LZ Granderson


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.


Mya Taylor


Mya Taylor

Transwoman of color, Actor, Singer, and Star of Sundance '15 runaway hit, "Tangerine"

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

  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 July 10, has 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 BlackLaverne Cox and Transparent’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.


Jeff Sheng


Jeff Sheng

Artist, Photographer, Sociologist

Jeff Sheng is an internationally recognized photographer, artist and sociologist, whose work over the last 15 years documenting the LGBT community has been described as “poignant” and “historic” by Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Leonard Pitts, Jr.  Sheng began his photographic career documenting the contemporary LGBT rights movement as a college student at Harvard University, where he received his BA degree in filmmaking and photography in 2002. 

In 2003, Sheng started “Fearless,” a ten-year long photo series on “out” high school and college athletes who are open about their LGBT sexual orientation or gender identity to their coaches and teammates while still competing in high school or collegiate sports.  Since then, he has photographed over 160 “out” athletes, while concurrently exhibiting and speaking about the “Fearless Project” (FearlessProject.org) at high schools and colleges around the country.  To date, he has spoken about and exhibited the work at over eighty different venues, including the headquarters of ESPN, Nike, and the NCAA, numerous college and high school campuses, and also the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver and the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.

In 2009, Sheng began his photo project on LGBT U.S. military service members who could not be open about their sexual orientation due to the discriminatory laws known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”  Using various lighting and cropping techniques, Sheng obscured the actual faces of these LGBT service members so their identities were not fully revealed yet were still portraits of those being discriminated against.  These iconic photographs became part of the public debate around the issue and were widely featured in the media, including in the NY Times, LA Times, CNN, NPR, the BBC, ABC World News Tonight, and the CBS Evening News.  Sheng’s photographs were also widely circulated among government officials, including top policy makers and military officers in the Pentagon.

Other projects and assignments have included photographing marriage equality advocates Mary Bonauto and Evan Wolfson for a 2004 New York Times Magazine feature about the first legal same-sex marriages in Massachusetts in the United States.  In 2008, Sheng also worked with former NBA basketball player John Amaechi on a blog for Amnesty International about the Summer Olympics in Beijing.

 Sheng’s work has been nominated multiple times for a GLAAD media award, most recently in 2013 for Outstanding Digital Journalism Multimedia, and he was named an Advocate 40 under 40 in 2011.  His artwork is also part of the Sir Elton John Photography collection, among others.  He has taught as a visiting professor in photography at Harvard University, as well as at the University of California, Santa Barbara, as a Lecturer in Studio Art and Asian American Studies between 2007-2012.  Sheng holds an MFA from the University of California, Irvine, and is currently a PhD Candidate in Sociology and Point Scholar at Stanford University.

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




Shane Bitney Crone


Shane Bitney Crone

Shane Bitney Crone grew up in Kalispell, Montana, a conservative, small town near the state’s famous Flathead Lake. At a young age, Shane was a very active member of the tight-knit community. Despite his efforts to fit in, however, Shane fell victim to years of homophobic bullying and severe depression. Determined to escape the close-mindedness of his hometown, he graduated from high school, packed up all of his worldly belongings, and trekked to Los Angeles where he would pursue his dreams of working in the entertainment industry.

BRIDEGROOM tells the emotional journey of Shane and Tom, two young men in a loving and committed relationship that was cut tragically short by a misstep off the side of a roof. The story of what happened after this accidental death– of how people without the legal protections of marriage can find themselves completely shut out and ostracized– is poignant, enraging and opens a window onto the issue of marriage equality and human rights like no speech or lecture ever will.

On the anniversary of Tom’s death, after a year of documenting his own grief, Shane decided to make a video tribute to his partner entitled “It Could Happen to You.” The video went viral and garnered over four million views to date. Although it was a cathartic process for him and a tribute to the love of his life, more than anything, Shane wanted it to serve as a warning to other LGBT couples, and show the world what can happen when two people are legally barred from having equal rights and equal protections under the law to marry. This deeply personal insight into Shane’s traumatic, journey was listed as one of GLAAD’s “Most Inspiring Videos that Helped Push Equality Forward in 2012.” 

“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!


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


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


  • 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):


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.


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. 

 He’s appeared on Night Stand-Up & Wisecrack. In addition to his own hour stand up special Jason Stuart: Making It To The Middle and his comedy CD, Jason Stuart: Gay Comedy Without A Dress.

Although his semi-celebrity came via stand-up, Stuart is also well-known for his work as an actor playing gay & straight roles on over forty popular television shows as Entourage, The CloserIts Always Sunny In Philadelphia, Everybody Hates ChrisHouse, Will & Grace, George Lopez, My Wife and KidsCharmed and the Lifetime’s Home Invasion.

As a character actor, filmmakers say his talent is a cross between the depth ofPhilip Seymour Hoffman, the comedy timing of John Ritter and the quirkiness of Steve Buscemi.  He has worked with heavy hitters George Clooney, Faye Dunaway, Angelina Jolie, Damon Wayans, Drew Carey, George Lopez, David Spade and even Arnold Schwarzenegger. Stuart was featured in the comedy hit A Day Without a Mexican, Puff Puff Pass,and the HBO award winning drama Gia.  Among the big studio pictures he appeared in Kindergarten Cop and Vegas Vacation are favorites among TV fans.

Stuart has become a major player in the independent film world after being nominated for a Glitter Award for best supporting actor in Coffee DateHe's featured in the drama LOVE IS STRANGE from Ira Sachs (Keep The the Lights On) that opens in NY  and LA on 8/22. The awarding winning cast, including Marisa Tomei, John Lithgow, Alfred Molina and Cheyenne Jackson. He will play the man who marries the longtime couple of Lithgow & Molina’s characters. He's also featured in James Franco, HOLY LAND, playing a “hoarder”. Proving that he is more than just an actor and comedian, Stuart also produced and starred in his own totally improvised independent film 10 Attitudes. This award winning romantic comedy proved to be a huge success both in the U.S. and abroad.  Recently he shot  a remake of Edgar Allan Poe’s horror film, The Pit & the Pendulum where he plays the villain “Father Divay”, the thriller The Guest House (Playing a straight man), and Bear City 2 starring Kathy Najimy.

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 is conducting a survey with The Williams Institute at UCLA on openly gay actors in film & television. This is a groundbreaking study, the first of its kind in the world. The results will be released announced at the Sept. 26-29 at the SAG-AFTRA convention.

For 6 year 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.

Prolific character actor Jason Stuart plays one of the most important supporting roles in Love Is Strange. As the officiant who marries John Lithgow’s Ben and Alfred Molina’s George, he sets the whole story in motion, and inadvertently affects the lives of all the other characters in the film. For this week’s episode of Love Stories, we asked Jason to tell us about a particularly important moment in his life: the moment he knew he was gay. It’s a truly amazing story that ironically begins with his appearance on one of the straightest TV shows in history: The Dating Game



Rob Smith


Rob Smith

Rob Smith is an openly gay Iraq war veteran, journalist, and author of the #1 bestselling memoir Closets, Combat and Coming Out: Coming Of Age As A Gay Man In The “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Army. 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 his activism, 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. As an on-camera social and cultural commentator, he has been featured frequently on Huffpost Live and Arise Television, and as a writer and journalist his work has been seen at CNN.com, The Advocate, The Huffington Post, Salon.com, The New York Post, and Metro Weekly among many others. In May of 2015 he will receive his M.S. in Journalism from Columbia University.

Rob discuss Closets, Combat and Coming Out: Coming Of Age As A Gay Man In The “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Army on Huffington Post. WATCH

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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.


"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."


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.

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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:


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 


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. 




Jessica Halem


Jessica Halem

Bad Feminist

Jessica Halem is a Gemini with Sagittarius rising from Kent, Ohio. Being raised by hippie Jewish artists from the East Coast was anything but normal - or easy - in this small town. But it did help to foster this funny “on-your-face” queer feminist comic.

Her father is a world-famous glass artist and her mother is an accomplished playwright. Together they enriched Jessica with shamelessness, summer camp and countless laughs. “My parents were two crazy radical Jewish hippies who must have taken some bad acid, got in their VW van, and ended up past the Delaware Water Gap where they decided to raise a girl - me.”

Jessica has always been on a stage. There was high school theater (where her role as Helen Keller is still talked about today) and being voted Class Clown. But, it was her ability to think on her toes that most lends itself to her gift of comedy. Bullies, anti-semitism, Reagan, and sexism became the breeding ground for her ability to “find the funny” in even the toughest of times.

Jessica has also always been a committed social justice activist as well. Her career spans the international women’s movement, the LGBTQ health movement, and political campaigns. She discovered feminism at the age of nine. By 12, she was organizing the local Take Back the Night March and for abortion rights. “We always seemed to meet in the basement of the local Unitarian Church.” In high school, Jessica was the editor of the student newspaper and president of the French Club. Somehow she remained a stellar student while also cultivating a love of Led Zeppelin.

Summers were spent at Buck’s Rock Creative Work Camp where Jessica went from camper to counselor in metal smithing and most importantly got fully imbibed with her long lost tribe - the Jews of the East Coast.

Then it was off to Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York to take her feminism to another level. For four years, Jessica was immersed in the finest training of Foucault, Butler and butches. It was there she got her most important lesson in feminism — lesbianism. While getting steeped in “knowledge”, Jessica remembers fondly winning the Gong Show contest on campus. An attempt to show the lighter side of this serious queer activist, Jessica presented a lip sync to “Age of Aquarius”. The performing bug really got a hold of her when she won free pizza for a year and the accolades of her peers.

Upon graduation, Jessica landed the dream job for a young feminist. She became the Executive Assistant to former Congresswoman and feminist icon, Bella Abzug. For two years, Jessica traveled the world in a front row seat to the international women’s movement. She rubbed elbows with everyone from Hillary Clinton to Gloria Steinem to Wangari Maathai.

While in Beijing, China for the Fourth World Conference on Women in 1995, Jessica was asked to emcee the young women’s talent show. Keeping thousands of feminists from all over the world entertained was no small task but Jessica not only kept the night moving, she kept the crowd laughing. It was there she really saw the importance of comedy as an act of political organizing.

In the Summer of 1996, Jessica moved from Brooklyn to Chicago to attend the Democratic National Convention and pursued improv training at famed Second City and Annoyance Theatre.  Chicago proved to be a fruitful and glorious place to make a life for 12 years.

While living in Chicago, Jessica wore many hats. She worked in radio production, at an architectural firm, for an innovation strategy firm, as a public relations guru, and ran a failed Internet start-up. After all of that, she went back to activism full-time as the Executive Director of the Lesbian Community Cancer (now Care) Project from 2001-2006. Her greatest accomplishments included record level fundraising, expanding to a trans* inclusive mission, and steering the organization into a historic merger with Howard Brown Health Center.

At the same time, Jessica was always working as a comic.  Jessica produced The Hysterical Women, an all lesbian stand-up comedy troupe, for many years.  She honed her craft on the road at Pride festivals and colleges all across the country.  She has emceed every event or fundraiser where she could make a difference.  And she is well known for her role as emcee for the regularly sold-out Gurlesque Burlesque shows that raised money for the documentary: “Exotic World and the Burlesque Revival.”

She has shared the stage with such artists as the Indigo Girls, Kate Clinton, Margaret Cho, Jill Scott, Justin V. Bond, Dirty Martini, and Julie Atlas Muz.

Jessica’s comedy and activism have been written about in publications as diverse as Fast Company, the Chicago Tribune and The Advocate. She has won numerous awards including: “21 Leaders for the 21st Century” by Women eNews, “Unsung Heroine” by the Cook County Commission on Women’s Issues and “Friend for Life” by Howard Brown Health Center, and GO Magazine’s 2012 “100 Women We Love.”

In 2006, Jessica made her LOGO TV premier as the sidekick to Red Tremmel in the Stoli “Be Real” documentary. She was deemed one of the “Queers that Make Our City Great” by Time Out Chicago.

Today, Jessica can be found tweeting from her new home in Boston where she is a part-time MBA Candidate at Simmons College School of Management. She is proud to be part of OUTmedia and you should contact them today to meet Jessica up close and personal.

Workshop: Comedy as a Tool for Social Change

Lecture: Comedy as Social Justice Activism

Workshop: Joke Writing for the Formerly Marginalized & Other Leaders

Performance: One-Woman Show “Bad Feminist” 

MORE on the possibilities.

I loved Jessica Halem’s show. Before she even started her standup, she addressed all the groups that Fredonia has; from our feminist, to our ally’s, to our Trans community, to our Hillel, and to those who are queer, lesbian, gay, asexual, bisexual and all the other colors of the rainbow. Immediately when she did that, she showed not only how diverse our campus is, but also the welcoming community that the students create. She set the bar for the freshmen who have never seen such comfortably with being who you are.  Not only was she hysterical, but she made valid points throughout her standup about issues and topics trending today. She made herself relatable to the students and also shared the same perspectives that many of us hold and believe. I would love to see her back at SUNY Fredonia! She was talented and hilarious!

-Krista Lutz, Publicity Chair of S.T.E.P.S., Senior at SUNY Fredonia



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.