12.13.18 Tampa Bay Bureau Chief’s Desk

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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It occurred to me as I began to write this column that it would be my last in the year it began, 2018. It’s been a year I’ll never forget for a number of reasons, “chief” among them that I celebrated one year on Watermark’s staff Dec. 11.

My first column highlighted how writing full-time had always been my lifelong dream, something I’ve reiterated ad nauseam, but I’m still thankful that I get to do it and that I get to do it here. I’m very grateful for the family I’ve made at Watermark, for our readers and for our advertisers who make all of this possible. The stories of our ever-expanding LGBTQ community matter and have to be told.

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Disney to live stream Epcot’s Candlelight Processional hosted by Neil Patrick Harris

By : Jeremy Williams
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(Above image courtesy Disney Parks Blog.)

ORLANDO | Walt Disney World’s annual Candlelight Processional has become a tradition for park goers attending Epcot during the holiday season.

Every year guests watch as a choir, orchestra and a celebrity narrator tell the story of Christmas through words and music. Unfortunately, you’ve had to miss out on it if you didn’t happen to be visiting the parks on one of the event’s selected nights … until now.

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Pulse survivor challenges Disney to cease support for NRA-friendly gubernatorial candidate

By : Layla Ferris
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ORLANDO | Pulse nightclub shooting survivor Brandon Wolf is calling for Walt Disney World to “stop supporting NRA sellouts” such as Adam Putnam, a Republican running for Florida governor in the 2018 election.

Wolf denounced Disney’s contributions toward Putnam’s campaign in a video released with media company NowThis on June 12, two years after the Pulse nightclub shooting.

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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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01.11.18 Tampa Bay Bureau Chief’s Desk

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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I’ve never made a New Year’s resolution—at least that I can remember.It isn’t because I don’t hope for a better year than the last, particularly after a rather polarizing 2017. It’s just something that never really occurs to me, especially now that I have to wrangle my husband for my midnight-mandated “kissy” photo op. He hates pictures of people kissing.

There’s nothing wrong with people making resolutions. It works for some, and that’s wonderful. I try to make every day the best it can be, so an over-arching 365-day look-ahead just doesn’t do it for me.

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Watermark Giveaway: Annual Food & Wine Classic at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort

By : Jeremy Williams
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Watermark is giving away a pair of tickets to attend the annual Food & Wine Classic at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort Oct. 27-28.

You and a guest will stroll the causeway where you will be tempted with a diverse selection of delectable delights prepared by award-winning chefs and sample fine wine, beer and spirits from around the world. This is a great opportunity to sample beverages you may not have thought to try before.

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Orlando’s Overheard: Splashy winners, Equality Florida helps and Trump in the Hall of Presidents!

By : Anonymous
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Making a Splash at Fringe!

For the first time in Orlando Fringe history, Watermark chose to acknowledge LGBTQ shows and performers with an award, the Watermark Splash Award!

During the run of the 26th annual Orlando International Fringe Festival, patrons were asked to vote for their favorites online. The categories included Favorite LGBTQ Performer in a Leading Role, Favorite LGBTQ Performer in a Supporting Role, Favorite LGBTQ Director, Favorite LGBTQ Writer and Favorite LGBTQ Show.

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Watermark Giveaway: 7th Annual Food & Wine Classic at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort

By : Jeremy Williams
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Watermark is giving away a pair of tickets to attend the 7th Annual Food & Wine Classic at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort Saturday, Oct. 29.

You and a guest will stroll the causeway where you will be tempted with a diverse selection of delectable delights prepared by award-winning chefs and sample fine wine, beer and spirits from around the world. This is a great opportunity to sample beverages you may not have thought to try before.

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5.19.16 Editor’s Desk

By : Billy Manes
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Billy Manes

Billy Manes

You can’t make this shit up. Some 26 years ago, LGBT activists took a step into a fantasy world. Donning red shirts and hands that actually hold together, they walked out of past cultural abuses and into the open arms of a new future. A castle worthy of a blonde named Cinderella awaited and there were plenty of small worlds to discover, some goofy moments, some animatronics to endure and even a haunted mansion. If it all sounds terribly obtuse and the wayback lens seems to be covered in Vaseline, well maybe it is. We like to dream here in Florida. And when we dream, we make things happen. We dream big.

This month, we welcome the onslaught of all of the many machinations that comprise Gay Days. Whether it’s an official GayDayS.com situation or one of the tentacles that has grown in its glow – One Magical Weekend, Girls in Wonderland, the grape-picking drag of your local watering hole, that guy on the side of the road with the body you always wanted – we are here to celebrate, and we’re not stopping until we fall on our faces, brush off our pants, put another layer of lip balm on and carry on up the charts. This time we know it’s for real!

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Watermark Year in Review: June 2015

By : Jamie Hyman, Billy Manes and Jeremy Williams
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Glamorous Orlando superstar Ginger Minj (OK, Joshua Eads Brown) took the world by storm this year, placing second on Season 7 of RuPaul’s Drag Race. The drama of all the drama, though (and there was lots of drama), was Brown’s reconciliation with his father. Oh, also, there’s a completely accurate Adele interpretation to contend with. Well done.

Following the departure of editor-in-chief Steve Blanchard, two-decade bottle of Orlando Weekly hair products Billy Manes started at Watermark on June 22 in that position. Have you ever heard of him? HAVE YOU? This writer is he, and is very happy about his decision.

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Editor’s Desk 8.27.15

By : Billy Manes
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BillyManesCap

Billy Manes

Beyond all of the “It’s a Small World” and “Be Our Guest” tropes of Walt Disney World and the screaming children behind them, a stronger tide of inclusion has washed over Central Florida’s largest employer, one that threatens to make a believer out of even this cynic. That’s why it’s a Magic Kingdom, right? Shut up, turkey leg.

This week, it’s all about the shifting culture of acceptance and celebration of diversity at the park of all parks, thanks in no small part to WDW President George Kalogridis, our cover model. Kalogridis was kind enough to offer up his personage in order to discuss the park’s expanding acceptance of LGBT individuals; he is one.

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WDW hosts LGBT workplace equality conference

By : Kirk Hartlage
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Walt Disney World hosted the Out & Equal Equality Institute last week, designed to fostering an inclusive workplace for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) employees. Approximately 600 Business leaders from over 300 companies attended the day-long seminar held at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort.

Out & Equal Workplace Advocates is a nonprofit organization dedicated to achieving lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender workplace equality. The group works with Fortune 1000 companies and government agencies to provide a safe, welcoming and supportive environment for LGBT employees; The Walt Disney Company is a presenting partner.

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