Never again, but why now?

By : Jamie Hyman
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In the weeks since a shooter killed 17 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., survivors have been featured in a town hall on national television, visited the Florida Legislature and led a march of more than a million protesters nationwide, demanding sensible gun control.

In the weeks following the shooting at Pulse nightclub in 2016, the levels of advocacy and response were far more muted, which is forcing members of the LGBTQ community to wonder why, after a mass shooting that at the time was the deadliest in U.S. history, government officials, the media and the nation failed to rally behind the Pulse survivors with the volume and intensity that are leading millions to take action today.

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The LGBT+ Center Orlando to open second location in Kissimmee

By : Jeremy Williams
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ORLANDO | The LGBT+ Center Orlando, Inc.’s board of directors announced April 6 that they will be expanding into Osceola County with an LGBT+ Center in Kissimmee.

The new expansion is a result of a donation from the Contigo Fund, an initiative of Our Fund Foundation that emerged from the Pulse massacre. Program Director Marco Antonio Quiroga said, in a press release, that the Contigo Fund recognizes the road to recovery for the survivors continues, and will continue for years to come.

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Pulse shooting survivors sue Google, Facebook, Twitter for ‘providing support and resources to ISIS’

By : Jeremy Williams
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ORLANDO | Sixteen survivors from the June 12, 2016 massacre at Pulse Orlando filed a federal lawsuit in the Middle District Court of Florida April 4 against Google, Facebook and Twitter asserting the online media titans provided “material support” to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, commonly referred to as ISIS.

The 122-page lawsuit states the plaintiffs are seeking damages against the three companies “for aiding, abetting, and knowingly providing support and resources to ISIS, the notorious designated foreign terrorist organization that carried out the June 12, 2016 terrorist attack in Orlando, Florida, that killed 49 innocent civilians and wounded some 53 others.” The lawsuit goes on to list the 16 plaintiffs.

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04.05.18 Tampa Bay Bureau Chief’s Desk

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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It’s often argued that one shouldn’t discuss religion or politics,

so I’d like to talk about both.

When I was in high school, I learned through friends in my Southern Baptist youth group that the deacons of my small-town, smaller-minded church were trying to pray my gay away. Spoiler alert: it didn’t work.

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04.05.18 Central Florida Bureau Chief’s Desk

By : Jeremy Williams
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In many ways I’m just a big kid. Unless a collar shirt is forced upon me, you will almost always find me wearing a pair of baggy jeans and a t-shirt with some cartoon character or pop culture phrase on it.

If you ever have the chance to come by Watermark and sit in my office, you will be greeted by a shelf behind my desk that is littered with a Hillary Clinton action figure, a faux-Oscar, a Baby Groot doll, an Iron Man mask, Wonder Woman and Catwoman Funko Pop! toys and an array of knick knacks and trinkets—most of which were obtained from my monthly Loot Crate subscription or my occasional Happy Meal.

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PHOTOS: Protest at Pulse after trial verdict

By : Maia Monet
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After Noor Salman was found not guilty on all charges today, protesters made their feelings on the verdict known at Pulse. As cars passed by honking their support, the protesters stood stoically and silently carrying signs that read “We will not let hate win.”

More photos after the jump below.

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Widow of Pulse gunman acquitted

By : MICHAEL K. LAVERS of the Washington Blade, courtesy of the National LGBT Media Association
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A jury on Friday acquitted Noor Salman of charges that she helped her husband carry out the 2016 massacre at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fla.

Federal prosecutors charged Salman with obstruction of justice and providing material support to a foreign terrorism organization in connection with the June 12, 2016, shooting that left 49 people dead and 53 others injured. Salman’s trial began earlier this month at a federal courthouse in downtown Orlando that is roughly two miles from the Pulse nightclub.

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Prosecutors: Pulse Nightclub shooter intended to attack Disney Springs

By : wire report
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ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — The Orlando nightclub shooter intended to attack Disney World’s shopping and entertainment complex by hiding a gun in a stroller but became spooked by police and instead chose the gay club as his target, prosecutors said Wednesday.

Prosecutors revealed those details during their closing arguments in the trial of Noor Salman, the widow of Pulse nightclub shooter Omar Mateen. Salman, 31, is accused of helping her husband in the attack that killed 49 people in 2016. She is charged with obstruction and providing material support to a terrorist organization and faces up to life in prison if convicted.

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Homo Erectus: The Evolution of Us – Hope (and Thoughts and Prayers) for Our Gun-Totin’ Future

By : STEVE YACOVELLI
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Steve Yacovelli

The Parkland shooting has yet again re-ignited the great American gun control debate. Both sides of the coin have brought out their best arguments for control/freedom. It’s sadly yet another repeat of the same ol’ “thoughts and prayers” responses we have heard time and time again: from Sandy Hook to Virgina Tech to Las Vegas to our own Pulse massacre. Yet this time something feels a bit different; it feels like a tipping point of sorts.

While there was ample focus after Pulse within our community and beyond to look at common sense gun control, sadly we were constantly met with that “thoughts and prayers” shenanigans from politicians on both sides of the aisle. Some – like Orlando City Commissioner Patty Sheehan and Florida State Representative Carlos Guillermo Smith – passionately reached out to lawmakers to change things. Groups like the Orlando chapter of Gays Against Guns and The Dru Project formed and shouted for gun reform. But nothing seemed to change. Some thought that, gee, if Washington wasn’t moved into action when kindergarteners were gunned down in their own classroom at Sandy Hook, maybe nothing could really turn the dial.

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Blue Star puts gender fluidity in the spotlight with The Lady Boys of the Peek-A-Boo Lounge

By : Jeremy Williams
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Orlando performer Blue Star is one person who embodies empowerment and being comfortable in your own skin. Blue came to Orlando in 2000 to attend Full Sail University after a successful dancing career in Atlanta and New York. She planned to stay for just 13 months; she never left. In 2012, Blue opened the theater The Venue.

“I just wanted a place to put on my shows,” Blue says. “But as I say now it’s not my Venue anymore, it’s Orlando’s Venue. It’s a safe place for performers to try out new things and new shows and take risks and really grow themselves.”

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Pulse gunman’s father was FBI informant

By : Michael K. Lavers OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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The father of the gunman who killed 49 people inside the Pulse nightclub had been an FBI informant for more than a decade.

The Orlando Sentinel on Monday reported attorneys for the gunman’s widow, Noor Salman, disclosed in testimony and court filings that Seddique Mateen was an informant at “various points” between January 2015 and June 2016.

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Gun control rallies take place in Florida, across U.S., around the world

By : Michael K. Lavers OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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ABOVE: A participant in a “March for Our Lives” rally in Tampa, Fla., on March 24, 2018, holds a sign in homage of Emma González, a bisexual student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., who has emerged as a vocal gun control advocate after a gunman killed 17 people inside her school last month. Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers.

TAMPA, Fla. — Hundreds of “March for Our Lives” gun control rallies, marches and protests took place across the U.S. and around the world on Saturday.

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