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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Jim Nixon: St. Petersburg LGBTQ Liaison, LGBTQ Welcome Center manager

By : Kevin King
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Jim Nixon is remarkable. He is known to the LGBTQ community through his many years of advocacy, his sales work with Watermark and his efforts to elevate Metro Wellness and Community Centers through strategic outreach and marketing. Thanks to Jim, the LGBTQ Welcome Center in St. Pete’s Grand Central District has been refreshed and refocused, serving as a safe and inviting place for both residents and visitors.

The broader Tampa Bay community, and especially our growing arts community, may know Jim through his work with Ruth Eckerd Hall or The Dali Museum. Today, we also know Jim as St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman’s LGBTQ Liaison, a vital role encouraged by the Human Rights Campaign. It speaks to Jim’s remarkability that he volunteered for the position long before our city coffers allowed us to fund it. As both a volunteer and an employee, he has excelled. Readers of Watermark likely know that Mayor Kriseman is a longtime champion for the LGBTQ community and has illustrated that in ways big and small.

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St. Petersburg gathers for Transgender Day of Remembrance 2018

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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LGBTQ community advocates and allies gathered Nov. 20 on Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDoR) at St. Petersburg City Hall to honor the known transgender lives lost in 2018.

Attendees met at the city’s Sunshine Senior Center for a candlelight processional that ended at the steps of City Hall for the memorial. The 2018 vigil, organized by 6S Boutique owner Andrew Citino and gender therapist Tristan Byrnes, featured a wide array of speakers that included Mayor Rick Kriseman. The mayor read from the city’s proclamation naming Nov. 20 TDoR.

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St. Petersburg to hold ‘We Won’t Be Erased’ transgender support rally

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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LGBTQ community leaders and advocates will gather Nov. 4 from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. at St. Petersburg’s Williams Park for the area’s “We Won’t Be Erased” transgender support rally.

Nathan Bruemmer organized the rally following reports that the Trump administration may attempt to define gender as an immutable condition determined at birth. Partner organizations include Equality Florida, TransAction Florida, Metro Wellness & Community Centers, St. Pete Pride and Project No Labels.

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Tampa Bay’s Overheard: Still McBitter

By : anonymous
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St. Petersburg business owner Kevin McBride of the “high-end men’s resale shop” McB’s doesn’t have much Pride.

McBride first made waves with the local LGBTQ community with a series of homophobic attacks last year after Mayor Rick Kriseman’s re-election. He opted to do so again during St. Pete Pride June 24.

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PHOTOS: St. Petersburg raises Pride Flag for fifth year

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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St. Petersburg | The city of St. Petersburg once again shared its commitment to the LGBTQ community by raising the Pride flag above City Hall June 21.

Community leaders and advocates gathered for the short ceremony, led by Mayor Rick Kriseman. “This is the fifth time that we have raised the rainbow flag above City Hall,” the mayor began, “and each time  that we have done so has been special.”

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PHOTOS: St. Pete Pride 2018 begins with the Stonewall Opening Reception

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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St. Petersburg | St. Pete Pride’s Sweet 16 officially began June 20 with the Stonewall St. Pete Pride Reception party at the Museum of Fine Arts.

The evening was hosted and sponsored by the museum and featured the annual event’s largest turnout yet. Guests included a who’s-who from around Tampa Bay and beyond, including Mayor Rick Kriseman and Florida Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith.

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06.14.18 Tampa Bay Bureau Chief’s Desk

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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We live in an age where it can be easy to forget your pride. The White House certainly does. Even with orange prominently displayed in our flag, the current administration declined to issue a proclamation acknowledging LGBTQ Americans for the second year in a row.

The Pentagon followed suit, opting for the first time since the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” to not formally acknowledge LGBTQ Pride Month. It was a bold reflection of the administration’s ever-looming transphobic military policies.

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2018 WAVE AWARD WINNERS – TAMPA BAY

By : Watermark Staff
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FAVORITE LOCAL POLITICIAN/ACTIVIST

First: Rick Kriseman, St. Petersburg Mayor

Second: Nadine Smith, Equality Florida CEO

Third: Bob Buckhorn, Tampa Mayor

GREATEST STRAIGHT ALLY TO THE LOCAL LGBTQ COMMUNITY

First: Rick Kriseman, St. Petersburg Mayor

Second: Joanna Garcia Parkin, ESQ., St. Petersburg attorney

Third: Bob Buckhorn, Tampa Mayor

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St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman issues Transgender Day of Visibility Proclamation

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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St. Petersburg | Mayor Rick Kriseman issued a proclamation on March 8 declaring March 31, 2018 as the city’s Transgender Day of Visibility.

Transgender Day of Visibility is “a holiday which celebrates transgender representation, activism, and equality,” St. Pete Pride’s statement on the proclamation reads. “The mayor honored this international holiday locally because he felt it was crucial to honor the bravery of the many transgender individuals who live, work, or play in their authentic gender in the Sunshine City.”

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01.11.18 Tampa Bay Bureau Chief’s Desk

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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I’ve never made a New Year’s resolution—at least that I can remember.It isn’t because I don’t hope for a better year than the last, particularly after a rather polarizing 2017. It’s just something that never really occurs to me, especially now that I have to wrangle my husband for my midnight-mandated “kissy” photo op. He hates pictures of people kissing.

There’s nothing wrong with people making resolutions. It works for some, and that’s wonderful. I try to make every day the best it can be, so an over-arching 365-day look-ahead just doesn’t do it for me.

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2016 was the worst year ever, and 2017 was the year we found our footing

By : Jeremy Williams
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In these very pages one year ago we proclaimed 2016 to be the worst year ever. It started off with so much promise and optimism, with the official passing of the torch as the former owner of Watermark turned the reins over to new owner Rick Claggett and Watermark Media became Watermark Publishing Group.

President Barack Obama was heading into the final year of his second term and everything seemed in place for another torch to be passed, that of the first black president passing the country off to the first female president.

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