The bright and sunny start to Jacksonville’s 2014 OneSpark festival was slightly dampened by claims that one of the event’s more than 600 creators was asked to leave a venue.
Members of local LGBT advocacy group We Are Straight Allies said they will be allowed to stay in their registered venue at the Wells Fargo building downtown despite being asked on Tuesday to move.
In a statement issued Wednesday morning by the Allies chief creative catalyst Chevara Orrin, the group said members of Parkway Properties, which manages the building, informed them that several unnamed tenants “were uncomfortable with the content of our campaign and wanted us removed from the creator venue space.”
We Are Straight Allies is a campaign focused on rallying support from straight individuals and families for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.
The group’s display in the Wells Fargo building includes photos of local straight allies, including a nine-foot window display of a family with a little girl and the words “I’m coming out as a straight ally.”
The sign became the main bone of contention between management and the group. Parkway had asked the Allies to remove a sign display from the window, Orrin said.
“It showcases one of the families that are part of the initiative, the Cordova family, and we were unwilling to take that down because it flies in the face of the advocacy work that we do as straight allies in the LGBT community,” Orrin said.
Multiple phone calls and an email sent to Parkway Properties management were not immediately returned, and a receptionist at the Parkway office told WJCT that no one was available to speak.
According to organizers at OneSpark, the main issue raised by building management was over the size and placement of the group's sign.
OneSpark spokeswoman Meredith O’Malley Johnson said organizers were able to resolve the issue with Parkway. The group will be allowed to remain in the building and display their signs as planned, she said.
“We support all of our creators and their right to be here and we support all of the ideas that they bring,” she said.
Orrin said she is grateful for the outpouring of support the group received from OneSpark and other community members.
“We’ve even been contacted by other creators to tell us that ‘Hey, we’ll move over and give you some of our space,’” she said. “So that’s what’s happened too and that’s an incredible outpouring of love and support from the community.”
You can follow Rhema Thompson on Twitter @RhemaThompson.