You Live In “Trump Country” Now

Kevin Seymour and Kevin Paul Taylor were biking home from dinner in Key West when they were followed and harassed by a Donald Trump supporter.

Seymour and Taylor reported that a drunken moped driver started “calling us faggots and a slew of other anti-gay remarks.” Taylor posted on his Facebook page that “he kept stopping in front of us and swerving into us. Finally Kevin (Seymour) got ahead of him and the guy charges him with his scooter and runs into him and knocks him off his bike. Kevin is okay.”

The driver of the moped also taunted the couple by saying, “You live in Trump country now.”

The moped driver is described as a white man in his mid-to-late thirties with a southern accent.  The model of his moped was a black Eclipse.

A witness gave a statement to police backing the couple’s story and officers said there may be security video available from nearby businesses.

“I think the cops will be able to track him down,” Taylor said.

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Jacksonville Expands Human Rights Ordinance

The Jacksonville City Council voted to expand the Human Rights Ordinance (HRO) on February 14. The bill, sponsored by Council Members Aaron Bowman, Tommy Hazouri and Jim Love, added the words sexual orientation and gender identity to the existing HRO which prohibits discrimination for public accommodations, employment and housing.

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry returned the bill without a signature, making the HRO expansion law.  Amendments to the bill exempted religious organizations from complying with the order, expanded the exemption for small businesses from fifteen or fewer employees to fifty or fewer and eliminated jail time as a penalty for violating the HRO in any way.

Sarah Kate Ellis, the president and CEO of LGBTQ rights organization GLAAD, tweeted about the City Council’s vote, calling it “refreshing.”  The measure passed 12-6. While the bill is not perfect, a crowd still gathered outside City Hall after the bill was passed to celebrate.

Here is how each City Council member voted on HRO expansion:
Matt Schellenberg – No
Reggie Gaffney – Yes
Aaron Bowman – Yes
Reginald Brown – Yes
Greg Anderson – Yes
Al Ferraro – No
Samuel Newby – No
Anna Lopez Brosche – Yes
John Crescimbeni – Yes
Lori Boyer, council president – Yes
Garret Dennis -Yes
Jim Love – Yes
Joyce Morgan – Yes
Scott Wilson- Yes
Katrina Brown – Absent
Danny Becton – No
Doyle Carter – No
Bill Gulliford – No
Tommy Hazouri – Yes

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Show Me Love

Show Me Love

The Ad Council and the NFL teamed up to create the newest Love Has No Labels campaign.  The “Kiss Cam” at the Pro Bowl in Orlando Florida turned into something much bigger than the typical couples kissing.  It turned into an opportunity to highlight love’s different forms.

According to the Ad Council, the video features “real families, couples and friends across different races, religions, genders, sexualities, abilities and ages.”

Please take a moment and enjoy the video here.

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One Less Worry for Pulse Victims

We hear about so many negative and sad LGBT stories, it’s always wonderful when we can spread some good news. Here’s a story that is sure to put a smile on your face.

The hospitals that treated the Pulse shooting victims, Orlando Health and Florida Hospital, will not bill the victims or their families. The hospitals will be writing off approximately $5.5 million in services.

Orlando Health’s main hospital, Orlando Regional Medical Center, treated the majority of the victims. Nine patients died after arriving. Orlando Health will bill insurance companies for those who had coverage, but the remaining balance will be written off by the hospital.

Florida Hospital, which treated a dozen of the victims, said they would not even bill insurance companies, nor will they bill for follow-up surgeries the survivors may need.

“During this very trying time, many organizations, individuals and charities have reached out to Orlando Health to show their support. This is simply our way of paying that kindness forward.” said Orlando Health President and CEO David Strong.

Daryl Tol, Florida Hospital’s President and CEO said, “We hope this gesture can add to the heart and goodwill that defines Orlando.”

And, smile.

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Dignity over Revenue

Dignity over Revenue

New York Grilled Cheese Company in Wilton Manors, Florida has received a few bad reviews online.  But not over their grilled cheese.   Their bad reviews are in reference to their employee, Mia, and the gender-neutral / trans-friendly bathrooms.

Mary Bolda’s review complained about the terrible service from her “waiter,” a trans employee named Mia.  Mary continued to refer to Mia as “he” and “him” loudly and was a distraction to other customers.  Another reviewer complained that she wouldn’t go back to New York Grilled Cheese Company because “they only have transgender restrooms.”

New York Grilled Cheese Company shared the following on social media in support of their employee Mia: “We at New York Grilled Cheese Co. want to send a clear message that the company culture is and always will be one of acceptance, equality, and support of our transgender community and any other walk of life.  This week one of employees, Mia, was the victim of discrimination and we’d like to respond with one simple message: LOVE. Share this graphic if you got Love for Mia and our local transgender community. ‪#‎LOVEMIA‬”

Owner Leor Barak said he was sorry to hear the customer wouldn’t make a return visit to New York Grilled Cheese Company but announced “we would never choose the revenue of an intolerant patron over the dignity of our employees.”

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A Survivor Dances

Angel Colon is a Pulse victim survivor and a lover of Zumba.

The Zumba Instructor Network, who held their convention in Orlando recently, honored Angel for his bravery and determination. Angel was shot six times during the massacre at Pulse.

Just over a month later, he was able to use a walker to go on stage and speak to the convention. “This past month has been the worst month of my life, but going through this there’s been nothing but love and support from everyone,” he told the crowd.

The Zumba Instructor Network announced the start of the “Zumba Fitness Angel Institution”, which is a scholarship to be used to send one instructor who demonstrates love and diversity to the annual convention. The Zumba Instructor Network also announced that they would be paying for all of Angel’s physical therapy and his rent for a year.

Angel danced to the song “Love Make the World Go Round,” a song released by Jennifer Lopez and Lin-Manuel Miranda, the creator of the Broadway sensation “Hamilton.”  The song was created for the Orlando victims families and to address the needs of the mentally ill.  Lopez stated “The world really needs the message of love being the answer.  That’s what really matters; that’s what really makes the world go ’round, nothing else.  Hate, anger, it’s not gonna get us anywhere.”

Before Angel went on stage he received a message from JLo herself: “Stand tall, Angel and dance, dance as the world is watching.”

Check out Angel’s triumphant return here.

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Safe Swimming in Summer

Safe Swimming in Summer

Summer is upon us and we’re all staying cool by laying out at the beach and lounging by the pool. These leisure time activities all involve innocent fun in the water, but inevitably we all read those stories of summertime tragedy, especially with young children. The hard fact is that drowning is the leading cause of injury related death among children between one and four years old and it’s the second leading cause of injury related death among all children. So I took this opportunity to talk to Nick Rubino who owns Sea Star Swim Academy in Orlando, Florida and is a featured listing on Hayden’s List. We discussed his inspiration for swim education, water safety and his commitment to providing an inclusive environment for all his students.

Nick was born in upstate New York. During this time his school took Nick’s classes to field trips to farms and was around horses and jockeys. His first vacation to Orlando and eventually moving there in high school brought water into his life. Nick was not a member of any swim teams in high school or college. In fact, he didn’t start swimming until his late teens. Nick believes this is what makes him very relatable to his students, especially his adult students. After training dolphins, whales, sea lions and many other aquatic animals at SeaWorld, Discovery Cove and the Florida Aquarium he wanted his career to continue inspire and contribute to the greater good and he also wanted to be an entrepreneur. This led to Nick starting the Sea Star Swim Academy and working with Swimming for Life.

Nick’s entrepreneurial spirit led him to start Sea Star Swim Academy. At Sea Star Swim Academy, Nick provides lesson from babies to adults on how to swim safely. By working with Swimming for Life, Nick is able to give back to the community. Swimming for Life is an organization in Lake County, Florida that provides swim lessons and water safety skills and education scholarships to families with financial limitations, families that adopt and foster, families that take in children with special circumstances and for individuals with special needs. Nick enjoys working with Swimming for Life because it not only provides an important skill and safety but builds confidence in young children in and out of the water. Nick’s strong belief in the mission of Swimming for Life has led him to start his own chapter in Orange County, Florida. With help from the Dawn Brancheau Foundation and the City of Orlando, Nick is expanding the program in 2017.

Sea Star Academy’s website offers many tips for water safety for in the home, swimming and boating. Nick’s number one rule for water safety is for parents/guardians: “If your child is in the pool, your eyes are on your child and you’re in arm’s reach”. Cell phones and other electronic devices are huge distractions for parents watching children by water. Nick begins each swim lesson with children by having the child ask his/her parent for permission to enter the pool. This instills the habit in the child to ask permission to swim and makes the parent aware that the child is going in the pool. Nick also has the child bring his/her parent a tag and this tag has water safety tips that can be brought home.

I also asked Nick about an issue I’ve read about on social media this summer, secondary drowning or dry drowning. This can happen when your child breathes water into his/her lungs, it can happen while swimming or playing in the water. It is more common in children because of their small size. Nick states that a secondary or dry drowning is very rare and WebMD states they make up only 1% – 2% of all drownings. To avoid secondary or dry drowning, Nick teaches his young pupils about blowing bubbles holding their breath so not to ingest water. However with babies and submersion lessons, Nick follows Red Cross guidelines which are no more than 3 submersions per lesson and stops submersions immediately after a pupil comes up coughing. Nick uses a slower methodical lesson plan compared to other programs.

How did Nick establish Sea Star Academy as such an inclusive environment that a LGBT mom group reached out to him to do a “Mommy & Me” group swim lesson? It started when Nick was teaching swim lessons in Tampa and child came in with his gay dads. Nick saw the looks that other instructors and parents gave the dads. It hit Nick that he wanted his business to be welcoming to all members of his community. Besides the “Mommy & Me” group, Sea Star Swim Academy gives lessons to multiple LGBT families. Nick says “I’m a comfortable, safe place, where you can bring your family”. And knowing that his students and their families know his inclusive policy it helps Nick feel comfortable being out with his husband also.

A big thank you to Nick for being so welcoming with Sea Star Swim Academy. For more information on Nick and the Sea Star Swim Academy, check out the listing on Hayden’s List here.

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