August 23, 2021 | By Gloria Muñoz
Hateful Words Cannot Break
John Gascot, Founder of
Shortly after the 2016 election, John Gascot and his husband woke up to find anonymous hate mail in the form of a letter full of homophobic slurs. Rather than saying nothing, Gascot, who was taken aback by the anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric, spoke up on social media and on local news. Friends and community members soon reached out with their support.
The letter, which was meant to instill fear, lit up a certain kind of courage in Gascot. Hate had no place in their block, neighborhood – or in their city for that matter. They would not be bullied or silenced by hateful words.
So how did they respond to this act of bigotry? With an army of love and support, Gascot and his husband gave their garage door a prideful makeover by painting it with all the colors of the rainbow.
“We were amazed by how people came together,” Gascot said, “and this inspired me to do more in my community.”
Diversity Arts was born from this experience. The small but mighty organization started from the ground up. As noted on their website, “Diversity Arts aims to support underserved youth and communities by providing safe environments, guidance and materials for creative self-discovery, expression and sociocultural interaction.”
The organization is keeping true to its mission by providing free mixers, workshops, classes and events offered in-studio, schools and community centers. This summer Gascot organized Pride at the Village, Pinellas Park’s first Pride parade.
Yes, this is the same city where Gascot and his husband received mail that aimed to bully them and tear them down. It seems that a hateful act was transformed to spark a revolution of love and acceptance. And the revolution is just getting started as Gascot has big dreams for Diversity Arts, including a brick and mortar center for their creative advocacy work.
Gascot, who shares that he did not have an artistic LGBTQ+ mentor or access to this kind of program as a young person, is inspired to provide a space of acceptance that builds community and celebrates all kinds of artists.
As it continues to flourish, Diversity Arts is always looking for sponsors, partners, and volunteers who are passionate about changing arts accessibility and raising up the voices of LGBTQ+ youth.
Upcoming events include Game On Interactive Workshop at 12 pm on Saturday, September 18 and a spooky October Gallery experience that is sure to make spines tingle. Stay in the loop by following Diversity Arts on Facebook here.
John Gascot describes his vivid work as Latin Pop, combining elements of Pop, Cubism and Folk flavored with a Latin/Global sensibility. You can
explore his visual art at gascot.com.
John Gascot is a Creative Pinellas 2021 Emerging Artist Fellow. You can follow the updates he’s shared
on his work here.