The queer community is nothing if not resilient. 

In an effort to shine a light on the amazing work being done by LGBTQ+ individuals, the It Gets Better Project asked its followers to nominate Queer Heroes who stepped up during this increased time of need. 

From teachers providing digital safe spaces for their students to nonprofit leaders bringing meals to those who can’t leave their homes, every story was touching and impactful in a unique way.

After much deliberation, here are the Queer Heroes who stood out among the rest:

Lark Doolan

Lark Doolan is the Superintendent and Principal of a small, rural school district on the coast of Northern California. When news of COVID-19 first spread, Lark worked with his staff to get food, activity kits, toilet paper, and other supplies to students and community members in need.

But even before the pandemic, teacher Tess Yinger (featured in the video) says his inclusive policies made the school, unlike any place she’d ever worked. 

Richard Ayoub

Richard Ayoub is the CEO of Project Angel Food, a nonprofit that began during the AIDS crisis to feed the critically ill. Now, Project Angel Food has expanded its reach to serve additional populations, including COVID-19 patients.

In a time when human connection is nearly impossible to come by, Richard and his team, including Brent Webster (featured in the video), deliver meals and (socially distant) interaction to our most isolated community members.

Matthew Garza

Mathew Garza is a dance teacher, performance artist and community educator who creates a safe space for the queer students at his small school through an Afro-Latinx dance class.

When his school closed because of COVID-19, Garza began raising money through online classes to help supply food and shelter to his students and alumni.

Many of these students, including Sophia and Kayden (featured in the video,) say Garza’s ongoing support helped them discover their queer identities. For them, the dance class is more than just a PE credit, it’s a safe haven.

Audy Mcdonald & Jessie Funes McDonald

Audy Mcdonald & Jessie Funes McDonald, a couple from Santa Maria, California, have made it a point to be out and visible in their community for kids who don’t often see themselves represented.

The couple brought the first Pride parade to their town and established House of Pride and Equality (HOPE) where they mentor individuals like Fernando (featured in the video.) Their mentorship allowed Fernando to come out to his friends and family and, with Audy and Jessie’s help, Fernando went on to organize his high school’s first Pride week!

Kate Spata

Meet Kate Spata, a cosmetology student who gives gender-affirming haircuts to queer folks.

After meeting Jordan, a trans teen, Spara took it into their own hands to provide mentorship and guidance to the 8th grader who was feeling isolated and alone.

In the future, Spata hopes to open their own inclusive salon offering services specifically for trans and queer people.

Thank you to all of our Queer Heroes! It’s people like you who show the younger generation that #itgetsbetter!

Brad Henry

Meet Brad Henry (he/him), an Ohio-based LGBTQ+ activist who mobilizes his community to exercise their right to vote through in-person and online events.

Henry is passionate about voter registration and education and has a talent for volunteer recruitment. His enthusiasm is undeniable, just ask Marshall Troxell, a friend, and fellow activist. 

Thank you, Brad Henry, for always putting your community first!