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The Battlefront: 8 LGBTQ+ Advocates Every U.S. College Student Should Know

Looking for a new hero? Here are 8 advocates that are fighting for LGBTQ+ rights around the world!

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1. Alice Nkom: Cameroon

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Alice Nkom has been fighting for LGBTQ+ rights in Cameroon for over a decade. Cameroon sits between Nigeria and the Republic of the Congo, and the country has a long history of harsh laws against homosexuality. Alice Nkom has remained in Cameroon despite constant death threats. She has been called the "devil's lawyer" due to her work in repealing the homophobic laws in Africa.

Alice advocates for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and has been instrumental in bringing attention to the violations of human rights in Cameroon. Alice is one of two or three lawyers in Cameroon who will take on LGBTQ+ clients. She is truly a beacon of hope for Cameroon's LGBTQ+ population.

2. Jin Xing: People's Republic of China


Jin Xing is a lot of things. She is one of China's most popular talk show hosts, one of the county's top dancers, a choreographer, an advocate, a writer, and a colonel in the People's Liberation Army. She also happens to be the first recognized citizen to undergo a gender reassignment surgery in China. She was left partially paralyzed in her leg after the final surgery and was told she would always walk with a limp. A few months later, she was dancing on the stage again.

Jin Xing is raising awareness for the LGBTQ+ population in China through her extremely out and proud public image. She has recently married and adopted three Chinese orphans. She actively works change the country's views of the LGBTQ+ community and family life.

3. Maurice Tomlinson: Jamaica/ Canada

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Maurice Tomlinson is a Jamaican lawyer, HIV/AIDS activist, and gay rights activist. Jamaica is one of the most intolerant nations in the Americas in terms of LGBTQ+ rights, with punishments for homosexual activities ranging up to 10 years of imprisonment and hard labor. Maurice has filed a constitutional challenge in Jamaica against the homophobic laws.

Maurice was forced to flee Jamaica after receiving multiple death threats; however, he continues to work from Toronto, Canada. Maurice is currently engaged in helping Jamaican LGBTQ+ youth who have been kicked out of their homes. He works with several organizations including J-FLAG and LGBTI Aware Caribbean.

4. Shinta Ratri: Indonesia

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Shinta Ratri is "waria," which is a Indonesia term that can be translated as transgender. She is on the forefront of trans activism in Indonesia and currently runs an Islamic boarding school for waria. Indonesia has the largest population of Muslims in the world, and the Islamic faith separates men and women during prayer. The boarding school provides a place for waria to pray together and study the holy texts.

Shinta, now 54, hasn't been allowed in her family home since she came out at the age of 16. She has opened her own home to other waria in her city, and has created one of the first communities in the country. Indonesia is one of the more affirming Muslim nations, but Shinta is still fighting housing and employment discrimination against waria.


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Nthabiseng Mokoena currently serves as the Advocacy Coordinator at Transgender and Intersex Africa (TIA) and is an outspoken intersex advocate. She fights for intersex individuals' right to choose if they want to undergo surgery, and not for those decisions to be made for them at birth.

The aim of Transgender and Intersex Africa is to create safe spaces for transgender and intersex Africans and to create a dialogue about the black intersex and transgender community in South Africa. Nthabiseng and TIA are working to bring better healthcare to the communities that TIA supports.

6. Thanwarin Sukhaphisit: Thailand


Thanwarin Sukhaphisit is an actress, director, and co-founder of Amfine Productions. Her first film titled "Insects in the Backyard" was banned by the government because of the gender nonconforming lead character, played by Sukhaphisit. Not deterred, Thanwarin found Amfine Productions and began working on a second film.

Her second film titled "It Gets Better" is the story of three LGBTQ individuals in Thailand. She emphasizes the themes of love, understanding, and family in the movie, and fights the idea that being gay is wrong. The film was a success and gained national attention. Sukhaphisit's latest plans are to bring together LGBTQ+ film directors from across Southeast Asia to further raise awareness for their community.

7. Tatiana Vinnichenko: Russia

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Tatiana Vinnichenko has been one of the most outspoken LGBTQ+ advocates in Russia since the new discriminatory laws have been put in place. She currently is serving as the director of Rakurs, which is one of Russia's few LGBT organizations. While many Russia activists have either found sanctuary in other countries or have ceased their advocacy work for personal safety, Tatiana continues to advocate for LGBTQ+ rights in the spotlight.

Tatiana and Rakurs are provide counseling and legal aid for members of the LGBTQ+ community in Russia. Tatiana has been instrumental in helping Russians seek asylum in nations like Canada because of the danger the new laws put them in. She has put her career, her finances, and her personal safety on the line to advocate for those in danger.

8. Parvez Sharma: India/ United States

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Parvez Sharma is a filmmaker, a Muslim, and a LGBTQ rights activist. His first film "A Jihad for Love" is about the intersection of sexuality and Islam following September, 11th. It focuses on the struggles of LGBTQ+ Muslims living in the Middle East and attempts to reduce the misunderstanding of the Muslim community.

Parvez has spoken at over 200 venues across the world about Islam and homosexuality. His advocacy has played an important role in the world understanding the intersection of the Islamic faith and its relationship with the LGBTQ+ community. His most recent film is titled "A Sinner in Mecca" and recounts his pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia.

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