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Sense and the City: Equality Florida Gala raises LGBT visibility

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2011 Voice for Equality honoree Donald Geikie, filmmaker Suzanne Brockmann, and Sarasota Magazine writer Robert Plunkett

Last Saturday night, I attended the Equality Florida Suncoast Gala, which honored Sarasota activist Donald Geikie with the group’s 2011 Voice for Equality award.

As I stood among the capacity crowd of easily 300 people, I heard story after story about committed same-sex couples who’ve been together for decades --- couples who can’t get married in Florida; longtime lovers who can’t enjoy the full benefits and rights of a legally wed couple.  It’s so beyond time for this to change.

Former City of Sarasota Vice-Mayor Ken Shelin, speaking to the crowd, said,

Gala Steering Committee Co-Chairs Ken Shelin and Marcia Foote.

“All I ever wanted in this world was to live a normal life.”  He went on to describe years of struggling to live up to other people’s definition of normal, including a failed marriage, concealing his sexuality from employers and the military, and hesitating to pursue civic interests because of fears about how dirty politics on the issue of his sexuality might hurt his family.  “I, like many of you, essentially lived two lives.”

But not any more.  At 72, Shelin seems confident in his role in the community and comfortable with acknowledging his sexuality.

Sarasota newcomer Nick Gowan, City of Sarasota Mayor Suzanne Atwell, William Holland, Janis Holland, and Linda Holland.

Things begin to change when people are brave enough to speak their truths and stand up for their own rights. Things change even more when those of us whose rights are fully protected are willing to stand up for those whose rights are unfairly restricted.

Marriage equality isn’t just about the rights of gays; it’s about the civil rights of Americans.

If you’d like to donate to this cause or learn more, visit www.eqfl.org.

-- Write M.C. at mcrealityonline@yahoo.com.

 

The Perfect Wedding filmmaker Suzanne Brockmann and actor Jason Gaffney; Rodney Sullivan; Nestor Aragon; and actor Eric Aragon (www.theperfectweddingmovie.com).

 

Honoree Donald Geikie with Felice Schulaner and Steering Committee member Dennis Stover

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

Filmmaker Ed Gaffney and Equality Florida Executive Director Nadine Smith.

Equality Florida Field Coordinator Michael Farmer and Field Director Joe Saunders.

Last modified: October 4, 2011
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