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watermark Your LGBTQ Life.





THIS IS NOW World AIDS Day reminds of what was and what can never be again

daytOna beach • OrlandO • tampa • st. petersburg • clearwater • sarasOta


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Decemb er 1 - Decemb er 14 , 2016 // Issue 2 3. 24

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Decemb er 1 - Decemb er 14 , 2016 // Issue 2 3. 24

departments 6 // mail 7 // editor’s desk 8 // orlando news 10 // tampa bay news 12 // state news 14 // nation & world news 27 // arts & entertainment 33 // community calendar 35 // tampa bay out+about 37 // orlando out+about 39 // announcements/ wedding bells 40 // tampa bay marketplace 42 // orlando marketplace



As a case manager, back in those days, what we really worked on was trying to help people live a comfortable and meaningful life before they died.

—aids serviCe assoCiation oF pineLLas (asap) operations Manager david Franks

on the cover




With this the 28th annual World AIDS Day, we have never been more optimistic about finding a cure and more concerned about getting there.

scan Qr code For


right said, Fred:

The B-52s’ Fred Schneider talks camp, dance and today’s audience ahead of their show at Hard Rock Live.

watermark i ssue 23 .24 //december 1 - december 14 , 2016

into the gap

Fight song

the Queens have it

sorry, not sorry

PAGE The Contigo Fund seeks to mend fences and spread the wealth in the wake of the Pulse tragedy.

PAGE With hate crimes on the rise, victims are choosing to stand up against their bullies.



read it Online! In addition to a Web site with daily LGBTQ updates, a digital version of each issue of the publication is made available on



Una Voce kicks off their 15th Season with ‘We Three Queens’ holiday performance.


While promising to appear “presidential” after the election, Trump’s still on the same Twitter train.


give us a fOllOw On twitter and instagram at @watermarkOnline and be sure tO like us On facebOOk. watermark Your LGBTQ life.

Decemb er 1 - Decemb er 14 , 2016 // Issue 2 3. 24


top web comments “Only issue I have with this article is the line ‘for the LGBTQ, Latino, and Puerto Ricans’ umm... there was a few white people that passed away.” —Christopher M. On local leaders weighing in on our rights after a Trump victory:

“Fuck Scott Plakon. You are a Nazi sympathizer with no respect for [the effects of] fascism, and it’s threat to America.” —Megatron

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On a debate whether the city of Orlando should purchase Pulse:

“Only issue I have with this article is the line ‘for the LGBTQ, Latino, and Puerto Ricans’ umm... there was a few white people that passed away. Christopher and Corey Connell, some African Americans and other races, etc. Yes, I understand 99.7 percent that died were Latino, but there were other races too.” —Christopher M.

On the pictures of Come Out With Pride at Lake Eola:

“Nobody says gays can’t throw a party. Nobody.” —Megatron

On white supremacist, Nazi graffiti being found outside King of Peace church:

pretty stylistic fonts? That really does not sound like the normal graffiti from a hate group. While it’s possible those idiots did it, this looks more like a false flag attack.”

On local leaders weighing in on our rights after a Trump victory:

Watermark’s Facebook:

On a debate whether or not the city of Orlando should purchase Pulse:

—Skip Manley

On a U.K. serial killer being convicted of murdering 3 men he met online:

“Just read about this. Scary.”

—David Thomas Moran

On gay director Xavier Dolan’s new film, It’s Only the End of the World:

“I love his films!!!”

—David Thomas Moran

On Billy Manes’ Editor’s Desk:

“Like the dog whisperer says, calm and assertive.” —J. St. John

On country music icon Dolly Parton coming to the Amalie Arena in Tampa:

“At least she’s not coming to the Amway Center!” —Steve Oehler

“This lady is coming back to Orlando eight years later after shutting down her show right before Thanksgiving. No one was given a warning.” —Sean McLean

“Multi-colored chalk and

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“How about balancing the coverage between Tampa Bay and Orlando?” —Susan McGrath

“Save the date: December 5th.”

—Vivian Arroyo-Kou

“I was thinking about the Pulse nightclub recently while reading about the reopening of the Bataclan theater in Paris. Interesting difference in perspective.” —Eriq Poff

On the pictures of Come Out With Pride at Lake Eola:

“Great day.”

—Amanda Lakes

On Trump considering an openly gay man for post:

“I will believe when I see... I think he is just pandering... to try and stop protests.” —Jennifer L Ponds

“I bet it’s Milo Yiannopoulos.”

—July Thomas

“Yet he chose Mike Pence as his VP.”

—Craig Schuessler

“How about the best person for the job, regardless.” —Darrell Hager



billy manes editOr



e have a Lot to Live up to.

Thirty-five years ago, a snowball of desperation mixed with activism – with more than a dash of medical data and personal tragedy – drove the LGBTQ community down the mythic mountain of seemingly inevitable, plague-like demise; in 1988, the first World AIDS Day was held. This week, we still memorialize the disease which has taken so many of our friends and our family. After decades of a growing sexual revolution, of which the gay community was at least a tangential part, the “gay cancer,” or “GRID,” or “HIV/AIDS” rose out of the headlines, into our faces, and, eventually permeated our culture and the bodies that populate it. Did we sit down and shut up? No. We marched in streets, arms locked, and shut down businesses, trying to learn what even doctors

watermark staFF

didn’t yet know: How to Survive a Plague. The book of that name by David France – which follows in the wake of the award-winning documentary and was just released in hardcover – dives even deeper into the unthinkable depths of what would come to define a generation of driven LGBTQ individuals. “Back then we had something we don’t have now,” longtime Orlando Immunology Clinic director Dr.

Edwin DeJesus says. “Back then, we had activists. A group of people who were very pro-HIV treatment pressuring the drug companies to make the treatments. All of the pressuring of the Food and Drug Administration to approve those drugs made theme accessible to patients more quickly. Their impact was tremendous and very, very important. And we don’t have them anymore, because the need for that has significantly declined, but their contribution to the control of the epidemic by making and pushing for drugs to be accessible earlier, it was very important.” And it’s about to be very, very important again. Recent news that president-elect Donald Trump would pursue an actively anti-gay agenda, potentially employing the services of likes we haven’t seen since Anita Bryant was combing frosting out of her hair. Nobody knows what happens now. Apathy is back in the air, and backlash against progressive gains like marriage equality and some workplace benefits seems likely. The headlines are promising, though. In traditional hyperbole, the news media has been running with a story about some new antibodies that could eradicate HIV, or at least inoculate those yet to be exposed to the disease. Patient tests will begin soon in South Africa, desperation is as desperation was. “It’s a moving target and we are aiming at it,” DeJesus says. “I think that the only thing that is a misconception is that, although there are those things that are being explored for a cure are promising, I think that they aren’t going to be ready for a long time, for many years to come. I mean, there are a lot of studies that need to be conducted. The likelihood is that with all those antibodies that are being discussed, they’d need a combination of them,

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not just one thing. This is going to take time to get the combination right. I feel optimistic that in a good scenario, we are probably 10 years away.” Just like in 1986, when we were 10 years away from anti-retroviral treatments that changed the landscape of the HIV/AIDS crisis, the waiting remains the hardest part. It’s what we do while we wait that matters: We petition our representatives; we read science journals; we care for our friends when they are down; we wear condoms; we march and we make certain that our voices – and the voices that came before us – are heard. Trump cards be damned,

Nobody knows what happens now. Apathy is back in the air. we’re not going anywhere. If we sound heavy handed, it’s because we have to be. But elsewhere in this issue of Watermark, you’ll find glimmers of hope. The Contigo Fund is expanding its outreach to help the victims of Pulse who need help the most, victims of seemingly sanctioned bullying are standing up for themselves, the B-52s shimmy onto the stage with some levity, as does Una Voce in Sarasota, which is standing holiday traditionalism on its head if only to make you feel better. Sure, there’s plenty of political ranting and raving, but many of us have had a very difficult year; many of us foresee difficult years immediately in front of us. But that’s no excuse to throw in the towel. It’s a catalyst to join arms, walk with purpose and keep our momentum alive. We have a lot to live up to.

orlando oFFice 414 N. Ferncreek Ave. Orlando, FL 32803 TEL: 407-481-2243 FAX: 407-481-2246

tampa bay oFFice TEL: 813-655-9890 FAX: 813-849-2986

Decemb er 1 - Decemb er 14 , 2016 // Issue 2 3. 24

Maia Monet is a photographer at Southern Nights in Orlando and a singer with the band Mad Transit. Page 17

Jason LeCLerC

is a near lifelong resident of the I-4 corridor, currently in South Tampa. He publishes poetry online at PoetEconomist. His first book, Momentitiousness, was published in 2014. His new book, Black Kettle, will be published in 2016. Page 19

krista dituCCi

is a freelance writer and family advocate for Manatee Children’s Services. She lives in Sarasota with her husband and children. Page 30

aaron alper, scottie campbell, susan clary, krista ditucci, kirk hartlage, Joseph kissel, Jason leclerc, mary meeks, stephen miller, david moran, gregg shipiro, greg stemm, dr. steve yacovelli, , michael wanZie

photography brian becnel, nick cardello, angie Folks, bruce hardin, Julie milFord, travis moore, chris stephenson, lee vandergriFt, tinkerFluFF

distribution lvnliF2 distributing, lisa Jordan, Jill bates, ken carraway CONTENTS of WATERMARK are protected by federal copyright law and may not be reproduced in whole or part without the permission of the publisher. Unsolicited article submissions will not be returned unless accompanied by a self-addressed, stamped envelope. Although WATERMARK is supported by many fine advertisers, we cannot accept responsibility for claims made by advertisers. Publication of the name or photograph of any person or organization in articles, advertising, or listing in WATERMARK is not to be construed as any indication of the sexual orientation of such persons or members of such organizations. WATERMARK is published every second Thursday. Subscription rate is $55 (1st class) and $26 (standard mail). The official views of WATERMARK are expressed only in editorials. Opinions offered in signed columns, letters and articles are those of the writers and do not necessarily represent the opinions of the newspaper’s owner or management. We reserve the right to edit or reject any material submitted for publication. WATERMARK is not responsible for damages due to typographical errors, except for the cost of replacing ads created by WATERMARK that have such errors.

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central florida news

Anti-bullying song ‘Be Myself’ wins Best Song in World Wide Music Contest Staff Report Sign Your Name:


raymo, an inspirational LGBT singer/songwriter, was the winner of Best Song in the third edition World Wide Music Contest. He was one of over 1200 entries in the contest. According to a press release Nov. 19, Craymo won Best Song for his anti-bullying anthem, “Be Myself.” “I want to let kids know that it is OK to be different, it’s OK to just be yourself, no matter what anyone else thinks,” Craymo said in the press release. Craymo was bullied growing up for being gay and also for wearing glasses. The Orlando Indie singer/ songwriter writes and performs uplifting alternative pop songs about life and love with a blend of 1980s pop with today’s top chart artists. “I wanted to give back and create a song about embracing your individuality, an empowering song about courage to possibly help those who may be going through the same things with their self-confidence,” Craymo said. WWMC’s jury is an international group of highly qualified professionals known worldwide, including Henry Padovani, the original guitarist of The Police. All entries are judged on originality, music and melody, vocal performance, arrangement, and potential. “Craymo makes musical magic with a message in this upbeat, dance party with passion and purpose,” said Gary Root, reviewer for Skope Magazine. Learn more about Craymo’s music and purchase “Be Myself” at

Disgruntled Orlando Science Center patron sends missive about rainbows Staff Report


hough there may be an argument to be made about the saturation of the Orlando market with Pulse tributes, those airing their frustrations are growing increasingly virulent in their terminology. “I was confused when I saw the ‘rainbow’ on the bridge, one visitor wrote to OSC on its Facebook account. “Is the OSC now an official LGBTQ institution?” Well, the answer is no. Also, OSC confirms it is the only complaint that the institution has received (to its knowledge) about its tribute to the victims of the Pulse massacre over the summer. “Should we not also then display signs of other groups affected by unwarranted attack?” the patron continued. “Should their signs and flags also be displayed?”


Contigo Fund works toward helping those most affected by the Pulse tragedy. Photo courtesy Marco Antonio Quiroga

Into the gap The Contigo Fund seeks to mend fences and spread the wealth in the wake of the Pulse tragedy David Thomas Moran


newly formed, $1.5 million fund launched in the aftermath of the Pulse hate crime wants to invest in local organizations that advocate for LGBTQ people of color – particularly the Latinx community. Meet the Contigo Fund - which means “with you” in Spanish. The fund stands out in that it is not looking for money to provide services in response to the Pulse tragedy. Unlike many other local agencies and nonprofits whose resources are already stretched thin, Contigo Fund intends to funnel money and resources into Central Florida to support such groups. “The special thing about the Contigo Fund really is that it’s a fund that seeks to invest… resources in ways that no other fund will. We’re bringing resources into the community that wouldn’t otherwise be here through private, national foundations… working to creating lasting, transformative change in the community,” program director for the Contigo Fund Marco Antonio Quiroga says. As a Trump presidency looms on the horizon promising to target immigrants and Muslim Americans

watermark Your LGBTQ life.

as well as the LGBTQ+ community, the Contigo Fund’s formation couldn’t be timelier. “After Pulse, many were left shell-shocked, traumatized and in a state of uncertainty. The morning after the elections, those feelings resurfaced. The Pulse shooting targeted LGBTQ people of color. Many who lost their lives and were hospitalized were undocumented. For our undocumented families, friends, neighbors, and their loved ones, fear and uncertainty of what will become of their lives come January is overwhelming. We are in a crisis,” Quiroga says. There is an increasingly urgent need to build and sustain a community infrastructure that protects LGBTQ people of color in Central Florida who have been and continue to be targets of Donald Trump’s hateful rhetoric and proposed discriminatory policies. “The xenophobia, Islamophobia and racism that was promoted on the national stage has spread into our local community. Hate speech and violence have been normalized,” Quiroga says. Quiroga says this is why continuing to “build bridges between the LGBTQ and Latinx communities” in Central

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Florida is essential. “Also building a bridge with the transgender community, the black community, the Muslim community, the immigrant community,” Quiroga says. “There’s still so much work to be done.” Another emerging theme Quiroga discovered during his interviews is that people who belonged to both the LGBTQ+ and Latinx communities felt neglected and misunderstood – particularly during the response to the Pulse tragedy. Moving forward, the Contigo Fund has already formed a local grant committee and launched a Request for Proposal search to begin distributing funds to applying organizations. The Contigo Fund Grant Committee is composed of 12 local community leaders, more than 50 percent are LGBTQ Latinx-identified individuals and at least 25 percent who are not formally affiliated with existing nonprofits or foundations. Contigo Fund is an initiative of Our Fund Foundation, a South Florida-based philanthropic organization dedicated to advancing LGBTQ issues. “It’s unfortunate through a tragedy that the doors to opportunity are opening but it’s a compassionate showing of support for these marginalized communities. We hope to support them in any way possible,” said Quiroga. “No matter the color of their skin, the language they speak, the faith they practice, or the person they love. The Contigo Fund is committed to supporting the resilience of those living at the intersection of these marginalized identities and building on their power,” he says.

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Decemb er 1 - Decemb er 14 , 2016 // Issue 2 3. 24


tampa bay news

Tampa Bay AIDS Walk & 5K Run is coming to Town Chelsea Santiago


T. PETERSBURG | It’s that time of the year again – waking up early in the morning for fun with family, close friends and a close community; and cheering for that jolly man in the red suit. A track suit, of course. The Tampa Bay AIDS Walk & 5k Run is coming to town again Dec. 10. The event begins and ends at Vinoy Park in Downtown St. Petersburg and check-in is at 8 a.m. for participants. Registration is free for the walk, but there are incentive prizes for those raising $35, $150, $250, $350, $500, $750, $1,000, $2,500, $5,000 and $10,000. The registration for the 5k Run is $35 and includes a T-shirt, Race Bib, & Timing Chip. Those who come out to join in the walking, running, donating and volunteering will help to provide much-needed resources to the AIDS Service Association of Pinellas (ASAP), an HIV/AIDS organization now supporting members across the entire bay area. For 13 years, ASAP has been hosting the fundraiser to bring awareness to the fight against HIV and prevention of the spread of AIDS, and has had great success in past years. In February 2016, ASAP opened Home 3050, the most comprehensive HIV services medical home in Tampa Bay. “We have a fantastic committee this year,” said Brooke Boccacino, the director of corporate philanthropy for EmpathHealth. “We have more sponsors than we’ve had in the past, so we’ve already surpassed our sponsorship goal.” Because of the wonderful turnout of sponsors this year – 14 in total so far – all money raised by the individuals can go directly to the services ASAP provides, such as a variety of educational programs and services for men, women and children who are HIV-positive. According to Boccacino, between 900 and 1000 walkers have signed up so far for this year’s walk with more expected to join as the event gets closer. Last year over 700 walkers participated. Empath Health announced in a press release this year that ASAP will merge with Francis House, another nonprofit known for providing support programs and services to those infected and affected by HIV/AIDS located in Tampa. According to Boccacino, Francis House played a role last year as well as a sponsor for the walk. The Francis House-ASAP merger brings together service providers on both sides of Tampa Bay that will create more opportunities and services, said president and CEO of Empath Heath, Rafael J. Sciullo, in the press release. “Both organizations provide their own set of unique services that will make us stronger together,” Sciullo said. For more information on AIDS Walk Tampa Bay, to register online or donate visit



Sarasota resident Chuck Redding was attacked because of a rainbow Obama sticker on his back windshield.

Screen capture from ABC Action News YouTube video

Fight song With hate crimes on the rise, victims are choosing to stand up against their bullies Jeremy Williams


ampa bay | Fears of a rise in hate crimes in the wake of Donald Trump being chosen the 45th President of the United States have unfortunately turned into a reality. The Southern Poverty Law Center reported more than 700 hateful incidents in the first seven days after the election. Of the incidents reported, anti-LGBTQ harassment was the third most common behind anti-immigrant and anti-black attacks. Florida reported the seventh most incidents among all states. St. Petersburg couple John Gascot and Ron Diana reported such an incident after they received an anonymous hate letter in the mail Nov. 19. “I was working in my studio, and my partner found the letter when he got the mail and brought it to me,” Gascot says. ”I felt like crying for a moment out of frustration. How could this happen? Then I got angry and wanted to speak out about it.” The letter began with personal attacks against Gascot and Diana, then attacked them on their political views. “The election is over... you lost on all counts,” the letter read. It also included personal information about the couple. “It had us worried because this is

watermark Your LGBTQ life.

obviously someone who watches our house. They talked about when we put our trash out, when we have our porch light on,” Gascot says. Further down the coast in Sarasota, an altercation became physical for a 75-year-old gay man. Chuck Redding was the victim of a battery after a man followed him in a dark-colored SUV Nov. 14. “I was heading home from a gay bowling league when this car got behind me and got really close and I couldn’t figure out why,” Redding says. The vehicle, a Jeep Cherokee according to the police report, followed Redding until he stopped his car in the middle of his residential street. “I was getting nervous so I decided not to pull into my driveway. I parked in the middle of the street; my car was still running, and I had both my puppies in the car,” he says. The suspect pulled behind the victim, got out of his vehicle and approached the driver’s side door of Redding’s car. “Why, I don’t know, but he starts beating on the window and he says ‘Our new president says I can kill all you faggots now.’ I thought to myself ‘Wait a minute here. This is not just an angry guy, this is going to be a hate thing,’” Redding says. The suspect beat on the victim’s window for a moment, then opened

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the driver’s side door and pulled Redding out of the car by his shirt, according to the police report. Redding tumbled to the asphalt sustaining injuries to his left foot, hand and knee. “I heard someone yell ‘What the hell is going on out here?’ and it was my next door neighbor John. He came out of the house and that was enough to scare this guy off and he started running back to his car,” Redding says. Redding contacted the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office and filed a report. Redding says he was so terrified it was difficult for him to remember what the suspect looked like. He remembers he was a dark-skinned man with some facial hair. He went to the hospital to get bandaged up and was released that night. While Redding cannot be certain what set this man off, he believes he was upset about a faded rainbow Obama sticker on his back windshield. A sticker that has been there for eight years now. “People keep saying to me you are probably going to pull that sticker off now and I’m like ‘Hell no! I’m going to get a bigger one,’” Redding says. “I’ve gone through too many episodes in my life where I’ve had to fight this and I’ve had to fight that. I’m gay, and that’s OK.” Gascot feels the same way. After his incident he has no plan to remove the rainbow flag flying proudly in his yard. “These people want us to hide,” Gascot says. “I’m sure the person who sent this letter wanted us to take our signs and flag down and just be quiet and I’m sure they felt very satisfied at the letter they sent. So I say to those out there being harassed, be vocal but take care of yourselves.”









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Decemb er 1 - Decemb er 14 , 2016 // Issue 2 3. 24


state news

Florida gov. may serve as a model, and warning, For trump Wire Report


aLLahassee, FLa. | He was opposed by the Republican establishment. During a contentious campaign he spoke forcefully about the need to crack down on immigration. And he used millions of his own money to bolster his political career. President-elect Donald Trump? No, Rick Scott, the current governor of Florida. While they are oceans apart in temperament and public demeanor, Scott and Trump were both political neophytes who came from a business background and won elections despite being viewed as longshots. And as the country gets ready for a Trump administration, his friend and political ally Scott may prove a valuable example of the challenges that lie ahead. After being in office for five

years, Scott has been forced to drop campaign promises, alter his stance on key issues and deal with an ongoing divide with members of his own party. But Scott has also shown that it can be wrong to underestimate him. When he first ran for office in 2010, Scott, a multi-millionaire, used his experience as a former healthcare executive and outsider as a tonic for Florida’s double-digit unemployment rate and struggling economy. Scott’s first-ever foray into campaigning was characterized by his steadfast refusal to meet with editorial boards or seek newspaper endorsements. When he defeated McCollum, he vowed to crack down on the special interests and lobbyists who he contended were “crying in their cocktails” due to his primary victory. Yet Scott was still considered an underdog against Democrat

Alex Sink because back in 1997 he had been forced out of his job as the head of Columbia/HCA amid a federal investigation into fraud. Although Scott was never charged with any wrongdoing, the company paid a then-record $1.7 billion fine for Medicare fraud. Sink hit at Scott, saying Floridians couldn’t trust him. After spending more than $70 million of his own money, Scott edged Sink by more than 61,000 votes. There are key differences between Scott and Trump, points out Brian Burgess, who started working for Scott when he created a group to oppose President Barack Obama’s healthcare overhaul and would later serve as Scott’s first communications director. Burgess calls Scott reserved and extremely disciplined, while Trump is more a showman who speaks off the cuff. But Scott’s two victories have not ensured him success and


he has discovered that being governor is not the same as being a CEO. When he first started, Scott barred lobbyists from entering his office. He brought in other outsiders as his top staff and initially talked about aggressively pushing his agenda through the Legislature. That changed, however, after legislators scaled back, or rejected many of his ideas, including his push for massive tax cuts. Scott then turned to Tallahassee insiders to help him negotiate with the Legislature. After the Legislature deadlocked on toughening immigration laws, Scott abandoned the idea. Ahead of his 2014 campaign, Scott even signed into law measures that guaranteed in-state tuition rates to the children of immigrants who entered without legal permission. Scott came into office railing against Obama’s health

care overhaul but has changed his position twice on whether to expand Medicaid as allowed under the overhaul. The governor now finds himself at odds with members of his own party, especially new House Speaker Richard Corcoran, who helped scuttle Scott’s push this year to increase state spending on incentives to lure new businesses to the state. Due to the rifts, Scott has stopped raising money for the Republican Party of Florida. Another clear parallel between Scott and Trump is that both men are entering office with enormous wealth. Scott has foregone his $130,000 a year salary, but not his state-subsidized health insurance, and he sold off the state plane and instead uses his own private jet for travel. He placed his assets in a blind trust controlled by a long-time business partner, although that has not shielded him completely from questions of conflicts.


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Decemb er 1 - Decemb er 14 , 2016 // Issue 2 3. 24


nation+world news

in other news

What does Fidel Castro’s death mean for LGBTQ Cubans’ civil rights?

Gay Air Force veteran seeks upgrade of discharge A 91-year-old veteran who was dismissed from the U.S. Air Force as “undesirable” in 1948 because he’s gay is suing in Connecticut to have his discharge status upgraded. The federal lawsuit was filed Nov. 18 by H. Edward Spires against the secretary of the Air Force and asks for his discharge status to be changed to “honorable.” Spires says after the repeal of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy in 2010 he applied for an upgrade but was rejected by the Air Force Board for Corrections of Military Records, which noted personnel records were lost in a 1973 fire.

Wire Report


AVANA | He overthrew a strongman, brought his country free health care and education, and enlisted Cubans in what he called fights for freedom from Central America to South Africa. Fidel Castro also maintained a steel grip at home, jailing dissidents and gays, controlling freedom of travel and expression, and declaring virtually any activity outside his control to be illegitimate. Since the revolutionary’s death Nov. 25, Cubans have defended Castro’s record while human rights groups said they hoped that his brother and successor, Raul Castro, would move faster toward allowing Cubans more freedom of speech, assembly and other basic rights. “The question now is what human rights will look like in a future Cuba,” Erika Guevara-Rosas, the Americas

Hundreds march in India to demand LGBTQ rights Hundreds of gay rights activists marched in a parade in New Delhi on Nov. 26, highlighting the continuing discrimination India‘s LGBTQ community faces and demanding the repeal of a law criminalizing homosexual acts. Activists cheered in 2009 when the New Delhi High Court declared as unconstitutional Section 377 of the Penal Code, which criminalizes homosexual acts. But the judgment was overturned four years later when India’s Supreme Court decided that amending or repealing Section 377 should be left to Parliament, not the judiciary. The law makes gay sex punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

director for Amnesty International, said Nov. 26. “The lives of many depend on it.” Under Raul Castro, Cuba has moved away from jailing political prisoners for extended sentences, instead making thousands of short-term arrests each year that Cuban dissidents say are designed to harass them and disrupt any attempt at political organizations. Cubans today feel freer to criticize their government in public, but any attempt at protest or demonstration is swiftly quashed. Independent journalists operate inside the country but find it nearly impossible to distribute printed material and they report repeated harassment from authorities. Many ordinary Cubans chafe at the country’s restrictions but say they are less concerned with civil liberties than with earning enough money to buy food and basic goods. For decades, the Cubans most frustrated with the limits of life on the island have left for

new lives in the United States, Spain and other countries, creating a relief valve that has lessened the internal pressure for change. Cuban resident Ricardo Garcia, 56, said that while Castro may have permitted only one political party, “he always consulted the people. And everyone has always been in favor.” At the same time, he said, “I’d like for everything to be more democratic, for everyone to be able to express themselves and define their own position.” When discussing their country’s human rights record, Cuban officials along with some rights advocates said the revolutionary government under Castro ran an extensive literacy campaign and dramatically improved the lives of millions of people by providing better access to housing and health care. “For this, his leadership must be applauded,” said Amnesty’s Guevara-Rosas. But she noted that Castro’s nearly half century in power was also characterized by “a ruthless suppression of freedom of expression.”

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watermark Your LGBTQ life.

Decemb er 1 - Decemb er 14 , 2016 // Issue 2 3. 24


maia monet

trans oF thought Invisible


was reCentLY asked to

speak at my alma mater on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of Princeton’s LGBT Center. I had been recommended by the outgoing director of the center as a visible transgender alumnus possibly willing to appear. Given how invisible I was on campus back then, I found the irony striking. After being reassured that such a story would be valuable and worth hearing, I reflected on my journey, and I realized there was a common thread of erasure running throughout.

During my teen years, before the Internet, I did not have the resources to recognize my gender identity issues. My misconception of trans women, as informed by the mainstream coverage of the day, was so stereotypically straight and hyper-feminine, that a burgeoning lesbian like myself, who couldn’t have cared less about playing with my sister’s Barbie dolls, found little commonality. In my mind back then, I was not possible. When I arrived on the Princeton University campus in the fall of 1989, my situation had not much improved. Whereas I readily found outspoken gays and lesbians struggling for acceptance, envied the growing recognition of their legitimacy, and admired them for their openness, I still didn’t find anyone else quite like me. I was a blind spot in a community that did not then actively

acknowledge the existence of the “T.” Of course, with the amazing explosion of transgender people into the public consciousness, the same can’t be said for today. However, the legacy of the dark days of erasure linger. In early November this year, Orlando celebrated Come Out With Pride where we recognized the achievements of the LGBT+ community, as well as remembered the great sacrifices of our community as marked by blood, sweat, and tears. Slightly more than a week later was the most significant day of the year on the transgender calendar: Transgender Day of Remembrance. TDOR is when we remember and read aloud the names of those we have lost in the past year through murder and suicide. If you’ve heard of Pride, but this is the first time you are hearing about TDOR, then you are like a lot of straight and LGB people with a transgender knowledge gap. If you are aware that the annual Pride marches around the country were inspired by the Stonewall Inn riot of June 28, 1969, chances are you are not aware of the pivotal role played at Stonewall by transgender women of color Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson in helping spark the acts of defiance that led to the birth of the modern gay rights movement. The transgender community has grimly taken note of how we have historically been expunged within LGBT circles. The most famous example being a deal in 2007 to drop gender identity, but not sexual orientation, from the proposed Employment and Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) in the hopes it would have increased its chances of passing. The first openly gay member of Congress, Barney Frank, and HRC were the driving force behind the deal. Their reasoning was that something was better than nothing. Of course, the determination of what constituted an acceptable “something” sent the message that it was reasonable to erase

watermark Your LGBTQ life.

the rights of the T in favor of the LGB. We heard loud and clear that we were nothing. In 2014, HRC apologized for its past actions and promised to do better by transgender people. They held fast to that promise recently when discussions

recently as the LGBT world fretted over the prospect that marriage equality might be overturned with the new government administration. However, I have heard too little about much more immediate risks to transgender citizens who stand to lose, among

The second most important date on the trans calendar is Transgender Day of Visibility in March. For a community where visibility has often been seen as dangerous to our health, it is a radical concept to be conspicuous. However, it is difficult to change hearts

between various LGBT orgs were held suggesting that non-discrimination bills at the state level stood a better chance of passing if public accommodations (e.g. bathrooms and schools) gender identity protections were dropped. HRC voiced their opposition to the compromise, as did other organizations, but not all. It is heartening to see change, but the rights of transgender people are still too easy to overlook. Something I was reminded of

other things, federal document identification changes, the ability to serve openly in the armed forces, federal vendor non-discrimination policies, as well as a sympathetic Department of Justice willing to go after states and schools who discriminate based on gender identity. Marriage equality is important, but it would be much more difficult to reverse than the aforementioned transgender rights, which could be reversed on Day One of the new administration.

and minds from the shadows, and we need to continue to stand up and be counted or risk being dismissed. That has already happened too many times in history.

The transgender community has grimly taken note of how we have historically been expunged within LGbT circles.

Melody Maia Monet is a photographer at Southern Nights in Orlando and she operates her own YouTube channel on transgender issues. You can view her videos at melodymaia and she can be reached at


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Decemb er 1 - Decemb er 14 , 2016 // Issue 2 3. 24


Jason Leclerc

The other side

of life Kittens And-Also SpaceTime


hen I was

commissioned for this article, I was clear that I wanted to put the election behind us; my topic would be kittens.

So. Kittens. With that settled and with smiles on our faces, let’s proceed. By the time you finish reading this sentence, it will have passed into history. Not wholly knowing what words comprise the next sentence, you may meet them with hope or with skepticism. Memories, like the future, are imperfectly conceived, the former because we have acquired too much information and the latter because we don’t yet have enough. The only truth is the now and your interaction with these words; even that is fleeting. Thus, we all do our best to normalize our interaction with past, present, and future. Naturally, based on our experiences, we tend to favor those data elements that help build the narrative that reinforces itself as well as a world in which we, as individuals, feel comfortable. Every moment of thought, whether we realize or not, is a balancing act between actual facts in space time and our perception of them. In a vast and growing universe of facts and ideas (internet of things, the Google machine, kitten videos), we are constantly challenged to choose. Binaries, the segmentation of the universe into easy contrasts – often characterized by an “either-or” mentality – is a handy tool that we have been trained to utilize. Unfortunately, binaries often become concretized by value judgments that may exist only tangentially to an issue at hand. In this construct we find it easy to use charged binaries like “good vs. evil,” “truth vs. lie,” “love vs. hate.” One of my favorites is, “gay vs. conservative.” Witness American politics in 2016. Save for a few of us,

Clinton vs. Trump was a clear “either-or” choice. A nuanced alternative that begins merely with a change in sentence structure – as simple as how we connect nouns and verbs – may give us a tool to move forward with a more open, collected mind. Replace “either-or” with “And-also,” to watch binaries crumble; watch meaningful discourse expand exponentially. Follow through with a mind exercise that makes the new sentence conceivably valid. Arm yourself with this new tool And-also take it into practice. Sometimes the best start is with that smile – think kittens – as you dive into discomfort. Repeat these words, first into a mirror, and then in public. If you need to hide behind a keyboard as you master these words, that’s OK too. “And-also… And-also… And-also…” Join me. “I can be factually correct And-also concede a civil argument.” Good start. Now: “I can disagree with you And-also still love you,” is a little easier to imagine with a smile (And-also thinking about kittens), right? Next, “I can appreciate the beauty and importance of civil protest And-also repudiate the premises upon which it’s built.” Take a breath; that may have been tough. Take a moment and return to the easier: “I value history as a benchmark (think First and Second Amendments, for example) And-also conceive of a future that deviates and evolves from a straight line.” OK, rapid fire: “I can vote for Hillary Clinton along with the majority of Americans And-also accept that, in the current Constitutional reality, Donald Trump is the president-elect.” “I can vote for Donald Trump And-also repudiate his (at best inarticulate) divisive rhetoric.” “I can believe that Hillary Clinton is a heroic figure, unprecedented in what she has achieved as an American icon And-also not agree with the policy prescriptions she

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espouses for America.” “I can be a proud, flag-waving American And-also be deeply remorseful for the atrocities – slavery, Native-American genocide, institutionalized discrimination – perpetrated in the name of America.” “I can accept the American

and laborers and Catholics and African-Americans and immigrants and LGBTQ have been underrepresented in the data points evidencing full equality and citizenship: the slow evolution of what America is now. For that history, we should atone with the promise of the future. We

we celebrate And-also mourn: we hold firm And-also evolve: we are imperfect And-also perfecting. Let’s look together, from this exciting period in history, back toward a great America And-also toward a bright future America. Progressive And-also

system And-also work within it to change it.” And for dramatic effect, repeat: “I can disagree with you And-also still love you.” A study of history tells us that factionalism and divisive rhetoric are the stock upon which our political system exists. George Washington warned us, Lincoln lived And-also died over it. Women

should look back And-also forward. We should inform our present with the story of what America can be for me And-also for you. In this season of gratitude, the interstice between the election and Thanksgiving, let’s reflect on our history And-also our future. In the spirit of Thanksgiving We give thanks And-also apologize:

conservative. Hopeful And-also skeptical. Say one thing And-also do something different—we are all hypocrites. Hypocrites And-also sincere. It starts with our hearts And-also our words as they describe a future that immediately informs our history. Kittens.

Unfortunately, binaries often become concretized by value judgments that may exist only tangentially to an issue at hand. In this construct we find it easy to use charged binaries like “good vs. evil,” “truth vs. lie,” “love vs. hate.”

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talking points

there were





We truly hope this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and to work on behalf of all of us. All of us. Thank you truly for seeing this show, this wonderful American story told by a diverse group of men, women of different colors, creeds and orientations. —HAMILTON aCtor brandon viCtor diXon speaking to vp-eLeCt Mike penCe aFter he watChed a perForManCe oF the tonY-winning broadwaY show nov. 18.

ABC tO air lgbtq histOry miniseries in february


he LgbtQ seven-part Miniseries When We Rise has been scheduled to air in February 2017 on ABC. When We Rise is a chronicled re-telling of the gay-rights movement in the United States, beginning with the Stonewall riots in 1969. The miniseries was created for ABC by the director and screenwriter from 2008’s Harvey Milk biopic Milk, Gus Van Sant and Dustin Lance Black, respectively. The first episode of the seven-part miniseries will be directed by Van Sant. Black wrote all seven episodes and will direct two of them himself. The miniseries stars Guy Pearce, Mary-Louise Parker, Rachel Griffiths and Michael Kenneth Williams, and will feature award-winning actors Whoopi Goldberg, Rosie O’Donnell, Dennis O’Hare and David Hyde Pierce.





IN THe FIrsT 10 DAYs after vOters elected


the neXt president Of the united states. —Southern Poverty Law Center


ellen degeneres receives presidential medal Of freedOm


resident baraCk obaMa honored daytime talk queen, comedian and animated fish Ellen DeGeneres with the nation’s highest civilian honor. DeGeneres was among 21 people Obama recognized with the Presidential Medal of Freedom at the White House Nov. 22. Other entertainers honored included Robert DeNiro, Cicely Tyson, Tom Hanks, Robert Redford and Saturday Night Live producer Lorne Michaels. Obama bestowed the recognition on members from the world of sports (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Michael Jordan), music (Diana Ross and Bruce Springsteen) and philanthropic work (Bill and Melinda Gates). Posthumous honors will go to Native American advocate Elouise Cobell and Rear Adm. Grace Hopper.

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tinder intrOduces mOre gender OptiOns


inder has started giving users the option to select a gender other than man or woman. The online dating app announced that its latest update allows users to type a word that describes their gender identity. The California-based company wrote in a blog post Nov. 11 that users also can choose to be shown in searches that best reflect that identity. Tinder says it didn’t have “the right tools to serve our diverse community in the past, but that changes today.” It says people who believe they were wrongfully removed over their gender selection are invited back to the platform. The app was setup with input from GLAAD.

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the hOrrible, awful neil patrick harris jOins netfliX


eiL patriCk harris is CoMing baCk to TV as the star of Netflix’s new original series Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events. After their parents perished in a fire, Violet (Malina Weissman), Klaus (Louis Hynes) and baby Sunny (Presley Smith) – the Baudelaire brood – are taken to their new guardian: the horrible, awful Count Olaf (Harris). Set out with the Baudelaire kids on their top secret expedition Jan. 13 in Netflix’s upcoming adaptation of the hit children’s book series as they go three-on-one against Count Olaf as he tries to seize their fortune through a number of schemes.



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in-depth: wOrld aids day


THIS IS NOW World AIDS Day reminds of what was and what can never be again


Billy Manes

hoM bLand, 54, sits aCross the

table from me at a downtown eatery. His signature shovel beard and glasses speak very much to the currency of fashion – we’re all dialing our time machines backward these days – but his cadence is certainly rooted in the trauma that brought him here. There are tears.

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“I knew Patient Zero,” he only half-jokes. Bland is HIV-positive and, though his numbers may read “undetectable,” he’s fallen into the gray area – even the blackest of holes – that has picked off his friends and much of his history indiscriminately. He once woke up from anesthesia while having his lungs scrubbed for Kaposi Sarcoma. He has seen the worst. Bland was diagnosed in 1991, “I started going to New York in

’82, and we’d all heard about GRID [Gay Related Immune Deficiency, the initial terminology for AIDS], and people were paying attention,” he recalls.“In ’83, I moved there to go to school and started meeting people. The first person I remember meeting was the vice president of a very large bank, and as soon as he was diagnosed, his parents completely cut him out. And then we

cOntinued On pg. 24 | uu |

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| uu | This is now from pg.23 had friends, and we all paid for his grave in Queens. He was buried in a pauper’s grave, even though he was a millionaire. And that’s the first time I saw how people could disassociate themselves from family for something they didn’t understand. Nobody knew, so everybody treated everybody as a leper.” December 1 is World AIDS Day, memorialized and patronized by those who saw the worst in our world, medically and socially. In Orlando, Tampa Bay, Sarasota and virtually everywhere else in Watermark’s reading rainbow, there will be ceremonies and quilts, memories and anger, apathy and staring off into the pale distance, mouths agape as if to ask, “Why?” Why did so many people die in a pointed news vacuum? “Oh my God, it just started and it just didn’t stop,” Bland says. “And in ’84, I had to come back to Orlando [from New York], because my psyche was about to break. I was 24 or 25 and I’d already witnessed at least 100 people die. And I came back here, and I had just beat the wave, because then my friends in Orlando started getting it.” There is no denying that HIV/AIDS remains a devastating force in the LGBTQ community – and elsewhere, as it always has – but the numerical data doesn’t do the scourge its historical justice. A 2015 report from the Florida Department of Health revealed that in Tampa, 14,305 had contracted HIV/AIDS, with only 12,540 aware of it. In Orlando, 13,135 were carrying HIV, with only 11,507 actually aware of their status. Moreover, 30-40 percent of those infected in both areas were not seeking treatment. AIDS isn’t gone; it’s only changed its face. Charted increases include significant leaps in HIV cases in both key Florida areas, looping black heterosexual males into the standard mix of men-seeking-men into the pie charts. The most recent studies show Florida leading the nation in increased HIV diagnoses. That’s why World AIDS Day is important, Bland says. People need to see what’s happening. “I think it’s absolutely something we should memorialize, because without those people, we would probably still be fighting in the street,” he says. “It’s the war we ended up in. We didn’t choose it.” That war is 35 years old in 2016. And this week a new vaccine trial – the first in 10 years – is scheduled to take place in South Africa.


act now: Protesters continue the fight for healthcare in 1990. Photo courtesy act up THE WAY WE WERE “The first time was as a medical student,” says longtime Orlando Immunology Clinic medical director Edwin DeJesus of his first recognition of HIV/AIDS. “It was 1986 when I started doing clinical work, and there were already people infected with HIV and opportunistic infections. We didn’t have a clear understanding of the disease, but it was already known as AIDS by then. There was only one drug available, which was AZT, and that’s it.”

progressing, and not having any drugs to give them to make them better, seeing them as frequently as we saw them,” he adds, “it was very hard seeing them deteriorate to the point of death. It was hard having our hands tied and not being able to do anything.” In the wake of relative inefficacy, protest groups like ACT UP! formed in order to pressure the Food and Drug Administration and the National Institutes of Health to rush trial treatments, especially given

and meaningful life before they died. That involved very intensive case management. And in terms of trying to bring income to those people, to give them disability benefits, and getting them medical care – getting them insurance of some sort through Medicaid or some other source. Back in those days, we didn’t have the Affordable Care Act. So it was a challenge.” That challenge, of course, was exhausting. “I think people who have been in

It’s the war we ended up in. We didn’t choose it. —Thom Bland

But AZT brought with it heavy side effects, so much so that 50 percent of the infected population couldn’t handle the drug. As documented in How to Survive a Plague (2012) and fictionalized in Dallas Buyers Club (2013), that didn’t stop patients from looking for their own options. It was, in fact, a do or die moment. “The stigma around the disease was such that unfortunately even healthcare providers were consciously or unconsciously discriminating. And that’s healthcare workers,” DeJesus says. “Before the advent of what we call highly-active anti-retroviral therapy, or HAART, which didn’t become available until 1996, there were patients who were slowly

that the life expectancy of HIV/AIDS patients was remarkably short. “I was very understanding about the situation. I think they wanted to do whatever they needed to, so I understand the period that people went through experimenting with multiple other treatment options,” DeJesus says. AIDS Service Association of Pinellas (ASAP) operations manager David Franks came into the AIDS maelstrom more by chance than choice. “What kind of propelled me is that I had an identical twin brother who was HIV positive. We were in a bone marrow study with the National Institutes of Health,” he says. “As a case manager, back in those days, what we really worked on was trying to help people live a comfortable

watermark Your LGBTQ life.

it for so long, especially during those very early days, sometimes I wonder if we don’t have a certain degree of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, because we were fighting a war. Worse still, families didn’t care in many cases, Franks says. “I remember one person I was with when he died, the father of that guy wasn’t around at all during the treatment until the day that his son was dying,” he says. “And then he was there just to take a clip of his son’s hair to take it back to his mother. Imagine remembering that.”


St. Petersburg’s Metro Wellness chief executive officer Lorraine Langlois is wary about the gains seen in HIV/AIDS treatment, for

Decemb er 1 - Decemb er 14 , 2016 // Issue 2 3. 24

one main reason, and one reason only: “politics.” “Over the past eight years the Obama administration brought forward HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention more than any other administration by developing a National HIV Strategy that gave us a game plan to reduce HIV and treatment folks as soon as possible... the ultimate goal is getting to zero increase of HIV. More energy and money and direction were put into domestic HIV under this administration,” she says in an email. “Last week a group of HIV leaders and agency leaders like myself gathered at our usual bi-yearly meetings and were there to discuss what happens now that we have a very different looking administration. We walked away in unison with uncertainty and with a ‘wait and see’ attitude.” But we’ve been waiting and seeing for decades, most agree. Langlois is among them. “Over the years treatment has changed in the number of pills people take and lesser side effects but we have not had a breakthrough where the virus is killed. The introduction of PrEP gives us yet another tool to reduce the new number of infections. It also brings up many questions about its use and the need. Does it increase promiscuity? Can anyone take it?” Among expected new infections are those attached to an entire generation that did not see the sunken faces, the lesions, the weakness, the scabs, the broken families, the sudden deaths, the spit, the vomit and everything else that this disease has brought along with it. Alexandra Melnick, a recent college graduate who has worked with HIV/AIDS sufferers of all ages sees some hope for the evolving nature of the disease. Beyond the antibodies that are currently showing promise is erasing HIV/AIDS in test tubes and will begin their human testing soon, she knows that it is upon her generation – the Millennials – to carry the torch of awareness. “I think HIV and AIDS are still very much stigmatized in my generation,” she says. “I don’t think it’s seen as a moral failing as much as it was in the ‘80s, when it was, ‘Oh, because you’re gay.’ When I volunteered with AIDS patients of all ages, they were aware of that stigma, and they wanted to go to a place where they were accepted.” “I think World AIDS Day is actually a memorializing thing, but I’ve also seen a lot of great activism to help teach people at World AIDS Day events,” she adds. “I think there’s a healthy combination of both.”

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arts and entertainment

(L-R) cindy wilson, fred schneider, Kate Pierson



Billy Manes

espite popuLar beLieF,

B-52s foghorn Fred Schneider does not squawk random thoughts about lobsters, umbrellas and Limburger cheese without paid provocation.

He’s a pretty downbeat guy, to be honest, one who has weathered the safety pins of late ‘70s punk, the fluorescence of ‘80s new wave, the experimentation

of ‘90s shape shifting and everything pop thereafter. And he’s done it with a sense of biting humor, something many miss while shaking their asses to “Love Shack”

on the wedding-reception dance floor. In between solo gigs and side projects – Schneider recently joined the coffee craze with his own marketed brew – he still manages to join up with his sister Bs Kate Pierson and Cindy Wilson for the occasional high-haired dance-off. We caught up with Schneider, who has direct ties to Orlando, in advance of the band’s Dec. 3 gig at Hard Rock Live. What would we talk

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about? Well, you know, the usual: wigs, the Talking Heads and MilliVanilli. Also, he doesn’t like that you’re using your cellphones at his shows, thank you very much. Join us in our stilted conversation, won’t you? Down, down, down.

WAtermArK: it’s funny that we’re dOing this interview the day befOre thanksgiving, because the first sOng in my head this mOrning was “whO

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threw that ham at me?” cOurtesy Of yOur side prOject the superiOns!

fred schneider: Get ready for some more of that, because the new album comes out really soon. The album’s going to be coming out within a month or two and it makes a great Christmas present! I have a line of coffee with Breyting, my friend’s coffee company (communityroaster. com) and we just got word

cOntinued On pg. 29 | uu |













DEC 28 @ 8PM | THE PLAZA LIVE 4 2 5 N . B U M BY AV E | O R L A N D O F L 3 2 8 03





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Decemb er 1 - Decemb er 14 , 2016 // Issue 2 3. 24


| uu | The B-52’s from pg.27

that the offer we put on a house in Deland went through, so now I have a place there, too. I’m always interested about the folklore surrounding the beginning of the B-52s: the tiki drink, the requisite madness. I’m sure it was more complex than that.

Well, what we said in interviews is what happened. You can’t make that up. A flaming volcano, or five. Do you think the camp-punk style that you were pulling off in the late ‘70s was embraced by your peers, or that they were just caught completely off guard?

We had a whole group of friends in Athens, Ga., and they loved it. We did it to entertain them, and it just snowballed, really. We started playing New York, and we had a whole slew of fans develop, and it just happened. We didn’t really realize that one day we would have careers. I certainly didn’t have much of a career! What were you doing before falling into that flaming volcano?

Oh, I had a great job. I was active meal delivery coordinator for Meals on Wheels in Athens. When you got to New York, where everyone was pretending to be individuals but making a remarkably similar din, you guys were truly individuals, hair high to the ceilings and kitsch falling out of your faces.

We were individuals. That’s what worked for the band: Everyone brought something different to it. There was no one person leading the band, because we would have rebelled.

Ramone, what a great guy. If we had any detractors, we didn’t give a shit.

So how did the whole Warner Bros. Records deal come about amongst that legendary black-eyed shambles?

Chris [Franz] and Tina [Weymouth] from the Talking Heads liked us, but unfortunately, we went with their manager, and, ugh, that was a shame. We had to deal with that for six years, and he got the Warner deal. Did the Warner promotions department know how to handle you right off the bat? You were odd birds.

I think they fired a lot of the people who were really enthusiastic about being there. I mean, even when we got our gold or platinum record for

Obviously things got bumpy when Ricky Wilson passed. [Wilson, an original member, was the brother of Cindy Wilson, and lost his life to HIV/ AIDS in 1985.] You, as a group, made a choice to not really pursue promotion of a record you had just released. Were there feelings that maybe things had gone too far and you didn’t really want to live a public life anymore?

We had a single out, and “Summer of Love” did really well, but we weren’t about to get a new guitar player; it didn’t even cross our minds. Keith [Strickland] had written the music, and Keith was an amazing musician. He doesn’t get the credit he deserves: a guitarist, drummer

out so that you could see the high of Cosmic Thing.

Yeah! Otherwise, I’d be broke!

There had to be a lot of pressure when you were on top.

I apparently got dehydrated when we were touring New Zealand, and then they wanted us to go to Japan, and I said, ‘No, way.’ And Cindy said, ‘No, way.’ This was like after 18 months out on tour. And then Cindy wanted to have a family, so she left the band. But, you know, that’s understandable. I think Good Stuff is a really great album. Your relationship with Kate [Pierson] and Cindy has to be pretty strong at this point, starting as kids and then running the hit parade. Do you

We hit No. 3, right behind Paula Abdul and Milli Vanilli, both of them accused of neither singing nor writing a tune. And we were like, ‘whatever.’ That’s the story of us: ‘whatever.’ —Fred Schneider “Love Shack,” they had the custodians and the president of the custodians give us the plaque. And we were like, “Yeah, whatever.” Were you able to keep yourself at arm’s length from the boardroom cigars of the major record-label mucky mucks throughout the professional parts of the process?

Any ridiculous interactions with the CBGB scene? Did Lou Reed ever frown at you or Debbie Harry ever trip you and make you fall down the stairs?

Most of the pressure came from touring or traveling, and that’s just exhausting. I came to music a little later; I wasn’t camera-ready like kids today are. I had other interests; we all had other hobbies. I would see bands and all that, but I didn’t eat, drink and live music, though I’d play records constantly.

No, because Debbie and Chris [Stein, also of Blondie] were big supporters early on. They would take our record around when they went around on tour. And I got to see all the different bands like Suicide, the Ramones. We would hang out with the Ramones, and they would open for us. And let me tell you, they were a tough act to follow. Their band liked us. And Joey

I was living near Atlanta, and I went and hung out with a good friend of mine who was a poet, and his friend or two or three or my friend, too, they called it “coffee club,” and they would just sit around. I thought, this ain’t no “coffee club,” it’s a “Deadbeat Club.” And then that became the title for a song much later on.

So was the “Deadbeat Club” a real thing in Athens, then?

and music writer. When he and Cindy were ready, we really had no plan of breaking up or getting together. But they were ready. They called us, and we said, “sure.” We shipped Warner Bros. a record, and they got it, though they didn’t get much of it because they thought it was too weird. Radio thought it was too weird except for college and alternative, which was always our strong point. We went to No. 1 on college and alternative stations and then finally hit a lot of mainstream stations – and they can’t play anything, because they have to follow a format or some crap. But they started playing it. And we hit No. 3, right behind Paula Abdul and MilliVanilli, both of them accused of neither singing nor writing a tune. And we were like, “whatever.” That’s the story of us: “whatever.” It must have been quite a different vantage point from standing onstage at sold-out arenas looking just one decade back to the time when you were wearing plastic bags on tiny stages in dank clubs. Were you glad that you stuck it

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speak with each other a lot when you’re not working?

Yeah, because we’re doing shows with symphony orchestras now. We just signed up for four gigs with one next year. Cindy has a solo project now that’s getting really good reviews; her show’s getting really good reviews. I’ll go see that in New York when she performs. Kate has her solo projects. We’re all supportive of each other. We all live in different places, but we all come together – every month, even. The notion that you seem to be pulling abstract images and building songs around them – “Quiche Lorraine,” “Rock Lobster” – were you pulling impressions out of thin air or were you staring at lobsters?

Well, I got an idea. I went to the 2001 Disco in the late ‘70s in Atlanta, which was empty. Instead of a light show – I guess they had no money – they would show slides of slides of puffy things, lobsters on a grill and I forget what else. I just got an idea of a rock lobster, and it’s sort of like that. Or we’d hear somebody say something while we were listening to talk radio, so it was some crazy

Decemb er 1 - Decemb er 14 , 2016 // Issue 2 3. 24

creature: “The devil is everywhere; he’s in your house; he’s in your car; he’s in your cigarette box.” In your cigarette lighter? Oh, that’s good: It’s hot. How do you place the B-52s in that political realm. Are you a party-favor distraction or a subversive inline of commentary?

We get political in our interviews. Sometimes on stage, I’ll trash somebody. It’s like on “Channel Z” at the end, I’ll go, “Donald Trump’s a hack!” Here in Orlando, one dollar from every ticket we sell will go the Pulse memorial. I think that’s a better way to help more causes that really mean something to us. Does the show change every night?

We change it up a little bit. We have to come together and rehearse. Usually the backing band knows the songs better than we do. We opened for Cher – because it’s Cher, who I really liked in the ‘60s, especially – but the next night it was the exact same show, word for word. I saw Tina Turner do the same in the late ‘70s when she was with the Ike & Tina Turner Revue: exact same show and exact same stage patter. But it was Ike & Tina Turner. Let’s talk the coffee experiment with Community Roaster. It was an odd development when I saw it cross my transom, mostly because I thought that Fred Schneider was the last person I would expect ever needed caffeine.

My good friend Ric Coven does all kinds of projects out of Orlando; I didn’t realize he had a coffee shop. He asked if I’d like to do a line of coffee, and I said, “Sure.” So he sent me an eight-pack of coffee, and I didn’t like any of them on their own that much, but I put two together and I think I came up with a winner. What do you make of audiences today.

I’m tired of people filming it and just sort of looking at their cellphones. It just angers me. It’s like, ‘What’s your problem? You can’t move? You’re standing there; get out of the way.’ If you see somebody with there cellphone there, push their hand down, because I don’t want them blocking your view. Any surprises we should be expecting from the show?

Well, it wouldn’t be a surprise. You’ll see.



The queens have it

Una Voce Kicks off 15th Season with We Three Queens Holiday Performance


all hail the queen:

Una Voce brings whimsy to the holidays. Photos courtesy Una Voce



Krista DiTucci

oin the men of Una Voce on Dec. 9 and 11 for their whimsical 15th season holiday performance, We Three Queens.

The show is a silly twist on the traditional Three Kings/Wise Men of Christmas. But instead of following the Star of David, the three “queens” – Goldie, Frankie and Murray – follow their own star, Beyonce. “We’re always trying to come up with something unique for the holidays,” Una Voce director Joseph Caulkins says, “and I got to thinking about the idea of the three kings at the holidays traveling to see the birth of Jesus. We thought, ‘Wouldn’t

it be neat if those three kings were a little gayer?’ Our three queens are quite interesting and much more flamboyant.” Caulkins says even though the show is frivolous and the queens are self-centered during their journey, they eventually discover the meaning of Christmas which Caulkins describes as the “awwww” moment of the show. “People always ask ‘Is it Christmas or is it Happy Holidays?’” Una Voce

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head of production committee Jim Beaty says. “We are trying to say it’s, ‘Merry Everything.’ We are sending the message to look out for others and be good to other people. Don’t be so focused on our own needs; have a good time and laugh and enjoy the people you love.” Caulkins says the show gives Una Voce performers a chance to show off their singing abilities as well as their dramatic skills. He says they wanted to create a concert that has traditional holiday favorites woven with music people don’t normally associate with the holidays. For example, Una Voce commissioned an arranger in Columbus to design the show’s theme song, a mash up of “Royals” by Lorde with “We Three Kings.” “It’s neat to hear the combo of

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Lorde’s piece with “We Three Kings” and how the melodies interact with each other,” Caulkins says. “It gets the audience ready for this musical road trip.” A few other musical delights included in the show are “Sky Full of Stars” by Coldplay; “Christmas Rhapsody,” a spin on “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen; and “O Come All Ye Faithful.” “The performance is just very lighthearted and a little irreverent,” Beaty says. “We try to be as silly as possible. We’re in a national climate that’s very tense and argumentative, so we like to have a moment to laugh and have a good time.” Another important element of the performance is that it marks the group’s 15th season as well as the first show under their new name, Una Voce: The Gay Men’s Chorus of Tampa Bay. “It’s really important for our mission that people know we’re a gay men’s chorus,” Caulkins says. “We didn’t have the word ‘gay’ in our title before. It’s a pretty dramatic change, really.” The group was formerly known as Una Voce: The Florida Men’s Chorale. Caulkins says they also wanted to incorporate Tampa Bay into their new name because many of their performers are from the Bay area, so they wanted their chorus to belong to the community. “Our sense of community in Tampa Bay became even more personal when we performed at the [Tampa Bay] Rays game after Pulse,” Caulkins says. “Because of the Orlando tragedy, we need to say who and what we are and really believe in that.”

more information

WHAT: We Three Queens WHEN: Friday, December 9, 8 p.m. WHERE: The Palladium Theatre, 253 5th Ave. N, St. Pete Sunday, December 11, 4 p.m. USF Concert Hall, 3755 USF Holly Dr., Tampa INFO:

Holiday Pops With 2 Matinees

Have a jolly good time with the whole family, with Sleigh Ride, White Christmas, What Child is This, Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s Carol of the Bells and a holiday sing-along. Jeff Tyzik will be your very merry host along with vocalist Doug LaBrecque.

Fri, Dec 9, 8 pm, Straz Center Sat, Dec 10, 2 pm & 8 pm, Mahaffey Theater - Matinee Added Sun, Dec 11, 2 pm & 7:30 pm, Ruth Eckerd Hall - Matinee Added


727.892.3337 or 1.800.662.7286 |

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Teacher Gifts

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Open Every Day 1800 East Colonial Drive, Orlando, FL (407) 898-9785

X-mas Cards

community calendar

event planner




mbA membership meeting and board elections 2016

a Marvelous Party: the noël coward celebration, Dec. 1-11, Winter Park Playhouse, Orlando. 407-645-0145;

wednesdaY, deC. 7, 6-8 p.M. tupperware brands Corporation, orLando

Light up sodo 2016, Dec. 4, SODO, Orlando. 407-715-3315;

Join The Metropolitan Business Association at the Tupperware Brands Corporation for the chamber’s annual holiday mixer and meeting. Come remember the past year, look forward to the coming one and elect new board members for 2017. Cash bar and hors d’oeurves provided by John Michael Catering. Free event to all chamber members. For more information visit

spooky empire, Dec. 2-4, Orange County Convention Center, Orlando. 407-685-9800; B-52s, Dec. 3, Hard Rock Live, Orlando. 407-351-5483; a very taffy christmas ho! ho! ho!, Dec. 5, The Abbey, Orlando. 407-704-6261; christmas in flori-duh with Mike delamont, Dec. 5, Shakespeare Theatre, Orlando. 407-447-1700; Krampusnacht, Dec. 5, The Hammered Lamb, Orlando. 407-704-3200; fixx-Mas, Dec. 9, The Social, Orlando. 407-246-1419; reindeer run Presented by florida hospital for children, Dec. 10, Sea World, Orlando. 303-978-0455; the great orlando Mixer, Dec. 10, Cheyenne Saloon & Opera House, Orlando. 407-377-0400; glad tidings, Dec. 10- 11, The Plaza Live, Orlando. 407-228-1220; netflix Presents: here comes the funny tour, Dec. 12, Bob Carr Theater, Orlando. 407-440-7000;

taffy pull Retired prostitute taffy Pinkerbox (doug Ba’aser) brings you an evening of Christmas cheer with “A Very Taffy Christmas Ho! Ho! Ho!” at The Abbey in Orlando Dec. 5.

allegiance: the Broadway Musical on the Big screen, Dec. 13, Winter Park Village Regal Cinema 20, Orlando. 844-462-7342; An American in Paris, Dec. 13-18, Dr. Phillips Center, Orlando. 407-440-7000;

tampa bay neibearhood takeover: Bears in toyland, Dec. 2, Southern Nights, Tampa. 813-559-8625; cirque Musica holiday spectacular, Dec. 2, Amalie Arena, Tampa. 813-301-6500; Bears in toyland with tex davidson, Dec. 2, Southern Nights, Tampa. 813-559-8625;

clean earth systems presents 97X next Big thing, Dec. 3, Midflorida Credit Union Amphitheatre, Tampa. 813-740-2446; 6th annual Party for Presents, Dec. 3, Southern Nights, Tampa. 813-559-8625; toys for tots, Dec. 4, Enigma, Saint Petersburg. 727-235-0867; tB diversity and tBt’s Mentorship Monday, Dec. 5, Mary’s Pub in Ybor, Tampa. 813-248-5777; asaP and francis house Merger celebration, Dec. 7, AIDS Memorial Park, Tampa. 727-328-3260; Martina McBride, Dec. 9, Ruth Eckerd Hall, Clearwater. 727-791-7400;

Bridget everett: Pound it!, Dec. 9, Straz Center for the Performing Arts, Tampa. 813-229-7827; Pulse Latin night tribute, Dec. 9, Southern Nights, Tampa. 813-559-8625; tampa Bay aids walk + 5K, Dec. 10, Vinoy Park, St. Petersburg. 727-328-3260; tampa Pride art festival, Dec. 13, HCC Ybor Campus, Tampa. 813-253-7601;

sarasOta Beauty and the Beast, Dec. 1-15, Manatee Performing Arts Center, Bradenton. 941-748-5875; ManateePerforming ugly sweater crawl, Dec. 10, The Blasé Café & Martini Bar, Sarasota. 941-349-9822;

Pose For Pride tuesdaY, deC. 13, 7-10 p.M. orChid garden at ChurCh street, orLando A night blending fashion, music and charity! Pride Radio in Orlando hosts Pose for Pride, an event filled with live performances and fabulous fashions. The event is 18-and-up, free to the public and will feature raffles, giveaways and more. Pop-up shops onsite will allow you to sample fine foods and drinks from the local area. 407-970-3277;

tampa bay

red and Green Party saturdaY, deC. 3, 7-10 p.M. sunken gardens, st. petersburg The Red & Green Party is Tampa Bay’s premiere holiday event for the LGBTQ community with over 400 friends and supporters making their way to The Sunken Gardens to celebrate Pride through a one of a kind holiday experience. Come mingle, dance and enjoy open bars and complimentary appetizers in the 100-year-old botanical garden featuring some of the region’s oldest tropical plants. Tickets are $35 and can be purchased by calling 727-342-0084.

G2H2 Holiday event & metro Wellness Center Benefit saturdaY, deC. 10, 6:30-11 p.M. Metro CoMMunitY Center, st. petersburg Come drink and be merry as Gay Guys’/Gay Girls’ Happy Hour join forces with Rob Planinshek and Art Lawrence for a holiday bash to benefit Metro Wellness. The evening will feature a silent auction, delicious entrees and desserts provided by Punky’s, plus holiday performances by Dr. Scott, Stephanie Shippae, Brianna Summers, Dino Sindone and more. All funds raised by the cash bar will go to Metro.

to submit your upcoming event, concert, performance, or fundraiser visit

event planner and community calendar is brought to you by curtis protective services • 1-800-551-8368 • watermark Your LGBTQ life.

Decemb er 1 - Decemb er 14 , 2016 // Issue 2 3. 24


Joseph Rodríguez, Carlos, from the series Spanish Harlem, 1987, chromogenic print, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the artist. © 1987 Joseph Rodríguez

255 Beach Drive NE




Our America: The Latino Presence in American Art is organized by the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Generous support for the exhibition has been provided by Altria Group, the Honorable Aida M. Alvarez, Judah Best, The James F. Dicke Family Endowment, Sheila Duignan and Mike Wilkins, Tania and Tom Evans, Friends of the National Museum of the American Latino, The Michael A. and the Honorable Marilyn Logsdon Mennello Endowment, Henry R. Muñoz III, Wells Fargo, and Zions Bank. Additional significant support was provided by The Latino Initiatives Pool, administered by the Smithsonian Latino Center. Support for Treasures to Go, the Museum’s traveling exhibition program, comes from The C.F. Foundation, Atlanta, Georgia.

Sponsored by


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Decemb er 1 - Decemb er 14 , 2016 // Issue 2 3. 24

Media Sponsors



ride fOr a cause

Fter a two daY traCk full of blood, sweat and tears, across a 165-mile stretch from Miami to Key West, the 2016 SMART Ride is done. At the end of the ride, which was held Nov. 17-18, organizers raised $1,037,140, about $45,000 of which came from right here from Tampa Bay area cyclists. SMART Ride got started in 2003 with less than 100 riders and raised $169,000, all of which went to HIV/AIDS organizations in Florida. Fast forward 13 years, and with SMART Ride now raising more than $8 million in total, all going back to HIV/AIDS groups in the state, they are the second-largest AIDS bicycle ride in the country. Tampa Bay rider Marc Retzlaff took to Facebook after completing the ride to say, “Everyone who planned and participated this year left an indelible mark on our lives this weekend, reminding us how true are the words we borrow from Margaret Mead as our motto for the SMART Ride: ‘Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.’”


tampa bay Out+abOut

remembering the pink triangle

ost peopLe are FaMiLiar with the human tragedy suffered at the hands of Nazi Germany in the ‘30s and ‘40s known as the Holocaust, but some may not know that it wasn’t just Jewish people who were sent to the concentration camps. The Nazis gathered up any group they felt threatened their pure Aryan race, including gay men who they marked with a pink triangle. The Florida Holocaust Museum in St. Petersburg is seeking to educate on the atrocities that gay men suffered during this time with a new exhibit they recently announced: Nazi Persecution of Homosexuals: 1933-1945. The exhibit, which will feature photos, items and stories from that time, will come to St. Pete’s FHM next year starting April 30 and will run through to July 2. For more information visit


wall Of lOve

ith aLL oF the Fear, anger and HATE flying around these days, the people of the GaYbor District in Ybor City decided to hold a protest for love. For anyone who has been down to Ybor City on a Friday night you know that a handful of hate spewing, fake Christians stand outside of the 7-11 shouting messages of hate while holding signs condemning anyone different then themselves to hate. Well, the purveyors of truth and love had a different message Nov. 25 when dozens of people gathered across the street with a GaYbor District banner, rainbow flags and signs reading, “We choose love,” and, “Ybor loves LGBT,” among other loving phrases. They also chanted “Our God chooses love,” “One Pulse-One Love,” and at one point even sang “It’s Raining Men.” This “Wall of Love Ybor” allowed the visitors of Tampa Bay to see that there is so much more love than hate in Centro Ybor.


2 3


good tiMes: Mark west Bias (L) and carrie west show off some art made by the one and only Judy B. Goode at Hamburger Mary’s in Ybor City Nov. 26. Photo courtesy of MarK west Bias


Just desserts: nick Janovsky enjoys a little Thanksgiving apple pie during a trip up to Tennessee Nov. 24. Photo By

nicK JanovsKy


never grow up: taylor simmons (L) and gabriella guinta get ready for their first rehearsal to play Peter and Wendy in freeFall Theatre’s Peter Pan in St. Petersburg Nov. 15. Photo



By tayLor siMMons


open waters: Brent walker (L) and gabe alves-tomko enjoy a little jet skiing during a trip to Key West for the SMART Ride Nov. 20. Photo courtesy of

Brent waLKer


parton Me: scott guira (L) and John david Partain get ready to party from 9 to 5 with Dolly Parton at her concert in Tampa’s Amalie Arena Nov. 26. Photo By scott guira


santa CaMe to TOWN: (L-R) Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, santa claus, Mrs. claus and Mathieu stanoch get the yuletide season started with the Holiday Tree Lighting in Centro Ybor Nov. 16. Photo By


Kurt schLeicher


heaven For aLL: MCC’s rev. elder dr. nancy L. wilson accepted the Voice for Equality Award from Equality Florida at Sarasota’s Suncoast Celebration Nov. 20. Photo By Krista di tucci


theY were running: Brent douglas (L) and aaron drake complete the Turkey Day 5K at Amalie Arena in Tampa Nov. 24. Photo


By aaron draKe

7 watermark Your LGBTQ life.

Decemb er 1 - Decemb er 14 , 2016 // Issue 2 3. 24


Your table is ready! Start your evening with dinner at Sixty South Restaurant and Bar, on the main floor of the DoubleTree by Hilton™ Orlando Downtown. You’ll find the same attention to detail and caring service that DoubleTree is known for, along with fresh ingredients and inventive dishes served in an inviting, modern setting. Whether you’re enjoying a pre-show meal or a gathering with friends, sharing a meal at the DoubleTree Orlando Downtown adds fun to any event. Our hotel is TAG Approved, a supporter of the LGBT community and known for our welcoming ambiance. DoubleTree by Hilton. Where the little things mean everything.™

60 S. Ivanhoe Boulevard, Orlando FL 3280 T 407 425 4455 Hilton HHonors membership, earning of Points & Miles and redemption of points are subject to HHonors Terms and Conditions. ©2015 Hilton Worldwide


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Decemb er 1 - Decemb er 14 , 2016 // Issue 2 3. 24



OrlandO Out+abOut

pride takes a seat

ver the thanksgiving hoLidaY weekend, Orlando City Soccer and Orlando Pride’s Phil Rawlings certainly gave us something to be thankful for. He shared an image of the new soccer stadium. In the image was a set of seats he called the Pulse tribute seats designed in rainbow colors to honor the victims of the Pulse massacre with the hashtag #DefyExpectations. In the world of sports, founder and president of Orlando City Soccer Rawlins has been very actively involved in supporting the LGBTQ community, and with the audience the Orlando City and Orlando Pride games attract, it’s no surprise the LGBTQ community supports them in return! The new stadium is scheduled to open in 2017.


female impersOnatOrs tO naked bOys invade


n deCeMber 7, the Parliament House will host the National Title Holder Revue show featuring performances by the winning 2016 title holders from the top five national female impersonator pageants, including the PH’s own Jazell Barbie Royale. On the other side of the spectrum, Naked Boys Singing returns to the Parliament House, as the touring production moves from Ft. Lauderdale to Atlanta. By the way, Naked Boys Singing’s Atlanta engagement was recently blamed by someone as the reason they’re presently facing a drought.





Ogc is hOnOred

he orLando gaY Chorus has reCentLY been invited to attend the Florida Music Educators Association annual conference as presenters and performers. Artistic Director James Rode broke the good news on Facebook. OGC will also be part of the pre-conference to discuss how to promote diversity and understanding through their art.

mOre equality heads tO tallahassee



hough it shouLd have been expected given the powerhouse nature of the Eskamani twins, Ida and Ana, we’re still delighted to see that Ida has been chosen by incoming state Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith as his legislative aide. The Eskamanis, who have been teetering on the progressive edge of Orlando for years now, are making big names for themselves: Ana with Planned Parenthood and Ida as a former employee of Equality Florida. “I am absolutely thrilled to announce the addition of my good friend Ida Vishkaee Eskamani to our official team as my new legislative aide! Ida’s experience as a committed advocate for social justice and equality will help us to shape progressive policy in the Florida House. Not only will she make me a better lawmaker, but her reach into the community will ensure our office stays connected with the constituents I was elected to serve.



doubLe Your reps: rep. carlos guillermo smith(L) and rep. david richardson get settled in at the State House in Tallahassee Nov. 22. Photo courtesy of reP. carLos guiLLerMo sMith


bear bar’s got taLent: Jason cotto sings at Beareoke at Parliament House’s Bear Den in Orlando Nov. 25. Photo By danny garcia


hoMe For the hoLidaYs: Lisa vecchioni (L) and nicole vecchioni brave the cold winter of Minnesota for Thanksgiving with the family Nov. 25. Photo

By Lisa vecchioni


Lighting it up: dan williams (L) and samuel Joseph are set for the Tron Blacklight Party at Southern Nights in Orlando Nov. 17. Photo courtesy of

dan wiLLiaMs


grand opening: robert carney at the opening of his new studio PaintMix in Thornton Park Nov. 19. Photo By danny garcia


LiFe’s a Cabaret: thomas dewayne Barrett (L) and Blue star get a selfie in at The Venue in Orlando for Big Bang BOOM! Cabaret presents Burlesque After Dark: Best of 2016 Nov. 25. Photo By


thoMas dewayne Barrett


batters up!: Central Florida Softball League board members Brian sommer (L) and abel Marowitz being honored by Commissioner wes hodge (R) at the fall season closing ceremonies at Southern Nights in Orlando Nov. 20. Photo By ricK cLaggett


bare aLL: Jeremiah Micah Johnson is shocked to see his life-sized naked image across the doors to the Footlight Theatre in Orlando for the international hit music revue of Naked Boys Singing Nov. 28. Photo By tiM evanicKi

8 watermark Your LGBTQ life.

Decemb er 1 - Decemb er 14 , 2016 // Issue 2 3. 24


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Decemb er 1 - Decemb er 14 , 2016 // Issue 2 3. 24


wedding bells

John Gascot, 44, and ron Diana, 47 from St. Petersburg, Florida

years together:

local birthdays

20 years

engagement date:

April 1, 2016

wedding date:

october 15, 2016

wedding venue: Their home

wedding caterer:

John prepared all the food


Y Favorite part was

just after the ceremony talking

wedding to people, and everyone’s mood theme/colors: was just so light and everyone was happy,” Ron The theme was “light and sparkle” with the colors teal and purple and lots of lights and candles.

First song: “Breathe” by Kristine W.

interesting Fact:

The cake came out surprisingly different from what was expected, so they had a “make-it-work” moment the morning of the wedding.


John Payne and Luis rios became the proud parents of their adoptive daughter Bellamia Nov. 18.

says about their wedding day. John Gascot, who is an artist and gallery coordinator at Studios at 5663, and Ron Diana, an educator at Cortiva Institute and a licensed massage therapist, have been together for 20 years. They believe that the test of time and being able to get through anything has made their relationship stronger. They met at a club called the Cartwheel in Pennsylvania, which they both used to frequent. At the time, John did semi-professional drag. One night John saw Ron by the dance floor and wanted to approach him but someone was already talking to him. They had been making eye contact throughout the night. “By the time I made the round back to the bar, he was gone,” John recalls. “I figured I screwed it up. A couple of minutes later, he walked back in and was like ‘Look, my name is Ron. My car is outside running and I have to go to work tomorrow, but here’s my number. Give me a call.’” John waited a couple of days

to call, and they went out on a date later that week. They’ve been together ever since. “I had known of him because he performed and I went to see the drag show on Monday nights, but that wasn’t what I was originally attracted to. It was just a cool thing in his character that he did,” Ron says. John says that he has learned kindness and how to treat people gently from Ron. He describes how hardships have tested their relationship, their commitment and the need to be with one and other. The idea of getting married came up as a matter of fact and causally with the couple, seeing they have been together for so long. They decided, then, to get married and started planning the wedding. It was originally supposed to be at John’s studio, but they had to change the venue to their home at the last minute. Regardless, they both knew they wanted it to be a day they shared

with only close friends and family. Ron describes the wedding as being a “culmination of a tremendous amount of work, which John and I did most of. We had family and friends that came in that week that also worked like dogs to help us get everything ready.” John says the thing he was most nervous about was a small mistake with the cake, rather than saying his vows or the ceremony itself. “I was not nervous up until I picked up our cake that morning, and it was not what I had expected,” John says. “It was visually challenged, to put it mildly.” They eventually sliced the cake up and repositioned it to present it in a new way that ended up turning out to fix the problem of the cake. It turned out beautifully, just as was their ceremony and wedding day. One of the things John looks forward to the most about being married is being recognized as an equal and being able to introduce Ron as his husband and not his partner. When asked what his favorite thing about Ron is, John’s response: “Other than he’s very handsome, he makes me laugh.”

Orlando-based writer and blogger Jim crescitelli, former Sarasota Pride board member Mary hoch, founder Mariruth Kennedy (Dec. 1); Zebra Coalition CEO heather wilkie, Orlando realtor Jeff earley, derby zebra shane scare, derby volunteer wrangler cynthia “cynfully vicious” west (Dec. 2); City of Sarasota Human Rights Board member Michael shelton, former Tampa bowler and current Texan dave Bauer, Watermark contributor and Orlando DJ Kirk hartlage (Dec. 3); Sarasota actor and Venice Theater’s Director of Diversity Kristofer geddie, Tampa Bay actor daniel harris, Watermark cover model aleesha Kerri, “Flame On” podcast host Bryan Pittard, Osceola Arts COO Jeremiah Krivinchuk, Funky Monkey entrepreneur eddie nickell (Dec. 6); Orlando Theatre goddess Beth Marshall, St. Petersburg psychiatrist tom young, Tampa’s Red Herring Ltd. expert ivan Moros (Dec. 7); Come Out With Pride’s Director of Marketing and Communications Jeff Prystajko, uOwn Real Estate founder and broker sean frank (Dec. 8); Orlando comic Jeff Jones, Straz Center staffer and Tampa actor spencer Meyers, Mitzi Morris’ alter ego Kevin Kreigel, Watermark’s creative assistant andrea Bosiger (Dec. 10); former Watermark sales director Mark cady, Orlando former Watermark contributor John sullivan, Tampa Bay Bulldog softballer Les croy, Orlando Ford-dealing bear fred Berliner (Dec. 11); Equality Florida’s ed Lally, former Florida House candidate and Watermark covermodel Jennifer webb, Orlando Chorus baritone Jamie decker, Sarasota’s WAVE-winning realtor Jim Jablonski, St. Pete Twirler Jose Luis Perez, Altamonte Springs chiropractor dr. Bradford Levine (Dec. 12); Orlando zebra and baby-deliverer Marie Mcclure, Orlando talent-seeker Mark catlett, Orlando actor/director ashland thomas, 4 Corners writer Lawrence w. caul (Dec. 13); Orlando Weekly publisher graham Jarrett, drag performer hunter holloway, Manatee Segway Tours CEO fred Burgin (Dec. 14).

do you have an announcement? having a birthday or anniversary? did you get a new Job or promotion? see your news in Watermark! send your announcement to or go to

it’s that easy!

—Samantha Rosenthal

do you have an interesting wedding or engagement story you’d like to share with watermark readers? if so, email the details to for consideration as a future feature on this page.

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Decemb er 1 - Decemb er 14 , 2016 // Issue 2 3. 24


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Decemb er 1 - Decemb er 14 , 2016 // Issue 2 3. 24


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Decemb er 1 - Decemb er 14 , 2016 // Issue 2 3. 24



nO apOlOgies I will admit, coming here tonight wasn’t the easiest thing for me. There have been a few times this past week where all I wanted to do was just to curl up with a good book and our dogs and never leave the house again.

—hiLLarY CLinton to the ChiLdren’s deFense Fund aFter Losing the presidentiaL eLeCtion

mOre guns, please!


othing speLLs “inCreased danger” like a proliferation of gun-favorable bills from our own state legislature, but given the climate of our current “situation,” one that was already arid in terms of reason, it’s likely that next year’s March legislative session with be locked and loaded and ready to come after your airport travel companion. The Tampa Bay Times reports that state Rep. Jake Raburn (R-Lithia) dropped HB 6001 into the mix earlier this week which would allow concealed-carry paranoia types to carry their firearms past security and into the terminal. That’s right, “terminal,” as in dead. “You’ve got, I believe, a much more favorable environment for Second Amendment legislation in the Senate, state Sen. Greg Steube (R-Sarasota) told the Times. “The House has always been a place where those types of bills move pretty easily.”


recOunt refuse


eCause everYbodY Loves a buLLY, President-elect Donald Trump took off his gloves on Nov. 28 to let people know – via Twitter, natch – that his golden cup overrunneth with extra votes he never got to count because of the voter fraud that his party has conjured in the American lexicon. “In addition to winning the Electoral College in a landslide, I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally,” his tiny, typing hands Tweeted. A Trump flack echoed the sentiments to the media on Nov. 28, according to the Palm Beach Post, adding that there are studies showing that 24 million voter registrations are “no longer valid or significantly accurate.” So, two million dead people voted for Clinton while nearly three million could have voted in multiple states. Of course the author of the report that allowed Trump that numeric cherry picking denies that any voter fraud occurred. But who cares about facts?

fears fOr queers


ew wouLd disagree that the Affordable Care Act’s most notable improvement on the country’s well-being was that it rolled back Big Pharma’s unseemly ban on those with pre-existing conditions. That maneuver allowed those suffering with HIV/AIDS, cancer or any number of ailments to pay into a system that would make their own health costs more manageable. Trump made it clear that he wanted to roll back the ACA throughout his campaign and now, his me-first absolutism could ostensibly rip the rug out from beneath the U.S. population. Among those being considered for Trump’s Health and Human Services bureau are many who don’t believe in helping the poor become healthy. This is a nightmare waiting to happen. Attorney General Pam Bondi, Gov. Rick Scott and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal are all on the short list for Trump’s cabinet. All have sued the government to end the ACA and refused Medicaid expansion for those living in the gap. According to PBS, it goes even further into a “clear, intensely anti-gay agenda.”

watermark Your LGBTQ life.


Billy Manes

Y now, we’ve aLL had a few weeks to breathe in the post-traumatic, post-Trumpian world of Tweets and nonsense. By now we’ve survived our Thanksgiving skirmishes with chest-puffed grumpy uncles and the general racists and horror shows of our particular broods. By now, we’ve even danced around the daisies of Green Party hopeful Jill Stein and her swing-state strategy of proving nothing in a recount that is not meant to benefit former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, but rather to flex her own nascent political muscle one last time. By now, we’re aware of the hell we’re facing. There isn’t nearly enough sugar – outside of Big Sugar – to coat the results of the Nov. 8 general election and its subsequent horror of errors. In just a week or so, the Electoral College will cast the final stone, leaving us swirling in a vacuum of idiocy, most of which will be stuffed with as much acrimony as a fraudulent billionaire can afford. Donald Trump got his wish: he is king of the mountain; it’s all on him. If only that could bring some cold comfort. In what can only be described as an embarrassing stint as President-elect, Trump has managed to mortify communities of color, communities of sexual diversity, communities of women looking out for each other – medically and otherwise – and community itself. It must be tough for him as he measures the drapes to know that veritably no one is proud of him. For the first time in my lifetime, I hold absolutely no respect for the future President of the United States of America. Two million people – two million more people – voted for Clinton in the popular vote. Is there solace to be found there? Not really. The gerrymandering and the scripting that have led to this milquetoast totalitarianism are well documented. You wonder how Gov. Rick Scott ascended to his throne in Florida? This is how. He lied and he had no idea what he was doing. If you find these qualities attractive in a political representative, then Trump’s your man, and, honestly, I wish you the best. But there’s a funny thing about the dead-man’s curves of political maneuvering; something that likely came too late in this election cycle, the very moment that people voted against their own rights – civil rights, wage rights, women’s rights, LGBTQ rights: We did this to ourselves. Four years ago, I was OK. Four years from now, you will hopefully be, as well. Politics isn’t necessarily who we are, it’s how we present. And, by current evidence in the Twittersphere, we’re not presenting well under our not-so-humble leader-elect. I don’t expect any positive change other than the passing of the second hand on my watch, waiting for 2020. I don’t want any more mess than is necessary. Just sit there and smile. No alarms and no surprises, please.

Decemb er 1 - Decemb er 14 , 2016 // Issue 2 3. 24

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Decemb er 1 - Decemb er 14 , 2016 // Issue 2 3. 24


Watermark Issue 23.24: That was then, this is now  

World AIDS Day reminds of what was and what can never be again, The B-52s, The Contigo Fund, post-election hate crimes in Tampa Bay, local n...

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