• Ben Finzel

"LGBTQ Rights on the Line: The Role of Communicators Advocating for Equality" Event Preview

Celebrating, honoring and acknowledging Pride Month is more important this year than ever (and it should be celebrated all year, not just during one month). The expected Supreme Court ruling that will undermine the right to bodily autonomy and privacy is just the latest assault on communities like ours. Legislators in statehouses and city halls across the country are ramping up their attacks on the LGBTQ community, and they are being particularly virulent towards transgender people. But make no mistake, these attacks are aimed at all of us, women, LGBTQ community members and allies alike.


As an LGBTQ communicator, I see this situation from the perspective of both an insider and a target. Part of my job is determining how to continue to advocate for equality while also focusing on my work, my clients and my business.


This Pride Month, I’ll be leading a discussion about how my colleagues in the advocacy, agency, corporate and journalism communities are dealing with these challenges. I’m pleased and privileged to be serving as Host and Moderator of “LGBTQ Rights on the Line: The Role of Communicators Advocating for Equality.” This event on June 2, sponsored by our friends at the Museum of PR, will feature leading LGBTQ communications professionals and journalists from across the country representing a diverse cross-section of experiences and expertise. It’s an amazing set of special guest speakers (many of whom I’m fortunate to call friends and colleagues):

  • CNN Senior National Correspondent Miguel Marquez

  • Writer, Transgender Activist, Communications Consultant and Military Veteran Charlotte Clymer

  • PAN Communications President and Founder Philip A. Nardone

  • GLAAD Chief Communications Officer Rich Ferraro

  • National LGBTQ Task Force Communications Director Cathy Renna

  • The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights Executive Vice President of Communications Shin Inouye

  • Third Way Deputy Director for Communications for Climate and Energy Jared DeWese

  • Chicago Reader Publisher and Windy City Times Founder Tracy Baim

  • Tagg Magazine Founder and Editor in Chief Eboné Bell

  • Vested Account Manager Corey Law

  • AppHarvest Chief Communications Officer Travis Parman

  • Amazon Corporate Workplace Communications Manager Andy Slaughter

  • Intoxalock Vice President Digital Marketing Laura Nguyen

  • Warner Bros. Discovery PR and Corporate Communications Director Ivette LopezFreeman

  • Actress, Fashion Designer and Activist Isis King

In the lead-up to the event, I asked our special guest speakers to share their initial thoughts in answer to the question: “What is the role of LGBTQ communicators in advancing equality?” Their answers are insightful and inspiring. Check them out below and then register to join us for the Museum of PR event online on Thursday, June 2 from 6pm – 8pm ET.


“Set the standard in one’s field. If one is a reporter, have the deepest sources and tell the best stories possible. Be tough, fair, factual, out, proud and set the best example for others.”Miguel Marquez, Senior National Correspondent, CNN


"Educating the public on LGBTQ inequality and discrimination is our greatest responsibility in this moment. LGBTQ communicators are essential to shaping the future in how we articulate a path forward in our society and government that works for all people, not just some." – Charlotte Clymer, Writer, Transgender Activist, Communications Consultant and Military Veteran


“LGBTQ communicators are well positioned to be the driving force behind equity advancement. Creating conversations is a critical aspect of our profession, and to apply that skillset to our collective passion to create and foster equality is a not only an opportunity – it’s a calling. It starts with having a voice and educating!! When silenced, creating conversations empowers those communities and educates others.” – Philip A. Nardone, Jr., President & CEO, Pan Communications


“With great reach comes great responsibility, and great opportunity. Whether at an agency, in-house, or at a LGBTQ organization, LGBTQ communicators are a gateway for the general public to learn about LGBTQ people and issues. This year’s Edelman Trust Barometer found that the general public is more trusting of corporates than of journalists and government today, so when LGBTQ communicators create LGBTQ-inclusive campaigns or public communications, we can humanize our community and have a real impact on non-LGBTQ audiences. At a time when anti-LGBTQ rhetoric is becoming a commonplace occurrence and our community has had to fight back against nearly 250 anti-LGBTQ bills around the country in the first five months of 2022, seizing on the opportunity that LGBTQ-inclusive public communications present is necessary and urgent.” Rich Ferraro, Chief Communications Officer, GLAAD


“The most important roles we play are as educators - of ourselves, the journalists we work with and the communities we serve, and as storytellers, doing all we can to amplify the many diverse stories that represent our LGBTQ community. Visibility and representation matter - without them we could never make the kind of cultural, legal or institutional progress we continue to fight for as we work for a world where LGBTQ+ people are treated with equity and respect.”Cathy Renna, Communications Director, National LGBTQ Task Force


“The fight for equality is intersectional – we know that when rights are denied to any one community, they can be denied to us all. The LGBTQ community knows all too well that fundamental civil and human rights are not always guaranteed – and that we must join our colleagues in the fight to achieve equality for all.” Shin Inouye, Executive Vice President of Communications, Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights


"The work on advancing equality for any group of people must include the voices from that community as part of the dialogue. This includes having diverse LGBTQ voices and media at the table. The recent New York Times cover story on former New York Mayor Ed Koch is a perfect example of doing it the wrong way—selectively picking certain gays to assist the narrative. It avoided the deep history of LGBTQ media and activists. It was a hagiography without those voices." - Tracy Baim, cofounder of Windy City Times, Chicago's LGBTQ newspaper


"Visibility is one of the best forms of activism. And that’s exactly what LGBTQ communicators do. We bring visibility to LGBTQ stories, experiences, and issues. By sharing and giving a voice to our community—whether we know it or not—we’re helping to advance equality."Eboné Bell, Editor-in-Chief, Tagg Magazine


"I take my job as a communications consultant very seriously, largely because so many stories in the financial services arena today are all about values and belief systems. My experience growing up as a gay man in the south taught me how valuable these types of stories are and showed me firsthand how lives can be changed by telling them openly, honestly, and respectfully. Now that I'm a steward of this brand of storytelling, it's my role to create more spaces at the table and use what power I have to amplify more diverse voices." - Corey Law, Account Manager, Vested


“Being out is still one of the most powerful ways to help advance equality. As out LGBTQ communicators, we can personalize the LGBTQ perspective and also more robustly understand, advocate for and implement policies and narratives that drive equality for all.”Travis Parman, Chief Communications Officer, AppHarvest


"As intersectional professionals, LGBTQIA+ communicators play a key role in advancing one of the industry’s biggest reputational challenges: accurately showcasing the depth and breadth of our community, including the struggles faced by marginalized communities globally. Our leadership around conversations that lead to corporate action have the ability to change how society views us, accepts us and embraces us as a broader community." - Andy Slaughter, Corporate Workplace Communications Manager, Amazon


“Words have immense power and as communicators we have the ability to empower people toward action in our fight for equality. Our strong ability to tell stories, mobilize people, and inspire change is critical now more than ever.”Laura Nguyen, Intoxalock Vice President Digital Marketing


“Being in communications comes with the responsibility of influence. Many times we are influencing a narrative or a leader’s remarks or - to an extent - what the media might cover. It’s our responsibility to use this influence to advance and promote LGBTQ equality wherever possible.”Ivette LopezFreeman, Warner Bros. Discovery PR and Corporate Communications Director





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