Forty Under 40
BY Advocate Contributors
April 07 2010 4:00 AM ET
25 / Austin
Grassroots organizer, Soulforce
As a queer transgender man of color, Asher Kolieboi understands the workings of “spiritual violence”—oppression in the name of religion. “Both communities are survivors of spiritual violence,” he says of LGBT people and racial minorities. So he’s working for Soulforce, which fights that kind of oppression, as an organizer for young adult activism and codirector of the Equality Ride, an event that finds youths delivering a message of acceptance and inclusion to Christian colleges. St. Louis native Kolieboi, who is of Liberian and American descent, also spread that message while attending the University of Missouri, where he organized a successful campaign to include gender identity and expression in the student government’s nondiscrimination statement. Young activists, he says, are changing how their peers—tomorrow’s leaders—view LGBT issues. “It’s monumental,” he says of those changes in perspective. “We’re really going to see an impact in the next 10 to 15 years.”
32 / Seattle
Law professor, Seattle University
While mainstream gay politics is just learning to deal with transgender issues, Dean Spade says, he’s fighting for a movement that encompasses not only transgender rights but racial and economic justice as well. Spade, a transgender person and much-honored Seattle University law professor, founded the Sylvia Rivera Law Project in 2002 to fight for rights regarding gender identity and expression, especially for low-income people and people of color. SRLP and other organizations recently persuaded New York City’s welfare agency to adopt guidelines for dealing fairly with gender-nonconforming clients. Victories like this are “just the beginning,” Spade says. “It is important for us to be visionary as activists.” His vision is “a world without prisons, without state enforcement of gender categories, without homelessness or poverty, and where every person can access full health care that includes gender-confirming health care for trans people.”
37 / New York City
Screenwriter, playwright, comic book author
Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa might be considered one of the world’s best multitaskers. He’s a writer not only for the successful Marvel comics The Stand, The Sensational Spider-Man, and Nightcrawler but also the HBO drama Big Love, and he’s premiering a play he wrote, Doctor Cerberus, in April. And is if that’s not enough, the graduate of Georgetown University and the Yale School of Drama has just completed a pilot centered on a gay couple for HBO and is writing a musical adaptation of American Psycho. None of this success has taken a toll on his modesty, though. “I’ve been really, really fortunate that I’ve had lots of mentors and people who have believed in me and I have had lots of luck.”
39 / Nashville
Marketing director, Bridgestone Tire
In addition to managing an in-house advertising agency as director of brand and retail marketing for Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations, Michael Fluck is responsible for the company’s major sports marketing initiatives with the NFL, NHL, PGA tour, Major League Baseball, and the Izod IndyCar series. He also was a founding member of the company’s diversity council, which successfully pushed for the addition of gender identity to the corporate nondiscrimination policy. “We are in our 10th year of being the only tire company that supports the LGBT community,” Fluck says. “Our support comes in the form of having a presence in the community, hosting events, and advertising with gay media companies.” Bridgestone also recently sponsored the Human Rights Campaign dinner in Nashville. In addition to his work with Bridgestone, Fluck is the executive vice president of the Nashville GLBT Chamber of Commerce, which aims to connect consumers with gay-friendly businesses in the city.
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