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End-of-year Support Spurs Growth in 2024

“I had to inform my employer that I would have to break the law if I traveled to Florida for work. As a trans man, I could be charged with a misdemeanor for using the men’s bathroom in public buildings.”

“As a nonbinary person who works in a public-facing job, I have been harassed and undermined by people in my community because of my identity.”

“Yes, we have marriage equality, but I still had to legally adopt my own child that was birthed by my wife to ensure that all of our rights will be protected.”

Dear SpeakOUT Supporter,

When SpeakOUT visits a school or library, a workplace or a faith community, our speakers share perspectives like the ones above from their daily lives of being an LGBTQ+ person living in the world today. We provide a face and a name for our listeners to understand the personal effects of discrimination and oppressive laws, and illustrate how even in Massachusetts the current political climate seeps into our lives. 

Often our audience members thank us for being brave for sharing personal details about our lives and for answering a range of provocative questions. Sometimes we do feel brave, but oftentimes many of us feel it is just what we have to do to make a difference in our communities. SpeakOUT knows that many LGBTQ+ people cannot publicly tell their own stories and it is important for us to amplify the voices of those who can speak to combat the hateful rhetoric that is being used against us. It is more important than ever before to energize LGBTQ+ community members and allies to take up space in the world, not to retreat and silence ourselves.

We continue to share our truths within in-person engagements as well as online presentations that reach far beyond greater Boston. We speak to any audience that is looking to create safer and more inclusive spaces for the LGBTQ+ community. After a recent visit to a faith community near Boston, they shared this reaction with us:

“Each of the speakers shared from their heart about who they are and how they identify. They also offered key insights from their journey that helped us understand what has been helpful and harmful in personal, professional, and familial relationships. They shared that they were open to any questions. The night felt transformational and gave many of our members insights that we’re still grateful for and reflecting upon. Thank you for all you’re doing, SpeakOUT Boston, it was very helpful and demystifying!”

When we receive these testimonials from our clients, it confirms for us that our personal approach is affecting change within those spaces. These moments of insight and connection are truly making a difference in our communities and your continued help and support is critical for us to keep doing this important work. 

Over the last two years, SpeakOUT has been enhancing our programs by doing both in-person and online presentations for a wide variety of audiences. We spoke to an AARP group of LGBTQ+ seniors in South Dakota as well as a group of seniors in Brighton, Massachusetts. We spoke to LGBTQ+ youth at a summer camp on Cape Cod, to executives at Amazon, and to doctors in training at Harvard Medical School, as well as many, many others.

We try to reach as many audiences as we can and we want to reach even more. Which means enlarging our staff to help expand our efforts. Did you know we only have one paid staff member? Yup, that’s me. Our goal for 2024 is to bring on a second staff member so that we can boost our capacity to reach more people and to do more work behind the scenes to ensure SpeakOUT’s sustainability—and we hope you can help us achieve that goal!

We are looking ahead to 2024 with a strong commitment to strengthening our ability to educate audiences about our community. We know that LGBTQ+ people will continue to be targeted by conservative forces across this country and our fight for equality will only get harder in the run-up to the general election. The success of our end-of-year campaign will impact our internal growth as well as the number of audiences we will be able to reach. 

Your generosity today makes a meaningful difference in what we will be able to accomplish next year. Please use our QR code to make an online donation today. SpeakOUT has shared the personal stories of our community for over 50 years and your support will help us take that remarkable legacy to a new level in the coming year.

In Pride, 

Ellyn Ruthstrom 

Executive Director

P.S. For donors who give $100 or more, we’ll send you a black progress flag baseball cap for you to wear with pride in the new year!

Appreciation Night Remarks by the Executive Director, Ellyn Ruthstrom

On June 27, SpeakOUT gathered at Club Cafe in Boston for its annual Appreciation Night event. Along with thanking SpeakOUT’s wonderful speakers for all their work, we also awarded our three LGBTQ+ Student Scholarships, thanked long-term board member George Grattan for his nine years of service, and introduced our new mission statement. SpeakOUT’s Executive Director, Ellyn Ruthstrom, opened the program with these remarks.

I had the opportunity to start the month, our high holidays, by speaking at the Melrose Flag Raising Ceremony, which is where I live. Last year they had had an entire ceremony that did not include a single LGBTQ+ person so I was determined that didn’t happen again. Along with talking about how my own relationship to Pride has evolved over the years, I also talked about what makes SpeakOUT so worthwhile, and I believe the power of our work is in what motivates YOU to speak out.

SpeakOUT board members and speakers gathered on the Club Cafe stage for a group photo.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard a speaker say, “It would have made such a difference to me if I had had a queer speaker come into my school or town or business.” Our work educates the general public but it also offers hope to many LGBTQ+ people along their journey, especially our youth who get to see positive role models of adult queer people and to hear how they encountered challenges and overcame barriers and discrimination. They get to imagine that there is a place for themselves in the world. Amplifying LGBTQ+ voices is—especially right now–so important! Our work fights back against the divisiveness and the distorted stereotypes and misinformation that is being spread about our community. 

Sadly, I now have to discuss a security plan with all of our clients who we organize public events with, mostly public libraries and community groups. Those plans usually involve either having police on site or asking them to be on alert in case anyone causes trouble at the event. I honestly never thought I would have to do that.

Within each generation since Stonewall, the LGBTQ+ community has fought for — and won — more rights, more visibility, and more inclusion within American society. We’ve had tremendous success, and now we are in the midst of a severe backlash that is targeting our queer youth, our queer families, and in particular our transgender siblings. And again, I never imagined we would be here.

SpeakOUT board members and Executive Director Ellyn Ruthstrom at Appreciation Night at Club Cafe.

But one thing that has changed a great deal within the last few decades is that the LGBTQ+ community does not stand alone. We have tremendous allies who stand with us when we fight back and I believe the work we do with SpeakOUT is building those connections with allies one zoom event or one library group at a time. And that will make all the difference as we work to turn the tide again towards embracing MORE rights rather than fewer rights for all of us. And as queer people it is also our responsibility to be allies to others who are fighting for racial and economic justice, including fighting back against voter suppression. “None of us are free until all of us are free.” And I certainly believe that.

Just as our own LGBTQ+ movement has evolved over time to be more inclusive, SpeakOUT has also grown and evolved over the course of our five decades. Most recently, the board of directors has voted to revise our mission statement and I want to introduce the new statement to you this evening. 

SpeakOUT is a community of speakers and volunteers working to create a world free of bias and prejudice by telling the truths of LGBTQ+ lives.

I want to thank the board of directors for their work on revising and updating our mission statement and for all the work they have done over the last year, including helping to organize our SpeakOUT50 event last October.

Lurenzone Theatrics: Bringing Dragsicals to Boston

By Richie McNamara

By day, Nick Lorenzen is a school administrator, but by night he produces drag-centered musical extravaganzas within the local Boston queer scene. Creating a network of queer talent has been a driving force for Nick since he graduated from the University of Maine’s theater program. A drag performer himself for eight years, Nick spent some time in Western Massachusetts before being drawn to Boston’s active queer entertainment scene.

When the pandemic struck in 2020, Nick used his spare time to write a drag parody of Disney Channel’s High School Musical, becoming High School Dragsical. The script portrayed protagonist Troy Bolton as a bowling star who secretly auditioned for a drag show. In the fall of 2021, he utilized this script to get his drag friends back on the stage. In the long-standing Boston gay bar Jacques’ Cabaret’s basement venue, Jacques’ Underground, Nick produced his flagship show, not realizing it would be the start of his own production company, Lurenzone Theatrics. “Lurenzone is how I can bring people I know from different places together,” says Nick.

Lurenzone Theatrics Flagship Production: High School Dragsical in Jacques’ Underground.  From left to right: Regina Jackson, Betti, Patty Bourrée, Vivienne Vagemite, and Dottie Ave

Also during the pandemic, Nick began hosting Serve-vivor, an online reality game on the streaming website Twitch. This eventually turned into a live show featuring local drag talent with long-time collaborator, Kandi Dishe. “Serve-vivor combines improv theater with a reality television competition in a really interesting way,” Nick explains.

Nick struck an untapped but fruitful market with Serve-vivor. The reality competition fandom has a sizable queer sector who appreciates live theater performances, which has helped make Nick’s live shows a success. While producing Serve-vivor, Nick began writing a Mean Girls parody. “I want to give my friends (who are drag artists) opportunities that are fun and they can get paid for,” says Nick.

Nick’s proudest Lurenzone moment was selling out his parody of the musical Six at Club Cafe. “It was three nights, 300 seats, and we filled all of them!” 

Mean Queens Cast Photo: From left to right: Anya Nuttz, Carlos, Wilhelmina, Alex Wedge, Chanel the Angel, Alessandria, Nick Lorenzen, Evan, Regina Jackson, Dottie Ave, Mike Hawk, Barry, and Gwenitalia

One of the challenges Nick has had to face is finding a venue that has the proper tech required for a theater production and is willing to host him. Since drag is generalized as a nightclub activity, it is difficult to book actual theater spaces for his productions.

Despite drag being pushed to the center of political discourse in our country, Nick has luckily avoided any public backlash.

“Drag is fun. It is inherently political, but it’s not hurting anyone,” Nick says about political discourse on drag. “Drag performers aren’t the ones causing problems. The hateful reactions are what is problematic, and they must be addressed.”

In a time when drag is being politicized and targeted by lawmakers, it is vital that we support local drag artists. You can do so by attending drag shows and advocating for LGBTQ+ rights in whatever capacity you can.

Follow Nick and Lurenzone Theatrics on Instagram @lurenzonetheatrics to find out about upcoming performances. 

Richie McNamara graduated from UMass Amherst with a BA in Communication and a published thesis project titled Beyond Our Boundaries, which looks at how face-to-face, personal narrative storytelling can create social change. Currently, Richie works in social media marketing for a local general contractor. Interests include reality television, pop culture, content creation, and cross country running.

Editor’s Note: SpeakOUT will be highlighting the work of other local drag artists in future blog posts to more deeply touch upon how the current attacks on drag performers are affecting the individuals behind the wigs and makeup. We’ll also be covering the rash of anti-transgender legislation that is rapidly spreading across the country and endangering the lives of trans youth by removing access to gender-affirming health care. In this time of extremism and violence, this is when we speak out. Want to stand up for trans rights locally? Join the community for the Amplify Trans Youth rally at the Massachusetts State House on Tuesday, March 28, 9:30-11:30am.

ELYSARC – A Look at Everett’s First LGBTQ+ Resource Center

By Richie McNamara

During the summer of 2020, Kay Mangan had just moved back to their hometown in Everett, Massachusetts. “It was the beginning of the pandemic, and I was reflecting on my high school experience in the closet. And when I came back to Everett after graduating (college), I felt eyes on me now that I was visibly queer.” 

Kay, who uses they/them pronouns, could not recollect a single instance when the City of Everett acknowledged “LGBTQ anything.” Kay’s father, Michael Mangan, has previously served on Everett City Council and is currently on the School Committee representing Ward 4. Kay grew up very aware of Everett’s priorities and knew that LGBTQ+ rights and protections were not on the city’s radar. Realizing there was a lack of resources in Everett is what pushed Kay to make a change, so they joined forces with co-founder Dom Washington, who has an extensive background in community organizing, to propose ELYSARC to the city.

Kay and Dom sent a proposal for the youth center to the city, which included details like utilizing an unoccupied space in a former public school building. After months of waiting, the city reached out to tell them they had a space, and they opened their doors on June 1, 2021. Since they got that call, Dom explained that the ball moved quickly, which felt “surreal, exciting, and overwhelming.”

ELYSARC stands for Everett LGBTQ+ Youth Space and Resource Center and is for queer youth to have a space to hang out and be themselves. They offer gender-affirming products and resources, as well as provide connections to resources with STI testing, food, and healthcare in their space in the Old Pope John High School.

“We wanted to prioritize creating a physical space because that’s often the biggest barrier for an organization”

— ELYSARC co-founder Kay Mangan

ELYSARC also has vocational and volunteer opportunities for LGBTQ+ youth, as they currently have an intern helping them out for college credit. They’ve also hired LGBTQ+ youth artists to paint a mural. The organization has joined forces with Everett Public Schools to assess the needs of LGBTQ+ students and to create professional development opportunities and resources.

ELYSARC has faced some backlash from a small handful of locals, as heightened visibility can lead to more outward hate. However, for Dom and Kay, the Everett Public School system has been truly supportive of their organization in the face of hate.

Kay and Dom were incredibly proud to help create Everett’s first Queer Prom.

Kay and Dom cited Queer Prom as their most proud moment relating to ELYSARC. “A lot of us have weird feelings about prom, and high school in general,” says Kay. “We wanted to reclaim authenticity with this event.” The droves of support this event received made it apparent how necessary a Queer Prom was in Everett. Not only did people want to see the event happen, but they also wanted to attend and volunteer. 

To put on their biggest event, ELYSARC collaborated with YouForward (a Lawrence nonprofit promoting self-discovery and well-being in young adults through shared experiences and resources), and Lowell’s YouthQuake (an access center serving young adults in need of mental health support). Queer Prom at ELYSARC included a live ballroom performance from the House of Escada who has been featured on the first season of HBO’s Legendary

Currently, ELYSARC is focusing on providing mutual aid in the form of gender-affirming products, and professional development workshops with Everett Public Schools. You can find them on Instagram @elysarc_ and for other ways to show support!

Richie McNamara graduated from UMass Amherst with a BA in Communication and a published thesis project titled Beyond Our Boundaries, which looks at how face-to-face, personal narrative storytelling can create social change. Currently, Richie works in social media marketing for a local general contractor. Interests include reality television, pop culture, content creation, and cross country running.

At 50, SpeakOUT Recommits to the Work Ahead

SpeakOUT is coming to the end of our 50th anniversary year and it feels like a good time to assess, as one does when one turns 50.

First there is the looking back.

Over the course of 50 years, there have been thousands of SpeakOUT speakers who have shared their personal stories in order to raise awareness about LGBTQ+ people. Through the AIDS crisis, the movements for anti-discrimination protections in work and housing, the fight for marriage equality, the struggle for transgender civil rights, and during so many other significant milestones for our community, SpeakOUT speakers shared their experiences and perspectives of life within the LGBTQ+ community to shatter stereotypes and to put a face on the unknown. 

SpeakOUT has been just a part of the whole community’s work for equality, respect, and justice for LGBTQ+ people over these five decades and we want to acknowledge and thank all of our co-conspirators who have amplified the voices of our community and enhanced the lived experiences of LGBTQ+ people.

Then you wonder about the impact you’ve had on others in your 50 years.

Kathy Brophy, a teacher at Wellesley High School shared this with us: 

“Having been a SpeakOUT speaker for a short time back in 2010, I appreciate the impact that the speakers have in our classes. They share their life experiences, offer their perspective of the history of the movement, and they come equipped to answer a range of questions that the students have. I am an out and proud educator, and when I witness the SpeakOUT sessions, I am proud that this is happening in my classroom.”

And from a Boston business where we conducted an online engagement during Pride Month:

“For myself it really helped me to gain a better understanding of the perspective of someone who is gay or transgender…SpeakOUT is truly a great resource for the community and we would hope and encourage other organizations to take advantage of the programs being offered. I think the discussion last week will have a lasting effect on the culture [of our business].”

And, finally, there is looking ahead to what comes next.

We’ve had a strong year in 2022, indicating that our programs are in demand by the schools, colleges, businesses, organizations, and faith communities that we work with. But with the increasingly hostile legislation and violence that is targeting our community, we need to do more. 

Our intention in the new year is to continue to build our capacity beyond the one staff member and our board of directors and volunteers in order to do more and reach more people. We need to train more speakers to expand our reach through our online programs beyond the Boston area. And we need to create a stronger financial base for that expansion. That’s where your support comes in to help us succeed.

As our 50th anniversary year comes to a close, we ask you to make a gift to support the important work that we are doing throughout the Greater Boston area and beyond. Make your tax-deductible donation today by making an online donation, either a one-time gift or become a monthly or quarterly donor!

There is no resting on our laurels in 2023. The work continues and SpeakOUT is committed to doing our part by opening minds and changing attitudes. We appreciate your support in helping us do that!

SpeakOUT Condemns Vandalism at The Pryde

SpeakOUT Boston was deeply saddened and angered to see the vandalism perpetrated upon the construction site for The Pryde in Hyde Park last week. Hate speech against the LGBTQ+ community, including specific threats of violence, can never be tolerated, and its seriousness can never be minimized.

SpeakOUT joins all those in the Hyde Park and greater Boston communities who have condemned this attack and who have expressed solidarity with LGBTQ Senior Housing, Inc., the nonprofit organization building this much-needed LGBTQ+-friendly residence and community center.

We call upon Boston’s Mayor Wu and the Boston Police Department to stick to their pledges for a full investigation into this threat to public safety and the civil rights of LGBTQ+ citizens, and thank them for their swift initial response. We are heartened to see the LGBTQ+ community, the Hyde Park neighborhood, and the larger Boston community rallying around The Pryde and its eventual residents and will do our part to continue that support in the weeks, months, and years to come.  

If you have time, please contact your state representatives today and urge them to vote for Amendment #665, Pryde for All that will support LGBTQ-friendly senior housing in Massachusetts. The vote may take place as early as today, so please act now.  You can find your legislators here

Appreciating Our Members & Continuing to Raise Our Voices for Change

On June 28th, SpeakOUT held its Appreciation Night at Club Cafe to thank its members, board of directors, and supporters for another very busy and productive year. Among the achievements were completing 21 engagements during June alone, with 30 of our speakers completing these in-person and online events! We also announced our three LGBTQ+ Student Scholarship winners, who are impressive youth leaders already making a difference in their home communities and school/college campuses.

Executive Director Ellyn Ruthstrom welcomed everyone to the event and made some opening remarks about the recent Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade and how the local LGBTQ+ community is responding to it.

“Before we move on to the program of the night, I want to acknowledge the terrible injustice that took place last Friday when the Supreme Court released its decision on the Mississippi abortion law and simultaneously overturned the protections of Roe v. Wade. Jane Roe was a made up name of a woman who was too afraid to use her real name for this important abortion rights case that took too long to earn her the right to abort, but whose fortitude has allowed millions of Americans to assert their own right to control their reproductive choices. Her real name was Norma McCorvey and she was a young poor white Texas woman who was a lesbian, or at least that’s how she identified until the Christian Right got a hold of her. All of her identities put her in the crosshairs of a cruel system that did not allow her to have control over her own body.

On a personal note, reproductive justice was an area of activism that I put incredible energy into in my earlier years, both as a straight woman and later as an out bi woman. Many of the women I worked side-by-side with were queer women. All of us, working together, understood that abortion rights is about control over our bodies, the most basic human right there is. In the current fight, our own LGBTQ+ community understands this and we must make clear that abortion rights and contraceptive rights affect women, trans men and nonbinary people – anyone who can get pregnant. SpeakOUT has joined a group of LGBTQ+ organizations that has co-signed a statement that was released today condemning the actions of the Supreme Court and advocating for other actions to protect reproductive rights as well as other rights for LGBTQ+ people that are being threatened. You can see the statement on the information table and you will continue to see SpeakOUT respond to ongoing actions that affect our community.”

Being a SpeakOUT Speaker

SpeakOUT is hosting its Spring Speaker Training on Saturday, April 9th at Suffolk University in Boston. This is the first in-person training since the pandemic, so it will be exciting to spend time together in LGBTQ+ community space. Two of SpeakOUT’s trainers share their memories of how they found SpeakOUT and what the experience of being a speaker has brought to their lives. To find out more about the training or to register, visit the SpeakOUT website.

Trevor Boylston

SpeakOUT’s Impact on My Life

When I signed up for the SpeakOUT training in 2018, I did it to satisfy a development goal for my job. I wanted to learn to be comfortable speaking in front of groups and the thought of taking the internal workshop with co-workers terrified me. Frankly, the thought of speaking in front of anyone made me sick to my stomach. A friend had shared the SpeakOUT registration on his Facebook page and it seemed like a safe space to do what my manager wanted me to do.

What I didn’t expect was the impact SpeakOUT would have on my life. By sharing my story, I’ve been able to unpack memories that were painful and buried deep, almost forgotten. I’ve been able to process the emotions that come with those memories in a productive way, and hopefully have helped other people understand a little more about the LGBTQ+ community with each engagement. I’ve become a better person, a better partner, and a better advocate. I’ve met incredible people with unique stories, many who have become close friends. Without SpeakOUT, my life would be missing something. I’m thankful to be able to give back to SpeakOUT by helping the next group of speakers learn to share their stories by now being a trainer.

Joseph Alcantara

My Story Found a Voice

Just when the world thought that the 2020 pandemic could get the best of me after experiencing loss of a job that I treated as a vocation, loss of residency to a country I once called home and loss of a father who loved me unconditionally for four decades – I found new hope, meaning and redemption instead after I stumbled upon SpeakOUT.

As a new immigrant, married gay man and POC planting new roots in Massachusetts, I was in search of an outlet that would bring me peace as I started anew in an overwhelmingly intersectional life. Being an LGBTQIA+ and AAPI advocate juxtaposed with my passion for communication (writing, public speaking, and social media) was an envisioned path, yet I didn’t have an organized platform and structured approach to bring the self-imposed mission to fruition. After Googling ‘LGBTQ advocacy Boston’ I found one of the sparks of light at the end of the tunnel.

I joined SpeakOUT by sending a bold unsolicited email to its super warm, friendly and welcoming Executive Director, Ellyn Ruthstrom. Next thing I know, I’m attending one of their online Speaker Trainings where I eventually found how my unique coming out story as a gay man could be purposeful. While I knew how to share my authentic life anecdotes, the course was very powerful as it reminded me where to source my core, inspiration and rallying call. As a seasoned corporate speaker, the training also liberated me to unlearn ‘too formal’ habits that overshadow the beauty, sincerity and vulnerability of raw stories that come straight from the heart. The constructive feedback and motivation from the small groups also helped define improvement areas while keeping me empowered in my own narrative.

Today, not only am I an active speaker but also an engaged volunteer for the Training Team, SpeakOUT in Color (the BIPOC social group of the organization), and a new Board Member. Indeed, from a simple training to finding an outlet, my work-in-progress story unfolds as it finds its true voice to make this world a bit better for the folks in the generations to come.      

When the Catholic Church Oppresses LGBTQ+ People, Dignity Offers Safe Spaces

Theologian Edwina Gateley said it best: “We are the Church; they are the hierarchy.”  This is demonstrated in the latest oppression by the hierarchy in the Diocese of Marquette, Michigan, where LGBTQ+ people are being excluded from the sacraments and roles in the church.

In response to these recent discriminatory actions, Executive Director of DignityUSA, Marianne Duddy-Burke, noted, “It is a cruel attempt to prevent LGBTQ+ people from living as we were created, becoming our true selves, and experiencing the joy and grace of loving relationships. That just won’t work. What it will do is shame people, potentially into despair and suicide.”

The Marquette actions are yet another example of how the hierarchy in the institutional Roman Catholic Church are not acting as members of God’s church on earth. The hierarchy are meant to take the role of shepherds in the Church, guiding and caring for the flock. Pastoral care is meant to be a primary function of the hierarchy. Yet, people who identity as LGBT+ are excluded and 50% of the Church, women, are excluded from the Church’s highest positions.

I grew up in Central Massachusetts going to a small chapel where my Catholic faith was nurtured, never hearing a “fire and brimstone” homily or a homily that excluded people in the church. I was very lucky. As I became a teen, I grew to learn that those who had same-sex attraction, like myself, were excluded. This led me to lead a double life in my young adult years, separating my sexuality from my spirituality.

In my 30s, I was lucky to step into the doors of a church where my spirituality and sexuality were encouraged to be integrated. That church, that community was Dignity/Boston, a chapter of Dignity USA, a Catholic community where people of all sexual orientations and gender identities are fully welcome as full members of the Church. Liturgies at Dignity are frequently lay lead and have gender parity. Dignity/Boston has performed many same sex weddings, including my own. I was fortunate to be married to the man I love through the sacramental blessing of Holy Matrimony in front of over 100 family and friends.

Many changes will need to come to the institutional church in order to preserve itself in the future and not be perceived as a “leaner, meaner” church, a direction that the Diocese of Marquette appears to be taking currently.  The institutional church could learn a lot from Dignity—a welcoming church, a church of radical inclusion. 

–Dave Houle is a member of both SpeakOUT Boston and Dignity/Boston.

Celebrating 50 Years & Moving Forward

As SpeakOUT heads towards 2022—our 50th anniversary year!—we are excited to highlight the work that has kept our organization going for half a century.

  • Fifty years of LGBTQ+ community members participating in peer-led trainings to learn how to create and share an effective story to raise awareness about LGBTQ+ lives.
  • Fifty years of SpeakOUT members sharing personal stories in public and private schools, colleges, businesses, faith communities, public libraries, community organizations, and more.
  • Fifty years of helping to create safer and more inclusive spaces for LGBTQ+ people throughout the region—SpeakOUT speakers have traveled to all the New England states to share their stories.
  • Fifty years of SpeakOUT speakers building understanding about sexual orientation, gender identity, coming-out experiences, workplace discrimination, bisexuality, marriage equality, transgender rights, queer youth, nonbinary identities, and everything else that is included in the richness and complexities of LGBTQ+ lives.

Think about all the things that have changed for the LGBTQ+ community in 50 years! SpeakOUT has proven the power personal storytelling has to open minds and change attitudes. We know our work with diverse audiences has helped raise awareness about the lives of LGBTQ+ people and created change in communities.

The Challenge

We all know how difficult and strange 2020 and 2021 have been. A lot of sacrifice. A lot of loss. A lot of changes within our worklife, personal life, and social interactions.

SpeakOUT, too, has adapted to the realities of the COVID era, and we spent 2021 primarily in online environments with our clients. With continued violence against LGBTQ+ people and legislative challenges that threaten our rights, SpeakOUT believes that our personal approach to discussing LGBTQ+ lives is still making a difference!

To cope within the changing climate—and as an organization that thrives on personal interactions with our audiences—we have learned how to leverage technology to bring that same sense of connection to our online engagements.

50K for 50 Years

Starting with this end-of-year appeal, SpeakOUT is launching a 50K for 50 Years campaign to provide sustainability and growth for the organization in 2022 and beyond!

This is a large goal for a small grassroots organization like SpeakOUT, and we are asking our supporters and sponsors to help us expand our program beyond Boston with this campaign. LGBTQ+ inclusive spaces are essential in our schools, in our workplaces, and in our communities and we want to do our part in creating more of those spaces—wherever they may be!

Your Contribution

We want to end 2021 strong in order to step into our anniversary year with renewed momentum to support our goals that will carry us past the COVID context. This past June, we had the most successful Pride Month ever and spoke to online audiences in the Boston area as well as corporate audiences across the U.S. and internationally.

With your support, we will continue to expand our work through the online approach beyond the Greater Boston area.

Make your tax-deductible donation today by making an online donation at You can make a one-time gift or become a monthly or quarterly donor!

Ellyn Ruthstrom

Executive Director