Special Report by Sherlene Shanklin, WHAS11, ABC Louisville
I sat down with the person who helped change the landscape for ‘fairness’ in Louisville.
It all started with this t-shirt. Creating a cultural shift in the Louisville community.
“I always wanted too. If I was gonna get in this, I was in this for the fight. Because I knew it wasn’t just my fight. It was a fight for lots of people.” Says Alicia Pedreira.
Pedreira was thrust into the spotlight after thousands of people saw this photo at the Kentucky Star Fair in 1998. It led to her firing from the Kentucky Baptist Homes for Children Inc… where she had worked for six months.
She says “So, I had two interviews and on the second one when I thought it was serious that they were going to actually perhaps hire me, that’s when I told them on the second interview that I was gay, and that if that was a problem, not to hire me.”
She was hired and loved the job. So, when the photo of her and her then partner Nance was taken she had no idea of the repercussions. Her lawsuit against the company pushed her into the forefront of a movement that she was not expecting.
Pedreira says “Absolutely not! No, I was a volunteer. As a matter of fact, I think Nance at the time was a volunteer coordinator for the fairness campaign. And I volunteered but neither one of us would have imagined.”
So, how did the t-shirt come into play and when did she wear it? She says “This was a walk for AIDS and it was at the Belvedere. And that was my then girlfriend, Nance Goodman was her name then her name has since changed and we were waiting for the festivities to start because it was kind of like a party before they needed the walk or whatever… I remember a photographer came by and I’m kind of a ham and so we just smiled at the camera and he took his picture went on his way and that was it.”
Out of the lawsuit, the Louisville Fairness Ordinance went into effect after three attempts on January 26, 1999. Giving legal protection in the workplace and the right to live anywhere you want. That was a pivotal moment. Pedreira agreed saying “Yes, yes. I mean, for I think it was a cultural shift for the queer community, because we live in fear that if someone were to find out, then they could throw you out of your home. I actually didn’t live in fear. I wasn’t put in that situation when it all came out. I was renting a house and my lovely landlords called me up and said, We don’t care. You guys are great. We love you and we stand by you don’t have to worry about that.”
Fast forward twenty years later, Pedreira finally got some type of closure in the court system but not in a monetary way. “Well, I didn’t get a settlement, because that usually sounds like I got money. I didn’t get a dime ever. As a matter of fact, I signed with the ACLU not too settle because those attorneys all wanted to change law. They wanted it for everyone.”
So, this shirt, won as a door prize in a local bar becomes a conversation piece. Starting a conversation of change. But with all of the heartache, setbacks and years in litigation was worth it? She say “Honestly, I want to say yes, and if it isn’t my fight, then it’ll be somebody else’s.”