Forty Under 40
BY Advocate Contributors
April 07 2010 4:00 AM ET
34 / Los Angeles
Senior program officer, Liberty Hill Foundation
Liberty Hill Foundation was founded in 1976 on the premise that there were many organizations dedicated to various social changes, but one thing all those groups needed was cash to reach their goals. Groups seeking grants go through a rigorous application process, which is largely the responsibility of Vincent Jones. Jones has worked on a number of gay initiatives, including a Liberty-funded voter education program to help fight California’s Proposition 8. He also works with Lambda Legal, Camp Courage, and the National Teen Leadership Program, creating initiatives to inspire more African-Americans to get involved in social justice philanthropy. As a young man, “several youth programs helped me hone certain skills, realize my potential, get connected to a positive peer network and to think about things I’ve never thought about before,” Jones says. “If more teens access those types of experiences, we’ll have a better world.”
Larkin Mackey & Joshua McBride
36, 34 / Los Angeles
Restaurateurs, Larkin’s and Mac & Cheeza
Boyfriends and business partners Larkin Mackey and Joshua McBride became the toast—er, cornbread—of Los Angeles’s Eagle Rock neighborhood when they opened Larkin’s, a “contemporary soul food joint,” in 2007. “I was never really scared,” Mackey says of diving headfirst into the restaurant business despite never having run a professional kitchen. “I figured it couldn’t be rocket science.” McBride had Mackey’s back: “He is an amazing chef, and I knew he could rock it out, but also knew he needed my help.” They transformed a ramshackle house into a homey restaurant lauded by foodie blogs, magazines, and Pulitzer Prize–winning restaurant critic Jonathan Gold. The pair has struck comfort food gold again with a new chain of takeout restaurants called Mac & Cheeza, a customizable mac and cheese bar, in downtown L.A. and Bakersfield, with more locations coming soon.
24 / Goirle, Netherlands
Olympic medalist, speed skating
The media spotlight on 19-year-old Ireen Wüst was pretty intense in Turin in 2006, when she became the youngest Dutch athlete ever to win a gold medal in the Winter Olympics—for the 3,000-meter long track speed skating event. But that scrutiny was nothing compared to what she felt three years later when she announced she was dating a fellow female skater, Sanne van Kerkhof. Media were so interested in the news that Wüst lost her cool, if only for a moment, asking one reporter why he wasn’t equally interested in the dating life of one of her male teammates. The pressure wasn’t so great for this 2006 Dutch female athlete of the year that she didn’t prove herself once again in 2010, winning Olympic gold in Vancouver in the 1,500-meter event. Understandably emotional on the medal stand, she said she must be “the happiest person on earth.”
James Duke Mason
18 / Cannes, France/Los Angeles
Instead of making headlines for disorderly behavior and drug arrests like so many other teens from show business families, James Duke Mason has his eye on a loftier goal. “I’m going to use my voice and my power as a human being to change history, even if it’s in a small way,” says Mason, the son of singer Belinda Carlisle and Morgan Mason, a politico turned film producer and agent. The younger Mason, who came out at 14, has been a congressional page, filmed PSAs for marriage equality, written civic-minded op-eds for Frontiers (a Los Angeles–based LGBT publication) and is currently the first openly gay student body president at his international high school on France’s Côte d’Azur. “For me, it’s about knowing every day that I’m doing my part to encourage other young gay people to be proud of who they are,” he says. Mason begins work on his first film, You Can’t Have It All, in April and plans to start college this fall in Los Angeles.