by Rick Todd
(This “Publisher’s Desk” column was published in the December 9, 2021, issue of Watermark, based in Orlando, Fla. It is reprinted here with permission.)
Cleve Jones is a remarkable man. He is remarkable because he sees himself, and other LGBTQ pioneers, as ordinary people who accomplished something amazing. His reasoning is meant to inspire all people to doing something great. Everyone, even the ordinary, can accomplish something extraordinary.
This is the concept behind Watermark’s Remarkable People issue. We set out at the end of every year to find 10 regular people in Central Florida and 10 regular people in Tampa Bay who have accomplished something to either draw positive attention to the LGBTQ community or something that directly benefits the LGBTQ community.
We keep a running list of candidates throughout the year as we report on what is going on in our community. We also ask our readers to throw out some names of people who they think have done something remarkable in the current year. As much as we wish we did, we don’t know everything. Often times we get some amazing suggestions.
Listing candidates is easy. There are so many businesses and organizations working to elevate our LGBTQ community. The hard part is whittling that list down to just 10 people from each of our two major coverage areas. We try to make our finalists diverse, highlighting different backgrounds, industries and locations. Our goal is to bring our readers a variety of stories showcasing the good work happening all around them. We never refer to this list as the most remarkable, as to not take away from the remarkable work of those not featured, but they are certainly remarkable.
2021 in itself has been a remarkable year. Mainly for the fact that we are still publishing. As a niche-market newspaper publisher, I can assure you it is no small feat to make it to this side of the pandemic. I am so proud and grateful to the staff of Watermark for their continued hard work and perseverance. Our viability is in large part, of course, thanks to our advertisers that allow us to do what we love to do. I thank not only our advertisers, but the readers who support them.
Our staff has had some notable milestones in 2021: Danny Garcia and Sam Callahan exceeded sales expectations by more than any year in our company history, Kathleen Sadler said goodbye after seven amazing years so she could dedicate her time to raising her beautiful baby, Ryan Williams-Jent and his husband purchased their first home and Ryan was promoted to Managing Editor, Jeremy Williams landed the coveted PlayStation 5, and Dylan Todd and I got married and are awaiting our closing date on our home together. After more than a year of tragedy, it’s been incredible to celebrate these joyous occasions with the Watermark family.
In my last column of the year, I like to explore some things I’d like to see happen in the next year. I have high hopes for 2022. First and foremost, I would like to see an end to the pandemic. No more variants, no more death. I feel like we are close, so let’s all do our part to help lessen the spread where we can.
My number one hope, though, is to see us ask more questions. If you watch “Ted Lasso,” you know what I mean. If you don’t, do yourself the favor and check it out. It lives up to the hype. In one very powerful episode, there is a scene where the titular character describes how his father taught him to be curious. Asking questions reminds him not to judge people and helps him understand the bullying he suffered as a child. Asking questions helps both sides of that coin and can make the world a better place. Be curious, ask questions.
Finally, I’d like to see a return to the truth. Truth is tricky because we all have our own truths. I equate truth with integrity, so when someone asks you a question, give them the truth. In good faith, tell it like it is. Speak your truth, whether people like the answer or not. When we are honest, when we act in good faith, we create a foundation of mutual respect. If we all know where we are all coming from, we can truly accomplish something remarkable.