ALLIES: Mondo Mike and the Po Boys with Spice

Last night, Mondo Mike and the Po Boys with Spice premiered their new single, “Soul to Soul”, a lush bluesy ballad in a Ray Charles style of arrangement on the Electro Lounge 89.9. If you remember, they were rockin’ it out with us at our Equality Party at One Spark this past April.

They have dedicated this song to the passage of a human rights ordinance in Jacksonville as MMPB/S believe in everyone’s inalienable right to love whomever they please. The song was inspired by the TEDx talk of Dr. Judi Herring on gender diversity and complexity.

Thank you for adding your voices to the growing chorus for Equality in Jacksonville!

PRESS: Transgender Experiences on First Coast Connect

This past Tuesday, We Are Straight Allies Founder and Co-Creator Chevara Orrin, along with Gina Duncan from Equality Florida, Tricia Russell, Chair of the Jacksonville Coalition for Equality Gender Identity and Expression Committee and Cam, one of newest members of the JCE, appeared on First Coast Connect with Melissa Ross, as a continuation of our series discussing transgender experiences. [The segment begins at 29:20]

Listen to Transgender Experiences on First Coast Connect

Thank you to all of our partners and panelists for your courage to have dialogue in hopes that we may better educate our city about transgender people and why it is important that we protect the rights of our T-community – you rocked the house!

Reverend Dr. Bruce Havens

Every Sunday at Pastor Havens’ church they say to people, “No matter who you are or where you are on life’s journey you are welcome here!” Havens believes, “we can disagree about how we practice our faith and still be for justice and against discrimination. That is the legacy of all faiths. If the business community can stand for justice and what is right, then the faith community should surely not lag behind.” That’s why he’s a “Straight Ally,” for the Human Rights Ordinance.

Read more about Pastor Havens here: http://wp.me/p3PnKk-ge

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SOTRU Trans Families Live Listening Session

We Are Straight Allies and WJCT partnered with State of the Re:UNION to present a very special opportunity to listen to SOTRU’s most recent episode – “Trans Families” – hosted at MOCA Jacksonville on Wednesday, October 15 from 5:30-7:30pm. We’d like to thank our sponsors SunTrust and Human Rights Campaign for making this event possible.

We’d like to extend our deep appreciation to Al Letson for bringing this episode to light, for giving voice to families who support their loved ones, and for sharing the cross-section of beauty and challenges that is the “trans experience”.

To our panelists – Tricia, Brad ley, Cam – thank you for your courage and willingness to share your personal experiences and journey of transition with an audience that is eager to learn how to be allies of the trans* community so that we are empowered with ways to create change in our community and bring equality to all people.

To the allies who tuned in – thank you for questions and contributions to the conversation – let’s all make a commitment to keep the conversation going, to encourage more people to listen to the episode, and to find ways to eradicate the misinformation shared about our trans* loved ones.

….because nothing is more important than our humanity.

SOTRU Live Listening Session

For more photos from the event, CLICK HERE

The Entire Episode: Trans Families

Ally Profile: Maria Mark

Maria Mark_FP_Print_2Congratulations to our newest ally, Maria Mark!  Maria helped draft and sponsor the Human Rights Ordinance that recently passed (4-0) on August 11, 2014.  Maria was recently awarded the “Voice for Equality Award” at Equality Florida’s Jacksonville Annual Gala for her dedication to equal rights for the LGBT community in Atlantic Beach.

Born in Seoul, South Korea, Maria was adopted at 18 months old, by her father who was stationed in South Korea. She started school in Germany but she and her family settled in Columbia, South Carolina, where her mother was raised.

Maria graduated from the University of South Carolina with a degree in business and moved to Jacksonville in 1979 to be with her parents, who had moved there a year earlier. She began her legal career at the Rogers, Towers law firm and eventually moved to the Beach to work for Anderson & Howell as a litigation paralegal. She obtained her paralegal certification from the University of North Florida and continued working in this field for over 25 years.

In 2006, Maria entered the non-profit world and worked for the St. Johns River Alliance and Preservation North Florida (n/k/a Timucuan Trail Parks Foundation) as the assistant program manager. In 2009, she was named as the interim Executive Director of the Timucuan Trail Parks Foundation and now serves as its part-time Executive Director.

Maria was elected to the City of Atlantic Beach City Commission in 2011. She has been a community advocate for many years and chairs the community event, MarshFest. This seven-year old, bi-annual event held at Dutton Island Park & Preserve draws over 1,000 people for a family day filled with free Americana-music, kayak tours and nature hikes of the beautiful parks and marshes in Atlantic Beach.

Maria is a member of the “Leadership Jacksonville Class of 2014” and most recently was selected as the honoree for the Economic Development Award by The Women of Color Cultural Foundation. She is a former board member of Beaches Watch, a Beaches civic organization and served on the St. Johns River Ferry Task Force, which was spearheaded by City of Jacksonville Council President Bill Gulliford. She is also on the A1A Corridor working group that is applying to obtain the A1A Scenic & Historic designation for A1A in Duval and Nassau Counties.

Maria lives in Atlantic Beach with her husband of almost 23 years, Bob, and they have a 14 year-old son, Garrett. She is also the caretaker for her 86 year-old mother. In her free time, Maria enjoys golfing, nature photography and bird watching.

We are straight allies coming out in support of our LGBT community and the Jacksonville Human Rights Ordinance.

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