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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Lakeland’s ButchQueen and the Bad Habits stress punk rock equality

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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Lakeland, Fla., may not be known for its punk rock drag queens, but the performance arts band ButchQueen and the Bad Habits aims to change that with “Bare Grits,” the group’s debut EP released May 5.

“In a conservative town, friction caused a blister which pressure-popped and neglect allowed to fester,” their official release reads. “ButchQueen and the Bad Habits take no prisoners and make no apologies. Fusing energetic live music with bizarre theatrical experiments, this group isn’t afraid of kicking up a little dust.”

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Jane Castor officially enters Tampa’s mayoral race

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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Tampa | Tampa’s former Chief of Police and out local Jane Castor officially announced her candidacy for Tampa mayor on April 19.

Castor, who served as one of 2018’s Tampa Pride grand marshals and has a long history of LGBTQ community involvement, made the formal announcement via her new website “Jane Castor for Mayor.”

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Queerly Beloved: Let’s Not Forget, This Started with a Riot

By : Rev. Jakob Hero-Shaw
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As the Tampa Pride celebration approaches, I am readying my family and my congregation for the festivities. Like many other LGBTQ-affirming organizations in the Tampa Bay area, my church is currently collecting our materials for the booth, gathering up beads to throw and buying new matching t-shirts for our contingent to wear in the parade.

I am honored to be one of the grand marshals for Tampa Pride this year. As a clergy person, the significance of holding a public role in Pride is not lost on me. I know that for some, seeing a religious leader at Pride is validating and empowering, but I know that for others it can be triggering and upsetting. As a faith leader, all I can do is offer love and compassion to everyone I encounter, especially at Pride.

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PHOTOS: Tampa Pride 2018

By : Maia Monet
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Tampa | The 4th annual Tampa Pride occured March 24 in all its glory on the streets of Ybor City. Leading things off in the morning was the Festival Marketplace on the campus of Hillsborough Community College Ybor. Filled with vendors, artisans, churches and theater groups, there was a lot to take in and enjoy for the rainbow-bedazzled public greatly enjoying the perfect early spring weather.

The action shifted in the afternoon to the Diversity Parade led by Grand Marshals Rev. Jakob Hero-Shaw, Jane Castor and Christopher Sean. As the parade participants slowly made their way down 7th Ave. through the heart of Ybor City, they were met by thousands of cheering people dressed-to-express their LGBTQ pride and waving rainbow as well as transgender pride flags. Watermark was lucky enough to have a float in the parade and capture some of the sights for your viewing pleasure. Check out our pics after the jump below.

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PHOTOS: Project No Labels kicks off Tampa Pride at City Side Lounge

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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Tampa | Project No Labels helped kick off Tampa Pride on March 23 at a transformed City Side Lounge for the group’s first Pride Legacy Awards.

The awards highlight local leaders, individuals and businesses who dedicate themselves to the LGBTQ community through time and/or resources. The night was hosted by area favorite Mayven Missbehavin’ and featured food from local restaurants, free shots from Tito’s Vodka and a wide array of entertainment.

Aerial artists, fire performers, vocalists and some of Tampa Bay’s best drag performers dazzled the crowd—and Watermark was on hand to help celebrate. You can check out some of our photos below.

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PHOTOS: The Florida Aquarium kicks off Tampa Pride

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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Tampa | The Florida Aquarium hosted a Tampa Pride kickoff party on March 23, treating attendees to penguins, performances and pride.

Presented by Brier Grieves Insurance, the event featured an open bar with signature cocktails and began with full access to the aquarium’s many exhibits. Area favorite Stephanie Shippae performed, and the evening even included a special visit from the aquarium’s African penguins.

Watermark was on hand to help celebrate—and you can check out some of our photos below.

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Tampa Bay’s Overheard: Welcome to the Fam

By : anonymous
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A new LGBTQ establishment, self-described as “Tampa’s hottest new gay club,” will soon open its doors at the former “Levi and leather” bar 2606.

The two-story Cristoph’s Tampa says the new locale will open at the end of March 2018 with an “epic” grand opening, having conducted interviews for drag performers and dancers on March 20.

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Students march for their lives at the fourth annual Tampa Pride

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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The fight for LGBTQ equality was born when men and women spoke out, stood up and demanded change for a better tomorrow. It’s why we celebrate Pride: to remember our plight and assert that we’ll never be silent again.

Powerful movements often begin with conflict or tragedy, as witnessed more recently at the Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. In February, the school became the site of the country’s latest mass shooting, prompting student survivors to speak out, stand up and demand a change of their own.

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3.22.18 Publisher’s Desk

By : Rick Claggett
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The first person I ever came out to was a complete stranger. It was surprisingly easy. The journey to get to that moment was not easy, nor the mountains I would have to climb after; but coming out to a stranger wasn’t difficult. It was freeing and desperate.

It was the early 1990s and he was a mentor with the Delta Youth Alliance, now the Orlando Youth Alliance. At the time, it was the only resource for gay youth to meet and support each other and it remains a vital component of the community today. My involvement with the group gave me the courage to come out to my high school best friend. That was difficult because it was someone close to me. It was a bigger gamble as there was more riding on her reaction than that of the stranger.

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2018 WAVE AWARD WINNERS – TAMPA BAY

By : Watermark Staff
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FAVORITE LOCAL POLITICIAN/ACTIVIST

First: Rick Kriseman, St. Petersburg Mayor

Second: Nadine Smith, Equality Florida CEO

Third: Bob Buckhorn, Tampa Mayor

GREATEST STRAIGHT ALLY TO THE LOCAL LGBTQ COMMUNITY

First: Rick Kriseman, St. Petersburg Mayor

Second: Joanna Garcia Parkin, ESQ., St. Petersburg attorney

Third: Bob Buckhorn, Tampa Mayor

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