LGBTQ youth who are making a difference: Michael G. Batista

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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28 | Gay | He/Him/His

Florida’s 13th congressional district covers Pinellas County from Clearwater through St. Petersburg.

Nearly 730,000 Floridians call the area home, as does St Pete Pride—Florida’s largest LGBTQ Pride celebration and one of the largest in the country. It’s no surprise then that Rep. Charlie Crist, an LGBTQ ally who represents the district, sought out Michael G. Batista.

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High Fidelity: Talking the talk

By : Miguel Fuller
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Not long before the beginning of Pride season I was asked to be the keynote speaker at the 36th Annual International AIDS Candlelight Memorial Service in Pinellas Park. I was nervous because I didn’t want to speak on a subject I wasn’t very versed in.

After having conversations with friends living with HIV and doing a lot of research, I sat down and wrote the speech that I shared from the heart. I shared the story about the first time I went for an HIV test. 

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Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas County announces Pride Build

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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ST. PETERSBURG | Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas County has announced its inaugural Pride Build, inviting members of the LGBTQ community and their allies to build a home in St. Petersburg.

Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas County is a locally run affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International, the global nonprofit housing organization that builds and sells homes to qualified buyers at zero percent interest and no profit.

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Stef Reynolds: NextGen Pinellas County Field Organizer

By : Tristan Pike
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Tristan Pike

People tend to find their way to activism, particularly political activism, because of an issue that affects them personally. However, it takes more than just having a personal stake in the fight that makes someone successful in doing campaign fieldwork.

It takes tenacity to never take no for an answer, endurance to work 14-hour days, weeks on end and an acrobatic level of flexibility to adjust to constantly changing plans. Stef Reynolds, the Pinellas County field organizer for NextGen America, has all of these attributes and more.

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Johnny Boykins: Pinellas County Young Democrats President, Pinellas County Democratic Party Vice Chair

By : Bobbi Lindaman
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In barely one year, Johnny took the Pinellas County Young Democrats (P.C.Y.D.) from a defunct group to a unified force in the Pinellas County Democratic Party. He took on the daunting task of keeping our members organized and motivated during a historically heated midterm election. While it was an uphill climb, I do not believe there is a single young Democrat who regrets the work we did on our state and local campaigns.

Johnny’s pragmatic approach to running the club always brought the focus of our work back home to real issues facing the people of this county. We knocked on countless doors, made phone calls and texts and reached out to minority groups in our community to engage them in the democratic process. We talked with residents about expanding health care, criminal justice reform, recognizing climate change, public education and more local issues like affordable housing, transportation, food security, gun reforms and engaging new and younger voters. 

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EPIC Generations coalition forms to support aging LGBTQ community

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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ST. PETERSBURG | Empath Partners in Care (EPIC), a member of Empath Health, has formed EPIC Generations—a new coalition dedicated to serving LGBTQ elders throughout Pinellas County.

EPIC Generations stems from the nonprofit’s partnership with the St. Petersburg-based Project Generations Coalition, an alliance of over a dozen elder care advocates. It was formed by area resident Chris Almvig, one of the founding members of SAGE, the country’s oldest and largest nonprofit dedicated to improving the lives of LGBTQ elders.

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Community organizations form Zero Pinellas initiative to combat HIV

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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ST. PETERSBURG | Seven community organizations have partnered to form Zero Pinellas, an initiative granted $2,207,694 over three years to reduce new HIV infections in Pinellas County by at least 50 percent.

The participating organizations—the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, The AIDS Institute, BayCare, Empath Health and EPIC, the Florida Department of Health in Pinellas County and Metro Wellness and Community Centers—were granted the funds by the Foundation for a Healthy St. Petersburg. The private foundation uses its funds to support health equity countywide.

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We look at St. Petersburg’s (partisan) non-partisan primary mayoral race between Baker and Kriseman

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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On August 29, St. Petersburg could choose its next mayor. According to the Pinellas County supervisor of elections, 169,770 residents of the city will be eligible to vote in the upcoming primary election, meaning that 169,770 residents of the Sunshine City will have one of three choices that day.

First, to elect the next mayor. Second, to send two candidates to a run-off election in November, should no one receive 50 percent plus one of the vote. Or third, to stay home and let every other eligible voter decide on their behalf.

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As sexually transmitted diseases are on the rise, the battle for LGBTQ sex ed in schools is more important than ever

By : Samuel Johnson
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Another tale of twin cities is encapsulated in twin counties, both nestled on the Tampa Bay. St. Petersburg occupies the southern borders of the bay and Tampa hugs the northern shoreline; Pinellas County and Hillsborough County respectfully.

Like most twin cities, these twin counties are dealing with some of the same civic and social challenges: shared infrastructure or shared natural resources or even shifting residential patterns. Another aspect that these twin counties share is the startling rates of sexually risky behavior among their youth, which manifests itself in high rates of sexual infections and diseases.

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Uprisings: Diminishing returns

By : Billy Manes
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Though anyone who is taking the time to read this missive understands that this writer’s cynicism weighs more than two heavy bricks in two large pockets, the fact that the Aug. 30 primary only drew a 20 percent crowd in Orange County – and a similar number in Pinellas County – is a bit of a kick in the teeth. In some ways, I’ll take the blame. I was asked by numerous voters who to vote for, but I didn’t have the time to just throw numbers and precincts in their faces. I also didn’t, perhaps, do my due diligence in making that clear.

In a primary, in a gay paper, we don’t generally parse details. You’re with us, or you’re against us. We aren’t going to vote Republican, generally, so there’s that (sorry about your logs). The pols that have been with us were very clear in their messaging, and we likely profiled them in the past. The ones who are against us? Well, there aren’t enough ticks in a clock for us to deal with them at any reasonable length. So, on one hand, I’m issuing an apology. If any news source should be standing and screaming into the district-depths of individual primaries, it should be us, mine, the one that I edit. On the other hand, these are small towns and there are a lot of voices, many of which are familiar with my contact information, so I didn’t want to sink into the quicksand of political gamesmanship. In fact, because of social media, I did make some personal comments on personal pages, and I may have overstepped and come off as a dick.

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Marriage equality could signal the death of domestic partnerships and the benefits they bestow

By : Jamie Hyman
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It seems simple enough. When same-sex couples couldn’t legally get married, cities and counties created domestic partnerships, so that those couples could receive some of the benefits and protections marriage provides. Now that same-sex couples can legally marry, domestic partnerships are redundant and can be eliminated, right?

Not so fast.

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Santa Speedo Run returns to Ybor Dec. 14

By : Zach Caruso
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Tampa – Santa Claus is coming to town. And so is Mrs. Claus—in a bra.

The 2014 Santa Speedo Run will return on Dec. 14 to Centennial Park in Ybor City, and this year it will be host to a brand new co-event dubbed “Mrs. Claus in Bras.”

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