Founded in April 2013, the Pensacola Alliance for Equality (PAE) has, in a little over one month’s time, had more than 50 local organizations and businesses join in support of its goal of ending discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity and expression.
The primary objectives of PAE being support, education and policy change, the coalition aims to foster awareness to ensure equality and safety for all Pensacolians, including Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) citizens.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Florida, the University of West Florida, HIVevolution, Q-Up Pensacola, Gay Grassroots of Northwest Florida and the UWF Gay-Straight Alliance all participated the creation of the PAE.
Sara Latshaw, the Northwest Florida Regional Organizer of the ACLU, recently took time to answer a few questions about the PAE’s founding and goals.
IN: What was the impetus and/or inspiration for founding PAE?
LATSHAW: Our community is moving in the right direction when it comes to LGBT equality. We thought this would be a great opportunity for direct action to ensure that all of Pensacola’s citizens are being treated equally. Whether you are lesbian, gay, bi-, transgender or straight, equal treatment and respect for all makes for a better Pensacola.
IN: By demonstrating the number of businesses supportive of the LGBT community, is it a goal of PAE’s to increase acceptance and maybe a more positive perception of Pensacola for residents and visitors alike?
LATSHAW: Pensacola is a community bound together by common values of fairness, courtesy and treating other people like you would like to be treated yourself. We’re trying to show that those values that have made Pensacola such a great community will make it an even stronger one if they’re applied to everyone here, including LGBT people.
From shop owners, teachers, and doctors to loyal customers at your favorite local shop, the LGBT community contributes to every aspect of life in Pensacola. By demonstrating this contribution along with broad local backing, we’re trying to create a positive change in Pensacola. If we can create a culture where our city’s natural welcoming nature is applied to all citizens, including our LGBT neighbors, it will have a positive impact on our citizens as well as entice visitors and businesses to come to our town. Fairness isn’t just good for the community; it’s good for business.
IN: As a relatively new organization, what has the response been to your initial efforts?
LATSHAW: So far, we have received a huge outpouring of support. The alliance is growing everyday with businesses, organizations, communities of faith and energized individuals who want Pensacola to continue to grow as a welcoming city. What that shows us is that the support for what we’re doing already existed here. We’re just trying to be the catalyst to turn that support into action.
IN: Does the Alliance have any plans to maybe publish a guide or similar resource for LGBT visitors to the region?
LATSHAW: This is not something that we’ve addressed—yet. But as the coalition grows, we’re going to begin planning other ways to promote fairness and equality in our community.
For additional information about the PAE, visit facebook.com/PNSGSA
Current Members of PAE:
The University of West Florida
Gay Grassroots of Northwest Florida
University of West Florida
American Civil Liberties Union of Florida
McKenzie Law Firm, P.A.
Dog House Deli
The Spotted Dog
Adonna’s Bakery and Cafe
Susan Campbell Jewelry
Vinyl Music Hall
Fiore of Pensacola
Appetite 4 Life
Legacy Event Design
The Leisure Club
Abhaya Yoga Center
Laura Bogan Social Media
Once Upon a Time
Cactus Flower Cafe
Emerald City of Pensacola, Inc.
The Hair Do
United Church of Christ
End of the Line Cafe
Bethany Lauren Photography
Carl Wilson Woodworking
A Safe Port Counseling Center
Zarzaur Law, P.A.
Gulf Coast Tickets, LLC
Law Office of Sherry Ivey Jones
Food Not Bombs Pensacola
The Great Light Media, Inc.
Carlton Marks Inc. Studio
The Round Up
JJ Creative Design
Patrick Preston, Clinical Psychologist
Archaeological Research, Inc.
Blue Angel Yoga
Glad to Be Here
Dee McDavid Interiors
Jason Wilkins Interiors
Joshua Aaron Jones, Attorney at Law, PLLC
The Red Carpet
Emerald Coast Tours