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Supporting SpeakOUT Builds Safer Spaces for LGBTQ+ People

For over 45 years, SpeakOUT has been helping to build safer spaces for LGBTQ+ people through our personal style of storytelling and community education.

Each year, our trained speakers conduct over 100 engagements within local middle and high schools, colleges, businesses, faith communities and many other venues while sharing our diverse experiences and perspectives in order to raise awareness about LGBTQ+ identities. Our long history and the richness of our membership of over 100 speakers illustrates that our style of community engagement works to change the way our audiences see LGBTQ+ people. Sharing our stories in a variety of settings opens up a dialogue that enhances understanding and truly affects the climate of the places where we speak.

Our work also reaches other LGBTQ+ youth and adults who feel supported in their schools, workplaces, places of worship, and other community spaces when they hear our stories reflect some of their own experience. One of the leaders of an Employee Resource Group that hosted SpeakOUT at their Pride event shared their feelings:

“It’s been not even an hour since our event ended and I am already getting incredible feedback from so many colleagues here. I think the work that you are doing is beyond valuable, especially to an organization like ours. My goal for the year was to move the needle for our LGBT staff, and the three of you more than achieved that in only an hour. I personally cannot express my feelings toward you for how much your stories meant to me.”

SpeakOUT is one of the many LGBTQ+ organizations that educated the community about protecting transgender rights during the #YesOn3 campaign in 2018 and we continue to raise awareness about transgender experience beyond the ballot box. Societal acceptance takes education, and personal connection is often key to making that final step to understanding and empathizing with someone else.

SpeakOUT members led a panel at Suffolk University recently to mark Transgender Day of Remembrance.

In addition, SpeakOUT conducts private speaker trainings to help other organizations and activists enhance their public outreach skills, including LGBTQ+ youth groups and transgender activists in New Hampshire who successfully advocated for the passage of their own state’s transgender rights bill in 2018.

SpeakOUT also initiated an annual scholarship competition for LGBTQ+ undergraduates who live or study in the New England region to assist them with expenses for their studies. We’re committed to awarding at least two scholarships per year and hope through our fundraising we’ll be able to expand to additional scholarships. This end-of-year campaign is one way for our supporters to help ensure that happens in 2020!

Our bi-annual speaker trainings attract interested volunteers from throughout the Greater Boston region and beyond. Our fall training included folks from Vermont and New Hampshire who are deeply involved in their own LGBTQ+ activism and will be using their enhanced public speaking skills to advocate within their own communities. We love the opportunity to disseminate our storytelling techniques to help our community SPEAK OUT—no matter where they are doing it!

Our speakers also benefit from the act of sharing their stories and connecting with our audiences. Many of them find it a healing and confidence-building process to talk about the challenges and triumphs they have encountered throughout their lives.

“Being given the opportunity to talk about what makes me who I am is a gift. It is letting me revisit and work through issues that I had buried and it is letting me deal with the emotions that bubble up from that in a new and constructive way.”  

Some of our speakers have volunteered for SpeakOUT for ten, fifteen, and even twenty years! Whether they are speaking to high school students or within a corporate setting, they know that their stories can help create safer environments for LGBTQ+ people.

To keep us thriving we need your support. Please consider making a gift today to keep our training program strong and to help us provide a wide range of speakers to those spaces that still need LGBTQ+ awareness building—even in Massachusetts! On our Network for Good page you’ll have the choice of making a one-time gift or becoming a monthly or a quarterly donor, which is easy to set up and allows you to spread out your donation throughout the year in smaller increments.

Regardless of how you choose to give, thank you in advance for your generous support. Your support goes directly back into boosting awareness of the LGBTQ+ community as we share our #ProudStories!

We wish you the best in this holiday season as we all look forward to 2020 with strong hope of positive change and peace.

Michael Bookman, Board Chair & Meg Duberek, Vice Chair