Terrance Patterson is a proud Jacksonville native. Though he left for a while to attend college in Baltimore, pursue his music career and travel around the world, he’s very happy to be back now.
It was while he was in college studying music at Johns Hopkins University Peabody Institute that he started to share with others that he was gay. It was also where he had one of his first experiences with institutional discrimination – both because of his gay identity and black identity.
“My experience [being gay and black] has been one of subtle differences rather than anything outright,” Terrance explained. “But I did—years ago, while I was at Johns Hopkins, at the conservatory—once have a professor who made it clear he was very much not into blacks, and very much not into gays.”
Thirty years later, Terrance is the Executive and Artistic Director of the Ritz Chamber Players, which brings together world-renowned classical black musicians. Now, he feels much more empowered to speak up when he sees racist or homophobic injustices in the world.
“If I ever come in contact with a person or find out about any groups that are perpetuating bigotry, I become very conscious about how I might take away my support, or lend my support if they’re doing something good,” he said.
Until he started working with the Jacksonville Coalition for Equality to support an LGBT-inclusive Human Rights Ordinance in his hometown, Terrance had never been involved in any formal LGBT advocacy efforts, though he has occasionally used his artistic talents to support the movement. Then he heard a number of his friends who are straight allies championing the HRO, and he decided he should speak out.
He says in 2016, it’s well past time that LGBT people are afforded the same basic rights as all other people in Jacksonville. Though passing an LGBT-inclusive HRO in Jacksonville won’t end discrimination overnight, he said it sends an important message about how LGBT people should expect to be treated—equally.
“As a gay man, I have to pay 100% of what I owe in taxes. So shouldn’t I have 100% of society’s protections? I don’t discriminate against straight people, so why should I be discriminated against?”