Over the decades, the LGBTQ community has been subject to violence and discrimination that has come to a head with the recent massacre at Pulse Nightclub. It is a community that has been united in their oppression, but even more so in their resilience, strength, and hope. Now, more than ever, the stories of people within this community serve as a reminder of our humanity, our diversity, and our collective drive toward positive change. Through sharing stories of inequality and advocacy from people across the state, Equality Florida is elevating ally and community voices to come out and say #IAmFlorida. I am here. And most of all, I matter.
As a genderqueer parent and the Director of LGBTQ Affairs at the University of Florida, LB Hannahs is an advocate for LGBTQ youth and students whose identities span the spectrum of sexual orientation and gender identity. LB also co-runs a program called Gatorship, which trains students to facilitate social justice retreats on campus, and co-founded Gainesville Equality Youth, a local LGBTQ alliance.
As someone whom LGBTQ youth and university students look up to as a role model and a mentor, LB comes across as secure and comfortable in their identity — something that reassures people coming to terms with their own. But LB shared that they didn’t always possess this confidence. “It’s a lifelong process,” they said in reference to their coming out. Born in upstate New York, LB first began college at a small liberal arts school before transferring to Syracuse University. “When I first went away to college, I had an identity crisis not only because I’m queer, but because I’m part of a working class family. People were very different from me — their class status, their access to resources, their sexual orientation; that was a turning point for me in figuring out who I was.” After LB transferred to Syracuse, they got involved in the university’s LGBTQ center. “That’s where I blossomed. The second part of my coming out was coming to terms with my gender identity, figuring out what it means to be genderqueer and more masculine, especially in the context of being a parent. It’s still evolving.”