It’s been a tough couple of years being an LGBT activist in Florida.

Nearly every Legislative fight has been a lost cause and a freshly redrawn political map will likely make things even tougher for the next decade.

But their hard work is being noticed and rewarded. Nadine Smith, Equality Florida’s executive director, made the Time 100 list of most influential people.

"I am deeply honored to be included in the Time 100," said Smith. "This recognizes decades of work not only by me, but by the dedicated team of volunteers, staff and supporters I’ve had the privilege to work with at Equality Florida.”

In the double issue, Time lays out the reasons she made the list, saying in part, “In the fight for equality in Florida, there has perhaps been no greater advocate for LGBTQ people than Nadine Smith. For over 30 years — most recently as the executive director of Equality Florida — Smith has worked tirelessly to safeguard our rights and elevate our voices, combatting discrimination in employment, housing, and many other areas.”

Activism comes naturally to Smith, whose grandparents were active in securing rights for sharecroppers. After high school, she attended the U.S. Air Force Academy, but resigned after the passage of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” She co-chaired the 1993 March on Washington that drew a million marchers and was part of the first Oval Office meeting between a sitting President Bill Clinton and LGBT leaders. In the aftermath of the Pulse Nightclub shooting, Smith and her team coordinated a national response including raising millions in direct resources for survivors and families of the 49 killed.

In 1997, she helped create Equality Florida, which has become one of the largest LGBT+ advocacy groups in the world. Ten years later, she was arrested at a Largo City Council hearing simply for handing out a flyer that said: “Don’t Discriminate.” The charges were dropped and the Police Chief and City Council issued official apologies. In 2010, she brought the issue of Florida’s ban on gay adoptions to the attention of former President Barack Obama.

Smith said her unrelenting advocacy will continue.

“Our work is far from done as Florida, once again, stands at the center of the fight against extremism and hate. We are bearing the brunt of a governor willing to sacrifice the safety of children and destroy our most basic liberties in his desperate bid to be president. But this is not simply Florida’s fight. The wave of anti-LGBTQ, racist, freedom-destroying bills sweeping the country calls each of us to fight for our rights and, indeed, our democracy."

Nadine Smith was among eight LGBT activists named to Time’s prestigious list. The others are Emmett Schelling, a transgender activist who serves as executive director of Transgender Education Network of Texas, Apple CEO Tim Cook, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Michael R. Jackson, soccer star Megan Rapinoe, Oscar-winning actress Ariana DeBose, and Demna Gvsalia, a fashion designer and creative director of Balenciaga.

The Time 100 double issue is available online and on stands now.


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