10 LGBTQIA+ Authors and Creators You Should Know About
Although there's still a lot of work to be done around LGBTQIA+ representation and belonging, both in and outside of the workplace, there are lots of things to be celebrated — like the countless creative individuals in the LGBTQIA+ community that are promoting representation through creative and inclusive content like books, TV shows, music, and more!.
So, in honor of Pride Month, we want to highlight some of our favorite LGBTQIA+ creators. Keep reading for 10 LGBTQIA+ authors and creators we think you should know about!
Mx. Lex Horwitz — educator, activist, and model
Lex Pe'er Horwitz (they/them) is a queer, non-binary transgender Jewish nationally recognized LGBTQIA+ Educator, Activist, Consultant, Public Speaker, and Model based out of Philadelphia and New York City. Lex received their B.A. in Psychology and Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies from Bowdoin College, where they competed on the Varsity Men’s squash team and became the first out transgender athlete in all of collegiate squash, and the first out transgender athlete to compete at Bowdoin.
Their work focuses on educating people of all ages and backgrounds on LGBTQ+ identities, topics, and issues through a multitude of pathways—facilitations and workshops, lectures and public speaking, one-on-one support, and consultation services to name a few.Currently, Lex is a research co-investigator, consultant, and writer in Gender Affirming Health Care at Temple University and Temple Health. Additionally, Lex works with higher education institutions, nonprofits and businesses creating LGBTQIA+ curriculum and training, developing inclusive policy, producing educational resources, and providing feedback and action steps to address areas of growth (and for Lex’s business partners, they create marketing and campaign development plans). And Lex's activism does not stop there—they bring their passion to the modeling world where they work for inclusive and expansive representation on and off the runway.
The Vixen — performer and activist
The Vixen is a multi-talented performer dedicated to making the world a better place. Growing up on the South Side of Chicago, her art has always been intertwined with social justice and activism. An accomplished drag queen, songwriter, fashion designer, and dancer, she credits her creative family for her love of the arts.
As a student at Columbia College in Chicago, Vixen learned the makeup skills it took to create her growing drag persona. After turning 21, her athletic performance style quickly gained her attention in the Chicago drag scene. Through hard work and dedication The Vixen has become an influential member of Chicago's gay community interviewed by many publications for her unique style and outspoken viewpoint.
As a rapper, her bold lyrics and intricate delivery has earned her national attention for her show-stopping collaborations. Her proudest achievement is creating BlackGirlMagic, a drag concert, where queens of color can celebrate their unique experiences through storytelling and performance. The Vixen lives by her grandmothers belief that helping others makes life worthwhile.
Umi Hsu — strategic designer and public humanist
Umi is a public humanist and strategic designer with research and organizing agendas for equity in arts, technology, and civic life. Prior to joining the ONE Archives Foundation, Umi served as the Digital Strategist of the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, where they directed digital and data programs including a virtual tour and a digital archive of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Hollyhock House, and Promise Zone Arts cultural asset mapping initiative.
With a PhD in Critical and Comparative Studies in Music from the University of Virginia, Umi is a sound ethnographer and artist whose practice is driven by inquiries about sound and migratory communities. Umi is also an adjunct faculty member at ArtCenter College of Design’s Media Design Practices MFA program and University of Southern California Marshall School of Business, and has published extensively on digital media, data, and Internet culture.
Umi has received fellowships and awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, American Council for Learned Society, Shuttleworth Foundation, and LA Metro and has works presented by the Rubin Museum, Japanese American National Museum, CTM Festival in Berlin, and Tuesday Night Cafe. In their spare time, Umi writes songs about the melancholic queer postcolony in their band Bitter Party.
Umi participated in our Diverstiy Reboot Series last year and gave a talk entitled: Telling and Preserving LGBTQIA+ Stories with the ONE Archive Foundation's Umi Hsu. Click the link below to rewatch the talk.
Ann Mei Chang — author and social innovation leader
Author of Lean Impact, “Ann Mei Chang (she/her) is a leading expert on social innovation who brings together unique insights from her extensive work across the tech industry, nonprofits, and the US government. As Chief Innovation Officer at USAID, Ann Mei served as the first Executive Director of the US Global Development Lab, engaging the best practices for innovation from Silicon Valley to accelerate the impact and scale of solutions to the world’s most intractable challenges. She was previously the Chief Innovation Officer at Mercy Corps and served the US Department of State as Senior Advisor for Women and Technology in the Secretary's Office of Global Women’s Issues.
Ann Mei earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science from Stanford University and is a member of the Aspen Institute’s Henry Crown Fellows’ class of 2011. She has been recognized as one of the “Women In the World: 125 Women of Impact” by Newsweek/The Daily Beast in 2013, "23 most powerful LGBTQ+ people in tech" by Business Insider in 2019, and "20 Top LGBTQ+ Entrepreneurs, Executives and Thought Leaders" by Global Shakers in 2019. She is a keynote speaker who has been featured at TEDx MidAtlantic, SxSW, Social Good Summit, SOCAP, and Lean Startup Week, as well as numerous nonprofits, foundations, and government agencies.
Ann Mei participated in our Diverstiy Reboot Series last year and gave a talk entitled: How to Innovate for Radically Greater Social Good. Click the link below to rewatch the talk.
Angelica Ross — educational speaker, creative director, and business person
Angelica Ross is the founder of TransTech Social Enterprises. Angelica's passion for education, building business, and community is at the heart of her work helping companies and individuals develop their brand identity. Angelica believes making brands aware of their impact on society and social causes empowers them to create change. Angelica Ross creates engaging Social Media Strategies, Educational Speaking Events & Workshops for LGBTQIA+ with a focus on the most marginalized communities. Specialties: Writing, Consulting, Public Speaking, Educational Workshops, Instruction/Teaching, Tutoring, Media Production, Creative Direction, Web Development, Music/Audio Production, Copywriting, photo re-touching, photo composites, and video editing.
Marti Allen-Cummings — activist and drag artist
Marti Allen-Cummings (they/them) is an activist, community board member, gig worker and drag artist running for city council in uptown manhattan. Marti has been working in NYC for 13 years after moving to the city at age 17 to pursue a performing arts career. They know what it’s like to make it in new york living paycheck to paycheck and without insurance. For over a decade, Marti has been deeply involved in the community - advocating for LGBTQIA+ Young people through the Ali Forney Center and aiding new yorkers experiencing homelessness.
Throughout the pandemic, Marti built upon that experience to plan PPE handouts, grocery deliveries, coat drives and mutual aid efforts. During the 2016 election Cycle, Marti started organizing and Their political activism energized the community and has brought people together who are seeking progressive change in the nation’s politics. Marti currently sits on community board 9 serving the people of Upper Manhattan, and IS an advisor on the NYC Nightlife Advisory Board.
Marti participated in our Diverstiy Reboot Series last year and gave a talk entitled: Drag Queen Dance Party. Click the link below to rewatch the talk.
Dezjorn Gauthier — model and philanthropist
Dezjorn started modeling at just 6 months old for top children’s brands around the nation and winning national titles. He began his physical transition (female-to-male) April 2014; shortly after he was featured in the well known Barneys New York campaign featuring 17 transgender models. With international coverage Dezjorn has been featured in many articles and celebrity shoots, including walking the all transgender runway cast for high fashion designer Marco Marco & International campaign with British Vogue. Dezjorn was featured in the award winning series America In Transition by Andre Perez, and was managed by the world’s first transgender-specific agency in New York. Additionally, Dezjorn was crowned Mr. Wisconsin; being the first title holder of color and of trans-masculine experience for Enchantment US Pageantry System and Mr. Black Trans Wisconsin 2019 – 2022 for BTIPS. Today, Dezjorn has sat on panels/presented for Fortune 500 companies and top Universities in the world.
Dezjorn started his own philanthropic business in 2014 providing programs and services to effectively bring awareness to the transgender community with a special focus on transmen of color through education empowerment and inspiration. Now, Dezjorn International LLC is compiled of subsidiaries, and committed to help clients reach their goals of branding, public relations and social media influence. In 2018 Dezjorn and his wife officially opened their nonprofit The Dezjorn International Foundation Inc: which offers an annual transgender surgery fund, academic scholarships, athletics, and mentoring. Dezjorn also is the Director of Youth Engagement for the Gendercool Project and was Vice President of Point of Pride. Back in Milwaukee Dezjorn recently retired from teaching a high school level law course allowing students to learn more about the justice system, United States constitution and understanding policies. As well as is a licensed foster parent with Froedtert Children’s Hospital and father of 5 beautiful daughters.
Dezjorn participated in our Diverstiy Reboot Series last year and gave a talk entitled: Forging Families That Work For Us. Click the link below to rewatch the talk.
Ada Westfall — writer, composer, and performer
Ada Westfall (she/her) is a writer, composer, multi-instrumentalist, performer, and proud transgender woman whose mission is to disrupt, interrogate, and diversify the canon, trends, and methodology in the field of music as it intersects all types of performance and the collaborative arts at large. She is experienced at taking on a number of roles often simultaneously (composer, music director, lead actor, onstage musician, et al.) on a wide variety of productions – everything from large-scale commercial spectacle to research-based experimental performance.
She has worked as a guest teaching artist at educational institutions such as NYU, NYU Abu Dhabi, Princeton University, University of the Arts, The American Academy of Dramatic Arts, Mark Morris Dance Center, and Tamagawa University, and she has performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, the Prague Fringe Festival, MESS Festival, the Cairo International Festival for Experimental Theater, across the United States, and the globe: Japan, The United Arab Emirates, Lebanon, Egypt, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Poland, The Czech Republic, Chile, Italy, Mexico, and the UK.During her 15+ years calling New York City home, she has become an Associate Artist with two Brooklyn-based theater companies: Theater Mitu (since 2006) and The Civilians (since 2016) and has performed at fundraisers, galas, and awards shows for The Public Theater, American Conservatory Theater, The MacDowell Colony, NYCLU, The Lilly Awards, Williamstown Theater Festival, The Civilians’ Michael Friedman Legacy Fund, Forum for Cultural Engagement, Fresh Ground Pepper, and The Richard Rogers School of the Arts and Technology
DoctorJonPaul H — writer, speaker, and social justice educator
Dr. Higgins (they/them) is a writer, speaker, and social justice educator who focuses on issues related to gender, race, and media. Named Business Equality Magazine’s “Top 40 LGBTQ Under 40”, they have written for numerous media outlets including Ebony, Paper Magazine, Complex Magazine, Out, Them, Essence, The Root, Blavity, MTV News, and more. They have also been featured on sites like NBC News, Buzzfeed, Vox, and Attn:.
Raised in San Bernardino, CA, Dr. Higgins is committed to using their voice to highlight and bring focus to the issues that affect both Black and LGBTQ communities at both a local and national level. As a graduate from California State University, San Bernardino with a Bachelors of Arts in Communication Studies and a minor in Women’s Studies and a graduate from University of Redlands with both a Masters of Arts in Management and Doctorate in Educational Leadership, they aspire to be an example to those who seek to change the way we discuss the Black, queer experience.
In 2017, they gave their first TEDx talk on unlearning fear and reclaiming personal power, which has been viewed more than 4,000 times. They have since written over 100 articles about the Black, queer experience and published several chapters in books including, “The Other F Word: A Celebration of the Fat & Fierce” and “Queer People of Color in Higher Education.” Dr. Higgins has been in several writing fellowship cohorts including Lambda Literary, Maynard, Poynter and Hillman Grad where they began their journey as a television writer.
Onawa Calvin — yoga teacher and diversity recruiter
With an extensive 18 year background in Diversity, Accessibility, Inclusion within Onawa Calvin (she/her/they/them) entered the recruitment initially with staffing agencies and then Recruiting consultant to Manager of Talent, a People Alchemist.
As a certified yoga teacher and Diversity recruiter, Onawa evoked a passion for humans, solving gaps in talent for targeted recruitment campaigns, organizational development, fair and inclusive Candidate Experience and Onboarding, and Retention Programs.
Onawa more recently merged her belief that yoga has accessible depths of compassion and healing layers. Onawa Calvin, her/she/they/them identifies as a bipoc queer lesbian woman, of intersectionality layers and a forever young mom of two adulting children.
Onawa participated in our Diverstiy Reboot Series last year and gave a talk entitled: Connecting People to Their Purpose with Onawa Calvin, Yoga and Wellness Practitioner. Click the link below to rewatch the talk.
Want to hear more from LGBTQIA+ creators, educators, and activists? Join our Diversity Reboot Summit— Pride: Championing LGBTQIA+ Leaders and Allies!
Chainalysis’s Ashley Vaughan on Why She Finds Cybersecurity So Meaningful, and How More Women Can Find Their Niche in the Industry
How much money do criminals control today, and where is it?
These are some of the many questions that Ashley Vaughan, Senior Solutions Architect at blockchain data platform Chainalysis, spends her days working to answer.
“You learn more about a situation or problem by following the money than from any other resource or piece of information,” she explains. “Money doesn't lie. People can lie in text messages or other means, but the path of the money leads you to what you're trying to accomplish.”
Though Ashley always knew she wanted to work with computers, she found her way into roles in cybersecurity, and then specifically blockchain security, through networking and exposure — not by setting out to do so.
We sat down to talk about her career journey, as well as what advice she has for other women looking to make their mark in these burgeoning fields.
Resilience and Curiosity
Ashley doesn’t often give up, and credits some of that attitude to an obsession with soccer as a kid.
“Playing sports makes you a more resilient person, I think. You learn failure and risk, which are very applicable to my job and my career path,” she says.
That resiliency was a good thing, notes Ashley, because as a young girl, she wasn’t always encouraged to pursue what she was most interested in: math and science. A teacher early on had told her that she wasn’t good at math, and Ashley believed that narrative until high school.
“We really shouldn’t put those ideas in children’s minds, because it affects them for much longer than you might think,” she says of the experience. “But I’m the kind of person that when someone tells me I can’t do something, it makes me want to do it even more, and do it better.”
Finding out in advanced high school math classes that she actually was good at math turned into choosing a computer engineering major when she got to college.
Graduating during a recession in 2010 meant Ashley didn’t have the job market of her dreams, but after working in IT, she networked her way into a role in the cybersecurity department of a prominent DC law firm.
“They were getting hit left and right from social engineering and phishing attempts,” says Ashley. “Due to the sensitive nature of the work they dealt with, I was exposed to the darker realities of the digital era, and I began to see a new side to the world—one of real significance to national security.”
Specializing in Cybersecurity — and Finding a Home in the Private Sector
Inspired by what she was working on at the law firm, Ashley pursued a master’s in cybersecurity with a focus on counterterrorism.
“I wanted to help protect our country,” she explains. “I have a lot of family members who are former military, so that was a natural step for me.”
That led to her taking a contract role specializing in offensive security at a government agency that frequently worked with Chainalysis. After working with Chainalysis folks onsite, she was sold and started pursuing a position with the company.
“I wanted to help make sense of blockchain data for a bigger purpose, like assisting in the continued threat of ransomware activity against American interests,” she explains.
Although she credits her public sector work with providing a solid foundation in blockchain security, the private sector turned out to be a better fit for her.
“What I love about Chainalysis is that my colleagues are really happy people, and I’ve always felt welcome and not scared to ask questions,” says Ashley. “In past jobs, where I was one of five women in a group of 150, I felt a lot of pressure. I didn’t ever want to make a mistake. I felt as if I had to be a chameleon to match the social environment of my male counterparts.”
Blockchains are all about democratizing data, and Ashley likes working with a team of people of all backgrounds to help support that mission. At Chainalysis, Ashley works with internal product and engineering to show customers how Chainalysis data can help them use complex blockchain solutions to solve data problems — and catch bad guys.
“Sometimes we’re following a bad actor who’s tied to child sex trafficking. Being part of a coordinated operation to put a stop to things like that is really fulfilling,” she says.
3 Tips for Women Who Want to Find Their Place in Cybersecurity
For a long time, reflects Ashley, she just wanted to come into work, do her job, and feel supported, without feeling like she didn’t fit in or was representing her entire gender. Fortunately, she found what she wanted — and she hopes other women will find that, too. They can start their search by:
- Knowing they’re not alone in having tough experiences. “Everyone has different definitions for how you’re supposed to act or supposed to handle your emotions as a woman at work, and it’s exhausting. It’s like, ‘This is just me.’ I can’t repeat enough how tiring that is,” she says.
- Prioritizing self-directed learning. Although Ashley completed a master’s in cybersecurity, she emphasizes that there are many other routes into the industry, including self-study. Whether you get involved in programs like Girls Who Code or do self-paced learning through platforms like Udemy or Coursera, the important thing is that you pursue independent learning about topics that interest you, she says.
- Creating and maintaining relationships. “Really talking to people is almost a lost art,” says Ashley. “Getting together with someone who has the same sort of mindset and leveraging their knowledge, and making sure you keep in touch with people who help further your career, is a good move. Most of the places I got to professionally were based on my human connections.”
Nowadays at Chainalysis, Ashley is no longer one of five women in the office, and is excited to start paying it forward so that more people with backgrounds like hers can pursue their own professional success.
“We tend to feel more comfortable talking to people who might have our same gender or educational background, and being open and vulnerable with them,” she says. “Being a visible role model is really important to me.”
Check out Chainalysis’ open roles here!
We all have our favorite websites– the ones we frequent, bookmark, and recommend to others. You might even enjoy some website features so much that you’ve found yourself wondering why they aren’t more popular. Or maybe you’ve experienced times where you were frustrated with a website and wished you could add features or even design your own!
If you’ve ever found yourself intrigued at the prospect of designing and developing your own websites, then a career as a web developer might be just for you!
As a web developer you would be responsible for coding, designing, optimizing, and maintaining websites. Today, there are over 1.7 billion websites in the world and, in turn, the demand for web developers is on the rise. In order to figure out what kind of web development work best suits you let’s start with an introduction to the three main roles in web development that you can choose from.
The Three Types of Web Development Jobs
Front-End Web Development: The Creative Side
In addition to programming skills, front-end developers need to be detail oriented, creative, willing to keep up with the latest trends in web development, cyber security conscious, and geared toward user-friendly designs. The median salary for a front-end developer can reach well into the $90,000 to $100,000 range.
Back-End Web Development: The Logical Counterpart
While a house can be beautifully decorated, it’s incomplete without a solid foundation and efficient infrastructure. Similarly, a well-designed website depends on logical and functional code to power the features of that website. Back-end web development is code-heavy and focused on the specifics of how a website works. If you enjoy the analytical challenge of creating the behind-the-scenes code that powers a website, then back-end development is for you.
Full-Stack Web Development: A Little Bit of Everything
A full-stack developer is essentially the Jack (or Jill)-of-all-trades in web development. Full-stack developers need to be knowledgeable about both front-end and back-end roles. This does not necessarily imply that you would need to be an expert in both roles, but you should fully understand the different applications and synergies they each imply. In order to work in this position, you will need to know the programming languages used by front-end and back-end developers. In addition to these languages, full-stack developers also specialize in databases, storage, HTTP, REST, and web architecture.
Full-stack developers are often required to act as liaisons between front-end and back-end developers. Full-stack developers need to be both problem solvers and great communicators. The end goal for a full-stack developer is to ensure that the user’s experience is seamless, both on the front-end and on the back-end. In return, you can expect to earn a median salary of $100,000 – $115,000 a year for this role.
Taking the Next Step
Web development is both in-demand and lucrative! All three roles described above contribute to specific aspects of web development and the scope of each one can be customized to the industries and positions you feel best suit you. Regardless of which role you choose, all of them need a foundation in programming.
To gain the programming skills needed in each role, you can enroll in courses or learn independently. Coding bootcamps are a great way to boost your skillset quickly and efficiently.
Click here for some of our highly rated programming bootcamp options! Make sure to check out the discounts available to PowerToFly members.
💎 “What are you passionate about?” In an interview, you may have to answer this and other personal questions. Watch the video to the end to succeed in your job interview at Ribbon.
📼If asked “what are you passionate about?” in an interview you need to show how your passion can make you a good candidate for a job position. Ryan Key, Talent Partner at Ribbon, shares some tips and tricks for you to stand out!
📼Answering what are you passionate about in an interview is not the only thing you need to know how to do to succeed. You should try to make sure that you express your experience in a way that shows your interest in Ribbon’s mission. Also, prove that you did your research and demonstrate to the recruiter that you understand exactly how your role affects Ribbon’s purposes. Don’t forget to share some ideas on how you intend to fulfill the company’s mission!
📼 You are asked what are you passionate about in an interview, but this doesn’t mean that you can’t ask as well. You should feel empowered to ask any question you want during your interview process. It may be helpful to save certain questions for certain people. If you're in an interview with your potential manager, you should take that time to ask about their assessment metrics for the role and their management style. If you're speaking with a potential peer, this would be a great time to ask about their experience during training and to learn a little more about the team and culture.
What Are You Passionate About? Show In Your Interview That You Are Aligned With Ribbon's Values
The mission at Ribbon is to make homeownership achievable for everyone, especially communities traditionally left out of the homeownership story. One way Ribbon addresses diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace is through its support of employee resource groups. Remember to show that your passion is aligned with these core values!
🧑💼 Are you interested in joining Ribbon? They have open positions! To learn more, click here.
Get to Know Ryan Key
If you are interested in a career at Ribbon, you can connect with Ryan Key on LinkedIn. Don’t forget to mention this video!
More About Ribbon
Ribbon is a first-of-its-kind real estate technology company transforming the real estate transaction by delivering certainty, transparency, and joy to the home buying process. Consumers and realtors deserve a better experience, and they have designed an open platform that welcomes everyone in the ecosystem to participate.
💎 Partnerships in remote environments is one of the most important aspects to construct in a company. Watch the video to the end to get good tips on how to do it successfully.
📼Wondering how to create partnerships in remote environments? Play this video to get three top tips that will help you to achieve it. You'll hear from Olga Shvets, HR Business Partner, and Viktoriia Litvinchuk, People Team Operations at Unstoppable Domains, who will explain the essentials of this process.
📼How to build partnerships in remote environments? Tip #1: Communicate Effectively. Communication is the key to enabling your remote team to be successful. Choose the channel that works best. For this, chat with your employees and see what they use to communicate, that's how you find the best solution. Also, make sure your team is on board with your internal tools and they know what, how, and where they need to use them.
📼A requisite for building partnerships in remote environments is Tip #2: Show appreciation. Appreciation is shown through your actions. Let your employees know that you value everything they do for the company. Create a special gratitude channel where everyone can share their appreciation for their colleagues for some contribution. Celebrate some wins, promotions, and everything that is important for the company. If you appreciate the employees, employees do the same for the company.
Create Partnerships In Remote Environments Using Trust - Tip #3: Give Honest Feedback
Use engagement surveys! They are a quick and effective way to receive honest feedback from your team and you can see what's working well and what needs to be improved. Your main priority is to create spaces where managers and employees can share honest, relevant feedback.
📨 Are you interested in joining Unstoppable Domains? They have open positions! To learn more, click here.
Get to Know Olga Shvets
If you are interested in a career at Unstoppable Domains, you can connect with Olga on LinkedIn. Don’t forget to mention this video!
More About Unstoppable Domains
Unstoppable Domains is bringing user-controlled identity to 3 billion+ internet users by issuing domain names on the blockchain. These domains allow users to replace cryptocurrency addresses with human-readable names, host decentralized websites, and much more.
By selling these domains direct to consumers for a one-time fee, the company is making a product that will change cryptocurrency and shape the future of the decentralized web by providing users control over their identity and data.