40 Under 40
BY Advocate.com Editors
April 17 2013 4:00 AM ET
Andrew Maxin & Mark Waier
33 & 31 / Los Angeles
Fashion Designer, Model Turned Attorney
Andrew Maxin is no stranger to innovation. His family (Maxin has a gay twin) became the first practitioners of the garment repair process known as “invisible mending” in British Columbia after emigrating from South Vietnam in the early 1980s. After coming out and attending design school in Vancouver, Maxin moved to Los Angeles, where he gained experience designing creative campaigns for icons such as Ray Charles and Ella Fitzgerald.
“When I moved to L.A., I promised myself I would never hide who I was and always be true to myself,” he says. “I believe recognizing the beauty in our differences can be a powerful thing.”Maxin’s desire to embrace and find strength in his differences is shared by his partner, former Ford model Mark Waier, who left the runway behind to attend law school.
“When I was modeling, nobody cared about what I had to say. They just wanted me to stand in front of the camera and be quiet,” Waier says. “That’s part of the reason I retired from the industry, because of how models are treated and perceived. But just because you’re a model doesn’t mean you can’t be smart.” Seeing a general lack of fun and innovation in the industry, the couple last year founded the swimwear and underwear company Vanwolff, whose target market is men who desire to be different. “That’s what Vanwolff as a brand is about, following your instinct, embracing the wolf within, and being true to who you are,” says Maxin. @vanwolff
28 / San Diego
Founder and President, Rescue Social Change Group
Even for a 28-year-old wunderkind who started his own marketing company at 17, snagging a $152 million contract from the Food and Drug Administration is a huge deal. Jeffrey Jordan’s Rescue Social Change Group did just that late last year, when the FDA contracted its services for a new effort to combat youth smoking.
Jordan started Rescue Social Change, a company focused on using highly tailored behavior patterns to encourage people to exercise more, eat better, and never pick up a cigarette.
“We can’t have clean-cut, preppy-looking teens talking about being tobacco-free,” Jordan says. “We need this message to come from alternative, punk, goth, hip-hop, and LGBT teens who don’t look like the mainstream.”
Part of the FDA contract will battle tobacco use among LGBT youth, who smoke at estimated 40%–70% higher rates than their straight peers.
“Alternative rock teens smoke significantly more than preppy teens, and alternative rock teens are more likely to be accepting of LGBT teens,” he says. “Many LGBT role models glamorize smoking. Lady Gaga’s alter ego, Madonna in her ‘Girl Gone Wild’ video. As a community, we constantly encourage LGBT youth to start smoking without even knowing it.” facebook.com/rescuescg
Kortney Ryan Ziegler
32 / Oakland, Calif.
Kortney Ryan Ziegler created the definitive doc on the black trans experience, Still Black: A Portrait of Black Transmen; his website, Blac(k)ademic, is up for a GLAAD Award; and now he’s starting Who We Know, a six-month “incubator where trans people of color will come together and create products and solutions to fight unemployment for trans people of color.” The transgender population has a “ridiculous” unemployment rate, says Ziegler, who hopes to teach others that transgender people “are just like everyone else: We learn, we breathe, we love, we have families. I want to remove this stigma around transsexuality.” @fakerapper
22 / Saco, Maine
To Justin Chenette, the youngest state representative in Maine and the youngest openly gay one in the nation, there’s no time like the present to act on your beliefs.
“I didn’t want to wait 30 years and be told I couldn’t change the system,” says Chenette, who was elected to the Maine legislature last November. Chenette, who this year was named Maine state director for the Young Elected Officials Network, is also happy to be a positive example for LGBT youth. Some vestiges of prejudice remain even in his largely liberal state, he notes, but they’re eroding. “One day, being different won’t be a headline,” he says. @justinchenette
26 / New York
Writer and Speaker
It’s rare that a high-schooler counts spirituality as an after-school activity, but that’s exactly what Jordan Bach was doing a decade ago, teaching his fellow students about God. Since coming out at 12, Bach has been speaking about religion. “When you bring forward who you really are, you begin to heal your life. That’s true at any age.”
Now he reaches thousands through radio, social media, TheBachBook.com, and his viral “God Loves Gays” video. “My intention is to give real gay men practical tools to live more…meaningful lives. There’s no more powerful gift you can give someone than to say, ‘I see you, and you’re enough just the way you are.’ ” @jordanbach