Zebra Youth prepares for 4th annual LGBTQ+ Youth Pride Prom

Zebra Youth is gearing up for its annual LGBTQ+ youth Pride Prom, with this year’s theme “Masquerade,” at The Plaza Live June 14.

Established in 2010, Zebra Youth is a local nonprofit organization that provides drop-in services for housing and mental health counseling to between 300-350 queer youth per year.

“We have a lot of activities and events throughout the year that help youth connect with one another and one of them being our upcoming Pride prom,” says Heather Wilkie, executive director

VIDEO: Kansas City Chiefs' Harrison Butker receives backlash for commencement speech

Harrison Butker, the kicker for the Kansas City Chiefs, is receiving backlash following a commencement speech he gave over the weekend.

The Benedictine College commencement speech was posted to YouTube May 11. Critics of the speech have been progressively posting on various social media platforms.

Butker, 28, touched on multiple topics commenting on issues such as abortion, IVF, COVID lockdowns and Pride Month. While taking jabs at the previous topics, the majority of his speech and subsequent

PHOTOS: Orlando Fringe kicks off 33rd festival with ribbon cutting, teaser show

ORLANDO | Orlando Fringe kicked off its 33rd festival May 14 in the Universal Orlando Theatre of the Orlando Shakespeare Theatre.

The festival officially started with a teaser show comprised of 1-minute scenes and vignettes of upcoming productions. The show opened with a ribbon cutting featuring Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and City Commissioner Patty Sheehan.

Other notable audience members were Orange County Mayor Jerry L. Demings, former Congresswoman Val Demings and Florida Rep. Anna V. Eskaman

UCF student uses video game project as cultural preservation tool

One UCF student at the downtown campus is finding a way to utilize a video game to preserve and share her culture.

Lolita Kuznietsova is a senior digital media major in the game design track at UCF’s downtown campus who showcased a prototype for a narrative-based game at Student Research Week last month in the Pegasus Ballroom.

Originally from Dnipro in central Ukraine, Kuznietsova moved to Orlando roughly four years ago to attend UCF. The last time she visited home was back in 2021, just befo

VR Sculpting Workshop at UCF Downtown campus

The Maker Space took students into virtual reality for a brief workshop about sculpting in VR on Wednesday at the Communications and Media Building.

Dr. John Murray, assistant professor of Games and Interactive Media, walked students through the introduction of utilizing VR for the creation of 3D-printed models.

“We focused primarily on how to create models that were appropriate for 3D printing,” Dr. Murray said. “So things that had the right features, low amounts of details, and that could be

UCFPD delivers doughnuts for the Special Olympics

UCF Police Department used doughnuts to raise money for the Special Olympic Florida Summer Games ahead of the Law Enforcement Torch Run later this year.

Founded in 1968 by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, Special Olympics is the world’s largest sports organization for children and adults with learning disabilities. The Special Olympics history page breaks down a complete history of important events that brought this event to life.

The Special Olympics website also lists the extensive number of partners

Library inventory issue felt throughout UCF community

Cancelled renovations to the Automated Retrieval Center at John C. Hitt Library are causing seismic issues across the UCF community.

Phase 2A of a four-part planned expansion of the ARC was canceled due to budgetary reasons, an anonymous source in the history department said. The expansion of the ARC on the fourth floor would have eased a current inventory issue at the library due to a lack of storage.

"And so now library has hit capacity, so to speak," said Sarah Bousfield, Graduate Student A

Local Artist Spotlight: A chat with Central Florida performer Fo'i Meleah

Luis Xavier De Peña is a student at the University of Central Florida and was one of Watermark’s interns this summer. As one of his final assignments, he sat down with his longtime friend (like, they’ve known each other since preschool), Central Florida performer Fo’i Meleah.

I have had an endless amount of fun discovering new events and meeting new people to report on over the last three months. As a parting gift I would like to share an aspect of the city I hold dear.

Going to performances t

Orlando drag performer Leigh Shannon discusses drag on local PBS news program

Martin “Leigh Shannon” Fugate appears on WUCF TV’s “NewsNight” to discuss the state of drag in Florida. (Screenshot from “NewsNight” episode on PBS.org)

ORLANDO | Local drag performer and Watermark contributor, Martin “Leigh Shannon” Fugate appeared in a recorded interview on WUCF TV’s “NewsNight” July 14 as a part of the station’s look at the ongoing fight between Florida’s conservative lawmakers and the state’s drag community.

The story, which focused on the lawsuit filed by Hamburger Mary’s

Orlando’s own Nurse Blake on his upcoming comedy tour and NurseCon at Sea

Blake Lynch, better known to his fans as Nurse Blake, is an Orlando native who has built quite a large following in the last 10 years. Thanks to his light-hearted, comical look at being in the U.S. health care industry, he has accumulated 191,000 followers on YouTube, 926,000 on TikTok, 984,000 on Instagram and 1.7 million on Facebook.

Lynch has turned his hysterical online persona into a successful brand that has taken him on the road with his 2022 PTO Comedy Tour, allowed him to author a chil

PHOTOS: Koz and Friends jazz up the Dr. Phillips Center

ORLANDO | Dave Koz’s Summer Horn Tour, with special guest saxophone superstars Candy Dulfer and Tampa local Eric Darius, rocked the Dr. Phillips Center July 2.

Watermark spoke to Dave back in June, before rehearsals even began.

There were no nerves from this group as they played an electric mix of originals and covers. Koz and Dulfer even played pieces in memories of past bands and musicians they played with. Dulfer took a moment of the set to remember the late Prince, while Koz took his to re

Orlando's St. Dorothy Catholic Community to hold special services for trans, drag communities

ORLANDO | Starting in August, an independent Catholic community in Central Florida will be hosting special religious services geared toward the LGBTQ+ community.

St. Dorothy Catholic Community in Orlando, which is not under the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orlando, had its parishioners vote to make the third Sunday of each month a special service dedicated to those in the drag and transgender communities.

“Considering all the recent political happenings across the country which have affected thes

The impact of Florida’s anti-trans health care laws on Central Florida and Tampa Bay

When Gov. Ron DeSantis signed Senate Bill 254 into law May 17, many members of the transgender community were left unsure about where or how they would be able to access care.

LGBTQ+ civil rights organizations and activists throughout the state are working to change that, including Equality Florida.

“We want you to know that we have your back,” says Press Secretary Brandon Wolf. “We’re partnering with the Campaign For Southern Equality to provide grant funding for those who need to leave the s

'Dreamgirls' prepares to open at the Garden Theatre

The Garden Theatre in Winter Garden, Florida, is bringing the Tony Award-winning musical “Dreamgirls” to its stage for its final show of the summer July 7-Aug. 6.

“Based in the 1960s, ‘Dreamgirls’ is about the journey of three friends experiencing the trials and tribulations of the music industry. ‘Dreamgirls’ will explore the themes of ambition, hope and betrayal to a soundtrack of gospel, R&B, pop, disco and more,” the theatre stated in a press release.

The musical is a fictional tale but fo

UK Twitch streamer raises $50k for trans health care

Popular Twitch streamer F1NN5TER raised $50,000 in May for for the online transgender health and wellbeing clinic Gender GP.

Gender GP is a private, global-reaching transgender health care service headquartered in the U.K. It is the regions only provider outside the National Health Service that provides care for trans youth.

Since it is providing it’s care via telehealth the wait times are almost none existent for the roughly 9,000 patients that receive care.

Susie Green, program director at

Seven years after Pulse: How Orlando and the nation remembered


Seven years after the Pulse nightclub shooting, the Orlando community continues to come together to honor and remember the victims and survivors of the attack through many events in the area.

“Inspiration Orlando United,” a mural by Michael Pilato, Yuriy Karabash and Chimene Hurst is currently on display at the Orlando Museum of Art through June 16. The mural includes victims, survivors, families and more affected by Pulse and gun violence.

Michael Pila

PHOTOS: Prayer Ribbons for Pulse victims on display at Orlando City Hall

ORLANDO | A small gathering was held outside Orlando City Hall June 6 to commemorate the Prayer Ribbons for Pulse on display.

The project was started by Jay Critchley as a way to remember those that had lost their lives to the AIDS epidemic. After the horrific events that occurred at Pulse nightclub, additional ribbons were added with the name of the victims written on them.

Critchley presented the ribbons for the community to come and view in the hopes it will bring support and inspire.


St. Cloud Pride cancels events amid safety concerns

ORLANDO | St. Cloud Pride announced May 19 the cancellation of its 2023 pride events.

Event organizer Kristina Bozanich initially spoke to WESH 2 May 19 about concerns that led to the decision to cancel the event. They reiterated those concerns when they spoke with Watermark May 22 regarding the cancellation of St. Cloud’s Pride and what the future of the organization’s events might look like.

St. Cloud Pride first adjusted the events to comply with the new anti-drag law signed by Florida Gov.