Tag Archives: HRO

PRESS: Arbus Magazine Mar/Apr ’14 Issue

We Are Straight Allies has been featured as one of TEN One Spark Creator Projects (out of over 700) in the March/April issue of Arbus Magazine! Thank you, Cinda Sherman! Also, check out page 45 to see Hope McMath’s Ally Ad, then click to read her profile here:  http://wp.me/p3PnKk-ef

We would also like to send a special thank you to our ad participants: Gloria Steinem, Steve Halverson, Rachel Thomas Vitti, Pat Geraghty, Frieda Saraga, Brennan Campa, Nancy Hogshead-Makar, Rabbi Jesse Olitzky, Ronald Breaker, Pastors William & Victoria Hamilton, Luis Lopez, Darnell Smith, Gary & Nancy Chartrand, Meredith and Mark Frisch, Pastor Bruce Havens, John Delaney, Pedro Cohen and Hope McMath.

One Spark, “the World’s Crowdfunding Festival” is April 9-13, 2014 in downtown Jacksonville. Creators from all over the world will light up our city with projects in art, innovation, music, science and technology. They’ll showcase their best ideas for a chance to access $310,000 in crowdfunds and cash awards, 3.25 million dollars in capital investments and direct contributions from more than 150,000 attendees and backers around the globe.

You can check out our project profile by clicking on this link:

Ally Profile: Keith Haring’s Ghost


Over the past few months, we have been highlighting Keith Haring Ghost’s (KHG) work, from around the city.  Some believe the artwork to be vandalism – we do not agree.  Throughout history, art has been used as a means for expressing the things that we cannot or are not always allowed to share through spoken word.  Keith Allen Haring was an artist and social activist whose work responded to the New York City street culture of the 1980s by expressing concepts of birth, death, sexuality and war…concepts that were considered taboo at the time.

Keith Haring was an openly gay man and a strong advocate for safe sex.  However, his life was cut tragically short on February 16, 1990, due to AIDS. Before his death, he established the Keith Haring Foundation in 1989, its mandate being to provide funding and imagery to AIDS organizations and children’s programs, and to expand the audience for Haring’s work through exhibitions, publications and the licensing of his images. Haring enlisted his imagery during the last years of his life to speak about his own illness and generate activism and awareness about AIDS.


Inspired by his advocacy work, KHG told Queerty, he “has been beautifying the electric box eyesores of Jacksonville, Florida with images inspired by the late, great Haring as protest to the city failing to pass an equal rights ordinance that would have granted workplace protection based on sexual orientation and gender identity.”

KHG’s work can be found all around Jacksonville, we have also highlighted his pieces on our InstagramFacebook and Pinterest pages, but the artwork is now being called into question by some city leaders as vandalism.  These officials have demanded the removal of the murals, from around the city, with the possible arrest of KHG.  As allies of the LGBT movement, and proponents for full equality for every person in our community, we stand in solidarity with Keith Haring’s Ghost.  Furthermore, we implore our city leaders to leave his artwork in place and focus their energy, instead, on passing a comprehensive Human Rights Ordinance in Jacksonville, Florida.


Ally Update:  On March 19, 2014, Keith Haring’s Ghost was arrested by the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office for ‘felony’ vandalism charges for the beautiful ‘graffiti’ he has created around the city of Jacksonville.  Keith, aka Chip Southworth, was later released on bond, but he has an arduous road ahead as he has to answer in court for the work he has created to not only beautify the city, but to help get the message out about being more loving and tolerant of others.  We Are Straight Allies will be advocating on Chip’s behalf for charges to be dropped, but in the meantime, there are legal (and medical) expenses his family will face – his wife is currently undergoing chemotherapy treatment.  Great minds are coming together to not only help Chip, but also send a message to the city that intolerance will no longer be tolerated.  Beautifying the city of Jacksonville is a necessity, both physically and in the hearts and minds of its citizens.  We hope you will join us and donate to the ‘Chip in for Chip’ fund.

PRESS: Florida Times-Union on Rachel Vitti

Thank you to Rachel Vitti for being a fearless ally. Thank you Mark Woods, of The Florida Times-Union, for sharing her and her husband’s journey and the importance of a comprehensive HRO in Jacksonville.

“When it’s mentioned to Rachel Vitti — that she publicly jumped into one of the most controversial local issues of the past year, something that some prominent people in town repeatedly tap-danced around — she doesn’t pause to think about how to carefully explain this.

She simply says, ‘Of course.'”

Please read the full article on Jacksonville.com.

Ally Profile: Darnell Smith

Darnell Smith_Final

Darnell Smith is Florida Blue’s market president for the North Florida Region.  In his role, Smith is responsible for Florida Blue’s business market growth, as well as customer and community engagement across 36 North Florida counties, stretching from Palm Coast through Pensacola.

Prior to his current role, Smith was group vice president, Service Organization and Business Process Management Organization (BPMO) where he was responsible for leading a team of approximately 2,000 people who provide service to more than 3 million customers each year. Within BPMO, he oversaw the company’s business process management strategy and deployment of Continuous Improvement and Six Sigma methodologies. Prior to that role, Smith was vice president of Virtual Office where he helped transform operations by streamlining services for providers and members. In 2003, virtual office and private business operations combined to form what is now known as the service organization. Smith assumed leadership as group vice president and helped the Company achieve a market leadership position in customer satisfaction.

Throughout his career, Smith has been very active in the community serving on the board of directors for the PACE Center for Girls in Jacksonville, the Otis Smith Foundation, Ritz Theatre & LaVilla Museum, Communities in Schools-Florida (CISFL), and the Cathedral Arts Project. Smith also serves on the board of directors for Incepture, OptaComp, YMCA and the Florida Blue Foundation, Florida Blue’s philanthropic affiliate.  Darnell states it quite simply:

I am an ally because every human being is a child of our God and, therefore, deserves the same basic human dignities and rights afforded the rest of us.”

Smith holds a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from Florida State University. He is a graduate of the Advanced Management Program at Harvard Business School, the Advanced HR Executive Program at University of Michigan and Leadership Jacksonville.

Louie Lopez, Father

Luis “Louie” Lopez is a retired professional jockey and father of a transgendered young adult. He explains why it is important for us to support the passage of a comprehensive Human Rights Ordinance in the city of Jacksonville, FL. Read more of his family’s story here: http://wp.me/p3PnKk-8i

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