With anti-LGBTQ policies and violence on the rise around the country, the US needs LGBTQ leadership now more than ever. A year ago, Point Foundation committed $1,000,000 over three years to support students pursuing careers that will help defend our rights and preserve the history of the LGBTQ community. Point is supporting leaders who can combat anti-LGBTQ movements in their communities and nation-wide by earmarking funds for students studying subjects from policy and law to education and journalism.
“We're combating anti-LGBTQ efforts by committing specific funds to train the advocates and educators whose work preserves our rights, now and in the future,” said Margaux Cowden, chief program officer at Point.
The current group of students includes Point Flagship Scholars like Jahn Jaramillo (he/him), who is earning his doctorate in public health at the University of Miami. The anti-LGBTQ and anti-immigrant legislation affecting all residents of Florida has made Jahn feel isolated, disconnected, and all-around concerned for his community. Jahn stays engaged and motivated by his research work as a scholar collecting stories about HIV mitigation and care services from Latine sexual minority men in Miami.
“Through these kinds of projects and exchanges, altruism, community connectedness, and resilience, I can counteract the current political climate as we work together to find meaning, connection, and unity through the lens of health and helping others in our community,” Jahn said.
Jahn’s research efforts in the cure and mitigation of the HIV epidemic are not just a means to feel connected with his community. Working to become a community and research leader is a way for Jahn to ensure LGBTQ and Latine perspectives are represented in public health leadership.
“In my opinion, it is important that LGBTQ+ students work and study in public health so that we are directly involved in designing, developing, implementing, and evaluating programs and policies that directly impact our physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being,” he said.
Another Point student making an impact in his community now is Kilin Tang (he/him). Kilin is studying political science, philosophy, and economics at Swarthmore College. At Swarthmore, he advocated for increased voter turnout on campus. As a part of the Get Out the Vote and the Social Responsibility committees, Kilin seeks to help students find out how they can be socially responsible as a student and after graduation.
Kilin’s advice to create change is to get started now.
"Get involved in LGBTQ activism,” he said. “The longstanding adage 'united we stand, divided we fall' rings true now more than ever. (…) You can make a difference in today’s world—no matter how young you are."
Kilin is joined by Fox Ostrowski-Guevara (he/they), another student selected by Point as part of the $1 million commitment. While studying education at the University of Texas at Austin, Fox teaches at a local middle school. At the school, Fox has become a staff sponsor of the Gender and Sexuality Alliance. Fox also supported local queer youth by becoming a liaison following the recent loss of a transgender student.
“I am really pushing for access to the resources the organization provides on campus for students to utilize,” they said.
Another student making an impact in her community now is Lorae Bonamy-Lohve (she/her). Lorae studies education at the University of Maryland and is active with Q Christian Fellowship, an international organization focused on increasing belonging for Queer Christians. For the last three years, Lorae has led the College Student Affinity Gathering at QCF's annual conference--most recently, it took place in Washington DC. She is eager to continue her work to create affirming spaces for LGBTQ+ Christians.
“I think what Point has done is celebrated our identities, celebrated LGBTQ+ people, and that has shown me -wait - this is really important,” Lorae said. “The work that I'm doing is really important: This matters. And so Point has not only shown me that this matters, but they've (..) connected me with other people who also believe that this matters.”
Point celebrates the work of the existing cohort of students, as we prepare to select more students to join the group. The $1 million commitment will support students over the course of three years.