"JR" is the Director of LGBTQ+ Ministry for the Diocese of Lexington, Kentucky, and the Executive Director of Fortunate Families. He travels speaking about LGBTQ+ intentional welcome and ministry within the Catholic Church. At a young age, he was inspired by the Franciscans to help rebuild the church and went to work in music ministry at a Church. Over the years he grew in confidence and was able to come out as a gay man while being part of a groundbreaking movement, catering to those patients marginalized with HIV and AIDS through the Church. From that tremendous learning experience, he has continued to help the Church bring dignity to those in peril. "JR" reminds us that by answering the tug at our hearts to love others we are in turn loving God.
Alex is a diversity and inclusion speaker and has a passion for building bridges between communities. Alex shares his journey from growing up in a religious household and what it was like coming out to his Baptist Minister father and family. After leaving home, he found others like him. During his coming of age, he met the love of his life, which had it's own set of hurdles. Alex today works professionally educating people on how we can build bridges between those who are different from one another, using consistent gentle behaviors.
Bodhi is an artist, coach, mentor, and an internationally renowned DJ and music producer that has remixed legendary artists including Yoko Ono, Ricky Martin & Pitbull.
Growing up in Dubai, they experienced there is something mystical in music that soothes the soul that can give birth to new ideas and ultimately lead to new adventures. After moving back to the states they started creating music. Spending hours mixing, listening, and studying they mastered the art of remixing. After achieving much success, a dark period of life encompassed them and they wanted to vanish. They trusted their intuition that led them to the Rocky Mountains where they took a deep dive into personal work, healing of past trauma, and reconciling their gender. This created a desire to be of service and help other people heal and be free to express their heart’s calling.
Channyn is a Human rights advocate, public speaker, community-centric leader, Director of Strategic Partnerships for Howard Brown Health Center and serves on the board, at Equality Illinois. In 2011, the Cook County Board of Corrections set out to implement new policies for transgender inmates. This coincided with Channyn being brought on as a Re-entry Specialist. While working at the jail, she started encouraging the inmates to have conversations that led them to think in ways they did not know they had the capacity. This new thinking inspired worthiness and value in their lives. She then brought in non-transgender male inmates where they experienced common ground aside from their identities and realized that there is a shared humanity amongst all of us. From this experience, she realized the way things are going to get better is if all of us come together as the sum of humanity and let go of what is blocking us.
Jared is a talented makeup artist, cancer survivor, and Be the Match Board Ambassador. At the age of twenty-four, working two jobs and saving as much as he could, he moved across the country to Los Angeles. There, working at a restaurant he met some other creatives that were impressed with his makeup skills when he showed up to work in drag on Halloween. He was encouraged to expand his work beyond weddings and proms. Around the same time, he was motivated to get involved with an organization helping homeless youth. There, a chance meeting led to him working with some young reality TV stars. As his career had taken off he observed that something was wrong with his body that led to a cancer diagnosis that would change everything.
Brandon is a Pulse Nightclub survivor and a nationally recognized gun safety and LGBTQI civil rights activist. Growing up Brandon had a difficult time finding acceptance for who he was from his family, friends, school, and hometown. He auditioned for a job that brought him to Orlando, Florida. This is where he found his “chosen family” and began to learn to love himself and be comfortable with who he is in the world. Finding refuge in gay bars and being surround by his friends he did what so many of us do and went out Saturday night June 12, 2016. Tragedy often strikes change for someone, and as you will hear, that is what happened for Brandon after that night. He now is the Central Florida Development Officer and Media Relations Manager, for Equality Florida and works to end violence through action.
Anthony Navarro is the Founder and Creative Director of Liven It Up Events, a nationwide event production company with offices in Chicago and Los Angeles. He’s an author, producer, entrepreneur, talk show host, and speaker. His early years were shaped by the time spent at his family's restaurant. There he witnessed the importance of coming together around the table with friends and family. He then had to learn how to navigate life when there is loss and pain so he could continue to live and flourish. He’s now using all those skill sets in crafting life experiences for people through various media formats.
Bob Kiser is an author, speaker, coach, mediator, and radio host. He empowers people to let go of fear, embody who they really want to be, and create sustainable change in their own lives. Using the challenging situations he faced during his childhood as a springboard to create the life that he wants, he now teaches those lessons through various media. We spend some time working through his book, Create the Life of Your Dreams, to use strategies he teaches to help turn a dream into reality.
Lisa Cordileone is a writer, producer, and actress who continues to find her way in making her art reflective of inclusivity and empowering women. With such works as, Freelancers Anonymous and Easy Abby, her body of work continues to expand and represent women. Through all of this, she learned how to deal with fear and shame and strives to help change the trajectory for the next generation of women.
Seven Graham is a British intersex activist, comedian, filmmaker, playwright, and drug addiction counselor. At a young age, Seven had an operation that was supposed to save their life only to find out years later that the procedure actually was harmful to their body. Discovering that they were an intersex person, Seven has taken their pain and turned it into gold helping expand care, visibility, and understanding for Intersex people.
Rodney Wilson is an author, teacher, and the founder of LGBT history month. Growing up in a small town in Missouri, the message he and others heard was that gays and lesbians were "damaged goods" and so dangerous that they should not be allowed in the classroom. But Rodney’s thirst for knowledge and calling was louder, leading him to obtain multiple degrees in education and becoming a teacher. Then a few years later on a continuing education trip to Washington DC, he came across some history that changed his life. This led to him coming out to his students during a history lesson that forever changed the world.
Michelle is a four-time Emmy award-winning hairstylist for some of our favorite television shows produced by Ryan Murphy Productions. You can see some of Michelle’s work on American Horror Story, Hollywood, Ratched, and many more. You can also see her work on multiple projects with actress, Sarah Paulson. Michelle comes from humble beginnings in New Jersey and shares with us how she had a dream, and when doors started opening, she stepped through, took the opportunity, and ran with it.
Sam shares his journey in self-acceptance and looking inward-facing everything after not wanting to be himself for most of his life. By looking inward, he was able to get past the distractions and discover his true essence. This discovery has also greatly helped him accept people with different points of view and create opportunities for conversation and understanding. One of his joys today is volunteering as a mentor helping at-risk LGBTQI youth in Los Angeles.
Growing up in Oklahoma City, Armand attended one of the first magnet schools for the Performing Arts. Having big dreams for their college life and career, Armand moved away from home to study at a prestigious art school which led to a rude awakening that life is not always easy. With some time, getting quiet, and listening to that voice inside, an acting career was born for Armand that includes live stage productions and TV work as well.
And let’s not forget about Cleo Pockalipps– Armand’s Drag persona that has helped lead them to coming out in a whole new way. Armand is an inspiration by showing us you can create the life that you really want, you just have to dream it and go for it.
Aurora is an artist and actress that has had quite a creative career. After leaving home at the age of 13 and being raised by Drag Queens, she began performing in nightclubs in her early teens and quickly became one of Denver’s top Drag performers.
She built quite the following after moving to Chicago and was one of the only drag performers to work in every club on the strip. Her talent took her to win drag show pageants, including being crowned Miss Gay USofA, giving her the opportunity to be a resident Drag Performer in Nashville.
After creating her own hour show in P-town, she now is working as an actress, perusing her passion in Los Angeles. Aurora is an inspirational advocate and beloved member of the transgender community.
Akeem Woods shares about what it is like to be a gay, black man who is a stand-up comedian. Los Angeles is home but his joy is being out on tour making people laugh across the country. Akeem tells us what it’s like performing his act in small towns and what he has learned, being on the road. You might be surprised on where his favorite cities are to perform at!
Hear from Jeff and Anthony, the Co-Hosts of Talk Out Loud and learn a little of what you can expect when you listen to the show.