Orlando gay organizations add groups

By : Jamie Hyman
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Two Central Florida LGBT organizations are offering new groups to benefit the community they serve.

Older, Wiser, Learning (OWL), a program for older LGBTs run out of the GLBT Center, now offers a weekly “Lady Hoots,” a forum for women to discuss issues and topics they face in their daily lives.

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Young with heart: Zebra Coalition’s Youth Council act as ambassadors for LGBT equality

By : Ciara Varone
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Orlando – The Zebra House has always been a safe space that takes in LGBT youth, but now the Zebra Coalition is reaching outward, into the community, with a Zebra Youth Council.

Nine young people, ages 17 to 24, have been serving on the council since this past summer. In addition to their role as ambassadors for the LGBT youth community, the council members are tasked with helping Zebra Coalition to better understand the young people it serves. The Coalition is a network of Central Florida social service providers, government agencies, schools, and colleges and universities that provide a full continuum of services to at-risk LGBT+ youth.

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Zebra Coalition Thanksgiving Dinner 2015

By : Jamie Hyman
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Local LGBT youth and representatives from the Zebra Coalition gathered at Zebra House Nov. 24 to enjoy an early Thanksgiving dinner.

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By setting up a scholarship, Karen Castelloes reached out directly to LGBT Youth in 2014

By : Samantha Rosenthal
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Orlando – If Karen Castelloes could describe her year in one word, she said it be “rewarding.”

Castelloes, an exiting board member of Joy MCC and the co-founder of the Jeff Voss Education Fund, has been an active member in the LGBT community, volunteering her time and effort to a variety of organizations and people to help give back.

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Orlando Magic donates $35,000 to support LGBT youth

By : Staff Report
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Orlando – The Orlando Magic Youth Fund has donated $35,000 to the Zebra Coalition, a network of organizations working together to support LGBT youth in Central Florida.

Over the past two dozen years, the Orlando Magic Youth Foundation and the Orlando Magic Youth Fund, a McCormick Foundation Fund (OMYF-MFF), has distributed more than $18.5 million to local non-profit organizations.

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Orlando’s Zebra House celebrates one year anniversary

By : Jamie Hyman
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Orlando – When Dexter Foxworth became the executive director of the Zebra Coalition a year and a half ago, one of his first jobs was to find a drop-in center for the youth the Coalition serves.

The Zebra Coalition is a network of organizations which provide services to LGBT and questioning youth ages 13-24, whether they need medical care, counseling, emergency housing, transitional housing or education.

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IKEA and Zebra Coalition

By : Rick
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In June, a team of IKEA Orlando co-workers installed $10,000 worth of IKEA products and in-kind donations at The Zebra Coalition House, which provides a full continuum of services to the growing number of LGBT+ youth, ages 13 to 24, in Central Florida. The Zebra Coalition was named one of 38 charitable organizations across the county that was awarded $10,000 each in IKEA products, services and in-kind donations through the Life Improvement Challenge campaign.

The items included storage, seating, a grill, towels and robes and decor.

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Orlando: Gay for president?

By : Anonymous
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Out Candidate on National Ticket?
Too soon to talk 2016? Not for Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund president and CEO Chuck Wolfe, who was the guest of honor at an April 16 reception hosted by Bob Poe, who sits on the organization’s board. Wolfe touted the organization’s accomplishments, including almost doubling LGBT representation in Congress from four to seven, and electing the first out U.S. Senator, Tammy Baldwin from Wisconsin.

And he noted that out state legislators were elected for the first time in several states, including Florida. Wolfe said his immediate goal is helping elect the first out mayor of New York City, Christine Quinn. But he couldn’t resist biting at a question about the 2016 ticket. His projection: Jeb Bush backed by John Huntsman for the Republicans, and Hillary Clinton and Gavin Newsome for the Democrats. And Wolfe went even further, projecting that an out candidate will be on the national ticket by 2032.

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OYA gets a new home

By : Staff Report
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The Orlando Youth Alliance (OYA) has a new home base at Reeves United Methodist Church in the Mills 50 District.

Reeves UMC is an open and affirming church, and according to a media release by OYA, the staff at Reeves are excited about and working with OYA to fulfill its mission of offering a safe space for LGBT youth to meet. The church will offer space for weekly group meetings and Friday social drop-ins, plus additional space for larger social activities like prom and homecoming dances.

Earlier this year, the Zebra Coalition offered OYA space at the Zebra House on Mills Avenue but according to the OYA media release, the space availability was too limited.

To 5 2012 Orlando news stories

By : Watermark Staff
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Big Trend: Domestic partner registries
Central Florida was on fire this year when it came to implementing domestic partner registries. In January, the city of Orlando officially registered its first couples. Also in January, LGBT activists put pressure on Orange County mayor Theresa Jacobs to follow suit. Jacobs would not commit but in February, a plan came before the County Commissioners and they moved forward. The HELP Ordinance, which pretty much allowed anyone to become “domestic partners with any other individual, moved forward in May and couples began registering in July. That same month, same-sexcouples began registering in Volusia County.

Saunders sworn in
Joe Saunders wasn’t the first openly gay person elected to the Florida Legislature – after a victory in the August primaries, that honor goes to David Richardson (D-Miami Beach). However, thanks to a little luck when the speaker called the legislators up to take the oath of office, Saunders did become the first openly gay person to be sworn into the Florida Legislature. After a decisive win in the primaries and a strong campaign across the board, the former Equality Florida staffer made history with his partner by his side. Saunders wasn’t the only history-making candidate this year. Though her bid was not successful, Gina Duncan was the first transgender candidate to run for Orange County Commissioner.

Zebra House opens doors
Orlando’s LGBT youth have new headquarters. On Dec. 5, Zebra Coalition leaders and Commissioner Patty Sheehan cut the ribbon on the Zebra House, which will serve as the Coalition’s office space and emergency shelter for at-risk LGBT youth. Centrally located in Mills Ave., the building is equipped with computer stations, a library and even a custom zebra-striped Xbox.

Orange County Schools votes down discrimination
Once the Florida Family Association got involved, a proposed addition of sexual identity and gender expression to the Orange County School Board’s non-discrimination policy went from touchy to downright contentious. Things got even more heated when local TV media made the bizarre decision to frame the issue as a “cross dressing initiative,” putting the emphasis on the possibility of gender-transitioning teachers rather than what it was really about – protecting LGBT students and staffers from discrimination. After an 8-hour hearing in front of a packed room, the school board stood strong and opted to approve the inclusive policy with a 6-2 vote.

Biggest Gay Days yet
Sure, Gay Days is big every year, but 2012 was huge. Organizers reported the 1,000-room host hotel, the Doubletree by Hilton, was sold out earlier than ever before while local bars hosted weekend events with record attendance. Not even a rainy start could dampen the fun, with revelers simply opting to pack into the sold-out Gay Days Expo while they waited for the storms to pass. GayDays.com organizers expanded this year, adding another Gay Days weekend in Vegas, but there’s no indication it will steal the spotlight from the original in Orlando. Gay Days.com co-owner Chris Manley reports they’ve renewed their contract with the Doubletree for another three years.

Zebra House Ribbon Cutting

By : Watermark Staff
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Ribbon cutting ceremony for the grand opening of the Zebra House on Mills Ave, Dec. 5. Photos by Andres Duputel.

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