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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St Pete Pride proudly boasts $67.2 million economic impact

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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ST. PETERSBURG | St Pete Pride has released the economic analysis for its 2019 celebration, unveiling an impact of more than $67 million on the local economy last year.

The 2019 St Pete Pride economic impact analysis was conducted by marketing firm Destination Analysts, Inc. on behalf of Visit St. Pete/Clearwater, a member of both the U.S. Travel Association and the International LGBTQ+ Travel Association. Research data was collected utilizing three integrated survey techniques.

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2019 was a year for the LGBTQ record books

By : Jeremy Williams & Ryan Williams-Jent
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Should auld acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind? Of course not! That’s why after a historical 365 days, Watermark has assembled our annual year in review.

2019 was a landmark year for us here at Watermark. In August, we proudly celebrated 25 years of serving Central Florida and Tampa Bay’s ever-expanding LGBTQ communities.

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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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Fit for Print: Hanging onto History

By : Steve Blanchard
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I have been captivated by some grave news in Tampa Bay – and yes, that pun is 100% intentional.

Since the late summer months there has been a flurry of news stories about long-abandoned and forgotten cemeteries discovered under schools, apartment communities and businesses in Tampa. Literally hundreds of coffins have been found using ground-penetrating radar technology and the possibility of even more forgotten burials is discussed almost every day.

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Alex Jones, ProjectAlchemy Artistic Director

By : Fernando Chonqui, Dance Artist /St Pete Pride Development Director
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As Artistic Director of ProjectAlchemy Dance and the resident choreographer at the Studio@620 in downtown St. Petersburg, Alex applies his passion for dance as a tool for education and advocacy.

His mission is to challenge the current connotation of dance and make all genres of dance more accessible in Tampa Bay. He founded ProjectAlchemy at the end of 2018 with a premiere performance of his one-man show, Voices, a multidisciplinary dance piece about his experiences he represents as a Queer, Black man.

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PHOTOS: St Pete Pride celebrates Red & Green 2019

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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ST. PETERSBURG | More than 650 festive St Pete Pride supporters filled Sunken Gardens Dec. 7 for the organization’s annual Red & Green Party.

Sunken Gardens is St. Petersburg’s 100-year-old living museum, housing some of the region’s oldest botanical treasures amongst its more than 50,000 tropical plants and flowers. Attendees of the 10th annual holiday party explored its growing collection while enjoying a silent auction, appetizers, an open bar and a four-queen drag competition hosted by Tampa Bay entertainer Adriana Sparkle.

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St Pete Pride and executive director part ways

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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ABOVE: St Pete Pride’s 2018 parade. Photo by Nick Cardello.

ST. PETERSBURG | St Pete Pride confirmed Dec. 6 that Luke Blankenship will no longer serve as the organization’s executive director.

“Luke Blankenship is no longer employed by St Pete Pride,” St Pete Pride President Chrys Bundy shared with Watermark.  “We wish him all the best in his future endeavors.”

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The Last Page: Abbie Rolf

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 Healing Village owner, mental health counselor and PFLAG St. Pete President Abbie Rolf from Tampa Bay. Keep an eye on this space to learn more about the movers and shakers of your community.

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The Last Page: Jimmy Biascan

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. Here, we check in with graphic designer and creative director Jimmy (not James, it’s Jimmy on his birth certificate) Biascan from Tampa Bay.

Keep an eye on this space to learn more about the movers and shakers of your community.

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LGBTQ youth who are making a difference: Michael G. Batista

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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28 | Gay | He/Him/His

Florida’s 13th congressional district covers Pinellas County from Clearwater through St. Petersburg.

Nearly 730,000 Floridians call the area home, as does St Pete Pride—Florida’s largest LGBTQ Pride celebration and one of the largest in the country. It’s no surprise then that Rep. Charlie Crist, an LGBTQ ally who represents the district, sought out Michael G. Batista.

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PHOTOS: St Pete Pride’s 2019 Street Festival

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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ST. PETERSBURG | St Pete Pride closed out its loudest and proudest year yet with the celebration’s annual Street Festival in the Grand Central District June 23.

Thousands browsed block after block of the beloved Gayborhood, enjoying entertainment and fantastic food surrounded by their community. The season’s largest community event truly delivered on St Pete Pride’s promise that there was something for everyone.

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