Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis excludes LGBTQ protections from non-discrimination executive order

By : Abigail Brashear
Comments: 0

Gov. Ron DeSantis failed to include LGBTQ protections within an executive order that reaffirmed other existing protections and denied discrimination. 

Executive order 1910 was issued hours after DeSantis was sworn into office on Tuesday and is titled, “Reaffirming Commitment to Diversity in Government.” It repeatedly rejects the idea of discrimination against “age, sex, race, color, religion, national origin, marital status or disability,” but fails to mention anything regarding the topic of gender identity or sexuality orientation. 

Continue Reading >>

We look back on 2018, a midterm year for a country that’s just living on a prayer

By : Jeremy Williams and Ryan Williams-Jent
Comments: 0

It’s been two years since we, as a country, entered into the reality that is the Trump Administration. The country feels more divided than ever and the phrases “fake news” and “it’s all a witch hunt” are commonplace.

The violence that seems to define who Americans are these days is also there, particularly in Florida, where there has been no justice for the five transgender women of color who were murdered and yet another mass shooting—this time at a high school in Parkland, Fla.—pulled the focus of the world to our state.

Continue Reading >>

WatermarkOnline’s Top News Headlines of 2018

By : Watermark Staff
Comments: 0

WatermarkOnline.com had its largest number of visitors in 2018. Hundreds of thousands of readers came to the website throughout the year for the stories that impacted the LGBTQ community in Central Florida, Tampa Bay and across the country.

Below, we have complied the top five headlines from each of our LGBTQ news sections: Central Florida News, Tampa Bay News, State News and Nation & World News. The sections top headlines are based on the number of clicks on each story.

Continue Reading >>

Nikole Parker: onePULSE Foundation Events & Community Outreach Coordinator

By : Barbara Poma
Comments: 0

Barbara Poma

Nikole Parker is a daughter, sister, transwoman, fiance, advocate, employee and friend. But what she is most is the shining hope for our future. Her journey to the woman she is today is what makes her remarkable far beyond a few hundred words.

She left her home in Orlando at the age of 19, to begin her transition. After three years of black market hormones and unsafe lifestyle practices she returned to Orlando to restart her life.

Continue Reading >>

Rep. Anna V. Eskamani (HD47): first Iranian-American woman lawmaker elected in Florida

By : Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith (HD49)
Comments: 0

Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith (HD49)

If you haven’t heard the name Anna V. Eskamani, you have probably been living under a rock … especially since Republicans spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in negative ads to portray Eskamani as a vulgar, radical extremist (they actually made her look like a badass in a leather jacket). Voters made history in November by electing Anna as the first Iranian-American to serve in the Florida Legislature, rewarding her with 57 percent of the vote.

Odds are you have heard of Eskamani, who has become a role model for young people across Orlando. You saw her on the cover of TIME magazine featured as one of many women across the country running for public office hoping to make real change. You read in local newspapers about her healthcare expertise as a senior director for Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida. You watched her lead the Orlando Women’s March or proudly walking in the Come Out With Pride parade at Lake Eola. If not, you more than likely overheard her signature Eskamani-style laugh in person at any number of local community events, since she makes it a point to attend every single one of them.

Continue Reading >>

A look back at The LGBT+ Center of Central Florida as told from some of its executive directors

By : Watermark Staff
Comments: 0

The LGBT+ Center of Central Florida has seen a number of name changes in its several decades as the beacon of Orlando’s LGBTQ community. Throughout its years, The Center has also changed locations, starting with its first brick-and-mortar building on Mills Ave. in 1987. After bouncing to a few different locations on Colonial Dr., it settled in at its current location at 946 N. Mills Ave. in 2000.

Since finding its permanent home, The Center has had some renovations and expansions; adding more safe spaces for the LGBTQ+ community to have gatherings, meetings and parties, or just a comfy chair to sit and have a little quiet time. The Center is many things to many people.

Continue Reading >>

onePULSE Foundation awarded up to $10 million for museum

By : Melanie Ararat
Comments: 0

ORLANDO | The Orange County Board of County Commissioners (BCC) awarded the onePULSE Foundation up to $10 million in hotel-tax revenues  on Oct. 30 to help it acquire land and create designs for its proposed Pulse museum.

The present members at the BCC meeting unanimously approved the funding and the onePULSE Foundation was met with the support of Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs, the Tourism Development Council and the Application Review Committee.

Continue Reading >>

Two Spirit announces $25,000 donation to OnePulse Foundation toward permanent memorial

By : Jaime Donelson
Comments: 0

ORLANDO | Two Spirit Health Services announced Oct. 16 it will be donating $25,000 to the OnePulse Foundation to support the development of a permanent memorial site where the Pulse nightclub tragedy occurred on June 12, 2016.

Two Spirit is a nonprofit organization providing mental health, behavioral, substance abuse, transgender health and related services to the LGBTQ community. Two Spirit’s mission is to provide a “one- stop shop” health center where LGBTQ individuals can obtain expert healthcare by providers comprised of LGBTQ professionals and allies.

Continue Reading >>

New children’s book explains Pulse tragedy to kids

By : Christen Kelly
Comments: 0
ABOVE: Miss Sammy reads “My Tio’s Pulse” to Come Out With Pride festival attendees at Lake Eola’s Amphitheater. Photo by Danny Garcia

ORLANDO | Leaders of the Orlando community gathered for National Coming Out Day Oct. 11 to introduce a new book meant to help children understand tragedies such as the Pulse shooting.

“My Tio’s Pulse” follows main character Angel and his Uncle Luis, who was at Pulse Orlando on June 12, 2016. The story intends to help parents start a conversation with their children about gun violence, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and mental health.The book was created and written by local author Keith Newhouse. As a queer person, Newhouse was deeply affected by Pulse and wanted to do something to help the community.

Continue Reading >>

One Orlando Alliance names Board Chair Jennifer Foster as new Executive Director

By : Jeremy Williams
Comments: 0

ORLANDO | Jennifer Foster, who served as board chair for the One Orlando Alliance since formation, was named the organization’s founding executive director Oct. 11.

Foster’s appointment as the Alliance’s director comes on National Coming Out Day and during Orlando’s Pride Week — a weeklong celebration led by Alliance member Come Out With Pride.

Continue Reading >>

Co-editor Roy G. Guzman talks about the release of ‘Pulse/Pulso,’ an anthology of poems honoring the Pulse victims

By : Gregg Shapiro
Comments: 0

Co-edited by queer writers Roy G. Guzman and Miguel M. Morales, the breathtaking poetry anthology “Pulse/Pulso: In Remembrance of Orlando” (2018, Damaged Goods Press), is a literary tribute to the 49 lives lost and 53 wounded at Pulse nightclub in June 2016.

Containing the work of 18 poets; including Caridad Moro-Gronlier, Chen Chen, Baruch Porras-Hernandez, Monica Palacios, James A.H. White and Tessara Dudley; “Pulse/Pulso” is a powerful, poetic memorial to lives lost and forever changed on that fateful night.

Continue Reading >>

Diversity Mural of mosaic hearts dedicated in Orlando

By : Christen Kelley
Comments: 0

ORLANDO | The Diversity Mural, a rainbow made from more than 700 mosaic hearts, was dedicated to the city of Orlando Sept. 21.

The mural’s mosaic hearts, installed on the side of The Lamp & Shade Fair building at 1336 N. Mills Ave. throughout the month of August and September, were made by people across the U.S. and several other countries throughout the world. To represent diversity, no two hearts in the mural are alike.

Continue Reading >>