Florida’s drag families prove Mum’s the word

By : Ryan Williams-Jent, Divine Grace
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Drag culture is intrinsically tied to the LGBTQ community, from Stonewall to the life-dependent lip-syncs now featured weekly on VH1. Now more than ever it borders on the mainstream, with the art form highlighted (and contoured) on televisions worldwide and available now on iTunes.

As drag paints itself even further into the history of pop culture, it can be easy to forget that it has its detractors, often found in the safe spaces drag performers share. It can lead to camaraderie amongst entertainers as they gravitate toward one another for belonging and assistance, creating both a sense of family and of home.

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06.28.18 Tampa Bay Bureau Chief’s Desk

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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You can ask any of my friends or family, here at Watermark or otherwise, and they’ll tell you it’s no secret that I love drag.

I don’t do it myself, given my penchant for facial hair and the amount of foam it would take to give me a proper backside, but it’s something I’ve respected for most of my life. It’s a love and respect that began in 1996.

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LGBA Conference to be held in Orlando

By : Jeremy Brener
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ORLANDO | The Central Florida Sounds of Freedom Band & Color Guard (CFSOF) announced that the Lesbian and Gay Band Association (LGBA) will hold their 2019 conference in Orlando Oct. 10-13.

The announcement was made in a press release by CFSOF, as well as South Florida Pride Wind Ensemble and Tampa Bay Pride Band, May 8.

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Trans filmmaker claims Marsha P. Johnson doc director stole her work

By : MARIAH COOPER OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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Transgender filmmaker and researcher Reina Gossett has accused “The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson” director David France of stealing her idea for the documentary.

The film, which is streaming on Netflix, examines Johnson’s involvement in the Stonewall riots, her transgender activism, and mysterious death. Gossett, who is an activist-in-residence at the Barnard College Center for Research on Women’s Social Justice Institute, worked on the short film “Happy Birthday, Marsha!” with Sasha Wortzel.

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UCF celebrates LGBTQ history with a month of events

By : Rachel Dececco
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ORLANDO | “Our history did not begin with Stonewall, but our movement began there.”

These were the words that kicked off the opening ceremonies for LGBTQ History Month at the University of Central Florida Oct. 3.

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Stonewall Rebellion: It wasn’t Judy!

By : Perry Brass
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Judy Garland, while a gay icon, was not the reason for the Stonewall riots in 1969.

Many things have been said and written about “Stonewall,” the historic confrontation in June 1969 after a police raid at the Stonewall Inn, a Mafia-run gay bar on Christopher Street in New York City’s Greenwich Village that ignited the Gay Revolution—and an incredible change in attitudes and feelings about queer people throughout the world.

Among them, it happened on the night of a full moon, so a lot of the craziness on the streets can be blamed on that—not true. Another rumor is that it was all sparked by the death—and funeral, at Frank E. Campbell’s mortuary, uptown on Madison Avenue and 83rd, around the corner from the Metropolitan Museum—of gay icon Judy Garland. The “girls” were just so discombobulated by grief that they let go of all restraint and started breaking windows, uprooting parking meters (remember them?), throwing 40-pound garbage cans through the windows and even biting cops on the legs.

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The other side of life: Intersections

By : Jason Leclerc
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Over the past year, we’ve tread the intersection of Kaley Street and South Orange Avenue as it’s become a crossroads swollen with mourners, with meaning. It meets the intersection of Christopher and Seventh. It meets the intersection of Pride and unity, where the Rainbow Flag meets an ongoing aggregation of initials. It meets the intersection of politics and partisanship and guns and economic equity.

Even as we make these intersections into hallowed spaces, each carrying the foot traffic of omnipresent ghosts, we are obliged to recognize that history is a gift from the past to the present – another intersection where the crosswalks are overwhelmed by facts and their pedestrian interpretations. The past lives alongside the present.

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Orlando’s Overheard: Jim retiring and Bears migrating

By : Anonymous
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Philips’ Phinal Bow

Real Radio 104.1’s The Philips Phile has been a long time staple of many Orlando residents drive home. And when Jim Philips announced his official retirement from the show will be in January, many were shocked and honestly saddened to hear the news.

Jim Philips, a longtime ally and advocate of the LGBTQ community, is a multi-WAVE award winner as chosen by our readers for the many years he publicly stood up for the community, and he’s not afraid to tell you so.  As he put it in his 2016 interview with Watermark,  “Because I say and I believe it that I was the first person in this town media-wise – electronic and print, mainstream – that was in support of the LGBT community for years and years and years and years and years. I made no bones about it, and I took a lot of grief for it on the air. I didn’t give a shit. It didn’t bother me. I was proud of it. I was proud of it when they would call up and call me names or whatever, because I knew I was always right.”

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Words To Live By: Courage

By : Rick Claggett
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Rick_ClaggettBy the time I was in the ninth grade I accepted the fact I was a homosexual. I wasn’t out or proud.  I was scared. I had done my time with self-loathing and trying to talk myself into being normal. My knowledge of the homosexual world revolved around what I’d picked up from TV, church, family and friends. Homosexuals were sinners, gross deviants who were to be laughed at and avoided. Although I didn’t feel that described me, I came to terms with it. After all, I thought boys were cute.

Toward the end of my freshman year of high school, I was given a glimmer of hope that maybe I wasn’t such a terrible person. I had a teacher who decided to stray from the normal health-class curriculum by sharing her story of homosexuals. She started the lesson off by referring to the community as gay. A student quickly asked if she meant homosexuals. She answered yes, but said they preferred to be called “gay” because their lives were about whom they love and not necessarily about with whom they have sex, a pretty ballsy move for a Southern teacher in 1990. She went on to describe gay people as normal. This was a first for me. I remember living next to a gay couple when I was in elementary school. Plenty of words were used to describe them, but normal wasn’t one of them.

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Stonewall Inn announced as first national monument for gay rights

By : Wire Report
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President Barack Obama created the first national monument to gay rights on June 24, designating the iconic Stonewall Inn in Manhattan where the modern gay rights movement took root nearly five decades ago.

The Stonewall National Monument will cover a 7.7 acre swath of Greenwich Village, including the tavern, the small, adjacent park called Christopher Park and the surrounding streets where people rioted after the gay bar was raided by police in 1969. Obama said the monument would “tell the story of our struggle for LGBT rights” and of a civil rights movement that became a part of America.

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Will Gulfport elect an openly gay mayor or a straight, gay-friendly mayor?

By : Greg Stemm
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In an election year fraught with unusual circumstances and candidates, one local Tampa Bay area election has put a difficult decision to the voters of Gulfport on whom to elect as their new mayor. One candidate, the incumbent, is a well-liked progressive straight mayor with undeniably strong support for LGBT issues and the challenger who is an openly gay woman and a respected business owner in the community.

According to the latest census about a third of the residents of this small Tampa Bay area city of about 12,500 residents identify themselves as LGBT. Gulfport has long prided itself in taking lead roles in the fight for LGBT rights and equality. It was the fourth and smallest city in the state to pass a Human Rights Ordinance, the first in Pinellas County to do so, and it is to date the most comprehensive in the state. It was the first city in Pinellas County to pass a domestic partner registry and it has taken strong official positions in support of marriage equality and ending workplace discrimination. The city’s library hosts the state’s only publically supported LGBT resource center. Many Gulfport residents take pride in being a role model to other communities on how gays and straights can work effectively and even joyfully together.

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Manatee Players look to explore forbidden love in World War II with the musical Yank!

By : Jeremy Williams
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Yank! is many things: A musical that honors the song and dance of the 1940s; a play that tells the story of sending young men off to war. More importantly though, it’s a history lesson for how World War II was the frontline that created a community that would later become the movement for gay rights.

“I think with a lot of people LGBT history starts with Stonewall, but our history starts far beyond Stonewall,” Yank! director Kenn Rapczenski says. “Many of the soldiers, especially ones who were court-martialed for being homosexual, couldn’t go back to their small towns and farms, so they settled into big cities like San Francisco. This was the first time gays and lesbians were able to be with each other in a united way and started to form communities.”

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