Billy Looper and Tom Christ, Founders of KindRED Pride Foundation and owners of One Magical Weekend

By : Roxy Santiago, Board President, The LGBT+ Center Orlando/Kissimmee
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I’ve known of Billy Looper and Tom Christ for years as the guys who founded, run and operate One Magical Weekend. I personally met them when they came to The LGBT+ Center in Orlando for the Santa’s Bike Force giveaways.

Now in its 16th year, Santa’s Bike Force was Billy and Tom’s way of helping to give less fortunate kids that feeling of receiving your first bicycle. Through their efforts, dozens upon dozens of bikes have been handed out to kids during the holidays.

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MSgt. Grace Peek-Harris, Orlando Police Department

By : Capt. Jim Young, Orlando Police Department
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Master Sergeant Grace Peek-Harris has served the citizens of Orlando for 20 years. During the past three years, in addition to her role as a police supervisor, she has served as the department’s LGBTQ Liaison.

Grace has worked tirelessly to build on the continued relationships between the police department and the LGBTQ community, as well as enhance the partnerships within law enforcement since joining the Orlando Police department (OPD) in 1999. She has been in public service her entire adult life, starting out by serving her country in the U.S. Navy. She has served with the Zebra Coalition as the law enforcement representative, currently serves on the board of The LGBT+ Center and is the founder president of the Gay Officers Action League Central Florida (GOALcfl).

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Central Florida newscaster Jorge Estevez announces departure from Orlando

By : Jeremy Williams
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ORLANDO | Award-winning Central Florida newscaster Jorge Estevez announced on Facebook Nov. 26 that he would be leaving his position at WFTV Channel 9 next month for Atlanta’s WSB-TV.

“Yes, I am leaving #Orlando,” Estevez wrote. “This time an opportunity presented itself that was beyond incredible. I am going to get to work with seasoned journalists who have dedicated years of their careers to providing people with the stories of their communities.”

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The Center Orlando to host Stonewall National Museum exhibit

By : Jeremy Williams
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ORLANDO | The LGBT+ Center in Orlando has been selected to host the national traveling exhibit from Stonewall National Museum & Archives, the organization announced July 30.

The Center will be one of 20 LGBTQ community centers in the U.S. to feature selections from the museum’s Stonewall National Education Project, a program of 14 LGBTQ educational exhibits.

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05.30.19 Publisher’s Desk

By : Rick Claggett
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Hi! My name is Rick and I am queer. How does that make you feel? Does the word queer invoke anger or fear? Or is it something you embrace? Is this a generational question?

I understand and respect completely that the word queer is a trigger for some. I vividly remember being asked if I was queer when I was younger. It was usually accompanied by some snarl-faced look that let me know being queer was not a good thing in their eyes. Not knowing what queer meant, I would answer “no,” which would result in my gender being questioned or chased around the playground. By the time I was called “as queer as a three dollar bill,” I knew what they were saying.

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A look back at The LGBT+ Center of Central Florida as told from some of its executive directors

By : Watermark Staff
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The LGBT+ Center of Central Florida has seen a number of name changes in its several decades as the beacon of Orlando’s LGBTQ community. Throughout its years, The Center has also changed locations, starting with its first brick-and-mortar building on Mills Ave. in 1987. After bouncing to a few different locations on Colonial Dr., it settled in at its current location at 946 N. Mills Ave. in 2000.

Since finding its permanent home, The Center has had some renovations and expansions; adding more safe spaces for the LGBTQ+ community to have gatherings, meetings and parties, or just a comfy chair to sit and have a little quiet time. The Center is many things to many people.

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Babes in Bonnets sets record in fundraising for OYA

By : Jeremy Williams
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ORLANDO | Babes in Bonnets, The Parliament House’s annual Easter fixture, set a fundraising record bringing in $32,171 for the Orlando Youth Alliance March 26.

The previous record was set last year when Babes in Bonnets brought in $28,000 for OYA.

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