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This Out Sex-Positive Researcher Is Shaking Up Nebraska

Sofia Jawed-Wessel

Dr. Sofia Jawed-Wessel holds both pleasure and activism in high esteem.

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As one of the nation's top sex researchers, and one of The Advocate's Champions of Pride, Dr. Sofia Jawed-Wessel has used her knowledge to generate new understandings in the area of public health through scientific studies.

Jawed-Wessel's sex-positive approach has helped researchers better understand sexuality education for all genders. As an assistant professor of public health in the University of Nebraska's School of Health and Kinesiology, and co-director at Midlands Sexual Health Research Collaborative, the out queer scientist educator says that successful advocacy doesn't need to rely solely on ideologies -- but also making the right argument.

"You could live in the most conservative state, but you can absolutely pass progressive policies and bring folks to share your view if you know your audience and how to speak to them," explains Jawed-Wessel, whose 2016 TED Talk about women's sexual pleasure has been viewed over 1.4 million times.

"I love being an activist in Nebraska. I truly mean that," she says. "The majority of our policy makers are accessible here to everyone. If you hang out at Blue Line Coffee long enough, you're bound to run into Sen. Tony Vargas or Congressional District 2 candidate Kara Eastman. In Omaha, specifically, the activist community is very close-knit. We look out for one another and work together because our causes are all interconnected. We show up for each other."

Still, that doesn't mean she hasn't encountered her fair share of internet trolls. But that doesn't keep her from delivering her message. "You have to understand that I'm from the original internet generation. You cannot out-troll me because I've been behind this screen since I was 13. If I've got a project to procrastinate, you bet I'm going to mess with you if you come for me."

The fight for equality is ongoing, and Jawed-Wessel intends to keep doing her important work in hopes that some day it will help us understand each other a little bit better. Another thing that could also help is more out LGBT elected officials.

"We need system-level changes. Broad policies protecting their rights, leadership programs like the institute we are creating here in Omaha, out LGBTQ+ leaders in all fields, but particularly in politics," she says. "Keep expecting more from your LGBTQ+ activist leaders and keep showing us up. No need to wait in line."

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Diane Anderson-Minshall

Diane Anderson-Minshall is the CEO of Pride Media, and editorial director of The Advocate, Out, and Plus magazine. She's the winner of numerous awards from GLAAD, the NLGJA, WPA, and was named to Folio's Top Women in Media list. She and her co-pilot of 30 years, transgender journalist Jacob Anderson-Minshall penned several books including Queerly Beloved: A Love Across Genders.
Diane Anderson-Minshall is the CEO of Pride Media, and editorial director of The Advocate, Out, and Plus magazine. She's the winner of numerous awards from GLAAD, the NLGJA, WPA, and was named to Folio's Top Women in Media list. She and her co-pilot of 30 years, transgender journalist Jacob Anderson-Minshall penned several books including Queerly Beloved: A Love Across Genders.