Positive Living: Without oppression, who are we?

By : Greg Stemm
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When I moved to St. Petersburg in the summer of 1983 I couldn’t serve openly in the military. It was unlikely that I could be hired as a teacher. I couldn’t adopt children. There were no local and huge gay pride celebrations. Most of the bars weren’t in great areas of Tampa and marriage was a pipe dream no one ever seriously thought we’d see. Such was gay life in 1983.

Flash forward to now. Men introduce their husbands; women introduce their wives, and they may introduce you to their children. We can serve our country. St. Petersburg hosts an LGBTQ pride celebration that draws well over 200,000 people. The library in my little town of Gulfport has an LGBTQ Resource Center that has brought us national acclaim. Gay characters and role models for our young people abound on TV and in mainstream society we are mostly seen as upstanding citizens, not mentally ill patients or sexual deviants who should be pitied or shunned.

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Two inspiring individuals prove leaving the corporate world can really pay off

By : Holly Kapherr Alejos
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When I called Victor Bokas for an interview, he was in the middle of working on a five-foot-square commissioned painting for an art collector in Spain. “I could have never done this had I stayed in the corporate world,” he said to me with an incredulous half-laugh. Since being let go from his position as a senior graphic designer at Tupperware Brands in 2015, he has devoted his full energy to his craft, and it’s made all the difference.

Mandy Keyes, owner of Community Cafe in the Grand Central District of St. Petersburg, also left her corporate position as an interior designer to open a storefront on Central Avenue, the area’s main thoroughfare. When I walked into the cafe for our interview, she was in the thick of taking orders, clearing tables, fielding questions – all the things you’d expect from a small-business owner – popping up at intervals during our conversation to tend to her customers. At 10:30 a.m. on a Saturday, the place was packed. It’s working.

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EPIC Generations coalition forms to support aging LGBTQ community

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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ST. PETERSBURG | Empath Partners in Care (EPIC), a member of Empath Health, has formed EPIC Generations—a new coalition dedicated to serving LGBTQ elders throughout Pinellas County.

EPIC Generations stems from the nonprofit’s partnership with the St. Petersburg-based Project Generations Coalition, an alliance of over a dozen elder care advocates. It was formed by area resident Chris Almvig, one of the founding members of SAGE, the country’s oldest and largest nonprofit dedicated to improving the lives of LGBTQ elders.

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PHOTOS: Metro raises funds, celebrates at the PeaCocktail Party

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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GULFPORT | Metro Wellness & Community Centers held its annual fundraiser Nov. 10, benefiting the organization’s diverse lineup of LGBTQ programming and honoring community leaders.

The celebration took place at Stetson University College of Law in Gulfport from 7-11 p.m. It honored three outstanding individuals for their excellence in leadership – St. Petersburg Deputy Mayor Dr. Kanika Tomalin, Christina Burke and Todd Richardson. Metro CEO Lorraine Langlois was also celebrated for her 25 years of service and dedication to the Tampa Bay community.

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Free Kombucha Tasting & Home Brewing Contest

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Contact Name: Joshua D. Rumschlag                   
Organization: Mother Kombucha
Phone Number: 727-688-5901
Email: Josh@motherkombucha.com

Florida’s 2nd Annual Kombucha Home Brewing Contest
and Public Kombucha Tasting to Benefit Sail Future

St Petersburg, FL: Locally-based Mother Kombucha and Vertical Ventures St. Pete are teaming up on Nov. 7 at 7:00pm to again host Florida’s 2nd Annual Kombucha Home Brewing Contest. This year Keep St. Pete Local, Grassroots, Thank You Mama, Squeeze and St. Pete Ferments are joining them as sponsors and judges, as well as local chefs.

Kombucha enthusiasts from all over Florida again will bring in their unique home brewed Kombucha to Vertical Ventures for an epic show of flavor, fermentation, and Florida culture. In addition to contest participants bringing their own home brews to share, the public is invited to the largest Public Kombucha Tasting in Florida History trying home-brewed marvels as well as Mother Kombucha employee inspired flavor combinations.

This year proceeds go to SailFuture, for more info:
https://sailfuture.org/

Schedule
6:45-7pm Competitor check in.
7-7:30 Judging by local brewers, chefs, and other folks we love…
7:45 Public Tasting Opens
8:30 Winners Announced.

Contest Details
$20 Entrance Fee per flavor (max. of 2)
Register at Vertical Ventures
Blind Judging (Judges will only know identification numbers)
Please only label ingredients and flavor (keep in mind some judges may be vegan)
Cash Prize for 1st Place, Prices for 2nd and 3rd place as well as most creative and most Florida.
Contestants please bring at least 32 oz., one gallon is ideal.

Facebook event link:
https://www.facebook.com/events/294628931136258/

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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Metro Wellness & Community Centers announces annual benefit, honorees

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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ST. PETERSBURG | Metro Wellness & Community Centers will hold its annual fundraiser on Nov. 10, benefitting the organization’s diverse lineup of LGBTQ programming and honoring community leaders.

This year’s celebration, presented by Mail Meds pharmacy for the sixth consecutive year, will be a “PeaCocktail Party” held at the Stetson University College of Law in Gulfport from 7-11 p.m. The organization describes the gathering as a bold and colorful party, celebrating the beauty of Tampa Bay’s diversity.

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Who was Most Remarkable in 2018?

By : Watermark Staff
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Toward the end of each year, Watermark highlights local, unsung heroes who have gone above and beyond to show with action just how remarkable they are.

We want our readers to help decide who deserves recognition for their inspiration, contribution or achievement in the 2018 calendar year. In honor of the year, we are looking for the 18 — 9 from Central Florida and 9 from Tampa Bay — Most Remarkable People of 2018.

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High Fidelity: Meet the Parents

By : Miguel Fuller
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Can we have a really serious conversation? Like, for real for real?

I am scared.

I am nervous.

I actually have no words.

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10.18.18 Tampa Bay Bureau Chief’s Desk

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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I was recently confronted by a woman wearing one of the most disturbing masks I’d ever seen, at least up close.

I’ve seen some frightening things in my time. I’ve trudged through Howl-O-Scream, I’ve watched this administration fill Supreme Court vacancies and I’m from Ohio. But this was different.

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Metro Wellness and Community Centers relaunches LGBTQ Welcome Center

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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ST. PETERSBURG | Community leaders and advocates gathered at Metro Wellness and Community Centers’ LGBTQ Welcome Center to officially relaunch the organization’s LGBTQ safe haven Oct. 6.

The welcome center, a renovated home located in the Grand Central District, has served Tampa Bay’s LGBTQ community since its opening in 2014. Through its weekly programming, the majority of which Metro Wellness provides at no cost, it offers a gathering space for LGBTQ community members of all ages.

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HRC gives a perfect score to Orlando, Tampa, St. Petersburg in annual ratings

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) announced Oct. 8 that Orlando, St. Petersburg and Tampa each received a perfect score of 100 in the organization’s seventh annual Municipal Equality Index (MEI).

The report examines how inclusive municipal laws, policies and services are for LGBTQ people who live and work in each city rated by the organization. The score is based on non-discrimination laws, the municipality as an employer, municipal services, law enforcement and the city leadership’s public position on equality.

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