Top 5 2012 LGBT Tampa Bay news stories

By : Aaron Alper
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Domestic Partnership Registries
Way back in February, Tampa City Councilwoman Yvonne Capin planted the seeds for a domestic partnership registry that soon spread across the bay and into Pinellas County. Capin asked for a registry to recognize unmarried couples in the City of Tampa in late February, and by late March Mayor Bob Buckhorn signed the ordinance. By the time St. Pete Pride rolled around in June, the City of St. Petersburg approved its own domestic partnership ordinance, as did the cities of Gulfport and Clearwater.

GaYbor Turf War
Social Media lit up in February when two Ybor City promoters aired their dissatisfaction with each other on Facebook. In short, promoters of the El Gancho Circuit Party felt wronged by Florida Entertainment Group. On the flip side, FEG felt the party was promoted using unethical practices. The cover story on Watermark elicited responses from both sides, but the GaYbor Coalition soon mended fences and things returned to normal in the entertainment hotspot of Tampa.

St. Pete Pride
The last Saturday in June brought out the biggest crowd to date for the St. Pete Pride Street Festival. Low crowd estimates put the numbers at just over 100,000, while some media outlets reported upwards of 115,000. Regardless of the numbers, the 10th Anniversary of the state’s largest Pride celebration and its headliner Deborah Cox brought out Carnivale-themed floats and costumes. It also marked the last festival for Chris Rudisill, who resigned his post as executive director in July to work for Metro Wellness and Community Centers.

GOP Convention invades Tampa
August saw an upheaval in Tampa traffic and everyday life when the Republican National Convention took over the Tampa Bay Times Forum and most of downtown Tampa. The three-day convention, which battled headlines with Tropical Storm Isaac, also brought two LGBT GOP groups to town. The Log Cabin Republicans held workshops on both sides of the bay and GOProud held its annual “Homocon” at The Honey Pot in Ybor City the week of the convention.

Kenwood house fire fails to cover up murders
Two men – one a well known local gay man – were murdered inside a Kenwood neighborhood home in St. Petersburg in September. The bodies of Bruce Johnson, 51, and Arthur Regula, 36, were discovered after firefighters doused an intentionally set blaze Sept. 30. Police eventually arrested Michal Norris, who reportedly walked away from a work release program that same day, obtained a gun and made his way to Kenwood, where he robbed and shot the two men. He then stole Regula’s pickup truck, which he abandoned in Tampa. Mitch Harrison, the owner of the home, plans to rebuild.

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