On Wednesday, May 9, President Obama publicly endorsed gay marriage in an interview with Good Morning America host Robin Roberts. His announcement, which government officials and media outlets alike recognize as a politically risky move, confirmed his 2008 campaign’s pledge to fight for civil rights – a promise many feared had been buried under the rug. In light of the president’s historic pronouncement, APB would like to recognize some of our remarkably progressive speakers who inspire us to remain true to ourselves, as they endeavor to do.
A trailblazing female in the world of comedy, Carol Leifer is an award-winning writer whose work has been featured on such critically acclaimed shows as The Larry Sanders Show, Seinfeld, and Modern Family. Well into her career, Leifer boldly came out as a lesbian. In a recent interview with Time magazine, she explained that she and her partner of 12 years are holding out on marriage until "there’s one across the board." A speaker sure to captivate any audience, Leifer shares her philosophy and outlook on life, encouraging us all to strive to be our authentic selves. Learn more about speaker Carol Leifer.
Acclaimed CNN anchor Don Lemon publicly disclosed that he was gay in his recently authored memoir, Transparent, in which he discusses homosexuality in the black community, among other topics. He explained that the impetus for such a decision came when Tyler Clementi, a student at Rutgers University, committed suicide after being cruelly bullied for being gay. Says Lemon, "I was born gay, just as I was born black." Named one of the most influential blacks in America by Ebony, Lemon anchors CNN Newsroom during weekend primetime and serves as a correspondent across CNN/US programming. Learn more about speaker Don Lemon.
Known for her role as "Miranda Hobbes" in the celebrated HBO series Sex and the City, Cynthia Nixon gracefully merges sex appeal and female empowerment. Facing attacks from both the gay and conservative communities for stating that her sexuality was a choice rather than a state she was born into, she has confidently maintained her stance knowing who she, personally, is as an individual. Having appeared in dozens of plays, television shows, and movies, Nixon is recognized within the acting industry as a woman who has the courage and ability to conquer any role. Learn more about speaker Cynthia Nixon.
Cleve Jones’ career as an activist began in San Francisco during the turbulent 1970s, when he befriended pioneer gay rights leader Harvey Milk. Following Milk's election, Jones worked as an intern in Milk's office while studying political science at San Francisco State University. He is the founder of the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt and is a sought-after speaker and activist for AIDS awareness, treatment, and education. Most recently, Jones served as the historical consultant on Gus Van Sant’s award-winning movie Milk. Learn more about speaker Cleve Jones.
Jennifer Finney Boylan is the author of ten books, including the memoir She’s Not There, the first best-selling book by a transgender American. A professor of literature and creative writing at Colby College in Maine, Boylan is known for her sense of humor, which defuses and illuminates the highly charged issues of gender, culture, and love. A three time guest of the Oprah Winfrey Show, Boylan has also appeared on the Larry King Show and The Today Show, and has been the subject of a documentary on CBS News’ 48 Hours. In the spring of 2007, she played herself on several episodes of ABC’s All My Children. Learn more about speaker Jennifer Finney Boylan.
A beloved television icon and entertainment pioneer, Ellen DeGeneres' distinctive comic voice has resonated with audiences from her first stand-up comedy appearances through her work today on television, in film, and in the literary world. Married to actress Portia de Rossi since 2008, DeGeneres gave President Obama a standing ovation on her syndicated show for his endorsement of gay marriage. "It takes a brave man to take a stand like this, especially in an election year," she said as she thanked him. Learn more about speaker Ellen DeGeneres.