North Pinellas Pride postpones Dunedin return

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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Dunedin, Fla. | North Pinellas Pride, originally scheduled to return to Dunedin April 24-26, has announced its indefinite postponement in response to COVID-19.

The inaugural celebration was held in 2010. It was scheduled to return this year after a nine year hiatus in cooperation with the Toronto Blue Jays, the Downtown Dunedin Merchants Association, the Dunedin Chamber of Commerce and the city government itself.

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Troye Sivan drops new single, looks to assist artists impacted by COVID-19

By : John Paul King of the washington blade, courtesy of the national LGBT media association
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ABOVE: Troye Sivan. (Photo from Instagram)

Troye Sivan is doing his best to keep us entertained during the COVID-19 pandemic – while also giving some much-needed support to artists struggling to find work – with the early release of his latest single, “Take Yourself Home.”

Originally slated to drop later in the year, Sivan decided on an early release after considering the song in a new context as he headed home to Australia for a period of isolation due to the global spread of the coronavirus.

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Tampa Bay entertainers stream recurring virtual shows

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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ABOVE: (L-R) Stephanie Stuart and Vyn Suazion, photos via Pasco Pride; Beneva Fruitville, photo by Dylan Todd; Daphne Ferraro, photo via Ferraro.

TAMPA BAY | Performers from throughout Tampa Bay are streaming recurring shows via social media to raise funds and awareness for performers financially impacted by COVID-19.

LGBTQ and ally venues began announcing event cancellations, postponements and closures throughout the area to reduce the spread of the coronavirus last month. Gov. Ron DeSantis subsequently ordered bars and nightclubs closed statewide, impacting a number of entertainers financially dependent on scheduled performances.

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FDA eases ban on gay blood donations amid coronavirus crisis

By : Chris Johnson OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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Faced with tremendous pressure during the coronavirus crisis to lift its policy barring gay men from donating blood, the Food & Drug Administration announced on Thursday it has eased the restrictions.

While the previous policy, established in 2015, barred men who have had sex with men in the 12 months from making a donation, the new policy would shorten the deferral period, requiring abstinence for only three months.

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States won’t collect LGBTQ data on COVID-19, advocates aren’t happy

By : Chris Johnson OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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ABOVE: COVID-19, image via the CDC.

Amid the coronavirus crisis, state health officials responsible for gathering data on COVID-19 are declining to collect and report whether or not patients identify as LGBTQ — a practice that angers LGBTQ advocates who say those answers could yield important information to combat the disease.

The lack of data, advocates say, will essentially blind the public to the coronavirus’ impact on LGBTQ people — a population that may be particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 — as the epidemic continues to rise and health officials warn the death toll in the United States will hit its peak in the coming weeks.

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Orlando Police investigate homicide at Parliament House

By : Jeremy Williams
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ORLANDO | Orlando Police (OPD) are investigating a shooting that occurred overnight which has left one man dead at the Parliament House’s hotel.

According to OPD, officers responded to a shooting call at the Parliament House’s hotel just after midnight on April 2 and discovered the body of Ricardo Montez Filmore, 38, laying on the ground inside one of the hotel rooms. Filmore was pronounced dead on the scene.

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04.02.20 Central Florida Bureau Chief’s Desk

By : Jeremy Williams
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I had been in the U.S. Air Force for seven months when the 9/11 terrorist attacks happened.

It being nearly 20 years ago since that life-changing event happened, I can’t remember everything that occurred in my life after Sept. 11, 2001; however, I do remember people being shocked and scared. I remember my family and friends being worried and not knowing what was coming next.

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04.02.20 Tampa Bay Bureau Chief’s Desk

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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If my 35 years on this planet and love of ridiculous memes have taught me anything, it’s that life comes at you fast.

The last few months have certainly reminded me that’s the case. “I’ve never had a particular affinity for cars,” I wrote in this very column Feb. 6, a lifetime ago now that the world is grappling with COVID-19. “I’ve always been grateful to own the ones I have … I’ve just never been one to covet the latest make or model to move about town.”

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Dolly Parton to read bedtime stories online

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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Legendary musician, philanthropist and LGBTQ ally Dolly Parton will launch “Goodnight with Dolly” April 2, reading bedtime stories online from her Imagination Library.

Parton launched the Imagination Library in 1995. The book gifting program has mailed more than 130 million free books to children from birth to age five in the U.S., U.K., Canada, Australia and the Republic of Ireland.

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Tampa Bay community champion Robert Barnum dies from COVID-19 complications

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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ABOVE: Robert Barnum, photo via Barnum’s Facebook.

ST. PETERSBURG | Tampa Bay community champion and realtor Robert “Bob” Barnum died March 27 from complications of COVID-19. He was 64.

Barnum’s death was among three coronavirus-related deaths confirmed by the Florida Department of Health of Pinellas County March 28. The announcement brought the county’s loss to four residents.

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Tidal Wave Party first group to cancel June events in Orlando

By : Jeremy Williams
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ABOVE: Tidal Wave pool party in 2018. (Photo by Jake Stevens)

ORLANDO | As the number of COVID-19 cases continues to grow in the U.S., Tidal Wave Party has officially become the first group to cancel its 2020 events for Orlando’s first weekend of June LGBTQ celebration.

“Tidal Wave is labor of love for us and we did not come to this decision easily,” the group wrote in a statement posted to its website March 28.

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PrEP manufacturer to test drug against COVID-19 — but has low expectations

By : Chris Johnson OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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Gilead Sciences, the manufacturer of Truvada, is set to test components of the HIV prevention drug against COVID-19 as the pandemic continues to rage across the globe — but has low expectations for the results, a company spokesperson told the Washington Blade March 27.

Sonia Choi, vice president for public affairs at Gilead Sciences, said via email the company plans to test components of the drug against coronaviruses in response to a Washington Blade inquiry on the use of Truvada against COVID-19.

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