OutRight Honors Courageous LGBTIQ Activists in New York


May 8, 2019

Media Contact: Maria Sjödin, msjodin@outrightinternational.org, +1.917.415.5022

OutRight Honors Courageous LGBTIQ Activists in New York

(New York, USA) On the evening of May 7, 2019, at the organization’s annual Celebration of Courage gala, Outright Action International honored Rikki Nathanson, founder of Trans* Research, Education, Advocacy & Training, with the Felipa De Souza Award. The OutStanding award was presented to Beth Brooke-Marciniak, Global Vice Chair - Public Policy at EY, who spearheaded the company's inclusivity and diversity efforts inspiring other businesses to follow suit. Whereas the cast and crew of Amazon Prime Video’s Transparent received the OutSpoken Award, for bringing stories of love, life and struggle of LGBTIQ characters onto the TV and computer screens of countless viewers, while championing acceptance and understanding.

Rikki Nathanson spoke of the persecution, harassment and violence she faced at the hands of the state in her native Zimbabwe, after being arrested for using the bathroom corresponding to her gender identity. She shared the pain she felt in realizing she had to leave the pioneering work she had begun on trans visibility and recognition not only in Zimbabwe, but regionally, to save her life. Having received asylum in the USA Rikki remains steadfast and determined. She said:

In these seemingly dark times where strides that were made in the past are being subverted by new administrations and regimes, we still cling on to that sliver of hope and knowledge that we the LGBTIQ community are resilient, tough and smart. We have been through the worst times but still do we not only survive, we grow and even flourish in our fabulousness!

I pledge to continue to advance our shared mission to change lives for our community in places where it’s needed the most.

Jessica Stern, Executive Director of OutRight Action International, reflected on her own path in finding her queer community and through it becoming an activist, concluding that:

The silver bullet for LGBTIQ rights is empowering local LGBTIQ activists and organizations in every country around the world. Progress toward family recognition, non-discrimination laws, trans health services from the US to Uganda is all driven by LGBTIQ people and organizations advocating for themselves. The existence, strength, and resourcing of LGBTIQ organizations around the world is our silver bullet, and that is what OutRight does best.

Left to right: Jessica Stern, Gaby Hoffmann, Alexandra Billings, Trace Lysette, Zackary Drucker, Rikki Nathanson, Beth A. Brooke-Marciniak, Suzanne Rotondo at OutRight Annual Award Gala - Photo credit: Brad Hamilton Photography

Left to right: Fabrice Houdart and Beth A. Brooke-Marciniak at OutRight Annual Award Gala - Photo credit: Brad Hamilton Photography


Rikki Nathanson at OutRight Annual Award Gala -Photo credit: Brad Hamilton Photography

Left to right: Trace Lysette, Alexandra Billings, Zackary Drucker, Gaby Hoffmann at OutRight Annual Award Gala -Photo credit: Brad Hamilton Photography


Trace Lysette, Alexandra Billings at OutRight Annual Award Gala -Photo credit: Brad Hamilton Photography

Jessica Stern at OutRight Annual Award Gala -Photo credit: Brad Hamilton Photography


Notes for editors:

  • The Celebration of Courage award ceremony was held in New York, at Current at Chelsea Piers, and was attended by around 250 supporters of the organization.
  • The event was hosted by the co-chairs of OutRight’s Board of Directors: Micheal Ighodaro and Valerie Ploumpis.
  • The Felipa de Souza Award embodies the spirit and story of Felipa de Souza who endured persecution and brutality after declaring her intimacy with a woman in 16th century Brazil. Since 1994, OutRight has presented the award to inspiring and courageous organizations and activists working to advance the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and/or queer people.
  • The OutStanding and OutSpoken awards recognize brave LGBTIQ individuals and incredible allies taking a stand for LGBTIQ equality, without whom our movement could not succeed.
  • Links to full speeches
  • Photo credit: Brad Hamilton Photography. More photos are on Flickr »


Every day around the world, LGBTIQ people’s human rights and dignity are abused in ways that shock the conscience. The stories of their struggles and their resilience are astounding, yet remain unknown—or willfully ignored—by those with the power to make change. OutRight Action International, founded in 1990 as the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, works alongside LGBTIQ people in the Global South, with offices in six countries, to help identify community-focused solutions to promote policy for lasting change. We vigilantly monitor and document human rights abuses to spur action when they occur. We train partners to expose abuses and advocate for themselves. Headquartered in New York City, OutRight is the only global LGBTIQ-specific organization with a permanent presence at the United Nations in New York that advocates for human rights progress for LGBTIQ people.