Parents join the conversation at 2016 Orlando Youth Empowerment Summit

By : Adam Manno
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From Tumblr to transgender trends, the leaders, teachers and students who attended the third annual Orlando Youth Empowerment Summit tackled a wide range of topics of interest to modern LGBT youth.

Co-sponsored by the City of Orlando in partnership with GLSEN, the Orlando Youth Alliance, and Zebra Coalition, O-YES is a collaborative workshop and panel-based conference aimed at empowering Orlando’s LGBTQIA+ community through dialogue and discourse.

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City of Orlando Oath of Office Ceremony

By : Jamie Hyman
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Patty Sheehan, Orlando’s first openly gay city commissioner, was sworn into her fifth term of office Jan. 11 at Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts.

At the Oath of Office ceremony, in addition to Sheehan, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer was sworn into his fourth full term, District 2 Commissioner Tony Ortiz was sworn into his third term, and District 6 Commissioner Samuel B. Ings was sworn into his third full term on the City Council.

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Watermark’s 15 Most Remarkable People of 2015

By : Watermark Staff
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Every year, Watermark chooses stand-outs from the LGBT community – remarkable individuals who made a mark in the past year, whether through activism, generosity or beating the odds.

For 2015, we took nominations from readers and selected the 15 Most Remarkable People of 2015: seven from the Central Florida area, and eight from Tampa Bay. See our selections and read their exceptional stories:

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Leader of the pack: Patty Sheehan makes remarkable waves as she launches her fifth term

By : Billy Manes
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District 4 Commissioner Patty Sheehan hasn’t had the easiest of years, but she’s made certain to make it easier for much of Orlando’s LGBT population. In addition to being out, loud and proud, Sheehan has tackled all of the issues, from marriage equality to sidewalks and back again. By now, most Orlandoans know of Sheehan’s attention to detail – don’t even try to take away her giant binder of ordinances and research; she will attack, and you won’t like that.

She’s got the power.

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Orlando Police Department introduces Transgender Person policy

By : Jeremy Williams
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Orlando – The Orlando Police Department announced in a press release Nov. 6 that it will adopt new Transgender Persons procedures to ensure that all officers are in line with the agencies policy “to treat all people with dignity and respect.”

“Orlando is a city that embraces diversity and welcomes people of all ages, races, religions and sexual orientations,” OPD Media Relations stated in an email. “Mayor Buddy Dyer and Commissioner Patty Sheehan, in particular, have worked diligently to have an inclusive government that fosters diversity by establishing programs, ordinances and initiatives that benefit the LGBT community.”

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2015 General Election Results

By : Watermark Staff
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Polls are closed on the 2015 General Elections and results are rolling in.

Find out who won after the jump:

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Pink bunny memorial statue vandalized

By : Jamie Hyman
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PinkBunnyVandalizedThe pink bunny statue at Lake Como will be replaced.

The statue is a tribute to Chase Smith, Orlando City Commissioner Patty Sheehan’s longtime assistant who died in August of 2013 at the age of 41.

Sheehan installed two pink bunnies – one each in Langford Park and Lake Como park – in 2014 in memory of Smith, who loved to play the Easter Bunny at egg hunts held annually in those parks.

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Overheard in Orlando: Remembering Tweeka and a mysterious anniversary

By : Anonymous
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O-Town dot com Shoutouts
Everyone who is anyone knows our local gem, Blue Star. From her DJ work, acting and singing talents to her incredible dancing skills and of course, the Venue.The Venue plays host to many local entertainment events, including her Peek-a-Boo burlesque. Recently, in an online feature on USAToday’s 10Best – the Venue and Blue were praised for bringing the burlesque scene into the spotlight of the artistic side of the Ivanhoe Village. Thanks to Blue and many others, the #OneLove campaign has been making its rounds these last few years,named for the passing of John “Tweeka Weed” Barber – truly a talent whose light was taken too soon due to complications with an aggressive form of cancer.

Tweeka/Barber was recently the subject of an article of Georgia Voice in an article by old friend Bill Kaelin titled “The Drag Queen who changed my life.” Kaelin mentions when he was hanging out with Tweeka/Barber, he knew he was hanging out with royalty, and through his street wise and larger than life personality, he learned a lot about the community and the Atlanta scene. Two local legends, both praised for being talented and real people.

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Carlos Guillermo Smith launches District 49 campaign at The Abbey

By : Jeremy Williams
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Orlando – Carlos Guillermo Smith officially kicked off his 2016 run for Florida House of Representatives’ District 49 at The Abbey July 9.

Smith, who is the current chair for the Orange County Democrats, spoke to the nearly 200 attendees about his path to get to Tallahassee and why he thinks he should represent District 49.

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Orlando’s Overheard

By : Anonymous
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Cho’nuff

And we can’t stop talking about the many adventures of Josh Eads-Brown/Ginger Minj, we recently received word over Gay Days weekend that Josh was recording a new track with Gay Icon, Comedian and actress Margaret Cho. We reached out to him to see if these rumors were true, he graciously shared a selfie of himself with Margaret. Turns out they were recording at that moment. This just proves you don’t need the crown to come out the big winner! Josh verified more songs were in the works, although not confirmed with Josh we heard another popular LGBT performer’s name being thrown around, Adam Lambert!

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Orlando Commissioner donates to Pride, youth scholarships

By : Jamie Hyman
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Orlando – City Commissioner Patty Sheehan is upping her investment in Orlando’s LGBT community and their youth.

Sheehan’s office has historically sponsored the Come Out With Pride parade with a $1,500 donation. This year, she decided to increase that amount to a $5,000 total donation, with $3,000 earmarked for LGBT youth scholarships.

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Orlando receives perfect score on HRC’s 2014 Municipal Equality Index

By : Staff Report
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Orlando – The City of Orlando scored a 100 on the Human Rights Campaign’s 2014 Municipal Equality Index (MEI), making it only one of three cities in the state to obtain a perfect score. This places Orlando as one of the top 38 LGBT-friendly cities in the nation.

The MEI is an annually conducted survey that examines cities—including city capitals and the 150 largest cities—across the nation and scores them based on nondiscrimination laws, relationship recognition (domestic partnership registries), LGBT equality in employment laws, LGBT services and programs, and the city’s relationship with LGBT community. There are subcategories within each of the five main criteria, including transgender-inclusive benefits, anti-bullying policies in schools and having an LGBT police liaison.

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