11.27.19 Central Florida Bureau Chief’s Desk

As singer Andy Williams (no relation) stated in 1963 — and nearly every other singer and musician since then — “it’s the most wonderful time of the year!”

That’s right, it’s the holiday season, and this Central Florida Bureau Chief’s Desk publishes the day before Thanksgiving and my next one, the final one of 2019, will be out the day after Christmas. So this is my final opportunity to let you all know what I want for Christmas this year.

Those of you who picked up Watermark’s annual Holiday Guide, and if you haven’t there is still plenty of time to do so, know that in it I asked Santa for a certain Google Pixel smartphone this year. Since the release of the Google Pixel 4 and the publication of the guide, a new shiny object was announced that has drawn my attention.

Motorola announced this month that they were bringing back to hugely successful Razr phone that took the country by storm in the mid-2000s. The new Razr will take the sleek, foldable design of the original and apply it to the smartphone. Yup, a smartphone that folds without creasing or breaking the screen. If you haven’t watched the Razr video yet, go to Motorola.com/US/Products/Razr and check it out. I’ll wait … I KNOW, RIGHT!

So if you watched the video, you probably also saw that it is a bit pricey. The new Razr will set you back $1,500 and, for now, it is a Verizon Wireless exclusive. If that price tag is outside of what you were planning to spend on me, I do have something else you can get me and it won’t cost you any money. On social media, before you like, comment and/or share a story, please read it. Know more than just the headline and the source of the article before you tell all of Facebook, Instagram and Twitter your opinion on it.

Watermark, like most media outlets, recently ran a story on our website about Chick-fil-A announcing that they would no longer donate to anti-LGBTQ organizations. Much like stories about Donald Trump, “RuPaul’s Drag Race” and celebrities coming out of the closet, stories about Chick-fil-A spark a lot of online debate.

So when I looked at the Facebook numbers for the story I wasn’t surprised that, within the first 24 hours, Facebook showed that there were more than 100 reactions, nearly 200 comments and over 1,000 engagements (engagements being how many people clicked to look at the comments and reactions). What did surprise me is that only a small fraction of those people actually clicked through and read the story.

Trust me, as an editorial team we love to see readers interacting with stories and enjoy reading how passionate each commenter is about topics they care about, and I assure you all news outlets, media channels and YouTube influencers feel the same way. But this holiday season, all I ask is that you read the article you are arguing for or against.

Headlines, Tweets and Facebook posts are not intended to give you the entire story, just hook you enough to make you want to read more. Click, read and then comment — in that order. It’s that easy, and that is a gift that will bring holiday cheer all year, and you don’t even need to wrap it.

And if you are looking to spend that much money on me, I am already a Verizon Wireless customer.

In this issue, we have a story that you will definitely want to click through and read all about. As we approach World AIDS Day, we check in with members of Central Florida and Tampa Bay’s LGBTQ community as well as local HIV organizations to examine what it truly means to be undetectable and what’s the story behind the CDC’s slogan Undetectable=Untransmittable, or U=U.

In Central Florida news, the Orange County Democrats discussed the 2020 general elections during their 2019 Masquerade Ball and onePULSE Foundation released information on The 49 Legacy Scholarships.

In Tampa Bay news, Tampa and St. Petersburg are among the Florida cities to get perfect scores of 100 on the HRC Municipal Equality Index and we remember Tampa Bay philanthropist David A. Straz Jr. who passed away at age 77.

In state news, lawmakers file bills to expand the current hate crime law to include gender and gender identity. We also check in with SMART Ride organizers as they announced that they raised a record $1.3 million for HIV/AIDS services.

In arts and entertainment, we chat with Grammy-nominated, out saxophonist Dave Koz as he heads to Florida with some very special friends for his 22nd annual Christmas tour and we speak with author Joseph Caldwell about his new book, “In the Shadow of the Bridge,” a memoir which chronicles the changing tide of artistic and gay life in 1980s New York City in the shadow of the AIDS crisis.

From all of us here at Watermark, have a safe and happy holiday season and whether you are with friends, family or yourself, be sure to have a gay ole time.

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