Orlando man looks to raise reward money to find local trans woman’s murderer

By : Jeremy Williams and Melanie Ararat
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ORLANDO | Sasha Garden, a 27-year-old transgender woman, was found dead in the parking lot of a Holden Ave. apartment complex in Orlando July 19.

At that time, Garden became the fourth trans woman murdered in the state of Florida and the 16th trans person taken by violence in the U.S. Those numbers have now climbed to a known five in Florida and a known 22 in the U.S., and in many of these cases local authorities have not turned up any suspects or made any arrests.

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Homo Erectus: The Evolution of Us – When there’s a will there’s a gay

By : Dr. Steve Yacovelli
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Once upon a time I was a young 20-something twinkie gayling; working, playing and having a pretty fun and carefree life. I had a good job (actually using my degree!), lived in a cute one-bedroom apartment in downtown Orlando and was a little social butterfly most evenings out and about.

SIDE NOTE: How did many of us function as a 20-something going out about five days a week? Anyway, the last thing on my mind during this phase of my life was planning for the future, thinking about retirement and what to do with my possessions should I meet my demise.

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Watermark Film Company’s new documentary ‘Greetings From Queertown’ shines a light on Orlando’s LGBTQ history

By : Christen Kelley
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From KKK members threatening Pride-filled parade marchers to a sea of red shirts ascending on Disney World for Gay Day at the Magic Kingdom to standing “Orlando Strong” around Lake Eola, Central Florida has come a long way for the LGBTQ community. It’s a rich history that Watermark Film Company plans to detail in their upcoming documentary, “Greetings From Queertown: Orlando.”

Spearheaded by Watermark owner, publisher and editor Rick Claggett, director/producer Sandi Hulon, director of photography Tye Belcher and others from Team Watermark, the film company was created to share the story of “Queertown.”

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Watermark owner creates film company, premieres first movie’s trailer

By : Staff Report
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ORLANDO | Watermark Film Company premiered the first trailer to its documentary film “Greetings From Queertown: Orlando” at a private fundraising event at The Venue in Orlando Aug. 23.

Watermark Film Company was launched by Watermark Publishing Group owner Rick Claggett as a way to create, produce and distribute films that inform and educate audiences on the LGBTQ experience, according to a press release.

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4.19.18 Publisher’s Desk

By : Rick Claggett
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I haven’t always loved my job. Who loves anything all of the time? Even a parent who loves their child might want to slap them “into the middle of next week” occasionally. So I hear. I don’t have children, but I have adorable dogs that drive me crazy as much as they warm my heart.

I remember I was at a low point in 2004 with my career at Watermark. The repetition of an administrative assistant position with a local niche newspaper was taking its toll on me. I was young, stupid and combative. Up to this point, I never held a job for more than a year and a half and I was currently over two years at Watermark. I was starting to get antsy, so I looked for another job. Walt Disney World accepted me to their entertainment team as a production assistant and I took a few days off at Watermark to enroll in the Disney training class known as Traditions. The only thing left to do was put in my notice and leave.

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The Last Page with owner/publisher/editor Rick Claggett

By : Jeremy Williams
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Other than founder Tom Dyer, there is no other person more synonymous with the Watermark name than current owner/publisher/editor Rick Claggett.

Rick recently entered his 16th year with Watermark turning his love for Central Florida and Tampa Bay’s LGBTQ communities into his life’s passion of telling their stories, but that wasn’t the direction he originally saw his life moving.

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The Last Page with Founder and Guiding Light Tom Dyer

By : Rick Claggett
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Founder Tom Dyer sold Watermark two years ago, but remains and will forever be the newspaper’s guiding light. His law office is next door, so we see him several times a day when he crosses the parking lot to raid our refrigerator and steal office supplies. Always the diplomat, he offers opinions when asked and reassurance when needed.

Tom first envisioned Watermark back in the spring of 1994. “I was in Atlanta having lunch at a restaurant in Virginia Highlands, where everyone seemed to be reading Southern Voice,” Tom recalls. “I started fantasizing about people sitting in cafes in Thornton Park reading Central Florida’s LGBT newspaper. The idea was so invigorating that I drove to Southern Voice’s offices and asked to meet its publishers. They loaded me down with all kinds of information, and for the next several months it was all I could think about.”

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The Last Page with Sales Director Danny Garcia

By : Rick Claggett
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“I have a history with Watermark,” says Sales Director Danny Garcia. “There was a job opening at a time when I felt like I needed a change, so I seized the opportunity.”

Danny’s history with Watermark dates back to his mid-teens. He was attending a local teen club when the DJ made some derogatory remarks towards the LGBTQ community. Danny felt compelled to write about the experience in a letter to the editor of Watermark. The letter was printed and the radio station hosting the event made the DJ apologize to Danny personally.

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10.5.17 Publisher’s Desk

By : Rick Claggett
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On June 11, 2016, I was out celebrating the birthday of a co-worker and friend. We had plans to have dinner, see a movie and possibly hit a local hot spot to end the festivities. We had a friend with us who spent every Saturday night at Pulse and we were prepared for him to drag us older fellows out there.

The restaurant was crowded so the wait for the table was over an hour. This changed the course of the evening. We missed our movie and had to settle for a later, more obscure film called The Lobster. The birthday boy was ecstatic because we ended up seeing the movie he wanted to see anyway.

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7.27.17 Founder’s Forum: Remembering Billy Manes

By : Tom Dyer
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Tom Dyer Watermark gay

Billy Manes wore sweaters on the hottest summer days, often with a scarf and beret. He was quirky in that and so many other ways.

With his gangly body and loose-limbed walk, and that shock of peroxide blonde hair, he was like an elfin Muppet. Strange in a stylish and wonderfully appealing way. Disarmingly honest. Transparently vulnerable. Self-effacing to a fault. But also passionate and courageous when moved by injustice.

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Jake Stevens defines a decade at Watermark

By : Rick Claggett
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img_9450-2016headshots_ppOrlando – February 8 marked the 10-year anniversary for Watermark’s art director, Jake Stevens.

Tom Dyer, Watermark’s founder and guiding light, remembers the day he met Stevens. “I’ll never forget Jake’s job interview. He radiated New England, down to the brown corduroy jacket. And he had this wonderful, ornery self-confidence. He wanted the job, and I could tell he would give it his all. That’s exactly what he’s done these past ten years, under four very different editors and two publishers,” said Dyer.

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2.11.16 Editor’s Desk

By : Billy Manes
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Billy Manes

Billy Manes

“Love is real. Real is love.” Those were the terms breathily reinterpreted by new-wave breathers Dream Academy via John Lennon as I walked down the aisle at the Acre in College Park on Feb 14, 2015 with my (then) soon-to-be husband Tony Mauss. I blubbered and my shirt came untucked and I bit my lip and I forced my way through the emotional cloud that a gathering of 300 people implies, finally arriving upon a stage – a romantic plateau if you will – face to face with my future and Orange/Osceola circuit judge Bob LeBlanc. It was on.

Marriage equality had only become the law of the land one month earlier, and, given the Google Docs and weekend meetings and vodka and online invitations and planning that are wrapped into a control freak’s idea of a wedding, we did a pretty good job. All our favorite dignitaries and dirtbags, family, friends and freaks were there, the sky was as clear as our right to marry and our vows were the towering beams of overstatement and poetry required to signify our shift in our time. We were legal within moments; we’ve been happy every day since.

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