Among the honorees: my friend and colleague, WLRN (and former Miami Herald) reporter Nadege Green.
In March, Green reported for radio and print a compelling article, “Miami transgender youth discuss family life, bullying and inclusion.”
In the article, she profiled Jack Lee Jordan and other young trans people who participated in TransCon, a daylong conference at Barry University in Miami Shores.
From the article:
On the panel of six transgender people all under the age of 21, every one of them said they either contemplated or attempted to commit suicide.
And in most cases, they said, their parents didn’t fully accept their gender identity until their parents realized they were at risk of losing them.
“There would be times where I would be like this close to hanging in my closet,” said Jordan.
SAVE also will honor Father Grey Maggiano, AJ Blechner and Jessica Fernandez at the Young Guardians Society reception, 6 to 9 p.m. Aug. 20 at Bacardi headquarters in Coral Gables.
Here’s the complete SAVE news release:
MIAMI, FL -- In an email message to supporters today, Executive Director Tony Lima of the South Florida LGBTQ advocacy group SAVE (Safeguarding American Values for Everyone) announced that the organization’s Young Guardians’ Society will honor four up-and-coming local leaders as its 2015 Luminaries of Equality for their invaluable contributions to the movement over the past year. The awardees are to be honored by SAVE at its third annual Luminary Awards reception, held this year atop the Bacardí headquarter building in Coral Gables on Thursday, August 20, from 6-9PM. With the announcement of the winners comes the opening of ticket sales for the marquee young professional event -- tickets are now available for purchase online at the presale price of $60 at www.save.lgbt/luminaries.
The 2015 SAVE Luminaries of Equality honorees (in no particular order) are:
▪ A.J. Blechner, for his tireless dedication and long-term commitment to SAVE’s transgender prejudice reduction initiative as a volunteer canvass leader and as a proudly out transgender surrogate.
AJ is a Reference/Outreach Librarian at the University of Miami School of Law, one of the first UM staff or faculty to be trained as an IBIS Ally - a resource for University of Miami’s LGBT students. He is also a member of the New York Bar, earning a Juris Doctor from Villanova University School of Law, and a Masters of Information and Library Science with a Special Certificate in Law Librarianship from the University of Washington Gallagher School.
AJ has been active in the LGBT advocacy movement since 2006, working with organizations such as Long Island Gay and Lesbian Youth, Empire State Pride Agenda, and MassEquality. Since relocating to south Florida to join the University of Miami School of Law, AJ has been an active volunteer leader with SAVE, canvassing, phone banking, training canvassers, and assisting with quality control.
▪ Father Grey Maggiano, for his unwavering commitment to LGBTQ equality as a value of the faithful in his role as Associate Rector at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in downtown Miami. In his short time at the Cathedral, Father Grey has worked with the Cathedral leadership and the Bishop’s Office to expand efforts around equality inside and outside the church walls.
Grey has spoken frequently at the County Commission on behalf of Trans equality and equal rights. He has advocated for marriage equality at the state and national level, presided over SAVE’s renewal of vows service earlier this year, and was one of the first ordained clergy in the State of Florida to preside over a LGBT wedding. Grey has also worked to raise awareness around the issue of LGBT equality and rights abroad, bringing in guests to speak on equal rights issues in the Caribbean and recently hosting the Gay Men's Chorus of Washington D.C. for a benefit concert supporting HIV/AIDS work in Cuba.
▪ Jessica Fernandez, for her innovative efforts to grow support for LGBTQ equality in South Florida by engaging constituencies traditionally overlooked by the movement as President of the Miami-Dade Young Republicans and partner at the Miami public affairs consultancy AI Advisory.
Jessica dedicates her free time to advocating for human rights, specifically LGBTQ equality, also serving as a member of the Log Cabin Republicans of Miami, where she has lobbied members of the Miami-Dade Congressional delegation on issues of workplace, marriage and social equality. She is a veteran of political campaigns, and she can frequently be seen providing on-air political analysis for English and Spanish-language networks, and is a regular guest analyst for MiraTV and Actualidad Radio. She has been featured on the Today Show, Fusion TV, Fox News, The Financial Times, and the Washington Post.
▪ Nadege Green, for her highly accessible and carefully-sourced coverage of developments in the local LGBTQ equality movement, as well as her reporting on the plight of queer Americans in general, as an award-winning journalist and producer for the Miami Herald and WLRN.
Nadege's journalistic philosophy relies on the power of storytelling in order to give voices to communities that aren’t always heard. In the past year, she's reported a number of stories out of the LGBTQ community for WLRN. Among those stories was the love story of retired veterans turned marriage equality activists Bob Collier and Chuck Hunziger, who joined with SAVE as plaintiffs in the federal lawsuit that brought marriage equality to Florida.
Nadege recently highlighted the epidemic of violence against transgender women, specifically transgender women of color, in her coverage of the murder of Miami-Dade resident Christina Grant Inifiniti. She also won plaudits for a recent piece spotlighting local transgender youth, discussing their successes, challenges and dreams.
“It’s been such an amazing year for equality, with huge victories for transgender rights and the freedom to marry,” wrote Lima in the announcement message, adding that “none of these advances would have been possible without young leaders like our 2015 Luminaries fighting the good fight at the front lines of the battle for equality. We’re so proud to honor them this August.”
The 2015 Luminary Awards will be held the evening of August 20 from 6-9 PM at the Bacardí headquarters located at 2701 South Le Jeune Road, Coral Gables, FL 33134. In addition to signing on as the donor of the event space, Bacardí will supply complimentary drinks at the open bar all night long -- offering guests the full selection from its repertoire of premium brands, including Grey Goose vodka.
Tickets to the 2015 Luminary Awards are now available for purchase online at the presale price of $60. Tickets will be available for purchase at the door the evening ofAugust 20 for $75. To buy tickets online, please visit www.save.lgbt/luminaries.