Time Magazine names Tampa Bay's Nadine Smith among 100 most influential people of 2022

Nadine Smith has organized for civil rights equality in Florida for over three decades.

click to enlarge Nadine Smith speaks at an Equality Florida event. - Nick Cardello
Nick Cardello
Nadine Smith speaks at an Equality Florida event.
Time Magazine has named St. Petersburg's Nadine Smith as one of the 100 most influential people of 2022.

Smith has fought for for LGBTQ+ equality in Florida for over three decades. She is the founder and director of Equality Florida, a nonprofit that protects those who experience discrimination, among other work such as preventing gun violence.

"In the fight for equality in Florida, there has perhaps been no greater advocate for LGBTQ people than Nadine Smith," Time wrote. "Smith has worked tirelessly to safeguard our rights and elevate our voices, combatting discrimination in employment, housing, and many other areas."

Smith's activism is influenced by her family's history. She told the St. Pete Catalyst that her grandparents were part of the first integrated farming cooperative in Mississippi. And her grandfather organized sharecroppers to stand up to racism.

"She is a Black, queer woman who has regularly spoken out about discrimination and biases against LGBTQ people when others have stayed silent," Time wrote. "With Equality Florida, she led the charge against the "Don't Say Gay" bill, fighting its enactment through a major civil rights lawsuit as well as a powerful television and social media ad campaign highlighting the potential impacts in classrooms."

Earlier this month, Smith spoke at an Equality Florida event, and made a call to action in the wake of the passing of "Don't Say Gay."

"Do not cower. Do not be fearful. Get angry, get organized, stay involved, and wake up the people around you," Smith said, "because it's time to fight back."

Smith started out her career as a journalist. She worked for the Herald Tribune and ran for Tampa City Council in 1991 as the city's first openly gay Black candidate. She's influenced by historical figures like Ida B. Wells, an investigative journalist and early leader in the American civil rights movement.

"Nadine Smith refuses to give up in the fight for equality," Time wrote. "Her work is an inspiration for LGBTQ organizations around the world, providing a blueprint on how to make progress for our communities through strong commitment and perseverance. She is a powerhouse, a champion of equality for everyone, and a truly incredible humanitarian."