I am Hope McMath. I am an arts administrator, an artist, a wife, a sister, a daughter, an aunt, a friend, and someone who is passionate about my community.
I am a Jacksonville native and had the great fortune of growing up in an Arlington neighborhood where my schools and “my block” were diverse in every way. It was a world of connections rather than divisions. There was also the strong influence of my mother who has always been a nurse. so care, compassion, humility and hard work have always been the expectation.
I have been involved in the arts since I can remember. From being the kid always designing the classroom bulletin boards to being a student of art and art history in college I knew that I would work, live and breath art. I have been fortunate to have worked in the arts for over 20 years as an educator, connector, creator, and community builder. To make sure my immersion was complete, I fell in love and married the most amazing artist, art educator and human being. I live a fulfilling, love-filled, artful life.
Why does all of this matter to me in my role as a straight ally? My childhood and my path through the arts has taught me that an inclusive, compassionate community is the only way to go. There is no room for hate, intolerance, or discrimination. No room for closed doors.
The arts are an example to learn from. The fields of music, visual art making, theater, and literature have historically embraced diversity and individuality. Even in times of incredible injustice those individuals sharing their personal expressions through the arts could find acceptance. More importantly art has always provided a platform to share the world through new and varying lenses. I think about James and Rosamond Johnson writing “Lift Every Voice and Sing” or the great jazz musicians playing on stages in the segregated south or the painters of the Harlem Renaissance creating a new way of seeing…all find acceptance within the artistic community and changing the world through their art.
I also think of LGBT artists who haved shared their life experiences with all of us and made our world more beautiful, more interesting. Painters like Cy Twombly, Frida Kahlo, and Keith Haring…photographers like Adi Nes, Gilbert & George, and Annie Leibovitz…mixed media masters like Hannah Hoch and Robert Rauschenberg…ALL have been accepted and celebrated. As an artist it is hard for me to imagine a world without the presence of their creative bodies of work.
Throughout my life, I have been surrounded by, been loved by and have loved LGBT inidividuals. Best friends, colleagues, fellow artists…I can’t imagine my life without. Many now live too far away as the moved to places that would embrace them as full citizens… a personal loss and a loss for my city. I have an incredible desire for everyone to have all of the same rights, privledges and recognitions that I have in the eyes of the law and in the heart of our city. Again, there is no room for hate, intolerance, or discrimination…not in my life or the life of my city. It is essential to follow the road to love and acceptance that the arts have paved and pass a fully-inclusive Human Rights Ordinance, opening the doors for all of our citizens. When we do our city will be more like the environments of my mother’s living room, my elementary classroom, artists’ studios, theater stages, and the galleries of our great museums…caring, dynamic, compassionate, beautiful, creative, hard working, loving, and moving forward.