7 inspiring LGBT leaders in Alabama

GLAAD's Southern Stories Summer Tour is done, but so much still remains to be done in order to advocate for LGBT equality in the South. GLAAD visited Birmingham, Alabama during the tour, attending events and meeting with diverse local leaders of all ages working towards full LGBT acceptance. Here are just a few of those whose daily work is not only changing hearts and minds, but saving lives in the Heart of Dixie.

Michele Tanner and Sally Ringo

Michele Tanner and Sally Ringo have been partners and supporters of LGBT equality work for over 20 years. They are strong supporters of endeavors such as Birmingham AIDS Outreach, GLAAD's Southern Stories Summer Tour, State and Union: Lesbian Families in the Deep South, Living in Limbo documentary, and many other LGBT advocacy endeavors. They make their home in Birmingham, Alabama.


Kyle Pugh

Kyle is currently serving his fourth year on the board of Central Alabama Pride, and was just elected to his third year as President. Last year he won a B-Metro Magazine fusion award for leading diversity in Birmingham. Kyle has also been featured on every news station in Birmingham, in the Birmingham News, Montgomery Advertiser, Al.com, NPR, and B-Metro Magazine speaking out against discrimination in Alabama. After graduating from the University of Alabama in 2005, he moved from Tuscaloosa and is currently employed by Macy’s Riverchase Galleria where he serves as the merchandise manager as well as Macy's Birmingham LGBT Diversity Chairperson. In his spare time he volunteers with the University of Alabama at Birmingham Vaccine Clinic and various other charities in the area.  During the three-week window in February 2015 when it was legal for same-sex couples to wed, Kyle and his husband were married after having celebrated over 5 happy years together.


Lara Embry

Lara Embry, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist and writer who ​lives in Birmingham, AL, after moving home from Los Angeles. She is currently working on a documentary film about lesbian families living in ​Alabama, entitled 'State and Union; Lesbian Families in the Deep South'. Lara also has a children’s book in publication with Random House called "Marlene, Marlene, Queen of Mean" which focuses on child bullying.​ Lara is the Co-Vice Chair of the Board of Directors of the Trevor Project. ​Lara has a long history of advocating for equality. In 2009, she was awarded the Justice Award by NCLR for her role in the case that required Florida to recognize adoptions by same-sex couples in other states. 


Daroneshia Duncan

Daroneshia serves as a community health specialist at AIDS Alabama. She is the founder of Transgender Advocates Keeping Educated (TAKE), a group for trans women of color also run through AIDS Alabama. Daroneshia is very active in reaching out to women who are not often reached through the usual service system and, as a trans woman of color, is passionate about making health services accessible to all.


Amanda Wilson

Amanda Wilson, a Birmingham resident for 35 years, is the Executive Director and acting Board President of PFLAG Birmingham (Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays), leading the support group for family and loved ones of LGBT individuals. Amanda joined PFLAG after her son came out to her in 2004. Her passion for and empathy with people and families has grown the organization into one of the top LGBT advocacy organizations in the state. Not only does she help provide a support system, she also reaches out into the community to clarify common misconceptions regarding the LGBT community. She is a graduate of Leadership Birmingham and was involved in the initial work to establish a fund for LGBTQ issues within the Community Foundation of Birmingham.


Chenoia Bryant

Chenoia is a full-time professor and doctoral student in the Department of Medical Sociology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. She is a Sparkman Center for Global Health Fellow and has worked with the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs. Chenoia is also one of the winners of the B-Metro Fusion Awards honoring people who want to "see similarities and not differences, and opportunities, not barriers". Her interests are many and include  gender, sexuality, and health, as well as health disparities and social determinants of health in minority and sexually marginalized populations.


GLAAD is proud of these folks – and so, so many other Alabama advocates – who accelerate acceptance in the South. Make sure to follow GLAAD's Southern Stories program to check out profiles of more Southern advocates.