Orlando officer who responded to Pulse massacre to get early retirement

By : Wire Report
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ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) – A city pension board has granted early-retirement benefits to an Orlando police officer who was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder after he responded to the shooting massacre at Pulse.

The Orlando Police Pension Board granted the benefits to 37-year-old Officer Gerry Realin July 13 after a hearing.

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FBI returns items taken during Pulse shooting investigation

By : Wire Report
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ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) – The FBI is returning items to survivors and the families of those killed six months after the mass shooting at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub.

The agency collected some 1,000 items during the investigation into the June 12 shooting that killed 49 people. The items were made available for pickup last week at an Orlando resort.

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New photo exhibit examines aftermath of Pulse shooting

By : Wire and Staff Reports
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ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) – Snap! Downtown will open a new photography exhibit Oct. 5 looking at how the community responded to the Pulse massacre.

The exhibit, titled ‘UNISON’ and opening during Come Out With Pride week, will feature photographs taken by news organizations in the days after 49 patrons were murdered at the gay nightclub.

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Lawsuits filed over possible release of Pulse shooting 911 calls

By : Alex Storer
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Two lawsuits are filed in Orange County in an attempt to clarify the potential public release of 911 calls related to the Pulse shooting.

The first lawsuit, filed by the City of Orlando June 23, asks the Orange County court to clarify how the City should proceed with the recordings of 603 calls made to 911 during the Pulse shooting and four calls between emergency services and the shooter, Omar Mateen. According to their lawsuit, which names the Associated Press as a defendant, the City hasn’t yet released the calls “out of respect for the Pulse shooting victims and their families.”

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UCF now offers PREP

By : Wire Report
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Orlando (AP) – The University of Central Florida’s health center has begun offering a drug that helps prevent an HIV-negative person from becoming infected with the virus.

The Orlando Sentinel reports UCF is joining a number of schools that are beginning to offer pre-exposure prophylaxis (PREP).

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LGBT tech hero Carlos Carbonell hailed at Sentinel’s Central Floridian of the Year gala

By : Billy Manes
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Betwixt the rain, the rush-hour traffic and a packed concert next door, the Orlando Sentinel held its first Central Floridian of the Year event on the evening of Jan. 28 at the Pegasus Ballroom within the University of Central Florida’s student union. Hosted by everybody’s favorite “aw, shucks” political columnist Scott Maxwell, and attended by all of the mucky-mucks and the editorial board members that have crossed them at one time or another (plus Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and his entourage … oh, and the amazing philanthropist Harriet Lake, who left the house for the first time in a long time despite her illness), the catered soiree was just about what you would expect it to be. We had the stuffed chicken.

What we didn’t expect, however, was the presence of LGBT tech entrepreneur Carlos Carbonell, who was shortlisted as one of the finalists for the prestigious Sentinel award. We’ve known other winners and nominees in the past, and you’re not allowed to talk about it. What happens in the paper’s mahogany boardroom STAYS in said boardroom.

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Philanthropic organizations are rallying for more LGBT donations

By : Stephen Miller
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More fundraisers are seeking LGBT funds, and not just from and for our own community.

LGBT people keep coming out, getting involved, marrying and mainstreaming –growing more acceptable in the larger society. Because of this, many fundraisers are reaching out with targeted marketing. It’s a significant shift from once quietly refusing LGBT donations or disregarding us to ones that now actively court our community.

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Founder’s Day: Redefining my arc

By : Tom Dyer
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Tom Dyer Watermark gay

Tom Dyer

I decided to sell Watermark to our talented publisher, Rick Claggett, some time ago. In fact, I considered timing the transition to coincide with our 20th anniversary celebration last fall. But I wasn’t ready.

Last week I finally shared my plans with Watermark’s staff, just before the lunch break at our year-end retreat. I’d been contemplating the details for months,so my emotional reaction was a surprise. The shocked look on their faces illuminated something I had avoided: that a remarkable chapter of my life was ending. Along with some staff members, I shed a few tears.

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Overheard in Orlando: The ghost of Fred Berliner

By : Anonymous
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All things Pointe to staying open
The Orlando Sentinel recently reported that the remaining restaurant for FMI, Funky Monkey at Pointe Orlando, wanted out of their lease, which was set to expire in 2019. Claiming that the construction walls that temporarily went up last year as part of an improvement overhaul of Pointe Orlando hurt their business, FMI balked. Of course, FMI had also filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy in December of last year. Despite the high International Drive convention and tourist traffic, often boasted on their Facebook page that packed the restaurant, Eddie Nickell said that he and Nick Olivieri (who co-own FMI) were looking to move their business elsewhere plan to expand into a larger space. As of last week, Eddie Nickell said they were in the final stages of having a plan of reorganization approved by the courts and, despite the Sentinel’s story, Eddie said all of their creditors are on board with them. The plan will be to continue at full operation until June.

Give & Receive
Twas the season of giving and all through the land, people were providing, but mostly to a bigoted red can. But in its place there are other diverse people with needs. Like GLBT Center and Hope and Help with a pantry that feeds. With a call put out to all the helpers out there, folks from Brighthouse to the Prime Timers showed up with good tiding to share. Bikes were delivered for children to ride and even basic toiletries to help those on the side. You see, this season is about love and community and helping those that help others that let live and be judgment free.

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Why does the Holy Land Experience keep getting away with pretending to be a church?

By : Michael Wanzie
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Michael Wanzie

Michael Wanzie

It is no secret that about three weeks ago I personally placed the phone call to the Orlando Sentinel informing the publication that Holy Land Experience Theme Park (HLE) had painted a mural on the retaining walls which support the I-4 west-bound exit onto Conroy Road boarding HLE property. The mural consists of an angel and a scroll that is rolled open to reveal a watery-blue backdrop meant to blend in with HLE park theming. I encouraged Sentinel journalists to investigate whether or not HLE theme park sought permission from the City of Orlando and/or the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) to create the mural.

I have legitimate concerns when I see a business defacing public property for the purposes of enhancing a private, profit-making enterprise. The powers that be at Trinity Broadcasting Network (the the money-bilking machine that owns the park) can carry on all they want about how their business is not a theme park but rather a church or a museum – thus justifying the tax-free status reprehensibly bestowed upon the theme park by Republican lawmakers in Tallahassee – but let’s be real here; on its web site, HLE lists its $50 entrance fee as a “Gate Price.” One passes through a turnstile to enter an attraction overflowing with gift shops. The park presents a nighttime fountain and light show, and HLE is currently in the process of installing a Putt Putt-style 9-hole mini golf course. HLE recently announced the repurposing of their “Smile of A Child” interactive children’s playground into the (get this) “The Trin-i-Tee Miniature Golf Course” at the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions Expo.

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The man in the wings: George Wallace flies high with Fringe

By : Samantha Rosenthal
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While many people know him for his work with the Orlando International Fringe Festival, George Wallace has a lot more going on behind the scenes.

“When I look back at 2015, there were so many more positives than there were negatives, so I think that it was a fabulous year,” Wallace says.

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Rest in Peace: Local hero Michael Moriarty takes his final bow

By : Stephen Miller
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michael moriartyLocal activist, writer, and spiritual leader Dr. Michael Moriarty passed away on Dec. 2 in his Winter Park home after a brief illness. He was 74. Michael was a retired professor, Zen monk, artist, actor, tour guide, gardener, and writer. He was well regarded in many local organizations in arts, politics, Zen Buddhism and the LGBT community.

Michael was born in Goshen, Indiana, on February 7, 1941. He earned his PhD in Comparative Literature from Indiana University in Bloomington in 1971. Michael made a career teaching college English, literature and even some Spanish and French at Valley City State University in North Dakota. After retiring in 1996, he moved to central Florida. He outlived many of his friends, who were lost to AIDS. Because of this, Michael maintained a lifelong commitment to living healthy in mind, body, and spirit.

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