four panelists seated at event in the JFK Forum
Panelists address guests in the John F. Kennedy, Jr. Forum during the Issues Facing the Transgender Community: Progress, Backlash, and Paths Forward event in September 2022.

June is LGBTQ Pride Month, an annual celebration of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer community. The month of June was chosen by the original organizers to pay homage to the Stonewall Uprising that took place in June 1969 in New York City, which sparked the modern U.S. LGBTQ movement. One year after the Stonewall Uprising, thousands gathered in New York City for the first LGBTQ Pride march to commemorate the uprising and stand against LGBTQ discrimination. Today, the LGBTQ community continues to gather in June to celebrate queer life with pride.

Throughout the last academic year, the John F. Kennedy, Jr. Forum hosted several events centered on issues affecting the LGBTQ community. Let’s take a look back.

America’s Leadership in Global LGBTQI+ Rights

In February, the HKS Office of Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging and the Institute of Politics sponsored American’s Leadership in Globe LGBTQI+ Rights, a discussion with Jessica Stern, the U.S. Special Envoy to Advance the Human Rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Intersex (LGBTQI+) Persons. Timothy Patrick McCarthy, lecturer on education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and faculty affiliate at the Center for Public Leadership at Harvard Kennedy School, moderated the conversation.

National Coming Out Day

In October, speakers gathered in the Forum for National Coming Out Day to discuss the progress and challenges facing LGBTQ+ Americans. Speakers included:

  • Keith Boykin, Author and Political Commentator
  • Ian Daniel HKS ‘23, Documentary Film Maker
  • Sally Kohn, Media Personality
  • Zander Moricz ‘26, Litigant in the “Don’t Say Gay” Lawsuit in Florida
  • Holly Ryan, Newton, MA City Councilor and Co-Chair of the Massachusetts Democratic Party’s LGBTQ+ Caucus
  • David Grasso (Moderator) HKS ‘09, CEO of Bold TV

Issues Facing the Transgender Community: Progress, Backlash, and Paths Forward

In September, the Forum featured a discussion on the increased visibility of transgender people, the progress in securing transgender rights, the backlash that has taken place as a result, and ways that people can support transgender rights and lives moving forward. Panelists included: 

  • Alexander Chen HLS '15 (he/him), founding director of the LGBTQ+ Advocacy Clinic at Harvard Law School
  • Jen Manion (they/them), professor of history and sexuality and women's and gender studies at Amherst College
  • Nicholas Opiyo (he/him), Carr Center fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School Carr Center for Human Rights Policy
  • Erica Chenoweth (they/them), Frank Stanton Professor of the First Amendment at Harvard Kennedy School and Susan S. and Kenneth L. Wallach Professor at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies at Harvard University


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