Op-ed: 10 People Who Make Me Proud of Young LGBTs

This Pride season, there are a lot of young LGBT people to be proud of.

BY James Duke Mason

June 18 2014 6:30 AM ET

In a time of great progress in the fight for LGBT equality, it's easy to forget how much work there is left to do to advance our cause politically and culturally. Young people can often be the biggest culprits of this; there has always been this idea out there that youth tend to be apathetic, complacent, and disinterested in their history or their future. The following 10 individuals defy that stereotype and are making a real, positive difference for the community and for broader society today.

Michael Sam
The 24-year-old football player has received a lot of media attention for becoming the first openly gay draft pick in NFL history. It is important, however, to stop and think about how truly monumental this moment really is for sports and for our country. From the passionate kiss with his boyfriend that played on televisions across America, to his constant wearing of a rainbow bracelet, Sam is out on the forefront of the gay civil rights movement and in a strident, no-holds-barred way. In an instant he has done away with the status quo; he is what I would call a true revolutionary.

Steve Grand
This 24-year-old is also a cultural revolutionary, except he made his mark in music. Back in 2013, Grand made a splash with his brave, bold song “All-American Boy.” Its accompanying video received millions of plays on YouTube. Recently he made another huge statement by raising funds for his new album and concert tour, ending up as the third most successful music-related Kickstarter campaign of all time and the most successful for an artist without major label affiliation. Grand is unabashed and unafraid in his quest to make a difference in music and in our lives.

 

Ellen Page
The 27-year old actress is not new to the Hollywood scene. She made her big debut in 2007 with the highly acclaimed, successful film Juno and starred in Inception. She is new, however, to the LGBT political cause, coming out as a lesbian earlier this year in a confident, unapologetic speech to the Human Rights Campaign. Her first movie released after the big news was the incredibly successful X-Men: Days of Future Past, which only helped cement Page as one of her generation's leading women.

Stephen Ira Beatty
I identify with Stephen in many different ways. The son of actors Warren Beatty and Annette Bening, he has used his platform as the child of high-profile celebrities to contribute something valuable and meaningful to the world. Some of what he says on his blog and other social media have been controversial, but it’s great to see a young transgender individual who is passionate and willing to wade into the political and cultural debate. We need more young people who are informed and eager to have a say in the important discussions we face.

 

Frank Ocean
The 26-year-old singer has had an incredibly large impact not just in the R&B world but in mainstream music and pop culture as well. He was one of the trailblazers back in 2012 who really helped bring LGBT issues into the forefront of our cultural dialogue. He came out before Macklemore released “Same Love,” before anyone could argue it's cool or trendy to discuss gay topics in his genre. He continues to push boundaries both societally and artistically, and has shown all the young LGBT R&B enthusiasts throughout the world that there is a place for them too.

Tags: Pride, Youth

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