Watermark's Sarasota Living With Pride Guide 2019

Page 1

S a r a s ota with Pride

The Ringling combines the beauty of art, power of performance, and spectacle of the circus with the grandeur of a historic home, all set within the wonder of nature.


ringling.org |


world class theatre

made in sarasota

“The loveliest musical imaginable.” — New York World-Telegram and Sun


NOV 16 – DEC 28 PREVIEWS: NOV. 13-15



Maddie Shea Baldwin. Photo by John Revisky. Show Sponsors:

Season Sponsors:

Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation

Dec. 4-22, 2019 Jan. 15-Feb. 2, 2020 Feb. 19- Mar. 8, 2020 Mar. 25 – Apr. 11, 2020

And so much more! Feb. 6-16, 2020 Mar. 12-2, 2020


S a r a sot a L i v i n g w i t h P r i d e


Top Row: (Left) City of Sarasota Logo • (Center) Photo by Dylan Todd • (Right) Photo courtesy of Laurie Ross Center Row: (Left) Photo courtesy of Petals and Sugar • (Center) Photo Courtesy of Ringling Underground• (Right) Photo courtesy of Manatee Performing arts Bottom Row: (Left) Photo by Russ Martin • (Center) Photo by Russ Martin • (Right) Photo courtesy Sarasota Opera

S a r a S ota with Pride

from the 7 Letter City of Sarasota










9 Introduction of Sarasota with 10 State Equality Florida

the Locals: 13 Ask Sarasota’s Dining


Ask the Locals: Sarasota’s Nightlife

the Locals: 20 Ask Sarasota’s Arts & Entertainment

365: Sarasota’s 25 Pride celebrations Care: 28 Community Sarasota’s support organizations

30 Business Directory


Watermark’s Sarasota Living with Pride 2019

A Progressive and Inclusive Expression of the Christian Faith. NO MATTER WHO YOU ARE OR WHERE YOU ARE ON LIFE’S JOURNEY, YOU’RE WELCOME HERE.

Sunday Worship: 10:30 AM

SarasotaUCC.org | 941-922-7595 6908 Beneva Rd., Sarasota /sarasotaucc


Live. Really live.

Bri Hays

Kris Kesling-Hays

We can show you where. Preferred People. Preferred Places.

Phone: (941) 951-2580 www.PrefHomes.Net



Watermark’s Sarasota Living with Pride 2019


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Happy Hour Daily 3-6pm & 8-10pm

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- LGBT owned and operated -

9 S a r a S ota with Pride

Cover photo by Dylan Todd

Sarasota Living With Pride is published by Watermark publishing Group Owner & Publisher

Rick Claggett Business Manager

Kathleen Sadler Tampa Bay Bureau Chief

Ryan Williams-Jent CFL Bureau Chief

Jeremy Williams

Watermark is proud to welcome you to Sarasota Living with Pride, our second annual LGBTQ resource detailing the ever-inviting and all-inclusive city of Sarasota!

We’ve looked forward to sharing even more details about this cherished and world-class community since our inaugural

experience Sarasota’s thriving arts and entertainment scene. After that we grab a bite to eat with

issue last year. It’s the ideal place to live

Harvey Milk Festival founder and cover

authentically, one that showcases its

model Shannon Fortner. She shares some

diverse population from gorgeous sunrise

of her favorite dishes and details how to

to fabulous sunset.

dine with pride throughout Sarasota.

More than 50,000 Floridians call

Joshua Beadle subsequently leads us

Sarasota home. The southwestern coastal

into Sarasota’s nightlife, rounding out our

haven offers so many in our community

“Ask the Locals” section. The Gay Group

a safe place to live and love, which is why

Happy Hour (G2H2) and SarasotaOUT.com

Danny Garcia

we also proudly cover the area in our bi-

founder shares a few of his favorite LGBTQ

Senior Tampa Bay Account

weekly newspaper throughout the year.

and LGBTQ-friendly locales.


Dylan Todd Sales Director


Watermark has proudly served LGBTQ

We also highlight Sarasota’s wide

Russ Martin

and ally readers for 25 years. We print

variety of annual celebrations honoring

Senior Orlando

up to 20,000 copies of our newspaper

the LGBTQ community’s fight for equality,

every other Thursday, distributing them

from the long-running Sarasota Pride to

in more than 500 locations throughout

Venice’s growing celebration. We detail

the Sunshine State—chief among them

Sarasota’s essential community and social

Sarasota, St. Petersburg, Tampa and

groups serving the area as well, from

Orlando. We donate more than $300,000

its active adult gatherings to youth-

Contents of this Sarasota Living

annually in free and sponsor advertising

focused community organizations.

with Pride 2019 are protected by

to worthy LGBTQ non-profits, including

Account Manager

Sam Callahan Founder and Guiding Light

Tom Dyer

Surrounding each of those features

federal copyright law and may

The Harvey Milk Festival, Sarasota

are the advertisers reaching out to the

not be reproduced in whole or

Pride and more.

LGBTQ community. We urge you to

in part without the permission of the publishers. Publication of

As a multi-faceted media company,

familiarize yourself with each of them

the name or photograph of any

we use opportunity and innovation

and support those who support you. Our

person or organization in articles,

to communicate and advance LGBTQ

directory listing on page 30 is a fabulous

advertising, or listing is not to be

interests. That’s what led to the creation

place to do exactly that.

construed as any indication of the

of WatermarkOnline.com, updated daily,

Sarasota is the perfect place to live

and to Sarasota Living with Pride—where

openly and honestly. We’re happy you’ve

we detail resources for your LGBTQ life

joined us for the second annual Sarasota

throughout Sarasota.

Living with Pride.

sexual orientation of such persons or members or organizations. Watermark Publishing Group cannot accept responsibility for claims made by advertisers. © Watermark Publishing Group Phone:

ORL: 407-481-2243 TB: 813-655-9890


ORL: 407-481-224 TB: 813-849-2986

Publisher@WatermarkOnline.com WatermarkOnline.com

Equality Florida helps us do that this year. The political advocacy group is the state’s largest civil rights organization dedicated to securing LGBTQ equality. They proudly share the state of equality in Sarasota. We head to the stage and screen with Sarasota actor Brian Craft next. He guides us through some of his favorite places to

Ryan Williams-Jent Watermark Tampa Bay Bureau Chief


Sarasota The LGBTQ community is welcome, Equality Florida says


Ryan Williams-Jent

f you find yourself in the city of Sarasota—or in other areas including Bradenton, Venice and many others—you are in a welcoming community,” Equality Florida Sarasota Development Officer Jarred Wilson says.

He would know. Equality Florida

is the state’s largest civil rights

Florida board member for years. He remains politically active today.

He’s also organized a Diversity Public Art committee to create

organization dedicated to securing

“There’s such broad and

LGBTQ equality. Through coalition

deep support for these kinds of

Sarasota’s commitment to inclusivity.

building, educational outreach,

protections,” Shelin has shared

“The Sarasota City Commission has

grassroots organizing and lobbying,

with Watermark. “We don’t get

agreed to provide us a highly visible

the organization has fought

arguments here."

spot in our downtown Bayfront Park

since 1997 to protect Floridians

Equality Florida has continued to

a piece of public art celebrating

to place the artwork," he says.

from discrimination—including

bolster its presence in Sarasota by

in Sarasota.

cultivating support for its statewide

which works through their

The organization has been involved

“We have a vibrant arts community

initiatives like the Safe and Healthy

programing to bring exhibitions, plays

in the area for well over a decade.

Schools program. It aims to create a

and other offerings which focus on the

They began building a base of support

culture of inclusion while countering

LGBTQ community,” Wilson adds.

by connecting with local LGBTQ

the bullying, harassment, social

leaders who were hard at work on

isolation and bigotry that increase risk

LGBTQ community in Sarasota to

Sarasota’s human right’s ordinance,

factors for LGBTQ students.

join Equality Florida in their fight,

which passed in 2003. It only protected community

“We worked closely with the

He encourages members of the

to better the state for those living

Sarasota County School Board on the

inside of the city as well as outside

members based on sexual orientation

development of guidelines which

of it. “Get involved and become an

at the time, but it was amended

address the unique needs of LGBTQ

advocate,” he says.

to include gender identity and

students in the classroom,” Wilson

expression in 2014. “Sarasota has

says. The program transforms schools

Wilson concludes. “Whether you come

a reputation of being a welcoming

by ensuring that the districts take full

to Sarasota for a vacation, or you

place for the LGBTQ community,”

responsibility for meeting the needs

move here because of a professional

Wilson says. “That played a huge

of LGBTQ students.

relocation or retirement, you can take

part in bolstering its reputation as a safe place.” Fellow Sarasota resident Ken

Activists like Shelin are also

“Sarasota has so much to offer,”

advantage of this vibrant community.

working for the future of LGBTQ

You can get involved in its continued

equality in other ways. The Sarasota

growth and improvement.” For more information about Equality

Shelin helped fight for that change.

City Commission has formed

He’s served on multiple civic and

a committee regarding the 2020

Florida, visit EQFL.org. For more

government boards in the city and

census in which he will represent the

information about Ken Shelin’s equality

fought for change as an Equality

local LGBTQ community to ensure

efforts, email KShelin@aol.com.

as complete of a count as possible.

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Watermark’s Sarasota Living with Pride 2019




www.samanthaponzillo.photography 813.906.8926



Favorite LGBTQ or LGBTQ-Friendly Restaurant: There are so many options. Leaf & Lentil, Simon’s Coffee House, The Rosemary, Sage SRQ to name a few.


Leaf & Lentil,

2801 N. Tamiami Trl., 941-413-5685, LeafAndLentil.com;


Simon’s Coffee House:

5900 S. Tamiami Trail,

941-926-7251, SimonsToGo.com;


The Rosemary,

411 N. Orange Ave., 941-955-7600; TheRosemarySarasota.com;

Dining with Pride



Sage SRQ,

1216 1st St., 941-445-5660, SageSRQ.com.


Ask the Locals: Shannon Fortner

Favorite Place for Dinner and Drinks:

Ryan Williams-Jent

Pangea Alchemy Lab has the best old fashion and actually

hannon Fortner is a queer promoter and musician. A native of Covington, Ky., she’s proudly called Sarasota home for 25 years.

As the founder of the area’s annual Harvey

Milk Festival (HMF) and organizer of its annual Fabulous Independent Film Festival (IFF), Fortner is

some rather interesting cocktails to explore. The menu follows that direction with duck tacos and other unique dishes. 1564 Main St., 941-870-5555,

farmers markets to the finest experiences in multi-


course dining. Fortner says that her favorite thing about


well-versed in all things Sarasota. She understands

Sarasota’s LGBTQ community is that there’s always

the city’s strengths and what it takes to meet the

someone new to meet, noting that the local dining

Favorite Sweet Tooth Spot: Petals & Sugar. They

needs of its growing LGBTQ community.

scene is a wonderful place to do just that. “Often

offer beautiful macarons,

you can find a few spots with rooftop bars,” she

meringues, cakepops and more.

can read more about on page 25, Sarasota’s

says, “and there is always something new and fresh

Deliveries in and outside of

culinary scene is a staple that brings communities

popping up.”

Sarasota, 941-500-3021;

Like each of Fortner’s festivals, which you

together. The destination has been ranked one

Fortner shares some of her favorite places to

of the Best Food Cities in the nation by Conde

dine in Sarasota below. Check them out and be

Nast Traveler, the luxury lifestyle magazine, and

sure to head to our Business Directory on page 30

the county boasts everything from the freshest

for even more places for you to dine with Pride!


Continued on pg. 14 | uu |



Favorite Dining Date Night: The sushi and Thai restaurant Spice Station. 1438 Blvd. of the Arts, 941-343-2574, SpiceStationSRQ.com


Favorite Unique Florida Menu: Starfish Company Dockside Restaurant. Talk about finding old Florida again. It’s something that can be hard to find and I embrace the chance to support and enjoy a spot like this. 12306 46th Ave. W., 941-794-1243, StarFishCompany.com.

»»Favorite Venue for

Fancy Dining: Sage SRQ, the new hotspot in Sarasota. You can get drinks on their rooftop and

Above left

roll with it: The Rosemary's Lobster Roll and french fries. Photo courtesy of the rosemary's facebook page

Above right

buffet bests:

»»Favorite Small Plates:

the polenta fries. This is a must

The Social Eatery & Bar, a cool

visit spot if you are in Sarasota!

hip spot on the edge of downtown.

2801 N. Tamiami Trl., 941-413-5685,

The patio is a great spot to sip


on a cocktail and relax. 1219 1st St., 941-444-7072, SocialOnFirst.com


Favorite Restaurant:

more in the gorgeous space below. The buffet at 1216 1st St., 941-445-5660,

Tandoor Indian.

Tropical Thai makes an amazing tofu pad Thai and of course, my


Photo courtesy of tandoor indian's facebook page

»»Favorite Local Joint:

99 Bottles. It’s a modern and classy spot to get almost any

beer you have ever wanted to try. I love the vibe and layout, it’s

»»Favorite Food Truck:

Hashtag Pizza was a big hit at

this year’s Harvey Milk Festival! Mobile throughout Sarasota, 941-483-0941, Facebook.com/HandTost


wrong with this spot! It’s n point

Favorite Coffee House: Varietal Coffee Bar and

and has been a staple in Sarasota

Project Coffee are my spots in

for quite some time now.

Sarasota! Varietal Coffee Bar:

1535 Main St., 941-364-5775,

1430 Blvd. of the Arts; Project Coffee:


538 S. Pineapple Ave., ProjectCoffee.Us

go to is hot sake. You can’t go

» »Favorite Spot for

1445 2nd St., 941-487-7874,

»»Favorite Seafood Dish/Restaurant:

Wine: Boca Sarasota on


say Owen’s Fish Camp’s

Thursday nights. They have

right in the heart of downtown.

»»Favorite Brunch:

The Rosemary, they have such an eclectic menu.

411 N. Orange Ave., 941-955-7600; TheRosemarySarasota.com


Favorite Dinner with a View: Any of the tables at any of these restaurants where I’m sitting with my girlfriend.

I would

Naked Fish Grilled Grouper. 516 Burns Ct., 941-951-6936, OwensFishCamp.com


Favorite Vegetarian Dish/Restaurant: Leaf

“Girls’ Night Out!” specials. 19 S. Lemon Ave., 941-256-3565, BocaSarasota.com


& Lentil changes up their menu

Favorite Global Cuisine: Tandoor Fine Indian

often, but they keep a few staple

Cuisine has the best curry dishes

items that we can’t live without

and the best experience.

of course. One item in particular

8453 Cooper Creep Blvd.,

is the Fried Zucchini Po Boy and

941-926-3077, TandoorSarasota.net

Watermark’s Sarasota Living with Pride 2019

Have the time of your life!

OCT 25 - DEC 1

VeniceTheatre.org | 941.488.1115 | 140 Tampa Ave. W.

The Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg is proud to support LGBTQIA+ rights, history and culture on the 50th Anniversary of the Stonewall uprising, and every day.



Watermark’s Sarasota Living with Pride 2019

AMERICAN • P L AY L I ST • April 17 & 18 Van Wezel Sean O’Loughlin, conductor

Legendary saxophonist and NEA Jazz Master Branford Marsalis joins forces with vocal star Storm Large in a custom designed program with Sarasota Orchestra. Classic Hollywood, vintage Broadway and the Great American Songbook are all included in this American Playlist that will have audiences swaying in their seats.

STORM LARGE vocalist

12 South Palm Avenue 941-365-7900 ^ sarasotabooks.com Books Books Books

Books Cards

Books Travel Accessories Books Puppets Gifts Books Books Books Puzzles

Tickets from $37 941-953-3434 SarasotaOrchestra.org

2019 2020




Book Clubs

Sarasota’s Independent Bookstore Where love of reading connects with love of community


Nightlife of Pride

Ask the Locals: Joshua Beadle


Ryan Williams-Jent

love our community,” Joshua Beadle says, “but what I love most is the setting in which we live. We live in paradise. My hope is that our community will grow and more and more LGBTQ people will move to Sarasota.”

They’ll find a vibrant and inclusive nightlife when they do, Beadle

“From the moment I arrived in Sarasota, I have been working

says, one the Pennsylvania native has gotten to know well since

on building our community,” Beadle says. “I’ve created LGBTQ-

relocating eight years ago. It’s one of the reasons he created G2H2,

friendly nights at local restaurants and bars, started the largest

or Gay Group Happy Hour, a networking social gathering that meets

LGBTQ monthly happy hour, hosted LGBTQ adult proms, LGBTQ

monthly throughout the city.

beach parties … and created SarasotaOUT.com to help elevate our

The gatherings are maintained by Beadle’s SarasotaOUT.com, an area directory of LGBTQ-friendly businesses and events. He maintains

entire community.” Beadle shares some of his favorite places to enjoy Sarasota’s

the website to connect members of the LGBTQ community with

nightlife below. Check them out and be sure to head to our Business

one another.

Directory on page 30 for even more options for you to show your Pride every night! Continued on pg. 18 | uu |



of a totem pole, just to name a few.

I live downtown, so I really enjoy being able

1564 Main St., 941-870-5555,

to walk to many places. Two of my favorites


are Sage SRQ and Smokin’ Joe’s.

Made Restaurant

Favorite LGBTQ or LGBTQFriendly Bar:

Sage SRQ

Pangea Alchemy Lab

1990 Main St., 941-953-2900,

1216 1st St., 941-445-5660, SageSRQ.com; Smokin’ Joe’s 1448 Main St., 941-921-5890,


»»Favorite dive bar:


Joe’s seems to be where everyone ends


»»Favorite Drag Show:

up at the end of the night. I enjoy running Purple

into a very friendly mixed crowd at Joe’s.

Rhino has great shows. They have a cast of

1448 Main St., 941-921-5890,

talent from Sarasota, St. Pete and Tampa that


performs and the show lasts up to two hours. Get there early to make sure you get a table.

»beer: »Favorite place to grab a Shop! 99 Bottles is located downtown.


They are very LGBTQ-friendly and support

I’m not a dancer, but

when I do partake in dancing it’s normally at Clasico Sarasota. The restaurant turns into a club on certain nights. Weekends

different beers and champagne. They also have a great weekend brunch with bagels shipped in from New York City. 1445 2nd St., 941-487-7874, 99Bottles.net

good. It’s a great place to go, get bottle service and to see and be seen.

Escape Reality VR Bar is a hidden gem

1341 Main St., 941-957-0700, BarClasico.com

that has great wine-based drinks. The

»»Favorite date night:


Some might find this silly, but

spicy margarita is strong, spicy and gets you in the mood to kill some VR zombies!

favorite date this year was watching the

1900 Main St., #104, 941-444-6766,

sunset from the Ringling Bridge/Sarasota


Pier. There’s a really adorable shop by the pier called Hart’s Landing where you can grab snacks, a beer or wine. 920 John Ringling Causeway, 941-330-0650, HartsLanding.net

Photo courtesy of the ritz carlton's website

the community. It’s a great place to try

»»Favorite place for a strong drink:

are wild and the DJ’s are always really

Jack Dusty offers dazzling dining and fabulous views with your creative cocktails.

99 Bottles Taproom & Bottle

2920 Beneva Rd., 941-735-6553,

»»Favorite place to dance the night away:


creative culture:

»»Favorite place for dinner and a show:

Florida Studio Theater

has a huge campus downtown. They also have the Greenroom Lounge attached


Favorite place to sit back and be entertained: One of my favorite things to do is people watch and two of the best places to do that are Clasico Sarasota or Cafe Epicure. Make sure to get an outside table and you’ll be entertained. Clasico Sarasota 1341 Main St., 941-957-0700, BarClasico.com; Café Epicure 1298 N. Palm Ave., 941-366-5648, CafeEpicure.com

»»Favorite cocktail:

The Siren

»»Favorite place for live music:

to their theatre so it makes it very

at Jack Dusty. It comes in an oversized

convenient to catch dinner and a show.

wine glass. You can choose either gin or

The Gator Club, hands down. They always

1241 N. Palm Ave., 941-366-9000,

vodka and it’s filled with large ice cubes

have great live music and support a lot of


LGBTQ artists. Ringling Underground is another DO NOT MISS! The Gator Club

made from different juices. As the ice


melts your drink changes flavors.

standup comedian. To assist me with


Favorite live show venue:

One of my dreams is to become a

1111 Ritz Carlton Dr., 941-309-2266, RitzCarlton.com/En/Hotels/Florida/

»»Favorite place to meet locals:

1490 Main St., 941-366-5969,

my dream, my friends and I attend


McCurdy’s Comedy Theatre for Open

Ringling Underground

Mic Night and I take notes.

The rooftop bar at Art Ovation Hotel is a

5401 Bay Shore Rd., 941-359-5700, Ringling.

1923 Ringling Blvd., 941-925-3869,

great place to meet locals and tourists. It



»»Favorite fancy cocktail bar: »»Favorite bar with a view:

Pangea Alchemy Lab or Made Restaurant

Jack Dusty, located inside the Ritz Carlton.

both have interesting craft cocktails. I really

It has a spectacular view of the water.

enjoy a drink that is outside of the box. Made

1111 Ritz Carlton Dr., 941-309-2266,

offers “non-traditional glassware.” You can


enjoy a beverage from a mini bathtub or out


has a great view and is always packed. 1255 N. Palm Ave., 941-316-0808, Facebook.com/ArtOvationHotel

Watermark’s Sarasota Living with Pride 2019

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Pride in Arts

& Entertainment Ask the Locals: Brian Craft


Ryan Williams-Jent

s Director of Marketing and Communications for Realize Bradenton, the nonprofit which promotes redevelopment and growth through community engagement, Brian Craft understands the value of the arts. The organization

oversees events like the Bradenton Blues Festival, Music in the Park, Bradenton Farmers’ Market, ArtSlam and more. Craft, a Milwaukee, Wisc. native who’s lived in Sarasota

It was easy to do because Sarasota’s arts and

for five years, initially moved to the area on contract with

entertainment scene is full of inclusivity, unity and support,

the Florida Studio Theatre. “I knew absolutely no one,” the

he says, which only strengthens its quality. “I have heard

actor recalls. “I fell in love with Sarasota’s indisputable

time and time again that patrons can’t tell the difference

support and love for the arts and its infectiously engaging

in quality from the professional theaters to the community

and welcoming community of artists.”

theaters,” Craft explains. “Many theaters bring in

He channeled that love into work with community

performers and artistic teams from larger talent pools, and

theaters like the Manatee Performing Arts Center, Venice

Sarasota is also very unique in that local talent is made up of

Theatre and The Players Centre for the Performing Arts. He

many seasoned professionals.”

also produced performances to benefit organizations like

Craft shares some of his favorite Arts & Entertainment

the Trevor Project, which focuses on suicide prevention for

hotspots in Sarasota below. Check them out and be sure to

LGBTQ youth.

head to our Business Directory on page 30 for even more!


»»Favorite Fancy Night Out:

Florida Studio Theater has a great variety of offerings through their Mainstage, Cabaret and Improv series offerings, as well as their more obscure works presented in the Keating Theatre as their Stage III series. Whenever my husband and I get a chance to see a show there it turns into a fancy night supported by the location. We love meeting up with friends before or afterwards at great local spots like Social Eatery & Bar and Sage SRQ, both within walking distance—and of course, it’s always great to have an excuse to dust off the vintage bow ties and head downtown! 1241 N. Palm Ave., 941-366-9000, FloridaStudioTheatre.org

»»Favorite Place for a Laugh:

I’m a huge fan of McCurdy’s Comedy Theatre! I love entertainer Beneva

Fruitville’s Bingo, which I frequently forget is bingo because the production numbers are always jaw-dropping, to seeing top artists on tour like The Skivvies. McCurdy’s is always a good time and they never


Favorite Saturday Afternoon Cultural Activity:

disappoint with their top notch acts.

The Bazaar on Lime & Apricot always

1923 Ringling Blvd., 941-925-3869,

has something going on, from live music


to engaging events. At their core is an

»»Favorite Community Theater:

With the work and the variety of

programming that Manatee Performing Arts Center, Venice Theatre and The Players Centre for Performing Arts are consistently producing, a favorite is almost impossible choose. One thing that I learned while I was Director of Marketing and Outreach for the Manatee Performing Arts Center that I thought was a complete win-win—and is almost unheard of in other theaters that I›ve worked—is how open the communication is between the three theaters. They share stock

eclectic group of skilled local artisans and vendors that offer wonderful work at great prices. I always find something fun that inevitability becomes the conversation piece of the evening when my husband and I have guests over. They offer everything from reclaimed treasures and up-cycled goodies to scrumptious candles, stunning succulents and whimsical birdcages. 821 Apricot Ave., 941-343-2712, BazaarOnApricotAndLime.com

»»Favorite Outdoor Entertainment:

One of my favorite spots is Oleary’s Tiki

pieces such as costumes and set pieces

Bar & Grill, a Sarasota staple. I once found

to lift each other up, which enhances the

myself downtown with my pups in tow and

caliber of work all three are producing.

remembered that they are pet friendly and

Manatee Performing Arts Center:

have live music. They will not soon forget

502 3rd Ave., 941-748-5875,

their day in the sun enjoying the live music


and their beautiful view of the water.

Venice Theatre: 140 Tampa Ave. W., 941-488-1115, VeniceTheatre.org; The Players Centre for Performing Arts: 838 N. Tamiami Trl., 941-365-2494, ThePlayers.org

5 Bayfront Dr., 941-953-7505, OlearysTikiBar.com

»»Favorite venue for a movie:

When CinéBistro came to Sarasota it was

a complete game changer. If you add some cucumber slices over your eyes during Continued on pg. 22 | uu |

Above top left

Above top right

garden view:

opera night:

Selby Gardens offers lucious landscapes for your viewing pleasure.

The Sarasota Opera 's historic signage.

Photo courtesy selby gardens' facebook page

Photo courtesy of sarasota opera's facebook page

Above bottom

manatee men: Performers dazzle in "West Side Story" at the Manatee Performing Arts Center. Photo courtesy manatee performing arts' facebook page


the countdown to show time, you can count it as a full-fledged day at the spa! 3501 S. Tamiami Trl., Ste. 1100, 941-361-2456, CineBistro.com/Sarasota


Favorite venue for a live intimate performance: Each and every time I have been to Westcoast Black Theater Troupe I am absolutely blown away at how they utilize their space and how innovative they are with their set designs. It always feels like you are right there in the action. I unfortunately can’t give any opinion about the comfort of their seating because from the moment the performance begins, I am right on the edge of my seat. 1012 N. Orange Ave., 941-366-1505, WestcoastBlackTheatre.org


Favorite place for dinner and a show:

never what you expect and the creative

Seeing a show that is part of Florida

1487 2nd St., 941-321-1397, UraniteTheatre.com

Studio Theatre’s Cabaret series is one of my favorite things to do, partially

team always has tricks up its sleeves.

»»Favorite crazy night out:

because of their amazing food. What

It has to be Ringling Underground. It’s

more could you ask for than a fast moving

the perfect opportunity to see everyone,

show alongside a scrumptious meal?

enjoy incredible live music and take in the

1241 N. Palm Ave., 941-366-9000,

wonder of the Ringling at a new perspective.


5401 Bay Shore Rd., 941-359-5700, Ringling.

»»Favorite venue for live dance: »»Favorite hands-on art class: org/Events/Ringling-Underground-0

I am consistently blown away with

Booker High School’s performances,

I recently had the opportunity to take a clay

especially their dance concerts. From

making class at the Art Center Sarasota

start to finish you assume you are

and not only immensely enjoyed the class,

observing an acclaimed studios’ work

but my eyes were opened to the abundance

in their state-of-the-art facility.

of other offerings they have. I can’t wait

3201 N. Orange Ave., 941-355-2967,

to return and experience even more!


707 N. Tamiami Trl., 941-365-2032,


Favorite venue for classical music:


»»Favorite geek spot:

Sarasota Opera is a staple of the Sarasota

I could walk around Selby Gardens for

arts community. It paves the way for other

hours just take in all the beauty. You

theaters and creative and has put Sarasota

get in a little people watching, too.

on the map as a destination for arts and

900 S. Palm Ave., 941-366-5731, Selby.org

entertainment for more than 60 seasons! 61 N. Pineapple Ave., 941-328-1300, SarasotaOpera.org


Favorite venue for live art:

»»Favorite hidden A&E gem:

The Overton, one of Sarasota’s newest gems in the Rosemary District. They have made a consistent and very successful effort to bring in unique artistic events. The space

Urbanite has been the talk of the town

is incredibly versatile and the food and

since its inception in 2014, consistently

beverages are delectable, not to mention what

creating visceral, shared experiences by

you might find going on there at any given

fearlessly lifting up the boldest new voices

day. There’s always something to see and do!

in theatre. One thing that always stands

1420 Blvd. of the Arts, 941-500-9175,

out to me is their set design. They are


Above top left

lots of laughter: McCurdy's has brought big laughs to Sarasota for years. Photo courtesy mccurdy's facebook page

Above bottom left

sparrow song: Florida Studio Theatre presents "Ethel Waters: His Eye is on the Sparrow." Photo courtesy fST's facebook page

bottom Right

center stage: Entertainer Beneva Fruitville leads "Hairspray" for The Players Centre for Performing Arts

Photo courtesy the players' facebook page

Watermark’s Sarasota Living with Pride 2019

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Pride 365 Sarasota's LGBTQ community celebrates Pride year round


Ryan Williams-Jent

n estimated four million people filled the streets of Manhattan for WorldPride in June 2019, a diverse representation of the LGBTQ community’s international quest for equality. It was the first time in the global gathering’s 20-year history that it

had been held in the United States, and only the second time it had been held in North America at all. The celebration was held in New York City to commemorate

In its ninth year, Executive Director Shannon Fortner

the 50-year mark of the Stonewall riots, considered the

partnered with the Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee

beginning of the modern fight for LGBTQ civil rights.

to host a special screening, something she called an exciting

Participants honored our collective community’s past and vowed

move. “They have supported us over the years and we look

to continue the fight for our future.

forward to bringing the community together to explore cinema,”

It’s a model the LGBTQ community in Sarasota has magnified for decades, from the long-running Sarasota Pride to the area’s newest celebration in Venice. Year-round, community leaders

she shared. “It has had such an impact in society offering a perspective and view through others eyes.” She hopes to expand even more community partnerships

and members gather to offer LGBTQ citizens and visitors a safe

in the future, something Diouri has always hoped for as well.

place to laugh and love—showcasing a wide variety of festivities

The Fabulous IFF “is for everyone,” Diouri told Watermark,

to highlight our shared LGBTQ experience.

“absolutely everyone.”




he Fabulous Independent Film Festival (IFF)—presented by the Harvey Milk Festival (HMF)—celebrated its ninth year Sept.27-29, 2019. It screened the best of LGBTQ

cinema at Burns Court Cinema in Sarasota, pictured on the cover of this year’s Sarasota Living with Pride. The Fabulous IFF was previously gifted to the HMF by

founder Magida Diouri, who continues its annual programming. Attendance and support has grown every year since. Diouri shared with Watermark that the Fabulous IFF’s merger

Learn more about the next Fabulous Independent Film Festival by visiting WatermarkOnline.com and FabulousIFF.com.



he Harvey Milk Festival (HMF) celebrated a decade in Sarasota May 9-11 in 2019, honoring the life and legacy of politician Harvey Milk by fostering the arts

as a catalyst for change. “Starting the festival was an opportunity for me to combine

my music career with my activism,” HMF Executive Director Shannon Fortner recalls. “Our organization offers a political

with the HMF was the perfect marriage. It had previously served

platform for our community with plenty of chances for growth

as a beneficiary of funds raised from the film festival, and she’s

within the organization.”

continued to program each year because of its audience impact. “Respecting differences that no one chooses is so important

Entering the tenth year was empowering, Fortner shares, and notes that Milk’s legacy as California’s first openly gay

to me,” Diouri noted. “Being LGBTQ is not something you

elected official has endured long after his tragic assassination in

choose … it just happens, you’re born that way. LGBTQ films

1978. “I feel proud of our community that we’re able to sustain

have that wonderful thing about them. They bring a sense

festivities,” she notes. “The gathering exists to honor Harvey; it

of acceptance and it’s essential. It’s important to celebrate

really carries itself in and of itself. People are supportive and feel

differences and diversity.”

a connection to it.”


The annual celebration features a variety of attractions, including live music, film, performance art, speakers and vendors. New in 2019 was the inaugural “Fun-K” Run4Love at JD Hamel Park, where participants crossed the Ringling Bridge to illuminate it in rainbow colors. The run honored Stonewall’s 50th anniversary, a focus of Harvey Milk’s 10th celebration. “We wanted to be able to light up the bridge in honor of our LGBTQ pioneers, getting the community to come and celebrate diversity,” Fortner said. The festival also fosters emerging talent in artists who reject discrimination while promoting equality for the LGBTQ community by supporting equal rights legislation. It’s a perfect fit for Sarasota, one that’s naturally progressed into the organization’s #WeSupport campaign. “We are implementing more educational and outreach initiatives,” Fortner explains. “The

The event celebrated its sixth year at the Bradenton

campaign aims to educate local businesses about the

Riverwalk Pavilion in March 2019. “The Manatee Pride

unique diversity issues faced by the LGBTQ+ community

Festival has grown through the years,” the organization

and their families in our community.” To accomplish

shared. “This year, the event will have the largest

this, HMF received a Community Foundation of Sarasota

number of live entertainers, and more vendors than

County grant to provide businesses with educational

ever, providing fun for the whole family.”

materials and supplemental training. “The Harvey Milk Festival is working to bring the community together year-round,” Fortner says. Learn more about the Harvey Milk Festival’s

It did, something Prism Youth Initiative board president and Manatee Pride committee chair Valerie Fisher proudly shared with Watermark. “We’re so happy that we’re apparently well-received by not

next decade by visiting WatermarkOnline.com and

only the LGBTQ community,” she explained, “but our


straight allies and just the community in general.”



anatee Pride is a program of Prism Youth Initiative, Inc., a non-profit dedicated to empowering LGBTQ youth. The

all-volunteer effort aims to uplift and empower members of the LGBTQ community who live, love and visit Bradenton and its nearby communities.

The six consecutive family-friendly events have also been embraced by the city. “We have been warmly welcomed by the community,” Fisher says. “It’s grown every year and we’re so thrilled. We very much appreciate the city’s approval of and support for this event.” The gatherings tout a growing number of sponsors and vendors each year, like recurring sponsor CAN Community Health which offers onsite health

Above top left

FABULOUS EVENING: Keo Sarang (R) and Karen Atwood enjoy the ninth annual Fabulous Independent Film Festival at Burns Court Cinema. Photo by russ martin

Above right

family friendly: Beneva Fruitville performs for the children at Manatee Pride 2019. Photo by russ martin

Continued on pg. 26 | uu |

26 screenings. Entertainment ranges from The Players Kids

The nonprofit’s mission is to defend human and

from The Players Centre for Performing Arts, popular live

civil rights secured by law while advocating for visibility

bands from throughout Sarasota and fan favorite drag

and self-esteem among the LGBTQ community. The

performers like Beneva Fruitville.

organization and its growing board will now do that as one

“We have food, music, drag queens and raffles,” Fisher says. “We’re celebrating our community and everyone is welcome.” Learn more about Manatee Pride’s next offering by visiting WatermarkOnline.com and ManateePride.com.



arasota’s longest-running LGBTQ celebration Sarasota Pride would have traditionally held its 30th annual festival in Oct. 2019 but announced in

Aug. that it would see festivalgoers in 2020. The organization exists to promote a positive image

of the first Pride celebrations of 2020. Learn more about Sarasota Pride’s 2020 vision by visiting WatermarkOnline.com and SarasotaPride.org.



enice Pride held its inaugural Pride celebration Nov. 3, 2019 on the five-acre campus of SunCoast Cathedral Metropolitan Community Church.

The location is described as a safe spiritual home for the LGBTQ community and its allies. Its theme was “We Are Here,” Senior Co-Pastor and Venice Pride co-organizer Rev. Vickie Miller told

in the Sarasota area and throughout Florida. It does so by

Watermark. “It was mostly to make a statement that the

participating in community activities and services while

LGBTQ community and our allies are present in Venice.”

promoting the elimination of prejudice and discrimination, culminating in its annual PrideFest at JD Hamel Park. Moving to 2020 seemed ideal, Sarasota Pride Chairman

The outing proved they were, as celebrants came from near and far to kick off the inaugural festival. A ribbon cutting ceremony featuring Venice Mayor John

Cindy Barnes told Watermark. She cited the fact that JD

Holic, Equality Florida’s Ken Shelin and Sarasota County

Hamel Park had been booked for another celebration and

Commission Chair Nancy C. Detert was held and festivities

noted that Charlotte County Pride, traditionally held in

included a pet blessing and exciting entertainment.

January, had dissolved in 2019. “Sarasota Pride moves into the Winter … WONDERLAND!” she mused.

Learn more about Venice Pride’s next festival at WatermarkOnline.com and VeniceFLPride.com.


fabulous firsts: Crowds gather for the inaugural Venice Pride in Nov. 2018. Photo by ryan williams-jent

Watermark’s Sarasota Living with Pride 2019

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Community Care Sarasota’s support for the LGBTQ community shines


Ryan Williams-Jent

GBTQ individuals and our allies have long understood the importance of community. In times of need and in

times of celebration, we have always leaned

transgender, intersex and questioning youth ages 13 to 21. It extends their programming to their families, their friends and the community at large. ALSO Youth does so to enhance self-esteem, promote healthy dialogue and increase awareness of sexual minority youth issues.

»»CAN Community Health 440 Fruitville Rd., 941-366-0134, CANCommunityHealth.org/Sarasota

CAN Community Health has served the

needs of the HIV community in Florida, and now the southern part of the nation, since 1992. The private, not-for-profit organization owns and operates 34 medical clinics, including two in Sarasota. The city is also the proud home of CAN’s national headquarters. CAN’s mission is to provide a continuum of medical, social and education services essential to the health and well-being

on one another to cultivate connection and

of those living with HIV, Hepatitis C,

rally our resources.

The organization’s clinics offer the finest

It’s certainly been true in Sarasota for years, where members of the LGBTQ frequently arrive and thrive. Sarasota is home to a diverse array of organizations small and large that focus on personal and community growth for all citizens and visitors. Advocates and allies have formed them to promote health, wellness and support of all types—learn more about some of the most inclusive organizations here.

»»ALSO Youth

1470 Blvd of the Arts., 941-951-2576, ALSOYouth.org Local leaders and advocates formed ALSO Youth in 1992 with organizations like PFLAG, Planned Parenthood and YMCA Youth and Family Services. Its founders were alarmed at statistics which documented high rates of suicide among gay and lesbian teens. It exists today to provide Advocacy, Leadership, Support and Outreach to LGBTQ+ youth and their allies. The nonprofit provides peer support services, educational programs, advocacy and referrals for gay, lesbian, bisexual,

sexually transmitted or other diseases. medical, dental, psychological care and lifestyle counseling to all patients, regardless of their financial situation, insurance status or ability to pay. The organization also seeks to enhance public awareness. CAN does so with a number of education and prevention initiatives while hosting annual events like its CAN Dance and Red Ribbon Gala to raise awareness and resources.

»»The Friendship Centers

1888 Brother Geenen Way, 941-955-2122, FriendshipCenters.org The Friendship Centers is a nonprofit network in Southwest Florida that aims to meet the needs of those 50 and older. Since the 1970s, the organization has developed innovative, cost-effective approaches to address the health and wellness of older adults. They have served more than 270,000 meals, assisted in more than 16,000 doctor visits and volunteered for more than 59,000 hours.


youth drive: ALSO Youth shares their mission during the inaugural Venice Pride in 2018. Photo by ryan williams-jent

The organization currently hosts multiple LGBTQ support groups in an effort to build community in a supportive setting. Participants determine topics based on current interests with a commitment to fostering greater understanding and fun.

»»Prime Timers Sarasota P.O. Box 1411, 941-556-1344, PrimeTimersWW.net/Sarasota

Prime Timers Sarasota is an active gay, bisexual and transgender social group for

United »Church »SaintofAndrew Christ 6908 Beneva Rd., 941-922-7595, SarasotaUCC.org The open and affirming Saint Andrew

»»G2H2 Sarasota

men ages 21 and up. The worldwide group

United Church of Christ describes itself as

was founded in 1987 and has more than 80

“an extravagantly welcoming church that

chapters worldwide. Its Sarasota chapter

fully includes all people,” including members

Locations throughout Sarasota,

boasts over 140 members throughout

of the LGBTQ community. Their first service


Sarasota, Charlotte and Manatee counties.

was held in 1965 and their services attract

G2H2 Sarasota, or Gay Group Happy Hour, exists to spotlight LGBTQ-friendly businesses throughout Sarasota and is presented by SarsotaOUT.com. It celebrated 8 years in Sarasota in 2019 and meets monthly at a new location throughout the city to provide locals with an inclusive atmosphere to network. The gathering exists to showcase local businesses that open their doors and hearts to the LGBTQ community. With its monthly meetings, G2H2 Sarasota has donated thousands of dollars to local and national charities.

»»PFLAG Sarasota P.O. Box 671, PFLAGSarasota.org

PFLAG, formerly known as Parents,

Beginning more than 16 years ago, Prime Timers Sarasota advises that their group is

worship rich in modern and traditional music

hold more than 75 events throughout the

and customs, with a challenging message,

year, which are chosen to fit individual needs,

supportive prayer and more. “No matter who

priorities and affordability. In conjunction

you are or where you are on life’s journey,

with the worldwide chapter of Prime Timers,

you’re welcome here,” the church shares.

they also offer cruises to destinations like the Caribbean, Las Vegas and New Orleans. They stress that they are committed to the care and support of all members in need.

»»Prism Youth Initiative 501 5th St. E., Bradenton, FL 34208, www.prismyouth.org

The Prism Youth Initiative is dedicated to supporting, affirming, encouraging and empowering LGBTQ youth ages 13-23 in

Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, is the nation’s first and largest organization

doing so in a safe, hospitable welcoming

dedicated to uniting families and allies with

environment and meet regularly to

those in the LGBTQ community. Formed in

accomplish their goals. The initiative is a 501(c)(3) and was

celebrated, PFLAG currently boasts over 400

founded in Bradenton in 2010. They provide

chapters—chief among them Sarasota.

referrals for services and education about

The chapter offers education, resources

The congregation asserts that they offer

non-partisan and non-commercial. They

Manatee County. They’re committed to

1972 to create a world where differences are

members from throughout Sarasota.

bullying, suicide prevention and HIV

and support throughout Sarasota, Manatee

prevention. Prism’s center is staffed by

and its neighboring counties. The local

adults who are trained on LGBTQ issues with

chapter celebrated its first anniversary

the goal of creating a safe space for all. Youth

in 2018 , regularly holds meetings and

counselors are available by telephone for

participates in area events to advocate

youth in need and the group regularly attends

for inclusion.

events to advocate for the community.

Metropolitan »Community »SuncoastChurch (MCC) 3276 E. Venice Ave., 941-484-7068, SuncoastMCC.com

The Metropolitan Community Church is a worldwide denomination that was the first Christian denomination with a primary ministry to the LGBTQ community and celebrated its 50th year in 2019. Suncoast MCC was founded in 1995 and proudly carries on MCC’s inclusive legacy as a welcoming, diverse and active spiritual community. It’s also home to Venice Pride, which you can read about in detail on page 26. “Our church and ministries are open to everyone,” leadership shares. “We care about our community and our world, in all its diversity.”

Photo by Dylan Todd




Asolo Repertory Theatre 941-351-9010 AsoloRep.org

Saint Andrew United Church of Christ 941-922-7595 SarasotaUCC.org

Sarasota Orchestra 941-953-3434 SarasotaOrchestra.org The Players Centre for Performing Arts 941-365-2494 ThePlayers.ORG The Venice Symphony 941-207-8822 TheVeniceSymphony.org Venice Theatre 941-484-4033 VeniceStage.com

ATTORNEYS Blackburn Law Firm 727-826-0923 LifePlanLaw.com Boyer & Boyer, PA 941-365-2304 BoyerBoyer.com Cole & Cole Law, PA 941-365-4055 SarasotaDebtRelief.com Marc J Soss, Esq 941-928-0310 FL-EstatePlanning.com

BOOKSTORES BookStore1Sarasota 941-365-7900 SarasotaBooks.com

FOOD AND BEVERAGE Blue Rooster 941-388-7539 BlueRoosterSRQ.com Chef Rolf’s New Florida Kitchen 941-806-6820 ChefRolf.us JDub’s Brewing Company 941-955-2739 JDubsBrewing.com Mellow Mushroom 941-388-7504 MellowMushroom.com Tropicana 800-237-7799 Tropicana.com

Framing Tyrone Frame and Mirror 727-344-1000 TyroneFrame.com

GIFTS Elysian Fields 941-361-3006 ElysianFieldsOnline.com

HEALTH AND WELLNESS CAN Community Health 941-366-0134 CANCommunityHealth.org

Sarasota Specialty Pharmacy 941-366-0880 SarasotaRX.com

INSURANCE Richard Dean Insurance 941-999-3131 RichardDeanInsurance.com

MEDIA Watermark Publishing Group, Inc. 813-655-9890 WatermarkOnline.com

MUSEUMS & GALLERIES Chasen Galleries 941-260-5787 ChasenGalleries.com Museum of Fine Arts 727-896-2667 Fine-Arts.org The John & Mable Ringling Museum of Art 941-359-5700 Ringling.org

PHOTOGRAPHY SERVICES Samantha Ponzillo Photography 813-906-8926 SamanthaPonzillo.photography Dylan Todd Photography 727-310-1212 DylanToddPhotography.com

REAL ESTATE SERVICES Preferred Properties of Sarasota 941-321-5638 PrefHomes.net

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