Watermark’s Most Remarkable People of 2019

By : Watermark Staff
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What a remarkable year 2019 has been for the LGBTQ communities in Central Florida and Tampa Bay.

Whether it was in the field of politics, philanthropy, activism, entertainment or pageantry; there was no shortage of remarkable people for us to choose for Watermark’s annual list of the Most Remarkable People in Central Florida and Tampa Bay.

In honor of the year 2019, we choose 19 people across our readership area who were breaking records and blazing trails for the LGBTQ community. Once we selected our 19 Remarkables, we asked members of the community work know, work and admire each of them to write why they thought they were remarkable.

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Billy Looper and Tom Christ, Founders of KindRED Pride Foundation and owners of One Magical Weekend

By : Roxy Santiago, Board President, The LGBT+ Center Orlando/Kissimmee
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I’ve known of Billy Looper and Tom Christ for years as the guys who founded, run and operate One Magical Weekend. I personally met them when they came to The LGBT+ Center in Orlando for the Santa’s Bike Force giveaways.

Now in its 16th year, Santa’s Bike Force was Billy and Tom’s way of helping to give less fortunate kids that feeling of receiving your first bicycle. Through their efforts, dozens upon dozens of bikes have been handed out to kids during the holidays.

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RED Shirt Pride Day looks to continue Orlando’s traditional Gay Day at the Magic Kingdom

By : Jeremy Williams
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In June 1991, a group of LGBTQ Central Floridians—led by openly gay Orlando resident Doug Swallow—decided to meet at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom to say to “The Most Magical Place On Earth” that “We’re here, we’re queer and we’d like to see Cinderella’s Castle!”

“[Doug said] ‘let’s go be somewhere where we can be ourselves and let people see that we’re normal people, but let them know that we are gay … we’ll do something like wear a red shirt so we can know who each other are.’ That was totally Doug’s idea, to make that day what it is,” said Michael Wanzie, a Central Florida entertainer who was at the very first event, in an interview with Watermark in 2018.

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KindRED Pride Foundation forms to continue Orlando’s red shirt tradition

By : Jeremy Williams
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ORLANDO | KindRED Pride Foundation, a nonprofit organization formed by One Magical Weekend owners Tom Christ and Billy Looper, announced in a press release March 7 their intent to have as many people as possible wear red shirts on June 1.

“On St. Patrick’s Day everyone is inclined to express connection to what that day represents by wearing green on March 17—whether they are Irish or not,” the organization said in the press release.” So the first Saturday of June will continue to be the day that kindred spirits around the world wear RED in solidarity.”

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With changes to Orlando’s Big Gay Weekend coming in 2019, we look back on the history of Gay Day

By : Jeremy Williams
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Outside of Pride parades and festivals, one could argue that no other LGBTQ event in the world is as recognizable as the one that occurs on the first Saturday in June every year at the happiest place on Earth.

Gay Day at Disney’s Magic Kingdom has gone through many changes and obstacles in its 28-year history. What began as one day at the park ballooned into multiple days of events from many groups who bring circuit parties, concerts, expos and pool parties every year that encircle the original event and carry the same message of visibility that Gay Day at Magic Kingdom was founded on.

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