Post submitted by Children, Youth & Families Coordinator Pallavi Rudraraju

Nicole Talbot is a 17-year-old musical theater actress with Broadway aspirations and a passionate advocate for transgender equality -- both in her home state of Massachusetts and across the U.S. She also happens to be an HRC Youth Ambassador.

HRC sat down recently with Talbot to learn more about her experiences and advice for the LGBTQ community.

“The work I’m trying to do is change the narrative,” Talbot told HRC. “Sometimes things are hard and we struggle, but at the end of the day, our struggles and our difficulties today will make us stronger people tomorrow.” 

For Talbot, becoming an HRC Youth Ambassador provided an opportunity to take her advocacy to a new level.  

“I felt this position would allow me to reach a broader audience to help more people,” Talbot said.

Prior to joining the HRC family, Talbot worked with the GenderCool project, an organization that helps showcase stories of transgender youth. She was also active in Massachusetts’ #YesOn3 fight, working with state legislators to help pass protections for transgender people. 

One of the highlights of Talbot’s time as a Youth Ambassador was speaking earlier this year at HRC’s Time to THRIVE conference in Anaheim, California. Participating in the conference, which attracts hundreds of youth-serving professionals from across the nation, was different than what she originally expected -- LGBTQ young people dominated the national stage -- and Talbot was asked to be a keynote speaker. 

Talbot says it felt surreal to be able to use her voice both as an activist and a performer on the conference stage, singing “Reflection” from the film “Mulan.” She bravely discussed the importance of gender affirmation and unconditional love, as well as eliminating toxicity from your life, even if that toxicity comes from a parent. 

“Music is my fire, and advocacy is my fire.” Talbot said. “And so, whenever I can, I try to combine them.”

Outside of her advocacy work, Talbot also participates in daily acts of visibility through other communities in which she’s involved. 

As a singer and as a person living with dyslexia, performing on stage or being unapologetically herself in class makes a powerful stand for transgender visibility. Her story then becomes not  about being trans, but rather about being a singer or an example for other kids her age who are dyslexic. 

“That’s kind of the goal,” Talbot said, referring to her performances of the national anthem at a  Boston Bruins game. “It’s about using my voice to have visibility in communities that wouldn’t always see LGBTQ people. It’s like ‘I’m Nicole Talbot, and I happen to be trans.’”

Talbot has five tips for other LGBTQ youth looking for support: 

  1. Don’t accept hate and discrimination. 
  2. Be who you are unapologetically. 
  3. Find your chosen family and surround yourself with people who fuel your fire and your joy. 
  4. Love yourself, love the people you are with and love the time you spend with them. 
  5. Don’t settle for “less than.”

“Someday, the LGBTQ community will be accepted and be the norm,” Talbot said. “I don’t know if that’s going to be tomorrow or in a hundred years, but if we love ourselves, then the hate can’t win.”

The HRC Foundation Youth Ambassadors are a group of inspiring young people from across the country who show courage in sharing their stories and demonstrate a commitment to speaking out about issues facing LGBTQ youth. As Youth Ambassadors, they represent the HRC Foundation, using their voices to raise awareness about HRC’s youth-focused programs.

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