TAMPA — Equality Florida director Nadine Smith couldn't attend last week's U2 concert in Tampa, but she can tell you which of her friends had great seats for the June 14 show at Raymond James Stadium.
That's because when Smith's photo appeared on the 200-foot-wide high-def video board next to other women leaders, her phone began to fill with snapshots from friends attending the show. In a tribute to women and activism, Smith's photo lit up the screen along with actor/writer Lena Dunham, philanthropist Melinda Gates and media mogul Oprah Winfrey.
The chartreuse- and fuchsia-tinted portraits accompanied the band's encore performance of Ultra Violet (Light My Way).
Smith was moved.
"They asked me for a photo the day before," Smith said. "(But) I had no idea my giant head would be beamed next to Oprah's.
"I thought they would include it in some kind of mosaic, not a giant photo."
Smith certainly earned the honor as CEO and founder of Equality Florida, the state organization dedicated to ending discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. She stands as a tireless advocate not just for the LGBTQ community, but for anyone facing discrimination.
"Here's my charge to everybody: Understand we need each other now more than ever," Smith said at Equality Florida's St. Pete Gala in April. "We've seen hate crimes spike. ... We've got to interrupt whoever feels that something happened in American life that empowers bigotry."
Although she didn't attend the concert, Smith vividly recalls going to Tampa Stadium 30 years ago to see the original Joshua Tree Tour.
I'm a big fan of their music and their activism off stage too," said Smith, who may get a chance to see the group in another city before the tour ends. "They sent me a nice photo of it and invited me to any of the remaining tour dates."