1.28.15 Editor’s Desk

By : Billy Manes
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Billy Manes

Billy Manes

Where were you while we were getting high?

By virtue of political plate tectonics and the mahogany-and-starched-shirt drudgery of a state legislative cycle in full swing during a presidential election year, you wouldn’t be wrong to suggest that the earth is actually moving under your feet right now. Nope, not vertigo. Nah, you aren’t drunk (maybe?). High? Hopefully!

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Road to Tampa Pride begins with grand marshals announcement, Miss Tampa Pride pageant

By : Jeremy Williams
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In the midst of preparing for the 2016 Miss Tampa Pride pageant, festival organizers issued a press release announcing the names of the parade’s grand marshals Jan. 13.

Lorraine Langlois, CEO at Metro Wellness and Community Centers, and Russell Rhodes, FOX TV 13 Morning Anchor for “Good Day Tampa Bay,” will be the grand marshals for Tampa Pride 2016.

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12.31.15 Editor’s Desk

By : Billy Manes
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Billy Manes

Billy Manes

“And you may find yourself living in a shotgun shack. And you may find yourself in another part of the world. And you may find yourself behind the wheel of a large automobile. And you may find yourself in a beautiful house, with a beautiful wife. And you may ask yourself, “Well … How did I get here?” the Talking Heads once rattled over a thumping bassline. “Once in a Lifetime,” indeed.

2015 was certainly a big year for the LGBT community, seemingly allowing decency to coast atop the terrible notions of people like Gov. Rick Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi into a panacea of hopefulness. In our coverage area, so much change happened: new leadership, new businesses, a new outlook, and, gasp, a new editor.

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Top 10: Spooky Empire’s Ultimate Halloween Weekend best costumes

By : Jeremy Williams
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Spooky’s Ultimate Halloween Weekend at the Hyatt Regency on I-Drive Oct. 30- Nov. 1 had a huge turn out. The 13th year of the horror convention did not disappoint with monsters, ghouls and zombies around every corner.

The costumes continue to impress and get more elaborate every year, so here are the 10 best costumes, in no particular order, that Watermark saw at Spooky 2015.

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Pope Francis speaks about Kim Davis issue, conscientious objection and sex abuse scandals on his way back to Rome

By : Wire Report
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ABOARD THE PAPAL PLANE (AP) – Pope Francis has defended his words of consolation to U.S. bishops over the priest sex abuse scandal but says – for the first time – that those who covered up for abusers are guilty of wrongdoing.

In a wide-ranging press conference en route to Rome from his first-ever visit to the United States, Francis also declared conscientious objection a “human right,” explained his admiration for American nuns and discussed his own star power, which was fully on display during his six-day, three-city tour.

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Judge grants Caitlyn Jenner’s request to legally change name, gender

By : Wire Report
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SANTA MONICA, Calif. (AP) – She proclaimed her new name on the cover of Vanity Fair magazine, but Caitlyn Jenner’s transition from her old identity as Bruce Jenner is finally official.

A judge approved Jenner’s request to formally change her name and gender Sept. 25, marking another milestone in the Olympic gold medalist’s public transition as a transgender woman.

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The Wonderful World of Wanzie: I want a parade!

By : Michael Wanzie
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Michael Wanzie

Michael Wanzie

The official Program for this year’s COME OUT WITH PRIDE celebration has already been widely distributed. And so the chorus begins.

Not the Orlando Gay Chorus, but the chorus of voices that annually rise up in our community (and I imagine in communities across the nation where similar events are staged) bemoaning the aspects of Pride that are not to their liking. Not in reference to the itinerary of Orlando COME OUT WITH PRIDE events, which span several days; I understand that not every event suits every one’s taste or budget. But if anyone would like to see different events or different takes on existing events, they have only but to volunteer their time and talent and time and energy and time and money and time to the presenting organization and become part of the event in an influential and meaningful way rather than simply criticize it. But I digress.

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Congressman Alan Grayson is making some amazing noise lately

By : Billy Manes
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Grayson protestors

As Planned Parenthood undergoes its public scrutiny – you might recall that last month, the organization was given the ACORN treatment by some very clever (not clever) video editors who wanted to frame Planned Parenthood in the GRAND SCHEME OF FETAL SALES THAT FUNDS THE UNDERGROUND PIPELINE OF LIBERAL INJUSTICE – Congressman with “guts” Alan Grayson, D-Orlando/Kissimmee/redistrictingmadness, is making it clear that he still stands with PP. Only three percent of Planned Parenthood’s revenues come from abortions, so let’s just quit it with this hateful rhetoric. Have you stood outside of a clinic before? There are many insane people there screaming many terrible things at women and men who are approaching the toughest decisions of their lives. Sorry, but it’s true. Try to have a conversation with one of them. We dare you.

Regardless, today Grayson was the subject of a weak protest (yawn) that centered around selling your baby’s innards, and, as Grayson is wont to do, he came out swinging with some reasonable rhetoric of the somewhat controversial sort.

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The Other Side of Life: I. Miss. America

By : Jason Leclerc
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JasonLeclerk

Jason Leclerc

To many of the circles in which I roll, I am the frustrating liberal—the poet. In the world writ larger, I am the flaming conservative—the economist. As much as we like to eschew labels, we find ourselves answering to and for them: Believer, Rationalist, Gay, Conservative, Patriot, Aging, Obamaniac, Republican. These labels may look as seemingly contradictory as the sash I sew them onto.As I inhabit this America, that sash oscillates between Boy Scout (I miss America!) and Pageant contestant (I, Miss America).

“As a gay Republican,” in this, the Central Florida media equivalent ofChe-Guevara-meets-Stonewall, “write about how you can be this unicorn in a political party that hates myths.” Of course (Mr. Manes), the RepublicanParty is a party of myths. I’d say the same—and do, here—about the Democratic Party. WeRepublicanshavesmall government, and a founding father (Abraham Lincoln) that freed the slaves.WeRepublicansalso have fundamentalism, military transfer-payments, and provincialism. In fairness, you Democrats have your myths too: Jesus was a socialist, fiscal responsibility is a personal attack on otherness, Andrew Jackson (remember that “Trail of tears?”) couldn’t possibly have also politically fathered modern progressivism (hey, Elizabeth Warren!).

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Catholic school principal to hold parents’ meeting over gay teacher firing

By : Wire Report
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PHILADELPHIA (AP) – The principal of a suburban Philadelphia Catholic school plans to hold a meeting with parents next month about a gay teacher fired over her same-sex marriage.

The Philadelphia Inquirer says Waldron Mercy Academy principal Nell Stetser acknowledged the decision not to renew Margie Winters’ contract “continues to cause a great deal of pain and heartfelt questioning.”

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Same-sex couples join the ranks of Utah foster families

By : Wire Report
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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — For Utah newlyweds John Wright and Wilson Bateman, the decision to take in three foster kids ages 3 through 12 wasn’t hard.

“They stole our hearts when we met them,” Wright said.

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Rights group slams Malaysia for prosecuting transgenders

By : Wire Report
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KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) – Human Rights Watch on June 21 criticized a Malaysian Islamic court for fining nine Muslim transgender women for cross-dressing and jailing two of them for a month.

Religious authorities in northeastern Kelantan state arrested the group in a raid on June 16 and they pleaded guilty the next day, the New York-based watchdog said in a statement. Their lawyer has filed an appeal and the two sentenced to jail were released on bail pending the outcome, it said.

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