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LZ Granderson


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LZ Granderson


 

Journalist, Commentator, Sports Writer

"Boxes are for shoes" is the mantra award-winning columnist and TV pundit LZ Granderson lives by. African-American, openly-gay, Christian and a father, the diversity of Granderson's work – from sports, education and race to politics, parenting and dating – made him one of the most popular online columnists for both CNN and ESPN. On June 2, he joined ABC News.  January 28, was his ESPN , Around the Horn debut.

Granderson started off as a poor, skinny kid from Detroit – and at one point was involved in criminal activity – but he always believed where a person started didn't have to dictate where a person finished.

 LZ Granderson wrote a weekly column for CNN.com. A senior writer for ESPN and lecturer at Northwestern University, and now a fellow at the U. of Chicago's Institute of Politics, the former Hechinger Institute fellow has had his commentary recognized by the Online News Association, the National Association of Black Journalists and the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association.  

His columns for CNN.com were among the most popular on the network’s website, twice finishing on Facebook’s annual most posted list. As a result, CNN had trusted him to be the leading voice on some of the biggest stories of the past three years including the re-election and inauguration of President Obama, the George Zimmerman trial and the Supreme Court hearings on same-sex marriage. 

He is a senior writer and columnist for ESPN The Magazine and ESPN.com.  He also contributes to ESPN's Sports CenterOutside the Lines, Sports Reporters, First Take, and the network's Grand Slam tennis coverage. As with ESPN, he is also a frequent guest on television as well including Newsroom with Don Lemon, Outfront with Erin Burnett,  Anderson Cooper 360, State of the Union, HBO Real Sports and Wendy Williams.His TED talk was one of the most viewed.

Got labels? Our society is made up of them. See why journalist, commentator and sports writer LZ Granderson says it's time to stop thinking in stereotypes and see every human being as an individual.


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Mya Taylor


Mya Taylor


Transwoman of color, Actor, Singer, and Star of Sundance runaway hit, "Tangerine", and Now 1st Transgender Actor to win a major film award

Everywhere you look and listen, "Tangerine" garnered unanimous glowing reviews! 

Mya Taylor is becoming one of Hollywood's Most Visible Trans Actresses

Mya Taylor, History Maker: The First Trans Performer To Win A Major Film Award 

Mya won the Independent Films Spirit Award for her work in "Tangerine." The Spirit Awards are for films made for less than 20 million dollars, and she competed in the Best Supporting Actress category against actresses including Jennifer Jason Leigh and Cynthia Nixon. Just like at the Oscars, "Spotlight" won for Best Film. Mya stars in the not yet released Happy Birthday, Marsha!  a film about iconic transgender artist and activist, Marsha "Pay it No Mind" Johnson and her life in the hours before she ignited the 1969 Stonewall Riots in New York City. She soon will present at USC:

The Trans/Gender Tipping Point? Representing Gender Variance from Tangerine to Transparent 

It’s been a watershed year for trans representation in film and TV, yet trans people continue to fight for basic rights. This panel discussions will explore the many meanings of trans visibility, in experimental film and video.The past year has been called a “tipping point” for the media representation of transgender and gender-variant people. Trans characters made appearances in Orange Is the New Black and Transparent, and the history of gender transitions was represented in the Oscar-nominated film The Danish Girl. But, as welcome as this new visibility may be, it has also drawn attention to persistent anxieties about the movement of trans people through and across highly gender-normative landscapes. Trans activists continue to fight for the rights of trans people in prison, in public bathrooms, and everywhere.

Experimental filmmakers, performers, activists, and scholars Mya Taylor (Tangerine), Chris E. Vargas (Museum of Transgender Hirstory and Art), Sam Feder (Kate Bornstein Is a Queer and Pleasant Danger), and Eric Stanley (Captive Genders: Trans Embodiment and the Prison Industrial Complex) will discuss the shifting nature of trans politics.

  Tangerine emerges at a moment when the transgender community is enjoying greater visibility than ever, from the Amazon series Transparent to the real-life saga of Caitlin Jenner. Yet to simply lump Baker's film together with other such stories would seem awfully reductive. As played by Taylor and Rodriguez, the characters of Alexandra and Sin-Dee are so specific and so bursting with life that they stand alone, and so does the movie itself, which manages to be at once wildly funny and painfully honest about the everyday degradation and inhumanity that its characters experience.- Justin Chang, Variety

On March 28, 1991 in Houston Texas,  a boy was born by the name of Jeremiah James Bonner. Jeremiah grew up in a strict Christian household with his grandmother and grandfather. Throughout Jeremiah's life he had always been very creative and articulate and intelligent. Jeremiah grew up knowing that he was different from all the other boys in school. Jeremiah was openly gay in school, but when he got home he never told a soul. 

 In May of 2009 Jeremiah was having trouble at home with family because he was struggling with his identity and he decided to bring his secret life out of the closet. His family didn't take it very well, so Jeremiah decided to move to California with another family member who he thought loved him very much. Living with that family members did not go very well so he was forced out to the streets and became homeless.  Jeremiah started to go to therapy where he decided to be true to himself and be who he wanted to be and in January of 2013, Jeremiah decided he wanted to become Mya Taylor. 

Mya met Sean Baker who is a film director and they got together with some ideas and collaborated and started production on a film that was going to take her life to a whole new level. Tangerine, the movie, has been the runaway hit at Sundance, opened for wide release and received major critical acclaim, and it proves to Mya that all dreams are possible. 

Buzzfeed: The Movie That Proves Why Trans Actors Should Play Trans Roles

With humor and humanity, Tangerine vividly captures a world unknown to most audiences.  

Vogue wrote: Filmed entirely on an iPhone 5s, Sean Baker’s breakout comedy Tangerine should inspire a whole new generation of DIY directors. Set among a group of transgender prostitutes in a seedy pocket of L.A., the story is an unexpectedly giddy romp that follows Sin-Dee (Kiki Kitana Rodriguez), who has just been released from prison, on a quest with her BFF Alexandra (Mya Taylor) to track down her boyfriend (and pimp), who’s betrayed her with a woman. With select scenes shot from the back of Baker’s ten-speed bike, Tangerine has a gritty, kinetic feel. But the film is not just a step forward for cinematography: on the heels of trans sensations like Orange Is the New Blacks Laverne Cox and Transparent’s Alexandra Billings, it’s a major advance for actors of all stripes. Reporter described the film as "a singularly delightful girlfriend movie with an attitude".

 Indiewire gave the film an A- grade, describing it as "a breath of fresh air in an indie landscape that often tends to focus on #WhitePeopleProblems."

Variety ' s Justin Chang wrote that Tangerine is "an exuberantly raw and up-close portrait of one of Los Angeles' more distinctive sex-trade subcultures. Sean Baker delivers another compassionate portrait of life on the L.A. margins with this big-hearted, low-budget tale of two transgender prostitutes."

In her talk, Mya speaks about the issues that she's personally experienced in her life which are very dramatic. She want to share her own experience because she feels like what better way to explain the experience of being transgender than to speak of her own struggles, including applying for 186 jobs in one month,  and going on 36 interviews and not getting a job. She wants to share with her audience how she actually proved she was discriminated against.

Mya shares what happened after she came out to her family and was later betrayed and abused by a family member at her weakest point after it appeared that that family member was rescuing her from familial rejection.  She speaks of how she survived when she went homeless,  what she knows about transgender prostitution in Los Angeles and why there are so many homeless transgender people in Los Angeles. She looks at harassment and violence directed at transgender people, and about her suicide attempt from all the pain related to the oppression of transwomen of color.  She addresses the current reality that one year after #OscarsSoWhite, little seems to have changed, and how she and all other POC actors and actresses have been snubbed in this year's 20 nomination slots.


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Jeff Sheng


Jeff Sheng


Artist, Photographer, Sociologist

 

Jeff Sheng is an American artist whose photographic work over the last decade has focused on the 21st century LGBT rights movement. His photographs on this topic have been featured in the New York Times MagazineTime MagazineNewsweekthe Advocate, and The New Yorker, among others.

Sheng first attained recognition for his photographic series Fearless, a project about ‘out’ lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender athletes on high school and college sports teams.  Since 2003, he has photographed over 200 “out” athletes, and he has spoken about and exhibited the Fearless Project at over seventy different venues, including dozens of college campuses as well as at the headquarters of ESPN, Nike, and the NCAA.  The project was just published into a photography book, FEARLESS: Portraits of LGBT Student Athletes, featuring an afterword written by retired NBA basketball player Jason Collins.

His other photography series "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (2009-2011), features over 80 closeted service members affected by the government policy known by that same name.  Sheng's iconic photographs from this project became part of the public debate around the issue and were extensively shown in the media as part of the commentary over its repeal, including in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, CNN, NPR, the BBC, ABC World News Tonight, and the CBS Evening News.  His photographs of these closeted service members were also widely circulated among government officials, including top policy makers and military officers in the Pentagon, until “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was finally repealed in September 2011.

He is currently working on a few new projects.  One is tentatively titled, "Before/After," which is a follow up to his previous "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" work, where he has been updating the series with new images showing the faces of some of those who are in the earlier "closeted" portraits.  

He is also working on a project that deals with LGBT Teen Suicide, where he has been interviewing and photographing LGBT adults who have lived through earlier suicide attempts either as teenagers or young adults.  In these portraits, he photographs the subject in a place that has a deep emotional meaning for that person, particularly a place of significance from their teenage years, their suicide attempts, and/or recovery.

Sheng taught as a visiting professor in photography at Harvard University in Fall 2011, and was a Lecturer in Studio Art and Asian American Studies between 2007 and 2012 at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He holds a BA from Harvard University, an MA from Stanford University, and an MFA from the University of California, Irvine.

He is currently a Stanford Interdisciplinary Graduate Fellow in the department of sociology at Stanford University, and divides his time between his studio in Los Angeles and Palo Alto, California.

Jeff Sheng's poignant images of LGBT folks in the military prior to the repeal of DADT. 

 

 


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Shane Bitney Crone


Shane Bitney Crone


Shane Bitney Crone is an LGBT advocate, writer, and speaker. He grew up in rural Montana, which presented a number of challenges as he grew up and struggled with his identity. He dealt with depression, anxiety, and bullying. He moved to Los Angeles in 2004 to pursue a career in the entertainment industry, but more importantly to live in a more LGBT-friendly environment. Through a mutual friend, Shane met the love of his life, Tom Bridegroom, who was working as an actor and television host. Together they traveled the world, started a successful business, and promised to get married when it would be recognized by the federal government.

After being in love for nearly six years, Tom tragically died after accidentally falling from a four-story apartment building. The pain of losing Tom was compounded when Shane was denied access to Tom in the emergency room (since the two were not legally recognized as a couple) and when he was threatened and forbidden by Tom’s parents to attend Tom’s funeral.

Shane spent the following year depressed, confused, and frustrated. He decided he wanted to do something not only to honor Tom, but also to educate others about what had happened and how they could prevent similar misfortune in the wake of an unexpected tragedy. On the one year anniversary of Tom’s death, Shane uploaded a video to YouTube called “It Could Happen to You.” Unexpectedly, the video went viral within a matter of days and has since been viewed over 20 million times on YouTube and other social media platforms. GLAAD named it one of the “Most Inspiring Videos That Helped Push Equality Forward.” In 2015, Entertainment Weekly said that the video played a significant role in the push for nationwide marriage equality.

Linda Bloodworth-Thomason, an accomplished director/producer/writer who is best known for creating the hit show Designing Women, was inspired by the YouTube video and approached Shane about turning his story into a feature-length documentary. They launched a Kickstarter campaign; the film became the most successful crowd-funding project at the time, surpassing their initial goal with the help of over 6,500 contributors. The film, Bridegroom: A Love Story, Unequaled premiered at the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival where it was introduced by President Bill Clinton.

Bridegroom had a limited theatrical release in October 2013 and made its television premiere on the Oprah Winfrey Network, after Oprah herself became inspired by Shane’s story. The film received favorable reviews from The New York Times, LA Times, and The Hollywood Reporter. It received audience awards at dozens of film festivals, won GLAAD’s Best Documentary award (2014), and was named Best Documentary by The Gay And Lesbian Critics Association (2014). IMDb named it one of the most popular documentaries of 2014. Bridegroom has been available for streaming on Netflix and has become one of Netflix’s most popular and highest-rated programs. Notable supporters of the film include Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Demi Lovato, Lily Tomlin, Adam Lambert, and Cuba Gooding, Jr.

Shane works diligently to ensure that LGBT citizens are granted equal rights. He travels all over the world to screen Bridegroom and give talks. As of September 2015, he has spoken at over 50 universities in the United States. He also recently gave a TEDx Talk in Amsterdam and delivered the keynote address at the PFLAG Conference in China.

Personally, Shane has been awarded the Harvey Milk Civil Rights Award and was named one of Instinct Magazine’s Leading Men, one of Out Magazine’s Out 100, and one of Huffington Post’s Most Compelling People.

“Shane’s visit to campus is the highlight of my career as an educator. To witness the positive and truly caring fashion in which he interacted with students was astounding—it’s an educator’s dream to see students so moved and engaged.”

- Professor Andrew Stout, Instructor of Composition & Rhetoric and Women’s & Gender Studies, Pace University, 9/16/14

See amazing reviews from students below in learn more!


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Sinclair Sexsmith


Sinclair Sexsmith


Sinclair Sexsmith is an educator, coach, and writer specializing in sexualities, genders, and relationships. They produce the award-winning personal online project Sugarbutch Chronicles: The Sex, Gender, and Relationship Adventures of a Kinky Queer Butch Top atwww.sugarbutch.net since 2006. With works published in various print anthologies and online, they are the editor of  and Say Please: Lesbian BDSM Erotica, both published by Cleis Press. They prefer the pronouns they/them. 

With one foot rooted in women's liberation and one foot in the trans and genderqueer activism of the new century, Sinclair Sexsmith has ample content for women studies students (being a women studies major themself, UW Seattle '04), queer activism, and trans and genderqueer revolution. Sinclair straddles the old-school butch identity and the new-school gender non-conforming theories, creating a bridge between generations, and honoring their lineage while challenging the gender binary and working for change.  Check out their controversial workshop F*cking with Gender (about messing around with gender, but also cultivating a sex life that includes gender radicalism). www.mrsexsmith.com

MR. SEXSMITH’S CREDENTIALS

  • Gender Studies & Creative Writing degrees
  • Bent Teacher Training
  • Sacred Intimacy through a Tantric Lens
  • Community Word Project
  • Body Electric School
  • Teach Now Training

SINCLAIR IS AVAILABLE FOR:

  • College workshops and lectures about queer theory, gender, sexuality, and self-actualization
  • Sexuality, leather, and BDSM educational classes and demonstrations
  • Writing classes, coaching, & editing
  • Spoken word performances on the subjects of queer sex, gender, and relationships

Mr. Sexsmith loves teaching and facilitating ideas;  Here are his presentations for 2014-2015:

Fucking with Gender

Sinclair’s most popular class. Presented at Drew University (NJ), Brown University (RI), Northwestern University (Chicago), Smith College (Northampton, MA), Swarthmore College (Philadelphia), Harvard University (Cambridge), and more.

Gender can be an aphrodisiac. Let’s explore gender expression, identities, labels, transcending the mutually exclusive binaries, queer culture, and hot sweaty sex. Academics love deconstructing gender—and yet, the world is still gendered, so how do we navigate it? How do you build your gender intentionally? Are there ways gender can “hurt” less? And how do you develop your gender in ways that enhance and sustain a satisfying sex life? (‘Cause really, don’t we all want better sex?)

Developed explicitly to cover the praxis of gender studies that is left out of gender degrees, this is for students who want to put their theory into practice. This workshop covers Sinclair’s Best Sex Secrets, Gender Tenets, and more.

Genderqueer for Real Life

“Genderqueer” is a noun, label, and identity, sure—but it’s also a subset of skills and awarenesses that queers can harness and use as tools for liberation. In insular communities like radical college campuses or small queer groups, it’s possible to create and have our genderqueer identities validated. But when we get out into the “real world,” it’s often totally different. In this workshop, we’ll dive into pronoun usage, coming out as genderqueer to friends, family, and institutions, navigating legal forms, arguing with the reality of the gender binary system, and day to day microagressions (like groups of AFAB genderqueer folks being called “ladies” in every restaurant cafe ever). Everyone can queer up the gender binary system—let’s use it for liberation, elevating intersectional activism, and deep acceptance of ourselves and others.

Identities in a Label-Free World

“But I’m so much more than just one thing!” “Labels are for jars.” “I’m just me, you know?” “I like people, not genders.”

Do you hear folks struggling with labeling their own identities? Either out-right rejecting the idea of labels, or using one but qualifying it extensively? So do I, and there are a lot of real reasons to resist labels. We are so much more than one thing! But what part of identity creation and theories are valuable as we understand the ways that our marginalizations and privileges move through and fit in the world? We’ll discuss what the difference is between labels and identities, and pose the radical idea that words can be liberating and not just limiting.

Gay for Pay: Queer Careers

No, this isn’t about sex work, nor is it about landing the 6-figure executive position at a gay rights non-profit. This workshop focuses on tools of confidence and authenticity to help you see a path to your dream job, and help you start making advances toward the job now, while you’re a student. Is your gayness going to be a benefit or a deficit when you enter the workforce and start getting jobs? How do you out yourself? Should you put “Rainbow Alliance” on your resume? You have an amazing gift to contribute to the world beyond these college campus hedge walls—what is it?

Premium option: Add small group (7 people max) 1-hour breakout sessions for individualized guidance for students from Sinclair, or up to 10 individual coaching sessions to sculpt the path into your ultimately successful future. Contact Sinclair for pricing tiers.

The Sexual Politics of Topping

Presented at IvyQ at Yale University We all have some ideas about what it means to be a top or a masochist, but what does it mean to be a feminist dominant or an empowered submissive? And why do we assume that submissives are unempowered, anyway? Fifty Shades of Grey is on everybody’s night stand, but the politics of that book are terrifying to those of us practicing ethical, conscious BDSM. Yet power dynamics and rough sex can be fulfilling, healing, and even (no kidding!) deeply feminist. What’s it like to engage with topping from a place of feminist theory? What’s the combination of intersectional institutional power theory and sexual power dynamics? In this workshop we’ll explore how consent and agency are key issues in feminism, and how they work in the exploration of topping. We’ll discuss different kinds of topping and bottoming, as well as theories to enhance your personal topping and bottoming skills.

Queer Erotics: Writing Workshop & Spoken Word Performance

2-hour interactive writing workshop where participants practice writing through prompts, share work, and receive writing and performance feedback. Perfect as a joint event with the spoken word club or English department! Performance includes a 30 minute set of erotica, poetry, spoken word, essays, and radical queer politics titled “Do Not Speak the Truth So Loudly,” and a 45 minute open mic for the workshop participants (and other students, if there is room), hosted by Mr. Sexsmith.

SinclairI will continue to do talk about custom workshop requests, and they’ve got a Big List of All The Workshops I’ve Offered in case there was this one workshop that caught your eye but you can’t remember what it was and it’s not on this new list.

Here’s the PDF for this year’s workshops (which you can download here if you prefer):


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PUZZLES When Hate Came to Town


PUZZLES When Hate Came to Town


PUZZLES When Hate Came to Town
Documentary by Tami Gold and David Pavlosky

Queer cinema = Queer liberation! 

Both Tami Gold and David Pavlosky have been at the forefront of LGBTQ documentary filmmaking for years. As artists and activists they inspire students with humor and hard hitting lectures.

Our liberation must be celebrated but our work is not over.  

With the increase in hate crimes directed at the LGBTQ communities Tami and David are screening their film PUZZLES When Hate Came to Town as a powerful conversation starter. PUZZLES tells the story of a hate crime in a LGBTQ bar called Puzzles Lounge in New Bedford, MA when a teenager brutally attacked its patrons. 

In the wake of the devastating attack at the LGBTQ nightclub PULSE in Orlando, Florida this documentary along with Tami and David’s dynamic presentation asks hard questions and frames the connection between hate crimes and extremist ideologies and the increase in hate violence against LGBTQ communities.

Their films crystallize the growth of queer experiences from juggling gender to queer stand up comics and coming out in a working-class family --- always creating space for healing and to honestly and bravely undo the grips of homophobia. 


We are in a moment of truly unprecedented opportunity. 

Tami and David love their queerness and bring this commitment and joy to all their presentations! 

TAMI GOLD & DAVID PAVLOSKY PRESENTATION INCLUDE:
Introduction to film (10 minutes)
Screening the film (53 minutes)
Post screening discussion about film (30 minutes)
Discussion and take aways focusing on collective  action (30 minutes)

TAMI GOLD & DAVID PAVLOSKY ARE AVAILABLE FOR:

  • College workshops and lectures about Queer families, sex, gender, and justice!!!
  • Educational classes
  • Media Studies classes

Tami & David are also available to present their other films at your campus. 

We who believe in freedom can not rest! 


WHO’S WHO
DAVID PAVLOSKY is an independent multimedia producer, director, editor, and educator based in New York City. Recently completed works include: PUZZLES: When Hate Came to Town (director with Tami Gold), a feature length documentary about a Neo-Nazi hate crime offender and his victims in one small American city; Passionate Politics: The Life and Work of Charlotte Bunch (co-producer), and Don’t Bring Scott (director/producer). David's current work in progress Stand Up, Stand Out tells the story of a unique brand of activism where three gay teachers’ fight for equal rights during the Gay Liberation Movement of the 1970s, led to the blossoming of the Valencia Rose Cabaret. David received his MFA Degree in Integrated Media Arts, and his BA in Media Arts from Hunter College. He studied with Martin Scorsese and Abbas Kiarostami in the Tribeca Filmmaker Exchange Program in Marrakech where he completed Crossroads, which screened at the Tribeca Film Festival.

TAMI GOLD is a professor at Hunter College, filmmaker, visual artist and public speaker. Her work has consistently been at the forefront of social justice, focusing on racism, gender and sexual identity. For over 20 years Tami has produced award-winning documentaries -- PUZZLES: When Hate Came to Town (with David Pavlosky), a documentary about a hate crime in a LGBTQ bar; RFK IN THE LAND OF APARTHEIDOUT AT WORK Lesbian and Gay Men on the JobJUGGLING GENDER Politics, Sex and Identity; PASSIONATE POLITICS The Life and Work of Charlotte Bunch; ANOTHER BROTHER andEVERY MOTHER’S SON (with Kelly Anderson). Her films have reached audiences near and far, airing on PBS, HBO and on television in Nigeria, South Africa, Germany, France, Turkey, Serbia, Russia, Mexico, Lagos and Vietnam. She has presented her films and has been a guest speaker at the MOMA, the Whitney, The Chicago Arts Institute, The Kennedy Center, the American and British Film Institutes, Sundance, Tribeca and The New York Film Festival and in over 150 film festivals worldwide. She is recipient of Rockefeller and Guggenheim fellowships.


WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING ABOUT PUZZLES

PUZZLES is a deeply human exploration of the roots of hate violence and how a horrendous crime becomes a catalyst for a community to reach out for greater understanding and connection. 
Barbara Abrash
Center for Media, Culture and History – NYU

PUZZLES is…about as complete, poignant, and meaningful a story of hate and its consequences...”
Lee Liberman, Truth Movies Review

PUZZLES serves as a catalyst for discussions ranging from anti homophobia and bullying to gender relations, coming out and the challenges of working class families in America.
Lance T. McCready, Associate Professor of
Urban Education, University of Toronto

A brilliant documentary, whose strength is not only in the captivating story it tells, but in the way that it is told--by the citizens themselves. In their own words those on both sides of this tragedy take us directly into the world of those changed by hate.”
Prof. Brian Levin
Director, Center for the Study of Hate & Extremism
California State University, San Bernardino
 
Remarkable and important documentary!  It’s unique in its ability to provide such access into the world of a Neo-Nazi hate crime offender and simultaneously the world of his victims. PUZZLES vividly portrays the fear and anxiety that these crimes generate in members of the targeted community, in this case the LGBT community.
Jack McDevitt
Associate Dean and Director
Institute on Race and Justice Northeastern University

Excellent documentary for use in education, sociology and LGBT and Gender Studies
Lance T. McCready, 
Associate Professor of Urban Education, 
University of Toronto

Timely! PUZZLES brings many crucial issues together in a tight, compelling way. Economic desperation, racism, intolerance, scapegoating, and violence--what a toxic American mix.
Pam Sporn
High School Teacher


Learn more

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Cyd Zeigler


Cyd Zeigler


One of the world’s leading experts on LGBT sports issues

I’ve dealt with homophobia in sports since childhood. Throughout middle and high school I was teased mercilessly by the big jocks in basketball and soccer for being gay (and by the way, I didn’t even think I was). The locker room was a place of fear for me. I remember the epithets showing up as we watched the Boston Celtics take on Magic and the dreaded Los Angeles Lakers. Whether as an athlete or fan, the people surrounding me drilled into my head – verbally and physically – what it meant to be gay in sports: Weak, powerless, second-class.

When I began winning team MVP awards and all-conference honors and setting high school track & field records, the teasing stopped. It was another reminder of the power of homophobia: Winning and excelling in sports were the antithesis of being gay. As long as I was faster and could jump further than everyone else, as long as I could rattle off Larry Bird’s field goal percentage, I wouldn’t have to endure the teasing.

Years later, when I co-founded Outsports.com in 1999, we made it our mission to end all of that. We would tell the stories of LGBT athletes and uncover the true nature of the homophobia that had plagued me and so many other gay athletes before and after me. For 15 years, Outsports has shared both the trials and triumphs of these athletes. We have changed the face of sports. Today, Outsports is a powerful media outlet – part of the fast-growing Vox Media empire that owns SB Nation, Curbed, The Verge and Ezra Klein’s fledgling news venture, Vox.com. Outsports.com attracted over 3.5 million unique visitors in the last year.

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Over the last 15 years, my work has made me one of the world’s leading experts on LGBT sports issues. As co-founder of Outsports.com, dubbed “the worldwide leader in gay sports,” I have written about homophobia in sports and gay athletes more than anyone else in the world. When athletes want to come out publicly, they come to me: NFL prospect Michael Sam; John Amaechi, the first former NBA player ever to come out as gay; former NFL player Wade Davis; Conner Mertens, the first active college football player ever to come out; The NCAA’s first transgender college basketball player, Kye Allums; Derrick Gordon, NCAA Div. 1’s first out gay athlete in any of the big four sports. They have all come to me to announce to the world that they are LGBT.

There are more coming. These people seek me out because of my storytelling style, the depth at which I understand the issues facing LGBT athletes and my ability to turn stories into national sensations.  

When other media outlets talk about the struggle of gay athletes, they call me. People magazine contacted me as a consultant on a series on gay athletes. I have appeared as an LGBT sports expert in virtually every major national media outlet including Sports Illustrated, the New York Times, USA Today, National Public Radio, ESPN, ABC, CBS, the NFL Network and CNN. When big LGBT sports stories hit, the top Sunday news shows “Face The Nation” and “This Week With George Stephanopoulos” come calling (and, when Michael Sam came out, on the same weekend).

In addition to running Outsports, I’m a regular contributor to the Huffington Post and SB Nation where I’ve penned popular pieces highlighting LGBT sports and political issues, the Olympics and the NFL. This year I have written for the likes of The Nation, Time, Playboy, MSNBC, CNN and Out magazine. Over the years I’ve also penned popular and controversial columns from “Is Tim Tebow gay?” to “Ban Russia from their own Winter Olympics.” I’ve taken the media to task for failing to understand the core issues of gay athletes in sports – at the same time earning their respect for doing so. I’ve been recognized for writing excellence by GLAAD and the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association.

As founder of the Nike LGBT Sports Summit, an annual meeting of the LGBT Sports Coalition (which I also co-founded), I have powerful working relationships with virtually every organization working in the gay sports space, including You Can Play, GLSEN, GLAAD, the NCAA, the US Olympic Committee and many others.

I still keep my hand in sports as a high school football official, and as a bowler and football player in local gay leagues in Los Angeles, where I live with my partner, a family of deer and two crazy cats.




Kit Yan


Kit Yan


Kit Yan is a queer, transgender, and Asian American Brooklyn based slam poet from Hawaii.  Kit performs entertaining and educational theatrical slam poetry pieces about his life as a queer, transgender, and Asian American through stories about family, love, and social justice. Kit has been seen on television programs such as HBO’s Asian Aloud, PBS’ Asian America and MYX TV. His recent performances include headliner at the True Colors Youth Conference, headliner at the New England Queer People of Color Conference, the Brooklyn Museum, and the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater.

Kit’s poetry has been reviewed in New York Magazine, Bitch, Curve, and Hyphen. His poetry has been taught all over the world and he has been seen on the SF Pride mainstage, National Equality March stage, the Department of Justice, and numerous international slam poetry stages.  Kit’s work has been recently featured in Flicker and Spark and Troubling the Line two new queer and transgender poetry anthologies and has a forthcoming book with Transgenre Press.

Kit has toured internationally with Sister Spit, The Tranny Roadshow, and Good Asian Drivers. He is on both the Advocate and Campus Pride’s lists of top LGBT speakers.

Some fun facts: Kit is the first ever Mr. Transman, and when he isn't performing he is eating ramen, playing ukulele, and talking story.

“Knockout spoken-word!-New York Magazine

“Incredible slam poetry”- Curve Magazine

“The eloquence of Kit’s spoken-word delivery lies in the anti-racist, anti-homophobic, gender-inclusive, language that ties his lyrics together.”- Bitch Magazine

“Fierce Stories!”-Hyphen Magazine

Creating Safer & Affirming Spaces for LGBTQ Students of Color Through Slam Poetry

Bring Kit to your campus this year for National Coming Out month (Oct) and Trans* Awareness month (Nov.)

He'll br performing an hour long slam poetry show with many new poems telling stories from his life as a queer and transgender Asian American. He's looking for opportunities to perform at colleges and universities to spark dialogue on LGBT and Queer social justice and the intersections of race and ethnicity in order to create safer and more affirming campuses. 

In addition to his show, hewill be facilitating both open-level and advanced slam poetry workshops for students interested in using slam poetry as a form of art and activism. Part of his work as an artist, is teaching what he knows about slam poetry to folks who are searching for an outlet to tell their own stories of living on the margins, struggling for acceptance, and questions of identity.  


Jason Stuart


Jason Stuart


One of the most notable out gay comics, actor, and SAG-AFTRA activist

When you think one of the most prolific character actors, who’s also an outrageous openly gay stand-up comedian, one name comes to mind….Jason Stuart.  Stuart has been making people laugh out loud with hishysterical performances all over the country since coming out in 1993. He has accomplished what few other gay comics have ever achieved: brutal honesty with humor in a world that’s not always kind.  Not only is Stuart an all-out crowd pleaser, but he transcends the boundaries of race, gender and sexual orientation with his edgy comedic style. Stuart’s material about his experiences as a single Jewish gay man living in Hollywood is original, cutting edge and just plain funny!

Stuart has performed at all of the top comedy clubs & comedy festivals and hundreds of gay events & prides, colleges & universities, and even on Broadway.  Since Stuart makes such a strong connection with his audience, he is in high demand by corporate programs with his lecture, Coming Out In Hollywood, on being openly gay in the workplace. 

Jason Stuart has been in close to 200 film & TV shows! He has performed in LGBT events, the Montreal Comedy Festival, on Broadway, in comedy clubs and to 100,000 people at the D.C. Millennium March.  Jason is in one of the most anticipated films of the year playing a plantation owner in the Nat Turner bio pic Birth Of A Nation starring Nate Parker & Armie Hammer. The Grand Jury and Audience Sundance Award winner is coming out Oct 7 from Fox Searchlight.  READ Jason's HuffPo article, "Showing Up and Full of Gratitude" about working on a film that would change people's views about racism in the US.

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He had his own hour cable special Making It To The Middle & 2 comedy CDs in addition to performing on One Night Stand Up, Wisecrack and Comics Unleashed, and Gotham Comedy Live to name a fewAs an actor, he's been featured on House, Entourage, The Closer, Its Always Sunny In PhiladelphiaEverybody Hates Chris, George Lopez, My Wife & Kids, and Will & Grace. On film, he’s been featured in Gia (w/Angelina Jolie), A Day Without A MexicanCoffee Date, Vegas Vacation and Kindergarten Cop, and more recently in James Franco’s Holy Land, Ira Sach’s Love Is Strange opposite Marisa Tomei, John Lithgow Alfred Molina and critically acclaimed Tangerine starring Mya Taylor

Stuart uses his talents as an openly gay actor and comedian to support the community by performing at countless benefits for issues from AIDS to the homeless. After recognizing the lack of support in Hollywood for his LGBT brothers and sisters, Jason co-founded The SAG-AFTRA LGBT Committee. Since 2006, Jason has been its national co-chair. He says, ”When you’re out, it supports all gay actors”. The SAG/AFTRA Committee conducted a groundbreaking survey with The Williams Institute at UCLA on openly gay actors in film & television. 

For 6 years he produced and performed in the LIFEWORKS mentoring program. This gave him the impetus to create his latest project, the web series MENTOR with Alexandra Paul (Baywatch) and his mentee actor & comedian 25 year old actor/comic Paul Elia. Lastly, currently he hosts a chat show on TradioV.com, Absolutely Jason Stuart. His groundbreaking stand up comedy and his versatility as an actor make his career an amazing ride.

Lecture- JASON STUART: ShowIng up for what really matters

When actor, comedian and advocate JASON STUART came out 23 years ago on the GERALDO show, it was before Ellen, before Neil, before …. well, even before Lily! He was scared, young and walking into an industry where few openly gay men had seen success. Finding work and being out was so new, there was no playbook.  Coming from a family whose patriarch survived the Holocaust had its challenges too. Go to the interview and wear a tie, his father always said in his thick Polish accent - and Jason took it to mean “Be your best self.” It all seems to be falling into place now. 

Long at the cutting edge of social progress, in the last 2 years Jason has married John Lithgow and Alfred Molina in LOVE IS STRANGE (a gay marriage film), blocked trans sex worker Mya Taylor as the club manager in TANGERINE (a trans buddy comedy) and is now playing a major supporting role as a white, heterosexual plantation owner in 1831 in THE BIRTH OF A NATION (a bio pic on Nat Turner, the black abolitionist). Working on films that matter really infuses him with gratitude.

In real life, Jason is a liberal, gay Jewish man who believes in paying it forward and giving back to the world. He believes you can keep pushing open doors, that have been tightly shut,  and take you place in this society to create your dreams for the future.  He has stories you can learn from, laugh about and cry over.  He is now speaking on being in support of #BlackLivesMatter, being openly gay in the workplace and how to treat yourself as an equal in a country that Trump wants to take back to the 1950's.


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Rob Smith


Rob Smith


Rob Smith is an openly gay Iraq war veteran, journalist, and author of the #1 bestseller Closets, Combat and Coming Out: Coming Of Age As A Gay Man In The "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" Army, which is the recipient of the 2015 National Indie Excellence Book Award for LGBT Nonfiction and a nominee for the 2015 Lambda Literary Award for Memoir.

He served for 5 years in the United States Army as an Infantryman and deployed to both Kuwait and Iraq, earning the Army Commendation Medal and Combat Infantry Badge in the process. In 2010 he was arrested at the White House with 12 other LGBT activists in protest of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law which barred lesbian, gay, and bisexual soldiers from serving openly, and he was later a guest of President Barack Obama at the ceremony that repealed the law.

He has spoken about veterans’ issues and LGBT rights and empowerment at dozens of college campuses, pride events, and corporate functions across the United States, including Vanderbilt University, Virginia Tech, the Reaching Out LGBT MBA Conference, and the 2014 Midwest Bisexual Lesbian Gay Transgender and Allies College Conference among many more.

In 2014, he served as the Grand Marshal of the Key West Pride Parade, and was a featured speaker at the NYC Pride Rally. He recently pioneered video coverage of the Democratic and Republican National Conventions for NBC Out, the first LGBT-focused vertical from a mainstream news organization.

He is a recipient of the 2015 National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association (NLGJA) award for Excellence In Blogging, and the 2016 Gay City News LGBT Impact Award for multimedia coverage of issues impacting the LGBT community. He holds an M.S. in Journalism from Columbia University. He’s been featured on HLN’s The Daily Share, Huffpost Live, Dr. Drew On Call, and Arise Television. As a writer his work has been published at NBC NewsCNN.comThe AdvocateSalon.comThe New York Post, and Metro Weekly among many others.

Lectures for '16'-17

The State of LGBTQ People Of Color in 2016 and Beyond

Thanks to trailblazers like Laverne Cox, Empire star Jussie Smollett, and sports icons like Jason Collins, LGBTQ people of color are more visible than ever. However, the life of the average LGBTQ person of color is far different than that of those of our most prominent figures. QPOC contend with with racism within the LGBT community, institutional and economic barriers to resources and healthcare, and HIV/AIDS rates that continue to rise even as they stabilize among other communities.

Openly gay Iraq war veteran, author, and journalist Rob Smith has been on the front lines of all these issues. As a journalist exploring economic differences in access to PrEP for HIV prevention as a part of a Columbia University journalism project, he spoke with young black gay men and healthcare professionals who were on the front lines of advocacy. As one of few black, gay figures involved in the fight against DADT, he spoke and reported about how African-American soldiers were disproportionately affected by the discriminatory law, and advocated for open service by transgender service members post-DADT repeal. Finally, as a black gay man negotiating a career in media and advocacy, he’s dealt with his own share of racism in the wider LGBTQ community.


In his lecture The State of LGBTQ People of Color in 2016 and Beyond, he offers sobering statistics and anecdotes from his own life as well as his journalistic work in the hopes of giving allies of LGBTQ people of color an insight into the issues we face, and the tools and advice that POC ourselves need to survive in a society where the deck is stacked against us.

CLOSETS, COMBAT AND COMING OUT:FINDING THE PATH TO PRIDE

Rob Smith entered the U.S. Army as a closeted teen and emerged as a decorated war veteran before becoming a national figure in the anti-DADT movement. In his lecture Closets, Combat and Coming Out: Finding the Path to Pride, he details his life as a closeted soldier, his experiences at war, and the transition into becoming a leading voice for veterans and LGBTQ people - first as an activist - now as a Columbia University educated multimedia journalist who currently reports for NBC News, Time, and AOL.

In his Lambda-Literary Award-nominated memoir Closets, Combat and Coming Out: Coming of Age as a Gay Soldier in the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Army, Smith wrote a personal and deeply compelling chronicle of the coming out process and the experiences and effects of war. Smith has given lectures and workshops about the issues faced by veterans all across the country. In this conversation spanning intersectional issues of Veterans’ rights and LGBTQ struggles he goes in depth into the challenges that young LGBTQ people face, as well as the challenges that veterans face on the battlefield - and the home front.


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J Mase III


J Mase III


The Rowdiest Transqueer Poet You Know

J Mase III is a black/trans/queer poet currently based in NYC. Creator of the traveling performance event Cupid Ain’t @#$%!: An Anti-Valentine’s Day Poetry Movement, J Mase has shared his special brand of poetry on stages around the U.S., the UK. & Canada. He is author of, And Then I Got Fired: One Transqueer's Refelctions on Grief, Unemployment & Inappropriate Jokes About Death. In J Mase’s other life as an educator and activist, he has worked with thousands of community members and service providers across the country on the needs of LGBTQ youth and adults in spaces such as faith communities, elementary schools, domestic violence shelters, medical agencies, juvenile justice organizations, and foster care programs, among others. He is an advocate of really fierce scars and queering scripture. He spends his offstage time blogging on the Huffington Post and teaching poetry as a tool of social justice. To find out more about J Mase III, feel free to stalk (follow) him on Twitter @jmaseiii, Facebook.com/JMaseIII, or track him on his website at jmaseiii.com

Performance:

1. Solo Poetry Performance

2. Cupid Ain't @#$%!: An Anti-Valentine's Day Poetry Movement

Workshops on:

1. Even My Poems Are Revolutionary

-performance and writing exercises

-tools for rooting creative work in social justice

2. The Solidarity Framework:

-providing a specific framework on how to engage in solidarity work that dismantles the concept of allyship and focuses towards a disrupting of power (includes heavy racial justice and anti-transphobia lens, etc...)

3. The Bible: The Queerest Book I Ever Read

-trans/queerness in scripture across the Abrahamic traditions

-tools for creating trans/queer safe(r) spaces within faith communities

-tools for organizing with faith communities for secular queers

-defining defensive vs liberation theologies

4. Write Me Where It Hurts: Healing from Body Trauma Through Art

-interactive storytelling/discussion group workshop on healing from various types of body trauma as trans/queer folk, and folks of varying body experiences around surgeries/scarring/weight stigma/assault/dysphoria/etc

5. How I Survived the Gay Rights Movement as a Trans Person of Color

-looking at the intersections of identity within queer community

-tools for addressing power & privilege dynamics

-for LGBTQIA folks and those seeking to be in solidarity

6. But Can I Pay My Rent Tho?!: Surviving as a TQPOC Artist

-creating financial & marketing plans for professional artists or those looking to sustain a career in the arts

-for trans & queer folks of color

 


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Kelly Cogswell


Kelly Cogswell



The author of Eating Fire: My LIfe as a Lesbian Avenger, Kelly Cogswell set out from Kentucky armed only with an electric typewriter, a stack of poems, and willingness to do the bare minimum as a maid, dishwasher, prep cook and temporary secretary.

In New York, following an unscheduled (and naked) performance that stunned the NYU Department of Performance Studies, she decided to put her Medusa-like powers to good use, first as a lesbian activist, and later, as an independent journalist and monger of extremely underground art.

Co-founder and co-editor of The Gully online magazine (2000-2006), her work has appeared in a range of venues including the International Herald Tribune, Louisville's Courier-Journal, and THIS WAY OUT: the international lesbian & gay radio magazine. Her column in New York's Gay City Newshas been recognized by the New York Press Association. She was awarded the Joan Heller-Diane Bernard Fellowship for her project documenting the Lesbian Avengers.

She taps into her Southern Baptist roots as a passionate, practically evangelical, speaker about the importance of direct action, art, media, and civic participation of all kinds.

New York, following an unscheduled (and naked) performance that stunned the NYU Department of Performance Studies, she decided to put her Medusa-like powers to good use, first as a lesbian activist, and later, as an independent journalist and monger of extremely underground art.

Co-founder and co-editor of The Gully online magazine (2000-2006), her work has appeared in a range of venues including the International Herald Tribune, Louisville's Courier-Journal, and THIS WAY OUT: the international lesbian & gay radio magazine. Her column in New York's Gay City Newshas been recognized by the New York Press Association. She was awarded the Joan Heller-Diane Bernard Fellowship for her project documenting the Lesbian Avengers.

She taps into her Southern Baptist roots as a passionate, practically evangelical, speaker about the importance of direct action, art, media, and civic participation of all kinds.


Reviews 

"A great success. The Dana Room was standing-room-only. Cogswell herself was mesmerizing in a quiet-confidence type of way, and the film she showed was engaging and educational and funny and inspiring."

"Her talk was so inspiring -- I really still vividly remember the looks on my students' faces."

Programs

The Art of Being A Lesbian Avenger
A look at their groundbreaking work, shaped by the East Village crucible of queer art, queer activism, and queer identity.

Direct Action: What Is it good for?
The LGBT community has a long history of street activism. Do these types of protests still make sense? When are they effective? Discussion and workshop.

Resistance Is Futile—Unless it's on YouTube
Social change, resistance, and the importance of DIY media. An essential and eclectic overview.

Having the Last Word
A conversation or workshop about writing by and for the downtrodden, vengeful, and impatient. Includes memoir, journalism, fiction.

Film Showing: Lesbian Avengers Eat Fire Too(1993)
Rare footage of dyke actions, plus interviews offering insight into the group that inspired a global movement. Film showing, Q & A.

Eating Fire: My Life As a Lesbian Avenger
A look at one activist's life spanning the twenty years from the Culture Wars through the War on Terror. Reading. Q & A.

Immigrant Experience
Close observations of the immigrant experience, seen inside and out. Plus homophobia as a machine of exile.

Activism and Immigrant Ideas
Considering the Lesbian Avengers as a global queer project, affected by and affecting other movements worldwide.

In this excerpt, writer and activist Kelly Cogswell examines the different roles activists and institutions play in social change, and why it's still important to take to the street. From her March 21, 2014 appearance at HRC's Equality Forum in DC.



Learn more

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Grace Moon


Grace Moon


 Pre-eminent authority on  the arts/lesbian representation in the arts, new media/lesbian media

Grace Moon is the Editor-in-chief of Velvet Park, Dyke culture in Bloom. Velvetpark began in NYC in the winter of 2002 by a handful of intrepid artists, writers, designers, photographers, and pop culture aficionados, and is about the dyke cultural revolution. Grace, born in honolulu, Hawaii and now based in Brooklyn, NY is recognized as a queer artist and reknown portraitist, who captures the everyday transgressions between female masculinities and femininities. She is esteemed as an art professor, blogger, and lecturer. 

Presentation Topics:

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The Female Gaze: Disrobing female masculinity and femininity

This talk explores visual images of women by women, with a focus on lesbians, as we have been and are represented in art, entertainment and advertising. The audience will be presented with images and a discussion from Renaissance artists, to pioneering 2nd wave feminists, to a survey of contemporary artists and photographers redefining lesbian and queer identity. This presentation weaves together high-art with DIY creators, grass roots movements with entertainment industry establishment, allowing us understanding of our culture and aesthetics. 

New Media 2.5: Reinventing Queer Media  

Queers have always been early adaptors to technology as a way to find community in inhospitable environments. Having been on the vanguard of lesbian media for 10 years, Grace Moon, has experienced the rise and fall of print media and the transition of LGBT enterprises into web 2.0. From launching a traditional print publication, to running Showtime’s The L Word social network, to re-launching Velvetparmedia.com Grace Moon has adapted to technology while fostering the growth of our communities through media. In this presentation Moon explores the evolution of queer media and its impact on activism, journalism, and community building, while looking ahead to the next frontier.

Young, Queer and Fabulous: Making a Career out of Queer 

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As young graduates face one of the most daunting job markets in modern history, the question remains “now what?” This presentation and discussion focuses on the possibilities open to young queers entering the job market, whether its in the for-profit non-profit sector. Being “out” in the market place can be an asset, not a liability. This presentation will explore past pioneers and how the contemporary queer can define their future. 

 

 


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Cleve Jones


Cleve Jones


Human rights activist, creator of the AIDS Memorial Quilt

Cleve Jones’s career as an activist began in San Francisco during the turbulent 1970s, when he befriended pioneer gay rights leader Harvey Milk. Following Milk's election, Jones worked as an intern in Milk's office while studying political science at San Francisco State University. He is the founder of the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt and a sought after speaker and activist for AIDS awareness, treatment, and education.

One of the first to recognize the threat of AIDS, Jones is the co-founder of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation. He was elected to three terms on the San Francisco Democratic County Central Committee, and served on commissions for juvenile justice and delinquency prevention as well as the Mission Mental Health Community Advisory Board, where he supported communities affected by mental illness, substance abuse, and chemical dependence.

Jones was the creator of the AIDS Memorial Quilt, an ongoing community arts project that memorializes the lives on individuals lost to AIDS. Jones conceived the quilt during a candlelight memorial for Harvey Milk and created the first quilt panel to honor his close friend Marvin Feldman. Since then, the AIDS Memorial Quilt has memorialized the lives of over 85,000 Americans killed by AIDS and independent affiliates can be found in 50 countries worldwide.

A dynamic and inspiring keynote speaker, Jones lectures at high schools, colleges and universities. He has met with Presidents George Bush and Bill Clinton and Nelson Mandela and has received numerous awards from AIDS and gay rights organizations, religious conferences, state and national health associations and state legislatures.

Jones was a keynote speaker at the opening of the Parliament of World Religions in Cape Town, South Africa, where AIDS Memorial Quilt panels from South Africa, Europe and the US were displayed. Jones has also served as a member of the Harvard AIDS Institute, National Board of Governors of Project Inform, and Board of Directors of the Foundation for AIDS and Immune Research.

Jones has appeared on 60 Minutes, Nightline, Good Morning America, Oprah, NPR, and Frontline. His memoir, Stitching a Revolution, was a New York Times bestseller. Most recently, Jones served as the historical consultant on Gus Van Sant’s award-winning movie Milk.