7 LGBTQ+ Youth Changemakers You Should Follow this Pride Month

June 30, 2024

At the age of 14, Isabella Hanson was inspired to launch the international “I Matter” poetry and art competition on social justice. Sponsored by Gucci, Isabella’s “I Matter” project has grown to draw participation from thousands of youth from 49 states and over 60 countries.  As her project enters Year 5, Isabella manages this global initiative while she is a student at Cornell University.  She has served as an advisor for Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation and is currently a staff writer for the Cornell Sun.  Isabella has been featured on Nickelodeon’s Kid of the Year program, as well as in Black Enterprise, Forbes Magazine and Medium.com.   Isabella is the winner of the inaugural Prudential Emerging Visionaries award, the Princeton Prize in Race Relations and the Princess Diana Award.  She was also selected for Teen Vogue’s “21 Under 21” list of revolutionary changemakers.

Today and every day, we support and celebrate the LGBTQ+ community. This Pride Month, we are recognizing seven young Changemakers for their activism, leadership, and innovation in LGBTQ+ rights. Explore their stories and learn more about their impactful work below: 

Michael Arellano (they/them)
Michael, 23, a queer Latinx activist, recently graduated from Boston University, earning their dual bachelor’s and master’s degrees in political science. Their leadership journey began in high school where they were elected class president and actively participated in the Houston Hispanic Forum’s career and education day. At BU, Michael realized that in comparison to other schools, the university’s LGBTQ+ center was less accessible to students. Driven by justice, they collaborated with alumni and members of the Queer Activist Collective to found the LGBTQ+ Student Task Force. Through dedicated advocacy and persistent efforts, Michael created a welcoming space for students, promoting inclusivity and safety at BU. Looking ahead, Arellano is interested in working for the Latinx community and pursuing a law degree focused on civil rights.

“For me, there is no greater demonstration of love than actualizing justice,” Michael said. “For me, there is no warmer embrace than the commitment to dismantle all forms of oppression, ensuring that every marginalized voice is empowered and every intersectional identity is honored and celebrated in our advocacy. For the LGBTQ+ & especially QTBIPOC communities, I believe change making is an act of survival, defiance, and profound expression of love.”

Courtesy of Michael Arellano

Lily Berlin (they/she)
Lily Berlin, 22, identifies as an LGBTQ+ Asian American. In the past, Lily struggled to find a queer community of friends in high school, making her feel isolated and lonely.  As a sophomore at Metropolitan State University in Denver, she made it her goal to join Out Boulder County, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping members of the LGBTQ+ community thrive through connection, advocacy, education, programming, and most importantly, friendship.  Now as a youth program assistant, Lily is becoming part of the change and creating a safe space full of support and affirmation.

“Leadership is a cultivated skill, essential for navigating and transforming our world,” Lily says. “In the face of violence and an antagonistic political environment, it is crucial that we support our young people. I am fortunate to work in an organization that equips them by equipping them with tools of resilience, fostering community, and authenticity, we can create a future where our youth not only survive but thrive as LGBTQ+ individuals. Investing in their leadership development ensures that they are prepared to face challenges and become the change-makers we need. We can build a world where every young person has the opportunity to lead, inspire, and make a lasting impact.” 

Courtesy of Lily Berlin

Rebekah Bruesehoff (she/her)
Rebekah, 17, is a transgender author and activist, passionate about support for transgender and LGBTQ youth. When she was only 10 years old, she attended a rally where she publicly advocated for transgender kids to have access to safe schools and support. An image of her holding a sign that said “I’m the scary transgender person the media warned you about,” went viral, establishing her as a prominent public activist since. Through public speaking, journalism, and her social media presence, Rebekah advocates on various levels for policies that protect and support LGBTQ+ individuals. Her writing educates people everywhere about what it means to be transgender and inspires people to embrace their identities.  In 2021, in collaboration with The GenderCool Project, she published her first book A Kids Book About Being Inclusive, and continues to advocate for transgender rights.

“Changemaking is important to me, because my voice matters as a young person now,” she says. “I don’t have to wait until I’m an adult to make a difference. I’ve been able to thrive because of the support I’ve received from my family and community and because of all the advocates who came before me. I want that for every transgender young person, every LGBTQ+ kid. That’s why I do what I do.”

Courtesy of https://www.rebekahbruesehoff.com

Amandla Stenberg
Amanda, 25, is an award-winning movie and television star, renowned for her activism in LGBTQ+ rights and mental health. She is well-known for her roles as Rue in The Hunger Games and Starr Carter in the acclaimed film The Hate U Give. Amanda has been in the public eye since a young age, and she has used her social media platforms to advocate for gender equality, diversity, and visibility. Her latest role is Mae in the eight-episode Disney+ series, Star Wars: The Acolyte, premiering on June 4th.


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Lee Gordon (they/them)
Lee, 20, is a Black LGBTQ+ community organizer, the current head of racial justice at Queer Youth Assembly, and a Black feminist researcher. Lee is a first-year student at Harvard University, planning to dual-major in African-American Studies and Statistics. Recently, they were selected for GLAAD and Teen Vogue’s 20 under 20 2023 Class of LGBTQ Youth Shaping a More Inclusive World. Through their dedication, they are advocating for and advancing the rights of LGBTQ+ individuals and Black people.  

“Audre Lorde said it best that ‘Revolution is not a one-time event,'” they said. “The fight for queer & trans liberation for Black and Brown people has been and will continue to be an ongoing struggle. And it is a communal and civic responsibility for all of us to participate in the movement and center care to achieve generational freedom”

Courtesy of Lee Gordon

Harleigh Walker
Harleigh, 17, a transgender teenager from Alabama, testified before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee to defend LGBTQ+ rights and emphasize the critical importance of gender-affirming care and how that contributed to her quality of life. Last year, Harleigh spoke before the U.S. Senate about the discrimination she has faced in school and the profound impact of this discriminatory trans healthcare bill on LGBTQ+ lives.

Monet Umana 
Monet, 23, is a Black queer woman who embraced her sexuality by exploring intersectionality within her Gender and Sexuality Alliance (GSA) club at The Madeira School in McLean, VA. Now living in Philadelphia, she has become a distinguished scholar through grassroots activism, serving on the National Black Justice Coalition’s (NBJC) Youth and Young Adult Action Council. Monet was honored by SMYAL, an organization dedicated to supporting and empowering LGBTQ+ youth in the Washington, DC, metropolitan region, in 2016 for her commitment to radical politics and her efforts to eliminate environments where people may feel disposable or undervalued.