Gun-control PAC announces fellowship in honor of LGBTQ activist

Billy Manes. (Photo: Rob Bartlett/Orlando Weekly)

Billy Manes. (Photo: Rob Bartlett/Orlando Weekly)

A gun-control political committee started after the mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando announced Monday the creation of a new fellowship program in honor of Billy Manes, an Orlando writer and activist who passed away in July.

According to the announcement, the Pride Fund to End Gun Violence PAC, an organization that helps elect pro-LGBTQ candidates who support gun-control, is seeking sponsors for the Billy Manes Memorial Fellowship. The educational fellowship will aim to help train those interested in becoming LGBTQ and gun-control advocates.

“Billy was an integral member of Pride Fund to End Gun Violence and was one of the LGBTQ community’s most outspoken advocates. He touched so many lives as a selfless friend, community supporter and a willing mentor,” said Jason Lindsay, founder of Pride Fund. “This educational fellowship will highlight rising stars in advocacy and give them a platform to protect the marginalized and to speak out for what is right. It will prepare emerging leaders for important positions in political advocacy by instilling in them the values that Billy embodied: determination, passion, and courage.”

Manes worked as a columnist for the Orlando Weekly and was most recently the editor for LGBTQ newspaper Watermark. In 2005, he ran for mayor of Orlando as the city’s first openly gay candidate. He also served as a Pride Fund Board of Advisors member, and was a prominent voice after the Pulse nightclub shooting in 2016.

“Pride Fund would not be where it is today if it were not for Billy’s advocacy and tireless efforts immediately following the Pulse tragedy,” Lindsay said. “Billy’s insight and friendship were essential to our founding, and for that, we will be forever thankful. We hope that Billy’s legacy will live on through this educational program and provide a platform for new leaders to inspire change in America, just as Billy has.”