In honor of June being Pride Month, JUV wanted to highlight some Gen Z LGBTQ+ activists to follow. The LGBTQ+ space is constantly fighting against social stigmas that still run in society today, so it is incredibly important to continue supporting and recognizing these activists in any capacity you can for the amazing work they do. Happy Pride Month!
The Empathy Alliance, founded by Sameer Jha at just 14 years old, is an organization focused on supporting students being bullied for their queer identities, as well as making schools safer for LGBTQ+ youth. They also educate teachers on the LGBTQ+ community and work with some of the largest LBGTQ+ organization in the US to promote queer youth mental health. Jha spearheaded this initiative and continues to create a positive impact on the LGBTQ+ space today.
2. Ose Arheghan, (they/them)
Recipient of the Student Advocate of the Year Award at the 2017 GLSEN Respect Awards, Ose Arheghan, took action motivated by his past experiences with queer microagressions starting as early as 8th grade. Through writing and volunteering, Ose spread awareness and advocated for sexual and racial diversity. They currently attend Ohio State University and work with Advocates for Youth.
3.Ashton Mota (he/him)
Ashton Mota is the project champion of Gender Cool and the co-author of A Kids Book About Being Inclusive. As a Black person in the LGBTQ+ community, Ashton quickly realized that families of Black youth are not as supportive as he had hoped. In a Yahoo article about his work, Ashton stated, “Working with GenderCool was like something that stood out to me, basically because my only job is to tell my story and let the world see me for who I am — past my trans identity.”
Check out Ashton on Instagram.
4.Ziggy Mack Johnson (he/they)
Fashion influencer, content creator, stylist, and designer Ziggy Mack Johnson focuses on the realm of Black LGBTQ+ support. Through Ziggy’s large platform of over 44,000 people, he fundraises for various organizations supporting the community and advocates through his posts.
5.Zoey Luna (she/her)
Zoey Luna is an activist for transgender youth protection and anti-LGBTQ+ bullying policies. When she was just 13 years old, her school district attempted to expel her because she used the girl’s bathroom. After lodging a complaint with the US Department of Education, she continued to fight for LGBTQ+ rights in the education system. Zoey also starred in an HBO documentary that covered her story at 15.
Check out Zoey on Instagram.
6.Desmond Napoles (they/them/he/him)
Under the stage name Desmond is Amazing, Desmond Napoles is a Gen Z youth advocate and model, and teen drag performance artist. As an outspoken gay teen, Desmond has been able to make a huge impact in the LGBTQ+ space, with over 157K followers on Instagram. They’ve walked runways in New York, launched their own clothing brand, founded online communities for LGBTQ+ youth, and more.
Check out Desmond on Instagram.
7.Sarah Rose Huckman (she/her)
Exclusionary bills from state legislatures and discriminatory attacks against transgender youth continue to grow. But, Sarah Rose Huckman wouldn’t have it. As an athlete and activist, Sarah was a crucial part of changing the policy set by the New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association (NHIAA) to require transgender athletes to go through a surgery to be consistent with their gender identity. She was also featured in a documentary about her story after taking down this piece of legislation.
Check out Sarah on Instagram.
Srilekha Cherukuvada is a 17-year-old Content Creator at JUV Consulting, and a planning-obsessed walrus-loving Netflix junkie. Based in Austin, Texas, she enjoys writing, reading, food, and is a huge coffee addict. Catch up with Srilekha on Instagram, @srileeka, or check out her portfolio at http://simplysrilekha.com.