Emma González’s summer of activism

By : Karen Ocamb OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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LOS ANGELES | Emma González is famous now. She’d rather be enjoying the summer before college hanging out with friends.

But the Valentine’s Day massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., stole away that carefree freedom, morally forcing the survivors to take on the responsibility of doing something about the gun violence that has impacted more than 150,000 students in the two decades since the mass shooting at Columbine High School.

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Tony Awards: De Niro slams Trump, Parkland students perform

By : MARIAH COOPER OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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ABOVE: Students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, performing Rent’s ‘Seasons Of Love’ at the 2018 Tony Awards. Screenshot via Twitter.

The 72nd annual Tony Awards, hosted by Sara Bareilles and Josh Groban, featured a clean sweep from “The Band’s Visit” and “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts One and Two” as well as plenty of onstage antics.

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Gay-owned company brings Parkland shooter’s brother to Va.

By : Lou Chibbaro Jr OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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ABOVE: Zachary Cruz was arrested for trespassing at the school where his brother allegedly killed 17 people. Photo courtesy Broward County Police.

A Virginia-based company founded by a gay businessman last week arranged for the release from jail of the brother of the Parkland, Fla., shooting suspect who had been arrested in March for trespassing on the grounds of the school in which his brother allegedly killed 17 people.

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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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04.05.18 Tampa Bay Bureau Chief’s Desk

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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It’s often argued that one shouldn’t discuss religion or politics,

so I’d like to talk about both.

When I was in high school, I learned through friends in my Southern Baptist youth group that the deacons of my small-town, smaller-minded church were trying to pray my gay away. Spoiler alert: it didn’t work.

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04.05.18 Central Florida Bureau Chief’s Desk

By : Jeremy Williams
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In many ways I’m just a big kid. Unless a collar shirt is forced upon me, you will almost always find me wearing a pair of baggy jeans and a t-shirt with some cartoon character or pop culture phrase on it.

If you ever have the chance to come by Watermark and sit in my office, you will be greeted by a shelf behind my desk that is littered with a Hillary Clinton action figure, a faux-Oscar, a Baby Groot doll, an Iron Man mask, Wonder Woman and Catwoman Funko Pop! toys and an array of knick knacks and trinkets—most of which were obtained from my monthly Loot Crate subscription or my occasional Happy Meal.

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Homo Erectus: The Evolution of Us – Hope (and Thoughts and Prayers) for Our Gun-Totin’ Future

By : STEVE YACOVELLI
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Steve Yacovelli

The Parkland shooting has yet again re-ignited the great American gun control debate. Both sides of the coin have brought out their best arguments for control/freedom. It’s sadly yet another repeat of the same ol’ “thoughts and prayers” responses we have heard time and time again: from Sandy Hook to Virgina Tech to Las Vegas to our own Pulse massacre. Yet this time something feels a bit different; it feels like a tipping point of sorts.

While there was ample focus after Pulse within our community and beyond to look at common sense gun control, sadly we were constantly met with that “thoughts and prayers” shenanigans from politicians on both sides of the aisle. Some – like Orlando City Commissioner Patty Sheehan and Florida State Representative Carlos Guillermo Smith – passionately reached out to lawmakers to change things. Groups like the Orlando chapter of Gays Against Guns and The Dru Project formed and shouted for gun reform. But nothing seemed to change. Some thought that, gee, if Washington wasn’t moved into action when kindergarteners were gunned down in their own classroom at Sandy Hook, maybe nothing could really turn the dial.

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Gun control rallies take place in Florida, across U.S., around the world

By : Michael K. Lavers OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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ABOVE: A participant in a “March for Our Lives” rally in Tampa, Fla., on March 24, 2018, holds a sign in homage of Emma González, a bisexual student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., who has emerged as a vocal gun control advocate after a gunman killed 17 people inside her school last month. Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers.

TAMPA, Fla. — Hundreds of “March for Our Lives” gun control rallies, marches and protests took place across the U.S. and around the world on Saturday.

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Students march for their lives at the fourth annual Tampa Pride

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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The fight for LGBTQ equality was born when men and women spoke out, stood up and demanded change for a better tomorrow. It’s why we celebrate Pride: to remember our plight and assert that we’ll never be silent again.

Powerful movements often begin with conflict or tragedy, as witnessed more recently at the Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. In February, the school became the site of the country’s latest mass shooting, prompting student survivors to speak out, stand up and demand a change of their own.

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Pride Fund To End Gun Violence looks to the November mid-terms for answers

By : Jeremy Williams
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Pride Fund To End Gun Violence founder and executive director Jason Lindsay remembers in detail the moment he decided to start the organization.

“It all began the day of Pulse,” Lindsay recalls. “I was watching the news like so many other people and saw the tragedy unfold and a pivotal moment was seeing a mom, Christine Leinonen, who was waiting to find out whether her son had survived or not, and she pleaded in a clip that’s been played over and over again asking for somebody to please do something about the assault weapons.”

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LGBT advocates joining next week’s March For Our Lives in D.C.

By : Lou Chibbaro Jr OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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ABOVE: Emma Gonzalez of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School has become one of the faces of the new gun reform movement.

The Human Rights Campaign and the National LGBTQ Task Force are among a large number of LGBT advocacy organizations and LGBT activists expected to participate in a March 24 demonstration in the nation’s capital against gun violence.

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Federal trial begins for wife of Pulse nightclub shooter

By : wire report
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ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Opening statements at her federal trial Wednesday outlined contrasting portraits of the widow of the man who shot and killed 49 people at a gay nightclub in Florida.

Noor Salman, a 31-year-old mother, is charged with aiding and abetting her husband, Omar Mateen, in planning the 2016 attack on the Pulse nightclub.

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