Coronavirus concerns impact Central Florida and Tampa Bay

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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An estimated 60,000 people filled the streets of Ybor City for Tampa Pride last year, celebrating Tampa Bay’s growing LGBTQ community. It’s a record that organizers were expecting to break this year until March 12, when they postponed their sixth annual outing originally scheduled for March 28.

Since Tampa Pride’s return to Hillsborough County in 2015, attendees, vendors, parade participants and community sponsors have grown year after year. Its expansion is made possible by its supporters, Tampa Pride President Carrie West says.

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Hope & Help postpones AIDS Walk Orlando 2020

By : Jeremy Williams
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ORLANDO | Hope & Help announced March 13 they will be postponing the 2020 AIDS Walk Orlando due to the ongoing developments concerning the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our number one priority is our staff, patients, clients, volunteers, donors and community’s health and well-being,” said Lisa Barr, Hope & Help’s executive director, in a statement. “We remain committed to taking swift, appropriate actions to protect those that need us and support our mission. We are very sorry to postpone this important event, but know the community understands our position.”

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PHOTOS: Watermark kicks off Third Thursday at Hope & Help

By : Jeremy Williams
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ORLANDO | Watermark kicked off a new year of its Third Thursday networking socials at Hope & Help in Winter Park Jan. 16.

Attendees got a chance to tour the new facilities of the Central Florida nonprofit as well as win amazing raffle prizes, proceeds of which benefited Hope & Help.

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Hope & Help announces AIDS Walk Orlando 2020 date, to host open house

By : Jeremy Williams
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ABOVE: Hope & Help’s Re-Start group walks in the AIDS Walk Orlando at Lake Eola Park in 2018. (Photo by Maia Monet)

Hope & Help is kicking the new year off with the announcement of the date for its 2020 AIDS Walk Orlando.

The not-for-profit health center — which offers HIV/STD/HEP C testing, treatment and primary medical care — announced Jan. 6 that the 2020 AIDS Walk Orlando will be on Saturday, April 18 starting at 8:30 a.m.

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What does Undetectable = Untransmittable mean for U?

By : J.D. Cerna
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Thomas’ libido was especially high that Thursday night. The Orlando resident, who prefers not to use his real name, met a man at his Grand Bohemian Hotel room on the dating application Grindr.

They became sexual rather quickly and Thomas, lost in the delirium of his sex drive, says he allowed the man to penetrate him without a condom. Thomas snapped, “Wait. I’m not on PrEP, pull out.”

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Central Florida, Tampa Bay mark Transgender Day of Remembrance 2019

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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LGBTQ community advocates and allies will gather for vigils throughout Central Florida and Tampa Bay Nov. 20 to mark Transgender Day of Remembrance 2019.

According to the Human Rights Campaign, at least 22 transgender and gender non-confirming people were killed in 2019. Equality Florida adds that since 2018, seven transgender women of color have been murdered in Florida, the most of any state in the country.

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PHOTOS: Orlando Youth Empowerment Summit brings fun and education to LGBTQ youth

By : Jeremy Williams
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ORLANDO | The City of Orlando, Zebra Coalition and LGBTQ organizations across Central Florida celebrated LGBTQ youth with the fifth annual Orlando Youth Empowerment Summit at Valencia College’s West Campus on Oct. 19.

Dozens of LGBTQ youth, parents, guardians, community leaders and local educators spent the day learning about topics such as queer history, politics and health services to name a few. LGBTQ organizations including Equality Florida, Hope & Help, QLatinx, UCF’s LGBTQ+ Services, GLSEN, One Orlando Alliance and more held a information fair providing information to the youth on what each of them do for the community.

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LGBTQ youth to connect, be educated at Orlando Youth Empowerment Summit

By : Lora Korpar
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ABOVE: City of Orlando’s Diversity, Inclusion and Equity Senior Specialist Felipe Sousa-Rodriguez gives a speech at last year’s Orlando Youth Summit. (Photo by Melanie Ararat)

ORLANDO | The City of Orlando, Zebra Coalition and LGBTQ organizations across Central Florida will be celebrating and educating LGBTQ youth with the upcoming Orlando Youth Empowerment Summit.

The fifth annual summit will take place at Valencia College’s West Campus on Oct. 19 from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. The event is free of charge.

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Hope & Help announces move to new facilities

By : Jeremy Williams
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ABOVE: Hope & Help’s Re-Start group marches in the Orlando AIDS Walk at Lake Eola in 2018. (Photo by Jake Stevens)

ORLANDO | The Hope & Help Center of Central Florida will be moving to a new location in Winter Park, the health organization announced in a press release Aug. 28.

“Due to increased demand of HIV-related services, the company is relocating to a larger facility,” the release reads. The new facility is located at 4122 Metric Drive, #800 in Winter Park. Hope & Help moved into their previous facility at 707 Mendham Blvd. in Orlando two years ago.

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Hope & Help to increase HIV awareness as Orlando among top areas with new diagnoses

By : Jeremy Williams
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ABOVE: Members of Hope & Help’s staff at their Orlando offices. (Photo by Jeremy Williams)

ORLANDO | In the wake of the latest stats on HIV in the U.S., Hope & Help is looking to increase its visibility in the LGBTQ community. According to the latest numbers from AIDSVu, Central Florida ranks second in the U.S. for most new HIV diagnoses, only behind the Miami-Dade area.

The fact that the top two areas with the largest number of new cases are both in Florida is not surprising to Abby Silverman, operations director at Hope & Help.

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06.27.19 Publisher’s Desk

By : Rick Claggett
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Here we are again, the keystone of Pride around the world. We’ve celebrated Pride in Kissimmee and Polk County, and are still reveling in the joy that St Pete Pride brings. Now we turn to the event that started it all, Stonewall. This year is special, though. Stonewall turns 50 and the world is set to celebrate and honor the brave people who began a movement that would change lives for half of a century, with no signs of slowing down.

Stonewall 50 is going to be a massive event. The parade itself is expected to last longer than the average workday with over 150,000 participants and millions of spectators. My, how far we have come!

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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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