64 — fired from the 32nd floor of a Las Vegas casino upon an outdoor country music festival below as singer Jason Aldean performed.

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Orange County Shelters opening ahead of Irma

By : Jeremy Williams
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Orange County will open shelters for the general population, including pet-friendly shelters beginning tomorrow morning, Saturday Sept. 9 at 9 a.m.

Additional shelters will be announced as needed. Orange County will also open PSN, “Persons with Special Needs” shelter. Individuals who have registered for a PSN shelter will be contacted with the location information of the shelter that they have been assigned, along with information on transportation assistance if needed.

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Change.org petition calls for City of Orlando to create rainbow crosswalk

By : Rachel Dececco
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ORLANDO | The mass shooting at Pulse in downtown Orlando June 12, 2016 claimed the lives of 49 innocent citizens. Now a petition circulating online looks to turn an intersection near the nightclub into a spectrum of hope and remembrance.

The petition on the website Change.org calls for the city of Orlando to install a rainbow crosswalk at the intersection of South Orange Avenue and Kaley Street “to honor both the memory of the victims and the struggle of the survivors.” The S. Orange/Kaley intersection is the closest major intersection where Pulse is located.

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Trump tweets ‘never forget’ on one year mark of Pulse shooting

By : Chris Johnson OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL GAY MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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On the one-year mark of the Pulse massacre, President Trump tweeted on Monday an image of the 49 individuals killed at the gay nightclub, urging his followers to “never forget” the victims.

“We will NEVER FORGET the victims who lost their lives one year ago today in the horrific #PulseNightClub shooting,” Trump tweeted.

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Looking back on a gay nightclub that almost wasn’t; looking forward after a massacre

By : Alma J. Hill
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The news coverage of Pulse is a 24-hour cycle of tragedy. Again and again, readers are forced to relive chaos and carnage. Images of the battered wall fill our news feeds, and the faces of the 49 float in and out of our consciousness on a regular basis. Bodies in corners, mothers crying in cars, candles in the rain; remembering Pulse has come to almost exclusively mean reliving the events of June 12th.

Rarely is the legacy of the club discussed. As an LGBTQ friendly space that had been operational for well over a decade, Pulse represented many firsts for Orlando. It was the first Orlando nightclub to feature a space even remotely similar to its famed futuristic white room (that changed colors). In 2013, it became one of the first gay clubs in Central Florida to give a Saturday night home to a Latin night. The club’s opulent interior garnered national attention, earning Pulse coverage in both Club and Mondo magazines.

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How the Orange County Regional History Center is helping preserve the memories from the Pulse shooting

By : Alma J. Hill
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It’s hard to wrap your mind around the Pulse massacre if you’ve lived in Orlando for any amount of time, but especially over the past year. On April 29, representatives from the Orange County Regional History Center – including executive director Michael Perkins and curator of exhibitions and collections Pamela Schwartz, among others – spoke to the difficulties of preserving the integrity and the heart of the tributes left outside of Pulse Orlando: the flowers, the candles, the messages and photographs.

If candles melted onto fabric, electric irons were employed to remove the wax. Dilapidated flowers, washed words, stuffed animals, so many pictures and flags and feelings had to be gathered to commemorate those who were killed in plain view, killed in a nightclub, killed for being LGBTQ or at least being friendly with those who were. It would be a delicate task of peeling photos from frames, flowers from vases and quilts from fences.

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Orlando remains united on the one-year mark of its most difficult time

By : Billy Manes and Sophia Mackrives
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In accordance with grief and tradition, Central Florida will be honoring the 49 lost at Pulse on June 12, 2016, with numerous events spanning more than a week.

This is by no means a complete guide to the memorials that will be going on – new ones appear daily – but this is a fairly broad guide for what it is you might want to do to reflect on that horrific day nearly one year ago. Likewise, we’re looking forward while looking back. If you visit actlovegive.org – Orlando United’s Day of Acts of Love and Kindness, a combined initiative between the county, the city, Pulse and other organizations – you will find plenty of ways to help in the ongoing cycle of trauma: volunteering, storytelling and donating. This is the part where you come in.

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PHOTOS: Orlando’s Big Gay Weekend

By : Watermark Staff
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It’s the first weekend of June, the beginning of LGBTQ Pride month, and that means it is time again for Orlando’s Big Gay Weekend.

Many groups, businesses and organizations have planned and put together events, parties and surprises across Central Florida that will have you bathing in beauty and soaking up the sun. Just as in year’s past, your friends here at Watermark will be out and about at as many events as our feet can carry us to.

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Editor’s Desk 6.1.17

By : Billy Manes
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For most of us, it’s been the year of our discontent: a slack-jawed reckoning with a grief that stretches city and countywide, a mourning that, for 12 months, confounded and consumed the entire world.

Even the uncomfortable cultural things that swarm in after the bomb drops – helicopters and newscasters and national media hovering around each tear we’ve been able to drop, each one of those drying our wells of stamina and breaking our private slouches – have served as difficult oil clouding our water. But never once have they cracked our resolve. Orlando strong? Yes. Orlando hurt? More than you can even imagine.

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A Night with Varla Jean Merman

By : Alex Storer
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Come see Varla Jean Merman in her award-winning, one-woman show for an ONE exclusive night of comedy and song to benefit The Zebra Coalition, presented by The Orlando Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.

You’ve seen her on Project Runway, on stage in Provincetown, on the big screen in “Girls Will Be Girls,” and now she’s performing live in a special one night event at the Parliament House where ALL of the proceeds from the shows will go to charity.

$45 online VIP Tickets get priority reserved seating AND a photo op with Varla Jean Merman. ($50 at the door, if available).

$25 online General Admission is first come – first served seating as long as it lasts, and standing room after that ($30 at the door, if available).

ONE NIGHT – TWO SHOWS! – Pick one:
Early show – 7:00pm
Late show – 9:00pm

Babes in Bonnets sets fundraising record for OYA

By : Jeremy Williams
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The Parliament House Footlight Theatre was home again to the fabulous bonnet auction known as Babes in Bonnets April 10.

The annual Easter tradition, hosted by Darcel Stevens and Blue Star, is a community wide fundraiser to benefit the Orlando Youth Alliance and featured more than a dozen beautiful bonnets paired with amazing gifts and prizes donated by local businesses and organizations.

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Protections for trans Puerto Rico Senate employees rescinded

By : Michael K. Lavers of the Washington Blade, courtesy of the National Gay Media Association
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The president of the Puerto Rico Senate has eliminated protections for the chamber’s transgender employees.

El Vocero, a Puerto Rican newspaper, reported Sen. Thomas Rivera Schatz on March 31 rescinded an administrative order that said trans Senate employees could use bathrooms and wear clothing that is consistent with their gender identity.

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