onePULSE Foundation’s Barbara Poma discusses the future of the Pulse memorial and museum

By : Jeremy Williams
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ABOVE: Barbara Poma speaks during the two-year mark of the Pulse tragedy at the interim memorial. Photo by Maia Monet

ORLANDO | The onePULSE foundation announced March 25 that it is launching an international design competition challenging architects from around the world to create a unique and iconic National Pulse Memorial and Museum.

While the look of the final project will be left to the winning design team, the competition does layout three key elements that will be a part of the finished product: a memorial, a museum and pedestrian pathway known as “Survivors Walk.”

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CommUNITY Rainbow Run to honor Pulse victims, releases new medal design

By : Abigail Brashear
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ABOVE: Runners make their way through the streets of Orlando as part of the 2018 4.9k CommUNITY Rainbow Run. Photo by Jeremy Williams

ORLANDO | Registration has opened for the third annual 4.9k CommUNITY Rainbow Run, scheduled to take place on June 8. The event is hosted by Orlando Health and Nike, and produced in partnership with UCF’s DeVos Sport Business Management Program. Organizers of the 2019 Rainbow Run, which honors the 49 victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting by benefiting the onePULSE Foundation, have also released images of the run’s new medal.

According to a press release sent out by the onePULSE Foundation, this year’s medal is full of symbolism. Designed by the Yellow Shoes Creative Group at the Walt Disney World Resort and the onePULSE Foundation, the front of the medal is etched with a rainbow feature and the onePULSE logo in place of the zero in 2019. On the back of the medal is a pair of angel wings with 49 feathers, in addition to the quote, “We will not let hate win.” To top it off, the medal hangs from a white lanyard with 49 doves on it.

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Pulse survivor accepts position at Equality Florida

By : Abigail Brashear
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ORLANDO | Brandon Wolf, a 30-year-old Pulse survivor and LGBTQ activist, recently accepted a full-time position at Equality Florida as the Central Florida development officer and the statewide media relations manager. He says he is happy to pursue his interest on a scale larger than “weekend activism.”

“Equality Florida and I have always had a really strong relationship,” Wolf says. “There’s so much I want to be able to do to help my community and the state of Florida.”

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Melbourne police make arrest in faked bomb threat called into Space Coast no-labels bar

By : Lauren Lee
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WEST MELBOURNE, Fla. | The West Melbourne Police Department announced Feb. 4 that the individual who called in a bomb threat to Twisted Rooster, a no-labels bar in Melbourne, has been arrested.

The caller, identified by police as 18-year-old Randolph Goodwin, contacted Twisted Rooster on Jan. 31 at 4:45 p.m., asked if the business was open yet and if it was a gay bar.

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OnePULSE Foundation to honor Parkland victims at one-year mark of school shooting

By : Abigail Brashear
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ORLANDO | OnePULSE Foundation announced that it will begin honoring victims from the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Fla. on Feb. 7 at the Pulse Interim Memorial.

According to a press release sent out by the foundation, a banner will hang at Pulse for “community members to leave messages of love, hope and support.” They will also tie 17 ribbons – one for each of the victims – on trees at the memorial.

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Come Out With Pride announces intent to host WorldPride during Pulse 10-year mark

By : Jeremy Williams
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ORLANDO | Come Out With Pride (COWP) announced in a press conference at The Venue Jan. 23 that they plan to bid to host WorldPride in Central Florida in 2026.

InterPride, an international organization that ties Pride together globally, brings WorldPride to major cities across the globe every two to six years. This year WorldPride will take place in New York City to coincide with the 50-year mark of the Stonewall riots. Several members from the COWP board will be in attendance at the event this June.

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

By : Abigail Brashear
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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. 

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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
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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.

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WatermarkOnline’s Top News Headlines of 2018

By : Watermark Staff
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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.

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Nikole Parker: onePULSE Foundation Events & Community Outreach Coordinator

By : Barbara Poma
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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.

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

By : Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith (HD49)
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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.

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

By : Watermark Staff
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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.

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