Shevrin Jones is a three-time Florida state House representative and preacher’s son — and now openly gay.
Jones, 34, is now the same age his older brother was when he died last year of a pulmonary embolism. He told the Miami Herald that contributed to his realization that he wanted to start “living my truth just a little bit more.”
He told his brother, who died one year ago on Sunday Sept. 2, he was thankful to not be judged.
“There’s not a second that goes by that I don’t think about him. It’s the love of people and those things that has helped us through all of this.”
Jones, who takes blood thinners for a similar condition his brother experienced, maintains that his family supports him even if they do not support the lifestyle.
“My family has been very loving and just want the best for their child and I don’t want anyone to confuse that with my parents’ support of the lifestyle,” Jones said. “My parents are very conservative Christians, and they have their beliefs and I respect their beliefs, but they love their son.”
Jones’ father delivers sermons at Koinonia Worship Center in Hollywood, where he added that he has not faced bullying or harassment as a result of coming out. But he’s no stranger to judgement and mixed signals either.
“Church is a hospital. Everyone goes there to be helped. It’s unfortunate that the church where everyone goes to be uplifted, that you have those same people who are not loving,” Jones said. “It’s sad, but there’s so much love out there that their miserable lives that they live does not sway or discourage me. I’m more encouraged than anything. Those church members who lack in love and say they follow Christ, they should go study his life a little bit more.”
Jones lives in Hollywood with his partner, who has quietly been introduced to friends and colleagues. When Jones took office in 2013 he was married to a woman. They divorced in 2015.
He chose to come out by allowing Equality Florida, the largest LGBT rights organization in the state, to include him on its list of openly gay endorsed candidates.
Jones won a seat to the state House in June in his fourth consecutive election without opposition. His district, 101, includes parts of Pembroke Pines, West Park and Hallandale Beach.
“I was fighting for the LGBTQ community before this became public. I will continue to do that and still stand firm. My policies are not going to change, my politics is not going to change. Jones said. “I’m still the same Shev Jones that people knew prior to me being public.”
Jones is the first openly gay black man to serve in the Florida House of Representatives. In 2012 two openly gay men were elected to the House, David Richardson and Joe Saunders. A third gay man, Carlos Guillermo-Smith, was elected in 2016.
Daniel Sohn, town commissioner in Haverhill, applauded Jones’ decision to come out. Sohn, elected earlier this year in the Palm Beach County town, also identifies as LGBT.
“Shev has overcome so many personal challenges the last few years,” Sohn said. “He is more than just an elected colleague, I consider him like a brother. Brother’s know things that others don’t. Here’s what I know: living a life committed to service makes you think hard about your life and how you want to live it. Shev has chosen to rise above negative situations and live his own truth.”
John McDonald contributed to this report.