St. Petersburg marks Transgender Day of Remembrance 2019

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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ABOVE: Transgender Day of Remembrance at Metro LGBTQ Welcome Center Nov. 20. Photo by Ryan Williams-Jent.

ST. PETERSBURG | LGBTQ community advocates and allies gathered Nov. 20 on Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) at Metro’s LGBTQ Welcome Center to honor the known transgender lives lost in 2019.

According to the Human Rights Campaign, at least 22 transgender and gender non-confirming people were killed this year. Equality Florida adds that since 2018, seven transgender women of color have been murdered in Florida, the most of any state in the country.

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Tampa philanthropist David Straz dies at 77

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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ABOVE: David Straz (R) and wife Catherine Lowry Straz speak at Tampa Pride’s 2019 VIP Sponsor Party March 28. Photo by Dylan Todd.

TAMPA | Tampa philanthropist and former Tampa mayoral candidate David A. Straz Jr. has passed away. He was 77.

David A. Straz Jr. Foundation spokesman Jarrod Holbrook announced Straz’s passing in a statement late Nov. 18. “It is with a heavy heart the Straz family regrets to inform you that while on a recent fishing trip with close friends David A. Straz, Jr. passed away peacefully in his sleep,” he shared.

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Come OUT St. Pete returns for third year

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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ABOVE: Come OUT St. Pete board members and grand marshals Brian Longstreth, Claire Elisan, Jim Woodfield, Cole Foust, Jayson Clancey, Chris Jones, Bill Kody and Chuck Henson at Metro’s LGBTQ Welcome Center Sept. 17. Photo by Ryan Williams-Jent.

ST. PETERSBURG | Come OUT St. Pete (COSP) will hold its third annual outing Oct. 3-11 in the Grand Central District (GCD) and nearby neighborhoods to celebrate National Coming Out Day 2019.

COSP exists to advocate for community awareness and acceptance of all sexual orientations and gender identities. They do so with events that celebrate “coming out of the closet and into the world.”

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The Tampa Bay International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival turns 30

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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Police officers and protesters far outnumbered patrons during the inaugural Tampa Bay International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival (TIGLFF) in 1990.

It was the result of animus and interest surrounding one of the earliest publicized LGBTQ gatherings in downtown Tampa. While details surrounding TIGLFF’s founding are scarce, early accounts advise leaders from the Tampa Bay Gay Men’s Chorus, Bay Area Human Rights Coalition and Tampa Bay Business Guild formed the festival for two purposes.

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PHOTOS: Watermark celebrates its 25th anniversary in Tampa Bay

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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ST. PETERSBURG | Watermark celebrated its 25th anniversary in Tampa Bay on Aug. 30 with an evening at Metro Inclusive Health.

Ahead of the gathering, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman proclaimed Aug. 30, 2019 as “Watermark Newspaper’s 25th Anniversary Day” in St. Petersburg. Tampa Mayor Jane Castor joined him, proclaiming it “Watermark Publishing Group Day” in Tampa.

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Listen: Watermark, Metro, more discuss American Stage’s ‘Fun Home’

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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ABOVE: (L-R) Mollie Posnik, Adrianna Hick and David Mann in American Stage’s “Fun Home.” Photo courtesy American Stage.

ST. PETERSBURG | American Stage has released the latest episode of “Spotlight: The American Stage Podcast,” a community conversation surrounding their production of “Fun Home” featuring representatives from Watermark, Metro Inclusive Health and more.

“Spotlight” exists to illuminate the artistry and ideas behind the theatrical stories American Stage produces. The company closed out its 2018-2019 season with the hit musical “Fun Home” on Aug. 18.

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PHOTOS: Tampa Bay Diversity Chamber hosts NGLCC Opening Reception

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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TAMPA | The Tampa Bay Diversity Chamber of Commerce (TBDCC) hosted the opening reception for the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) International Business & Leadership Conference at the Italian Club in Ybor Aug. 13.

The NGLCC’s 2019 conference is being held in Tampa Aug. 13-16 and is the largest gathering of LGBTQ business leaders and allies in the world. More than 1,000 of its attendees gathered for the opening reception at the historic venue, which was chosen to highlight Tampa’s Cuban and Italian heritage.

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Anti-LGBTQ ‘Activist Mommy’ targets Drag Queen Story Hour Tampa Bay

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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ABOVE: “The Activist Mommy” Elizabeth Johnston burns “Teen Vogue.” (Screenshot via Facebook)

ST. PETERSBURG | Drag Queen Story Hour Tampa Bay and its host venue Community Cafe are the latest targets of the anti-LGBTQ vlogger Elizabeth Johnston, also known as “The Activist Mommy.”

Drag Queen Story Hour Tampa Bay began in Sept. 2018. The majority of the monthly events—which exist to entertain and inspire children—have been held at the cafe in St. Petersburg’s Grand Central District, affectionately referred to as “The Gayborhood.”

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LGBTQ cops talk about being out and proud in Central Florida and Tampa Bay

By : Jeremy Williams
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Tom Woodard had law enforcement in his blood. His parents were both officers; his mother was a detective for the Polk County Sheriff’s Office and his stepfather was a major in the Winter Haven Police Department. Woodard wanted nothing more than to go into the family business, and in Oct. 1988, he got his wish. Woodard became a deputy with the Orange County Sheriff’s Office (OCSO) on Halloween.

Less than a year later, Woodard’s world would be turned upside down when a fellow officer outed him as a gay man.

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PHOTOS: St Pete Pride’s 17th annual Pride Parade

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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ST. PETERSBURG | Thousands gathered in downtown St. Petersburg for the 17th annual St Pete Pride Parade June 22.

The celebration began with the third annual TransPride March, which drew the largest amount of participants yet. Friends, families and floats filled Bayshore Dr. to honor the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots and showcase St Pete Pride’s loudest and proudest year yet.

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St. Petersburg extends bullying protections to LGBTQ youth

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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ST. PETERSBURG | Mayor Rick Kriseman has extended the city’s anti-bullying policy in its youth programming to protect LGBTQ youth ahead of St Pete Pride 2019.

The City of St. Petersburg is committed to providing an environment for all youth that is safe, secure and free from harassment and bullying of any kind, officials shared June 21. The policy applies to any youth enrolled or participating in programs run or sponsored by the city.

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PHOTOS: St Pete Pride celebrates 2019 Stonewall Reception

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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ST. PETERSBURG | St Pete Pride held its annual Stonewall Reception at the Museum of Fine Arts June 20, another fabulous gathering during its loudest and proudest year yet.

The must-attend evening was hosted by Miguel Fuller, Holly O’Connor and Scotty “The Body” of Hot 101.5’s “Miguel & Holly Show.” It honored this year’s grand marshals, sponsors and featured “The Art of Fashion,” also welcoming Mayor Rick Kriseman for a special announcement.

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