Meet the RiseOut Advocacy Council

About the Council

The Center’s RiseOut advocacy initiative brings together more than 50 organizations to engage LGBTQ+ voters and activists, and to advance state laws and policies that address pressing community needs. This is hard, year-round work, and it takes a village to achieve RiseOut’s ambitious goals. That’s why we’re so thankful to have the Advocacy Council by our side!

The Advocacy Council, a group that is intentionally made up of Black LGBTQ+ thought leaders, contributes to many aspects of RiseOut’s work from providing feedback on our advocacy strategies and creating public education campaigns, to chipping in on volunteer initiatives. They have also been behind some of our well-known community events in recent years, which focus specifically on centering and supporting Black LGBTQ+ New Yorkers.

This Black History Month, we are pleased to shine a light on the RiseOut Advocacy Council, and share some of their words and achievements with you.

“Black Pride at The Center” Virtual Workshops

The Council’s first community event, back in the summer of 2021, was a two-day virtual convening called “Black Pride at The Center: Healing, Building, Thriving.” It featured meaningful programming such as a panel discussion about the state of the COVID-19 pandemic, interactive dance workshops, and activist-led conversations from the transgender and Black immigrant community.

Juneteenth Block Festival

In 2022, with the leadership of the Advocacy Council, The Center expanded its annual Pride Open House into a Block Festival that celebrated Juneteenth and centered Black LGBTQ+ artists, storytellers, small businesses, and vendors. With handmade art for sale, drag story hour, dance performances, and free HIV testing, it was a beautiful whirlwind of a day!

“I have been a Center community member, a TGNC/NB program facilitator, and now a RiseOut Advocacy Council member at The Center since 2021. This has allowed me to have a multi-faceted perspective and impact on The Center. I have contributed to the advancement and empowerment of LGBTQ+ community members through voter registration outreach efforts. I’ve supported mental health advocacy by hosting a peer mental health workshop aimed at strengthening QTBIPOC support systems and virtual speed friending for Black Pride at The Center…[as well as] a Juneteenth Block Party. It is the community that got me to where I am today, and it is what makes me determined to now provide that to others.” – Council Member Jia Hurd

Get Out the Vote Initiatives

The Advocacy Council brought community members to The Center to share their personal experiences and philosophies about the importance of voting. This was part of a public education campaign during election season aimed at activating New Yorkers, particularly the emerging political majority that includes young people, Black people, and LGBTQ+ people.

The Black of Center Holiday Market

People shopping at a holiday market.The Advocacy Council created a holiday market that was full of light, warmth, music, delicious food—and most importantly, opportunities for the public to support Black creatives from our queer New York community.

“When I was asked to be a member of the RiseOut Advocacy Council I agreed right away, because of what The Center has meant to me since I moved to New York City in 1996 and because of the opportunity to contribute to the great work that The Center has been doing. With all that is happening in our communities and in the world, it is easy to feel disempowered around how to make any kind of impact, so it is great to be part of something that is actually having a political and cultural difference for queer folks in NYC.” – Council Member Ndlela Nkobi

Get Involved

Want to stay involved with all of RiseOut’s advocacy efforts, and continue bearing witness to the Advocacy Council’s work?