Remarkable People 2023: Patty Sheehan, Orlando City Commissioner, District 4

When we talk about our history in the United States we usually start off by talking about our Founding Fathers. But when we talk about LGBTQ+ History in Orlando, I think we have to start off with our Founding Mother – Commissioner Patty Sheehan.

Commissioner Sheehan has been at the forefront of our battle in Orlando for the past 23 years! She was the first openly gay elected official in Central Florida. Because of her we have had an outspoken voice for our community.

Commissioner Sheehan was instrumental in making sure that no one in Orlando would be fired for being a part of the LGBTQ+ community. She was the driving force behind the Domestic Partner Registry, and she even worked behind the scenes to make sure that we’d have the right to marriage equality in Orange County starting on January 6, 2015. Commissioner Sheehan not only fights for our rights but she fights for everyone’s rights.

She was also our beacon of light that showed us that it was ok to cry, be angry, fight back and work together toward healing during our darkest days in Orlando – the Pulse Nightclub shooting tragedy.

What many people may not know is that Commissioner Sheehan is also a champion for our senior citizens, for the less economically fortunate and for her district’s children. Working with her amazing community sponsors, to date Commissioner Sheehan has raised enough money to be able to distribute turkeys and Thanksgiving meals to the neediest residents for the past 18 years in a row. Commissioner Sheehan has also worked with those same community sponsors to raise enough money to give new bicycles, kick scooters and helmets to District 4 children who may not be getting much during the holidays — and she’s done this for the past 22 years in a row!

Commissioner Sheehan is not only a person who has to make important decisions about the future of our city but she is also a very caring person who feels others’ joy and, at times, their pain. She understands what others are going through and can certainly empathize with them. I feel that these wonderful qualities and her willingness to work side-by-side with others are why Commissioner Sheehan is now our longest serving Commissioner in Orlando’s history.

At the end of the day, I count myself as the luckiest person in the world, as I am the lucky guy who has had the privilege to work side-by-side with Commissioner Sheehan, day in and day out, for the past 13 years. That’s why I feel that Orlando’s LGBTQ+ history starts with just one prominent name, our very own Founding Mother – Commissioner Patty Sheehan.

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