Issue 26.10: The Red Sea

By : Dylan Todd
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Red Shirt Pride Day looks to continue Orlando’s traditional Gay Day at the Magic Kingdom, Gulfport Public Library wins national award, Zebra Coalition to throw LGBTQ Youth Pride Prom, local news, celebrity interviews, photos, events and much, much more!

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05.15.19 Central Florida Bureau Chief’s Desk

By : Jeremy Williams
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Change scares a lot of people. You get so comfortable with the way things are—whether they are ideal for you or not—and you figure why change it up? What if you make things worse? What if the payout isn’t what you thought it would be in the end?

I have always been a fan of change. I’ve rarely lived in the same place more than a few years, opting to pack up and change homes, roommates and, in some cases, entire states for a change of scenery. It’s why I always fit well in the military lifestyle, a lifestyle I would most likely still be a part of if not for that pesky “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” thing. No, I wasn’t discharged because I was gay but the hardship of hiding who I was and having to come up with inventive, new ways to explain to my commander why my “roommate” accompanied me to all work functions, family gatherings and annual vacations was more work than I wanted to put into a lie.

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05.15.19 Tampa Bay Bureau Chief’s Desk

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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I despised many things as a child. Some were warranted—like corn, which remains my arch nemesis—but others not as much, like doing nothing on a Saturday. Of the many things that cultivated my childhood angst, however, one in particular stands out: Easter.

I didn’t hate the holiday. There wasn’t much to hate in my family because we rarely did anything for it; gatherings were reserved for “major holidays” like Thanksgiving or Christmas. I wasn’t even aware families congregated for Easter until I was in college, and I was still surprised this year when Publix was closed for the day.

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Zebra Coalition to host LGBTQ Youth Pride Prom

By : Jeremy Williams
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ABOVE: The Zebra Coalition celebrates Come Out With Pride on their float during the parade in downtown Orlando last year. Photo courtesy for Zebra Coalition

ORLANDO | The Zebra Coalition is hosting its first-ever Youth Pride Prom at the Orlando Museum of Art June 22 from 6-10 p.m. for LGBTQ youth ages 14-20.

Zebra is partnering with more than a dozen coalition partners and a youth committee to plan the event.

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One Orlando Alliance to host community discussion on LGBTQ homelessness

By : Abigail Brashear
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ORLANDO | The One Orlando Alliance is hosting a Central Florida-based discussion on the topic of LGBTQ youth homelessness at the Holden Heights Community Center in Orlando on April 11.

The discussion panel will consist of representatives from Alliance member organizations Bliss Cares, Equality Florida and Zebra Coalition; and will be moderated by Homeless Services Network of Central Florida Deputy Director Brian Postlewait.

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Central Florida LGBTQ homeless coalition offers foster parenting informational sessions

By : Abigail Brashear
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The Zebra Coalition, a Central Florida-based network of organizations that provide aid to LGBTQ youth, is offering foster parenting informational sessions for those who are wondering how to become a foster parent. 

Robin Daily, community engagement and coalition manager of the Zebra Coalition, said during these informational sessions, staff from the Zebra Coalition and their partners Devereux and Embrace Families, as well as current foster families, will answer any questions that attendees might have about the process. 

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Rock Hard Fitness to host charity boot camp for The Barber Fund

By : Jeremy Williams
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ABOVE: Rock Hard Fitness held a charity boot camp to raise funds for Equality Florida, one of the many organizations the Orlando-based fitness center supports, in July. Photo courtesy Rock Hard Fitness’ Facebook page

ORLANDO | Rock Hard Fitness, a personal training and fitness facility in Orlando, holds charity boot camp sessions throughout the year to help raise funds for organizations such as Equality Florida and Zebra Coalition. The LGBTQ-friendly fitness center announced it will host the next one on Dec. 9 to help raise money for the Orlando-based charity The Barber Fund.

The Barber Fund, named for the late John “Tweeka” Barber who passed away in 2011 after fighting a rare form of cancer known as Sinonasal Carcinoma, was established in 2014 as a way to help those living with cancer in any way that they needed help.

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PHOTOS: Through rain and shine, runners took to Baldwin Park for COWP’s Drag Race 5K

By : Jeremy Williams
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ORLANDO | The weather didn’t keep the runners away as more than 200 people showed up to Harbor Park to participate in the first ever Come Out With Pride, partnering with the Zebra Coalition, Drag Race 5K on Oct. 8.

The runners sprinted, strolled and walked through the sometimes clear, sometimes rainy Baldwin Park dressed in their most colorful and fashionable attire.

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Come Out With Pride to keep Orlando dancing with this year’s parade, festival

By : Christen Kelley
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ABOVE: COWP’s Most Colorful Parade at downtown Orlando in 2017. Photo by Brian Becnel

ORLANDO | Come Out With Pride (COWP) is gearing up for its most colorful day of the year — its 14th annual Pride festival and parade held on Oct. 13.

Aligning with National Coming Out Day and LGBTQ History Month, COWP is one of the largest Pride events in Florida with over 160,000 attendees last year. COWP President Jeff Prystajko says there will likely be even more this year.

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PHOTOS: The Center Kissimmee holds its grand opening and ribbon cutting

By : Jeremy Williams
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KISSIMMEE, Fla. | Politicians, media, local leaders and community members all gathered at the new LGBT+ Center in Kissimmee for the grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony Aug. 15.

George Wallace, executive director of The Center, welcomed guests before introducing a string of political leaders — State Rep. John Cortes, Congressman Darren Soto and Osceola County Commissioner Cheryl Grieb — who all expressed gratitude for The Center coming to Kissimmee. Grieb also presented The Center with a proclamation from the county. 

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The Center Orlando and Zebra Coalition will expand partnership to new Kissimmee Center

By : Jeremy Williams
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ORLANDO | The LGBT+ Center Orlando and Zebra Coalition announced Aug. 8 that they will expand their collaborative services to the brand new LGBT Center location in Kissimmee.

The program expansion —made possible by grant support from both the Contigo Fund and Orlando Health — will include youth mental health counseling support, as well as youth and parent support groups facilitated by a Zebra Coalition mental health counselor.

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Come Out With Pride announces its week-long schedule of events for Pride 2018

By : Jeremy Williams
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ORLANDO | Come Out With Pride (COWP) announced its schedule of events at its 2018 Big Reveal at Tin Roof Orlando July 30. COWP will extend its official events from the traditional three-day weekend to a full week of events.

COWP’s week-long series of events will take place throughout Orlando Oct. 8-14. Several community leaders took the stage at the Big Reveal to make the announcements.

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