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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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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Central Florida Overheard: Patty passed up

By : Anonymous
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Over the Jan. 20 and 21 weekend across the country, women and men joined together to march on the one year anniversary of the original Women’s March held the day after President Trump’s inauguration.

The Orlando march was on Sunday, Jan. 21, at Lake Eola. The peaceful demonstration featured several speakers, but one prominent member of the LGBTQ community and a female elected official seems to have not been invited.

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PHOTOS: Dedication of the Pulse Memorial Labyrinth

By : Maia Monet
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Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, Commissioner Patty Sheehan, Pulse owner Barbara Poma, Pulse survivors, and members of law enforcement joined with LGBTQ citizens and allies for the dedication of the Pulse Memorial Labyrinth at Colonialtown Square Park on Dec 21.

The Orlando United rainbow heart at the center of the memorial is surrounded by the labyrinth outlined in brick. The outer edge is made up of 49 equal pieces of granite inscribed in gold with the names of each Pulse victim. After the dedication and a request to hold hands for a group prayer, those gathered were invited to walk the labyrinth in memory of those lost in the tragedy.

More photos of the proceedings after the jump and video clips have been posted to the Watermark Instagram page.

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The GLBT Center of Central Florida celebrates its new renovation with ribbon cutting, open house

By : Jeremy Williams
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ORLANDO | The GLBT Center of Central Florida reopened their doors after a nearly three year renovation with a ribbon cutting ceremony and open house Aug. 31.

The event was well attended by local and state officials, members of the community and media as Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, City Commissioner Patty Sheehan and Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy spoke to the crowd and then cut the ribbon officially opening The Center.

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Central Florida elected officials gather at JOY MCC to stand with the transgender community

By : Jeremy Williams
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(ABOVE: (L-R) Orange County District 5 Commissioner Emily Bonilla, Florida Senator Linda Stewart, Orlando District 5 Commissioner Regina Hill, JOY MCC Senior Pastor Rev. Terri Steed Pierce, Orange County District 3 Commissioner Pete Clarke, Florida House District 49 Representative Carlos Guillermo Smith, Orlando District 4 Commissioner Patty Sheehan.)

ORLANDO | Nearly two dozen elected officials are standing in solidarity with the transgender community after President Donald Trump’s tweets last week announcing a ban on trans people serving in the U.S. military.

Eric Rollings, Orange County’s Soil and Water Conservation Chair, spoke from the pulpit at JOY Metropolitan Community Church July 30, reading from a list of Central Florida politicians who stated they unequivocally stand with the LGBTQ community, especially with the transgender community in light of the recent attacks.

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Organizers want confederate statue removed from Lake Eola Park in time for June 12 Pulse events

By : Billy Manes
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ORLANDO – He may go by the name “Johnny Reb,” but the statue that has become one of Orlando’s more recent persons of interest – and controversy – isn’t representative of one man or woman, but rather the Confederate soldiers of Orlando. The issue of the statue’s placement in the main thoroughfare around Lake Eola has raised hackles among progressives, the black community and the LGBTQ community in recent weeks due to a number of reasons, the least of which being its nomenclature.

“After last year’s Pulse massacre, local officials stood up against hatred and saluted diversity,” activist David Porter says in a YouTube video.

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This morning’s announcement of the Pulse memorial was short on information, full of emotion

By : Billy Manes
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This morning, May 4, 2017, a pall fell over the inside of the tribute gates of the oft-visited Pulse Orlando nightclub, where thousands have paid their respects to the 49 killed on June 12, 2016. The event was announced nearly a week before, but the details of what was going on were amorphous at best. The Pulse site would become a permanent memorial, the original April 25 press release read, leaving out any finite details.

“Pulse has always been a part of me, but after this tragedy which took 49 lives, it became a part of this community and the world,’’ Poma explained in the press release. “When this event happened, I had no clue how expansive the love for Pulse was. It’s important that we as a community be mindful and take great care to preserve, honor and help heal.”

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Day of Love and Kindness announced to honor Pulse anniversary

By : Billy Manes
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ORLANDO – While there will certainly be a number of events launched in the coming months to pay homage to those who suffered from the June 12 massacre at Pulse, the city and the county are preparing for the event in the best way they know how. A “Day of Love and Kindness” has been planned to coincide with vigils at the Pulse site, Lake Eola and the History Center.

Orlando’s LGBTQ Alliance, which formed in the wake of the tragedy, is working with the municipal governments to make “love and kindness” matter. Alliance member Jennifer Foster of Foster Productions Inc. says that June 12 should be a day where everyone makes a special effort to be kind in traffic, maybe donate blood and generally be good to locals.

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Rose Parade float honored Pulse shooting victims

By : Wire Report
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PASADENA, Calif. (AP) – The colorful and lively Rose Parade marched safely Jan. 2 under cloudy skies and the watchful presence of more than 1,000 law enforcement officers.

The 5½-mile parade featured marching bands, horseback riders and dozens of ornately decorated flower-covered floats.

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A toast and a stumble through 2016, the year we will never forget

By : Billy Manes and Jeremy Williams
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We could go on and on about our gripes with the letter “P” this year, generally circulating around two terms: “Pulse” and “Politics.” So, indeed, that’s what we’ll do. Though we may have seen some wonderful developments in the year that God forgot, for the most part, many of us are grabbing at straws, trying to make sense of how it is that we descended so deeply, that we became the eye of the target of absolute terror.

Some may say that 2016 was the backlash for all of the gifts we were given by 2015, most notably marriage equality in both state and nation. Others might opine that there is something else going on here with the media, with conspiracies, with a new Cold War. We can’t be certain, but we certainly have each other’s backs, as has been proven by the many acts of kindness that rose up to meet the beast of an election year gone awry and a local community cut to its core. We are not a weak people; we have seen trouble before. But this year owns a special place in our hearts, one we hope that heals over without forgetting those who suffered and those who commandeered offenses that none of us could have been prepared for.

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12.15.16 Editor’s Desk

By : Billy Manes
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It’s a hazy shade of winter as we approach the last red “X,” the last box of chance on the calendar, the last few weeks of what we’ve loving deemed “The Worst Year Ever.”

Though, as those who enjoy entertaining ideas and whirligigs alike on back porches of good fortune and good drinks, 2016 has been far from the panacea we would have all hoped for. This has been an obstacle course wrapped around a flaming memorial, a loop of freedom and credence tied up around a window-bound stone of terror. We’ve got to get out of this place.

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