I think if someone were to look up the term “remarkable person” in the dictionary they would find a picture of Denise Johnson. I met Denise almost two years ago and in that short amount of time she has accomplished more than what I thought could be accomplished in a lifetime.
Denise saw a need in the Pasco County area and she worked tirelessly to fill that need. She assembled a team of people who created the Pasco LGBTQ social network. Out of that first meeting she heard from many people in the LGBTQ community that this area was in desperate need of a Pride celebration where everyone, especially those who identify as LGBTQ, could be themselves and be accepted for who they are and who they love. She quickly got busy and assembled a Pasco Pride Board of Directors and worked tirelessly with community leaders, businesses and citizens to make the first ever Pasco Pride not only happen, but make it bigger than anyone even imagined. As a result of that she petitioned community leaders and government officials to go a step further by getting the city of New Port Richey City Council to draft a resolution calling for an anti-discrimination proclamation to protect the rights of LGBTQ individuals. Shortly after Pasco Pride’s first event, Denise left the Pasco Pride organization but that did not mean that her work was over. She quickly got to work for the transgender community, creating the Florida Trans Proud organization. She also organized a candlelight vigil and rally in support of the transgender community and in remembrance of the transgender lives who were taken far too soon. At this vigil, co-hosted by Metro Wellness and Community Centers, several people from the faith community were there and spoke words of encouragement and Pasco Sheriff Nocco spoke as well. As a Christian Minister who identifies as gay, I am honored to call Denise my friend and I am empowered to be all that I can be because she is out there fighting for my rights (and yours) every single day. I can’t think of anyone more worthy of the title “remarkable person.”