Tag Archives: One Spark

PRESS: Allies for Change

Arbus Allies for Change

We Are Straight Allies sends a huge “thank you” to Arbus Magazine, along with publisher Cinda Sherman and journalist Wesley Grissom, for their feature article in this month’s edition and their unwavering commitment to equality.

View the article in its entirety here: http://www.bluetoad.com/publication/?i=215886&p=12


Thank you for the Equality Party at One Spark!

We Are Allies would like to thank our courageous allies, incredible performers, amazing volunteers, and wonderful sponsors for your support during One Spark. Your commitment to seek and uphold justice and equality for all as we work to build a better community continues to inspire and motivate us. Through education, engagement and partnerships, we were able to secure 1,936 signed equality petitions, garner 759 votes, add 305 new ‘likes’ on our Facebook Page, and placed 22nd out of over 600 Creator Projects.

Many of you are aware of the controversy and discrimination that we faced during the beginning of One Spark. We would like to publicly thank the local media, corporate and community leaders and national organizations for their quick response and unwavering support. This challenge underscores the very real need for a comprehensive Human Rights Ordinance and continued dialogue and action within our community about the lived experiences of those who identify as LGBTQ.

We were deeply moved by so many of the comments from attendees and the wide range of diverse backgrounds of the people who support this Movement. Here are a few snippets we wanted to share with you:

“My younger brother came out to me on New Year’s Eve. He sent me a text. I was completely shocked…still trying to wrap my head around it, but expressed my support.
–40something Black man with wife and two children

“Our daughter is a lesbian in Philadelphia. She’s marrying her partner in Hawaii. We have two sons – one is openly gay, but we think the other one is too.”
–60something white couple from St. Augustine

“I came out last year. Now, I’m homeless. I’ve been sleeping on friend’s couches. I’m moving to another state next month.”
–20something college student

“This HRO will be detrimental to my business. It will result in lawsuits and from a Christian perspective, I have problems with the message of gay rights.”
–50something white male small business owner

“L-G-B-T! I love me some LGBT’s. They make the strongest drinks. Five dollars and three drinks later and I’M seeing rainbows!! What’s your [Creator] number? I’m voting for you!”
–30something Black woman walking behind us on our way to the Hemming Plaza stage for our Creator Pitch

“I’m pretty sure this [equality] is what Jesus would want.”
—60something, white male, as he signed his Equality Pledge

“I am sooooooooooooo hoping EVERYONE votes for your great work.  I am honored to have worked & volunteered with you.  Count Me In On Your Next Event / Venture!”
—40something, Hispanic female

“Just wanted to pop in and say thank you for everything you do to help our community.  It’s people like you and your organization that helps our (LGBT) community over come hatred and discrimination.  Thank you again.”
—30something, white male

“So glad that I volunteered with the We Are Straight Allies campaign at One Spark. I am used to talking with people about the inclusive HRO and collecting pledges in different venues, so it was not brand new for me. What was new was the fact that the entire discussion centered around straight people, their attitudes, what they know, and what is misinformation. It was about their journey, not mine.

First, I wasn’t necessarily the authority! It was great. The straight people behind the table were talking as authorities on what it means to be a straight ally. I was seen as a resource, so when someone had a question, they would turn to me for a little help or boost. It was great for me to be acting as a resource as opposed to initiator of a (sometimes) tricky discussion.

Second, gay people walked up and they were a little disoriented like me! We started to realize that we have a specific role within We Are Straight Allies. Our role involves showing up, being out, and feeling grateful for political support. When we do that with our straight allies, we’ve done A LOT.  The rest is up to the straight folks. It’s up to Jacksonville’s straight majority to get the info, define their position, and either become an ally or not.”
—40something, white female, community advocate and volunteer

And, a woman’s nephew came out to her as she was signing our Equality Pledge.

We have provided an overview of highlights from One Spark including links and images below.  Again, we thank you!

Equality Party at One Spark! Photo Album 

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Orchestra Equality

‘Coming Out Monologues’ at OneSpark 

The Incredible Al Letson

Press Coverage from the week:
Florida Times Union
First Coast News


We Are Straight Allies Statement Regarding Removal from One Spark Creator Venue

**UPDATE as of April 9, 2014; 8:30am**

We Are Straight Allies deeply appreciates the outpouring of community support in response to our previous statement to Parkway Properties.  At this time, we have been told our signage is “allowed to remain” up through the duration of the One Spark event.  Therefore, we will stay in our current location at the Juice Gallery in the Wells Fargo Tower located at 1 Independent Drive, Jacksonville, Florida.

Once the One Spark Festival has ended, We Are Straight Allies would like the opportunity to meet with Parkway Properties and their “key stakeholders” to discuss issues of bias and discrimination against the LGBT community, and their straight allies.  We would also be happy to conduct diversity training for their senior leadership and staff, as this is a crucial component to our mission as we work towards the passage of a fully comprehensive Human Rights Ordinance in the city of Jacksonville.

We hope to see you all at One Spark!


We Are Straight Allies would like to publicly express our deep concern and disappointment regarding statements made by Parkway Properties on April 8, 2014 on behalf of several of their “key stakeholders” in the Wells Fargo Tower at 1 Independent Drive in Jacksonville, Florida. As a registered One Spark Creator Project, We Are Straight Allies has spent the past several months preparing an intentional and educational advocacy campaign. During that time, we were not informed of any issues surrounding our campaign or materials chosen for the event.

When we were told there were building tenants that were uncomfortable with the content of our campaign and wanted us removed from the Creator Venue space, we were disheartened as it served as a stark reminder of the daily bigotry that faces our LGBT family.

While we appreciate the support of Wells Fargo, JCCI, OneSpark and several members of the Jacksonville community to help us resolve this matter, it does not detract from the fact that homophobia and discrimination are insidious in our city. As allies, we have made a firm commitment to champion the rights of those marginalized in our community. Fifty years after the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, we again stand at the crossroads of freedom and equality.

We hope this unfortunate incident will serve as a catalyst for meaningful dialogue to reach better understanding of our differences, help us find common ground upon which to stand, and create a more inclusive city for us all. The larger issue remains that if these companies discriminate against allies, we fear their LGBT employees may face even greater bias. The time is now to pass a comprehensive Human Rights Ordinance.

“It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences.”
–Audre Lorde


Chevara Orrin, Laura Riggs and Dan Bagan


One Spark Creator Project No. 20207

We Are Straight Allies is excited to be a Creator in this year’s One Spark Crowdfunding Festival. It’s estimated that over 150,000 people will flood the streets of downtown April 9-13. Volunteers will staff our Creator Booth to help us engage with visitors and advocate for equality!

Each day of the festival, we will have live performers, equality pledge forms, opportunities for visitors to email City Council and be photographed in front of an “I’m Coming Out as a Straight Ally” backdrop as well as learn more about our collective efforts towards equality.

Read our recent OneSpark press in the Florida Times-Union

Visit Our OneSpark Creator page

Check out our schedule of performances each day of One Spark!


4p-6p ‘On A Journey’ with DJ T.M. Underwood Kicking off our 5-days of peace, love and music, DJ T.M. Underwood will be taking us on a journey through some of the iconic Dance Music that we can all shake our booties too! http://www.facebook.com/TMUnderwood


5:30p-6:30p Mondo Mike & The Po Boys  To see 62-year-old Mike Bernos on stage in the persona of Mondo Mike jumping up and down with his guitar like he was about to crowd surf, is to witness a man born again into the holy spirit of music. Bernos is aided by his five band members, the Po Boys and Spice, who are 20 to 30 years his junior but, by his own admission, light years ahead of him musically. Each in their own way has provided the channel for his metamorphosis – expression to his music and his phoenix. But none more so than Brittany Wescott, a.k.a Spice, the winsome and disarmingly charming 27-year-old African-American lead singer of Mondo Mike and the Po Boys.  http://www.mondomikeandthepoboys.com

7p-9p Spark This! with Al Letson [Poet, Playwright, Actor]
Enter the world of multi-disciplinary artist, Al Letson. An accomplished playwright, performance poet, actor and public radio host, Letson’s distinctive voice, insightful prose and unique vision have garnered national acclaim and inspired a growing number of fans and followers. Soul-stirring, interdisciplinary work has garnered Al Letson national recognition, critical acclaim and devoted fans. Early in his career, Letson established himself as a heavyweight in the Poetry Slam Movement, which reaped artistic credibility and renown. He has performed on a number of national, regional and local stages, including such venues as HBO’s Def Poetry Jam, and CBS’s 2004 Final Four PreGame. http://www.alletson.com/contact.php


4p-6p Cafe Groove with Jay A. Terry (and special guest Christopher Page) An entertainer since childhood competing in various talent shows, Jay honed his performance skills through formal voice, acting, and dance training. At 17 years of age he moved to New York City to pursue a career in professional acting. It was during that time that he began writing music while collaborating with other musicians & bands.  Jay is a previous One Spark Creator.  His musical influences include Jason Mraz, Matt Nathanson, Ray Lamontagne, Patrick Park, and Joshua Redman  http://www.reverbnation.com/jayanthonyterry

7p-9p Love Reigns | The Evolution of a Poet Born and raised in Miami, FL Taryn ”LoveReigns” Wharwood has been writing poetry since the tender age of 5 years old and has been performing for as many years. She began performing professionally in 2006 in her current home town Jacksonville, FL. LoveReigns is an avid volunteer, community supporter and mentor. She is a creative writing teacher at a Duval county public school and spends her free time speaking to youth in and out of school among other things. Her first CD is entitled ”The Evolution of a Poet”. She also has a mixtape entitled ”Collard Greens and Collabos”. She is working on a chap book called ”IamLoveReigns” and book of poetry/semi autobiography to be released later this year called ”When the Reign Comes”. She was recently the first spoken word artist signed to

ParriScope Entertainment Records, an international force that will continue to help LoveReigns become a household name. http://www.facebook.com/iamlovereigns


12p-2p Rob Walker the Vibalist
Rob Walker the Vibalist is a Keyboardist, Vocalist, Songwriter and Entertainer. Rob’s styles range from Jazz, RnB, Pop, Rock, Neo soul, Country, & Gospel. Performing as a solo act or with full band,  Rob brings strong energy behind any soloist or band and has worked with some amazing artists from all over. Locally, you can usually catch him performing with Mama Blue.  www.rwthevibalist.com

4p-6p  Orchestra Equality: An ensemble of professional and student musicians from the Jacksonville area, equally lovers of music and pioneers for the rights of all!

Join us for a very special performance by musicians from the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra, students from UNF and Jacksonville University Music Programs, as well as Douglas Anderson School for the Performing Arts, gathering in one space to support the rights of our LGBT community.  We will be treated to solo pieces, a string quartet, a bassoon quartet, clarinet and bassoon duets, trios and more!

8p-10p “Music is Freedom” with Catharsis, aka Scott Petersen, is a producer, DJ, remixer, enthusiast, VW freak and just a man among many… Since 1999, he has worked with gifted engineer, Phil Green, providing the production force and extreme talent. Phil and Catharsis have been signed to numerous electronic music labels worldwide including OM Records and have appeared on CD compilations alongside Depeche Mode, Moby, Faithless, Dubtribe Sound System, Swayzak, and many more. They have over 50 vinyl releases, 3 full-length albums entitled “Keepin On” and “Deep Down” & “Canvas of Sound”, and appeared on 40 CD compilations on labels around the world. PC Synergy and Catharsis have performed all over the US alongside some of the most innovative electronic artists “in sound”. http://about.me/dj.catharsis

We Are Straight Allies T-Shirts are now available!  You may purchase yours for $25. Shipping costs will be waived if you pick your shirt up during the 5-day event, just use the promo code ONEFREE! To order, please use one of the following links:

Men: http://goo.gl/XO1hXw
Women: http://goo.gl/u7u6yh
Unisex: http://goo.gl/rfMJ5C

men_s_heather_charcoal_back_3 women_s-black-front_1

1. Click this link to go to our invitation page on VolunteerSpot: http://vols.pt/mP5Rih
2. Enter your email address: (You will NOT need to register an account on VolunteerSpot)
3. Sign up! Choose your spots – VolunteerSpot will send you an automated confirmation and reminders. Easy!

**Note: VolunteerSpot does not share your email address with anyone. If you prefer not to use your email address, please contact us and we can sign you up manually.

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PRESS: Florida Times-Union One Spark Article

“The fight for equality will make its mark at One Spark 2014.” writes Lindsey Kilbride.  Read more of the article here.

Read more at Jacksonville.com: http://jacksonville.com/breaking-news/2014-03-18/story/creators-fighting-equality-all-people-one-spark#ixzz2wMMXhfFR

22 Days until One Spark and We Are Straight Allies is deeply grateful to The Florida Times-Union for running the amazing article written recently by #ignitemedia!

You can help us make a BIG difference at this year’s event by donating just $5 to help us pay for materials we would like to pass out to everyone attending the event. To contribute, please click here: http://wp.me/P3PnKk-cn