For GLAAD Media Institute Alum Kevin Anderson, interviews with journalists have become increasingly prevalent in his world. Anderson has recently left his career of 13 years to act as the full-time Founding Chief Executive Officer of the T.R.U.T.H. (Telling Unapologetic Truth Through Healing) Project.
Anderson’s organization was founded in Houston in 2013. Additionally, the organization works as an educational and community mobilization platform focusing on LGBTQ communities of color and allies that utilize social art to promote mental, emotional, and sexual health. Anderson just celebrated the organization’s 10-year anniversary.
“I created the space because the community requested it,” Anderson told GLAAD. “I’m just kind of in the space of – before I get close (very close) to 50 – I want to ensure that I’ve done my due diligence in hearing the community and providing the spaces that we need.”
Anderson was one of 15 people to attend a virtual media training organized by the GLAAD Media Institute and Students Engaged in Advancing Texas (S.E.A.T.) – a youth advocacy group dedicated to informing policy in Texas. The training course, “Engagement 101, Telling Your Story: Messaging & Media Tools For Today’s Activist,” taught advocates the power of stories, including that of their lived experiences, and the media landscape.
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“I was really attracted to the fact that [the training] was focused on storytelling because, you know, I know that to be challenging for some folks that aren’t used to getting in front of a microphone or a camera and so, being able to pick up any additional skills, you know, even if just a reminder or refresher is always helpful,” said Anderson.
The virtual training was facilitated by Brian Martin, GLAAD Media Institute Consultant, and Lana Leonard, GLAAD Media Institute Associate of Advocacy and Education. Through the training, 15 participants learned how to share their stories as they apply to mounting anti-LGBTQ legislation and violence in the state.
Texas has been the target of numerous anti-LGBTQ legislation, which emphasized the importance of how LGBTQ advocates frame their messages for change.
The Lone Star State, this year, has introduced numerous anti-LGBTQ bills, according to the Equality Federation bill tracker. This includes 53 anti-transgender bills targeting access to trans medical care and student athletics, seven bills against sex work, and eight bans restricting drag performance art.
These laws have been detrimental to LGBTQ youth’s mental health. Nearly 1 in 3 LGBTQ young people said their mental health was poor most of the time or always due to anti-LGBTQ policies and legislation, according to the Trevor Project’s 2023 U.S. National Survey on the Mental Health of LGBTQ Young People.
“We are bringing this attention to this [training] effort, this commitment to Texas, so we can organize locally and across the state for LGBTQ progress. Students need our voices to be heard, but also elevated in the press, so we can write our narrative to change the world,” said Cameron Samuels, the co-founder of S.E.A.T. “And in this partnership with GLAAD, I’m so proud that S.E.A.T. is a strong cohort of changemakers who are engaging in the state legislature and in school districts statewide to build these powerful relationships that will bring about the change that’s necessary.”
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Samuels discussed the need for youth and students to join the frontlines in the “fight for equality.”
Bruno Schoech is a student on the frontlines in reclaiming their power. They recalled a time when they were barred from using their school’s bathroom that aligned with their gender identity. They often had to compete to use the same accessible single-stall bathroom with administrators and faculty, students with disabilities.
For Schoech, this discrimination at school was the tip of the iceberg.
“I know that I can want to change everything, but if I don’t have support from my community and the people within my school, this would be a group effort where I can help a dream, but it takes them also acting, and them also supporting me in order for anything to actually significantly happen.”
Schoech hopes to one day get into politics, to build a broader LGBTQ movement in Texas, but for now, they want to start building solidarity with other people who share their lived experience. The student will study architecture at the University of Queensland in Australia.
“So what I can do here, in the present…” Schoech continued, “…is I can talk to current politicians, I can work with school boards, I can do what I can [to] just start outreach and to start to network to try and make them know because I feel like a lot of people who are cisgender want to know a trans person, to at least hear our stories.”
Date to remember:
This year – Thursday, October 19 – GLAAD will activate for youth on Spirit Day, the world’s most visible anti-bullying movement inspiring LGBTQ youth. On this day, GLAAD will organize thousands of celebrities, influential voices, news & media outlets, tv & film studios, brands & corporations, landmarks, sports leagues, tech leaders, influencers, and faith groups to go purple and support LGBTQ youth by creating clear possibility models for them to thrive and be represented in the world.