Laurie McBride was a leading advocate in California, pushing for statutory protections long before many activists considered doing so. She is a former legislative lobbyist who worked for decades in local, statewide and national movements for civil rights and political access for LGBTQ individuals. From 1990 to 1998, she was executive director of the Lobby for Individual Freedom and Equality, a state-wide coalition to advance gay rights across California. During this time she successfully led legislative efforts for employment protections, domestic partnerships, and HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention. She went on to work as a policy advisor and chief of staff in the legislature, and as Assistant Secretary of State. She also served as co-chair of National Stonewall Democrats for 10 years. The scholarship was created by the Stonewall Foundation to cultivate advocates who, like McBride, understand that fighting for equality requires consensus building, commitment and resolve.
Clara Silva is well on her way to completing undergraduate and graduate degrees in social work with plans to provide advocacy and counseling to transgender and gender non-conforming community members. She volunteers at Danelle’s Place, a safe drop-in respite program of Sacramento’s Gender Health Center, where she expects to intern as a counselor in the future. At CSUS Clara also volunteers at the Pride Center and Lavender Collective, speaking as a panelist about her experiences as a queer transwoman, and at Sacramento community’s Trans Day of Visibility. She is eager to learn more about gender and sexuality from many disciplinary perspectives and will also pursue a secondary academic emphasis in LGBTQ+ studies.
…” I am a queer transwoman and LGBTQ+ advocate at heart. The severe discrimination I faced from medical professionals, the times I was regularly denied needed care, and the moments when I have been physically assaulted and vocally harassed are experiences, I will never forget. I want to be part of the social justice movement and improve the future of fellow queer and trans individuals.”
Nathalie Mendoza has been named on education honor rolls and as a National Hispanic Merit Scholar. They plan to finish their CSUS degree in Anthropology and apply for graduate work at the University of California, Berkeley. Career goals include research in forensic anthropology or paleoanthropology with an eye on becoming a university professor or museum curator. Nathalie co-founded both Advocates Creating Safer Spaces and Spectrum to cultivate a community that does not tolerate violence, abuse, sexual assault, homophobia, nor discrimination. Spectrum, Sacramento’s Queer Latin Dance Community offers inclusive Latin dance lessons, socials, and events, with emphasis on safety for people of color, women, queer and transgender individuals.
“…For over a decade, my partner, who is masculine-of-center, was the only visibly out queer person going to salsa dancing venues. This didn’t come without its fair share of traumas—I noticed a shift in the way I was treated as soon as I began dating my partner. We decided that we needed to start advocating for the marginalized queer and trans folks within the Latin dance community…..All people, including queer and trans folks, have the right to pursue their interests and experience joy without fear of discrimination or disrespect….”
The Foundation selected Travis Legault as the 2018 recipient of its McBride scholarship. Travis has been involved in student government at Sac State as board member of the California State Student Association and legislative affairs coordinator for Associated Students, Inc. Within these roles he has worked to put a stop to bullying in K-12 schools with the help of Equality California, where he was a recent legislative fellow.
As Travis describes, his commitment to advocacy and leadership is clear.
“I have been involved in legislative advocacy efforts for several years now. Most of this work has been around higher education policy and I’ve done it though Sacramento State’s Associated Students, where I served as our liaison and held our seat on the board of directors to the California State Student Association, and also served as our Legislative Affairs Coordinator…. the times that I have been able to do legislative advocacy work for LGBT issues has been very rewarding. Last year I participated in Equality California’s advocacy day at the Capitol, and I led a group of five people in advocacy visits to four different Assembly members for legislation to prevent bullying in K-12 schools and grant more dignity to LGBT Youth in their education.”
Established in 2017, the McBride Scholarship seeks to assists students committed to political, social and economic rights of LGBTQ individuals, as well as achieving academic success. As our 2018 McBride Scholar explains,
“I believe that our voices are needed everywhere…..that we ourselves need to be at the table too, and that is what I try to live myself, to try to be at the table and further the cause of getting as many other LGBTQ people as possible to the table too.“
In 2017, the Foundation selected Vrindavani Avila as the first recipient of the Laurie McBride scholarship.
Avila (they, them, theirs) is a senior, majoring in women and ethnic studies. They work with the CSUS Women’s Resource, Multi-Cultural and Pride Centers, helping develop and facilitate workshops on social justice issues. As a queer Latinx woman of color, much of their work focuses on autonomous full spectrum reproductive health education, centering on experiences of the LGBTQ community and using gender inclusive language. Their research centers on decolonizing gender and sexuality with concentration on the imposition of patriarchy, heterosexuality, and the gender binary on indigenous peoples and other communities of color. Avila also educates students on the importance of being an active bystander to incidences of violence and providing resources on preventing sexual violence. Goals include: 1) completing a Master’s Degree; 2) educating outside and within academia on issues facing queer people of color; 3) helping establish community services that support people of color.
Words from the First Stonewall Foundation McBride Scholar...
"Receiving the McBride scholarship was a completely unexpected surprise. I have been doing social justice work for communities of color and the LGTBQIA community for over five years, and the work is powered by the love I have for my communities and driven by a critical consciousness towards liberation for all queer transgender people of color. Winning this scholarship reminded me of all the struggles that trans women of color have done and are continuously doing for LGTBQIA youth and folks in order to survive today with some rights and privileges. Without trans women of color like Sylvia Rivera, Marsha P Johnson, and the current work of Miss Major Griffin-Gracy, there wouldn’t be a LGBTQIA movement; without their dedication to liberation, their work fighting against racism, prisons, and poverty has brought the whole community closer to a place of freedom. Without the work of trans women of color and gender non-conforming folks, I wouldn’t have been able to receive this scholarship recognizing the work I have done and continue to do. I am grateful to receive the Laurie McBride Scholarship as it is a reminder of why doing this work is necessary and crucial, and there is still a lot of work that needs to be done to ensure equity and liberation for all queer folks of color."