LGBT Center Director George Wallace Talks Pride Month in Florida After DeSantis Vetoes LGBTQ Funding, Signs Trans Sports Bill
Gov. Ron DeSantis cut crucial funding to The LGBT Center in Orlando and the Zebra Coalition when he signed the state budget this week. That was just a day after he signed a bill into law banning transgender women from competing in women and girls’ school and college sports.
WMFE spoke with The LGBT Center Executive Director George Wallace about the message these policy decisions send to the LGBTQ community.
Read the full interview below.
Danielle: What have you been hearing from the LGBTQ community here in Orlando over the last 48 hours or so?
George: The community has really rallied towards The Center. We received several donations online overnight. And corporations are reaching out to us to say how can we help? So it was, it brought light to the fact that Governor DeSantis does not value LGBTQ citizens, as well as mental health, specifically Pulse survivors. We’re coming up on the five-year mark of such a horrific time in Orlando and the state of Florida. And I just feel that he has just wants to sweep it under the rug.
Danielle: You know, he said that these actions weren’t meant to send a message to the LGBTQ community. But I’m hearing from you that they are. What is that message that these actions are sending, especially to young people?
George: The message to me is that the state of Florida does not value its LGBTQ citizens.
Danielle: You know, what will the impact of these, these decisions be on local nonprofits like The Center? What sorts of support will you offer to young people moving forward, especially this week. I’m guessing you guys are going to have to make up the difference in a lot of big ways to still offer these services.
George: We will, but I want to preface and say that this is not the end of the program, and The Center is not going anywhere. $150,000 would have had a major impact in providing mental health care for the Pulse survivors that we’re serving, but we will make that up. So I have six months to make this money up. And and I am going to do it.
Danielle: You know, how does this change your, your way of celebrating Pride just on a personal level, but also as The Center this month? I think this really kind of colors it differently, doesn’t it?
George: It does. And I felt a little defeated. And I’m not going to let you know one person’s swipe of a pen, get me down. I was really discouraged last night, and I woke up this morning with a renewed energy. And I will just keep continuing to fight the fight. And I just have to also say that equal rights are not special rights. And it was a target against our community, which we have faced forever since the beginning of time. And the gay liberation or gay rights movement is really only about 50 years old. We’ve come so far, but we have so far to go.
Danielle: You know if people want to help, how can they help and, and on the flip side of that if people need help and they’re not sure where to go, you know feeling feeling lots of different things after this. What would you recommend?
George: If you want to help The Center or you need help from The Center the best thing to do is go to thecenterorlando.org. We have a link tree. We have a really robust social media. So feel free to reach out to us at any time. And we will get back to you. Love is love and I know that the five-year mark for the Pulse tragedy is so hard on so many people. So self care is not selfish. Take care of yourself and if you need help reach out.
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