The Last Page: Abbie Rolf

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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The Last Page is dedicated to individuals who are making a positive impact on the LGBTQ community in Central Florida and Tampa Bay.

This issue, we check in with Healing Village owner, mental health counselor and PFLAG St. Pete President Abbie Rolf from Tampa Bay. Keep an eye on this space to learn more about the movers and shakers of your community.

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“My mom advocated for me as a gay man, now it’s my turn to advocate for her”: Orlando man joins Walk to End Alzheimer’s for his mother

By : Lora Korpar
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ABOVE: Garden pinwheels advertising the upcoming Walk to End Alzheimer’s.

ORLANDO | David Shaw came out to his parents in 2001. To his relief, his mother was loving and fiercely accepting of him as a gay man, changing her life to advocate for her son’s acceptance. Now Shaw says it is his turn.

Carol Shaw was a business manager at her Alabama town’s local church counseling clinic. After her coworkers found out about her son’s sexuality, they treated her differently, eventually driving her away from her job.

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LGBTQ youth who are making a difference: Brandon Scott Kiley

By : Jeremy Williams
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25 | Transgender Male | He/Him/His

Brandon found the Orlando Youth Alliance (OYA) at a point in his life when he needed it the most.

He was homeschooled by his parents and raised in the church. When he finally decided to ask about “the gay thing,” Brandon and his family’s path changed forever.

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LGBTQ youth who are making a difference: Lucas Wehle

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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27 | Transgender, Queer | He/Him/His

As the Trans Services Division Manager at Metro Inclusive Health, Lucas Wehle fights for the LGBTQ community daily.

Through the health care organization’s many services, he and his team of peers connect members of the transgender community to essential resources. His role with the company began four years ago, when he was hired to expand Metro’s transgender and youth programming. Wehle served as coordinator for their youth program for more than a year until the organization identified a need for a more comprehensive approach. He became their transgender care navigator, bridging the gap between clients and services.

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Activists in NM city rally around LGBTQ migrants

By : Michael K. Lavers of the Washington Blade, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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ABOVE: Members of AVID in the Chihuahuan Desert volunteer at the Las Cruces Womxn’s Rally in Las Cruces, N.M., on Jan. 19, 2019. Photo courtesy of AVID in the Chihuahuan Desert.

LAS CRUCES, N.M. | Ivan, a 25-year-old gay man from Uganda, entered the U.S. on Christmas Day 2018 when he crossed the Rio Grande from Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, to El Paso, Texas.

Ivan told the Washington Blade during an interview at the offices of Alianza of New Mexico, a Las Cruces-based HIV/AIDS service organization, on July 15 that anti-gay discrimination and his family’s decision to reject him because of his sexual orientation prompted him to leave Uganda.

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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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