The Future of Equality
BEQ Presents Next Gen Pioneers
BEQ Pride Editorial Board
Next Gen Pioneers — Samuel, Women of ClexaCon (Ashley, Danielle and Holly), Moez, David, Malcolm and Angelica — are all conquering new territory and standing out and standing proud while they make a difference. These individuals have overcome seemingly insurmountable odds or challenging circumstances by changing obstacles into springboards toward new opportunity. Our BEQ Pride Editorial Board weighs in on these eight Next Gen Pioneers.
(They, Them) is 30
Non-Profit — Political Activist, Nuclear Engineer, Presidential Adviser/ 50 States 50 Bills Founder
Ending #ConversionTherapy with #50Bills50States, #NuclearWaste
Sam Brinton does not blend in. Sam has walked the corridors of power as an adviser to Presidents on nuclear energy issues—sporting their trademark red mohawk and frequently wearing sparkly heels paired with more traditionally masculine attire. In addition to being an actual nuclear engineer, Sam is also an activist against conversion therapy. After surviving this horrific form of abuse as a child, Sam is working to make conversion therapy illegal through their #50Bills50States campaign. As the Trevor Project’s chief advocacy officer, Sam ensures that the organization is advancing policies and positions that help LGBTQ youth in crisis.
BEQ Pride on Samuel Brinton: 50 Bills 50 States is the brainchild of Sam Brinton, a campaign that Sam believes will save lives and we do too. Few practices hurt LGBTQ youth more than attempts to change their sexual orientation or gender identity through so-called conversion therapy, which can cause depression, substance abuse and even suicide. But some mental health providers continue to subject young LGBTQ people to these practices—also known as “reparative therapy,” “ex-gay therapy,” or “sexual orientation change efforts”—even though they have been condemned by every major medical and mental health organization in the country.
(She, Her) is 36
(She, Her) is 39 and
(She, Her) is 27;
Small Business — Multi-Fandom Media and Entertainment Event Organizers @ClexaCon
ClexaCon is a media and entertainment convention for LGBTQ women and allies. What began as an idea for a small fan gathering grew within a year into a globally-known, must-attend event for LGBTQ women and allies interested in representation in TV and film. The first event, held in March 2017, attracted over 2,200 attendees from 43 countries and 40 U.S. states. The event brings together fans, actresses, content creators, academics and artists for panels, workshops, meet and greets and social and charity events in order to celebrate LGBTQ characters and stories in TV, film and print media and to discuss how the LGBTQ community can be better represented within the media.
Holly Winebarger is one of the original Co-founders and Executive Director of ClexaCon. She was inspired to create an event to celebrate LGBTQ fans after noticing the negative impact of poor representation of LGBTQ characters on TV, especially after seeing the hurt and outrage of younger LGBTQ women who were voicing their frustration and anger on social media. Holly brings over ten years of marketing and event-planning experience to the team. Holly is responsible for managing day-to-day logistics and finances for ClexaCon. Danielle Jablonski and Ashley Arnold are also Executive Directors of ClexaCon and joined the ClexaCon team shortly after the original idea formed. They both played a large role in shaping the convention into not just an event for a specific subset of fans, but for all LGBTQ women and allies interested in improving representation for the community. Danielle is responsible for coordinating the logistics of the convention and working with venues and vendors to ensure a smooth event. With experience in graphic design and web design, she is also responsible for the convention’s graphics and branding. With 7 years of military service and a background in public relations, Ashley is responsible for the design of ClexaCon’s social media strategy that has propelled the convention to success by leveraging Twitter to build a worldwide base of active support for the convention that reaches millions.
BEQ Pride on ClexaCon: The Women of ClexaCon are bold new leaders that saw a need and delivered. They’ve convened a movement, a voice for queer (and queer-adjacent) women around the world. TV, film and print media provide a space for queer women and girls to build community, create their own unique worlds, and in these communities voice their activism and engage in public discourse. Their courage to stand up and demand accountability in TV, film and print media and to challenge the social media dubbed “Bury Your Gays” trope has ultimately shifted the balance of power between the producers and consumers of media.
Malcolm (MJ) Harris
(He, Him) is 32
Small Business — Financial Services and Personal Success Guru
Malcolm Harris started an insurance agency – at his dining room table as a side business – while working for a global management consulting and professional services company. Through sharing the story of his personal journey to overcoming personal and financial trials using social media, he soon grew to be multi-national financial services and self-improvement powerhouse. With National Care Financial Group, America’s largest minority-owned financial services firm (over 700 team members), and MJ Harris OmniMedia, content production and distribution across multiple platforms, he has been able to reach millions. MJ’s ability to influence masses and build an amazing business is the quintessential story of preparation meeting opportunity.
From Temple Hills to Beverly Hills, his humble beginnings include growing up in a family of divorce, living in lower-middle-class suburban Washington, D.C., and being bullied. He recounts many days running from his school bus to his house to avoid confrontation, harassment and physical harm. MJ found solace as a young person in early morning inspirational TV where he got the notion that he was empowered and realized he could help and inspire others. He began weekly inspirational talks through his college work-study job in Philadelphia at the request of his boss, Reverend Tim. After college, he worked in a credit union, then real estate and finally landed a job at a global management consulting firm. He quickly realized that he would find more success as a business owner and set out to realize his dream to build a business helping and inspiring others. MJ’s success and his ability to influence people stems from his authenticity, excitement and the love he brings to his followers, teammates and clients.
BEQ Pride on Malcolm Harris: After Malcolm shared his story of shame with Oprah Winfrey and the world, the public response was encouraging. Support flowed from people around the world that he never met. They celebrated his courage, offered encouragement, and shared how they had overcome their own shame. Every message was a subtle reminder that the world opens its arms when we confront our shame and live authentically. Malcolm built his business out of his courage to live authentically, he’s helped many to create financial security in the face of chronic illness and provided financial products and services that can build wealth for future generations. Malcolm selflessly shares who he is and what he has without fear.
(He, Him) is 35
Non-Profit — Education Policy Guru and Advocate/ #TeachTheBabies
David J. Johns is known for his passion, public policy acumen and fierce advocacy for youth. He is an enthusiast about equity, leveraging his time, talent and treasures to address the needs of individuals and communities often neglected and ignored. David is a graduate of Columbia University and Teachers College of Columbia University with both a BA and MA. David spent time on capitol hill as a Senate advisor on education policy. A recognized thought leader and social justice champion, David has been focused on improving life outcomes and opportunities for Black people.
Back in 2013, David was appointed as the first executive director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans by President Obama and served in this role until January 2017. The Initiative worked across federal agencies and with partners and communities nationwide to produce a more effective continuum of education and workforce development programs for African American students of all ages. Under his leadership, the Initiative studied the experiences of students and leveraged a partnership with Johnson Publishing Company’s EBONY Magazine to produce a series of African American Educational Summits at college campuses throughout the country. The students, as young as elementary school, were the only experts at the summits and they provided the recommendations that have been used to improve policies, programs and practices, including curriculum, designed to ensure that students thrive both in school and in life. In September 2017, David began the next chapter of his life’s story by becoming the executive director of the National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC), a civil rights organization dedicated to the empowerment of Black LGBTQ people, including people living with HIV/AIDS. NBJC’s mission is to end racism, homophobia and LGBTQ bias and stigma.
BEQ Pride on David Johns: David Johns wants people to see him, to know that he exists. He wants people to know that, as a community, they can refuse to hide or check parts of who they are at the door, shrink or otherwise fail to show up in their fullness — knowing who they are and whose they are. David assumes this responsibility, in part, because it’s important for him to show up for younger people the way he wishes adults had shown up for him — fully, honestly and without apology. Everyday, David shows up for the voiceless and marginalized.
(He, Him) is 36
Small Business —Hueston Hennigan LLP
A first-generation Pakistani Muslim, Moez Kaba graduated with highest honors from Cornell University (B.S. Industrial and Labor Relations 2002) and from Columbia Law School (J.D. 2005). Moez served as vice chair of the LGBT student group and chair of the Muslim student group at Columbia Law School where he also met his husband Bjorn Lundberg.
Moez began his legal career at Wachtell Lipton Rosen & Katz in New York after serving as a law clerk to the Honorable Raymond C. Fisher of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. In addition to his litigation practice, Moez previously served as the Secretary of the Board of Directors for Equality California and continues to dedicate considerable time to pro bono work. In 2013, he represented Equality California in challenging the constitutionality of California’s ban on same-sex marriage in the United States Supreme Court. For several years he represented various women’s rights groups in cases challenging the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and state bans on same-sex marriage.
As a young lawyer, he has tried to balance both professional accomplishments and civic duty. Moez is a co-founder of Hueston Hennigan LLP. He has remained committed to causes promoting LGBTQ equality. Moez used his legal skills to work with different organizations and client groups to advance marriage equality, challenge the Defense of Marriage Act, challenge laws that discriminate on the basis of gender or sex stereotyping, etc. He believes it is important for the LGBTQ community to continue to come together to ensure and enshrine legal protection, economic vitality and long-term safety and security for all.
BEQ Pride on Moez Kaba: In 2017, Moez helped achieve a nine-figure settlement for the CEO of one of the most successful social media apps; he also completed successful representations, after trial, of the State Bar of California and T-Mobile USA. He currently represents the Navajo Nation with regard to the devastating environmental disaster known as the Gold King Mine Spill and its effects on the Navajo people, waters and culture. In addition to his litigation practice, Moez is also active in the community and in pro bono matters, including advancing LGBT equality and assisting victims of domestic violence. He has also represented Equality California in challenging the constitutionality of California’s ban on same-sex marriage in the United States Supreme Court and represented various women’s rights groups in cases challenging the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (“DOMA”).
Angelica Ross is in sync with her life and writing her story. After being discharged from the military for “Homosexual Admittance” during the era of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell”, Angelica faced the harsh realities of discrimination, marginalization and isolation experienced by so many trans and gender nonconforming people and especially trans women of color. At 19, while working in the adult film industry, this enterprising woman discovered her interest in technology and used online training classes to change the trajectory of her life. After 10 years of doing web development and supporting herself and taking acting classes, she created a blueprint for success with the creation of TransTech Social Enterprises, an online and offline co-learning and co-working community.
In 2017, Angelica successfully launched the 1st Annual TransTech Summit hosted at the GROUPON headquarters and Columbia College Chicago. With TransTech Social Enterprises, Angelica’s intention to empower her community and her positive global impact have led to many honors, including being on the Trans 100 list, receiving a GLAAD Media Award and the 2016 Human Rights Campaign Visibility Award. Angelica continues to portray dynamic trans characters on television and in movies, including her most recent role as “Relevance” on TNT’s Claws. She’s also been cast in Ryan Murphy’s upcoming series POSE, currently shooting in New York, as well as co-starring in Ghetto Plainsman with Whoopi Goldberg and Hill Harper. Angelica leads her life with “sobering honesty, a compassionate heart and a determined spirit to never give up no matter what.” For more information visit MissRoss.com.
BEQ Pride on Angelica Ross: Angelica founded a social enterprise that provides education, support and jobs for trans people facing high levels of discrimination. In her own words, “At TransTech, we’ve created a space for trans people to come together, work together, laugh together, go to lunch together. There’s strength in numbers. They’re building networks, and down the line they’ll think of each other when it comes to jobs.” Harnessing the power of technology and community, Angelica is creating pathways to a promising future for trans people.