Forum’s Newest Hire: A Vibrant Multi-Tasker
By Susan Finch
Shreveport resident Odessa “Justice” Sykes has made a career of acting in movies and commercials, part-time work that leaves her plenty of room to devoting herself to her family and to causes that help other people.
One of those causes is the Forum For Equality, which recently hired her to spread the organization’s message of equality for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people to potential allies in North Louisiana and the state Legislature.
Sykes said that she and her husband have taught their kids — three sons and two daughters ranging in age from 16 to 28 – not to be prejudiced. “I have a lot of gay friends,” she said. “I have just as many gay friends, as I have straight friends. My kids have seen the wonderful people that are our friends all their lives.”
Born in Shreveport, Sykes grew up singing in the choirs of Southern Baptist churches pastored by her father. She married just out of high school to Dother Sykes III, of Tampa, Fl., who was then serving with the Air Force in Alexandria.
The couple settled in Tampa, where Sykes was a professional singer (her stage name is Justice) and worked with the Tampa Aids Network as a certified pre- and post- HIV testing counselor assigned to educate people in rural, underserved areas of the state about all STDs.