We are clergy and missionaries shepherding our congregations to welcome everyone into their hearts, openly and without judgment. We are veterans who have fought for the freedom of others across the ocean and who will continue to fight for basic human rights on our own native soil. We are citizens who believe in everyone’s right to pursue their own happiness.
We Are Straight Allies would like to extend our gratitude to the 25 beautiful souls who attended our inaugural workshop at the Historic Springfield Learning Center (in partnership with Wells Fargo and the Jacksonville Urban League). We had a diverse group of people from small business owners to corporate executives, faith leaders to city council candidates, allies and members of the LGBT community, gathered together to create meaningful dialogue around what it means to be a better ally.
Attendees discussed the issues the LGBT community faces, learned more about inclusive language, proper pronoun usage and correct terminology. We shared stories about our own experiences with discrimination and how important it is that we practice everyday advocacy for those in marginalized communities. There were great questions posed by the group as to how we can all work together to insure passage of a comprehensive Human Rights Ordinance in the city of Jacksonville, and how we can go out in the community and empower others to join us as allies as well.
A very special thank you to City Xtra Magazine for sponsoring this event! and thank you for your valuable feedback on what additional workshops you would each like to see for future workshops as well! We are planning the next community workshop for September – date, time, location, and more information on that coming soon!
Ronald E. Breaker is a native of Jacksonville’s Eastside. He served 21 years in the United States Army. His journey to becoming a straight ally began by re-evaluating his old thoughts and beliefs. In his statement, he encourages why it’s time for Jacksonville to do the same. Read more from his ally profile here: http://wp.me/p3PnKk-hj
Shavuot is the Hebrew word for “weeks” and refers to the Jewish festival marking the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai, which occurs seven weeks after Passover – the exodus from Egypt and the liberation from slavery. Shavuot, like many other Jewish holidays, began as an ancient agricultural festival that marked the end of the spring barley harvest and the beginning of the summer wheat harvest. In ancient times, Shavuot was a pilgrimage festival during which Israelites brought crop offerings to the Temple in Jerusalem. Today, it is a celebration of Torah, education, and actively choosing to participate in Jewish life.
Today, We Are Straight Allies celebrates our many threads of connection with the belief that the Holy Spirit moves through all languages, through all people to unify each “I” with the Divine collective of “We”. With that, we re-created Rabbi Olitzky’s image in Hebrew, as a symbol that Equality is universal…that nothing is more important than our humanity.
Ronald E. Breaker is a native of Jacksonville’s Eastside. He served 21 years in the United States Army, retiring as Chief Warrant Officer 2. Mr. Breaker then served for 13 years as a Department of Defense Civilian, retiring in September 1996 as a GS 13. He returned to Jacksonville with his high school sweetheart and bride of over 48 years, Barbara Lewis-Breaker. They currently reside in Historic Springfield. Presently, Mr. Breaker works as a freelance photographer. He studied photography with New York Institute of Photography in 1965 and University of North Florida in 2001. Ronald and his wife are the proud parents of four children and four grandchildren.
In his own words, Ronald shares his journey towards allyship:
My journey to this point as a straight ally has been one of reevaluating my thoughts and beliefs. When the LGBT community started framing their plight as a civil rights issue I disagreed and would often say, “they choose to be gay, and could stop if they wanted to. Being black is different, I don’t have a choice.” When I think of people I have known as early as 3rd or 4th grade who were gay, I realized gay people could no more change their identity than I could change mine.
We live in a changing world, and when the military realized that, they knew their policies of discrimination against women and eventually LGBT members of the military had to change. It is very hard for a lot of us to accept these facts, but I believe, when you know better you do better. To that end, If Jacksonville is to become a first class NFL city it cannot discriminate against any of its citizens. Injustice against one of us is injustice against all of us.