Donald Rupe expands his Pulse-inspired, Fringe musical ‘From Here’ for the Orlando stage

By : Samantha Neely
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The Pulse tragedy in 2016 had an effect on every aspect of life in Orlando — socially, politically, spiritually — and for many, including Donald Rupe, it had a profound effect artistically.

Rupe, who is the Director of Theatre at Central Florida Community Arts, couldn’t get the idea of a musical surrounding Orlando, this tragedy that impacted the entire community and the way that community responded out of his head. That is how the award-winning show “From Here” was born.

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The 49 Fund is accepting applications for 4th annual scholarships

By : Samantha Neely
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ABOVE: Barry Miller (second from L) with several of The 49 Fund scholarship recipients at Orlando City Hall in 2019. (Photo by Jeremy Williams)

ORLANDO | The 49 Fund, an initiative at Central Florida Foundation, is accepting applications for its fourth annual scholarship awards to honor those lost in the Pulse tragedy.

The fund will award up to 10 local LGBTQ students with a $4,900 scholarship to help pay for college tuition.

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Watermark’s Most Eligible Singles 2020: Brandon Wolf

By : Jeremy Williams
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AGE: 31

BORN IN: Portland, Oregon

IDENTIFIES AS: Gay male

PRONOUNS: He/ him/ his

SIGN: Leo

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OUAC assessing future needs of those impacted by Pulse tragedy

By : Jeremy Williams
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ORLANDO | The Orlando United Assistance Center (OUAC), established in the immediate aftermath of the Pulse shooting to assist those directly impacted by the tragedy, announced Feb. 7 that it is seeking comment and feedback on its services from the immediate family members of those 49 individuals who lost their lives at Pulse, as well as survivors and first responders.

The research is being conducted by community volunteers Dr. Erica Fissel of the University of Central Florida and Zachary Murray, M.S., and is being carried out, according to OUAC in a press release, to find what areas the organization can best provide support, resources and hope for a community continuing to heal.

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Former LGBT+ Center Orlando ED Terry DeCarlo passes away

By : Jeremy Williams
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ORLANDO | Terry DeCarlo, the former executive director of the LGBT+ Center in Orlando who headed The Center in the aftermath of the Pulse tragedy, passed away after battling Stage 4 neck and face cancer. He was 56 years old.

DeCarlo’s husband, Bill Huelsman posted the news to DeCarlo’s Facebook page Jan. 28.

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For Florida, 2010s became a decade of mass shootings

By : Wire Report
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FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) | For Florida, the 2010s were a decade of high-profile mass shootings: at a nightclub, a high school, an airport and a naval base — plus two headline-grabbing murder trials that ended in acquittals.

Florida passed New York to become the nation’s third-most populous state. Meanwhile, in politics, Rick Scott began 2010 as a near-unknown, was elected governor 11 months later and eventually defeated U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson. That ended one of Florida’s longest political careers. Donald Trump smothered the 2016 presidential aspirations of former Gov. Jeb Bush and Sen. Marco Rubio. Trump took the White House and then became a Florida resident.

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Barbara Poma, CEO and Executive Director, onePULSE Foundation

By : Mark Cady-Archilla, Corporate Sponsorship Officer, onePULSE Foundation
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I met Barbara nearly 10 years ago when I was in advertising sales at Watermark to discuss advertising Pulse in one of the Pride guides we were publishing.

Though she is of small stature, when she walked into the room, in a dress and heels with her long wavy hair, she commanded attention which I soon came to understand was not because of her appearance, rather because of her confidence, sincerity and warmth.

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Central Florida newscaster Jorge Estevez announces departure from Orlando

By : Jeremy Williams
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ORLANDO | Award-winning Central Florida newscaster Jorge Estevez announced on Facebook Nov. 26 that he would be leaving his position at WFTV Channel 9 next month for Atlanta’s WSB-TV.

“Yes, I am leaving #Orlando,” Estevez wrote. “This time an opportunity presented itself that was beyond incredible. I am going to get to work with seasoned journalists who have dedicated years of their careers to providing people with the stories of their communities.”

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Legendary ‘Grand Ole Gal of the South’ Carmella Marcella Garcia passes away

By : Jeremy Williams
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ABOVE: Carmella Marcella Garcia performing during the Babes in Bonnets fundraiser at Parliament House in 2018. (Photo by Tabitha Widby)

ORLANDO | George Timothy Reed, better known in the community as Carmella Marcella Garcia, passed away on Oct. 15 after a long-fought battle with cancer. He was 57. Reed was known in the drag community as the the “Grand Ole Gal of the South,” or just Mella to friends.

Reed started his career in Nashville in the mid 80’s performing at the Cabaret, Warehouse 28 and PLAY Dancebar. He worked in over 30 states, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Canada, according to OurCommunityRoots.com. The Kentucky-native won numerous titles and crowns including Miss Gay Orlando, Miss Gay Florida USofA, Miss Gay Florida America, Miss Gay USofA at Large and Miss Universe at Large, just to name a few.

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University of Virginia students seek to end ban of blood donations by gay, bisexual men

By : Wire Report
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ABOVE: Rotunda at University of Virginia. (From Wikimedia Commons)

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) | Several University of Virginia students want to overturn a ban that prohibits sexually active gay and bisexual men from donating blood.

The Daily Progress reports Austin Houck and others have banded together to create Homoglobin, a social welfare organization with branches at other schools including Virginia Tech and the College of William & Mary. The Food and Drug Administration instituted a lifetime donation ban on gay and bisexual men at the height of the AIDS epidemic in 1983.

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onePULSE Foundation makes land purchase for future location of museum

By : Lora Korpar
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ABOVE: The Pulse Interim Memorial. (from onePULSE Foundation’s Facebook)

ORLANDO | The onePULSE Foundation took its next step toward creating the National Pulse Memorial & Museum with a $3.5 million purchase of land near Pulse nightclub in Orlando, the organization announced in a press release Sept. 16.

Scheduled to open in 2022, the museum will honor the 49 victims of the 2016 Pulse shooting. The 1.75-acre parcel of land purchased is located at 438 W. Kaley St.

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LGBTQ youth who are making a difference: Yasmin Flasterstein

By : Jeremy Williams
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25 | Bisexual | She/Her/Hers

Yasmin, who was born in Israel, came to Orlando to study psychology at the University of Central Florida. Her initial involvement in Orlando’s LGBTQ community came by working at Mental Health Association of Central Florida when they created the Orlando United Counseling program in response to the Pulse tragedy. That is also the time that she came out.

“I was inspired to come out by the overwhelming feeling of anger I had after Pulse that made me feel like I shouldn’t be ashamed,” she says. “I felt so much anger by what happened and then I self-reflected on that. It encouraged me to come out and be my authentic self.”

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