5.7.15 Editor’s Desk

By : Steve Blanchard
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SteveCap

After a solid decade at Watermark, it’s time to say goodbye.

On one hand, it feels like I’ve been a representative of this newsmagazine my entire life. On the other, it seems like only a few months ago that I was a freelancer, frantically searching for the “LGBT angle” and the sources required of my assignments.

It has been an amazing journey—one full of successes, failures, plenty of laughter and some embarrassments. But as of May 15, my career at Watermark will come to a close.

It’s time to hang up my editor-in-chief press badge and pursue a new opportunity that is just as near and dear to me as the fight for LGBT equality. I will soon be the Media Relations Coordinator for Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, a research hospital that is on the cutting edge of cancer research. Fighting and curing cancer is now more important to me than ever, since the disease claimed my mother on April 2, 2015.

Saying goodbye is rarely fun and it is always painful. Watermark has been a big part of my life and identity. It defined me through my late 20s and a majority of my 30s. I’ve met people with a passion for equality that is both inspiring and intimidating. I’ve chatted with celebrities who have a special place for LGBTs in their hearts. I’ve seen people so opposed to LGBT rights that they yell at my community, hold up hateful signs and attend governmental meetings just to ensure that I am denied certain rights.

I’m happy to say that in my time here I’ve seen more wins for us than losses.

Saying goodbye is hard.

My co-workers are my friends, and the team of freelancers who bring so much quality to Watermark are amazing, talented people who are rarely afraid of a deadline or scared of a story assignment.
It’s those people who have made my career at Watermark a successful one.

As a resident of Tampa Bay, I’ve worked closely with a number of organizations and individuals who are fighting the good fight. And I’ve had some amazing “work spouses”—the men and women who have served as Watermark’s Tampa Bay sales reps—since I came on board 10 years ago.

Grateful scarcely describes my feelings for Watermark founder Tom Dyer, who saw in me a responsible person capable of steering the editorial direction of this company. This newsmagazine is his baby, and the trust he has shown in me over the years is immeasurable.

Many know him as the founder of Watermark. I called him my boss and my mentor. Now I consider him my friend.

When I was hired on full-time in 2005, I saw an opportunity to use my journalistic talents in a way I never imagined—to put a spotlight on LGBT issues. A decade later, it’s my honor to have a portfolio full of stories about our community, all told by you and collected and shared through me.

I’ve manned the Watermark booth in sun-drenched parks, hot streets and rain-soaked fields; I’ve been on LGBT Pride floats and spoken at meetings, gatherings and special events that are aimed directly at our community.

I’ve interviewed senators, representatives, commissioners, council members and mayors—all of whom were asked specific LGBT-related questions.

I’m very proud of my Watermark career and leaving it behind was not a decision I made lightly.

But I do know it is time to pass the pen (or laptop, in this instance) onto someone with a fresh perspective and new ideas. I didn’t expect to remain the editor of this amazing paper forever. I just never had an active plan to leave—until now.

While I will hand over my business cards, my press pass and my work email addresses on May 15, I am physically staying close since my incredibly supportive partner and I have no plans to leave Tampa Bay.

While I am excited about this next chapter, my passion for LGBT equality has not diminished and you will see me at galas and Pride festivals for years to come. I just won’t be there in an “official” capacity.

I truly hate to think of this as goodbye. Instead, I’ll say, “I’ll see you around.”

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