OutNEXT Opening Session
LGBTQ Leaders on activism, labels, and the power of owning your narrative.

Todd Sears, CEO of Out Leadership began the opening ceremony by detailing what OutNEXT was. In its 8th year, OutNEXT continues to help emerging LGBTQ leaders develop, connect, and receive mentorship. Once Todd laid out just what the program was, Marysharon Owen, the moderator of the event, dove into a deep discussion on resiliency with guests Allyn Shaw, Mark Gilmour & John Basnage.

  • While labels are restrictive, they also provide a certain amount of power

Marysharon Owens began the conversation by speaking to the power that names and labels provide. While they can sometimes be restrictive in forcing people to inhabit certain identities that can make other people uncomfortable, there is also a power that embodying a certain marginal identity has in driving conversation and controlling narratives

  • Owning your narrative is an important part of being out

Coming out is not a singular experience, but rather something that has to happen over and over again says Allyn Shaw. But being able to own your own narrative and have the confidence to control it by being openly LGBTQ, it can become an important opportunity to educate and advocate.

  • Be bold with agenda setting, and be bold with listening 

It is more important than ever before that companies are engaging in risk taking in tackling the experiences of their BIPOC and LGBTQ+ employees. But what makes this bold agenda setting truly meaningful is a willingness to listen to critique and advice. Bold listening is just as important as bold change-making.

  • Leadership is about being bold, but boldness can sometimes put people at risk

There is risk within taking a stand within an organization, and sometimes it might actually be more beneficial to know when conversations are best held. That being said, it is incredibly important that people advocate, and engage in allyship that is active and powerful within an organization 

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