We're here, we're queer, and our future is now: Highlights from the GLAAD Campus Ambassador Summit

November 15, 2017

Over one hundred college activists from across the United States assembled in Atlanta, Georgia over the weekend as GLAAD held its 2nd annual Campus Ambassador Summit. The GLAAD Campus Ambassador Summit engages and incorporates GLAAD’s network of campus volunteers into the organization’s work and by doing so, strengthens the current movement towards acceptance and propels an inclusive, intersectional, and sustainable model for the LGBTQ movement of the future.

The morning kicked off at Turner Media’s campus with remarks from GLAAD founding and returning Campus Ambassadors, Kylan Kester of Morehouse College, and C Mandler of Bard College. C discussed their experience as a Campus Ambassador since their first summit last Fall. C recalled, “having queer and trans role models in pop culture can play a major role in understanding and coming to terms with one’s own gender and sexuality… It’s amazing organizations like GLAAD that are a huge part of why college students like Kylan and I have the platforms to do all of the incredible things we care so much about."

Kester agreed with Mandler when he said, "Through my work at GLAAD, I discovered the impact that the media and representation can have on changing hearts and minds..." He also poignantly remarked, “sometimes it’s lonely when you are the only... Now more than ever, being seen, supported, and safe is survival.” Many other students, who attended the summit to meet and strategize with fellow young LGBTQ activists who are forging positive change on their campuses, echoed this sentiment throughout the day.

Meredith Talusan took the stage next and discussed her path in journalism and LGBTQ media. Talusan currently serves as the Senior Editor of them., the new LGBTQ digital media platform of which GLAAD is a partner. She discussed her journey being on both sides of the camera and encouraged students to value their role in representing queer lives in all parts of media–in both highly visible and less visible roles. Talusan is a 2016 GLAAD Media Award recipient for Outstanding Digital Journalism in Multimedia for her piece “Unerased: Counting Transgender Lives.”

GLAAD Campaigns Manager Clare Kenny later spoke about the philosophy that inspired her to originate and found the GLAAD Campus Ambassador Program in 2016. Kenny recalled her desire to empower others the way she felt empowered when she was first starting out as a social justice advocate. 

“This movement of ours, our dream of a life without boxes–a world without binaries, is going to take millions. This may seem overwhelming, and I know it won’t be easy, but this generation–our generation is like no other. We love and embrace difference and inclusion, and we demand representation. And our opposition is scared of how powerful our love for one another is.” -Clare Kenny

The Campus Ambassadors also received training from the GLAAD Media Institute, led by facilitator Janae Williams. The GLAAD Media Institute provides activist, spokesperson, and media engagement training and education for LGBTQ and allied community members and organizations desiring to deepen their media impact. The GLAAD Media Institute Training as well as workshops led by Clare Kenny and GLAAD Associate Director of Campaigns Alexandra Bolles taught students best practices on how to affect positive and lasting change in their communities and online through media campaigns and digital advocacy.  

Throughout the day, students also participated in GLAAD and them. studio filming and were asked to utilize their media training and share their experiences as young LGBTQ leaders. Stay tuned for footage from the Campus Ambassador Summit to be released from GLAAD and them. later this year.

Click here to learn about Campus Ambassadors' advocacy. If you would like to learn more about the Campus Ambassador Program check out glaad.org/campus. The 2nd annual GLAAD Campus Ambassador Summit was supported and hosted by Turner Media. The GLAAD Campus Ambassador Program is made possible by our founding partner, Delta Air Lines.