Watermark’s Most Remarkable People of 2019

By : Watermark Staff
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What a remarkable year 2019 has been for the LGBTQ communities in Central Florida and Tampa Bay.

Whether it was in the field of politics, philanthropy, activism, entertainment or pageantry; there was no shortage of remarkable people for us to choose for Watermark’s annual list of the Most Remarkable People in Central Florida and Tampa Bay.

In honor of the year 2019, we choose 19 people across our readership area who were breaking records and blazing trails for the LGBTQ community. Once we selected our 19 Remarkables, we asked members of the community work know, work and admire each of them to write why they thought they were remarkable.

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Billy Looper and Tom Christ, Founders of KindRED Pride Foundation and owners of One Magical Weekend

By : Roxy Santiago, Board President, The LGBT+ Center Orlando/Kissimmee
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I’ve known of Billy Looper and Tom Christ for years as the guys who founded, run and operate One Magical Weekend. I personally met them when they came to The LGBT+ Center in Orlando for the Santa’s Bike Force giveaways.

Now in its 16th year, Santa’s Bike Force was Billy and Tom’s way of helping to give less fortunate kids that feeling of receiving your first bicycle. Through their efforts, dozens upon dozens of bikes have been handed out to kids during the holidays.

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Florida Puerto Rican Parade announces newly formed LGBTQ+ Committee

By : Jeremy Williams
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ABOVE: (L-R) Vivian Rodriguez, Ralph Morales, Luis Martinez, Joel Morales, Jerick Mediavilla and Roxy Santiago after the LGBTQ+ Committee announcement at The Center in Orlando. (Photo by Jeremy Williams)

ORLANDO | The Florida Puerto Rican Parade and Festival has announced the formation of a new committee to help bring more LGBTQ+ representation and inclusion to its annual celebration.

The announcement, made during a press conference at The LGBT+ Center in Orlando Nov. 27, introduced the six-member committee who will be a part of the planning process of next year’s parade, festival and related events.

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RED Shirt Pride Day looks to continue Orlando’s traditional Gay Day at the Magic Kingdom

By : Jeremy Williams
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In June 1991, a group of LGBTQ Central Floridians—led by openly gay Orlando resident Doug Swallow—decided to meet at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom to say to “The Most Magical Place On Earth” that “We’re here, we’re queer and we’d like to see Cinderella’s Castle!”

“[Doug said] ‘let’s go be somewhere where we can be ourselves and let people see that we’re normal people, but let them know that we are gay … we’ll do something like wear a red shirt so we can know who each other are.’ That was totally Doug’s idea, to make that day what it is,” said Michael Wanzie, a Central Florida entertainer who was at the very first event, in an interview with Watermark in 2018.

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