LGBTQ+ Leaders: A New Generation

Posted by on Jun 23, 2022 in Top Stories

June is Pride month–a time to recognize and celebrate the history, contributions, and accomplishments of the LGBTQ+ community. The movement has changed and evolved over the years, and so has its leaders, who include athletes, performers, activists, and more. Here, btw takes a closer look at a few of the members of the newest generation of leaders and trailblazers in the LGBTQ+ community. 

Carl Nassib 

For the past four years, Carl Nassib has been a defensive end for the Las Vegas Raiders football team. He’s also the first openly gay active player in NFL history. (Fifteen other NFL players have come out in the past but only after they retired.) Nassib came out publicly in an Instagram video that went viral. In it, he explains that his decision to come out wasn’t because he was seeking attention, but rather because he believes that representation is important.  

Nassib also donated $100,000 to the Trevor Project, a suicide prevention program for LGBTQ+ youth. He also created a pair of rainbow cleats for the NFL’s “My Cause My Cleats” fundraiser, to raise awareness of the Trevor Project. Though Nassib has now been cut from the Raiders for financial reasons, he’s expected to sign with another team soon. 

Ariana DeBose 

Ariana DeBose starred as Anita in the recent remake of West Side Story. When she won an Oscar this year for Best Supporting Actress, she became the first openly LGBTQ+ woman of color and first Afro Latina to be nominated for, and win, an Academy Award for acting. (Not since 2001 has another openly LGBTQ+ actor been nominated for an Oscar: Ian McKellen for his work in Lord of the Rings.) DeBose is also the first openly LGBTQ+ woman of color and the first Latina to win an individual Screen Actors Guild award.  

Lil Nas X 

In 2019, 23-year-old Lil Nas X rose to fame with his hit song “Old Town Road,” which was at Number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart for longer than any other song in history. As a teenager, Lil Nas X made a promise to himself not to come out because he feared that his intentions could be misinterpreted. But he ultimately made the decision to go public with his sexuality because he believes in the importance of representation, and in opening doors for other  LGBTQ+ people. He has also used his fame to raise money for important causes, such as The Bail Project, which raises bail money for people who can’t afford to pay.  

Dig Deeper Who would you add to this list of influential or trailblazing LGBTQ+ leaders? Why?