"It is the right of everyone to live freely and celebrate who they are without persecution."
Marquita Thomas is a Los Angeles-based activist and marketing strategist who formed "Out & About Events for Women" in 2002. As the leader of Out & About, Ms. Thomas produces an eclectic array of social, business networking and activist events. Due to the popularity of her blogs and overall social media presence, not to mention her inveterate connection with so many women in the LGBT community, she is often solicited to promote events all over the country. Some of the many functions that she has hosted include Ebony Pyramid's "Black, Gay and Lesbian Cruise to the Bahamas"; Girls in the Night's "Femme-Nomenal Weekend"; the United Lesbian of African Descent (ULOAH)'s "Sistahfest Retreat", and many others.View Full Article
"Transgenders are extremely misunderstood and discriminated against. I am committed to giving greater visibility and voice to my transgender brothers and sisters."
Karina Samala is currently the producer of the Queen USA and Queen of the Universe Transgender Beauty Pageants. As an active member of the LGBT community for over twenty-five years, Ms. Samala has been actively involved in campaigning for the equality and human rights that should be afforded to transgendered individuals. Ms. Samala was born in Manila, Philippines. She is a graduate of M.I.T. Philippines with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Chemical Engineering. For several years, Ms. Samala worked as a Senior Process Engineer for Northrop-Grumman Corporation. Over the years, Ms. Samala has competed in and won numerous transgender beauty pageants. Her titles include "Queen of the Universe" 1991, "Miss Gay Universe" 1995, and "Miss California Continental" 1990.
"I am proud to say that I survived many negative experiences, and proud that I was able to turn those negative experiences into advocacy programs that will help others."
James W. Gilliam is the deputy executive director of the ACLU of Southern California (ACLU/SC), and currently oversees all of the organization's LGBT projects. He has revitalized the ACLU/SC's LGBT efforts, particularly in response to the recent increase in bullying and teen suicides in the LGBT community. Mr. Gilliam is an assiduous advocate of anti-bullying legislation and tolerance education in the Southern California community.View Full Article
"It has been my privilege and honor to work in helping to transform and create an acceptance for the contributions of openly gay leadership in non-LGBT movements and organizations. I share this recognition with my LGBT brothers and sisters who have sacrificed so much in the pursuit of equality and justice."
David Figueroa is the Vice President of Communications & Development for the Mexican American Legal and Defense Fund (MALDEF). Mr. Figueroa previously served at MALDEF under Antonia Hernandez from 1998 to 2001 as Director of Public Relations & Creative Marketing before taking on his current position. Mr. Figueroa served as Associate State Director of the Los Angeles County Region for AARP California from 2002 to 2009, during which time he oversaw the implementation of social campaigns, community alliances, volunteer management, and membership development. Mr. Figueroa also facilitated the launch of AARP's Segunda Juventud, a bilingual magazine in Los Angeles.View Full Article
"As minorities within a minority community, the interests of LGBT people of color are often overlooked. I'm grateful for the opportunities I've had to participate in organizations that help to represent and protect those interests."
Alex H. Fukui has been involved in community organizing activities for nearly twenty years, with a principal focus on the Asian Pacific Islander (API) and LGBT communities. Mr. Fukui was formerly co-chair of the Gay Asian Pacific Support Network (GAPSN), a volunteer community-based organization dedicated to providing safe and supportive environments for gay and bisexual API men. He has served on its board of directors in one capacity or another for sixteen years. He is a founding member of the Steering Committee of API Equality-LA, which is a coalition that builds support in the API community for LGBT equality and for the right of same-sex couples to marry. He currently co-chairs API Equality-LA's Faith Committee. He was also one of the coalition's leads in coordinating its field activities in the campaign to defeat Proposition 8.View Full Article