High Fidelity: Out for the holidays

By : Miguel Fuller
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I told your grandma you are gay.” That statement didn’t come from my mom when I came out in high school, when I had my first boyfriend in college or when I was honored as Grand Marshal of St Pete Pride in 2016. My mom called and told me that a couple of months ago. After being open and honest in my personal and professional life since high school I was still nervous to tell grandma.

There are a couple of reasons why the timing of this statement was so important, like I was deciding if I should finally bring my longtime boyfriend to meet my family. In my 33 years of life I had never taken anyone home for the family to meet. Now I was a few months away from the holidays and I was struggling on what to do. My mom knew that I was nervous about talking to my very religious grandmother about my sexuality. To add to it, there was more stress on my shoulders because I’m African-American and my boyfriend is white. So without ever having had that conversation with my grandmother, I was about to introduce her and the rest of my family to my white boyfriend. 

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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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WatermarkOnline’s Top News Headlines of 2018

By : Watermark Staff
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WatermarkOnline.com had its largest number of visitors in 2018. Hundreds of thousands of readers came to the website throughout the year for the stories that impacted the LGBTQ community in Central Florida, Tampa Bay and across the country.

Below, we have complied the top five headlines from each of our LGBTQ news sections: Central Florida News, Tampa Bay News, State News and Nation & World News. The sections top headlines are based on the number of clicks on each story.

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Luke Blankenship: St Pete Pride Executive Director

By : Scion Crowder
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Scion Crowder

Luke Blankenship started college wanting to work in LGBTQ advocacy, and shortly after found himself running the largest Pride organization in the state of Florida: St Pete Pride.

Luke was named executive director (ED) in May, making him the youngest ED of a Pride organization in the country. He joined St Pete Pride five years ago as a general volunteer and since then worked as logistics coordinator, parade director, development director and now ED. He oversees the day-to-day operations in collaboration with the board of directors and oversees sponsorships, financial strategy, event planning, magazine production, the social media presence and maintains local government and city relations. Luke is constantly working towards becoming a better person and ED. He may be young but he is continuing to educate himself by attending leadership seminars and is currently in the process of becoming a certified nonprofit ED.

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Stef Reynolds: NextGen Pinellas County Field Organizer

By : Tristan Pike
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Tristan Pike

People tend to find their way to activism, particularly political activism, because of an issue that affects them personally. However, it takes more than just having a personal stake in the fight that makes someone successful in doing campaign fieldwork.

It takes tenacity to never take no for an answer, endurance to work 14-hour days, weeks on end and an acrobatic level of flexibility to adjust to constantly changing plans. Stef Reynolds, the Pinellas County field organizer for NextGen America, has all of these attributes and more.

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PHOTOS: St Pete Pride goes Red & Green in 2018

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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ST. PETERSBURG| St Pete Pride and hundreds of festive supporters gathered for the organization’s ninth annual Red & Green party at Sunken Gardens Dec. 1.

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St Pete Pride announces new leadership

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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Following its successful 16th year, St Pete Pride announced Nov. 19 that the organization’s board president, vice president and secretary would transition and that its treasurer had been re-elected.

“St Pete Pride voted in new leadership, including three newly-elected officers from various backgrounds,” the organization shared, highlighting Chrys Bundy-Brennan’s election as president. Bundy-Brennan follows Scion Crowder’s four-year term which oversaw St Pete Pride’s largest period of growth.

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PHOTOS: St. Petersburg holds ‘We Won’t Be Erased’ transgender support rally

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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ST. PETERSBURG | LGBTQ community leaders and advocates gathered Nov. 4 at Williams Park for St. Petersburg’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 included Equality Florida, TransAction Florida, Metro Wellness & Community Centers, St. Pete Pride, the Tampa Bay Diversity Chamber of Commerce and Project No Labels. “We rally for our rights, for our future and for our lives,” Bruemmer shared with Watermark ahead of the event. “These rallies are happening all over our country right now. I hope the politicians who need to hear this message do so and act.”

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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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Suncoast Softball League kicks off 26th year

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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The Suncoast Softball League, organized in 1993 to promote a safe environment for gay men and women in the Tampa Bay area to play softball, kicked off its 26th year Sept. 16.

“It’s hard to believe! A small handful of us were here on opening day 26 years ago,” the organization shared via social media. “We never imagined how successful the league would become; what an impact in the community it would have; the people and critters we would help year after year.”

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Big Brothers Big Sisters of Tampa Bay sees increase in volunteers from St. Pete Pride

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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The Big Brothers Big Sisters of Tampa Bay (BBBSTB) have announced that last month’s St. Pete Pride saw over 200 men and women sign up to volunteer to be a “Big” in the nonprofit’s mentorship program.

The recruitment drive this year follows the organization’s launch of a nationwide initiative focusing on LGBTQ inclusion for Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, which at over 100 years old remains the nation’s largest volunteer-supported mentoring network. The nonprofit exists to make meaningful matches between adults and at-risk youth.

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Tampa Bay Overheard: Help Wanted

By : Anonymous
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ABOVE: King of Peace Metropolitan Community Church. Photo courtesy of King of Peace’s Facebook page.

“Pillar of St. Petersburg” Robert (Bob) Pope is seeking a few good men and women to help Tampa Bay’s elderly LGBTQ community and allies.

Pope will host a brainstorming session about the issue at the King of Peace Metropolitan Community Church, located at 3150 5th Avenue N. in St. Petersburg. The meeting will be held in the church’s music suite July 25 at 7 p.m.

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