Legendary ‘Grand Ole Gal of the South’ Carmella Marcella Garcia passes away

By : Jeremy Williams
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ABOVE: Carmella Marcella Garcia performing during the Babes in Bonnets fundraiser at Parliament House in 2018. (Photo by Tabitha Widby)

ORLANDO | George Timothy Reed, better known in the community as Carmella Marcella Garcia, passed away on Oct. 15 after a long-fought battle with cancer. He was 57. Reed was known in the drag community as the the “Grand Ole Gal of the South,” or just Mella to friends.

Reed started his career in Nashville in the mid 80’s performing at the Cabaret, Warehouse 28 and PLAY Dancebar. He worked in over 30 states, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Canada, according to OurCommunityRoots.com. The Kentucky-native won numerous titles and crowns including Miss Gay Orlando, Miss Gay Florida USofA, Miss Gay Florida America, Miss Gay USofA at Large and Miss Universe at Large, just to name a few.

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University of Virginia students seek to end ban of blood donations by gay, bisexual men

By : Wire Report
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ABOVE: Rotunda at University of Virginia. (From Wikimedia Commons)

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) | Several University of Virginia students want to overturn a ban that prohibits sexually active gay and bisexual men from donating blood.

The Daily Progress reports Austin Houck and others have banded together to create Homoglobin, a social welfare organization with branches at other schools including Virginia Tech and the College of William & Mary. The Food and Drug Administration instituted a lifetime donation ban on gay and bisexual men at the height of the AIDS epidemic in 1983.

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onePULSE Foundation makes land purchase for future location of museum

By : Lora Korpar
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ABOVE: The Pulse Interim Memorial. (from onePULSE Foundation’s Facebook)

ORLANDO | The onePULSE Foundation took its next step toward creating the National Pulse Memorial & Museum with a $3.5 million purchase of land near Pulse nightclub in Orlando, the organization announced in a press release Sept. 16.

Scheduled to open in 2022, the museum will honor the 49 victims of the 2016 Pulse shooting. The 1.75-acre parcel of land purchased is located at 438 W. Kaley St.

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LGBTQ youth who are making a difference: Yasmin Flasterstein

By : Jeremy Williams
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25 | Bisexual | She/Her/Hers

Yasmin, who was born in Israel, came to Orlando to study psychology at the University of Central Florida. Her initial involvement in Orlando’s LGBTQ community came by working at Mental Health Association of Central Florida when they created the Orlando United Counseling program in response to the Pulse tragedy. That is also the time that she came out.

“I was inspired to come out by the overwhelming feeling of anger I had after Pulse that made me feel like I shouldn’t be ashamed,” she says. “I felt so much anger by what happened and then I self-reflected on that. It encouraged me to come out and be my authentic self.”

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Equality Florida Action PAC endorses Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer for re-election

By : Jeremy Williams
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ORLANDO | Equality Florida Action PAC endorsed the re-election of Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer in a Facebook post Aug. 22.

“Equality Florida Action PAC is proud to endorse Mayor Buddy Dyer – a champion for our LGBTQ community,” the organization posted.

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2 Pulse survivors to hold ‘ex-gay’ march in Orlando same week leaders look to ban conversion therapy in Orange County

By : Jeremy Williams
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ORLANDO | As LGBTQ leaders and community supporters gathered Aug. 15 at Stonewall Bar in Orlando to hold a rally to ban conversion therapy in Orange County, two Pulse shooting survivors appeared on a Christian podcast to discuss an ex-gay march they plan to hold at Lake Eola next month.

Luis J. Ruiz and Angel Colon—both survivors of the June 12, 2016 mass shooting at Pulse— are claiming they are no longer gay and want to spread their message of “ex-gay” conversion by holding a march at Lake Eola Park in Orlando, less than two miles from Pulse, on Sept. 14.

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Elizabeth McCarthy admits lying about operating on Pulse survivors

By : wire report
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ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) | A former candidate for the Florida Legislature acknowledged to state investigators that she lied when she said she was a medical doctor who had removed 77 bullets from 32 victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting in 2016.

The Florida Department of Health last week issued a cease and desist order against Catherine “Elizabeth” McCarthy, ordering her to stop holding herself out to be a medical doctor.

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Pulse survivors slam Madonna’s graphic music video for ‘God Control’

By : Mariah Cooper OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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Two Pulse nightclub shooting survivors took issue with Madonna’s graphic new music video for “God Control.”

The video depicts a mass shooting at a disco nightclub in what appears to be a nod to the Pulse nightclub shooting in 2016 which claimed 49 lives. Madonna arrives at the club and while everyone is dancing a gunman starts shooting into the crowd and bloody bodies fall to the ground.

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Stonewall Bar Orlando honors the legacy of The Stonewall Inn in NYC

By : Jeremy Williams
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ABOVE: Stonewall Bar Orlando hosting the “Win With Love Rally” on June 18. (Photo by Jeremy Williams)

ORLANDO | The history of The Stonewall Inn in New York City is easy to find these days. A quick Google search of the legendary gay bar turns up more than 31 million search results.

For Steven Watkins, who grew up in a small town, learning the history of LGBTQ people in general—let alone that of The Stonewall Inn—was nonexistent in his early years.

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Florida House candidate Elizabeth McCarthy’s credibility questioned

By : Jeremy Williams
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SANFORD, Fla. | Elizabeth McCarthy—the openly LGBTQ, Democratic candidate running for Florida House District 28, whose full legal name is Catherine Elizabeth McCarthy—has come under fire for inconsistencies about her past, most notably her claims of working as a cardiologist at Orlando Regional Medical Center on June 12, 2016 after the Pulse tragedy.

Florida Politics reported June 15, when confronted about the inconsistencies, McCarthy insisted that “Yes, I am a doctor” and “Yes, I did work the night of Pulse.”

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The Other Side Of Life: Hashtag Amity

By : Jason LeClerc
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I was recently honored to be a guest of Pulse founder Barbara Poma for an intimate talk and tour of the interim #PulseMemorial organized by Equality Florida. As regular readers of this column know, I’m Watermark’s token conservative columnist: a red soul in a sea of blue, even as I have advocated for a just-right-of-center, nuanced approach to political discourse that I call Radical Centrism.

Arguing from a position of empathy and fact-driven rationality in favor of such positions as climate change resiliency, justifiable local taxation and the Florida Competitive Workforce Act, I have riled members of my own Party. In the age of Trump, I’ve become a bit of a #RINOsaur. While there are members of the current Republican power structure who are ready to revoke my membership card for some of my #RadicalCentrist positions, my attendance of an Equality Florida event would likely push them further toward apoplexy.

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Metro Inclusive Health, The Dru Project to present ‘Stonewall to Pulse’

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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ST. PETERSBURG | Metro Inclusive Health and The Dru Project will present “Stonewall to Pulse: A Community Discussion” June 26, an inter-generational event featuring panelists who have experienced LGBTQ milestones firsthand.

The presentation “brings together individuals who experienced some of the most significant events, movements and moments in LGBTQ+ history,” the organizations announced June 1, “including the Stonewall Riots, Pulse Massacre, participation in ACT UP AIDS activism and the brutal murder of Matthew Shepard.”

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