Every June, we celebrate Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) Pride Month, remembering and honoring the 1969 Stonewall riots. Today, as the fight for LGBTQ rights continues in the U.S. and abroad, our schools, universities, and corporations are committed to fostering a culture of meaningful diversity and inclusion. The Penguin Random House Speakers Bureau represents a many speakers whose lectures facilitate these important discussions.
Activists and Changemakers
A longtime political activist and one of the most prominent advocates for transgender equality and rights, Sarah McBride made history as the first openly transgender person to address a national political convention during the 2016 Democratic National Convention. McBride was recently sworn in as State Senator for Delaware’s First Senate District—the first trans person to hold this, or any, state senate position in the United States. As a spokesperson for the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBTQ advocacy organization, McBride fights for progressive legislation and initiatives on behalf of transgender Americans and LGBTQ+ individuals around the world. Her touching memoir, Tomorrow Will Be Different, is a history of her activism and the profoundly personal experiences that continue to motivate her work.
Boy Erased, Garrard Conley’s courageous memoir about the abusive “conversion therapy” he endured after his family learned about his sexuality, has been celebrated by audiences around the world and was adapted into an acclaimed and Golden Globe-nominated film in 2018. Conley’s story of survival, faith, and forgiveness has touched thousands and reignited the urgent conversation around the irreparable damage caused by conversion therapy. An accomplished and inspiring speaker, Conley speaks on compassion, the therapeutic benefits of writing, and the complex issues surrounding the American South.
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 speaks to corporations and small businesses about making their place of employment a more open, knowledgeable, and respectful environment.
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.
Ariel Levy is the author of the New York Times-bestselling book The Rules Do Not Apply, a gorgeous, heartbreaking memoir about one woman overcoming dramatic loss and finding reinvention. In Levy’s poignant but humorous talks, she shares her remarkable story, and offers her insights on the shifting forces in our culture that made her journey possible—both what has changed, and what is eternal. As an openly bisexual woman, Levy challenges audiences to resist traditional rules about work, love, and womanhood and build a life on their own terms.
Ocean Vuong is a celebrated poet whose debut novel, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous, was one of the most acclaimed novels of 2019. A dazzling coming-of-age story that touches on identity, immigration, queer desire, and the power of language to both connect and divide, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous launched Vuong into the national spotlight. Vuong was named an “Essential Asian American Writer” by Buzzfeed Books, and he was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship, the youngest recipient of the grant in the 2019 class. Whether speaking about the challenges and rewards of creating art from the margins of mainstream American society or revealing the process behind his award-winning writing, Vuong is a vital literary voice for audiences everywhere.
Jacqueline Woodson is a four-time Newbery Honor winner, a recipient of the NAACP Image Award, and was named both the Young People’s Poet Laureate by the Poetry Foundation and the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature. Most recently, Woodson was the recipient of the Hans Christian Andersen Award and was named a MacArthur Fellow. In her books, which are recognized for their diverse characterization of young people and relationships, Woodson confronts themes of race, sexuality, socioeconomic status, and bullying. She spotlights diverse gender expressions, representing multidimensional female and transgender protagonists.
Known as Son of Baldwin on social media, Robert Jones, Jr. leads and participates in vital conversations on the Black Lives Matter movement, racism, literature, and politics. His instant New York Times-bestselling debut novel, The Prophets, is an ambitious, imaginative, and important tale of Black queerness through history. In his personable and engaging talks, Jones speaks on the intersections of being Black and queer and his experience as a Black queer writer in a white supremacist, capitalist, and patriarchal society.
Bryan Washington is a rising star in the literary world who made his debut with Lot, a short-story collection that offers a fresh and dynamic portrait of Houston while exploring the ideas of queer identity and community. A distinguished writer and social commentator, he has had many of his works published in The New Yorker, The New York Times, Buzzfeed, and Vulture, among others. In his upcoming novel, Memorial (October 2020), Washington weaves a humorous yet profound story about family and love in all its strange forms. A charismatic and engaging speaker, Washington speaks to audiences about vulnerability, the power of literature, and how queer narratives continue to change and subvert expectations.
At age 30, Jedidiah Jenkins left his job to bicycle from Oregon to Patagonia, a fulfilling journey detailed beautifully in his memoir, To Shake the Sleeping Self. His newest memoir is the New York Times-bestselling Like Streams To The Ocean, which examines the things that make us who we are and encourages us to get to know ourselves, our stories, and the decisions that shape our one and only life. Jenkins champions travel as a way to experience the natural world, and he speaks to audiences around the country about his journeys from a rigid upbringing into a rich and inclusive philosophy that left him with lessons of identity and meaning for all of us.
Carlos Andrés Gómez is a Colombian American spoken word poet and author of the coming-of-age memoir Man Up: Reimagining Modern Manhood. He draws from his eclectic expertise—as an award-winning solo performer, trained facilitator, public speaker, and educator—to create sought-after and captivating programs. Gómez asks audiences to reimagine outdated clichés like the rigid gender binary and prescribed gender roles, and he interrogates how our other identities (i.e. race, sexuality, socioeconomic status, nationality, religion, etc.) impact how we understand and experience gender.
An expert at bringing creativity to the workplace in unexpected and often liberating ways, Tania Katan‘s dynamic talks inspire teams to approach their work with a new perspective. With her philosophy of “Creative Trespassing”, Katan shows how thinking outside the box can impact every part of a workday routine and result in extraordinary and exciting projects. Katan first went viral with the #ItWasNeverADress campaign, which broke through gender barriers and ignited a necessary conversation about empowering women in tech. She continues to teach people and companies the skill of generating creative breakthroughs.