Watermark’s Most Remarkable People 2017: Pamela Schwartz, Orange County Regional History Center’s Chief Curator

By : Teresa Jacobs, Orange County Mayor
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Teresa Jacobs

It’s an honor and privilege to celebrate Pamela Schwartz as a 2017 “Remarkable Person.”

In the early hours after the Pulse Nightclub massacre, when we were reeling with anguish and disbelief from the brutal attack on our LGBTQ, Latinx and Hispanic communities and the unimaginable loss of 49 innocent souls, one person was already thinking about how we could help memorialize the staggering loss and remember the innocent victims. That was Pam Schwartz, who by the next day, had already outlined a plan for the collection and preservation of the tribute items that she knew would come.

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Finding Our Pulse: Words matter, actions matter more

By : Teresa Jacobs
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Until June 12, 2016, although I knew of Pulse, I had not realized its significance within our community, the sense of home and family that it provided for so many in the LGBTQ community, or how it served as an anchor for others – especially our LGBTQ young people.

Pulse – a place of love and acceptance, where once our LGBTQ brothers and sisters gathered with laughter and joy. Pulse – a place named to honor the enduring spirit of one woman’s beloved brother, and Pulse – a place that was to become an instant shrine for 49 innocent victims who will forever live within our hearts. But in the early morning hours of June 12, I knew none of that. I knew only the shattering pain and the surreal disbelief we all felt. I knew from the start – literally on that morning – that this was a hate crime, occurring during Pride Month and aimed squarely at the LGBTQ community, as well as the Latinx and Hispanic communities. And above all, I knew that people would need help.

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Editor’s Desk 6.1.17

By : Billy Manes
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For most of us, it’s been the year of our discontent: a slack-jawed reckoning with a grief that stretches city and countywide, a mourning that, for 12 months, confounded and consumed the entire world.

Even the uncomfortable cultural things that swarm in after the bomb drops – helicopters and newscasters and national media hovering around each tear we’ve been able to drop, each one of those drying our wells of stamina and breaking our private slouches – have served as difficult oil clouding our water. But never once have they cracked our resolve. Orlando strong? Yes. Orlando hurt? More than you can even imagine.

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This morning’s announcement of the Pulse memorial was short on information, full of emotion

By : Billy Manes
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This morning, May 4, 2017, a pall fell over the inside of the tribute gates of the oft-visited Pulse Orlando nightclub, where thousands have paid their respects to the 49 killed on June 12, 2016. The event was announced nearly a week before, but the details of what was going on were amorphous at best. The Pulse site would become a permanent memorial, the original April 25 press release read, leaving out any finite details.

“Pulse has always been a part of me, but after this tragedy which took 49 lives, it became a part of this community and the world,’’ Poma explained in the press release. “When this event happened, I had no clue how expansive the love for Pulse was. It’s important that we as a community be mindful and take great care to preserve, honor and help heal.”

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Orlando’s Overheard: A review of Orange County and a preview of Orlando Fringe

By : Anonymous
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Hand in Hand

On April 7, Orange County Mayor, Teresa Jacobs hosted the State of the County address at the Orlando Eye on International Drive.

During her address, Mayor Jacobs paid tribute to the Pulse tragedy by addressing the massacre and sharing a video. In her own words, Mayor Jacobs said, “The world watched as we mourned and rallied with the common goal of supporting our LGBTQ and Latinx communities and all of those affected. Through our response to the greatest attack we’ve ever withstood, the greatest loss we’ve ever suffered, we learned something incredible about ourselves: We know that our culture of collaboration has allowed us to accomplish so much – but we [also] discovered that it is our culture of compassion that makes Orlando such an incredible place to live.”

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Watermark’s 16 Most Remarkable People of ’16

By : Watermark Staff
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Watermark has chosen those who stood out from the LGBTQ community – 16 remarkable individuals who made a mark in 2016; whether through activism, generosity or beating the odds.

It has been a difficult year for all of us, both politically and personally, and those we have selected have made the most change, been the most inspiring and helped to make our LGBTQ community that much stronger in the face of adversity.

Below, our 16 Most Remarkable People of ’16.

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A Change of Heart: Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs and her new advocacy

By : Billy Manes
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It’s hard to remember the Teresa Jacobs of yore. The mayor of Orange County (and former commissioner with a “regular people” angle on governance) has seen her share of public turmoil in recent years. She was, of course, partially responsible for “textgate,” in which commissioners and the mayor were caught discussing earned sick time with lobbyists on their electronic devices during a public meeting. That’s not really legal. There was litigation. It got pretty ugly.

But sitting down with her today, she’s believably a changed woman from the one we confronted about LGBTQ rights in 2012. She’s genuine. She’s crying. Pulse happened under her watch.

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Orange County Republicans support LGBT non-discrimination bill

By : Jeremy Williams
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Orange County mayor Teresa Jacobs, along with nearly two dozen Central Florida Republican leaders, signed a resolution pledging support for statewide legislation to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity July 28, according to The Orlando Political Observer.

The resolution was presented at the Orange County Republican Executive Committee Lincoln Day Dinner by Jacobs.

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Watermark readers respond hot and cold to Teresa Jacobs’ statement on marriage equality

By : Jamie Hyman
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Our latest interview with Orange County mayor Teresa Jacobs – where she finally confirmed that she is in support of marriage equality – sparked some polarized readers comments. For some of you, the interview was a great step forward for equality, while others thought it was too little, too late.

Read the comments round-up after the jump:

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Issue 21.18: Tampa Bucs LGBT Outreach

By : Jake Stevens
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It’s Game Time! An NFL first: Tampa Bay Bucs announce its inaugural LGBT Community Gameday, Orange County’s Teresa Jacobs: I support marriage equality, Federal judge: Florida’s marriage ban is unconstitutional, local news, celebrity interviews, photos, events, and much, much more!

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7.31.14 Editor’s Desk

By : Steve Blanchard
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SteveBlanchardHeadshot_137x185Embracing marriage equality isn’t always easy. After years of hearing how awful we gay people are, it’s difficult for some to embrace shifting attitudes and accept, even respect, same-sex couples.

It can be done, and without infringing upon a person’s religious or personal beliefs. Call it evolution, call it common sense. But there is a right way and a wrong way.

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Jacobs weighs in on marriage equality

By : Tom Dyer
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A Monroe County circuit court judge recently declared Florida’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional. Four more cases are pending, including one in Miami-Dade. With the issue front-and-center in the state, activists on both side of the issue have sought the opinion of Central Florida’s most powerful elected official, Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs. Watermark requested an interview with Mayor Jacobs, which has been promised in the near future. This afternoon, Mayor Jacobs released this exclusive statement to Watermark publisher Tom Dyer.

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