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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St Pete Pride 2019: When and where to celebrate

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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ST. PETERSBURG | The 17th annual St Pete Pride, which sashays through the Sunshine City June 21-23, promises to be its loudest and proudest yet.

It follows last year’s successful Sweet 16, which welcomed 250,000 attendees over Pride weekend, around 15,000 shy of St. Petersburg’s entire estimated population. It was a feat that longtime LGBTQ ally and Pride supporter St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman welcomes yet again.

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St. Petersburg adds LGBTQ-owned businesses to small business program

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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ST. PETERSBURG | The City Council unanimously voted to recognize LGBTQ-owned businesses in St. Petersburg’s small business enterprise (SBE) program June 6.

The program certifies SBEs for contracting and procurement opportunities in construction, professional services, goods and supplies. Working in conjunction with The Greenhouse, the city’s facility for starting and growing local business, SBEs are provided business counseling, networking and specialized assistance with access to capital and credit for startups.

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St. Petersburg seeks to recognize LGBTQ-owned businesses

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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ST. PETERSBURG | The City Council will vote on a resolution June 6 to recognize LGBTQ-owned businesses in the city’s small business enterprise (SBE) program to promote a more inclusive economy.

The effort was led by St. Petersburg City Councilmember Gina Driscoll, an advocate for smart development including affordable housing and the city’s reduction of single use plastics. If passed, the resolution will recognize businesses which are at least 51% owned, operated and controlled by LGBTQ individuals and monitor the usage of LGBTQ-owned businesses in St. Petersburg’s procurement of goods and services.

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St. Petersburg issues Transgender Day of Visibility proclamation

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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ST. PETERSBURG | Mayor Rick Kriseman has issued a proclamation recognizing March 31 as Transgender Day of Visibility (TDOV) in St. Petersburg.

TDOV is an annual holiday celebrated worldwide, now in its 10th year. It is dedicated to celebrating the accomplishments and victories of transgender people while raising awareness of the work that is still needed to save transgender lives. 

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PHOTOS: Metro Inclusive Health celebrates grand opening

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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ST. PETERSBURG | Metro Inclusive Health welcomed the public into its 47,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art health and community center for its grand opening celebration on Feb. 9.

The organization, which unveiled its new name and branding Jan. 29, highlighted its many offerings with tours of its updated space as staff and clients alike provided personal testimony. Attendees were treated to a number of activities, a complimentary cookout and entertainment from the Scott and Patti show.

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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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