01.09.20 Tampa Bay Bureau Chief’s Desk

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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In “Star Trek: First Contact,” the finest film in the popular franchise’s more than 50-year history, the eternal Patrick Stewart’s Captain Picard beams into theaters to lead the U.S.S. Enterprise into battle against the sci-fi staple’s deadliest threat. No, not reboots – the Borg.

The Borg are chilling, cybernetic aliens linked to a hive mind known as “The Collective.” They forcibly transform individuals into zombie-like drones through the process of assimilation, linking their victims to a collective consciousness and erasing all traces of their individuality in the process.

The many become one. At the direction of their leader, they target anyone who looks or thinks differently than they do, seeking to add their distinctiveness to their own. It’s not unlike some members of the modern Republican Party, just with less covfefe and more cybernetics. Think “Make Assimilation Great Again.”

If you’re not a fan of or you’re not familiar with “Star Trek” and very little of the above makes sense, it’s possible you would have made fun of me in elementary school. Or middle school. Or maybe you are now.

Nevertheless, I have been – and always shall be – a fan. I’ve been a proud “Trekkie” since my father introduced me to the series, a longtime favorite of his, at a very young age.

He’d grown up watching “Star Trek,” which would eventually become known as “The Original Series.” It offered fans weekly, futuristic fantasy and lessons in philosophy from 1966-69. In its three seasons and 79 episodes, it celebrated diversity and inclusion with, among other things, television’s first interracial kiss.

It did so just one year after the Supreme Court struck down state laws against interracial marriage, proving “Star Trek” was willing to boldly go where no series had gone before. That’s why it’s inspired 13 feature films and nearly 10 television shows to date, including “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” which I mirrored my father and grew up watching.

I like to think that’s why he introduced me to the franchise, aside from wanting a fellow “Trekkie” to talk Spock with. I believe he wanted me to absorb its message of tolerance to help shape many of my formative years. It did.

Of the multiple lessons the series taught me, two in particular stand out.

First, that no matter how excited you are after attending your first “Star Trek” convention, no other fifth graders will think your “Beam Me Up, Scotty!” pin or extremely rare Deanna Troi figure are cool. Keep them in your bookbag.

Second, and this is more useful as an adult in 2020, the bad guys ultimately don’t win. Not even the Borg, no matter how overwhelmed you become as they assert that your existence as you know it is over and that resistance is futile.

Resistance isn’t futile, it’s essential. The future can still be a hopeful and inclusive place, with room for all people to have a seat at the table – whomever they love, however they identify, wherever they’re from and whatever they do or do not worship.

2020 certainly seems like the future to me, seeing as it’s already become a year in which an impeached president can threaten war via tweet and head to the golf course.

So after nearly four years of targeting anyone who looks or thinks differently than this administration does – erasing LGBTQ rights at every opportunity, stacking the courts with anti-LGBTQ judicial picks and advocating against us before the Supreme Court – it’s time to explore new frontiers.

It’s time for equality-focused voters to trek to the polls in record numbers. It’s time to ensure that a second term is one place where no Trump has gone before.

In this issue we focus on 2020 in another way, turning to health and wellness at the beginning of this new year. We speak with personal trainers, fitness coaches and nutritionists in Tampa Bay and Central Florida who share their tips to help you live long and prosper, however you see fit.

The two-year search for a missing Lakeland man continues in Tampa Bay news, as the Florida Department of Law Enforcement unveils details about its $10,000 reward. Anti-LGBTQ attorney and former Pinellas-Pasco judicial candidate Donald McBath is also suspended from practicing law – and in happier legal news in Central Florida, Orlando Pride players Ali Krieger and Ashlyn Harris wed.

We focus on music and magic in Arts and Entertainment. Pop-u-lar LGBTQ ally and Broadway legend Kristin Chenoweth chats with us about her new album ahead of her Sarasota stop. “Harry Potter” fan John Michael also heads to Hogwarts for “John Michael and the Order of the Penix” in Orlando.

Watermark strives to bring you a variety of stories, your stories. I hope you enjoy this latest issue. Engage!

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