October marks LGBT History Month, a time to celebrate the work and legacy of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender history makers and storytellers. By building upon the incredible legacy of LGBT activism in political and civic life, these speakers, writers, and advocates facilitate meaningful conversations about inclusion and remind audiences of the work that still needs to be done in the ongoing fight for equality in the U.S. and abroad.
Speakers for LGBT History Month
Jennifer Finney Boylan is the author of the critically acclaimed breakthrough bestseller She’s Not There: A Life in Two Genders, one of the first bestselling works by a transgender American. She is a passionate activist for LGBT people, and transgender men and women in particular, through her writing and her involvement on the Board of Directors of GLAAD and the Board of Trustees of the Kinsey Institute for Research on Sex, Gender, and Reproduction. Boylan frequently speaks to college and university students about the wide range of gender expression and embracing diversity in its many forms. She also addresses corporations and small businesses about making their place of employment a more open, knowledgeable, and respectful environment.
Garrard Conley is the author of the bestselling memoir Boy Erased: A Memoir of Identity, Faith, and Family, which was adapted into the award-winning film Boy Erased in 2018. The son of a Baptist pastor in rural Arkansas, Conley was sent to a conversion therapy facility at the age of nineteen by his family, in hopes to “cure” him of his homosexuality. Amid harmful practices and intense bigotry, Conley dug deep to find radical compassion for himself, for his family, and even for the counselors who harmed him. A powerful speaker, Conley inspires audiences with his remarkable story of empathy and resilience.
Sarah McBride is the National Press Secretary for the Human Rights Campaign, making her one of the nation’s most public LGBTQ activists. A former student body president of American University, she came out publicly as transgender in the student paper before going on to become the first openly trans woman to intern in the White House. McBride made history in 2016, becoming the first openly transgender person to address a major party convention when she spoke at the 2016 Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. A brave and inspiring speaker, McBride’s memoir Tomorrow Will Be Different: Love, Loss, and the Fight for Trans Equality has been described as”life-changing.” She continues to be a leading voice in the fight for LGBTQ equality.
For much of his life, Robbie Rogers lived in fear that sharing his big secret would cost him both his family’s love and his hard-won career as a professional soccer player. Then at twenty-five, after nearly stepping away from a brilliant career, Rogers chose to finally tell the truth, and became the first openly gay man to compete in a major North American professional sports league. A current star on the LA Galaxy Team, Rogers reflects on his personal and professional journey and addresses the complicated relationship between professional sports and the LGBT community.
Nic Stone is the New York Times bestselling author of young adult novels that explore race, sexuality, and romance. Stone’s debut novel Dear Martin is inspired by a series of true events surrounding the shooting deaths of unarmed African American teenagers. It was a best-seller as well as a William C. Morris Award finalist. She is also the author of the titles Odd One Out, which follows a story of first love and was an NPR Best Book of the Year and a Rainbow Book List Top Ten selection, and Jackpot, a story about the humanity in people, regardless of their economic status. An engaging speaker, Stone delves into the ways that fiction and literacy can enact social change and disrupt the status quo. She encourages students, educators, and aspiring writers to “write the tough stuff” in hopes of embracing their inner power.
Ocean Vuong is an electrifying literary voice in both his poetry and fiction, including his 2019 debut novel, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous, which was longlisted for the 2019 National Book Award. Inspired by his experience navigating American constructs of identity, whiteness, masculinity, and family as the child of Vietnamese refugees, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous is a powerful testament to self-discovery through language. In his talks, Vuong asks audiences to consider how listening to and amplifying voices from the margins of society, including those of LGBTQ individuals worldwide, can revolutionize our understanding of the world in profound and unique ways.