HRC Blog

Celebrating Champions of Change

The best ideas come from the American people. Everyone has a story to tell, everyone has a part to play.

This is the premise behind the White House “Champions of Change” initiative which recognizes “ordinary Americans who are doing extraordinary things”. In June the White House presented an LGBT Pride Month Video Challenge and six inspiring entries were chosen. I was fortunate to be invited to the event honoring those represented in the winning videos and the stories and messages I heard were truly inspiring.

The individuals and groups represented covered a wide range of advocacy – from youth suicide prevention to LGBT community centers to advocating for LGBT seniors. JJ Kahle is a teacher in The Blake School in Minneapolis who advises the school’s Gay-Straight Alliance and encourages those who know that “it gets better” to pledge to “make it better”. She also discussed the importance of protection from workplace discrimination (like ENDA) in allowing faculty and staff to freely advocate for and work with LGBT students. Heather Carter spoke of the power of human contact and the importance of making a difference even if it is just in one life at a time. Representatives of the Military Acceptance Project explained how Marine veteran Eric Alva inspired their tag-line of “we’re just like you,” and how their organization advocates for LGBT servicemembers and their families. We were also treated to a performance by Champions of Change the Redwood String Quartet, who use music to transcend differences. Their performance of “Adagio for Strings” by the openly-gay Samuel Barber was haunting and held the entire audience in rapt attention.

These six Champions of Change were humbly inspiring and each one made it a point to remind the audience that making change happen is something that everyone is capable of doing. I couldn’t agree more.

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