Local performer Philip Ancheta talks about his first national tour, ‘Miss Saigon’

By : Jeremy Williams
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Orlando performer Philip Ancheta will always remember the day he got the call that changed his life.

“I was with my friend Heather when they called and I just screamed at the top of my lungs ‘Heather, I’m going on tour,’” Ancheta recalls. “I just sat down and cried. It was such a surreal experience and she hugged me on the ground and we cried together.”

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Watermark’s local LGBTQ-friendly restaurant listings

By : Watermark Staff
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Watermark has been the leading source of LGBTQ news in Central Florida and Tampa Bay for more than 25 years. We intend to continue our service to our community in this rapidly changing world.

As Florida has suspended on-premises dining and alcohol consumption statewide in response to COVID-19, limiting establishments to takeout and delivery orders only, we have compiled a list of  Central Florida, Tampa Bay and Sarasota locations offering these services. Check out the links below for your area to get the information.

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Bliss CARES prepares for TRANSformation’s 2020 series

By : Jeremy Williams
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ABOVE: Bliss CARES’ TRANSformation 2020 kick-off party in Orlando Jan. 30. (Photo by Dana Ng)

ORLANDO | Bliss CARES began its enrollment period for the next TRANSformation series with a kick-off party at its clinic in Orlando Jan. 30.

TRANSformation, a six-part educational series focusing on aspects of gender transition with a goal of creating more leaders within the transgender community, first launched in 2017. TRANSformation 2020 will be Bliss CARES’ fourth time providing the series of classes to Central Florida’s transgender community.

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Orlando, St. Pete, Tampa receive perfect HRC scores

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) announced Nov. 19 that the cities of Orlando, St. Petersburg and Tampa each received a perfect score of 100 in the organization’s eighth annual Municipal Equality Index (MEI).

The MEI examines how inclusive municipal laws, policies and services are for LGBTQ people who live and work in the 506 cities rated. The score is based on non-discrimination laws, the municipality as an employer, municipal services, law enforcement and the city leadership’s public position on equality.

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The epidemic of transgender violence in Florida and the missteps that follow

By : Gina Duncan
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ABOVE: Equality Florida Director of Transgender Equality Gina Duncan speaks during the “Rally to End Hate” in 2016. Photo courtesy Equality Florida

As the State Director of Transgender Equality at Equality Florida, I have been advocating for transgender civil rights for a decade. As a white, trans woman, I have never felt personally vulnerable, afraid or concerned for my personal safety until these last two years.

Recently, I have felt the weight of fear and rapid beating of my heart as I experienced being verbally attacked, intentionally misgendered and physically threatened by hate-filled people gaslighted by our current anti-transgender national rhetoric. In 2018, more than two dozen transgender Americans were reported murdered in the United States.

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Rainbow Democrats, Equality Florida Action PAC endorse Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer

By : Jeremy Williams
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ORLANDO | The Rainbow Democrats Caucus and the Equality Florida Action PAC have both endorsed current Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer for re-election ahead of the Nov. 5 election.

The Rainbow Democrats Caucus made its announcement in a statement Oct. 17.

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PHOTOS: Come Out With Pride celebrates 15th annual festival and parade in Orlando

By : Jeremy Williams
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ORLANDO | Come Out With Pride (COWP) brought rainbows and all to the Pride festival in Lake Eola Park and The Most Colorful Parade in the streets of downtown Orlando for the 15th annual celebration Oct. 12.

Thousands and thousands of attendees poured into the Lake Eola area waving flags, collecting beads and having a gay ol’ time! COWP’s 2019 celebration was also the most sustainable, not only in the history of pride, but ever at lake Eola.

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Wayne Brady heads home to Florida for interactive, improv rock concert

By : Jeremy Williams
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Wayne Brady loves Orlando. The City Beautiful is where he grew up, where he went to school and where he created and honed the skills that have made him one of Hollywood’s most versatile entertainers.

“While I wasn’t born there—I was born in Columbus, Georgia—in terms of my life, Orlando is the place that I claim. I always get a sense of pride whenever I see anyone come out of Orlando that’s done anything really great,” Brady says.

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‘Plant-curious’ eatery Hungry Pants to open in Orlando’s SODO area this fall

By : Jeremy Williams
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ORLANDO | Husbands Joey Conicella and Alex Marin, the dynamic duo behind Yum Yum Cupcake Truck, are bringing a new restaurant to the SODO area of Orlando.

Hungry Pants will be located at 3421 S. Orange Ave. and feature food inspired by the way Conicella and Marin eat in their everyday lives. A type of eating they have named “plant-curious.”

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Watermark celebrates its silver anniversary with a look back at the LGBTQ headlines of the past 25 years

By : Jeremy Williams
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For 25 years, in nearly 700 issues, Watermark has been telling the stories of Central Florida and Tampa Bay’s LGBTQ communities.

First premiering in Orlando in 1994, and then expanding into Tampa Bay in 1995, Watermark now covers more than a dozen counties across the state. We can be found in many Florida cities including Daytona Beach, Orlando, Tampa, St. Petersburg, Clearwater and Sarasota—and thanks to WatermarkOnline.com, we have developed an international audience which relies on us for news, politics, sports, arts and entertainment as it pertains to the LGBTQ community.

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Watermark 25: Central Florida Bureau Chief’s Desk

By : Jeremy Williams
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I moved back to Orlando in 2008. It was my first time living in Central Florida as an adult. I was born in Colorado and, as a kid, the family moved to Florida where we lived up and down I-4—settling in Orlando then St. Petersburg and eventually Plant City where I attended high school. Sometime after graduation, life led the family to southern Georgia and from there I joined the Air Force and traveled all over the world.

I tell you that quick trek through my past because in my 40 years I have lived in many places, but no place has ever felt more like home to me than living in Orlando right now, and a good part of that feeling is due to Watermark.

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Issue: 26.15 LGBTQ Blue

By : Dylan Todd
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LGBTQ cops talk about being out and proud in Central Florida and Tampa Bay, Orlando LGBTQ pioneer Joel Strack passes away at 59, Flamingo Resort St. Pete announces imminent closure, local news, celebrity interviews, photos, events and much, much more!

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