Gulfport Public Library, LGBTQ Resource Center celebrate Pride, national honor

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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GULFPORT, Fla. | The Gulfport Public Library has received the nation’s highest honor given to libraries and museums ahead of the LGBTQ Resource Center’s month of Pride programming.

The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) announced Gulfport Public Library as one of 10 recipients of the 2019 National Medal for Museum and Library Service May 7. The winners were chosen from 30 nationwide finalists for addressing unique issues and challenges confronting communities through their services. Programming provided by the LGBTQ Resource Center, housed in the library and established as an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit in April, was singled out for recognition.

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St Pete Pride 2019 welcomes Lisa Loeb, Rita Ora

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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ST. PETERSBURG | St Pete Pride announced April 24 that entertainers Lisa Loeb and Rita Ora will headline concerts for the organization’s 17th annual celebration in June.

Loeb is a singer-songwriter who began her career with the platinum-selling hit “Stay (I Missed You)” from “Reality Bites.” Other singles include “Do You Sleep” and “Let’s Forget about It,” which she’s sure to perform as she headlines the organization’s SP2 Concert June 21 from 7-10 p.m.

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Dining Out for Life returns to Tampa Bay for 14th year

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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TAMPA BAY | A record number of restaurants and bars will participate in the 14th annual Dining Out for Life (DOFL) in Tampa Bay on April 11, benefiting Empath Partners in Care (EPIC) in the organization’s fight against HIV/AIDS.

Founded in 1991, DOFL is an annual dining event which raises money for community-based organizations serving those impacted by HIV. To raise the funds, establishments donate at least 25 percent of their sales on a specific date to local organizations like EPIC.

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St Pete Pride announces third annual TransPride March

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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ST. PETERSBURG |Registration for St Pete Pride’s third annual TransPride March is now open, the organization announced March 31, also Transgender Day of Visibility.

The TransPride March was launched in 2017, leading the St Pete Pride Parade to celebrate the diverse transgender and gender-expansive community. The 2018 march exceeded 750 participants, the organization shared in a press release.

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PHOTOS: St Pete Pride hosts Taste of Pride 2019

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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ST. PETERSBURG | Food, drink and art enthusiasts gathered March 2 at the historic Coliseum for St Pete Pride’s annual Taste of Pride.

Celebrants were treated to sweet and savory samplings from nearly 20 of Tampa Bay’s favorite restaurants, breweries, catering companies. Taste participants included Dr. BBQ, Flamingo Resort, Iberian Rooster, Old Key West Bar & Grill, Orange Blossom Catering, Punky’s Bar & Grill and The Queenshead and more.

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St. Pete Pride seeks 2019 grand marshal nominations

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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St Pete Pride is now accepting grand marshal nominations for the organization’s 17th annual celebration, currently scheduled for June 21-23.

“In 2014 we introduced Community Grand Marshals, allowing the community to vote on who they felt should be the St Pete Pride Grand Marshals,” the organization’s website reads.

“St Pete Pride is now accepting nominations for the 2019 Community Grand Marshals,” it continues. “Tell us your story about your local hero, activist or hidden gem. Let us know who we should recognize with the honor of St Pete Pride Grand Marshal.”

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High Fidelity: Out for the holidays

By : Miguel Fuller
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Share this story:

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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