Watermark 25: Central Florida Bureau Chief’s Desk

By : Jeremy Williams
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I moved back to Orlando in 2008. It was my first time living in Central Florida as an adult. I was born in Colorado and, as a kid, the family moved to Florida where we lived up and down I-4—settling in Orlando then St. Petersburg and eventually Plant City where I attended high school. Sometime after graduation, life led the family to southern Georgia and from there I joined the Air Force and traveled all over the world.

I tell you that quick trek through my past because in my 40 years I have lived in many places, but no place has ever felt more like home to me than living in Orlando right now, and a good part of that feeling is due to Watermark.

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St. Petersburg adds LGBTQ-owned businesses to small business program

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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ST. PETERSBURG | The City Council unanimously voted to recognize LGBTQ-owned businesses in St. Petersburg’s small business enterprise (SBE) program June 6.

The program certifies SBEs for contracting and procurement opportunities in construction, professional services, goods and supplies. Working in conjunction with The Greenhouse, the city’s facility for starting and growing local business, SBEs are provided business counseling, networking and specialized assistance with access to capital and credit for startups.

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Issue 26.11: The Veronicas Exposed

By : Dylan Todd
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Australian Pop Duo, The Veronicas, headline Girls in Wonderland concert, 3 Wise Guys on Pulse 3 Years Later, St Petersburg to Recognize LGBTQ Businesses, local news, celebrity interviews, photos, events and much, much more!

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St. Petersburg seeks to recognize LGBTQ-owned businesses

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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ST. PETERSBURG | The City Council will vote on a resolution June 6 to recognize LGBTQ-owned businesses in the city’s small business enterprise (SBE) program to promote a more inclusive economy.

The effort was led by St. Petersburg City Councilmember Gina Driscoll, an advocate for smart development including affordable housing and the city’s reduction of single use plastics. If passed, the resolution will recognize businesses which are at least 51% owned, operated and controlled by LGBTQ individuals and monitor the usage of LGBTQ-owned businesses in St. Petersburg’s procurement of goods and services.

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Jane Castor poised to become Tampa’s first openly LGBTQ mayor

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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As Tampa highlights its diversity with the fifth annual Tampa Pride March 30, Jane Castor—the celebration’s two-time grand marshal and arguably one of the city’s most stalwart servants—will continue her journey to become Tampa’s first openly LGBTQ mayor.

Castor, who will face retired banker and philanthropist David Straz in Tampa’s runoff election April 23, is familiar with firsts. Ahead of her 31 years of service with the Tampa Police Department, which she began as a beat cop patrolling the city in 1983, she was elected the first female president of a Tampa Police Academy class.

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Positive Living: A former Methodist laments — It’s Homophobia!

By : Greg Stemm
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As most people are aware, the United Methodist Church’s board of directors recently voted to uphold that body’s ban on performing gay marriages and ordaining gay pastors. For a church that once touted a slogan of “open hearts, open doors, open minds,” it seems to me that they have proven they espouse none of those things.

For a season of my life (mostly because it’s where my parents belonged) I was a card-carrying member of the United Methodist Church. In fact, my senior year of high school I was president of my Methodist Youth Fellowship. I was a closeted kid in a corn field in Ohio and just beginning my spiritual journey. I even went to a United Methodist liberal arts college, Otterbein University in a suburb of Columbus. Today I hardly recognize that earlier version of myself.

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Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas County announces Pride Build

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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ST. PETERSBURG | Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas County has announced its inaugural Pride Build, inviting members of the LGBTQ community and their allies to build a home in St. Petersburg.

Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas County is a locally run affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International, the global nonprofit housing organization that builds and sells homes to qualified buyers at zero percent interest and no profit.

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2019 WAVE Awards Spotlight: The Bow Wow Barber

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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Tampa Bay’s Favorite Place to Pamper Your Pet

Like his four-legged clientele and the humans who “own” them, Bill Leuck sees walking into The Bow Wow Barber in St. Petersburg as a real treat.

“We’re extremely pet friendly,” the owner says of his grooming business. “We like to play with the dogs and they love coming here.”

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2019 WAVE Awards Spotlight: John Gascot

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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Tampa Bay’s Favorite Local Artist

“Art should be for everyone,” St. Petersburg’s John Gascot says. “It shouldn’t only be for the educated or only for people with a lot of money.”

That’s why the artist’s work is accessible not only in its subject matter and aesthetic, but also its price point. “You can go into my studio and get a hand painted magnet for $5 or a painting for $3,000,” he explains.

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LGBTQ author alleges discrimination after Catholic school cancels appearance

By : Tiffany Razzano
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ST. PETERSBURG | Gale Massey, who released her novel “The Girl from Blind River” last summer, says that the Cathedral School of St. Jude in St. Petersburg canceled her scheduled appearance because she is a lesbian.

In January, a St. Jude student emailed Massey about her book for a project. “I was delighted,” she says. “When someone has read your book and reaches out, it’s wonderful.”

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MFA highlights Tiffany & Co. designer Jean Schlumberger’s masterworks, relationships in companion exhibits

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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“Some women want to look expensive,” French jewelry designer Jean Schlumberger said in 1956. “I would prefer to have them look precious.”

His clients did both. The former Tiffany & Co. vice president, who had his own design salon at the luxury retailer’s New York headquarters, was innovative and elegant. His whimsical and exotic pieces adorned the necks, wrists and lapels of 1960s and 70s style icons like Jacqueline Kennedy, Audrey Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor and Rachel “Bunny” Mellon—many of whom he and his life partner Lucien Bouchage grew to know personally.

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02.21.2019 Tampa Bay Bureau Chief’s Desk

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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Just ahead of the year 2000, while my parents frantically fought over whether or not we owned enough bottled water and canned corn to survive the impending Y2K apocalypse, I had two main concerns as I entered my freshman year of high school.

The first was “X-Men,” an upcoming film starring Patrick Stewart from “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” Ian McKellen from “Apt Pupil” and Hugh Jackman from … nothing, really. No one knew “Hugh” he was.

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