HRC Joins Thought Leaders at Harvard LGBTQ Conference

Post submitted by HRC Global Director Ty Cobb and Director, Project One America Ben Needham

At the end of February, HRC’s Ty Cobb and Ben Needham spoke at the 2017 Harvard LGBTQ Conference. Cobb directs HRC’s global programs and Needham directs Project One America, HRC’s programs in Alabama, Arkansas, and Mississippi.

Harvard’s annual LGBTQ conference, which gathers thought leaders to discuss issues pertinent to the LGBTQ community, comes at a time at a pertinent time the domestic and international LGBTQ community. LGBTQ people continue to face hostility from populist and nationalist movements, including movements that approved Brexit and the election of President Donald Trump.

Cobb was featured in this year’s keynote panel, The Future of Global LGBTQ Rights, alongside Astraea Foundation Executive Director J. Bob Alotta, World Bank SOGI Advisor Clifton Cortez and Harvard Kennedy School Ford Foundation Mason Fellow David Razú Aznar. The panel discussed the challenges that the international LGBTQ community faces and how those challenges can be addressed.

“We need to show up everywhere,” Cobb explained, when asked about the Trump Administration. “By joining others we are creating power…power that the current administration won’t be able to ignore.”

Needham joined Crystal Richardson, Legal Director of the Campaign for Southern Equality’s Rapid Response Initiative and HRC North Carolina Steering Committee member, to discuss grassroots organizing in the American South.

“The principles of organizing aren’t different in the Deep South,” Needham said during his opening statement. “The challenges to organizing in the Deep South are the lack of protections for the LGBTQ community. So many people are still afraid of losing their jobs and being kicked out of their homes because of who they are and who they love which means we have to be more creative with how we use those organizing principles.”

In 2014, HRC launched Project One America, an initiative geared towards advancing social, institutional and legal equality in Mississippi, Alabama and Arkansas. Last month, Project One America released several videos in a series titled “#LoveYourNeighbor,” a storytelling project focused on sharing the experiences of LGBTQ people and allies in Tupelo, Mississippi.

HRC is committed to ensuring that all members of the LGBTQ community are protected from the harmful policies of the new administration. To learn more about HRC’s work to protect the LGBTQ equality movement in the American South, click here. To learn more about HRC’s work to protect the LGBTQ equality movement abroad, click here.