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Nadine Smith, honored by Time for her LGBTQ advocacy, says student activism offers hope

Nadine Smith speaking into a microphone
Nadine Smith

Equality Florida director Nadine Smith of St. Petersburg has been named one of Time magazine's “100 Most Influential People of 2022." Gov. Ron DeSantis also made the list.

Time has named Equality Florida director Nadine Smith as one of its “100 Most Influential People of 2022.” Gov. Ron DeSantis is also on the list.  

The magazine's list was broken down as performers, artists, innovators, titans, pioneers and leaders.

Smith, a St. Petersburg resident, was placed under the icons category, with the likes of performers Adele, Mary J. Blige and Keanu Reeves, and tennis players Peng Shuai and Rafael Nadal, whose writeup was penned by Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady.

DeSantis was listed among other leaders, and a synopsis was written by former Gov. Jeb Bush.

WMFE’s Danielle Prieur spoke with Smith about her activism, starting with how she’s thinking about the recently signed Parental Rights in Education law, labeled by critics as the “Don’t Say Gay” measure. 

On whether the legislation is new. “We saw it in Florida with the Johns Committee, which was a committee of the Florida Legislature (1956-65), whose sole purpose was to eliminate to 'purge from Florida’s educational system, Black civil rights advocates and homosexuals,' right? And they destroyed people’s careers, destroyed people’s lives pushed people to suicide, they didn’t care about the humanity of who they targeted.”

On what’s being done to push back against the law. “There’s a lawsuit challenging the law that DeSantis signed, and there has been advocacy. And the thing that makes me most hopeful is the advocacy of young people.”

On what keeps her going. “Well, you know, as a lesbian, who’s married, and my wife and I have a child, this hits us very personally. But even more than that, we’ve seen, you know, as we make progress, we’ve experienced backlash before. And what’s important in the midst of the backlash is not to lose hope.”

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Danielle Prieur