Solar Eclipse Viewing Party

By : Alex Storer
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Alafaya Branch
Monday, August 21, 2 p.m.
Washington Park Branch
Monday, August 21, 2:30 p.m.
Chickasaw Branch
Monday, August 21, 3 p.m.
Eatonville Branch
Monday, August 21, 3 p.m.
South Trail Branch
Monday, August 21, 3 p.m.
West Oaks Branch
Monday, August 21, 3 p.m.
Winter Garden Branch
Monday, August 21, 3 p.m.
Southwest Branch
Monday, August 21, 3:30 p.m.
Windermere Branch
Monday, August 21, 3:30 p.m.
Celebrate the upcoming solar eclipse with OCLS! Visit one of the branches listed above and learn about the solar eclipse, enjoy crafts, activities and more. All ages. Registration required.

Stanley Cup on hand during Solar Bears All-Star event

By : Steve Blanchard
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Orlando – Hockey fans will have plenty to celebrate during the All-Star Classic, which pits the Orlando Solar Bears against a mix of all-stars from clubs throughout the East Coast Hockey League. As an added bonus, the Stanley Cup will be on hand throughout the week-long event and fans will have an opportunity to be photographed with the iconic hockey prize.

“The cup itself has a curator, Phil Pritchard of the Hockey Hall of Fame,” explained Jason Siegel, CEO of the Solar Bears, adding that a strong relationship with the Hall of Fame helped secure the cup for the four-day hockey exhibition. 

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10.23.14 Editor’s Desk

By : Steve Blanchard
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To be upfront, I am not Catholic, nor have I ever put much stock into what the Church had to say about most things—except when it came to exorcism scenes in scary movies.

The Church, in my view, is an outdated, chauvinistic club where old guys go to hang out together, put on fabulous outfits and point a judgmental finger at the rest of the world. The more the media gives the club attention, the more sway it seems to have over both the important and trivial things in our lives.

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Texas Gov. Perry compares being gay to alcoholism

By : Wire Report
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SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – Texas Gov. Rick Perry, during a visit that focused primarily on economic issues, drew on a reference to alcoholism to explain his view of being gay.

Perry’s comments to the Commonwealth Club of California came after Texas’ Republican Convention on June 7 sanctioned platform language allowing Texans to seek voluntary counseling to “cure” being gay.

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GSH Radio and Rainbow411 give activism and education a platform

By : Christine Hawes
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Gregory Henchar is still shook up by what he experienced in November: the owner of a shop where he was making a sales call pointed a gun at him.

While the shop owner later claimed he was “just joking,”Henchar attributes the odd encounter to his status as the wide-open co-founder of Rainbow411, a website devoted to publicizing gay-friendly events, groups and businesses, and of GHSRadio, an internet radio station broadcast out of St. Petersburg’s Flamingo Resort.

“I never dreamed I would walk into a place of business and have someone point a gun at me,” Henchar says. “I’ve been called names before, but nothing like this.”

RainbowConnection1The incident was the first time Henchar felt his safety was threatened. But the importance of providing security in a society still littered with pockets of homophobia has been a motivation for Henchar and his partner, Victor Lopez, ever since they first moved to the Bradenton area in 2008.

“The number one keyword search on Rainbow411 is for ‘contractors,’ says Lopez, who founded the website and radio station with Henchar. “People want to know they have a safe business to call, especially when it comes to businesses they invite into their homes.”

Rainbow411, founded in 2010, mainly serves Orlando, St. Petersburg, Tampa Bay and the Sarasota/Bradenton area. But it’s about to expand to Lakeland and Jacksonville and is eyeing several key south Florida markets.

Long-term, Henchar and Lopez hope to build even stronger in less urban markets, where finding gay-friendly businesses can be a challenge.

“We’ve realized that smaller cities like Melbourne and Port Charlotte need our assistance just as much if not more,” Lopez says. “They don’t have any help in places like that.”

GSHRadio, meanwhile, is gradually building a worldwide audience but has a modest line-up today of eight shows. Also founded in 2010, the internet station has confirmed listeners in not only the United States but also Australia, the United Kingdom, Costa Rica, Peru, Germany, South Africa, China and Czechoslavakia.

Its audience is impossible to estimate, given that most listeners catch up with the shows through podcasts. The station broadcasts dance music 24 hours a day in between its talk shows, which include The Rainbow Hour hosted by Henchar, Lopez and Watermark editor Steve Blanchard. That show, and several others, focus on the LGBT nightlife, the leather community, the Flamingo Resort, current affairs and drag queens.

Henchar and Lopez both know what it’s like to be stuck in environments that are either hostile to, or suspicious of, homosexuals. Lopez spent 20 years in the Navy and was married for several years before he became open about his sexuality; Henchar worked for decades for Dunn & Bradstreet, a company he says openly disapproved of his sexuality.

The two met in 1988 at an after-hours gay bar in Virginia Beach. They felt an immediate connection but didn’t actually begin dating until eight months later. They’ve been together, and living openly as gay men, ever since.

For Henchar, serving as the sales leader for Rainbow411 and GSHRadio is a chance to both express his love of advertising and fulfill his self-vision as “another Harvey Milk,” whom he quotes frequently.

“I try to be another Harvey Milk,”Henchar says. “I’ve been called an activist, and I’m thankful for that.”

One of his pet peeves is hearing people, mostly straight ones, refer to being gay as a “lifestyle.”

“I’ve even corrected a newscaster on-air,” he says. “Being gay is not a lifestyle. It’s not an alternative. Being gay is being born this way.”

Henchar also earned a reputation for activism by creating a “$3 bill” years ago as part of a movement to object to the Salvation Army refusing gay clients.

RainbowConnection2By contrast, Lopez does not consider himself an activist and prefers to operate behind the scenes. His duties with Rainbow411 and GSHRadio are mostly gathering content and interviewing subjects.

But he joins Henchar on the air for GSHRadio’s signature talk show “The Rainbow Hour,” which airs live at 3 p.m. Wednesdays. Lopez tends to ask the more poignant questions, while Henchar’s role is more geared toward humor and sarcasm.

Recent guests included Ashley Broadway, wife of a decorated female general, who was banned from her area’s support group for spouses of officers; Gabrielle Shullruff, who is leading an effort to attract the 2018 Gay Games to Orlando; and Richard Smith, who owns a solar company in Orlando.

“By opening up and having ‘The Rainbow Hour,’ we have learned so much about our brothers and sisters in the LGBT community,” Henchar says. “And we’re always open to ideas.”

The couple is deeply involved with ALSO for Gay Youth, a support group based in Sarasota. Sue Westcott, ALSO’s director, says Henchar and Lopez have proven to be pivotal volunteers in addition to patrons.

“They are absolutely a pleasure to work with,” she says. “They give us a lot of inside advice even though they don’t have to. They’re great sponsors and down-to-earth supporters and volunteers.”

Chris Rudisill, director of LGBT Services at St. Petersburg’s Metro Wellness and Community Center, says Henchar and Lopez are providing pivotal services in today’s digitized world.

“In a time when the virality of one’s message is key, the potential to get your message out to the masses is key, and online radio provides that platform,” Rudisill says “It’s great hearing the diversity of our very own community online each week.”

To listen to “The Rainbow Hour” and other shows on GSH Radio, visit GSHRadio.com. There listeners can hear live broadcasts or download podcasts through its archive.

Monday Ripples: Recycling Christmas Lights

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â┚¬Å”Steve Jobs was born out of wedlock, put up for adoption at birth, dropped out of college, then changed the world. What’s your excuse?â┚¬Â â┚¬â€œ @jwmoss

I have to admit it was on my mind again, as it has every year since I was a young guy watching it on our small black and white television. I have to do that Time Square New Year's Eve thing. It didn't help that one of my NYC transplant friends, Art, was tweeting live from Time Square. He had made his way there because he's a huge Lady Gaga fan. I would honestly rather play canasta in a hot tub with Mitt Romney and Mel Gibson than see Lady Gaga, but I still would have gone.

â┚¬Å”Since time flies consider mapping out what you’d like to achieve this year,â┚¬Â tweeted Richard Branson on new year's day (who would argue advice from this guy â┚¬â€œ not I) and I took his words to heart. So I've made my mind: 2012 will be the year I check NYE in NYC off my bucket list. Well, I guess technically 2012 and 2013 will be the years thatâ┚¬Â¦oh hell, you get the picture.

I hope your celebration leading into the new year was grand, if not at least safe. Brendan and I went to a house party thrown by friends. Now in its 10th year, they do an art trade party. People bring art they've created then haggle with other attendees to trade each other's art. It's quite a nifty thing and our art collection grows â┚¬â€œ eclectically and in size â┚¬â€œ each year we go.

This year one room was converted to a silent auction area. People would bid on artwork and the funds went to support a local food bank. The amount garnered from this simple act of kindness? Over $1800!

You know I always like to be honest with you, so let me just admit that I didn't buy anything in auction. My biggest contribution to the evening was approving Brendan's art trades and drinking free beer. I tried to auction off an empty bottle of beer I drank from, but my efforts were unsuccessful. (Apparently the last lesson 2011 had for me is that any celebrity I have may be in my own head.)

So here we are late in the day on the first Monday in 2012. I've had some time off lately, so getting my head back in the game is currently set to snail mode, but I wanted to get these Ripples out to you.

Welcome Back, Kanamori
Teaching: The Noblest Profession
It's amazing the impact our teachers make on our lives. Have you ever sat there and tried to remember how certain thoughts got into your head, then realized it went back to a teacher you had in elementary school? That's happened to me. When I watched this heartening video posted by Elephant Journal, I immediately knew I had to share it with my 5th Grade teacher Miss Fanning. She still out there in the trenches shaping lives and I knew Mr. Kanamori would inspire her, so I posted it on her Facebook wall. Here's to all the teachers â┚¬â€œ let's hope they're actually paid what they deserve someday!

You Are My Sunshine
Sun powers Orlando man's electric car
You may be doing a lot of the environment, but I bet Bob Stonerock out does you. Bob has outfitted his house with solar equipment so well that he is selling surplus power back to the Orlando Utilities Commission. Think about that next time you're rushing down to OUC with the bill you forgot to pay â┚¬â€œ or wanted to try to forget.  Now Bob is driving a Volt and since he plugs it in at his house, the Orlando Sentinel surmises that Bob drives on sun. I kind of see it that way too.

Déjà Brew
Recycled Beer Bottle Candle
Upon reflection, trying to pass my empty Shock Top bottle was probably not the best reuse. This gentleman, who goes by the rather no nonsense moniker of â┚¬Å”homebrewsoapsâ┚¬Â on Etsy, is probably onto something though by making candles out of used suds bottles. Cute and clever â┚¬â€œ it might just be that unique gift you're looking to give the beer lover in your life.

Saving Christmas
String Lights Made Into Slippers in China
This is a fascinating video, but it left me with all kinds of questions. How do you make sure your old Christmas lights get recycled? Why in the hell aren't we recycling them in the USA? We ship them to China to be recycled? When the camera isn't on, do you think they all bitch about their job? They seem surprisingly content in their occupation. Anyway, this is what's happening to the extraordinary amount of Christmas lights we throw away.

Publisher’s Perspective: It’s time for Sink to change course

By : Tom Dyer
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TomDyerHeadshotSix months from now, we elect a new governor. The race between Republican Bill McCollum and Democrat Alex Sink started as a toss-up. Recent polling indicates that McCollum, a charmless perennial candidate who has lost more elections than he has won, has opened up a ten point lead.

Sink just fired her campaign manager, but there was further evidence of her strategic missteps at an April 5 fundraising event at Hamburger Mary’s in downtown Orlando. At the reception, sponsored by LGBT and friendly supporters, Sink reportedly delivered her standard stump speech about fiscal responsibility and never once used the word “gay.” She raised a tepid $2,500; last year, a campaign event for much the same crowd brought in ten times that amount.

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