02.05.20 Tampa Bay Bureau Chief’s Desk

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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I’ve never had a particular affinity for cars. I’ve always been grateful to own the ones I have, of course – from my first, a 1991 Ford Thunderbird to my current, a 2009 Chevrolet Cobalt – I’ve just never been one to covet the latest make or model to move about town.

That likely began with my Thunderbird, graciously gifted to me by my parents in the early 2000s. It was far from new, though its James Bond-esque keycode entry was clearly ahead of its time, but I was thrilled to have it. All it needed were regular oil changes and a cassette tape adapter for my portable CD player.

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01.09.20 Tampa Bay Bureau Chief’s Desk

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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In “Star Trek: First Contact,” the finest film in the popular franchise’s more than 50-year history, the eternal Patrick Stewart’s Captain Picard beams into theaters to lead the U.S.S. Enterprise into battle against the sci-fi staple’s deadliest threat. No, not reboots – the Borg.

The Borg are chilling, cybernetic aliens linked to a hive mind known as “The Collective.” They forcibly transform individuals into zombie-like drones through the process of assimilation, linking their victims to a collective consciousness and erasing all traces of their individuality in the process.

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12.26.19 Tampa Bay Bureau Chief’s Desk

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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As December comes to a close, taking 2019 with it, I’m most thrilled to reflect on the fact that I’ll be entering the next decade of my life as a nonsmoker. While I spent the majority of the last 10 years craving my next cigarette or shackled to a smoking section, I proudly celebrated one year smoke free this month.

I hit the milestone on Dec. 17, just one day before writing this column and six days after hitting another personal milestone, my second year as Tampa Bay Bureau Chief. I couldn’t be more grateful that I’m still serving in this position here at Watermark – it’s been another incredible year and an amazing December, even if I did turn 35.

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11.27.19 Tampa Bay Bureau Chief’s Desk

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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My husband and I recently marked three years of marriage, which is as strange to type as it was to celebrate. Not because I didn’t think we’d make it, I looked forward to our decades to come long before our wedding day, but because I’ve lost my perception of time.

A number of factors have contributed to my inability to understand the calendar year, Tampa Bay Bureau Chief among them operating in Watermark’s two-week press cycle, but I mostly attribute it to living in Florida. Even though I moved here more than a decade ago, I have yet to adjust to the lack of proper seasons; time flies when you’re having sun.

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10.31.19 Tampa Bay Bureau Chief’s Desk

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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I’m nearly two years younger than the educational organization D.A.R.E., or Drug Abuse Resistance Education, and my early schooling reflects that. Preventative programming was all the rage in the early 90s.

D.A.R.E. was designed to provide students with the tools to resist drugs, alcohol and other high risk behaviors. It still exists today, albeit without the same fanfare, led by police officers in thousands of classrooms across the country. Among other things, it’s committed to helping students from kindergarten through grade 12 “resist peer pressure and live productive drug and violence-free lives.”

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10.03.19 Tampa Bay Bureau Chief’s Desk

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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In 2016, Evan Minton was scheduled to receive a surgeon-approved hysterectomy at a faith-based hospital in California. After disclosing his transgender status, they canceled the procedure.

Minton filed a lawsuit claiming that his civil rights had been violated, which the courts dismissed. He appealed the ruling and his suit was revived in late September.

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09.05.19 Tampa Bay Bureau Chief’s Desk

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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When my husband and I meet our friends on the weekend and I happen to partake in enough libations to get a bit tipsy, I tend to find myself grappling with one of three levels of intoxication.

Thankfully it doesn’t happen too often, but the first is “Disney drunk” when it does. It leads to a whole new world of one-man productions featuring every animated classic under the sea. The second is “drive-thru drunk,” in which I spend ridiculous amounts of money on food that goes straight to my hips.

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Watermark 25: Tampa Bay Bureau Chief’s Desk

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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Watermark began covering Tampa Bay’s LGBTQ community in 1995, not long after its 1994 founding in Orlando.

It was more than a decade before I would move to Florida and more than two before I would be fortunate enough to become Watermark’s Tampa Bay Bureau Chief, but it’s a decision I’m very thankful that our founder Tom Dyer made just the same.

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Watermark 25: Publisher’s Desk

By : Rick Claggett
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With this issue Watermark celebrates 25 years of publishing, 25 years of sharing information and helping to build a community. I am beyond proud to be a part of this organization.

As I sat down to write this column, I visited the words of Founder and Guiding Light Tom Dyer as he shared his thoughts on the 20th Anniversary of Watermark. It’s funny to see how much has changed, and how little has changed. We still operate with a small, dedicated staff who are as passionate about their work as they are talented. Watermark still focuses on local community news in its pages, offering a voice to stories other publications will not; and at times we still walk the fine line between financial gain and commitment to community partnerships.

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08.08.19 Tampa Bay Bureau Chief’s Desk

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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I was young, probably around 12 or 13, but I vividly remember the first death I helped cause. They say you never forget your first.

I was in middle school and likely clad in a pair of husky jeans, the free whale necklace that came with the “Free Willy 2” VHS and a “Batman and Robin” tee beneath my Starter Jacket. Clutched against my side was the thickest Trapper Keeper a family like mine could afford, something I rarely let out of my sight during school hours because it protected two of my dearest possessions.

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06.13.19 Tampa Bay Bureau Chief’s Desk

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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I was recently asked by a fellow member of the LGBTQ community if my husband is transgender because he dabbles in drag.

While I often point out jokingly that he didn’t don drag until after we were married, something I’ve mentioned here before, I have a tremendous amount of respect for his craft. It’s one thing to be handsome, which he is, but it’s just a work of art to be beautiful on top of that. Which she is.

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05.15.19 Tampa Bay Bureau Chief’s Desk

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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I despised many things as a child. Some were warranted—like corn, which remains my arch nemesis—but others not as much, like doing nothing on a Saturday. Of the many things that cultivated my childhood angst, however, one in particular stands out: Easter.

I didn’t hate the holiday. There wasn’t much to hate in my family because we rarely did anything for it; gatherings were reserved for “major holidays” like Thanksgiving or Christmas. I wasn’t even aware families congregated for Easter until I was in college, and I was still surprised this year when Publix was closed for the day.

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