Singing The Praises of Unsung Heroes

(Left) Julie Seaver (photo via LinkedIn), and John Michael Gordon (courtesy photo).

Covering LGBTQ South Florida is an honor, a privilege, and a heavy responsibility. From our sales team to our webmaster and design teams to our reporters on the street, the OutSFL staff is deeply involved in every part of our community.

When we decided to create the Mz OutSFL Pageant, we wanted to not only honor our drag entertainers and the Queen of Queens, Melissa St. John, but also the people who make our community function every day.

Julie Seaver, John Michael Gordon, and Pridelines all work in the background. Whether it’s HIV testing, physically setting up an event, or offering a safe space when friends, family, or the world in general become hostile.

We invite you to take a moment and learn about our honorees that come from all parts of South Florida. Our community is better because of them. You will be better and, perhaps, inspired by learning about their work.

Community Leadership Award: Julie Seaver

Julie Seaver is a force of nature. That’s what it takes to lead the fight for LGBTQ rights, health, and wellness in Palm Beach County.

As CEO of Compass, she fights the day-to-day battles while also charting a course for a better tomorrow for LGBTQ people. Choosing her as the recipient for OutSFL’s Community Leadership Award was not a difficult decision.

“I was so surprised and then felt incredibly honored to hear I was receiving Out South Florida's Inaugural Community Leadership Award! I recognize that I don't do this work alone, and have the privilege of standing on the shoulders of those who came before me years ago,” Seaver said.

It helps to know her team has her back. “I have no doubt that Julie's leadership will continue to drive Compass’ success,” Compass board chair Nicholas Coppala said. “We are all grateful to have the opportunity to work alongside such a remarkable leader. Congratulations Julie on this well-deserved award!”

Compass organizes Pride every year in Lake Worth Beach, offers HIV testing, youth programs, and mental health services.

Seaver and her team serve PBC one day at a time, and the LGBTQ community is better off for it. “Surrounded by an amazing and dedicated team of staff, volunteers and board members, it's my honor to support Compass in forwarding our mission in saving lives every single day.”

Hero Award: John Michael Gordon

Real heroes aren’t identified by costumes and capes. Real heroes are identified by their smile and their attitude. John Michael Gordon is one of them. He loves his community and, since moving here 17 years ago, Gordon has worked to improve himself and South Florida’s LGBTQ community.

In addition to being one of the most sought after massage therapists around, the LMT is frequently seen at events: helping set up, take tickets, tear down, and anything needed in between.

“The past year and a half has been learning about myself by giving back,” he said. “Volunteering has been a blessing and a classroom.”

Events like community concerts, fundraisers, and parties don’t just happen. They require an army of volunteers. Gordon is constantly looking for ways to be a part of them, and always goes about his work with determined optimism.

Recently, he publicly talked about a sizable donation he made to an event that never happened. He knew he wouldn’t get his money back, and he wasn’t motivated by anger. Gordon wanted to make sure others didn’t get duped.

“Through volunteering, I’ve learned about commitment, patience, and loyalty. Giving back to others has also helped me give back to myself.”

Community Impact Award: Pridelines

From location changes to shifting political ground, Pridelines has faced daunting, near-existential crises over the past few years. But they persevered and now are well into a resurgence led by first year executive director, Edward Summers.

Now, the venerable organization is honored with OutSFL’s Community Impact Award.

“We are deeply humbled by this honor. For more than 42 years, Pridelines have focused on being a supportive resource for the LGBTQ+ community,” Summers said.

Pridelines is Miami-Dade’s LGBTQ community center, and there is much work to do. In addition to being a hot spot for new HIV infections, there are still deep cultural divides in the county.

Their Project SAFE program helps homeless LGBTQ youth. They help people get on PrEP/PEP, offer mental health services, HIV testing and more. Their impact is far-reaching, even though often they don’t get the praises they deserve.

“We believe in keeping our heads down and doing the important work of providing wraparound services for those most vulnerable while also engaging individuals who are in a position to give back or who are looking to build community and enhance their network in South Florida,” Summers said.

This award allows them to take a step back and, for a moment, feel the gratitude of an entire community.

“We are grateful for this recognition and acknowledge that we still have a tremendous amount of work to accomplish in supporting and empowering our community.”

The Inaugural Mz OutSFL Pageant is Saturday, May 18, at Sunshine Cathedral. Click here for tickets.


All Hail The Queen of Queens Melissa St. John


Phone: 954-514-7095
Hours: Monday - Friday 9AM - 2PM


2520 N. Dixie Highway,
Wilton Manors, FL 33305



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