Puerto Rico: A year after Hurricane Maria

By : Michael K. Lavers OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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SAN JUAN — Sept. 20 marked a year since Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico.

Many of the U.S. commonwealth’s more than 3 million residents are trying to return to some sense of normalcy, but signs of Maria’s destruction remain visible throughout Puerto Rico. Anger over the pace of recovery and President Trump’s response to Maria remain widespread across the island.

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San Juan mayor: Trump ‘unhinged from any sense of reality’

By : Michael K. Lavers OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz on Wednesday reiterated her sharp criticism of President Trump’s response to Hurricane Maria that devastated Puerto Rico a year ago.

“More than 3,000 people have died, that’s for sure,” she told the Washington Blade during an interview in Old San Juan. “They died of neglect. They died because they couldn’t have their insulin refrigerated because we didn’t have power. They died because hospitals weren’t ready and because hospitals didn’t have power. Those are deaths that could have been preventable and they weren’t.”

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Trans Puerto Ricans can now change gender on birth certificates

By : Michael K. Lavers OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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Transgender people in Puerto Rico are now able to change the gender marker on their birth certificates.

A federal judge in March ruled the U.S. commonwealth’s previous policy — a 2005 decree from the Puerto Rico Supreme Court that said trans people could not amend the gender marker on their birth certificates — was unconstitutional.

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Central Florida Overheard: Fringe Forever

By : anonymous
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The Orlando International Fringe Festival wrapped another hugely successful year with an awards celebration and party on the Fringe lawn at Loch Haven Park this past Memorial Day.

Fringe had well over 100 sold out performances during the course of the 13-day festival, they announced. Then Watermark took the stage to present our readers’ choice 2018 Splash Awards. The big winner of the night was AJ Prats’ “PeeVira’s ScareVan Singalong: Disney Addicktion” which won both Favorite LGBTQ Show and Favorite LGBTQ Lead Performer for Prats.

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Watermark on the Fringe: “El Wiz”

By : Danny Garcia
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A true love letter to Puerto Rico, her people and her culture. This retelling of the classic “Wizard of Oz” is set in modern day Puerto Rico, but instead of our story’s hero Dorothy getting swept up in a tornado, she’s whisked away during Hurricane Maria which devastated the island this past fall.

Touting a very large cast with vocal performances that are quite strong, “El Wiz” blends Latin music, hip-hop and even traditional Afro-Puerto Rican Bomba music – we’re taken on Dorothy’s journey from start to finish in whimsical and family friendly ways. The characters in “El Wiz” are given a modern upgrade and all the incredibly talented performers fit the roles perfectly.

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Federal judge rules Puerto Rico birth certificate gender marker policy unconstitutional

By : Michael K. Lavers OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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A federal judge has ruled Puerto Rico must allow transgender people to change the gender marker on their birth certificates.

Lambda Legal last April filed a lawsuit on behalf of three trans Puerto Ricans and Puerto Rico Para Tod@s, a local advocacy group. U.S. District Court Judge Carmen Consuelo Cerezo in her ruling that she signed on March 28 said the U.S. commonwealth’s birth certificate policy, which the Puerto Rico Supreme Court decreed in 2005, is unconstitutional.

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2018 WAVE Awards Spotlight: Orlando Immunology Center

By : Jeremy Williams
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CENTRAL FLORIDA’S FAVORITE LGBTQ BUSINESS NOT A BAR/CLUB (OVER ONE YEAR), FAVORITE LOCAL HEALTHCARE PROVIDER (DR. EDWIN DEJESUS), WHO SHOULD BE ON THE COVER OF CENTRAL FLORIDA’S WAVE AWARD ISSUE (DR. EDWIN DEJESUS)

The Orlando Immunology Center, commonly referred to as OIC, has been a part of the Central Florida area for more than 40 years. They are the oldest and largest infectious disease clinic in Central Florida—one of the largest in the state—and specialize in the medical needs of the LGBTQ community. It’s no wonder that they were voted Central Florida’s favorite LGBTQ business.

The readers also named OIC medical director Dr. Edwin DeJesus as Central Florida’s favorite local healthcare provider, as well as the person they wanted to see on the cover of this issue.

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Puerto Rico governor vetoes religious freedom bill

By : Michael K. Lavers OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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ABOVE: Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló on Feb. 7, 2018, vetoed a religious freedom bill that critics said would have allowed anti-LGBT discrimination. Image by Nicolas Raymond; courtesy Flickr.

Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló on Wednesday vetoed a religious freedom bill that critics contend would have allowed anti-LGBT discrimination in the U.S. commonwealth.

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Puerto Ricans with HIV/AIDS continue to struggle after Maria

By : Michael K. Lavers OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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ABOVE: Anselmo Fonseca of Pacientes de SIDA Pro Política Sana, left, works with Jesús Cruz, a social worker at Bill’s Kitchen, a San Juan-based organization that prepares meals for people with HIV/AIDS, to serve food to the elderly after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico on Sept. 20, 2017. Photo courtesy of Anselmo Fonseca/Pacientes de SIDA pro Política Sana

The situation for people with HIV/AIDS in Puerto Rico remains precarious three months after Hurricane Maria devastated the island.

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Puerto Rico Senate approves religious freedom bill

By : Michael K. Lavers OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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The Puerto Rico Senate has approved a religious freedom bill that critics contend would allow anti-LGBT discrimination in the U.S. commonwealth. Activists and their supporters have urged Gov. Ricardo Rosselló to veto the measure. Image by Nicolas Raymond; courtesy Flickr

The Puerto Rico Senate on Sunday approved a religious freedom bill that critics contend would allow anti-LGBT discrimination in the U.S. commonwealth.

The bill — which is known as the Law for the Protection of Religious Liberty in Puerto Rico — notes the U.S. and Puerto Rican constitutions guarantee freedom of religion. The measure also states “it is important to remember the situations of confrontations that the religious sector experienced in the past administration where the public education sector tried to impose an ideology contrary to parents’ Christian principles.”

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Puerto Rico’s first LGBT monument undamaged by Hurricane Maria

By : MICHAEL K. LAVERS of the Washington Blade, courtesy of the National LGBT Media Association
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Editor’s note: This is part two of a two-part interview with San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz that the Washington Blade conducted on Nov. 1, 2017, at the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center in D.C. Part one of the interview can be found here.

The mayor of the Puerto Rican capital of San Juan on Wednesday said Hurricane Maria did not damage the U.S. commonwealth’s first LGBT-specific monument.

Carmen Yulín Cruz on June 26, 2016, formally unveiled the monument — which is located in San Juan’s oceanfront Third Millennium Park — during the city’s annual Pride parade.

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San Juan mayor struggles to help people with HIV/AIDS

By : MICHAEL K. LAVERS of the Washington Blade, courtesy of the National LGBT Media Association
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Editor’s note: This is part one of a two-part interview with San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz the Washington Blade conducted on Nov. 1, 2017, at the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center in D.C.

The mayor of the Puerto Rican capital of San Juan on Wednesday said her government is doing everything it can to help people with HIV/AIDS in the wake of Hurricane Maria.

Carmen Yulín Cruz noted to the Washington Blade during a press conference at the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center there is a clinic for adults and children with AIDS in San Juan. She said officials “stocked up” on medications and other supplies before Maria made landfall on Puerto Rico’s southeast coast on Sept. 20 with 155 mph winds.

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