PHOTOS: Orlando Youth Empowerment Summit brings fun and education to LGBTQ youth

By : Jeremy Williams
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ORLANDO | The City of Orlando, Zebra Coalition and LGBTQ organizations across Central Florida celebrated LGBTQ youth with the fifth annual Orlando Youth Empowerment Summit at Valencia College’s West Campus on Oct. 19.

Dozens of LGBTQ youth, parents, guardians, community leaders and local educators spent the day learning about topics such as queer history, politics and health services to name a few. LGBTQ organizations including Equality Florida, Hope & Help, QLatinx, UCF’s LGBTQ+ Services, GLSEN, One Orlando Alliance and more held a information fair providing information to the youth on what each of them do for the community.

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Derek Shaye shares his story, advocates for Zebra Coalition ahead of the Orlando Youth Empowerment Summit

By : Lora Korpar
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ABOVE: Derek Shaye performs on stage in CFC Arts’ production of “Bye Bye Birdie” this past summer. (Photo courtesy of Derek Shaye)

Six years ago, Derek Shaye ran away from home. After years of struggles — including homelessness and trafficking — Shaye found help with the Central Florida LGBTQ youth organization Zebra Coalition. Now, 23-year-old Shaye is ready to tell his story.

Shaye grew up in Washington with a very religious family. He referred to his home as “unstable and abusive,” especially as an LGBTQ person.

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LGBTQ youth to connect, be educated at Orlando Youth Empowerment Summit

By : Lora Korpar
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ABOVE: City of Orlando’s Diversity, Inclusion and Equity Senior Specialist Felipe Sousa-Rodriguez gives a speech at last year’s Orlando Youth Summit. (Photo by Melanie Ararat)

ORLANDO | The City of Orlando, Zebra Coalition and LGBTQ organizations across Central Florida will be celebrating and educating LGBTQ youth with the upcoming Orlando Youth Empowerment Summit.

The fifth annual summit will take place at Valencia College’s West Campus on Oct. 19 from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. The event is free of charge.

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Orlando City Commissioner Patty Sheehan goes up against new-to-politics Corey DeVogel for District 4

By : Jeremy Williams
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ORLANDO | While most political eyes are set squarely on 2020’s election year, the City of Orlando is holding general elections Nov. 5 for mayor and several city council seats; including that of District 4, currently occupied by the city’s first openly LGBTQ commissioner Patty Sheehan.

Sheehan, who was first elected to the District 4 seat in 2000, is running for her sixth term. During Sheehan’s fifth term as a city commissioner, she helped to pass the Orlando Police Department’s Safe Place Initiative, which provides safe spots for those within the LGBTQ community throughout Orlando should they find themselves victims of crime. She also assisted in the creation of the Orlando Youth Empowerment Summit, which is a free conference dedicated to empowering LGBTQ youth and allies through education and support.

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LGBTQ youth who are making a difference: Brandon Scott Kiley

By : Jeremy Williams
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25 | Transgender Male | He/Him/His

Brandon found the Orlando Youth Alliance (OYA) at a point in his life when he needed it the most.

He was homeschooled by his parents and raised in the church. When he finally decided to ask about “the gay thing,” Brandon and his family’s path changed forever.

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Patty Sheehan, Orlando’s first openly gay city commissioner to run for re-election

By : Abigail Brashear
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ORLANDO | Patty Sheehan, Central Florida’s first openly gay City Commissioner, announced Feb. 19 that she is running for re-election.

Sheehan is city commissioner over Orlando’s District 4, which consists of the majority of historic districts in downtown. During her time as commissioner, Sheehan has overseen the restoration of the Lake Eola fountain, the preservation of the Eola House, the addition of 1.3 acres to Lake Eola Park and the construction of sidewalks for children going to and from school.

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