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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Watermark’s 2020 WAVE Award Winners – Tampa Bay

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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FAVORITE LOCAL POLITICIAN

First: Tampa Mayor Jane Castor

Second: St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman

Third: State Rep. Jennifer Webb

FAVORITE LOCAL ACTIVIST

First: Nadine Smith, Equality Florida

Second: Claire Elisan, Project No Labels

Third: Ashley Brundage, Empowering Differences

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Equality Florida Tampa Gala raises awareness, more than $310K

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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ABOVE: Equality Florida Executive Director Nadine Smith delivers her Tampa Gala keynote address Feb. 21. (Photo by Dylan Todd)

TAMPA | Equality Florida welcomed supporters to Armature Works Feb. 21 for the nonprofit’s annual Tampa Gala, raising more than $310,000 in its statewide fight for equality.

The sold out gathering featured live auctions led by former Hillsborough County Commissioner and current Clerk of the Circuit Court candidate Kevin Beckner, all benefiting the organization’s efforts. It also honored activists Don Murray and Wayne Spiwak with the 2020 Voice for Equality Award.

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PHOTOS: Equality Florida’s 2020 Tampa Gala

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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TAMPA | Equality Florida welcomed supporters to Armature Works Feb. 21 for its annual Tampa Gala, outlining its statewide fight for equality.

The gathering featured silent and live auctions benefiting the organization’s efforts and honored activists Don Murray and Wayne Spiwak. The two have spent their 29 years together fighting for LGBTQ rights and years ago became the first same-sex couple to adopt in Florida.

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The Last Page: Andy and Sasha Citino

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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The Last Page is dedicated to individuals who are making a positive impact on the LGBTQ community in Central Florida and Tampa Bay.

This issue, we check in with 6S Boutique owners Andy and Sasha Citino from St. Petersburg. Keep an eye on this space to learn more about the movers and shakers of your community.

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Equality Florida announces inaugural class of TransAction Leadership Academy

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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ABOVE: The inaugural class of Equality Florida’s TransAction Leadership Academy. Photo courtesy Gina Duncan.

ST. PETERSBURG | Equality Florida’s transgender inclusion initiative TransAction Florida has announced the inaugural class of its TransAction Leadership Academy.

The academy is designed to train and develop the next generation of transgender or gender nonbinary (enby) leaders in the areas of advocacy, policy and management. Participants range from ages 18-30 and were required to live in St. Petersburg, commit to attending all classes and present a final dissertation to be considered.

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Human Rights Campaign close to naming next president: sources

By : Chris Johnson OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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ABOVE: Current HRC president Chad Griffin, who announced late last year he will depart the organization.

Fresh from the successful U.S. House vote on the Equality Act, the Human Rights Campaign is close to naming a new president to lead the nation’s largest LGBT advocacy group, insiders have told the Washington Blade.

LGBT advocates said this week they’ve heard board members for the Human Rights Campaign, which began a search for the organization’s next president after Chad Griffin announced late last year he’d depart the organization, are nearing their decision. One person familiar with board deliberations said the process is “going well.”

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PHOTOS: Equality Florida’s 2019 St. Pete Gala

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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ST. PETERSBURG | Equality Florida welcomed supporters to the Mahaffey Theater on May 11 to celebrate the organization’s annual St. Pete Gala.

The evening began by honoring Linda Lerner with the Voice for Equality Award. Lerner, an advocate for LGBTQ issues in her role on the Pinellas County Schools board, retired in 2018 as its longest-serving member. Fan favorite artist John Gascot then received the Amy S. Mandel Service & Leadership Award for his work with Diversity Arts, his nonprofit which serves disenfranchised, mostly LGBTQ youth.

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Bill threatening every LGBTQ nondiscrimination ordinance in Florida moves forward

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. | The Florida House State Affairs Committee debated HB 3 on March 14, a bill threatening to repeal every local LGBTQ nondiscrimination ordinance and conversion therapy ban across Florida.

Equality Florida, the state’s largest LGBTQ civil rights organization, along with the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBTQ civil rights advocacy group, condemned the bill at the state capitol March 12. The groups noted 13 million LGBTQ Floridians are protected by the ordinances being targeted.

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2019 WAVE Award Spotlight: Nadine Smith

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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Tampa Bay’s Favorite Local Activist, Favorite Charitable Event (Equality Florida’s St. Pete Gala)

As the executive director of Equality Florida, the state’s largest civil rights organization dedicated to securing full equality for all LGBTQ Floridians, Nadine Smith is no stranger to activism.

In addition to her work with the organization, she was one of the four national co-chairs of the 1993 March on Washington and made history by taking part in the first Oval Office meeting between a sitting president and LGBTQ community leaders. Smith also served on the founding board of the International Gay and Lesbian Youth Organization and serves as chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights Florida Advisory Committee.

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PHOTOS: Equality Florida’s 2019 Tampa Gala

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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TAMPA | Equality Florida held its annual Tampa Gala at TPepin’s Hospitality Centre Feb. 23, highlighting the organization’s fight for statewide equality.

The gathering featured live entertainment, silent and live auctions and honored community champions throughout the evening. John and Nancy Desmond received the 2019 Voice for Equality Award, Prin Ocea received the 2019 Youth Voice for Equality Award, the University of South Florida Office of Multicultural Affairs received the 2019 Partner in Equality Award and Gene Webster-English received the 2019 Community Service Award.  

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12.27.18 Publisher’s Desk

By : Rick Claggett
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It’s hard to believe the end of the year is here. It’s cliche to say, but when you live your life in two week cycles across two metropolitan areas—time flies. 2018 zoomed by in the blink of an eye.

Watermark did well in 2018. We saw an increase in sales, so thank you to the businesses and organizations that support us and help us to continue bringing the latest in LGBTQ news to our readers—and congratulations to Senior Account Manager Sam Callahan who had a stellar year. We also saw an increase in distributions sites and are now available at over 600 locations in Central Florida, Tampa Bay and surrounding areas.

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