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Casey Hoke, 21, college student, LGBTQ advocate, artist Casey is a fine artist, graphic designer, writer, activist, and advocate who was awarded a prestigious POINT Foundation scholarship to fund his education at California State Polytechnic Institute in Pomona, where he is now a junior pursuing a B.A. in Graphic/ Communications Design with a minor in Art History. His past and present leadership appointments include a Student Media Ambassadorship for GLSEN, where he is also a member of the National Executive Board. Drawing from his experiences as a young trans man, Casey has spoken and written about subjects such as education policies that concern transgender students, the representation of transgender people in the media, and the relationship between artistic self-expression and self-acceptance. Casey attended high school in Louisville, Kentucky where, he explained, school Principal Gerald “Jerry” Mayes was a bully. In March, The Louisville Courier-Journal published a timeline of an ongoing investigation into Mayes’ conduct that was initiated because of his treatment of trans youth, including Casey, as well as racially insensitive comments he made to two AfricanAmerican students. During his junior year, Casey was the subject of an article in the school’s newspaper that chronicled his journey and highlighted his advocacy work. Mayes told members of the newspaper staff that it was “comparable to writing about someone who wanted to shoot up a school,” Casey said. The following year, Casey said Mayes called him into his office and began asking invasive questions about Casey’s body and genitalia. In college, Casey and his trans peers face a variety of administrative challenges. Changing one’s name on student ID cards is a difficult process. Freshmen, who are required to live on campus, must pay more for housing that

offers single-stall restrooms. Casey has since led petitions that demand equal and affordable housing for trans students, as well as training programs on trans identity for university staff. “My advocacy did not stop at high school, where I had this mean principal,” Casey told the Los Angeles Blade. Through the POINT Foundation, Casey was connected with a mentor who works for the Walt Disney Company, where he aims to secure a design position post-college. He is optimistic about both his future and the direction in which society is headed, despite the Trump Administration’s anti-LGBTQ policies. “I asked Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, how things are looking for young trans and non-binary folks,” Casey said. Reflecting on the progress that’s been made so far, Keisling responded: “You know what? We’ve gotten here.”

Priscila ‘Pea’ Alegria Nunez, 23, documentarian and cinematographer

Pea is a documentary filmmaker, an artist whose work reflects their lived experiences as a pansexual non-binary immigrant who, at 15, left Peru with their mother for the professional and educational opportunities available in the United States. A recent graduate of the acclaimed film program at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), this year Pea was awarded a Rising Star Grant from GLAAD to fund their virtual reality project about the networks that immigrants have built to support and defend their communities. The film is led by a lesbian protagonist who left Honduras for America. “Throughout the US, immigrant families they have this traumatizing event in which they are visited by [Immigrations and Customs Enforcement],” Pea explained. “Our protagonist is using her network to bring an emergency

community back to her house. We will see how that event develops because of how many people will show up to help fight back.” As an immigrant who belongs to the LGBTQ community, Pea is inspired most by the stories of people who occupy both of those identities. “I found that the projects that bring me the most fulfillment are those that find that intersection,” they said. At UCLA, Pea’s classes in gender studies opened their eyes to the identities that do not fall into the gender binary, which gave them the space to inhabit gender-neutrality, along with the freedom to dress and use pronouns in nontraditional ways. As a filmmaker, Pea is moved by the audience’s reaction to their work. “You can hear gasps; you can hear sniffles; you can hear laughter. I think that’s so beautiful because you wonder what’s going on in their hearts. There is hope that your project, that your work, will touch people.” On the challenges brought forth by attacks on LGBTQ and immigrant communities from the Trump administration, Pea is optimistic about the role of the artist. “It’s important that we creators continue making work, regardless of the political climate. It’s important to keep creating, because who is going to do it, if not us?” Pea’s message to LGBTQ teenagers: “Come out to your friends first, because there is something to be said for finding your family outside the family you grew up with. Find yourself a queer family. When you do, you’ll be amazed how powerful you’ll be.”

Aris Reyes, 16, high school student, LGBTQ advocate

Aris is a 16-year-old high school student who aspires to a career in politics, business, law, or, perhaps all three. Though only a junior, Aris has emerged as a leader at USC East College Prep, a new high school of which his will be the first graduating class. He

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Profile for Los Angeles Blade, Volume 2, Issue 14, June 8, 2018, Volume 2, Issue 14, June 8, 2018, Volume 2, Issue 14, June 8, 2018, Volume 2, Issue 14, June 8, 2018