Nicholas Sparks accused of trying to ban LGBTQ club at Christian school

By : Mariah Cooper of the Washington Blade, Courtesy of the National LGBT Media Association
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Author Nicholas Sparks, known for penning bestselling romance novels such as “The Notebook” and “A Walk to Remember,” has been accused of trying to ban an LGBTQ club at a Christian school he co-founded in New Bern, North Carolina.

Sparks has been embroiled in an ongoing legal battle with Epiphany School of Global Studies’ former headmaster, Saul Benjamin.

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PFLAG Tampa paves the way for love in Ybor

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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Watermark’s Most Remarkable People John and Nancy Desmond – community activists known for their work with Tampa Pride, PFLAG and more – have long shared their support for the LGBTQ community throughout Tampa Bay.

On most weekends, the duo can be seen on 7th Ave. in Ybor City proclaiming that support and love, pro-LGBTQ signs in hand across from religious protesters. Now, even if they can’t make it, the protesters will be greeted from below with a paver reading “I love my gay son, PFLAG.”

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Former Obama LGBT liaison named PFLAG executive director

By : Chris Johnson OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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A former White House liaison to the LGBT community in the Obama administration has been named the new chief of PFLAG National, the organization announced Jan. 17.

Brian Bond, who was the first White House LGBT liaison during the Obama administration, is set to become executive director of PFLAG effective Feb. 1.

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Fit to Print: The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

By : Steve Blanchard
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Christmastime is my second favorite time of the year. My favorite holiday has always been Halloween, but all of the cliches during “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year” put me in the jolly spirit every November and December.

I enjoy shopping for gifts (which may be in large part to the miracle that is online retailers), spending time with those closest to me and I am always proud to have one of the brightest homes on the block. I feel like I’m finally the adult that I always wanted to be.

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Rep. Kennedy leads trans rights meeting as House Dems prepare for majority

By : Chris Johnson OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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Ahead of Democrats assuming control of the U.S. House in the next Congress, the Congressional Transgender Task Force led by Rep. Joseph Kennedy III (D-Mass.) held a meeting on Capitol Hill on Dec. 12 with transgender rights supporters to outline priorities amid continuing anti-LGBT policies from the Trump administration.

The meeting was closed to the public, but Kennedy and other participants held a conference call immediately after the discussion to highlight key points, including oversight of the Trump administration’s anti-LGBT policies and advancement in the House of the Equality Act, legislation that would bar discrimination against LGBT people.

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Lakeland filmmaker brings ‘At the End of the Day’ to TIGLFF 29

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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The Tampa Bay International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival (TIGLFF) is one of the largest and longest-running festivals of its kind. Founded in 1990, the 9-day celebration exists to showcase compelling film and video by, for or about the LGBTQ community that entertains, empowers and enlightens audiences. Its 29th year will do exactly that Oct. 5-13.

“It all goes back to community and being together in person,” Director of Programming KJ Mohr says of the festival, “sitting in a theater and experiencing film. You feel the laughter around you, you feel the tension. You’re with people who are like you and have experienced a lot of things you’ve experienced.”
TIGLFF’s screening committee began finalizing this year’s slate of LGBTQ programming in May. Of the hundreds of submissions received, its 20 members pared the festival’s offerings down to just over 30 selections—including Lakeland filmmaker Kevin O’Brien’s comedic drama “At the End of the Day.”

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Verizon donates $250,000 to PFLAG

By : Lou Chibbaro Jr OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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The international telecommunications company Verizon presented a check on Monday for $250,000 to PFLAG, which advocates for families and allies of LGBT people, at the group’s headquarters in Washington.

PFLAG said in a statement that the donation came at the conclusion of a month-long campaign by Verizon in support of PFLAG that included the release of a moving video available for broadcast that captures LGBT young people coming out to their parents.

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Tampa VA’s pride program spotlights aging LGBTQ vets

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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TAMPA | The James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital will hold its annual pride event June 27 to highlight the intricacies of caring for aging LGBTQ veterans.

The event is organized by the hospital’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion in conjunction with its LGBTQSA special emphasis program. According to the hospital, the latter exists “to identify and address barriers, stereotypes and other related issues in the workplace,” to “foster allies, increase awareness of health care issues” and to “advocate for a caring, respectful and welcoming environment for our LGBT veterans, family members and employees.”

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MSNBC’s Reid says homophobic posts were result of hack

By : wire report
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NEW YORK (AP) — MSNBC’s Joy Reid insists that homophobic language in one of her old blog posts is the work of a computer hacker and her security expert said Wednesday they have a strong suspicion of who did it, although he would not name the suspect.

The bizarre tale involving the news network’s rising star is a technical who-dun-it that not everyone believes, given that Reid had admitted in December to similar anti-gay language in the same forum and had apologized for it. A gay rights organization has subsequently backed away from its plans to give an award to Reid, host of the “AM Joy” weekend shows on the cable news network.

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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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PFLAG St Pete January Support Meeting

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PFLAG is America’s largest LGBTQ+ and Ally support organization. The new St. Petersburg chapter holds support group meetings on the third Tuesday of the month at the Metro Wellness & Community Center in St. Pete. If you need support OR know someone who needs support OR would like to offer others support, please join us.

Advocates protest transgender military ban outside White House

By : MICHAEL K. LAVERS of the Washington Blade, courtesy of the National LGBT Media Association
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More than 100 people gathered outside the White House on Wednesday to protest President Trump’s decision to ban transgender people from the U.S. military.

Several trans servicemembers spoke alongside American Military Partner Association President Ashley Broadway-Mack and Diego Sánchez, a trans man who is PFLAG’s director of advocacy, policy and partnerships. Raffi Freedman-Gurspan, a trans woman who is one of former President Obama’s LGBT liaisons, is among those who attended the protest.

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