Op-ed: 10 People Who Make Me Proud of Young LGBTs
BY James Duke Mason
June 18 2014 6:30 AM ET
Athletes play a particularly big role lately in pushing for LGBT equality. One of those athletes I am most proud of is Tom Daley, who stands out as an example for youth. While all the other individuals I’ve mentioned in this piece are young and courageous, the fact that Daley came out as a 19-year old — and jeopardized almost everything he had to do it — is a testament to his character and principled desire to stand up for what is right. Plus, his positive, idealistic demeanor makes him all the more a great role model for our community.
Alex B. Morse
Although perhaps not as high profile as some of the others mentioned, Alex Morse is a reminder of what's possible. Elected to serve as Mayor of Holyoke, Massachusetts at the age of 22, he serves as an example of how gays are no longer a novelty in public office and that we one day — through the election of people like Morse to positions such as mayor, Congressman, senator and governor — might soon have our first openly gay president of the United States. It’s all about taking the critical steps toward progress.
He may be a little older than most of the others I’ve mentioned, but 29-year-old actor Jonathan Groff has broken through many glass ceilings and a lot of status quos in Hollywood. There was a time not long ago when an openly gay actor supposedly couldn't craft a major career for himself (outside of musicals and playing flamboyant gay men). Groff has done musicals, dramas, period pieces, animated movies, and TV; pretty much every genre and medium you can imagine. He has been out from the beginning. That proves that being honest about who you are is a positive, not a negative, toward forging a career in Tinseltown.
One of the world’s leading young inventors, scientists, and cancer researchers at the age of 17, Jack Andraka has made a far more valuable contribution to the world than just being openly gay. By that I mean that although being open about his sexuality from the age of 13 is a huge thing, he also has been honored as one of TIME Magazine’s “30 Under 30: World Changers” due to his groundbreaking scientific discoveries.
The 27-year-old Rogers is another athlete, yet one who has taken a particularly active role as an activist for equality. Just last week I had the honor of co-hosting an event with him and his boyfriend, director/producer Greg Berlanti, to benefit the organization GLSEN. Rogers is an example of true courage, of someone who doesn’t just talk but walks the walk, and of someone who has used their status as a high profile soccer star on one of the best teams in the country to inspire other youth to feel proud and confident in who they are.