Equality Florida raising awareness for LGBTQ rights

Seth Owen, a well-known openly gay college student, is among the supporters

By Zachery Lashway - Reporter/anchor

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Florida’s largest civil rights organization, Equality Florida, is dedicated to securing full equality for Florida’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community.

Saturday night was the 2019 Greater Jacksonville Gala, where some of the most outspoken voices for equality throughout Northeast Florida were recognized.

First Coast High graduate and Georgetown University freshman Seth Owen was among them. Owen was kicked out of his family’s home after a religious rift with his family due to his sexual orientation.

At that time, some of his teachers banded together and launched a GoFundMe fundraising account to help raise more than $140,000 to pay for his college education.

His story made national headlines when he ended up on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show."

The 6-foot-4, 18-year-old Oceanway native no longer calls Florida home, as he attends college in Washington, D.C.

“My intention is to double major in government and African-American studies,” said Owen. “Personally, I am feeling very well. I am doing great. Enjoying D.C. Absolutely loving it.”

Owen explained to News4JAX reporter Zac Lashway that he still has contact with his biological family, but it’s not a good relationship. "It’s still a very toxic relationship,” he said.

At the time Owen was featured on "The Ellen Degeneres Show," she presented him with $25,000. With that money, Owen founded the Unbroken Horizons Scholarship Foundation.

“There are so many opportunities on (the) horizon, and collectively, we are unbroken," Owen said. "The scholarship application is completely inclusive. You don’t have to check boxes or identify a certain way. It’s my job as a white-perceived student to do everything in my ability to give back. Help to provide equity in education as much as possible.”

Owen also elaborated on his hopes for his family.

“I hope they, one day, they can acknowledge they abdicated their responsibility of taking care of their child, their underage child and put me in a lot of risky situations," he said.

Owen said he hopes to someday have a better relationship with his family, too.

"I want to be close with my mom and my dad," he said. "There are times I think I just want to call my mom, and I can’t. That is something I look forward to.”

Owen has landed an internship with U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy, D-Florida. He said he plans to return to Northeast Florida during the summer.

To donate to the Unbroken Horizons Scholarship Foundation, click here

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