Las Vegas, NV – For André Wade, a GLAAD Media Institute alum, a messaging and media strategy in the LGBTQ movement for equality is vital, especially as Southern Nevada grapples with schools locally and nationally introducing anti-LGBTQ – specifically anti-transgender – policies.
“There are outside [anti-LGBTQ] groups that are now coming – they’re funded by Moms of Liberty, and other groups – so they’re coming into Nevada with these horrible messages and strategies and organizing, and we have to know what we are going to do,” Wade said.
The policy expert is looking at ways to build an offensive, one way was collaborating with the GLAAD Media Institute.
Wade, the State Director of Silver State Equality, an LGBTQ advocacy organization in Nevada, has focused his 25-year career on the wider LGBTQ community. The GLAAD Media Institute traveled to Las Vegas to workshop our collective needs through, Telling Your Story: Messaging & Media Tools for Today’s Activist, at The LGBTQIA+ Center of Southern Nevada on Sept. 30.
The workshop brought GLAAD to listen and to learn how LGBTQ advocate leaders in Southern Nevada are working towards LGBTQ equality in their state, and ways to unify their brazen efforts around equality messaging through the media in collaboration with coalition partner leaders representing Silver State Equality, the Human rights Campaign and The LGBTQIA+ Center of Southern Nevada.
“This is one tactic of our overall strategy that we have to implement,” Wade said to the group of advocates.
For advocates, the media training opened up a window of opportunity to unify with each other, and with themselves. Ross Murray, the Vice President of the GLAAD Media Institute, ran the training and encouraged advocates to practice their messages while they were together.
“When we travel to states to collaborate with LGBTQ advocates, it’s important that they understand their expertise to fight anti-LGBTQ activists at all levels from the state legislature to school boards. Sometimes people just need a little practice articulating their values, and that’s exactly what we facilitate in the Telling Your Story training,” said Murray.
Participants also rallied behind LGBTQ youth and against bullying in preparation for Spirit Day on Oct. 19 by sporting purple and discussing what it means to protect LGBTQ youth from young, and adult, anti-LGBTQ bullies.
“What I would like to tell people, the youth in our community, is it gets better,” Rev. Li Arnee, Community Health Worker at Silver State Equality, told GLAAD.
Arnee gave a retrospective on what he’d tell himself as a youth.
He said if he could go back in time to talk to his 13-year-old self, he’d tell him “you are loved.”
“I have chosen to live my life authentically, so that others can see that it’s okay to be who you are,” said Arnee. “Those that haven’t seen Black trans men, those that don’t recognize transgender people, especially in the Black community, we do believe in God, we do believe in a higher power, and that higher power believes in you.”
Similar to Arnee, 82% LGBTQ young people said that the topic of support and acceptance would be helpful for the people in their lives to know more about, according to the Trevor Project’s 2023 U.S. National Survey on the Mental Health of LGBTQ Young People.
Podcaster Zakkiyyah Miamah Salaam said that freedom to live authentically is also a part of her message.
“Being able to be my most authentic self is super important for me, so I never place judgment on other people – not intentionally – and I have received the same in return. That’s what it means to be me. I get to show up as myself every single time,” Salaam said.
The training outlined major wins for the Nevadan LGBTQ community in 2023. One is the passing of major pro-LGBTQ legislation.
Silver State Equality was focused on, and championed, six priority LGBTQ legislation, and five of those six bills were passed into law, according to the organization’s website.
For instance, SB 153 protects incarcerated trans people from discrimination and ensures best practice for trans medical care is met by authorities; SB 165 gives trans youth access to insurance coverage for medical care; SB 172 ensures access to medical care for trans youth; SB 211 allows for name change requests in the state of Nevada before issuance of a marriage license; SB 439 aims to address various topics and situations to further modernize Nevada’s laws on HIV exposure and treatment.
Karl Catarata, the Nevada State Director at the Human Rights Campaign, looked to the future with hope. “I greatly appreciate everyone’s work – especially, Silver State, the GLAAD Media Institute – here at the Human Rights Campaign. You know we are fighting everyday battles for our LGBTQ community, and we have an election happening right now,” Catarata said. “People are filing to run in Nevada, so I have the opportunity to serve with my colleagues and all of you here in the room to make sure that we’re combating that extremist hate.”