Who Influences Our Influential 40 Under 40?
BY Advocate.com Editors
August 21 2014 8:00 AM ET
The Advocate: Is there another person who you always look to for thoughts or analysis on a topic?
Jack Andraka: Definitely my older brother. If I have a question I go to him, even though it might go along with him making fun of me, but he’s awesome. I look up to him and I’m always asking him for help on projects.
Jeremy Hooper: Frank Rich remains a mentor.
Justin Simien: Lena Waithe! Lena is a consistently encouraging voice. I feel like we’re dust from the same star. We came out in wildly different shapes and forms, but at the core, we’re kind of the same. I can always count on Lena to see something in me that I don’t see, and see something in the work that I don’t see. And it’s always love, and it’s always positive.
Lena Waithe: Jenifer Lewis is fantastic. She’s a big actress. She’s really dope, and funny, but she really is like a shaman — so wise and awesome and amazing, and she has a lot of great things to say. … She’s still living a big life, and she lives victoriously. I go to her sometimes for stuff, and she always has a lot of great words to pour into me.
Chris Mosier: I always check in with my best friend (who happens to be my wife) for thoughts on things.
Janet Mock: Audre Lorde’s body of work never fails to provide me with exactly what I need to hear when I need to hear it.
Erica Anderson: When news happens, I always turn to Twitter. It's the best place to watch a story develop in public, in real-time. For deeper context about an event in news or tech, I read David Carr and Kara Swisher. To keep up on issues that matter to the LGBT community, I read The Advocate and Out magazine.
Calvin Stowell: I talk to Tyler Oakley a lot. I talk to my brother a lot. I talk to my CEO a lot. Those are my three go-to people I communicate the most with about personal things.
Carmen Carrera: No. I sit and dwell on it myself, for days sometimes. I usually sit down and I write. … I do a lot of internal, self-thinking. In order for someone to really understand my depth of character and depth of emotion, it’s going to take me way too much energy, so I’d rather just try my best to figure things out myself, and understand things myself, and remove anything that’s going to cloud my judgment. … The comfort of knowing that I have a deeper understanding of myself, and I have the ability to handle my own problems and give myself my own advice, for me is so powerful and is so good to know that I’m self-reliant.
Will Shepherd: My mom, easy. Any time I want a second opinion on something, I go to my mom.
RJ Aguiar: I go to Will, as cheesy as that sounds.
Gregory Varnum: All right, I know it sounds cliché, but my partner [26-year-old activist Robert Proffer] has stood alongside me for over eight years. Honestly, I am not sure why. Dating people who do the work that I do and have the passions that I do should probably come with some warning labels and hotlines. I do not think that I could put up with me, so I am not sure how he manages to do it. The best I can figure is that it just proves love does conquer all. He is someone that I know I can trust for an honest and confidential take on things.
Bria Kam: Definitely my brother. He’s my go-to.
Chrissy Chambers: And there’s only a couple of times where we’ve gone ahead and made something that surprised him.
Bria Kam: And each other! But predominantly, we just trust our own instinct. Are we laughing? If we laugh, let’s just go for it, why not? And if people don’t get it, they don’t get it. That’s OK.
B. Scott: I always go to my best friend, Dr. Tshaka Muchiteni. I truly respect his opinions and he knows me better than anyone.
Cameron Esposito: I think Stephen Colbert has been doing an amazing job on his show. I'm really curious to see what he's like when he's no longer in character because his show has been world-changing to me.
Kate Fagan: Lindsay Colas — she's represents Diana Taurasi, Sue Bird, and so many other female athletes. She and I will talk about issues of gender, sexuality. She's really trying to get people to see female athletes as important and relevant and marketable.
Zack Ford: I've had a number of significant professional mentors, but like a good millennial, the hardest decisions get taken up with Mom and Dad.
Heather Cronk: I go to our organizers. They're the ones who drive our work.
Richard Carlbom: I always look to Dan Cramer [a Minnesota political activist] and Andrea Mokros, my first political boss, who's currently serving in the White House.
JoCasta Zamarripa: I have folks that I kind of consider my kitchen cabinet, including Stephanie Orduz, my political mentor in Wisconsin, and Mark Pocan, who I served my freshman term with.