We would like to give special recognition and show our appreciation to our ALLY IN ACTION, Pastor R. L. Gundy for his unwavering support of LGBT equality. His story is a testament to the power of personal evolution.
With a passion for public service, and the ability to motivate and mobilize people to action, Mayor Andrew D. Gillum is recognized statewide, in Florida, and nationally as an emerging leader. Mayor Gillum has received numerous awards and recognitions for his passion and service over the years, and has been named an emerging leader by the Congressional Black Caucus, Jet Magazine, Ebony Magazine, the Association of Trial Lawyers for America (ATLA), The Drum Major Institute, IMPACT, and the Washington Post.
He has a message for the city of Jacksonville.
Born in Jacksonville, Pastor Gundy is a graduate of Troy State University with a BS Degree and hold two Masters Degrees, Masters of Arts in Pastoral Ministries and Master of Divinity.
He is a retired public school teacher, and is also retired from the US Army with two Meritorious Service Awards. He is the recipient of the Congressional Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition for outstanding and invaluable service to the community award, Jacksonville’s Florida Mayor’s Distinguish Award, Trailblazers Award, Teacher of the Year Award and many other U.S. Army Awards
He is currently the Pastor of the Mt. Sinai Missionary Baptist Church and past Jacksonville Local Chapter and State President Florida Southern Christian Leadership Conference. He has 14 years of experience in working with Not-for-Profit organizations specializing in advocacy for Juvenile Justice and Civil Rights issues. He is married to Wallette, they have a son named Andrew and two grandchildren, Darrion and Savia. He is a pastor with 33 years ministerial experience and serves on the Boards of several Not-for-Profit Organizations.
Recently, Pastor Gundy has publicly changed his stance on the need to expand the HRO in Jacksonville. Once a vocal opponent of amending our city’s protections, Pastor Gundy has expressed why it is important to protect the rights of everyone in our community.
It is time for me to write the letter from the “Jacksonville Jail”. It must address the conservative evangelical and black church as a whole:
The LBGT community has a right to be heard, but also others. The voices of change must also respect the voices of resistance. We must also deal with the voices of fear. I see the plan to introduce the law that will address the fears, but that is not what many others see. It is very important that Bible base-believers be heard, along with the others. That did not happen in the first meeting and must not happen hence forth.
I have set on the new ordinance for 18-months that specifically addresses the protection of the church. You cannot blame a culture of resistance based on their Biblical beliefs. My belief is tied deeply with the Bible, as it relates to all matters of sin, and all have and all sin, and all fall short. But, thank God for Jesus, all can be saved and forgiven. Anger and mistrust, on either side, does not allow acceptance, respect, forgiveness and reconciliation.
LBGT issues have divided churches, communities and families. This should not be, there must be honest dialogue, disagreements and forgiveness. The evangelicals must be part of the long-term solutions and we all must love each other, even if we do not agree:
1. The law protects the church.
2. The law protects housing, jobs and public access.
3. The law protects people against discrimination.
The conversation is tough but it must be held. Discrimination against any human being is discrimination against all humanity.
Love should not divide, but bring all of us together.
“Being an ally isn’t an option, it is a way of life. I recall my mother, a white Jewish woman saying to us when we were little girls, ‘It is absolutely the responsibility of those in positions of power and privilege – the oppressors (whatever form that takes) to be actively engaged in the liberation of those who are being oppressed.’ I believe that as human beings, we are inextricably bound and responsible for one another.”
With a passion for social justice, a rich legacy of civil rights, and the ability to inspire and engage, Chevara Orrin conceptualized and co-created, We Are Straight Allies in direct response to the August 2012 Jacksonville City Council vote rejecting Bill 2012-296, better known as the Human Rights Ordinance (HRO) which would have added sexual orientation to the current non-discrimination policy.
Chevara has worked in the profit and higher education sectors for more than 20 years and has served as a community advocate for more than 40 years. She is a creative consultant, writer and public speaker. Her earliest memory of activism was as a three-year old, sleeping in concrete building tubes across the street from the White House in support of the Bangladesh Liberation War and protesting famine in Pakistan.
She is the daughter of a white, Jewish civil & human rights, social justice, and women’s liberation activist and a Black father who served as a “fiery top lieutenant of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.” and a force behind many of the pivotal civil rights campaigns of the 1960s, including the 1963 Birmingham Children’s Crusade, 1965 Selma to Montgomery March and the 1966 Chicago Open Housing Movement.
It is this legacy and her personal journey of survivorship (poverty, domestic violence, fatherlessness, incest, single motherhood) that have led Chevara to champion for the marginalized.
While serving as an administrator at a university in North Carolina, Chevara co-founded the first-ever Gay-Straight Student Alliance. Seven months later, the Board of Trustees unanimously voted to add “sexual orientation” to the university’s non-discrimination policy. A first in the history of the campus. This trailblazing work caught the attention of the White House Office of Public Engagement and the Human Rights Campaign (HRC). Chevara has collaborated with numerous LGBT organizations, including the Campaign for Southern Equality, PFLAG, and Equality Florida.
As a “soul connector,” Chevara’s personal mission is to engage and mobilize communities around issues of race, gender, justice, health, education and economic disparity. Because of her tireless efforts, Chevara has been recognized by the White House and Human Rights Campaign as an emerging leader, advocate and ally for the LGBT community. She also has become an outspoken advocate for raising awareness of, and helping to eradicate sexual violence against women and girls. She has received numerous awards and recognition for her unwavering commitment to community.
Chevara has been an official Floridian since August 2012. Although new to Jacksonville, she has woven her thread into the fabric of the community and is actively involved with numerous nonprofit organizations. She serves as a member of the WJCT board of trustees, the Cultural Service Grants Council and was appointed to the Times-Union Editorial Board.
Chevara is also a popular and regular panelist and host/emcee for many nonprofit organizations and has been featured as a TEDx Jacksonville speaker.
Chevara has been featured in articles in The Florida Times-Union, Jacksonville Free Press, Arbus Magazine, The Washington Post, Atlanta-Journal Constitution, Winston-Salem Chronicle, skirt! Magazine, Winston-Salem Journal, Winston-Salem Monthly, and John Blake’s powerful, painful glimpse into the heart and soul of the Freedom Movement of the Sixties through the lens of some of its children, Children of the Movement.
Chevara was born in Washington, DC and raised in Memphis, TN. She obtained a bachelor’s degree in Mass Communication from the University of Memphis. Chevara is married to Marlon Hubbard and has two sons, Michael and William, and a cat named Nala.