2016 was the worst year ever, and 2017 was the year we found our footing

By : Jeremy Williams
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In these very pages one year ago we proclaimed 2016 to be the worst year ever. It started off with so much promise and optimism, with the official passing of the torch as the former owner of Watermark turned the reins over to new owner Rick Claggett and Watermark Media became Watermark Publishing Group.

President Barack Obama was heading into the final year of his second term and everything seemed in place for another torch to be passed, that of the first black president passing the country off to the first female president.

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Watermark’s Most Remarkable People of 2017

By : Watermark Staff
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In a year filled with many setbacks and obstacles, the LGBTQ communities in Central Florida and Tampa Bay have met those challenges with amazing resilience and resisted all forms of discrimination.

The individuals selected as Watermark’s Most Remarkable People of 2017 come from many walks of life but all share one thing in common, they all were truly exceptional this year.

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Watermark’s Most Remarkable People 2017: John and Nancy Desmond, Members of Tampa Pride and PFLAG Tampa

By : Carrie West, President of Tampa Pride
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Carrie West

What a delight it was to have met John and Nancy Desmond at a GaYBOR District meeting in 2010.

They have been a super positive force that trumps a lot of gays and lesbians in their commitment to the LGBTQ community.

They are outgoing, funny, empathetic, stellar and confident. These two speak their minds and are great team players in all they participate in and volunteer to do. Organizations that I have personally had the great honor of working with them includes: GaYBOR Distinct Coalition, Hillsborough County Homeless and Tampa Pride.

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Tampa Pride kicks off fundraising with a Spooktacular Halloween party

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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Tampa Pride won’t be held until March 24 next year, but fundraising officially began with a bang and a boo on Oct. 19 at Hamburger Mary’s Brandon.

The event’s board, its sponsors and the Mary’s crew joined forces for the “Spooktacular Halloween Kick Off Party,” and Watermark was on hand to celebrate Tampa Pride 2018’s official launch. The audience was treated to a fantastic show hosted by Desireé DeMorney, with special performances by Chris Knolton and the Sanderson Sisters themselves: Daphne Ferraro, Kathryn Nevets and Chi Chi LaLique.

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Tampa Bay’s Overheard: The Flamingo turns 8 and Tampa Pride celebrates 3

By : Anonymous
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The Bronze Age

Time to wrap a lovely present and get ready to flock to the Flamingo Resort as it is celebrating its eight-year anniversary. I believe an eight-year anniversary gets either pottery or something bronze, so maybe cover singer-turned-politician Clay Aiken in some bronzer as a possible gift to the party? Just an idea.

Anyway, Flamingo’s Eight-Year Anniversary dinner happens April 6 and includes a three course meal (will you be having the chicken or the steak? And what meal wouldn’t be complete with some cheesecake… thank you for being a friend) and a meet and greet with the amazing and talented Flamingo cast, as well as a special performance by Iman. The dinner is just the opening act to a night of celebration which includes “a little burlesque and a little drag, all in one night” with performances by Mayven Missbehavin and Ashlee T. Bangx.

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Tampa Pride has a Grand time in GaYbor

By : Jeremy Williams
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The streets of the Ybor City Historic District were filled with people spanning every spectrum of the rainbow for the third annual Tampa Pride celebration March 25.

From the street festival on 8th to the parade down 7th to the live entertainment that featured out-singing sensation Steve Grand; the crowds cheered, waved flags and showed Pride.

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Tampa Pride Guide 2017

By : Jake Stevens
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Tampa Pride is back for a third year and prepared to be bigger and better than ever with entertainment by Steve Grand!

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The Proud invade GaYbor for the third annual Tampa Pride celebration

By : Jeremy Williams
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TAMPA – The Ybor City Historic District will play host again to the third annual Tampa Pride celebration Saturday, March 25.

“Tampa Pride is in several parts this year,” says Carrie West, Tampa Pride’s president. “The Main Stage area, which is at the Hillsborough Community College –Ybor City Campus parking lot – will kick off first thing with the Tampa Pride Marching Band to introduce everybody and play some tunes to get everyone warmed up.”

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Tampa Bay’s Overheard: Mary’s, Monet and Marshals

By : Anonymous
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That Mary sure does get around

The glitz and glam are heading to Brandon with the opening of a new Hamburger Mary’s restaurant on Town Center Blvd. The new drag stop is set to announce its opening date in the upcoming weeks.

Employee interviews took place on Feb. 14 and 15 and the finishing touches are underway. Before you know it, crowds will be strutting into this new location for fabulous food and a drag queen extravaganza. The building is painted a bright shade of purple showcasing its flamboyant roots and nightclub vibe. This marks the seventh Florida location, and the fourth opened by Mary’s King of Queens, Kurt King. Events will be posted soon so don’t forget to keep an eye out for Drag Queen Bingo and MaryOke! Karaoke nights. Will Hamburger Mary’s be the new LGBT hotspot in Brandon?

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Tampa Bay’s Overheard: Queer cities and pageant Queens

By : Anonymous
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Queer Bay

St. Petersburg and Tampa were named among the “Queerest Cities in America 2017” by The Advocate. What makes them so queer you may ask? Well lucky for you The Advocate gave the criteria they looked at to decide; everything from how many lesbian bars and Trans Pride parades the town has to how many theaters were showing Moonlight and hosting the music group Pwr Bttm.

Tampa came in at number 19, called Florida’s more “cosmopolitan” city (The Advocate hasn’t decided if Tampa is a Carrie or Samantha yet). According to The Advocate, this is where the young people flock to getting their education vibe on at the University of South Florida and Tampa University. They also mentioned the non-stop party of the GaYBOR district.

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Tampa Bay’s Overheard: A Proud Bay

By : Anonymous
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Friends in Good Places

In the fight for equality, the LGBTQ community has always appreciated the backing of our straight allies. One of those allies in St. Petersburg has always been Barclay Harless.

A scroll through your newsfeed on Facebook will find pictures of Harless celebrating a birthday with Hot 101.5’s Miguel Fuller or hanging out with St. Pete Pride’s Eric Skains or standing with the community at a Pride event or march or rally. That commitment to the community is now leading Harless to pursue a position that will let him do good for all of St. Pete.

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A toast and a stumble through 2016, the year we will never forget

By : Billy Manes and Jeremy Williams
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We could go on and on about our gripes with the letter “P” this year, generally circulating around two terms: “Pulse” and “Politics.” So, indeed, that’s what we’ll do. Though we may have seen some wonderful developments in the year that God forgot, for the most part, many of us are grabbing at straws, trying to make sense of how it is that we descended so deeply, that we became the eye of the target of absolute terror.

Some may say that 2016 was the backlash for all of the gifts we were given by 2015, most notably marriage equality in both state and nation. Others might opine that there is something else going on here with the media, with conspiracies, with a new Cold War. We can’t be certain, but we certainly have each other’s backs, as has been proven by the many acts of kindness that rose up to meet the beast of an election year gone awry and a local community cut to its core. We are not a weak people; we have seen trouble before. But this year owns a special place in our hearts, one we hope that heals over without forgetting those who suffered and those who commandeered offenses that none of us could have been prepared for.

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