There are five contenders for Best LGBT Activist in Palm Beach County.
They are Dylan Brooks; Lucas O'Ryan; Rolando Chang Barrero; Toni Armstrong Jr. and Adam Sessa.
The actual title of the category is “Best LGBT Activist NOT Named Julie Seaver.” Seaver serves as the Executive Director of Compass, Palm Beach County’s LGBT community center. She’s dominated the category each year so this year SFGN wanted to give a chance to someone else — with Seaver’s blessing.
Brooks works for Compass and has been in the field of HIV prevention for eight years. He recently took on the new role of Director of HIV Prevention and Education.
“It's an honor to be nominated,” Brooks said. “With a title like that, those are some big heels to fill and I am nominated along with other amazing LGBT activists who are making a difference to make Palm Beach County more inclusive, more accepting, and more LGBT friendly every day.”
In 2018 Brooks tied Seaver for the top spot in this category.
O'Ryan is the Transgender Youth Services Coordinator at Compass. His job includes working with trans-identifying individuals and their families to provide resources and services. He also facilitates the weekly Transgender Youth Group and the monthly trans support groups that meet at Compass.
“I am excited to be nominated,” O'Ryan said. “The work we do serving trans youth, giving them a safe space to be themselves and to grow is priceless. I am honored every day to be able to come to work and spread light, love and hope in a world that desperately needs it right now.”
Chang Barrero is an artist, activist and owner of the Box Gallery in West Palm Beach. He’s also the president of the Palm Beach County Hispanic Democratic Chapter and belongs to several other minority-focused democratic clubs.
"Fighting for equality and a better understanding of the intersectionality of our community is just what we do every day,” Chang Barrero said. “Advocacy, activism, education, protests and civil disobedience are always on the table to secure the equality of our whole community and that of our allies.”
Armstrong Jr. is a life-long self-described “lesbian culture activist.” She was a co-founder and publisher of HOT WIRE: The Journal of Women’s Music and Culture, and has been a concert producer, festival photographer, conference organizer, and founder of multiple woman-identified organizations and anti-racist coalitions.
Locally she’s probably best known for being the founder of BLAST (Bi, Lesbian and Straight Together) Women of the Palm Beaches. The organization launched in 2008 and has 4,000-plus members and hosts 200-plus events every year.
Sessa is a realtor who purchased Studio 205 in Lake Worth this year renaming it to the Haus Lounge, with the slogan “The QUEER Inclusive destination of the Palm Beaches.”
“I love doing anything I can to help anyone in need, that’s why I opened The Haus Lounge. We pride ourselves on bringing the Community together for safe/affordable freely expressed LGBTQ+ Pride,” Sessa said. “No justice till we are equal has been my motto since I can remember. Ever since I was a kid, I was always doing anything I could for the community, environment, and still ongoing struggle of equality for all.”
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