Mary Lambert performing at UNF for LGBT Conference

Michaela Gugliotta

Mary Lambert is a singer who is openly gay and was features on Machlemore's hit singe, 'Same Love'. Photo from Facebook, by Debora Spencer
Mary Lambert is a singer who is openly gay and was features on Machlemore’s hit singe, ‘Same Love’.
Photo from Facebook, by Debora Spencer

For the first time ever, the Florida Collegiate Pride Coalition Conference comes to UNF March 28-30 to spread awareness about LGBT.

This year marks the 11th annual conference, with a concert in the Robinson Theater on March 28 at 8 p.m. by Mary Lambert, featured artist on “Same Love” by Macklemore.

UNF is one of only two universities in Florida with a full-time staffed LGBT Resource Center. The community has been a part of UNF since mid-2006, according to the conference pamphlet.

UNF Pride Club President Haileigh Baier, a sophomore majoring in education, said she has been involved with the FCPC for two years.

“I think this is important because believe it or not a lot of LGBT people, especially in the state of Florida don’t have many rights as people think. Just for suspected of being gay, I can be fired from any job.”

Baier said she is excited to see Mary Lambert, a singer, activist, and spoken word artist who is open about being a lesbian.

“Before this conference I didn’t know much about her. I heard her songs and looked up her music. Through doing this conference, I looked up a biography of her life, and I realized she has had a pretty hard life. Before the song ‘Same Love’ actually got big or anything, she was living in her car,” Baier said.

photo 2
UNF is one of only two Fla state universities with a fully established LGBT Center.
Photo by Michaela Gugliotta

Kyle Gibbons, a junior accounting major, has also been involved for two years, and is the finance director of FCPC at UNF.

“This event just got started. We got approved for it. We were fighting to do it for three years, so it was really an excitement when we actually got the opportunity to host the event,” Gibbons said.

There is no current law in Jacksonville preventing discrimination based on sexual orientation.

“The bill for sexual orientation actually failed last time they tried to pass it. There was a company that came here that offered 3,000 jobs and then left, because the city of Jacksonville wasn’t okay with sexual orientation rights and equality rights in the state of Fla.,” Gibbons said.

According to their agenda, main speakers will include Chief Executive Officer of Equality Florida Nadine Smith and Representative for Equality Florida Joe Saunders. Throughout the weekend, there will be various workshops that focus on trans-genders, people of color, activism, and pride. As of March 28, there are 190 registered attendees, 30 volunteers, and seven people on staff.

Gibbons said Jacksonville is slowly progressing, but FCPC brings light to the situation.

“I’m very hopeful that every attendee can bring some hope to their community and help grow and forge upon just one concept to help it expand,” said Kyle.

This is the Eleventh annual FCPC conference. Photo from Facebook
This is the Eleventh annual FCPC conference.
Photo from Facebook

The FCPC was founded in 2003 at the Florida College Activist Conference, hosted at the University of Central Florida, as a way to bring LGBT social groups together from across the state. The first FCPC Conference took place in 2004 at the University of Miami and has been hosted by different universities each year since, according to the pamphlet.

This year’s conference has sponsors such as CSX, Whole Foods, The Consortium, and Jacksonville Area Sexual Minority Youth Network.

The concert is open to all, but workshops require registration and a fee.

Email Michaela Gugliotta at [email protected]