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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The Center Orlando to bring LGBTQ children’s books to the community

By : Colton Adkins
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ORLANDO | The LGBT+ Center Orlando is expanding again, and this expansion is bringing in something for the kids.

George Wallace, The Center’s executive director, says the new expansion will include a children’s library complete with LGBTQ children’s books and youth novels. A children’s library will be added into the new Center coming to Kissimmee as well.

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“Hedwig and the Angry Inch” heads to the Cocoa Village Playhouse to benefit the Zebra Coalition

By : Colton Adkins
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For a special two-night event, “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” will be showing at the Cocoa Village Playhouse outside of their normal show season. The punk-rock show is centered on Hedwig, a woman who “is out to set the record straight about her life, her loves and the botched operation that left her with that ‘angry inch.’”

Benjamin Cox, a 41-year-old marketing artist at the Cocoa Village Playhouse, not only stars as the titular character but also directs and co-produces the special engagement. “This has been kind of a passion project of mine since the late ‘90s when I saw the movie and found out that it was a stage play originally,” remembers Cox.

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Central Florida Overheard: Who run the world?

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ABOVE: President of the Barber Fund and owner of The Venue, Blue Star.

Orlando Magazine has named its Women of the Year in Central Florida and a couple of familiar names popped up on that list. “They are educators, mentors, counselors, fund-raisers, business owners and managers of organizations that help those in need. But most of all they are leaders, who step forward to help keep our community strong,” says Orlando Magazine of its 23 individual selections.

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06.14.18 Central Florida Bureau Chief’s Desk

By : Jeremy Williams
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As you are reading this it has been a few days since the two-year mark of the Pulse tragedy, but because of how deadlines and press days fall, I am writing this the day before the June 12 date.

June 12 carries a weird energy with me now. For those who don’t know, I share my birthday with the same day that a disturbed individual decided to take 49 lives at Pulse. Last year at the one-year mark, while attending memorials and vigils, I was receiving notifications of Happy Birthday and messages wishing me a fun and happy day all while grieving with my community and consoling friends.

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Local filmmaker to hold sneak peek of religious LGBTQ film ‘At the End of the Day’ in Lakeland

By : Jeremy Williams
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LAKELAND, Fla. | Kevin O’Brien, a local-area filmmaker, announced that he will hold a special sneak peek of his first feature-length film “At the End of the Day” at the historic Polk Theatre in Lakeland May 18.

“At the End of the Day” is a dramatic comedy that explores the tensions between the evangelical church and the LGBTQ community. Dave Hopper, played by Stephen Shane Martin, is a conservative professor at a Christian college who goes undercover in a gay support group to try and stop them from launching an LGBTQ homeless youth shelter in his small town.

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Central Florida Overheard: A film for “family”

By : anonymous
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“Love, Simon,” which opened in theaters March 16, is a teen dramedy about a high school kid named Simon coming to terms with being gay after starting an email conversation with another closeted gay teen from his school. The film is based on the novel “Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda” by Becky Albertalli. It is also the first major studio release of a film that focuses on a teen gay romance, which is why celebrities across the country have been buying out screenings of the film and giving away tickets to anyone, particularly young LGBTQers, who want to see it.

Local celeb Sacha Kljestan, a midfielder for the Orlando City Soccer Club, and his wife bought out a screening at the Regal Winter Park Village for March 29 and packed the theater with kids from the Zebra Coalition. “The movie spreads the message of tolerance, acceptance and equality. We were inspired by other people who did this, so we just want to pay it forward and help spread the love to the people of Orlando,” Kljestan wrote on his Twitter. Kljestan is now a part of an impressive list of celebrities including Neil Patrick Harris, Matt Bomer and Kristen Bell who are spreading the word of love and acceptance through this amazing film.

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2018 WAVE Awards Spotlight: Zebra Coalition

By : Jeremy Williams
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CENTRAL FLORIDA’S MOST EFFECTIVE LOCAL LGBTQ ORGANIZATION

Zebra Coalition embodies every bit of their 2018 WAVE Award title as the most effective local LGBTQ organization. They have a very simple and direct mission—support and inspire LGBTQ+ youth—and they have been very effective in doing so.

“It’s such an important mission,” says Heather Wilkie, Zebra’s Executive Director. “We serve LGBTQ+ youth here. We provide housing services, mental health counseling support and really wrap-around all-around services for the youth here in Central Florida. I think it’s a critical service and clearly the community agrees.”

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