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
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.
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. In the midst of 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.
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.
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.
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 bestseller 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.
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.