02.05.20 Tampa Bay Bureau Chief’s Desk

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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I’ve never had a particular affinity for cars. I’ve always been grateful to own the ones I have, of course – from my first, a 1991 Ford Thunderbird to my current, a 2009 Chevrolet Cobalt – I’ve just never been one to covet the latest make or model to move about town.

That likely began with my Thunderbird, graciously gifted to me by my parents in the early 2000s. It was far from new, though its James Bond-esque keycode entry was clearly ahead of its time, but I was thrilled to have it. All it needed were regular oil changes and a cassette tape adapter for my portable CD player.

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02.05.20 Central Florida Bureau Chief’s Desk

By : Jeremy Williams
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It’s the beginning of February and that means it’s time for Hollywood’s biggest night and one of my favorite times of the year — it’s the Oscars!

I’ve written in this space before why I love The Academy Awards, so I won’t go into the 30-year love affair Oscar and I have had, but before the stars walk the red carpet Feb. 9, I wanted to take on the ceremony’s biggest award — Best Picture — and let you know how I would rank the nine nominees since that is how the voting members of The Academy do it.

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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.

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01.09.20 Central Florida Bureau Chief’s Desk

By : Jeremy Williams
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I’m finding it very difficult to write this issue’s Central Florida Bureau Chief’s Desk. I’m having trouble putting words together which, for anyone who knows me, is not something I normally have trouble with. They might not be the smartest words, or even the correct words many times, but lack of words is usually not a problem.

As this is my first column of the most futuristic sounding year since 2000, I had planned to write all about my goals for 2020. To borrow the frequently mocked “Karen mantra,” it was going to be one of those “New Year, New Me” columns. I planned to climb into my comfy chair, legs tucked under my bum, wrapped in an infinity scarf and holding my latte close to my chest to talk about how 2020 is going to be a year of optimism and rebirth, but as I prepared to do this social media alerts started to ping on my phone about how we were about to enter into World War 3. Groovy.

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12.26.19 Central Florida Bureau Chief’s Desk

By : Jeremy Williams
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“Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes / How do you measure, measure a year?”

If you are familiar with the Broadway show “RENT” — and let’s face it, if you’re reading this then you probably are — you know the answer to that question is “love, seasons of love.” Well, for me I measure a year by pop culture’s five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred “best of” year-end lists. All the greatest magazines, entertainment shows, YouTube channels and Starbucks baristas have them. Heck, this very issue of Watermark, our annual Year in Review, has an A-Z list of the best moments in LGBTQ pop culture.

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12.26.19 Tampa Bay Bureau Chief’s Desk

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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As December comes to a close, taking 2019 with it, I’m most thrilled to reflect on the fact that I’ll be entering the next decade of my life as a nonsmoker. While I spent the majority of the last 10 years craving my next cigarette or shackled to a smoking section, I proudly celebrated one year smoke free this month.

I hit the milestone on Dec. 17, just one day before writing this column and six days after hitting another personal milestone, my second year as Tampa Bay Bureau Chief. I couldn’t be more grateful that I’m still serving in this position here at Watermark – it’s been another incredible year and an amazing December, even if I did turn 35.

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11.27.19 Central Florida Bureau Chief’s Desk

By : Jeremy Williams
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As singer Andy Williams (no relation) stated in 1963 — and nearly every other singer and musician since then — “it’s the most wonderful time of the year!”

That’s right, it’s the holiday season, and this Central Florida Bureau Chief’s Desk publishes the day before Thanksgiving and my next one, the final one of 2019, will be out the day after Christmas. So this is my final opportunity to let you all know what I want for Christmas this year.

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11.27.19 Tampa Bay Bureau Chief’s Desk

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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My husband and I recently marked three years of marriage, which is as strange to type as it was to celebrate. Not because I didn’t think we’d make it, I looked forward to our decades to come long before our wedding day, but because I’ve lost my perception of time.

A number of factors have contributed to my inability to understand the calendar year, Tampa Bay Bureau Chief among them operating in Watermark’s two-week press cycle, but I mostly attribute it to living in Florida. Even though I moved here more than a decade ago, I have yet to adjust to the lack of proper seasons; time flies when you’re having sun.

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10.31.19 Tampa Bay Bureau Chief’s Desk

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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I’m nearly two years younger than the educational organization D.A.R.E., or Drug Abuse Resistance Education, and my early schooling reflects that. Preventative programming was all the rage in the early 90s.

D.A.R.E. was designed to provide students with the tools to resist drugs, alcohol and other high risk behaviors. It still exists today, albeit without the same fanfare, led by police officers in thousands of classrooms across the country. Among other things, it’s committed to helping students from kindergarten through grade 12 “resist peer pressure and live productive drug and violence-free lives.”

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10.31.19 Central Florida Bureau Chief’s Desk

By : Jeremy Williams
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I’m always fascinated to hear stories about how people different from me grew up. The traditions and rules, comparing notes to find ways their families did things verus how my family did things makes for an interesting discussion.

Something that was never seen as odd to anyone in my family but was shocking to my friends, is that we had a TV in each of the bedrooms. I remember the wide-eyed look from friends when they saw my brother and I not only had a TV in our shared bedroom, but we also had cable. We were living the highlife.

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10.03.19 Tampa Bay Bureau Chief’s Desk

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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In 2016, Evan Minton was scheduled to receive a surgeon-approved hysterectomy at a faith-based hospital in California. After disclosing his transgender status, they canceled the procedure.

Minton filed a lawsuit claiming that his civil rights had been violated, which the courts dismissed. He appealed the ruling and his suit was revived in late September.

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10.02.19 Central Florida Bureau Chief’s Desk

By : Jeremy Williams
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It’s October, which means it’s that time of the year when I climb into the attic, dust off the boxes that read “HOLIDAY CRAP” and start figuring out how I am going to decorate for… Christmas! Merry Christmas, everyone!

Yes, I know that we have a couple more months and several other holidays to get through before the big, jolly elf brings me a bunch of stuff that I will love and play with for five minutes before moving on to making a fort out of the boxes all that junk came in, but I can’t help it. I love Christmas and, to be honest, I’m not a big fan of Halloween. I know, that is sacrilegious to say being gay but it doesn’t carry the same joy for me that it does for all the other L’s, G’s, B’s, T’s and Q’s I know.

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