02.02.23 Publisher’s Desk

I hate the world today. There is so much negativity out there in the form of angst and judgment. Interesting that I would complain about angst and judgement when I start a sentence off with, “I hate.”

I was in Watermark’s Orlando office speaking to administrative assistant, Alec Perez, when I light-heartedly said, “I hate public restrooms.”

I do. They are gross. As the words were coming out of my mouth, they sounded way too familiar. It begged the question, “How often do I start a sentence with, ‘I hate’?” So I asked Alec, and he confirmed I say it all the time. I hated that.

It’s easy to hate. When you hate you get to be dismissive. When you are dismissive you get to devalue something, to negate it. When we devalue people we dehumanize them, making it easier to wish retribution on someone who has misstepped or doesn’t agree with our way of thinking. It helps us not to take responsibility for our own actions or consider the consequences to our own words.

I imagine if you’re an avid reader of Watermark, then you must know Nadine Smith, co-founder of Equality Florida. I had the pleasure of hearing her speak recently at the Equality Florida Equality Mural Reveal in Tampa.

If you have not had the pleasure of hearing Nadine live, you are missing out on someone truly inspiring and visionary.

Nadine spoke about the hard times ahead of us but reminded us of the hard times we once had in our rearview mirror, ones that we have overcome. How Hillsborough County once banned LGBTQ events on government property and now Tampa has an openly lesbian mayor, and how no one thought LGBTQ couples would be able to marry.

Nadine reminded us that there is goodness beyond hate, we just have to get to the other side. We have done it before and we will do it again.

I used to see the world as so black and white, meaning it’s one way or another. You either stand for something or you stand against it. The older I get the more I realize the nuance of life, the endless shades of gray between two points.

This is why boycotts are a struggle for me. I understand they have value, but I too often concern myself with the collateral damage. When a CEO, or founder of a company is the target of a boycott, it is often the franchise owner and employees who suffer. It is a genuine concern of mine that I will one day say something in this column that turns angst and judgment against Watermark. My concern isn’t for me, but for the eight people who rely on this job, a job they pour their souls into, to pay rent and eat.

I am lucky enough to have people in my life who show me, and remind me, that life is a journey. We have to allow space for that journey to take place. We must speak our minds to those who have done harm, hold them accountable for their actions, but we must also allow for and accept that path to redemption if it is followed. If we are going to say that love conquers hate, then we must let it, even for those who have wronged us.

In this issue of Watermark we tackle a topic that is long overdue, our plus size siblings. It’s a topic that hits a little too close to home for me, as my weight yo-yos between varying degrees of overweight. We talk to several gay men about their journeys as they navigate a culture of body perfection in the LGBTQ community.

We also pay tribute to a classic Watermark series: Love, Sex and Marriage. This trilogy was an annual staple back in the day, culminating in an extravagant party. This year we see them all in one issue with the return of the sex survey, a look at dating in a COVID world and a check in with longtime couple, Larry Biddle and David Warner.

Watermark continues its Visibili-T series with Orlando comedian, Brianna Rockmore, also known as The Bri.

We strive to bring you a variety of stories, your story. I hope you enjoy this latest issue.

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