Advocate's 40 Under 40 - The Women
Alexis Pauline Gumbs & Julia Wallace, 29 & 32
Historians, Mobile Homecoming
In 2009, Alexis Pauline Gumbs and Julia Wallace were at a conference in North Carolina, attended primarily by black lesbians, and realized they were the youngest people there. Listening to the older women, “it became very obvious that the choices they had made and the things they had done had made things better for us,” Gumbs says. Adds Wallace: “We became very excited about the experiences they had.” That led the partners in life and work to get on the road and seek out African-American LGBT elders (basically, anyone older than they are) around the nation for a project called Mobile Homecoming. Gumbs and Wallace are documenting their subjects’ lives through video and audio interviews that they plan to assemble into a documentary film by the end of next year, and they are also holding intergenerational events and collecting photos, manuscripts, and other artifacts for an archive of black LGBT life.
The effort “has been affirming and sometimes overwhelming,” Gumbs says. In some cases, “people have been waiting all their life for someone to listen to them.” Wallace says the project made her realize “we have a responsibility to our elders and our ancestors to take care of each other.” In addition to Mobile Homecoming, Gumbs’s projects include BrokenBeautiful Press, a website where activists can share resources, and Brilliance Remastered, which offers online seminars, individual coaching, and other assistance for scholars. Wallace is founder of Queer Renaissance, which uses the Internet and other media to connect artists, activists, entrepreneurs, and others. Soon the busy duo will be collaborating on a children’s book as well.
Amelia Roskin-Frazee, 16
Founder, Make It Safe Project
Though she’s only a freshman in high school, Amelia Roskin-Frazee’s rÃ©sumÃ© of activism is hefty. She established her middle school’s GSA, she’s one of 18 student ambassadors for the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network, and she founded her own LGBT organization.
“I was going to my current school’s library and I found that there were pretty much no books about sexual orientation or gender expression,” Roskin-Frazee says. The dearth of LGBT literature inspired her to establish the Make It Safe Project, which provides schools with queer literature. Through her fund-raising efforts, she’s purchased books like It Gets Better and Queer: The Ultimate LGBT Guide for Teens and distributed them to school libraries.
“I’ve given around 20 boxes of books to schools and youth homeless shelters that otherwise didn’t have these resources,” she says. While she sees herself eventually being an “underpaid writer-teacher,” Roskin-Frazee says LGBT advocacy will always be part of her life.
Tucky Williams, 26
Producer, Girl/Girl Scene
With over a million views, Tucky Williams has much to celebrate with her show, Girl/Girl Scene. In what she describes as a “Web television drama series,” Williams tells the story of lesbians living and loving in Louisville, Ky. Williams is the creator, executive producer, and writer, and she also plays the protagonist, Evan, in the series. “I wanted to show what my life was like as a young lesbian having fun,” Williams said. “All the characters really enjoy being gay."
Williams is a role model for many young Girl/Girl Scene fans—90% of her fan mail consists of gracious letters thanking her for producing a relatable show, while the other 10% asks Williams’s advice on coming out.
The first season recently wrapped, and Williams is working on season 2 with new cast members and a new directing team. As far as what fans can expect, she simply says, “We are going to explore deeper, darker emotions. And we’re also going to have a lot more flashy, trashy fun."
Other women in this year's 40 Under 40 are 36-year-old Exec. Director of Immigration Equality Rachel Riven, 34-year-old 2 Broke Girls writer Liz Feldman, 39-year-old My Best Day filmmaker Erin Greenwell, 34-year-old Center for Media Justice founder Malkia Cyril, 36-year-old Sr. Scholar, Public Policy at the Williams Institute Bianca Wilson, 27-year-old PR Manager at GLSEN Andy Marra, 27-year-old Production Coordinator at In The Life Media Lyssette Horne, 33-year-old Director of Programming for Frameline Desiree Buford, and 26-year-old Public Policy Director at Equality Florida Mallory Wells.