VIDEO: Mayor Bob Buckhorn says goodbye, thanks city for eight years

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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TAMPA | Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn thanked the city for his eight years in office in a video released April 18.

“Thank you, Tampa, for allowing me the amazing honor to be your Mayor,” Buckhorn shared via social media. “There may be other mayors that are better than me, but I know that there will never be a mayor that loves this job as much as I do. I hope I made you proud.”

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PHOTOS: Tampa Pride 2019

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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TAMPA | Tampa Pride held its fifth annual celebration in the streets of historic Ybor City March 30, honoring milestones in the LGBTQ community.

The day began with the organization’s festival expo and community health fair, highlighting area vendors and artists while featuring a wide array of entertainment. Thousands of attendees subsequently gathered along 7th Ave. for Tampa Pride’s largest diversity parade yet, which welcomed over 100 parade entrants and was led by grand marshals Amy Demilo, James Encke, Pat Frank, Ja’Staria Infiniti, the Tampa Bay Pride Band, Tyler Reed and Nick Staszak.

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PHOTOS: Tampa Pride 2019 VIP Sponsor Party

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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TAMPA | Tampa Pride held its annual VIP Sponsor Party at the Florida Aquarium March 28.

The evening celebrated the organization’s partners, sponsors and supporters ahead of the fifth annual Pride weekend. It featured a tour of the aquarium, music by DJ Jayson Clancey and was hosted by FOX 13 anchor and former Tampa Pride grand marshal Russell Rhodes, who soon introduced the city’s outgoing Mayor Bob Buckhorn.

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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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Tampa Pride holds fifth annual celebration, announces new details

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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TAMPA | Tampa Pride has announced new event details ahead of its fifth annual celebration March 30.

“We are so proud as a community that Tampa Pride is celebrating our fifth year,” Tampa Pride President Carrie West shared with Watermark. “There have been many changes in our community and many changes in our lives. That’s part of why the board and directors of Tampa Pride 2019 chose ‘Milestones’ as this year’s theme.”

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Tampa Bay Pride Band holds inaugural arts festival

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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The Tampa Bay Pride Band will hold their inaugural Pride Music and Art Festival March 3 from 5:00-9:00 p.m., a celebration combining the best in Tampa Bay’s visual and musical arts.

“The Pride Music and Arts Festival serves as the kick-off to a month of Tampa Pride events,” the organization shared via social media. “It allows us as an arts community to stand together and celebrate diversity through music and art!”

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Watermark’s Most Eligible – Tampa Bay: Daniel Stevens

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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AGE: 30

HOMETOWN: Tampa, Fla.

IDENTIFIES AS: “Gay, like very.”

PRONOUNS: He/Him/His

SIGN: Libra

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PFLAG Tampa paves the way for love in Ybor

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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Watermark’s Most Remarkable People John and Nancy Desmond – community activists known for their work with Tampa Pride, PFLAG and more – have long shared their support for the LGBTQ community throughout Tampa Bay.

On most weekends, the duo can be seen on 7th Ave. in Ybor City proclaiming that support and love, pro-LGBTQ signs in hand across from religious protesters. Now, even if they can’t make it, the protesters will be greeted from below with a paver reading “I love my gay son, PFLAG.”

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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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PHOTOS: Tampa Pride gets wild for inaugural Pride-Zoo-La

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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TAMPA | Tampa Pride kicked off fundraising for its fifth year with the organization’s inaugural Pride-Zoo-La at ZooTampa at Lowry Park Nov. 17.

The evening began with a performance by the Tampa Bay Pride Band. Guests subsequently moved to an artists’ showcase highlighting local talent, participated in over 50 raffles and were given the opportunity to participate in a giraffe feeding with ZooTampa staff.

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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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Mama Bearings: Why I am here

By : Sylvie Griffiths
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“Why are you guys even here?” This was the very direct and rude question my husband was asked in March during this year’s Tampa Pride. We were sitting at a crowded table shared with friends, old and new, at Hamburger Mary’s Ybor. Our eight-year-old son Jake was with us.

My husband, being the kind and patient human being he is, answered in great detail. He explained to his interrogator that we were attending Tampa Pride in support of our youngest child, who identifies as transgender. Jake was even on a float and gave out beads in the parade. It was an important and magical day for us as parents seeing our little dude being himself. Celebrating diversity is one of my fondest memories with Jake so far.

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