The most important Trailblazers are often the ones closest to home. As part of Trailblazers, we asked you to nominate local heroes who have made a difference in your lives. The five Hometown Trailblazers below are dedicated to forwarding LGBT civil rights in their communities, while inspiring others through their extraordinary spirit and determination. Join us in celebrating all of the 2014 Trailblazers on June 26th @ 9/8c on Logo.
James made me realize that I can be proud of who I am, that I have nothing to be ashamed of and I am not a second class citizen.
I think we live in a time that is a true turning point for LGBT people and for the wave of change to continue in a positive
direction, we need more people like James who will stand up when needed. — Jim Patton
In 2012, James, an English High School teacher for over eleven years, allowed an article titled "It's Ok to be Gay" in the school yearbook. The repercussions forever changed his life. While James was asked to resign, he refused and stood behind his students defending their rights. During this time the administration turned their backs on James and left him to defend himself and his students. He did so, every day, showing the persecutors that he would not back down from what he knew was right.
Chris is a courageous, selfless and a loving husband. His passion for equality shines through his daily life. Everyone knows
Chris for standing up for what he believes in even with diversity. I am proud to be your husband. I love you sweetheart. — Shawn Riley
As a volunteer for Equality Maryland, Human Rights Campaign, GLAAD and PFLAG, Chris played an active role in the fight for marriage quality in the state of Maryland. He not only helped as a coordinator in his local district to rally people to Annapolis but also attended and testified in multiple hearings. Marriage Equality passed on November 6, 2012 and Chris married his partner Shawn shortly after.
I believe Harriet is an inspiration to us all. She fights for all of our rights here and is a legend in a sense. She's my
SHE-roe; Witty and simply wonderful! — Shacoiya Sanderlin
Harriet is a retired attorney and a proud mother of three, one of whom is gay. As an advocate, ally and most of all mother, she started the Columbia Chapter of PFLAG in 1982. She is also the co-founder of Palmetto AIDS Life Support Services of South Carolina and a co-founder of the South Carolina Gay and Lesbian Pride Movement (SCGLPM). The Harriet Hancock Center, a safe and welcoming space for South Carolina's LGBT community and its allies, was named after her.
James has inspired me to become more active in the community because of his diligence over the years. I can only wish to be
a trailblazer like he has been for so long for so many people. — Randall Krause-Vinson
James co-founded the Chicago chapter of Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Veterans of America (GLBVA). He traveled multiple times to Washington in 1993 in hopes of President Clinton lifting the anti-gay ban on military service. Most recently he fought to secure marriage equality in Illinois and to allow gay and lesbian Americans to serve openly in the armed forces. He and his partner celebrated their 50th anniversary in 2013.
Jesse is a natural leader in our community and a true friend who has shown me the definition of selfless determination. Seeing
his passion for the Foundation and its goals has given me the motivation that I needed to be more active in our community. — Derek Gamble
Jesse is the founder of Foundation For Hope, a community outreach organization dedicated to providing support and services to those affected by bullying, depression, or suicide. Through education and intervention Jesse and the Foundation strive to show that bullying is not just a rite of passage, depression does not need to last forever, and life is too precious to lose. The Foundation staff the "HopeLine", a 24/7 hotline for those in need of resources or support.