Anastasia “Annie” Hiotis is the Chief Operating Officer of the law firm of Carlton Fields, a position she has held since 2001. Annie oversees the operations of the 400 lawyer firm, which is has five offices in Florida, Atlanta, Washington DC, New York, Hartford and Los Angeles. Annie has been openly gay at the law firm since 2008, and is involved with many of her colleagues in its longstanding diversity initiatives. The firm has been ranked by Vault as #1 in Diversity among all law firms in the United States for six of the last seven years, and has received the distinction of the HRC Corporate Equality Index “Best Place to Work for LGBT Equality” for seven consecutive years.
In her personal time, Annie has been extensively involved with Equality Florida since 2009 and to date, either Chairing or being an active member of the St. Petersburg Equality Florida Steering Committee. As a result of years of activism, at its gala in May of 2014, Equality Florida presented Annie with its Voice of Equality Award. She and her partner of 24 years, Connie Lancaster, have been staunch supporters of the Tampa International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, sponsoring its annual launch party each year since 2011. They were also significant benefactors to the recently opened LGBT Welcome Center. Most recently, they co-hosted a Hillary campaign fundraiser with Chelsea Clinton. Annie and Connie have lived in St. Petersburg’s Old Northeast neighborhood since 1992. They have participated in many St. Pete Pride parades over the years, Annie marching with Equality Florida, and Connie with the Righteously Outrageous Twirling Corp.
As General Manager of Georgie's Alibi its first twelve years and now owner of Enigma Bar & Lounge, Ed Gonzalez has always taken an active role in supporting many organizations and members of St. Pete's LGBT Community. While providing patrons with a safe environment where people of all orientations have always felt welcome, the family bond with his staff remains one of the things he cherishes most. When asked why he enjoys owning a bar that is safe for LGBT patrons? "When I left Georgie's Alibi and St. Pete for a year, I was absolutely miserable until I returned to the only city that will ever feel like home! The gay community is one of the biggest factors that makes St. Pete special. Despite the fact the acceptance of the LGBT Community has grown tremendously over the years, there is still something to value in places where we can completely be ourselves without receiving even a single dirty look. Whether embracing gay friends, holding your partner's hand, or sharing a sweet kiss. Places like The Flamingo, Punky's, The Garage, Lucky Star, Quench, ourselves, and others I've missed still provide that safe haven."
The organizations and events he has sponsored, supported, and held fundraisers for include: ASAP, Aids Walk, Equality Florida (donated all liquor, set up, and staffed the bars for the annual Gala numerous years), Metro Wellness and Community Centers (who has routinely provided free HIV testing at his establishments), St. Pete Pride, the Transgender Community (holding countless benefits for local entertainers who entered National Pageants and the FTM Fund), The Tampa Bay International Gay & Lesbian Film Festival, The Tampa Bay Business Guild & Expo, World Aids Day, Cupid's Undie Run (benefitting the Children's Tumor Foundation), The Smart Ride, The Red Ribbon Cyclists, CASA, Toys for Tots, King of Peace Metropolitan Community Church, The Suncoast Softball League, The Gasparilla Softball Classic, Many Gay Softball Teams (currently The Enigma Starlets), The Stonewall Democrats, The Kenwood Neighborhood Association, BungalowFest, The Grand Central District, The EDGE District, Creative Clay (and their events such as Folkfest St. Pete), The Tampa Bay Bears, Drummer North America North Florida, Local Artists, Central Ave Zombie Pub Crawl, and Enigma is a member of The Tampa Bay Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce.
Lucas Aiden Wehle
Lucas Aiden Wehle was born in Florida twenty four years ago as the middle child of three. Although gender roles were traditional in the Wehle household, he never felt like he was one of ‘the Wehle girls’. When he was 18 he became a proud bull at the University of South Florida, where he would eventually earn a Bachelor of Science in Physical Education. This was the first time he was exposed to the LGBTQ+ community. Through meeting activists and learning about social justice Lucas learned about alternatives to cisgender heteronormativity. This terrible gap between who he knew he was and how the world perceived him was finally bridged. By transitioning fully into maleness Lucas had, in turn, made a silent pact with community based activism. A pact that promised for every injustice, heartbreak, confused moment he had suffered; however he might be victimized or terrorized or hurt-- he would make a concrete effort to make the world better.
He has thus far made good on that pact. While transitioning Lucas spoke to raise awareness, developed and lead workshops, presented in classes at Universities and K-12 schools, and mentored other trans students. For Lucas, “no one wins unless we all do”. This attitude helped him become elected as Vice President of the Trans+ Student Union in 2014-15. In recognition of his work in the community he was honored with the 2015 Pride Award in his final semester at USF. Almost immediately following graduation, Lucas began working at Metro Wellness in his dream job as Trans & Youth Coordinator in 2015. His position allows for him to develop and facilitate support and outreach programs, specifically aimed to support gender non-conforming individuals on both sides of the bay. Currently he facilitates trans support groups, trans partner support groups, LGBTQ youth groups, and trans parent support groups on a weekly basis. In addition to this, he organizes social events to support the LGBTQ+ community. In his spare time, Lucas continues to mentor trans youth. To honor the pain caused by the division in his family, spurned by his transition, he has continued to work diligently with PFLAG. Most importantly, his cat Shark thinks that he is pretty awesome.
Miguel, Host of The Miguel Show on Cox Media Group’s HOT 101.5 has a long and rich history of LGBT advocacy, on and off the air.
During his sophomore year at South Georgia College in rural Douglas, Georgia, he started the college’s first Gay-Straight Alliance. There was much opposition from the community, but Miguel felt it was important for the LGBT students at SGC to have a voice.
When he moved on to Georgia Southern University to finish his Bachelor’s Degree, Miguel became one of the first openly gay radio personalities on the college radio station 91.9 The Buzz. By his senior year, he hosted his first successful morning show. After college, he moved to Savannah, Georgia to work for 97.3 KISSFM. While living in Savannah, he was involved with the planning of Savannah Pride.
In 2008, Miguel made the leap to his first professional radio morning show at Island 106 in Panama City Beach, Florida, joining the cast of ‘That Guy’ Kramer in the Morning. In three years that followed he would become the media point person for Panama City Beach Pride. He also was instrumental in establishing a relationship between the radio station and the only gay club in PCB, a partnership that is still going strong to this day.
In 2011, the ‘That Guy’ Kramer Show was called to the major leagues of radio at Tampa Bay’s Play 98.7. In the one year that Miguel was in Tampa Bay, he established partnerships with AIDS Walk Tampa Bay and the Santa Speedo Run. He also starred in a how-to video for HIV Testing with AIDs Service of Pinellas County.
After a year in Tampa Bay, Miguel returned back to Panama City Beach to host his own morning show with current co-host Holly O’Connor. In the two years he was in Panama City, Miguel became the first open, gay, African-American radio host to go number one in all key demos. He won the readers’ choice award for Best Radio Personality from both The News Herald and Panama City Living magazine. He also worked with at-risk gay youths at a local Panama City high school.
After honing his morning show vision, Miguel returned to Tampa Bay on HOT 101.5 where he has been entertaining listeners since March of 2015.
Todd Richardson is the Pinellas County Development officer for Equality Florida. He is a graduate of the University of South Florida College of Fine Arts, and a veteran of the United States Air Force. His life as an activist started with photographing the March on Washington in 1993. As a commercial photographer, Todd’s work has been seen in advertisements for companies such as Dillard’s, The Home Shopping Network, and Esquire Magazine. As an exhibiting artist, Todd has raised thousands of dollars through art performance pieces and activism. His photograph, “The Lost Pages of The Bard,” was accepted into the personal collection of Sir Elton John. Most recently, his photography appeared in the Huffington Post. He has been a volunteer for Equality Florida, Tampa International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, Tampa AIDS network, “Art for Life,” Metro Wellness and Community Centers, ASAP/Empath and Hands Across The Bay. Originally from Salem, New Hampshire, he now calls St. Petersburg home.
Tristan Byrnes has been an outspoken activist and advocate for transgender issues in Florida since he completed his own female to male transition in 2005. A Licensed Mental Health Counselor and founder of New Transition Therapy LLC, he has been counseling the transgender community in St. Petersburg since 2010. Recognizing a need for awareness, support and education in the trans community and in all of the lives it touches, he has dedicated his life to giving back, providing a much needed voice for those whose needs often fall through the cracks.
Tristan was named one of the Most Remarkable People of 2015 by the Tampa Bay LGBT publication Watermark, and was voted one of the top three medical providers by its readership in 2013 and 2014. Some of his outreach includes organizing events like diversity panels, story telling events and lectures to educate on transgender issues. He organizes quarterly town hall meetings for the transgender community and their allies, helping its members to stay current with community needs while lending educational support to ongoing issues as well as changes in the legal realm. He organizes the yearly Metro Wellness Tampa Bay Trans Pride event, sits on the advisory board of TransAction Florida, and is also a female to male and male to female support group facilitator at Metro Wellness and Community Centers. Much more than just a one-on-one counselor, Tristan takes a broader approach, his philosophy to provide continuing education to support the systemic health of the community itself while bridging the gap between the LGB and T communities.
Inspired to become a counselor by Dr. Kathleen Farrell, the doctor who oversaw his own transition, Tristan obtained a master’s degree in mental health from USF Tampa, during which time the seeds of his future activism were sown. To this day he still returns to campus at least once a semester to lecture students on transgender issues, and he thrives on seeing support and understanding come to those who have previously struggled with it. He is well known for his expertise in transgender medical issues, and is a full time counselor, community activist and an outspoken advocate for transgender rights. When he isn’t raising awareness, counseling those in transition or celebrating transgender victories both large and small, Tristan enjoys a rich family life that includes a close relationship with his mother, a deeply supportive partner and an adoptive daughter. With much yet to be done in terms of education, awareness and legal policy changes, there aren’t many idle hours in Tristan’s day, but watching his clients come into their own, helping them to feel comfortable in their own skin and seeing their families rally their support is truly its own reward.
Balance Tampa Bay
Balance Tampa Bay is an LGBTA volunteer organization that develops personal growth through Fun, Fellowship, Philanthropy and Mentorship.
Each month we hold a public service event for a local non-profit plus help feed the homeless the first Sunday of the month. Some of the non-profits we have assisted include: Francis House, Metropolitan Ministries, Big Cat Rescue, The Spring, The Humane Society, The Edible Peace Patch and The Tampa Bay International Gay & Lesbian Film Festival. We also hold monthly socials and bi-monthly activities to help members meet and learn about Balance Tampa Bay. Activities include things like Laser Tag, Art Walks, Scavenger Hunts and going to baseball games. In conjunction with the Tampa Bay Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, we operate a mentorship program that introduces college students to professionals working in the fields of interest to the college students. As part of the mentorship program, we recently gave a $1,500 scholarship to a USF student.
Balance Tampa Bay also hosts three special events per year including:
Balance Tampa Bay has no dues and is open to anyone interested in giving back to the community. Most of our events are free to attend or have a low entry fee. All proceeds raised are donated to our charity partners.