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DAYTONA BEACH • ORLANDO • TAMPA • ST. PETERSBURG • SARASOTA • ISSUE 21.06 • MAR. 13 - MAR. 26, 2014 • WATERMARKONLINE.COM

also

Secrecy and manipulation fuel anti-gay groups’ ‘religious freedom’ bills

Alex Sink

loses

congressional bid


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DEPARTMENTS 6 // MAIL 8 // ORLANDO NEWS 12 // TAMPA BAY NEWS 16 // STATE 19 // NATION & WORLD NEWS 27 // IN DEPTH 31 //ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT 41 // COMMUNITY CALENDAR 43 // TAMPA BAY OVERHEARD 45 // ORLANDO OVERHEARD 46 // TAMPA BAY MARKETPLACE 47 // TRANSITIONS 48 // ORLANDO MARKETPLACE 53 // SPORTS

PAGE

19

No one’s religious beliefs are being trampled upon in Mississippi. My goodness, we have more churches per capita than any state in the nation. —OLIVER DIAZ, FORMER MISSISSIPPI SUPREME COURT JUSTICE

ON THE COVER

PAGE

PAGE So-called “religious

bills are making 27 freedom” headlines, most notably in

Arizona. We take a look at who’s really pulling the strings to get these bills to the legislative bodies of our country and, specifically, our state.

Preview

31 BOY IS BACK:

Boy George is a gay icon, there’s no arguing that. The UK celebrity is back with a new look and a new album, and he talks to us about his evolving image and why those iPhone dating apps don’t work for him.

WATERMARK ISSUE 21.06 //MAR. 13 - MAR. 26, 2014

ORLANDO NEWS

TAMPA BAY NEWS

PAGE The UCF Pride Coalition

PAGE After months of campaigning,

JESSICA KIRSON

GALLERY W

Hand Model: Patrick O’Connor Photo by Jake Stevens

Read it online!

SCAN QR CODE FOR

WATERMARKONLINE.COM

In addition to a Web site with daily LGBT updates, a digital version of each issue of the publication is made available on WatermarkOnline.com

08

could be reinvented and be eligible for new funding; A Gay-Straight Alliance lawsuit can move forward in Lake County; AIDS Walk Orlando shows diversity in its numbers

12

Alex Sink fell to David Jolly in the Florida District 13 race; St. Pete Pride releases its candidates for 2014 grand marshal; Manatee Pride preps for a March 22 debut in Bradenton.

PAGE Comedian Jessica Kirson

34

won legions of new fans after appearing on NBC’s Last Comic Standing. Now the out performer is touring, and will stop at the University of Tampa to share some of her unique perspectives on life.

PAGE Who says you have to go to

Orleans to experience 54 New Mardi Gras? The Parliament

House in Orlando held its annual Mardi Gras celebration, complete with parade, and brought out the fabulous factor well into the following morning.

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watermark YOUR LGBT LIFE.

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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

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HERE’S A MEME FLOATING AROUND THE INTERNET featuring the image of a cowboy roping a terri�ied calf. It says, “Rodeos: Where grown men beat up baby animals.” Sadly, grown gay men will again beat up baby animals at the annual Sunshine Stampede Rodeo in Davie, April 4-6. Rodeos are Westernthemed circuses that are frightening for animals. They don’t re�lect actual ranch work where real cowboys protect livestock. Instead, performers entertain crowds by attempting to ride horses that are bucking because some part of their body is being twisted painfully, and competing with other performers to see who can chase, body slam and hogtie baby cows the fastest, without regard for their safety, or lives. These are activities that would land the entertainers in jail were they to do them to their own pets. That alone should discourage anyone from attending rodeos. Enjoy the Western myth if it appeals to you. Dress up in (pleather) chaps or as a saloon girl. Line dance. Perform George Jones/ Tanya Tucker karaoke. Ride a mechanical bull.

—CHRISTOPHER MURPHY

Ride a cowboy. Have all the consenting adult cowboy fun you want but, please, rope and hogtie your lover, not a frightened calf. CHRISTOPHER MURPHY VIA EMAIL

TRANS PEOPLE TOO HARSHLY JUDGED ON APPEARANCE

I

T CAN BE HARD TO DISCRIMINATE AGAINST A GAY PERSON, since there is not a sign on their shoulder, but trans are sometimes not so fortunate. I once heard from a gay gentleman that he was okay with transwomen as long as they looked passable. That made me think, “What if I reversed that thought and said you could only be accepted in the gay community as long as you looked a certain way?” Acceptance is when we respect all persons in the LGBT no matter their looks and understand true progress can be made through diversity. I am proud to be an accepting member of the

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watermark YOUR LGBT LIFE.

MAR. 13 - MAR. 26, 2014 // ISSUE 21.06

watermarkonline.com

LGBT community and I believe a majority out there are accepting.” CINDY GRAHAM ON WATERMARK ONLINE.COM

TOP WEB COMMENTS ON ARIZONA’S (VETOED) RELIGIOUS FREEDOM BILL THAT WOULD ALLOW LGBT DISCRIMINATION:

“I’m glad Brewer vetoed this awful bill, but I know she only did it for political and economic (and certainly not moral or ethical) reasons. We’re surely going to see repeated attempts at codifying antiLGBT discrimination in AZ and elsewhere.”

—EDINMCO “There was a time I seriously thought of visiting Arizona. But after all the political crap that was flowing out of the Palin/ McCain 2008 campaign, and now this narrow minded, bible thumping, bigoted crap coming from Arizona. Nada, nope, and never. I will never visit Arizona in my lifetime. I rather spend my hard earned vacation dollars in some other state that embraces Marriage Equality, and the LGBT community.”

—MARK FERGUSON


CONTRIBUTORS

editor’s

Steve Blanchard EDITOR

SteveB@WatermarkOnline.com

T

Desk

HE LGBT COMMUNITY HAS BEEN

called many things by those who oppose us. We’re immoral. We’re going to Hell. We’re opportunistic and we’re pedophiles. Those statements are hurtful. And as we age and understand these come from contorted views of religion and idolatry, there is still a pang of discomfort each time those uneducated claims are hurled in our direction, even if we as a community have built thick armor against them. But this month, we were given a new title to add to the growing list. We’re bullies. The art of bullying in this country has reached epic proportions. Our youth are subjected to it in person and online. Extreme cases lead to suicides or severe injuries for its victims and imprisonment for those who

WATERMARK STAFF

perpetuate it. But there’s a difference between bullying—using superior strength or in�luence to intimidate (someone), typically to force him or her to do what one wants—and standing up for oneself. Fighting for equality is not a form of bullying. In actuality, it’s inspirational and empowering. But of course, outgoing Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, in all her wisdom, disagrees. She shared with a conservative talk show host this month that the gay community is a big bully forcing the country’s hand to quit hating us. Our in�luence— through our voices and our

Publisher: Tom Dyer • Ext. 305 • Tom@WatermarkOnline.com Chief Financial Officer: Rick Claggett • Ext. 108 • Rick@WatermarkOnline.com Admin. Assistant: Jon Brown • Ext. 100 • Jon@WatermarkOnline.com Editor-in-Chief: Steve Blanchard • 813-470-0899 • SteveB@WatermarkOnline.com Reporter: Samantha Rosenthal • 104 • Samantha@WatermarkOnline.com Online Media Director: Jamie Hyman • Ext. 106 • Jamie@WatermarkOnline.com Proofreading: Ed Blaisdell Art Director: Jake Stevens • Ext. 109 • Jake@WatermarkOnline.com Creative Assistant: Patrick O’Connor • Ext. 109 • AdProduction@WatermarkOnline.com

visibility—is winning our cause and changing people’s perspectives about who we are. Bachmann is actually half right. We—and our allies—are forcing the American public to look at us in a different way. We want to be seen as the equals we are and always have been. We’re �inally demanding we be treated that way. Bullying implies that an individual or a group has an upper hand. Religious groups—and their mouthpieces like Bachmann— believe that bullying of LGBT teens is a non-issue or non-existent. They then turn around and make these claims that heterosexual people of faith are targeted simply because they believe there’s a God-given right to hate. While Bachmann has lost a lot of the in�luence she once had in her party, there is still a sizeable number of the country’s population that pays attention to her and those of the Sarah Palin ilk. So if she only has in�luence over a small minority, why should she even get a mention in the LGBT press? Simple. If our community is unaware of what’s being said of us, how can we defend against it later? Bachmann’s comments came in response to Republican Arizona Governor Jan Brewer vetoing a so-called “religious freedom” bill that would have allowed business owners to deny service to LGBTs because of religious beliefs. As many major corporations pointed out very publicly last month, that’s bad for business and could

potentially spell trouble for many segments of society that don’t �it into a speci�ic religious mold. “There’s nothing about gays in there,” Bachmann said of the bill, ignoring that the bill was created because a photographer and baker in different states were sued for refusing service to same-sex couples. “But the gay community decided to make this their measure. I think the thing that is getting a little tiresome, the gay community, they have so bullied the American people, and they’ve so intimidated politicians. The politicians fear them, so that they think they get to dictate the agenda everywhere.” I wholeheartedly agree with Bachmann. This “thing” is getting tiresome. Extremists have taken religion hostage and made it a club for a few rather than a welcoming environment for everyone. Finally, the majority of the population has tired of one “clique” of society dictating how others living outside of a speci�ic religious bubble should live. It’s called inspiration. Determination. Empowerment. When a child is bullied on the playground and �inally �inds the courage to stand up and say, “Enough!” we applaud that strength. Why should it be any different when a community that has been viewed as lesser for decades—or centuries—does the same thing? It shouldn’t. And whether you believe an ancient text like the Bible or not, it looks like at least one famous passage is coming to pass. The meek really are going to inherit the earth. They just have to �ight for it. |  |

Fighting for equality is not a form of bullying— it’s inspirational and empowering.

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MAR. 13 - MAR. 26, 2014 // ISSUE 21.06

DAVID MORAN

is the LGBTQ Services Graduate Coordinator at the University of Central Florida, where he studied Emerging Media. Page 12

RICHARD J. ROSENDALL

is a writer and activist and the former president of the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance. He can be reached at rrosendall@ starpower.net. Page 21

GREGG SHAPIRO

is a Chicagobased freelance journalist and entertainment reporter whose work appears frequently in Watermark. Page 31

Greg Burton, Scottie Campbell, Zach Caruso, Susan Clary, Amy Dees, Kirk Hartlage, Rev. Phyllis Hunt, Joseph Kissel, Ken Kundis, Mary Meeks, Stephen Miller, David Moran, Gregg Shipiro, Greg Stemm, Brett Stout, Jim Walker

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orlando NEWS 8

Disney severs support for Boy Scouts Staff report

O

RLANDO | Walt Disney World cut its business support of the Boy Scouts of America over the organization’s refusal to end its ban on openly LGBT adults acting as troop leaders and volunteers. For years, the “Ears to You” grant program presented by Walt Disney World made donations to organizations that volunteered their time, which included a variety of Boy Scout troops. As was announced Feb. 28, it will no longer fund local Scout units in support of employees’ volunteer work. Walt Disney World’s corporate Standards of Business Conduct states the company itself and any other af�iliates of Disney must not allow “any form of harassment or discrimination on the basis of race, religion, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identi�ication, national origin, age, marital status, covered veteran status, disability, pregnancy or any other basis prohibited by applicable law.” Disney would not divulge its formula for converting volunteer hours to dollars, but a chart on Disney’s corporate website shows that in 2010, employees raised $4.8 million via 548,000 volunteer hours, which works out to $8.79 an hour. The Florida Council’s board president addressed the change in writing, saying: “The National BSA Council has reached out to WDW to try to resolve the situation, however, according to WDW, their views do not currently align with the BSA and they are choosing to discontinue this level of support.” In May 2013, the Boy Scouts of America’s National Council voted to end the ban on allowing openly gay youth to be Scouts, but it kept the ban on allowing openly gay adults to be troop leaders or volunteers. Walt Disney World joins the ranks of many other companies, such as Lockheed Martin, Major League Soccer and UPS, which have ended their funding or support of the Boy Scouts because of the organization’s discriminatory policy. “We’re never happy to see Scouting suffer as a result of the BSA’s anti-gay policy, but Disney made the right decision to withhold support until Scouting is fully inclusive,” Scouts for Equality co-founder Zach Wahls said in a statement. “Scouts for Equality will continue to advocate for a fully inclusive membership policy, to help build a stronger Scouting community that is eligible for the support of Corporate America.” Deena Fidas, the director of workplace equality for the Human Rights Campaign, said Disney’s decision “carries a unique weight. When you think about brands that exemplify childhood, you think of Disney, and with them dissociating with BSA, it speaks volumes of where we are with the views we want to sent to young people.” |  |

watermark YOUR LGBT LIFE.

IN LIMBO: The Gay-Straight Alliance at Carver Middle School in Taveres is still waiting for acceptance. A lawsuit filed by the ACLU will finally get its day in court. ILLUSTRATION BY PATRICK O’CONNOR

Eying a court date Lake County School District GSA lawsuit will move forward Jamie Hyman

L

EESBURG | Looks like the proposed Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) at Carver Middle School will get its day in court. Federal District Judge William Terrell Hodges is allowing a lawsuit �ighting for the GSA to move forward. Hodges issued an order March 6 denying the Lake County School District’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), on behalf of several Carver Middle School Students, �iled the lawsuit against the Lake County School District in December of 2013. Judge Hodges’ order is in response to a Feb. 10 hearing at the United States District Court Middle District of Florida, Ocala Division. The order also dismisses a motion for an injunction which would have allowed the GSA to meet right away. According to the ACLU, the next step is for both sides to exchange evidence. Dan Tilley, ACLU of Florida LGBT rights staff attorney, said the school board’s efforts to block the lawsuit are an example

MAR. 13 - MAR. 26, 2014 // ISSUE 21.06

litigation,” said Christopher Patton, Lake County Schools communications of�icer, in an email responding to Watermark’s request for an interview. of why the GSA is so needed. This is the second lawsuit “All across the country, LGBT in a year brought forth by students are subject to serious Carver Middle School students bullying and harassment, and the attempting to form a GSA. In the students who make up the GSA at �irst suit, the ACLU represented Carver are working to be a part of openly bisexual Bayli Silberstein, the solution by doing something who at the time was a 14-year-old that multiple studies have proven eighth grader at Carver Middle to work. Instead of supporting School. After months of legal them, the school board is ignoring wrangling and school board the problem, and in doing so, meeting debates, a judge granted participating in it,” Tilley said in Silberstein permission to form the a media release. “Judge Hodges club for the remainder of her 8th grade year, which ended in the summer of 2013. That settlement has expired, Bayli has moved onto high school and now, the GSA no longer meets —DANIEL TILLEY, ACLU STAFF ATTORNEY at Carver Middle School. Before the was right to throw out their club became inactive, Hannah motion to dismiss, and though Faughan, a 12-year-old seventh we are disappointed that he also grader, and her friends tried denied our motion for preliminary to keep it going but ran into injunction, we look forward to administrative roadblocks similar continuing to make the case for to the ones Silberstein faced. why these brave kids should be In August of 2013, the Lake allowed to stand up to the bullies.” County School Board approved The Lake County school district a new policy that would require would not discuss the case. all existing middle school “The School District declines commenting on pending Continued on page 11 |  |

“Instead of supporting them, the school board is ignoring the problem, and in doing so, participating in it.”

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orlando NEWS 10

AIDS Walk Orlando will showcase diversity March 29 Samantha Rosenthal

O

RLANDO | Since 1995, Hope and Help of Central Florida has hit the streets of Downtown Orlando to help raise money and awareness about those affected by HIV/AIDS in the region. This year the AIDS Walk Orlando returns on Saturday, March 29, where participants will walk 1.86 miles starting and ending at the Walt Disney World Amphitheatre at Lake Eola. Chris Hessler, the events manager for the Hope and Help Center of Central Florida, said one of his favorite parts of the entire day is the initial kickoff of the walk—diverse people from all over the Orlando community come together in support of the HIV/ AIDS community. “Everybody is so jazzed, and there’s so much great energy,” Hessler said. “It’s so cool to see 1,600 walking down the streets of Orlando.” Hope and Help Center is the largest AIDS service organizations in Central Florida, offering assistance throughout Seminole, Orange, Lake and Osceola counties at its eight various locations. Ninety cents of every dollar raised by the walk goes directly toward client services, and with there being 12,500 Central Floridians living with HIV/AIDS, it allows for the organization to provide different services, including HIV testing. In 2013, AIDS Walk Orlando raised just over $150,000. This year Hessler hopes to top that with a projected 1,600 participants and a hopeful $160,000 raised. But in the end, Hessler said it is all about Orlando «just coming together and showing the community that the HIV community is just as diverse as the rest of the community. «It’s also wonderful seeing families, groups, individuals and even pets, full of diversity, coming together,» he added. Just in 2013 alone, the Hope and Help Center administered more than 5,600 HIV tests to our Central Florida neighbors, reaching out to people also in underserved, high risk areas via their mobile testing unit. Hessler said that this year Hope and Help had even more sponsors come onboard to support AIDS Walk Orlando. He mentioned how sometimes it is harder to gain sponsors due to the competition of other walks occurring around the same time of the year. Sponsors for AIDS Walk Orlando 2014 include local and national businesses alike, including, Parliament House, Bright House Networks Business Solutions, SunTrust Foundation, Walgreens, WKMG Local 6 and Watermark Media, Inc. among others. “It’s a great reminder of why I do what I do and makes it all worth it,” Hessler said. |  |

watermark YOUR LGBT LIFE.

UCF Pride Coalition to be dismantled, restructured David Thomas Moran

O

RLANDO | The UCF Student Body Senate voted 34-1-0 at its Feb. 27 meeting to terminate Pride Coalition as a Student Government Association (SGA) agency. The LGBT programming agency will be restructured as a committee under the Multicultural Student Center (MSC). The details of the reorganization are still being worked out, but it is likely that a new multicultural affairs department will also be created within UCF’s Student Development & Enrollment Services (SDES) division to oversee MSC and the proposed Pride Coalition committee. Pride Coalition Student Director Nicholas Simons presented two options to the Senate—the �irst to keep Pride Coalition as an agency and the second to absorb Pride Coalition into the MSC and the proposed SDES department. Simons told the Senate that Pride Coalition’s Executive Board recommended that the organization retain its agency status. He said students had raised concerns about the loss of agency status reducing LGBT students’ ability to advocate for themselves and remain visible within the SGA. Even with the disbanding of Pride Coalition, the proposed reorganization appears to have support from leadership in SGA, Pride Coalition and the Multicultural Student Center as the best way forward for diversity and inclusion outreach to students at UCF. “I do see this being more of an opportunity than a hindrance. It

|  | Carver Middle School

GSA from pg.8

clubs to reapply and meet new requirements. Faughan and her friends reapplied in October, and in December, after several attempts to �ind out the status of the GSA, they were informed by the school board’s attorney that the Superintendent had denied their application, claiming the GSA was not an extension of the school’s curriculum and therefore would not be permitted to meet and operate as a school club. According to the ACLU, the District had

MAR. 13 - MAR. 26, 2014 // ISSUE 21.06

FUTURE OPTIONS: Nicholas Simons, Pride Coalition Student Director, presents options for the Coalition’s future before the UCF Student Senate Feb. 27. PHOTO BY DAVID THOMAS MORAN

does provide more structure and more support for the students programming-wise,” said Edwanna Andrews, Assistant Director for Student Leadership Development. “The university is going to have to put some support behind goal No. 4 of being inclusive and diverse...funding a director and operating budget.” One of UCF President John C. Hitt’s goals for the university is to become more inclusive and diverse. The Senate vote to terminate Pride Coalition comes after months of debate over the future of the organization. UCF SGA’s Activity & Service Fee Budget Committee voted last November to defund Pride Coalition and SGA Leadership �iled a grievance to dissolve its agency status on Jan. 6. “I think that the important thing to stress, there’s so many people involved in this process and there were enough concerns with the current structure for it to be zero funded that there is going to be a very conscious effort to �ind those funds over the next few weeks. Some of the costs will be covered

as we merge the two agencies into one,” said SGA Comptroller and A&SF Budget Committee Chair Jason Wojkiewicz. The Pride Coalition Facebook page posted a status update announcing the restructuring and con�irming their commitment to inclusive , diverse programming. “We appreciate our supporters throughout this process, especially those who have attended meetings, given input, and have let their voices be heard. SGA heard you and your concerns. You have all inspired us to continue to push out programming and we will continue to serve you and your needs, regardless of the structure we go under,” the post reads. Over the next few weeks, the SGA leadership will work with Pride Coalition and MSC to restructure and reallocate funds so that the MSC is prepared to operate in the next �iscal year. The Senate still has to approve the A&SF budget which they typically do before the end of the spring term, usually in March or April, as the next budget year begins in July. |  |

already approved a number of noncurricular clubs at this point and that’s when they sued the district. Unlike the current lawsuit, the �irst lawsuit was settled quickly and out of court. In an interview with Watermark, Tilly said the school board is taking it to court this time because there’s been a change in state law that would “permit [the school board] to discriminate where they couldn’t’ discriminate before.” Tilley is referring to Senate Bill 1076, which went into effect July 1, 2013. Two of Lake County’s School Board members, Tod Howard

and Bill Mathias, successfully lobbied the Florida Legislature in Tallahassee to change state law and remove the de�inition of “secondary schools,” which had previous been de�ined as grades 6–12. Tilley said Howard and Mathias are relying on the state to say The Federal Access Act, which requires secondary schools to provide equal access to extracurricular clubs, doesn’t apply, but the ACLU’s view is that secondary schools do include middle schools. He added that the ACLU also has a �irst amendment claim in the case, as well. |  |

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11


tampa bay NEWS

Inaugural Manatee Pride set for March 22 debut Sarah Marshall

B

RADENTON | This month marks a historic �irst for Manatee County. The �irst-ever LGBT Pride Festival will be held at the Bradenton Riverwalk on Saturday, March 22. The effort, which runs from noon to 4 p.m., is organized by the Prism Youth Initiative and its executive director, Shannon Summers. Manatee Pride hopes to accomplish two things in its inaugural year. It aims to bring the pro-LGBT community together to promote awareness and tolerance regarding LGBT issues, and identify possible board members and mentors for Prism members for the Manatee County Human Rights Ordinance Committee. “Manatee County needs Pride to show our youth that they are not alone and there is a community for them to be a part of,” Summers said, who added that she expects approximately 1,000 people on March 22. Manatee County has come a long way with regards to diversity, but it still has a long way to go. The Manatee County Commission approved the festival last October with very little controversy. “I did not think it was going to be this easy,” Summers said right after the vote. “I was scared half to death.” Summers worked with Laura McKeithen, of Realize Bradenton, and the city’s Downtown Development Authority for four months to pick a date and get the item placed on the agenda. Summers hopes to make Manatee Pride an annual event and believes it will put Prism on the map and hopefully open the minds of the county’s population. Proceeds from Manatee Pride will help expand the services currently offered by Prism since it was founded in 2010. Those services include free HIV testing and STD education, peer counseling and mentorship, a computer lab for students, tutoring, and bullying and suicide prevention education. It also provides a safe haven for youth to empower one another without ridicule. Prism aims to help those between the ages of 13-23. Members of that age group, especially, are often victims of bullying rejection from family. For this reason, Prism also collaborates with Manatee Children’s Services to provide services for homeless young people between the ages of 18-23. Prism’s website includes a video of testimonials from young people expressing how the organization has helped them, keeping some from suicide, and others able to cope with dif�icult family situations and gain self con�idence. “There aren’t many who had an outlet at a younger age, but there is a noticeable difference in those who did,” said Prin, the president of the University of South Florida’s Trans+ Student Union. “People who had an outlet such as Prism are more outspoken and proud of Continued on page 14 |  |

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watermark YOUR LGBT LIFE.

AN UNCERTAIN FUTURE: An optimistic District 13 candidate Alex Sink addresses supporters at a January Fundraiser in St. Petersburg. Sink lost her bid for congress March 11. FILE PHOTO BY STEVE BLANCHARD

Jolly outdoes Sink Republican David Jolly beats Democrat Alex Sink by a mere 3,400 votes Staff report

C

LEARWATER | Republican David Jolly is the winner of a hard-fought congressional election in Florida to replace the late Rep. Bill Young. With nearly 100 percent of the vote counted, The Associated Press says Jolly bested Democrat Alex Sink in a contest that attracted national attention and millions of dollars. The special election served as the �irst test of President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul ahead of November’s midterm elections. Local issues took a backseat to the health care law as both national parties and outside groups �looded the swing-voting district with ads, phone calls and mailings about “Obamacare.” Democrats and Republicans used the race to audition national strategies. While Republicans held the congressional seat for more than four decades until Young’s death last year, district’s voters favored Obama in 2008 and 2012.

MAR. 13 - MAR. 26, 2014 // ISSUE 21.06

Jolly took 48.43% of the vote while Sink garnered 46.56% in the March 11 special election. To put it into perspective, Sink fell by a mere 3,417 votes when the last Pinellas County precinct reported. Libertarian Lucas Overby received 4.83 percent of the vote, with 8,799 votes cast for him. Sink gave her concession speech in front of supporters at the Hilton Carillon in St. Petersburg. Sink called the results disappointing, but she thanked her voters and her thousands of volunteers. “Life brings many challenges, it brings many opportunities,” she said. “My values have always been to do good, to do good for my family and my community and for my state and my country.” Sink wrapped up her speech on a positive note. “My commitment to you is we don’t know what the future holds, but I’ll do what I’ll always done and continue to serve my community,” she said. “And I want to thank you all again and although we’re disappointed,

watermarkonline.com

the bars are open, let’s enjoy our friendship.” Overby also addressed supporters at Finley’s Irish Pub in Largo. “The amount of people that were reached, tens of thousands of voters have reached out to us through the course of this campaign, and you can’t ask for anything stronger than that,” Overby said. “The movement pushes on and so will we. We’ll make announcements about November in the next couple weeks.” Overby said his campaign planned to take a look at what happened to decide what they would do for the general election. The win means Jolly will serve out the remainder of the late Bill Young’s term, which ends this year. Jolly will have to seek reelection this November. “The bottom line is I did not run for Congress to advance Washington,” Jolly told supporters at Sheraton Sand Key on Clearwater Beach. “I ran for Congress to advance Pinellas County.” Sink, a long-time advocate for LGBT rights—including marriage equality—fell short in Continued on page 14 |  |


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13


tampa bay NEWS

|  | Alex Sink

St. Pete Pride announces Grand Marshal candidates Steve Blanchard

S

T. PETERSBURG | It may only be early March, but the wheels are already spinning at St. Pete Pride, which released its list of nominees for the 2014 Grand Marshal positions. Like last year, Pride will have three grand marshals— male-identi�ied, female-identi�ied and organization. Each category has three nominees, and the winners will be chosen by popular vote through StPetePride.com. “In 2013, the community came together and gave us three amazing representatives for Tampa Bay’s LGBT community,” explained Eric Skains, St. Pete Pride’s executive director. “And this year, we expect nothing less.” The nominees are all well-known throughout Tampa Bay and Pride organizers expect a larger voter turnout than in 2013, the �irst year grand marshals were chosen by the community at large. Voting runs through the end of March and winners will be announced at the St. Pete Pride kick-off event in April. That’s a full month earlier than in 2013. “It gives us more time to celebrate our grand marshals,” Skains said. “We want the community to know their grand marshals well.” Each nominee’s bio is listed on St. Pete Pride’s website under the “Pride Weekend” tab. From there, voters can cast their vote—one vote per category. This year’s nominees in the male-identi�ied category are: Jay Aller with AIDS Service Association of Pinellas, owner of 6S Boutique Andrew Citino, and local advocate and stroke survivor Chris Tate. Female-identi�ied candidates include: �inancial planner and LGBT activist Sharon Herman, St. Petersburg City Councilwoman Darden Rice, and Gay and Lesbian Chamber board member Ashley Brundage. In the organization category, PFLAG Tampa, Balance Tampa Bay and The Stonewall Democrats have all been nominated. The grand marshals selected will appear at various St. Pete Pride events, as well as ride at the beginning of the St. Pete Pride’s �irst-ever night parade on Saturday, June 28. |  | |  | Manatee Pride from pg.12 themselves and motivated to help others who are not at that level yet, me being one of them. Those who had no outlet growing up and have been closeted most of their lives seem to have more trouble coming to terms with who they truly are, and typically tend to be more soft spoken than the others.” Several vendors are already in place for the inaugural Manatee Pride and entertainment includes Diversity: Voices of Sarasota and the rock band Walking Giants. Attendance is free. For more information on Manatee Pride, visit ManateePride.org. |  |

14

watermark YOUR LGBT LIFE.

from pg.12

her gubernatorial bid against Florida Gov. Rick Scott in 2010. Democrats bet big on Alex Sink, Florida’s former chief �inancial of�icer, in the race for the swing district. Experts saw the race as a prequel of sorts to the national �ight this year over who controls Congress in the last two years of Barack Obama’s �inal presidential term. The House is expected to remain under Republican control. But in the Senate, Republicans hope to leverage Obama’s unpopularity and his health care law’s wobbly start to gain the six seats required to control the 100-member chamber. That made the race in Florida a pricey proving ground for both parties, with the candidates the faces of the effort. Jolly, backed by Republicans and outside groups, said Sink would undermine Medicare because of Democratic-passed cuts to programs under the Affordable Health Care Act. Sink and her allies, meanwhile, painted Jolly an extremist who wanted to privatize Social Security and gut Medicare. More than 112,000 people voted by mail and another 5,000 voted early, according to the Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections of�ice. Deborah Clark, elections supervisor, said 42 percent of the early ballots were cast by registered Republicans and 39 percent by registered Democrats. The race earned a national spotlight and brought in millions in outside money. According to �igures compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics, groups such as political action committees and conventional party committees have spent a total of $8.8 million on the race in 2014 as of March 10. The candidates also raised millions of dollars. Sink raised $2.5 million and Jolly $1 million. The Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections estimated voter turnout at 39 percent. That includes the unof�icial early voting turnout of 26.7 percent. The intense national interest is not surprising. Florida’s 13th, which includes Clearwater

MAR. 13 - MAR. 26, 2014 // ISSUE 21.06

and much of St. Petersburg, is one of the few remaining truly-competitive districts in the country, thanks to partisan gerrymandering. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce spent more than $1 million attacking Sink, a former banker. Former President Bill Clinton recorded a phone call a week before the election seeking local volunteers to help with Sink’s campaign and a half dozen House Democrats emailed fundraising appeals to their own supporters on behalf of her. More than a third of Jolly’s campaign contributions came from members of Congress. Meanwhile, Republican Rep. Paul Ryan joined Jolly on a conference call with voters, while Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul recorded a phone message for the GOP nominee aimed at supporters of

``Those issues are paramount,’’ said Rep. Steve Israel of New York, who chairs the House Democrats’ campaign operation. ``Having Republicans say that they want to cut Medicare but continue to fund massive subsidies to big oil companies ... that will be a de�ining theme.’’ Republicans answer by highlighting how some Medicare payment rates were cut by Democrats to help pay for the health overhaul. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce spent $1.2 million on ads arguing Sink is ``still pushing Obamacare,’’ the 2010 law that it calls ``a disaster for families and seniors.’’ Another spot said Sink supports Obamacare ``even though it means higher costs and lost bene�its,’’ citing reductions to Medicare Advantage, which lets seniors enroll in Medicare through private insurance plans. Jolly put up ads promising spending cuts, balanced budgets and replacing the health care law. Sink outspent Jolly by more than 3 to 1 on television advertising, though outside groups aligned with the GOP have helped narrow the overall Democratic advantage. Having focused much of his campaign on the botched launch of the health care law, Jolly found himself on the defensive about entitlement programs. On a recent morning at a senior center, the former lobbyist devoted the bulk of his remarks to rebutting Democratic ads that say he worked for a group that wants to privatize Social Security. The spot also charges that he ``praised a plan ending Medicare’s guarantee.’’ The Republicans’ national campaign committee for House candidates poured $2 million into TV ads, including one picturing Jolly’s opponent next to Obama and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi. ``She’s �ighting for them, not for us,’’ the ad said of Sink. Sink attempted to blunt the criticism in her own ads. One spot said repealing the health care law would ``force seniors to pay thousands more for prescription drugs’’ |  |

“We don’t know what the future holds, but I’ll do what I’ve always done and continue to serve my community.” —ALEX SINK

Libertarian candidate Overby. While Republicans held the congressional seat for four decades until Young’s death, the district’s voters favored Obama in the past two presidential elections. In all, the candidates, their party committees and several outside groups collectively spent almost $10 million blanketing the airwaves with largely negative ads focused on health care costs and Social Security. Part of the reason is the large percentage of seniors in this district, which is 37 percent Republican, 35 percent Democrat and 24 percent independent. More than one in four registered voters is older than 65, a population that could make up more than half of those who cast ballots. But in an effort to de�lect Republican attacks on the health care law and rollout problems, Democrats also prominently featured proposed Republican curbs on Social Security and Medicare in competitive races across the country.

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15


state NEWS

Rep. Saunders stands up for LGBT vets Staff report

O

n March 4, the opening day of Florida’s 2014 Legislative Session, State Rep. Joe Saunders (D-Orlando) stood up for LGBT veterans. The House was debating HB 7015, a bill addressing veteran and service member support. “I rise in support of this very good bill because its effort to expand the blanket of protections and opportunities to all servicemen and women and their families is noble and honorable,” Saunders said. Saunders then remarked on the repeal of Don’t Ask; Don’t Tell, and asked representatives to remember all types of military families as they consider the bill. “I ask you to think about the same-sex spouses who wake up at night from the nightmares that come from the one they love most who’s missing in action,” Saunders said. “Before this bill hits the governor’s desk, I urge you to consider making sure that all families who have lost a loved one are recognized in the blankets of these new protections.” Currently, the bill is awaiting committee hearings. See video of Saunders’ entire speech at WatermarkOnline.com. |  |

FAMU adopts LGBT protection policy Samantha Rosenthal

T

ALLAHASSEE | Florida A&M University (FAMU) will move toward an updated nondiscrimination policy that includes protections for sexual orientation and gender identity or expression. On March 6, the FAMU Board of Trustees voted in favor of those changes. Now, there’s a 30-day review period before the expanded policy is of�icially adopted. “I think it will have a positive

Staff Report TALLAHASSEE | Gov. Rick Scott said he would veto an Arizona-style antigay bill if a similar one was to come through the Florida Legislature. Although he avoided this question three times when asked on MSNBC’s The Daily Rundown on Feb. 26, he

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be establishing inclusive policies, which prohibit discrimination or harassment based on sex—actual or perceived,” said Hudson, who commissioned the LGBTQ Fact Finding Committee in February of 2012. “The goal of this committee was to help create a safe, inclusive and welcoming environment for all members of the FAMU community.” Hudson said that while this is an important �irst step, there is still a lot of work to do at the Tallahassee college. |  |

issued a statement a few hours later saying he’d veto a similar bill in Florida. “ I would veto it in Florida because it seems unnecessary,” Scott said. “In Florida, we are focused on economic growth, and not on things that divide us. Other states can spend their time �ighting over

issues like this, but in Florida we are laser focused on creating jobs and opportunities.” Arizona’s Senate Bill 1062 was vetoed by Gov. Jan Brewer Feb. 26. It would have allowed business owners to refuse to serve LGBT customers based on religious beliefs. |  |

Gov. Scott would veto an Arizona-style anti-gay bill

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ETROIT, MICH. | A federal judge said March 7 he expects to make a decision within two weeks in a challenge to Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage. Attorneys presented scienti�ic data, expert testimony and arguments about constitutional protections before Judge Bernard Friedman in the case that has attracted attention because of the testimony of Mark Regnerus, a conservative social science researcher at the University of Texas. Plaintiffs Jayne Rowse and April DeBoer have been together for eight years and are raising three special needs children. Under Michigan’s law, they can’t jointly adopt the kids because they’re not married, which

could cause custody and other legal issues if one of the women died. ``We are hopeful we’ll be on the right side of history,’’ DeBoer said. ``Everyone realizes that marriage means family, and that’s what we want.’’ Plaintiffs’ attorney Ken Mogill argued that there is no rational basis for Michigan’s stance on samesex marriage. “The right to marry is a fundamental right that should apply regardless of sexual orientation,’’ Mogill said. But Kristin Heyse, an attorney for the state, argued that the case is about studies that show children from opposite-sex marriages fare better in school and other aspects of life. ``It’s about science and data,’’ Heyse said. ``It’s about what’s best

METHODISTS END MINISTER’S NEW YORK SAME-SEX WEDDING CASE

for the children of the state of Michigan.’’ The state’s defense relied heavily on Regnerus’ controversial—and widely discredited—2012 study that allegedly found young adults had more problems if they were raised with a mother or father who had a same-sex relationship. Regnerus’ colleagues, however, distanced themselves from his work and testimony during the trial. Christine Williams, chairwoman of the University of Texas sociology department, said Regnerus’ views are not those of her department “nor do they re�lect the views of the American Sociological Association, which takes the position that the conclusions he draws from his study of gay parenting are fundamentally �lawed on conceptual and methodological grounds.” |  |

4 accused gays whipped in north Nigerian court Wire Report LAGOS, NIGERIA | Four young men were convicted of gay sex and whipped publicly March 6 in an Islamic court in northern Nigeria, a human rights activist said. The four were among dozens caught in a wave of arrests after Nigeria strengthened its criminal penalties for homosexuality with the

new Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act in January. The men could face further violence in prison if they do not come up with an additional �ine of $120 each. The four men, aged between 20 and 22, were sentenced to 15 strokes plus a year’s imprisonment if they cannot pay their �ines. Dorothy Aken’Ova, convenor of the Coalition for the Defense of

Sexual Rights Network, said the men’s confessions were forced by law agents who beat them. She said they had to lie on the �loor of the court to be whipped on their backsides. The hearings in Bauchi city had been delayed from January, when a crowd tried to stone the accused men outside the court and demanded the judge pass the death sentence. |  |

its history of racial oppression, should avoid any law that could lead to discrimination against gay people and other groups. ``Why are they trying to enact this?’’ former state Supreme Court Justice Oliver Diaz asked March 7. ``No one’s religious beliefs are being trampled upon in Mississippi. My goodness, we have more churches per capita than any state in the nation.’’ The bill has passed the Senate and awaits House debate this week. Critics say the Mississippi bill is still vaguely worded and subject to broad interpretation, and should be

killed rather than tweaked. In an email this week, CAC Executive Director Jimmy Porter urged lawmakers to pass the bill, saying a law would allow a person of any faith to cite his or her religious beliefs as a defense in a lawsuit. ``The national media pundits, the ACLU, LGBT lobby, and others have declared this bill as discriminatory and hateful,’’ Porter wrote. ``That’s not true; the bill is about religious freedom.’’ The Human Rights Campaign opposes the bill, as does the American Civil Liberties Union. |  |

Miss. lawmakers feel pressure over religion bill Wire Report JACKSON, MISS. | Lawmakers in conservative Mississippi �ind themselves in a tug-of-war over a religious-practices bill that some say is uncomfortably similar to one recently vetoed by Arizona’s Republican governor. Christian Action Commission (CAC), a group that lobbies for the state’s in�luential Southern Baptist Convention, is urging lawmakers to pass the Mississippi Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Others say that Mississippi, with

The United Methodist Church has dropped its case against Rev. Thomas Ogletree, a retired minister accused of breaking church law in 2012 by officiating at his son’s same-sex marriage in New York. At the March 10 announcement, Bishop Martin McLee also called on the church to stop prosecuting other pastors for ministering to gay people. Ogletree is the 80-year-old ex-dean of the Yale Divinity School.

TELECOM GIANT PULLS ADS FROM UGANDA ANTI-GAY PAPER An activist group says the global telecom company Orange has withdrawn advertising from the Ugandan newspaper Red Pepper. The tabloid printed the names of 200 suspected homosexuals after a severe anti-gay law was enacted last month. All Out said that Orange, a subsidiary of France Telecom, made the decision after more than 77,000 of its members petitioned the company to “remove the advertisements.’’

IDAHO GAY ACTIVISTS JAILED AFTER VIGIL ATTEMPT Former Idaho State Sen. Nicole LeFavour and two other gay activists were arrested at the Idaho Capitol March 6 after police nixed their plan to hold an all-night vigil inside the building. This is the fifth arrest this year for LeFavour, who is pushing for the Legislature to add protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity to the Idaho Human Rights Act. The Republican leadership has repeatedly denied a hearing on the issue.

nation+world

Wire Report

IN OTHER NEWS

NEWS

Michigan lawsuit challenges marriage ban, flawed research

ARIZONA STATE SENATOR WHO FOUGHT RECENT BILL SAYS HE’S GAY A veteran Arizona lawmaker who was a vocal critic of a bill that touched off a national debate over discrimination came out as gay March 5, saying “I wanted to let everyone know I am gay, I’m a Latino and I’m a state senator and it’s okay.’’ State Sen. Steve Gallardo said he felt the need to come out publicly partly because of the recent battle against a bill approved by the Arizona Legislature that would have allowed businesses to refuse service to LGBTs based on religious beliefs.

BOSTON PARADE ORGANIZERS BARS LGBT GROUP Boston’s Irish-American mayor, Martin J. Walsh, hopes to reach a deal with parade organizers South Boston Allied War Veterans Council to allow a gay group to march in the city’s St. Patrick’s Day parade. The Council ended negotiations with LGBT Veterans for Equality, an affiliate of the gay advocacy group MassEquality, on March 4 after the LGBT group allegedly tried to enter the March 16 parade ``under false pretenses.’’ Walsh said he would boycott the parade unless LGBT groups were allowed to participate.

CALIFORNIA TRANS TEEN RECANTS SEXUAL ASSAULT REPORT A transgender teenager who told police he was beaten and sexually assaulted March 3 in a California school boy’s bathroom has recanted the story. The 15-year-old student at Hercules Middle/High School “admitted he fabricated the whole story” during a March 4 interview with a detective, Hercules police Detective Connie Van Putten said. She would not speculate on why he had lied. The change left open the possibility that the teen could be charged with making a false criminal report, Van Patten said.

MAR. 13 - MAR. 26, 2014 // ISSUE 21.06

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guestcolumn

The Right to Be Wrong

Richard J. Rosendall

I

HAVE BEEN FIGHTING THE

Catholic Church since I �irst argued with a nun at St. Catherine Labouré Elementary School in Wheaton, Maryland, in 1962. I don’t recall being smacked with a ruler, but Sister Mary Margaret gave intimidating glares.

I remembered her, and the scorn of the parish’s Monsignor W. Joyce Russell toward liberal priests during 1968’s uproar over the papal encyclical Humanae Vitae, when I helped win D.C. marriage equality over objections by the Archdiocese of Washington several decades later. The Archdiocese wanted various exemptions enabling them, for example, to receive government contracts for adoption services while turning away gay couples. They lost. They then withdrew from public adoption services and were replaced by another contractor. Those past battles came to mind last week with the news that Mark Zmuda, the vice-principal �ired last year from a Seattle-area Catholic school after

marrying his same-sex partner, has �iled an employment discrimination lawsuit against the school and the Seattle Archdiocese. Zmuda is unlikely to win his case. The U.S. Supreme Court unanimously upheld the “ministerial exception” to non-discrimination laws in its 2012 decision in Hosanna-Tabor Lutheran Church and School v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Chief Justice Roberts cited a string of rulings going back to 1872. Seattle Archbishop J. Peter Sartain has a constitutional right to impose Catholic teachings in church-run schools. I disagree with those teachings, but I also respect and cherish the First Amendment. It does not, in my view, give a baker or a photographer the right to refuse service to a customer (this is being litigated), but it does protect a church in its core religious functions. That does not mean the church is entitled to discriminate using public funds. President Thomas Jefferson wrote to the Danbury Baptists in 1802 that the First Amendment built “a wall of separation between Church & State.” That wall has taken a battering in the ensuing centuries, yet it persists, and it protects those on both sides. Leah Ward Sears and David Blankenhorn write in Time, “Does any religious conviction justify denying lesbians and gays a basic legal promise of non-discrimination in hiring, public accommodations, and housing? Surely the answer to this question is no.” Blankenhorn was a witness for the anti-gay side in the Proposition 8 trial. He has had a change of heart, and now supports civil marriage equality. Our �ight is not over, but we are winning. The fact that our opponents overreach by seeking to extend faith-based discrimination into the public square with conscience clauses and the like does not mean that we should reciprocate by telling religious organizations whom they can and cannot �ire. Neither need we be silent. Francis DeBernardo, executive director of New Ways Ministry, writes of those who �ired Zmuda, “Though they may have had a legal right to �ire Zmuda, did they stop to think

what lesson they would be sending to students with such an action?” The outspoken defense of Zmuda by his former students is the latest example of Catholic laity heeding their well-formed consciences over the knee-jerk dictates of bishops. People of faith, from high school students to dissident clergy, are waging the �ight for gay-af�irming policies from within their denominations. That is where that part of the �ight should be waged. “Gays Not Welcome” signs should no more be allowed in shop windows than “Blacks Not Welcome” signs; on the other hand, “All Are

Welcome” signs outside houses of worship must be placed there by the religious groups themselves, not imposed by the state. I have the Constitution and the ACLU on my side, and if you �ight us on this point we will win. Holler all you want. The First Amendment is a sturdy thing. |  |

Richard J. Rosendall is an activist and freelance writer based in Washington D.C. and is a former president of the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance (GLAA).

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perspective

PUBLISHER’S

application is limited to gay men, because that’s what I am, but much of it is universal. I encourage all LGBT people to weigh in with their own list. And I’d love to know what you think I got wrong or failed to include.

WHAT EVERY GAY MAN SHOULD DO…

What Gay Men Should Do: A Decade by Decade Guide

Tom Dyer TOM@WATERMARKONLINE.COM

A

COLUMN IN THE FEB. 28

good, Gaga most de�initely is. The research proves it! have it, whether or not the album ArtPOP is considered encourage charitable actions among her fans. So there you and a purpose to continue living. Lady Gaga also seems to bullying. They all reported that Gaga gave them strength were gay, suffered eating disorders or were the focus of their own differences.” Those participating in the study unusual behaviors, she allows her followers to embrace “by revealing her embrace of her own differences and megastar’s Twitter feed, and researchers found that at ease. The study involved those who follow the helps fans who are perceived as “awkward” feel more COLUMBIA, Lady Gaga’s social media presence MINDS AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURICCORDING TO A RECENT STUDY FROM THE

A

AWKWARDNESS OKAY STUDY: GAGA MAKES

New York Times about “What You Learn in Your 40s” struck a chord with readers and trended for a couple days. It also served as the basis for a rich dinner table conversation with some of my more philosophical friends. We expanded and narrowed the discussion to “What Gay Men Should Do… by Decade” and happily ponti�icated for hours.

What follows are highlights, recalled through my �ilter. And hence this disclaimer: I’m in my mid-50s, and like many of my gay peers I was a late bloomer. I grew up in a time when there was tremendous shame associated with homosexuality. I drank alcoholically well into the second quarter of my life. I didn’t discover the joys of guilt-free sober sex until the band was lining up for the halftime show. The list below is subjective, arbitrary, and impossible to ful�ill. I can check off many items, but usually late and only in part. So for me the list is informed by a sense of regret as well as accomplishment. Each item, if achieved, will make your life easier, more meaningful and more joyful. The earlier the better. The list is short on relationship advice—a whole other column which I am not quali�ied to write. Its

IN YOUR (LATE) TEENS

1. Educate yourself on LGBT history. It is rich and remarkable, �illed with heroes, villains and lessons. And it will give you a foundation in pride and gratitude that will last throughout your gay life. A good start is to watch Stonewall Uprising to see how far we’ve come, read And the Band Played On to learn about the darkest chapter in our history, and read The Celluloid Closet to understand how popular culture impacted our evolution. 2. Come out. Every day in the closet due to a simple lack of courage will chip at your soul. 3. Find the right friends. At an age where peer pressure is paramount and social options are limited, your friends are your world. If you don’t like, respect or trust them, disengage. 4. Hold hands outside; march in a Pride Parade. Public displays are tremendously empowering. 5. Experience sex. At this age, your body is compelling you to this experience. If—and only if—the situation is right, don’t deny yourself. 6. Play safe and get tested. Know what’s safe and what isn’t, and set boundaries for yourself and your partner in advance… long before the launch sequence overrides rational thought.

your life with social media missteps. Use technology to de�ine yourself in personal and ambitious ways. 6. Get a navy blue sport coat. And one that �its you like a glove. When you want to look your best and �it in, even on short notice, you will.

IN YOUR THIRTIES

1. Learn that obsession is not love. That guy you can’t live without is not your soul mate. Go for the guy who makes you feel safe. 2. Learn how to be by yourself. Dating is a lot less treacherous when the fallback position is comfortable, even appealing. 3. Embrace your passions. Social scientists say that the 30s are our most productive decade. But you have to be open to your energy. When I was 37 I got the ridiculous idea to start a newspaper. It became an obsession that informed personal growth I never could have anticipated. 4. Make friends with lesbians, straight men, Republicans. It goes without saying that gay men will have straight girlfriends. But even big metro areas like Tampa Bay and Orlando can feel like ghettos when all your friends are alike. 5. Find your look. You’ll never be more attractive, so learn what looks best on you and wear it con�idently.

Exercise to look good. Buy a nice, tailored suit. Invest in some expensive shoes. 6. Learn how to cook one good simple meal, tell one good story. Pretty much all you need to entertain with con�idence.

IN YOUR FORTIES AND FIFTIES

1. Get a pet. Whether you’re in a relationship or not, the love— and responsibility—for a pet will change your life in positive and unexpected ways. 2. Travel. If you haven’t already, visit New York, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. Also visit LGBT Meccas like San Francisco and Provincetown. Now you’ll know what everybody’s talking about. 3. Give back. It’s time, and you’ll feel connected like never before. Budget for political campaigns and worthy nonpro�its. Even better, �ind time for them. 4. Find a trusted doctor, dermatologist, dentist and lawyer. These relationships grow in importance as you get older. 5. Learn the limits of money. Put another way… stop shopping! Spend instead on things like travel that build relationships and create memories. 6. Exercise to feel good. Spend less time lifting weights, and more time on a yoga mat. |  |

IN YOUR TWENTIES

1. Learn how to �lirt. Figure out how to express attraction, safely and effectively. 2. Learn how to say ‘no.’ To unful�illing friendships and unexciting invitations. Time is, and always will be, your most precious commodity. 3. Learn how to be a good friend. Return calls and emails. Be available and thoughtful. Most importantly, ask questions, listen, and offer advice only when asked. 4. Develop a belief system. Do this by reading, thinking and talking with friends, but don’t take anyone’s word for anything; test with your own experience. Early development of strong core beliefs—personal, political, spiritual—will rocket you in unexpected directions. 5. Use technology judiciously. We’re not just people anymore, we’re brands. Don’t cloud or complicate

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TALKING POINTS

Dallas Buyers Club has garnered praise for the actor’s supposedly brave portrayal of a transgender woman. Don’t expect anyone to find it admirable 20 years from now.

WHILE

53% OF THE POPULATION

SUPPORTS

GAY, 51%

—STEVE FRIESS, TIME MAGAZINE COLUMNIST

IRANIAN POP DIVA SINGS ABOUT GAY LOVE

B

EING GAY CAN MEAN A DEATH SENTENCE IN IRAN AND SO CAN SINGING ABOUT IT. That’s why the country’s queen of pop, Googoosh, who lives in exile in Amsterdam, has shocked her home country with a new song supporting gay love titled Behesht (Heaven). More than a million Iranians have seen the video via illegal satellite channels since its Valentine’s Day release.

MARRIAGE

THINK

GAY SEX

IS MORALLY

WRONG. —Public Religion Research Institute

MILEY CYRUS DECLARES SHE’S “A LITTLE GAY”

WIN A WEDDING IN MANHATTAN AND WALK TO GET YOUR MARRIAGE LICENSE

I

T WAS VERY COOL FOR MILEY CYRUS TO INVITE MATT PETERSON ONSTAGE during a recent concert in Phoenix. The teenager, who had invited her to go to prom with him, was serenaded by the 21-year-old with the song Adore You. But before the song began, Miley talked about going to prom with a friend who got drunk and told her he was gay, to which the pop star declared, “But that was alright because I’m a little gay also.” Fellow pop singer Katy Perry told the Australian morning show Sunrise that Miley tried to mash with her on the “kiss cam,” at a concert in Los Angeles, but Perry pulled away. “God knows where that tongue has been,” Perry said. “We don’t know, that tongue is so infamous.” |  |

Government-controlled newspapers have condemned the song. The lyrics of the ballad are about forbidden love, while the images show a young woman as seen through the eyes of her female lover— contrasted with scenes of disapproval. Googoosh, 63, travels round the world performing sold-out concerts in Europe and the U.S. with large Iranian populations of all generations. |  |

PAULA DEEN OFFENDS BLACKS AND GAYS

P

AULA DEEN CAN’T STOP PUTTING HER FOOT IN HER MOUTH. The former queen of Southern cuisine, who acknowledged in a deposition last year that she had used the n-word, has now compared herself to NFL out prospect Michael Sam. In the most recent issue of People, Deen said “I’m �ighting to get my name back,” adding, “I feel like ‘embattled’ or ‘disgraced’ will always follow my name. It’s like that black football player who recently came out,” Deen said of Sam. The 67-year-old celebrity chef added, “If it wasn’t for my fans’ love, I’d be home breathing into a paper bag.” With her continued loss of supporters, maybe she should get that paper bag ready. |  |

MAR. 13 - MAR. 26, 2014 // ISSUE 21.06

T

HE DUANE STREET HOTEL, A BOUTIQUE HOTEL IN TRIBECA, is giving one lucky couple a New York City wedding based on their engagement story. General Manager Nicholas Daeppen expects it might be a gay couple. “With the declaration of DOMA as unconstitutional, and our proximity to the Manhattan Marriage Bureau, we have gotten a lot more weddings lately, especially LGBT couples,” Daeppen said. “With this contest, we want to promote how fabulous getting married at City Hall really can be.” Entrants are asked to submit their proposal stories to the hotel’s Facebook page by March 31. The hotel is just �ive blocks from the Manhattan Marriage Bureau. |  |

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IN DEPTH WHO’S PULLING THE STRINGS

Who’s pulling

the strings?

Anti-gay forces are a tangled web of false pretense, fake names and hidden connections

L

Jamie Hyman

AST MONTH A NOTORIOUS PRO-RELIGION,

anti-gay legal group called Liberty Counsel �iled a motion to intervene in Pareto v. Ruvin, the Florida lawsuit via which six same-sex couples are �ighting for marriage equality. The motion wasn’t a surprise—no one expected anti-gay activists to take the lawsuit sitting down. But a look at the three groups named as interveners reveals something interesting.

Two of the three groups—People United to Lead the Struggle for Equality (P.U.L.S.E.) and Florida Democratic League—sound an awful lot like the types of organizations that would be more likely to support same-sex marriage than �ight marriage equality.

That is no accident. A look inside the strategy behind the �ight against equality for LGBTs reveals an organized, connected network that relies on deceptive tactics to reach their goals, while at the same time releasing statements and sound bites intended to give

the impression that anti-gay legislation and court battles are a natural uprising, sprung from the voting public.

A GROUP BY ANY OTHER NAME Misleading names—and many times, names that are precisely the opposite of the group’s actual purpose—are an increasingly common tactic. “It happens all the time and particularly in Florida politics,” says Aubrey Jewett, a political science professor at University of Central Florida (UCF). “They come up with names that are extremely misleading. They try to come up with a name that is positive and general, so you don’t really get a good idea from the name what they’re doing.” Jewett said the tactic isn’t limited

to anti-gay groups and is especially prevalent among groups trying to raise money. But there has been a rise in groups using misleading names to �ight LGBT equality for the past couple of decades. “It’s probably more prevalent on some issues—for instance anti-gay legislation—because in some ways these groups are going against the popular tide right now,” Jewett says. “Some business groups wouldn’t necessarily give support if they knew exactly what [the anti-gay] groups were doing.” The Florida Democratic League, one of the groups listed as an intervener against Florida’s marriage equality lawsuit, is in hot water with the state’s Democratic Party regarding its deceptive name.

MAR. 13 - MAR. 26, 2014 // ISSUE 21.06

Continued on page 28 |  |

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|  | Who’s Pulling the

Strings from pg.27

“They’re not democratic in any way whatsoever,” says Joshua Karp, communications director of the Florida Democratic Party. The party’s attorneys sent the Florida Democratic League a cease-and-desist order regarding the name. “Under Florida law, it’s illegal for them to represent themselves as Democrats when they’re not,” Karp says. “It’d actually be illegal for any organization to represent themselves as af�iliated with a political party if they’re not.” He’s referring to Florida Statutes Section 103.081, which states: “No person or group of persons shall use the name, abbreviation, or symbol of any political party, the name, abbreviation, or symbol of which is �iled with the Department of State, in connection with any club, group, association, or organization of any kind unless approval and permission have been given in writing by the state executive committee of such party.” Karp says as of press time, the Florida Democratic Party hadn’t heard a response to the letter. But if the Florida Democratic League doesn’t comply with the cease-and-desist request, “further steps will be taken.” He agrees that groups using misleading names aren’t unusual. “Every now and then a conservative or Republican organization will adopt a democratic name in the hopes of misleading voters,” Karp says. “This is just one of those tactics that we have to stay vigilant on. It’s dishonorable. It’s a disreputable tactic.” Jewett says that even in the current age of technology, where information is spread on the internet more rapidly than ever, groups continue to use this tactic for a simple reason—even if the true identity is exposed,

They come up with n extremely misleadin come up with a name that i general, so you don’t really from the name what they’re

—AUBREY JEWETT, UCF POLITICAL SCIENC

the group will likely get away with it in the eyes of the public. “The unfortunate fact is the average person, the average Floridian is not that interested in politics. Most people are not paying that much attention,” Jewett says. “Even if exposés are run, for most people, it’ll never hit their radar screen. That’s why these groups continue to do it, come up with names that are generic at best, misleading at worst.” The Florida Democratic League did not respond to requests for comment.

MISLEADING PURPOSE, ON PURPOSE

It’s not just monikers that are deceptive—some groups claim to be focused on one pro-LGBT goal publicly while privately �ighting LGBT equality. P.U.L.S.E, also an intervener in Florida’s marriage equality lawsuit, is ostensibly focused on advocating on behalf of Miami’s poor minorities. Its website describes a number of civil rights successes, community safety initiatives and outreach efforts on behalf of Miami’s more impoverished, crumbling neighborhoods. Nowhere on P.U.L.S.E’s website is LGBT equality discussed. But a simple phone call to Nathanial Wilcox, the group’s executive director, reveals a long history of working against LGBT equality, dating back to the group’s involvement in the movement to add Amendment 2 to Florida’s constitution in 2008. Amendment 2 established marriage in Florida as solely between one man and one woman, effectively banning the recognition of same-sex

watermarkonline.com

marriages statewide. Wilcox argues that �ighting LGBT equality is not out of line with P.U.L.S.E’s mission because the organization deals with communities in disarray, and “when you have families that aren’t headed by strong men, they’re in disarray,” he explains. He admits that his ties to the Liberty Counsel and the other groups named as interveners dates back to 2008, but when asked how, speci�ically, P.U.L.S.E came to be named in the motion to intervene, Wilcox would only say, “We’re working. Just put that down— we’re working.” Like misleading names, Jewett says misleading missions are a common tactic among Florida political groups. “It’s a strategy a lot of groups use; a little more often when talking about anti-gay legislation, or an anti-gay court battle,” he says. Jewett explains it’s not something that just happens at the state and local levels, either, and cited American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) as an example. According to that group’s website, ALEC is a “nonpartisan individual membership organization of state legislators which favors federalism and conservative public policy solutions.” Jewett says initially, the group presented itself as being focused on probusiness initiatives and legislation, but took a hard right when it expanded into conservative social issues and became a driving force behind the controversial Stand Your Ground laws, which give individuals the


names that are ng; they try to is positive and y get a good idea e doing.

CE PROFESSOR

right to use deadly force with no requirement to run away when defending themselves. Florida was the �irst state to adopt Stand Your Ground in 2005.

INSTANT BILLS, JUST ADD LEGISLATOR AND STIR

In January and February of 2014, more than a dozen states—most famously, Arizona—introduced very similar bills that allegedly aimed to protect citizens’ religious freedom, but actually gave citizens and businesses the right to discriminate against LGBTs on the basis of religion. While Arizona governor Jan Brewer vetoed Arizona’s bill and most of the other bills are dead in the water (see sidebar), it’s no coincidence that all of those states had the same idea at the same time. Conservatives may try to present anti-gay bills as a natural re�lection of public opinion, but in actuality, they are the result of carefully orchestrated campaigns that target state legislators. Again, Jewett emphasizes that it’s not just conservatives who use subterfuge to push through their desired legislation, but he says they are more successful at it. “There are social conservative groups or traditional religious groups that operate across state lines,” Jewett says. “Over the last decade or two, the conservative groups seem to do a better job of pushing their agendas into a number of state legislatures than progressive groups.” Jewett adds these tactics have been especially fruitful in Florida for the past 15 years, while the Republicans have controlled the state legislature. “De�initely in Florida they’ve been more successful, there’s no doubt about that,” he says. Where is the evidence that all these bills are connected? The answer lies in the bills

themselves. The religious freedom bills in Arizona, Georgia, Mississippi and Ohio all contained either this exact language: “’Exercise of religion’ means the practice or observance of religion, including the ability to act or refusal to act in a manner substantially motivated by a religious belief” or something extremely similar, with only two or three words changed. “It’s like plug and play,” Jewett says, noting that any like-minded legislator in any state could use the provided language, with very little editing, to propose a bill. “From the groups’ perspective, they’re trying to make it easy for the legislators,” he says. Who are the people behind these coordinated legislative efforts that cross state lines? That answer is harder to pin down. A name that frequently comes up regarding these controversial bills is the American Religious Freedom Program (ARFP). Brian Walsh, who heads up that organization, admitted to CNN that his group “probably consulted on 12 to 15 different types of legislation in states over the past couple years.” But Walsh is one of the few who will own up to involvement in legislation. “While there are laws requiring that campaign donations be tracked and donors and recipients be identi�ied, there is no such requirement for suggesting legislation to lawmakers,” Jewett said. “And most likely, attempts to require such identi�ication would probably be struck down on First Amendment grounds.” Jewett is referring to the freedom of speech and the right to petition the government for redress of grievances, two clauses of the First Amendment which generally protect lobbying. “So if groups want to provide suggested legislation to legislators to introduce in their legislatures they may do so,” he says. “And if they don’t want to be identi�ied they probably will not be unless the legislator decides to announce who provided the legislation.”

DANGEROUS GLOBAL REACH

While it may be dif�icult to determine who exactly pens suddenly trendy anti-gay legislation, it’s clear that many of the anti-gay groups are connected, and many of the connections can be traced to Demoss Group, an Atlanta-based PR agency that

represents ARFP. Remember Liberty Counsel, the legal group representing the interveners in the �ight against Florida’s lawsuit for marriage equality? They’re in a close partnership with Liberty University, Jerry Falwell’s law school, which happens to be a Demoss client. So are a number of other notorious anti-gay organizations, including Focus on the Family, Southern Baptist Convention and Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. Why should LGBTs care that these groups are connected? Because those connections create a global network that can be dangerous—or even deadly—to LGBTs around the world, giving anti-gay activists access and in�luence they likely would not have if they were working alone. In June of 2013, Brian Brown of the National Organization for Marriage traveled to Russia and presented to of�icials arguments in favor of anti-gay laws. Five days later, the Russian legislative body approved a law banning adoption by gay couples. Matt Barber, a dean at Liberty University, and Mat Staver, Liberty Counsel founding member, have not only publicly praised laws in other countries punishing gays as criminals, but they’ve openly expressed a desire for those types of laws to be implemented in the United States. “This is a very dangerous lifestyle that countries like Russia are—in addition to reestablishing and saying no, marriage is what it’s always been—they’re saying additionally we are going to stop this homosexual activist propaganda from corrupting children in our nation and we need to see that right here in the United States,” Barber said in January during a “Faith and Freedom” broadcast during which he and Staver praised harsh anti-gay laws in Russia, Uganda and Nigeria. They called the laws “encouraging.” To be clear: These men who praise laws that allow accused gays in Nigeria to be publicly whipped are key members of the sole legal group �ighting Florida’s lawsuit for marriage equality. If LGBT activists expect to win the battle for equality, they must be aware of the underhanded tactics and deep networks that are used commonly and successfully to leverage the anti-gay agenda. |  |

The Arizona Effect IN DEPTH watermark

Other states areORLANDO’S still inBIG danger of discriminatory legislation GAY WEEKEND

O

Samantha Rosenthal

N FEB. 26, THERE WAS A COLLECTIVE

sigh of relief as Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed Senate Bill 1062, which garnered the national spotlight for its claim of “religious freedom” to justify discrimination against LGBTs in the marketplace. Brewer, throughout the week, received criticism from big businesses like Apple and big names like GOP Sen. John McCain. Even Gov. Rick Scott released a statement saying he would have vetoed an Arizona-style anti-gay bill if it were passed by the Florida

Legislature. In other states, similar bills have been also sent back to committees, withdrawn or �lat out failed to make it pass legislation. Here is your go-to guide on the status of anti-gay religious freedom bills around the country.

GEORGIA: The Peach State has been making some waves since the Arizona bill was vetoed with similar bills moving through both the House and Senate. Georgia’s House introduced HB 1023, the “Preservation of Religious Freedom Act,” very similar to Arizona’s vetoed SB 1062. The proposed bill will allow businesses to bypass state law and deny or refuse service to someone based on preserving religious freedoms. An almost identical bill, SB 377, was introduced in the Senate, but it has stalled and is not scheduled for a �loor vote.

teachers, police, nurses, hotel operators, and pharmacists.

KEEP AN EYE OUT ON THESE PROPOSED BILLS:

IDAHO: HB 426 and HB 427 are both under consideration. HB 426 would protect people who would make decisions based on religious beliefs—including denying service to someone. HB 427 gives people protection against legal claims made against them in cases involving religious freedoms. The bill has been sent back to committee.

KANSAS: The notorious antiLGBT bill, HB 2453, was killed, not even making it to the Senate. HB 2453 was the �irst of the socalled religious freedom bills to allow for blanket discrimination against LGBTs by individuals and private businesses—including

MAR. 13 - MAR. 26, 2014 // ISSUE 21.06

MISSISSIPPI: SB 2681 advanced from its House Judiciary B Civil Subcommittee on March 4 and now goes to consideration in front of the full House. If amendments are adopted, this Arizona-style bill would allow individuals and businesses to discriminate against LGBTs. Lance Bass is currently working with the Humans Rights Campaign to stop this bill.

MISSOURI: A boot-heel area representative pitched SB 916. The bill will add civil protections to the state’s existing “Religious Freedom Restoration Act.” OKLAHOMA: There is an Arizona-style bill, SB 1846, that is still being drafted and is currently pending.

OREGON: Oregon Family Council sponsored the “Protect Religious Freedoms Initiative,” allowing private businesses to deny services that would support same-sex marriage. They’re pushing to get it on the November election ballot.

WITHDRAWN OR REJECTED:

Arizona Maine South Dakota Colorado Nevada Tennessee Hawaii Ohio Utah

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MAR 25 - 30 | OrlandoBroadway.com 1.800.982.2787 Book a group and save! 407.704.6116 Bob Carr Performing Arts Centre

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ARTS &

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King of

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B

Lawrence Ferber

OY GEORGE IS TRULY A NEW MAN.

Boasting a trim physique, beard and positive attitude, on This is What I Do, his �irst studio album in 18 years, the now 52-yearold George O’Dowd betrays a deeper, more mature voice, albeit still honey-like, with nods to lifelong musical in�luences including David Bowie. It’s a much different sound and image than followers of his work—from Culture Club to more recent dance music projects—are used to for sure. Making his way around the world as a club DJ in recent years—check out his free monthly Culture Club Radio podcast on iTunes—George is again hitting the road as a singer, with a nine-piece band, for a North American tour to promote

MAR. 13 - MAR. 26, 2014 // ISSUE 21.06

This Is What I Do, the recording of which he paid for and owns. He’s also writing and recording with a reunited Culture Club for an upcoming album. During a leisurely, frank

Continued on page 38 |  |

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took me aside and said, “Every time people are around you, they’re always laughing.” She was watching me sit with people in my family at some event or something. She said, “You should be a standup comedian.” I’d never thought of it before. I never thought I could do it. I ended up taking a six week class and trying it. I was very nervous to do it. I had to work through that, because I was panicked to be on stage in front of people. She was right. [laughs] YOU ALSO INCORPORATE ACCENTS AND VOICES IN YOUR ACT.

As a kid, growing up, in junior high school, high school and college, I was always imitating people. Their voices and faces the way they look. All that stuff. I have a knack for that, for imitating people. DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE ACCENT TO DO?

I love doing my Jewish grandmother. I also love imitating a black woman. Those are the ones that everyone really likes. SOMETHING ELSE THAT’S UNIQUE IS THE STREAM OF CONSCIOUS ASPECT OF YOUR WORK.

FUNNY GIRL: Out comic Jessica Kirson made huge waves on NBC’s Last Comic Standing, and will stop by the University of Tampa March. 26.

Comic genius COMEDY

An interview with Jessica Kirson

A

Gregg Shapiro

SIDE FROM DEATH AND TAXES, FEW

things in life are certain. However, you can be sure of two things when you attend a show by out comic Jessica Kirson. You will laugh so much that you will be in physical pain (but you won’t mind), and you will probably �ind something offensive in her act (but you won’t mind).

The most refreshing and original comic on the scene, Kirson competed on NBC’s Last Comic Standing and has had her praises sung by comic goddess

34

Joy Behar. Her elastic face and gift for voices take Kirson’s comedy to another level altogether. Before starting her 2014 tour, which stops at the University of Tampa

watermark YOUR LGBT LIFE.

on March 26 at 8 p.m., Kirson talked with us about her work.

WATERMARK: YOUR FAMILY IS FEATURED IN A LOT OF YOUR MATERIAL. HOW DO THEY FEEL ABOUT BEING THE SUBJECT OF JOKES?

JESSICA KIRSON: They don’t care at all. I mean, I’m never mean-spirited about it. I never say anything that I would feel guilty about. [laughs] They’re �ine about it. They’re very much a part of who I am in my humor, so I talk about them a lot. My mom’s a therapist, so there’s a lot of material there.

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WOULD YOU SAY THAT YOUR SENSE OF HUMOR IS GENETIC?

We always laugh together, through everything, the pain that has happened in our lives. Whenever my family gets together, we all laugh. That’s what we’ve always done. My parents are both very funny. My father is hysterical; he’s got a great sense of humor. My mother is funny, but she doesn’t mean to be. It’s one of those things. SOMETHING ELSE THAT STANDS OUT IN YOUR ACT IS YOUR FACIAL EXPRESSIONS. THE CONFIDENT, UGLY GIRL IS A GOOD EXAMPLE. THEY ARE REALLY SPECTACULAR. DO YOU PRACTICE IN FRONT OF A MIRROR?

[Laughs] Thank you! No, I’ve always been making faces my whole life. Even as a little kid. Someone just sent me a picture of when I was little and I was making a face in the picture. I’ve always done that. Again, my father is very expressive. I’ve always been silly and made faces. I was the class clown. Actually, I started comedy 15 years ago because my grandmother

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There are a couple reasons for that. I teach comedy and I tell people that if you are in your head, you should address what’s going on. Meaning that if someone (in the audience) is not laughing and just staring at you, and it’s bothering you, you have to address it. Otherwise, you’ll think about it the whole time and you’re not present. I feel like so much of being a great standup is being present and in the moment. Once in a while you’ll do something and it will click and you’ll get a huge laugh. But sometimes you have to work through something. For a while that didn’t work and I had to learn how to do it and at what times. When the joke doesn’t work that well or if it’s something new or if it’s something I didn’t get the laugh I felt I deserved or I’m used to getting for something, I’ll turn to the side. It’s really like a motivational thing. “You’re very talented. It’s okay. You worked very hard.” I’ll end it with something like, “Wheat bread is still bread, it’s not a vegetable.” I’ll end by telling myself something real, something I didn’t realize. IT’S INTERESTING BECAUSE IT’S

Continued on page 36 |  |


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|  | Jessica Kirson from pg.34 BOTH THERAPEUTIC FOR YOU AND ALSO ENTERTAINING FOR THE AUDIENCE.

It’s very entertaining to the audience because it’s honest and real. If a joke doesn’t work that well, the audience knows it. It’s kind of a way of breaking it up and turning to the side. Sometimes I’ll say, “That’s a really funny joke. You just need to work on the punch line.” It’s just all honest. I feel like the more honest you are with the crowd, the more they laugh. SPEAKING OF LAUGHING, WHAT DID IT MEAN TO YOU TO HAVE BILLIE JEAN KING LAUGHING SO HARD AT YOUR JOKES ON CELEBRITY APPRENTICE?

It’s always a big deal to have people like that laughing at you and to have people say things to you. I just performed with Rosie [O’Donnell] and she was like, “You’re brilliant!” When I did that show, Kevin Kline was in the audience, and a bunch of other people. It always means a lot when someone who is very talented, especially a standup… I had Robin Williams hugging me and kissing me after a show, saying “You’re so honest. You’re fearless. Keep doing what you’re doing.” Those are people who’ve been through the struggle. YOU MAKE GOOD USE OF YOUTUBE WITH YOUR THE JESSY K SHOW. DO YOU THINK IT’S IMPORTANT FOR A COMEDIAN TO HAVE A PRESENCE ON YOUTUBE AS WELL AS DOING A REGULAR STANDUP TOUR AND MAKING CLUB AND TELEVISION APPEARANCES?

I think it’s important to have a presence anywhere you can. Now it’s not just about being a great standup. I’ve done the Tonight Show twice. If you were a great standup, and you did the show, that was it. You were seen and discovered. Now the whole business is different. I always tell people that you have to do different things, such as YouTube, blogs, Twitter, all different ways of promoting yourself. It’s not easy. It’s really time consuming, but you just can’t depend on standup.

THE MORE YOU WATCH, THE MORE YOU SEE.

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I’M GLAD THAT YOU MENTIONED DOING STANDUP, BECAUSE YOU APPEAR TO SPEND A LOT OF TIME TOURING. HOW MUCH OF THE YEAR DO YOU SPEND ON THE ROAD?

It’s hard to say. Sometimes it’s more than others. In the beginning I did anything, any show. For a long time I’ve been very selective. I can’t do a week on the road at a horrible club the middle of the country for no money. It has to be worth it for me for a long time now, because it’s too depressing. I worked hard, so I’ve been able, thank God, to pick and choose the things that I want to do. But I will be touring a lot because I’m doing a lot of colleges again.

My mom’s a therapist, so there’s a lot of material there. —JESSICA KIRSON, ON HER INSPIRATION FOR LAUGHS

Stuff comes up all the time. I realized over time that you can’t just do everything and give up your life. There was a time when I was doing 1020 shows a week. I try to do as much as I can. The hardest part, for me, of being a professional standup is to balance everything. You have to have a personal life. I realized that over time. At times when I haven’t, I’ve only focused on standup, my career didn’t go as well and I was miserable.

JESSICA, WOULD YOU LIKE TO DO A SITCOM OR FILM WORK?

Yes. I did a CBS pilot, with Jim Breuer, that didn’t get picked up. I’m in a movie coming out in January that Nick Cannon wrote and directed, so I think that will change things. I’m always working on different projects and different things. WHAT ABOUT BEING ON SNL?

That’s my dream. That’s really everyone’s dream. Not everyone, but a lot of people. I really believe that whatever’s supposed to happen, happens. I know a lot of people who have been on SNL and are on SNL and they are miserable. It’s a hard show to be on. I came very close to being on MadTV. I don’t know what my calling is, what I’m supposed to do. I’ve always felt like I was supposed to do a talk show. I don’t know if that will happen. We’ll see. |  |

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MORE INFORMATION

WHO: Jessica Kirson WHEN: 8 p.m., Wednesday, March 26 WHERE: Reeves Theater, University of Tampa TICKETS: UTStudentProductions.com


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|  | Boy George from pg.31

interview in a private New York City club for artists and media professionals, George—wearing chef pants, makeup, skull cap hat, and �itness jacket—shared plenty of dish about his new album, his voice and attitude, Madonna’s grill, and whether he uses gay hookup apps.

WATERMARK: YOUR VOICE HAS CHANGED IN SEVERAL REGARDS, BUT MOST NOTICEABLY IN ITS DEPTH.

BOY GEORGE: It sounds like me now, it sounds right. For male singers, very few men keep their falsetto. Jimmy Somerville is an oddity. He can still do it. I like my voice now. I feel I understand it more. I’m not scared of it. When I was younger, I got successful kind of quickly so there was immediate pressure on me as a performer. It took its toll on my voice and I used to lose it a lot. Now it’s Te�lon, a tough voice. I had opera training a few years ago, I can breathe properly and I understand the process of how you sing. As you get older you listen more and assimilate information. It was the same information I was told at 25 but I didn’t hear it then. I’ve always been more concerned with the feeling than perfection. Bowie isn’t a traditional voice, or Nico or Lou Reed or Dylan. I’m much more interested in how people tell a story with their voices. That’s what I’m interested in as a performer, really. Connecting with people emotionally. THE FIRST SINGLE AND VIDEO, ‘KING OF EVERYTHING,’ SOUNDS ALMOST LIKE U2 MEETS BOWIE.

I’m quite pleased to hear that. Guitar bands, like The Verve, there’s a lot of that with King of Everything. I was working with Youth, who worked with Verve, and we really channeled them. ‘Let’s do something really ‘60s Wall-of-Sound.’ Once we got the mood the song came. The opening line, ‘Put down the booze let the demons win the �ight,’ that just came and the song was constructed around that. The Bowie in�luence is always in there. That’s the �irst time I’ve heard U2, but I’m not upset to hear that!

38

Reality TV reveals how ordinary you are, and no artist should ever let people know they’re ordinary. —BOY GEORGE

THE SONG ‘FEEL THE VIBRATION’ FEATURES A PALESTINIAN SINGER, NIZAR AL ISSA.

Are you Jewish? I want to be! Well, you know what, I wrote that song after watching all the stuff about Syria, it’s about Middle East Arab Spring stuff. Being quite moved by the fact people were going out onto the streets knowing they were going to get shot. We’re arguing about gay marriage, and people there have no basic rights and their own armies are shooting them and they’re still prepared, women and children, to go out and protest. I had an idea about using an Arabic voice, not speci�ic to Palestine, just Arabic, so we got in touch with the musician’s union and there were two singers and the one who turned up I used. When he started singing, it was amazing. I asked him to translate my lyrics and he really got it. What’s really funny is, he went outside to have a cigarette and he said to my guitarist, ‘This guy, in there, is Boy George? The one we know?’ My guitarist was like, yeah. He went, ‘Incredible!’ Lovely man and he sang beautifully. There’s a great dance mix coming.

ACTUALLY, IT’S INTERESTING THAT THE ALBUM DOESN’T REALLY HAVE ANY DANCE TRACKS.

I have a project called RetroPhobia with Kinky Roland, which is totally dance. I have a track out in the UK [and on iTunes USA] called ‘Basement.’ It’s 100 percent dance. I actually talk on the track. ‘No words, just vibrations.’ It’s quite butch. And I was working with George Clinton

watermark YOUR LGBT LIFE.

two days ago in London to do a new version of This Is What I Do’s ‘Bigger Than War.’ He did a little bit of singing on there as well.

DURING THE 1980S, PLENTY OF FANS WOULD DRESS UP IN BOY GEORGE DRAG. DO THEY STILL COME OUT IN ‘80S GETUPS, OR HAVE THEY ADOPTED THE NEW BEARDED BOY GEORGE LOOK?

WHO’S YOURS?

It was George Michael [in the past]. Now I completely and utterly appreciate what he does and think he’s a brilliant artist. BE JUSTIN BIEBER’S NEMESIS!

SPEAKING OF IMAGE EVOLUTION, WHAT DO YOU MAKE OF MODERN DAY MADGE WITH HER GOLD GRILL?

No. He doesn’t need me to be my nemesis. He’s his own nemesis! [laughs] I feel kind of sorry for him. He’s a kid. Who’s taking care of him? That’s the question I want to ask. Who’s taking care of this child? He’s clearly in a bad place, so I don’t want to slag him off. I think he’s beautiful, a beautiful boy. Let’s not pretend here. He’s a beautiful boy. He looks like a beautiful dyke. I kind of like that! The whole dykey androgynous thing he’s got going on. But I feel like everyone’s giving him a hard time and, yes, he’s slightly out of control. Somebody step in.

These days I try to be careful about what I say about her because I’ve been misquoted a lot recently. There’s a lot to admire in her. She’s kept it together, she’s never been a drunk or drug addict. She hasn’t fallen apart like a lot of us have. She has amazing tenacity and when I saw all the stuff with her talking about Lady Gaga I wanted to say to her, ‘Babe, you don’t need to defend yourself. You’ve had an amazing career. One most people would kill for. Your legacy is sealed.’ If anything, what I’ve learned is to focus on what I do and not what others are doing. Focus on your own intentions. But every singer has a nemesis. Every one!

I don’t have one at the moment. I’m really focusing on my work, it’s true. If I was to meet an amazing person here in New York or the U.K., I’d kind of be open to that. But I’ve never been somebody who had to be in a relationship or measure myself by whom I’m dating. I have friends who do and I see what they put themselves through. I’m 52, quite sel�ish, have my way of doing things and living, anyone who steps into this arena has to be pretty damn sure of themselves. I don’t know who that is. But please don’t think I’m lonely or missing anything. I’m not at all.

When I did a gig at London’s KOKO in November, there were a lot of people with beards and hats! When I did some DJ gigs in the U.S. it was funny. There’s a real beard-y thing in the world now. You meet other people with beards, like ‘I’m glad you have a beard.’” YOU COULD BE BEAR GEORGE.

I could do, but it’s not something I aspire to. Being a bear.

MAR. 13 - MAR. 26, 2014 // ISSUE 21.06

WHAT’S YOUR DATING LIFE LIKE THESE DAYS?

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HAVE YOU TRIED USING APPS LIKE GRINDR?

I’m never gonna meet someone on Grindr! I wouldn’t want to go out with somebody who puts their penis on an app. I like a little bit of mystery. Also, imagine! Like, hi! It’s just not going to work. And so many people on those apps say they hate ‘fems’ and I hate that. That makes me hate someone. Even if they’re the most gorgeous person on earth, when I see that comment I hate them. I hate them. Go fuck yourself, you self-loathing fag. It makes me so angry. No fems? I have a friend who’s a comedian, David Hoyle, and he talks about self-loathing fags. He does a routine with, ‘But you’re not straight are you? No carbs after 6 p.m.?’ DEAD OR ALIVE’S PETE BURNS HAS BEEN ON CELEBRITY BIG BROTHER IN THE U.K. HAVE YOU BEEN APPROACHED TO DO REALITY SHOWS?

Loads of times. I’ve been offered ridiculous amounts of money and taken meetings and mulled it over, and I’ve avoided it. I think in a way what you do on reality TV is reveal how ordinary you are, and no artist should ever let people know they’re ordinary. I often read things about myself that are completely untrue, and I think they make me sound interesting, so I’m not going to complain! I quite like the idea of myself hanging upside down, chanting and eating Mung beans.” |  |


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MAR. 13 - MAR. 26, 2014 // ISSUE 21.06

watermark YOUR LGBT LIFE.

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Announcing the First Annual

Saturday March 22nd, 2014

from 12-4 at the beautiful Bradenton Riverwalk Featuring live entertainment, local venders, gourmet food trucks and local craft beer for sale Admission is free and all proceeds will benefit Prism Youth Initiative, a youth center that provides services to the LGBTQ youth of Manatee County

For more info or to be a sponsor or vender please visit www.manateepride.org or call 941-357-0111

Arie Groen’s property maintenance Commercial and Residential Licensed

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watermark YOUR LGBT LIFE.

MAR. 13 - MAR. 26, 2014 // ISSUE 21.06

watermarkonline.com


COMMUNITY CALENDAR

TAMPA MCC Tampa Yard Sale

Wanzie’s Big Fat Variety Show, March 29, Parliament House, Orlando; Facebook. com/thecenterorlando/events Bear-Otica, March 21, Parliament House, Orlando; Facebook.com/ BearsInTheCity/events

Party in the USA:

TAMPA BAY

Miley Cyrus brings her Bangerz Tour to the Tampa Bay Times Forum on March 20 and at Orlando’s Amway Center March 24.

Miley Cyrus, March 20, Tampa Bay Times Forum, Tampa. 813.301.2500; TampaBayTimesForum.com DISENCHANTED! through April 13, Jaeb Theatre, Tampa. 813-229-7827; StrazCenter.org Bizet’s Carmen, March 14-16, Carol Morsani Hall, Tampa. 813-229-7827; StrazCenter.org Evita, March 18-23, Carol Morsani Hall, Tampa. 813-229-7827; StrazCenter.org American Monkey, March 14-30, freefall Theatre, St. Petersburg. 727-498-5205; freeFallTheatre.com

Event Planner

South Pacific, March 14-April 16, The Moonlight Players, Clermont. 352-319-1116; MoonlightPlayers.com

ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT

ORLANDO Symphonic Odyssey March 22, Kennedy Space Center, Titusville, 321-242-2024; BrevardSymphony.com Art31, through March 31, Art & History Museums, Maitland, 407-539-2181; Art31.org Alisa Weilerstein, cello, & Inon Barnatan, piano, March 30, Tiedtke Concert Hall, Winter Park, 407-646-2182; BachFestivalFlorida.org

SARASOTA

Orlando Ballet presents Some Assembly Required, March 14-16, Bob Carr Performing Arts Centre, Orlando; 321-418-7646

Julius Caesar, March 19-April 20, Orlando Shakespeare Theatre, Orlando. 407-477-1700; OrlandoShakes.org

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, March 28-April 19, Theatre Downtown, Orlando. 407-841-0083; TheatreDowntown.net

Sisters of Swing, through March 29, Winter Park Playhouse, Winter Park, 407645-0145; WinterParkPlayhouse.org

Pluto, through March 23, Orlando Shakespeare Theatre, Orlando. 407-477-1700; OrlandoShakes.org

The Vagina Monologues presented by the Might V’s, March 14-16, The Center, Orlando; Facebook.com/ thecenterorlando/events

Miley Cyrus March 24, Amway Center, Orlando; AmwayCenter.com Paul Simon & Sting, March 16, Amway Center, Orlando; AmwayCenter.com

The Mountaintop, through March 16, Mad Cow Theatre, Orlando. 407-297-8788; MadCowTheatre.com Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, March 21-April 20, Mad Cow Theatre, Orlando. 407-2978788; MadCowTheatre.com

Bingo at The Center, March 19, The Center, Orlando; Facebook.com/ thecenterorlando/events Differing View: Arts at The Center, March 20, The Center, Orlando; Facebook.com/ thecenterorlando/events

Philadelphia, Here I Come!, through April 12, Asolo Repretory Theatre, Sarasota, 941-351-8000; asolorep.org

8 A.M.-1 P.M., SATURDAY, MARCH 15 The Metropolitan Community Church of Tampa’s Spring Yard Sale is Saturday, March 15, beginning at 8 a.m. Donations from throughout Tampa Bay range from household goods to clothing. Of course, money raised benefits the church, which is at 408 East Cayuga Street in Tampa.

Watermark Wednesday

THE WINE STUDIO, TAMPA 6-9 P.M., WEDNESDAY, MARCH 19 Join Watermark for the monthly Watermark Wednesday event, benefiting the Tampa Bay Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce. Check in with Watermark staff and your first drink is on us! Raffle tickets for great prizes will help raise money for the Chamber and everyone through the door will walk away with tickets to see Miley Cyrus at the Tampa Bay Times Forum. The Wine Studio is at 4106 Henderson, Blvd.

ST. PETERSBURG Trans Panel: Family Understanding 7 P.M., MONDAY, MARCH 24

Leading gender therapist Dr. Farrell will lead a panel on how families can better understand their transgender loved one at the Metro Wellness and Community Center in St. Petersburg on Monday, March 24. The panel will feature trans individuals telling their personal stories, facilitated by Dr. Farrell’s expertise.

ORLANDO The Vagina Monologues 8 P.M., MARCH 14-15 THE CENTER, ORLANDO

The Grapes of Wrath, throughApril 19, Asolo Repretory Theatre, Sarasota, 941-351-8000; asolorep.org

The Vagina Monologues has been a national hit, but typically cater to a heterosexual audience. But now, an LGBT spin is put on the classic empowerment production 8-10 p.m. at The Center March 14 and 15. Proceeds benefit The Center. For details, visit TheCenter.org.

Bill Cosby, March 16, Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, Sarasota, 941-953-3368; VanWezel.org

6-8 P.M., THURSDAY, MARCH 20 EAST END MARKET

Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, March 17-18, Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, Sarasota, 941-953-3368; VanWezel.org

Third Thursday

Watermark’s popular Third Thursday Social is back on March 20 at the East End Market. Come out and mingle with business professionals and enjoy your first drink on us! The monthly event is sponsored by Stonewall Bar. East End Market is at 3201 Corrine Dr.

To submit your upcoming event, concert, performance, or fundraiser visit watermarkonline.com. MAR. 13 - MAR. 26, 2014 // ISSUE 21.06

watermark YOUR LGBT LIFE.

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Benefits the programs of AIDS Service Association of Pinellas

“A Title Worth Fighting For.”

Sunday, 8:00pm April 6th, 2014 April 24, 2014 DineTB.org Suggested $5 donation

Prize Package: $500 Cash Crown & Sash Bookings: 2 Flamingo Resort 1 Georgie’s Alibi 1 Quench Lounge 1 Cold Keg

Entry and more info email events@asapservices.org

A COPY OF THE OFFICIAL REGISTRATION (#CH3696) AND FINANCIAL INFORMATION MAY BE OBTAINED FROM THE DIVISION OF CONSUMER SERVICES BY CALLING TOLL - FREE 1-800435-7352 WITHIN THE STATE. REGISTRATION DOES NOT IMPLY ENDORSEMENT, APPROVAL, OR RECOMMENDATION BY THE STATE. AIDS SERVICE ASSOCIATION OF PINELLAS, INC.

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watermark YOUR LGBT LIFE.

MAR. 13 - MAR. 26, 2014 // ISSUE 21.06

Dine Out, Fight AIDS. Thursday, April 24, 2014

On April 24th, restaurants across the Tampa Bay area will come together to fight AIDS by donating 25% or more of your bill. For the current list of participating restaurants visit DineTB.org Do you, or someone you know own a restaurant? Get involved, email events@asapservices.org

watermarkonline.com


ShotonSite

4

TAMPA BAY

1

1-BRIDE-TO-BE: A bachelorette party stops by Hamburger Mary’s in Ybor City to celebrate in early March. PHOTO

COURTESY CARRIE WEST

2- AWARDS AWARENESS: (L-R) James Jackson, Chris Rudisill, Jacob Hamm, Bobby Poth, Steve Kornell and Michael Smith take a break from Oscar-watching at The Bilmar Resort on Treasure Island March 2. PHOTO BY STEVE BLANCHARD

2

3- ROYAL PARTY: The newly crowned Miss Mardi Gras Esme Russell, right, stands with Miss Heart of Florida Amanda D’rhod at Blur Nightclub in Dunedin March 2. PHOTO COURTESY LUCCI MORENO

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4- FACE TIME: Joey Brooks gets some face time with Ernie Webb while partying at Bradley’s on 7th in Ybor City in early March. PHOTO COURTESY CARRIE WEST

6- AN EXPERIENCE: Tortuga and Chuck Terzian of The Kimi and Chuck Experience perform at JJ’s Cafe in Ybor City March 4. PHOTO COURTESY CARRIE WEST

5- RUNWAY READY: Lisa Meyers and Amanda Edenfield Patanow show off their red-carpet best at the Gold Oscar Party benefitting Metro Wellness and Community Centers March 2. PHOTO BY STEVE BLANCHARD

7- BOWLING BRAWN: Former Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio, center, and Tampa Police Chief Jane Castor are flanked by law enforcement at the Bowl for Kids’ Sake fundraiser for Big Brothers and Big Sisters March 8. PHOTO COURTESY TAMPA POLICE DEPARTMENT

6

8- SUN CROWD: The warm weather brought crowds back to the Flamingo Resort T-Dance March 9 and Alexis De La Mer (in pink) kept people entertained with pool-side contests all afternoon. PHOTO

8

7

BY STEVE BLANCHARD

OVERHEARD HOT FOR FLANNEL

T

HE FOLKS OVER AT SAWMILL KNOW HOW TO BRING IN THE HOT MEN, and the crowds to cheer them on. The camping resort will hold its second annual Mr. Sawmill competition the weekend of March 13 and hand over $500 in cash to the winner. But the competition is about more than just looking hot in sleeveless �lannel and steel-toed work boots. Competitors must conquer several challenges, including a pancake-eating competition, some Tug-of-War, and a barrel/ keg toss. All of this will be done in front of an enthusiastic, cheering throng of gay men beginning with registration at 9 a.m. and running

throughout the entire day March 15. Want details and photos of last year’s competition? Check out FLSawmill.com.

SHAKING POM POMS... IN ST. PETE

S

T. PETERSBURG’S GRAND CENTRAL DISTRICT WILL SOON BE HOME TO AN ORLANDO-BASED RESTAURANT that’s expanding its franchise to the coast. Pom Pom’s Teahouse and Sandwicheria is an incredibly popular and LGBT-friendly eatery in downtown Orlando that serves incredible food. Now, retired Orange County Sheriff’s Deputy Tom Woodard and his partner are bringing Pom Moongauklang’s

concept to St. Petersburg at 2950 Central Avenue. That’s right smack in the middle of other popular LGBT restaurants like The Queen’s Head and Beak’s Old Florida. No of�icial word yet on when the restaurant will open its doors, but we’re certain it will be feeding the masses before St. Pete Pride in June.

TASTY PRIDE

T

HIS YEAR IS SHAPING UP TO BE THE BIGGEST TASTE OF PRIDE YET. Organizers say that nearly all of the available 500 tickets to the annual festival of the taste buds on March 15 are gone. So if you want to sample foods

from more than 15 restaurants at the Dali Museum, get online fast to get your entry. Tickets are at StPetePride.com and upon entering the iconic museum, you’ll receive a roll of tickets that are good to “purchase” food and drinks at every vendor table. As in previous years, the celebration will be inside and outside on the back patio area of the museum. Halfway through the event, the Dali will open its galleries to curious art lovers.

METRO GRABS THE GOLD

T

HE BILMAR BEACH RESORT ON TREASURE ISLAND HAS NEVER BEEN SO FABULOUS, OR GAY! The Metro Wellness and Community

MAR. 13 - MAR. 26, 2014 // ISSUE 21.06

Center’s Gold Oscar Party was a huge success on March 2, as notables, elected of�icials and community movers and shakers helped raise money for the new LGBT Welcome/Youth Center slated to open this summer. Ticket holders were treated to an incredible menu and, upon entry, received two gold coins that were good for signature Academy Award-themed drinks. The awards show was projected on a huge screen in the front of the banquet room and punch lines delivered by show host Ellen DeGeneres received applause and laughs from the crowd. For more info on the new welcome center, visit MetroTampaBay.org. |  |

watermark YOUR LGBT LIFE.

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ORLANDO

1- AIN’T NO MOUNTAIN HIGH ENOUGH: (L-R) Scott Penyak, David Dorman, Jesse Matney and Clay Emerson stand on top of San Jancinto peak in Palm Springs, Calif. for the 2014 International Bear Convcergence, which took place Feb. 13 to 17. PHOTO COURTESY SCOTT PENYAK

2- FUN WITH FITNESS: Jacob Dickson and Lindsay Baldwin, owners of Jacob Dickson Personal Fitness, take a quick break from hosting Ivanhoe After Hours March 5. PHOTO COURTESY SCOTTIE CAMPBELL

7 4

3- FUN SLIDE: (L-R) Orlando boys Asher Levine, Peter Gaspar and Craig Curtiss soak up some Miami Sun at the Winter Party Festival March 8. PHOTO COURTESY BECCA FISHER 4- FUNNY FACE: (L-R) Lou Mueller-Kaul and Debo Ofsowitz get sketched by a Dawn Gilmore Productions caricature artist March 5 at Midtown Realty during the monthly MBA Mixer. PHOTO BY JEREMY WILLIAMS 5- FUNDS FOR FRINGE: Orlando Fringe staffers (L-R) Becki Cassidy, Carla Davis, Kevin Banks (there in spirit!), George Wallace, Jackie Martinez and Nicole Ledbetter celebrate the community’s support at the Fringe at the Hard Rock Fundraiser March 3. PHOTO COURTESY ORLANDO FRINGE 6- MILK BOX: Orlando artists Danny “Rock” Rodriguez puts the finishing touches on a utility box depicting Harvey Milk at the corner of Mills Ave. and Mount Vernon Street. PHOTO COURTESY MAXINE EARHART 7- MERMAID GRAS: Shentell D’Marco floats through Parliament House Resort atop her float in their Mardis Gras parade March 8. PHOTO BY DANNY GARCIA

5

6

8

8- PARIS IS BURNING: The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence hold court at the first-ever Perpetual Indulgence Ball, held March 2 at Pulse Orlando. PHOTO BY PAT O’ROURKE

OVERHEARD DANCE TEACHER GIVEN NEW LEASE ON LIFE OFFERS SAME-SEX SALSA LESSONS

L

ORRAINE VASQUEZ, 50, REMEMBERS THE DAY TWO YEARS AGO when doctors diagnosed her with breast cancer. She was given a year to live. “I had two young daughters and my doctor told me I should get my affairs in order because I was going to die,” Vasquez recalls. “I just said ‘No, you are wrong’.” Vasquez closed her successful dance studio in Puerto Rico, packed her things and moved to Orlando. She checked into MD Anderson Cancer Center and was shocked to learn she

was cancer-free. She had been misdiagnosed. Other good things happened. Vasquez met her partner, Lelis Pagan, while working at the airport. On March 8, she opened Lorraine’s Dance Studio at 1720 N Goldenrod Blvd in Orlando. There are now two generations of lesbians working in the dance business. Her daughter Nita Bravo, 20, and partner Francesca Colon, are helping out. To celebrate, Vasquez has introduced same-sex salsa classes for adults from 7 to 8 p.m. on Tuesdays. Vasquez said she is grateful to be given another chance at life. For pricing and to sign up for salsa, call 321-400-0953.

BLUE STARR LEAVES REVOLUTION

A

FTER 14 YEARS BELTING OUT LATE NIGHT TUNES ON BUMBY, the multitalented Blue Starr has parted ways with Revolution Nightclub. Starr announced, on Facebook, she will perform exclusively at The Venue, the entertainment place she opened in Ivanhoe Village last fall. The Venue, now home to babybluestar Productions, has been providing affordable rental to the arts community. In addition, a number of fundraisers have used the locale for events. Starr plans drag burlesque, drag king shows, improv, coffee house-esque and more. “Pretty sure there will be a girlie show at The Venue on a Saturday every now and again!

That fucking rocks my world! Dreams come true,” she wrote on her post, which had more than 200 likes and dozens of congratulatory comments at press time. For a schedule, visit TheVenueOrlando. com or call 407-412-6895.

GAY SCI-FI HOTTIE AT MEGACON2014

E

VERY NERD AND NERDETTE IN THE COMIC BOOK AND GAMING COMMUNITY will converge on the Orange County Convention Center from March 21- 23 for MegaCon2014. This Mega Convention is the place for appearances by stars in the world of comic books, sci-�i, anime and

MAR. 13 - MAR. 26, 2014 // ISSUE 21.06

fantasy. Sounds a little boring, right? Then, we looked at the schedule. There we found John Scot Barrowman, the gorgeous and hunky openly gay ScottishAmerican actor who plays Captain Jack Harkness in Torchwood, the sci-�i series about a team of alien hunters. Barrowman is currently playing Malcolm Merlyn in the new series Arrow on The CW Network. Ken Tucker, a writer for Wikipedia describes Barrowman “like Tom Cruise with suspenders, but minus the Scientology.” Barrowman will sign autographs and pose for pics with fans for a fee. Visit MegaConvention. com for tickets. For luscious pics of Barrowman, visit his site at JohnBarrowman.com. |  |

watermark YOUR LGBT LIFE.

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watermark YOUR LGBT LIFE.

Read It Online!

Head to WatermarkOnline.com and click on the Digital Publications link to a read a digital version of the printed newspaper!

MAR. 13 - MAR. 26, 2014 // ISSUE 21.06

tampa bay marketplace


Transitions

Got Mustard? We’ve got more weiner than we can handle.

CHANGE-OF-LIFE COMMUNITY ANNOUNCEMENTS Congratulations Orlando restaurant wunderkind Jeremy Indomenico and Watermark ad sales rep Don Williams celebrate their 13th anniversary on March 14.

www.DareToRescue.com

Local Birthdays Tampa muscle stud and Pensacola native Danny Watson, Orlando Hamburger Mary’s co-owner John Paonessa (March 13); Largo’s Christopher Street bartender Mitch Demmons, ConceptBait Tampa Bay director of sales and rentals Tim Thompson (March 14); Tampa nutritional biochemist Debra Roche, St. Petersburg legal assistant and partner to St. Petersburg City Councilman Steve Kornell, Bobby Poth (March 15); Out and proud St. Petersburg City Councilman Steve Kornell, skincare genius Tabor Winstead (March 17); Associate Director of Admissions for Stetson Law School in Gulfport Darren Kettles (March 18); St. Petersburg massage therapist Terrell Ray, Tampa boot-scootin’ Florida Mavericks dancer and St. Pete Pride volunteer Dale Crocker (March 19); former Tampa resident and exotic animal expert Scott Lope, Sarasota ALSO Out Youth director Sue Westcott, Tampa icon and “Hey Everybody!”coining performer Stephanie Shippae, Hyde Park Antiques owner Randy Strebing (March 20); derby girl and inspirational speaker Emily “The EmPaleHer” Easterly, Homosassa hotelier Robert Bruno (March 21); fratboy Adam Conrad, St. Petersburgbased Rightously Outrageous Twirling Corps board member Eric Peak (March 24); derby girl and plant whisperer Jennifer “Venus Deathtrap” Parrish, Tampa’s Todd Brown (March 25); Tampa photographer and USF student John Kantor, former St. Pete Pride board member Delores Ringgold, St. Petersburg nurse and former Gazette publisher Brian Feist, Orlando’s handsome video game wizard, husband of Watermark Online administrator Jamie Hyman and straight ally Matt Huertas (March 26).

MAKING IT LEGAL: Bill Anderson and Rob Haskins, flanked by friends Steven Christianson and Eric Bland, were married in Minneapolis, Minn., on March 2. The two men were long-time residents of Tampa Bay before moving several years ago. They were married in the same hearing room in which marriage equality was debated within Minnesota’s state capitol. HUMANITARIAN REPRESENTATIVE: The

Florida Holocaust Museum’s Sandy Mermelstein presented the Loebenberg Humanitarian Award to Tampa Police Chief Jane Castor Feb. 27. Castor was presented the award for her work in helping disadvantaged kids and launching a progressive human rights training in which all Tampa Police officers will participate over the next several months.

WEDDED BLISS:

(L-R) Kim Sprink and TJ Converse of Gainesville were legally married in New York City on March 5. The two women run a wellknown karaoke show in the city and make appearances in Tampa Bay.

HE WILL ME MISSED: Former Universal Orlando employee and Fort Lauderdale resident David Newsome, 43, lost his battle with cancer on March 5. Originally from Detroit, Newsome moved to Florida to attend the University of Central Florida and, because of his love of theme parks, joined the staff at Universal Orlando. He is survived by his two sisters, Cathy Newsome and Sharryl Kolver.

Are you making a Transition? Having a birthday or anniversary? Did you get a new job or promotion? See your news in Watermark! Send your Transition to Editor@WatermarkOnline.com or go to WatermarkOnline.com/Submit-a-Transition - it’s that easy!

MAR. 13 - MAR. 26, 2014 // ISSUE 21.06

watermark YOUR LGBT LIFE.

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accountant

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MAR. 13 - MAR. 26, 2014 // ISSUE 21.06

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MAR. 13 - MAR. 26, 2014 // ISSUE 21.06

watermark YOUR LGBT LIFE.

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counseling

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It’s Time You Settled for More!

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As always food and your first drink are provided for free.

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MAR. 13 - MAR. 26, 2014 // ISSUE 21.06

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Wire Report

Free HIV Testing

wrote. ``That Chloie may have felt herself emotionally, and very conscientiously, to be a woman in her heart, and that she ultimately underwent the legal and other surgical procedures to carry that out, cannot change that reality.’’ CrossFit may create a separate division for transgender athletes if enough step forward to compete. ``Our decision has nothing to do with `ignorance’ or being bigots. It has to do with a very real understanding of the human genome, of fundamental biology, that you are either intentionally ignoring or missed in high school,’’ he said. CrossFit is headquartered in Washington, D.C., but its founder, Greg Glassman, launched it in Santa Cruz, Calif. in the late 1990s. The company has 7,000 af�iliate gyms around the world where classes offer an intense, military-style mix of weight-lifting, core conditioning and cardio exercises. The timed CrossFit Games determine who can complete the most repetitions of various exercises. |  |

Notre Dame tennis player comes out Wire Report

S

OUTH BEND, IND. | Notre Dame tennis player Matt Dooley struggled with accepting he is gay. The 22-year-old senior disclosed he is gay the �irst week of March, saying he hopes the revelation will help others struggling with their sexuality. Dooley says he has been overwhelmed by the positive response he has received for the article he wrote for Outsports.com. He’s working with university’s student welfare and development of�ice to produce a video involving all teams at Notre Dame that will promote the You Can Play initiative, which �ights sexual orientation discrimination. Members of PrismND, the �irst of�icial organization dedicated to serving the gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning students on campus, were pleased to see Dooley come out. Notre Dame’s student handbook prohibits sex outside of marriage, and the pastoral plan speci�ically states the university adheres to the Roman Catholic Church’s teaching concerning homosexual actions and, as a result, “Homosexual persons are called to chastity.” Dooley says he wants people struggling with their identities to know they will be accepted. |  |

sports

S

AN FRANCISCO | A transgender woman in Northern California has sued the company behind the popular CrossFit workouts for refusing to let her compete in the female division of its annual �itness competitions. The lawsuit by Chloie Jonsson, 34, accuses CrossFit Inc. of violating her rights under a California law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender identity. Jonsson’s complaint says she was born male but has been living as a woman since she was a teenager and underwent sex reassignment surgery eight years ago. The surgery, coupled with the female hormones she takes, satis�ied the state’s requirements for her to be recognized as female on her birth certi�icate and other of�icial documents. Her lawyer, Waukeen McCoy, said Jonsson, who works as a personal trainer and is an avid CrossFit practitioner, �irst spoke

to company representatives about her background a year ago after a teammate learned that participants in the Reebok CrossFit Games were required to register according to their gender at birth. ``They said she has an advantage over other women because of the sex she was born with, and that is completely untrue, scienti�ically,’’ McCoy said. CrossFit’s general counsel, Dale Saran, would not comment on the lawsuit, which seeks $2.5 million in damages. On a CrossFit online discussion board, he posted that Jonsson had never supplied medical documents to back up her assertion that she was a woman. He dismissed McCoy’s suggestion that transgender athletes are engaged in a struggle as valid as the one black baseball players waged to be accepted in the major leagues. ``The fundamental, ineluctable fact is that a male competitor who has a sex reassignment procedure still has a genetic makeup that confers a physical and physiological advantage over women,’’ Saran

NEWS

Transgender woman sues CrossFit over competition

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MAR. 13 - MAR. 26, 2014 // ISSUE 21.06

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PHOTOGRAPHY: MARDI GRAS AT PARLIAMENT HOUSE

Galleryw Go see more photos at

watermarkonline.com

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LITTLE BIT OF NEW ORLEANS MADE ITS WAY TO ORLANDO AGAIN on March 8 when the Parliament House held its annual Mardi Gras party and parade. The courtyard and bars were packed again this year as performers on stilts handed out beads, and �loats of all shapes, sizes and themes moved along to the sound of jazz-in�luenced music. Our friends at Bears In The City were there and camera-ready to capture a glimpse of the beads-enthused revelry. |  |

MAR. 13 - MAR. 26, 2014 // ISSUE 21.06

Photography by Pat O’Rourke/Bears In The City THEBEARSINTHECITY.COM

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Watermark Issue 21.06: Who's Really Pullling the Strings?