These people have gone out of their way to help others, thus earning the honor of SFGN's Best Activists of 2020.

Lucas O'Ryan 

LucasORyan

Photo via Facebook.

This year the Best Local LGBT Activist in Palm Beach award goes to Lucas O’Ryan, the Youth Program Coordinator for Compass Community Center.

His job also 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 and trans support groups that Compass hosts. He’s worked for Compass since 2018.

The name of the actual award was Best LGBT NOT Named Julie Seaver, since the Compass’ executive director has previously won every year. Seaver thought it was important to share the love!

“Lucas’ passion and commitment in his various roles at Compass makes him an ideal role model for the at-risk youth and adults he serves. He has dedicated his skillset as a steadfast advocate for his young clients and their families, provides high caliper LGBTQ cultural humility training for other businesses and organizations, and has become an integral part of the Compass team here at the center,” Seaver said. “Lucas inspires kids to be happy and safe in their authentic selves, and continues to win large and small battles every day for struggling youth-most of which the greater community will never know of.”

The readers also chose a new category this year: Best Trans Activist. O’Ryan won that too.

“COVID-19 has only made things more challenging for most of us. Mental health needs have heightened and trans individuals and their families are always in need of support and resources regardless if a global pandemic is happening,” O’Ryan said. "I have had to navigate through the waters of this change like everyone else, but have still been able to provide resources and support, lead groups, facilitate training, meet grant deliverables, network with community partners and agencies.”

O'Ryan who identifies as trans also enjoys sports, dancing, reading, and he has also been known to do karaoke on occasions.

"Winning this award has shown me that the community has been positively impacted by the work I am personally doing,” he said.

Runner-Up: Adam Sessa for Best LGBT Activist

– DCJ

Alex Guerra

AlexGuerra

Photo via Facebook.

Alex Guerra has won both the Best Activist and Business Owner awards for Miami-Dade.

Guerra hung the banner and paid the price. This gay Cuban fashionista let his feelings be known in the summer when he hung a Black Lives Matter banner from his business, Hotel Gaythering.

The result was a fine from the city, but Guerra remains undeterred. When he opened his ‘straight-friendly’ hotel on South Beach a few years back it came with a front door notice: “If You Are Racist, Sexist, Homophobic or an Asshole, Don’t Come In!”

Runners-Up: Herb Sosa for Best Activist & Roco Carulli for Best Business Owner 

- HS

Chris Caputo

ChrisCaputo

Photo via Facebook.

Chris Caputo moved to Wilton Manors 15 years ago and since then he established a name for himself as a businessman (Development Partners) and community leader. Now he brings home the award for Best Local LGBT Activist for Broward. 

His resume is impressive: Member of the Board of Directors, Greater Fort Lauderdale Chamber of Commerce; Chair of the Affordable Housing Subcommittee, GFLCC; Member of the Government Affairs Council, GFLCC; Board Chair, Pride Center at Equality Park.

Nor has he forgotten about the nuts and bolts of LGBT activism. In March he led a protest in front of Ron’s Barbershop to support a trans employee who had been attacked and fired. More recently, Caputo organized a rally on Wilton Drive in support of then-presidential candidate Joe Biden.

“I never made a decision to become an LGBT activist,” Caputo said. “It just happened. Having tested positive for HIV at the Pride Center a decade ago, I felt broken. This community — my LGBTQ+ community — loved me until I could love myself. They lent an emotional helping hand and assured me it gets better. Having found myself personally and professionally — thanks to the support of my community — I learned to live my life free of shame and I wanted everyone to have that same empowering experience.”

Nowadays Caputo wants to be an advocate for the trans community.

“They are facing an uphill battle, often in their own community, not to mention the dozens of hate crimes and murders that their community has experienced this year alone,” he said. “Their community is our community. We are one LGBTQ+ family, and we have to work together to be treated equally and experience equity in all of our daily lives.”

On Nov. 3, Caputo was elected City Commissioner in Wilton Manors.

Runner-U: Misty Eyez 

– JM

Susan Kent

SusanKent

Photo via Facebook.

Susan Kent brings home the top prize for Best Local LGBT Activist for Key West this year. In 2017 she was named to SFGN’s annual OUT50 list for her work in the community.

Over the years she has been an energetic ambassador for many local causes, including the Key West Business Guild, Pride, Womenfest and The Sister Season Fund.

Kent was also part of the team of Marriage Equality advocates who worked with a local same-sex couple in their successful legal battle with the state of Florida. 

Kent is also proud to have been part of the effort behind unfurling a 1.25-mile-long Sea-to-Sea Rainbow Flag from the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic Ocean.

Kent has an infectious smile, a passion-driven focus on what matters and a wonderful memory of local history. And, when she says that Key West folks are “some of the most caring, generous and giving people anywhere” it’s pointless to disagree.

Runner-up: Clayton Lopez

– JEP


To view more winners, visit SFGN's Best of 2020 Winners page.


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