Advancing LGBTQ Equity

By Mikkel Hyldebrandt

Photo: Center for Civil and Human Rights

Just in time for Pride, the LGBTQ Institute in downtown Atlanta will host a diversity forum, and the popular Pride party, Papa, has chosen the organization as their beneficiary. Peach spoke to Executive Director, Ryan Roemerman, who also serves on the Mayor’s new LGBTQ Advisory Board.

Tell us about the background for the LGBTQ Institute?
The story of human and civil rights would not be complete without discussing the ongoing work to achieve LGBTQ rights, which is why the LGBTQ Institute was established at The Center.

Tell us a little bit about the work the LGBTQ Institute does?
We connect academics and advocates to advance LGBTQ equity through research and education focused on the American South.

Atlanta is seen as a hub for civil rights – is it also a center for gay and equal rights?
In many ways, Atlanta is a hub for civil rights and equal rights for LGBTQ people. However, the South is under attack most often when it comes to anti-LGBTQ legislation, even though more LGBTQ people live in the South than anywhere else in the country. That’s why the LGBTQ Institute focuses on education and research. As they say, “what gets measured is what gets done.” Research is an important tool that helps tell our stories, reframe narratives, and dismantle systems that discriminate against LGBTQ people.


Just in time for Pride and National Coming Out Day, you are having an LGBTQ Diversity in Business Forum – tell us a little about that?
This will be our third annual forum. This year we’re releasing our first-ever Business and Employment Report based on our survey of 6,500+ LGBTQ people across 14 Southern states. CNN’s Victor Blackwell and CBS46’s Thomas Roberts will moderate discussions with business and community leaders.
Afterwards, we’ll have cocktails and hors-d’oeuvres where folks can network and help us celebrate the LGBTQ Institute’s third anniversary!

The Papa Hero party has chosen the LGBTQ Institute as their beneficiary – how was this connection made?
I’ve known Tang Nguyen for a while, and he and Rob Jameson, who
are helping produce the event, reached out to me. They were impressed with our work and wanted to help support it.

What are some future projects for the LGBTQ Institute?
We’ll be releasing more data from our Southern Survey around the life experiences of transgender Southerners, and producing reports for each of the 14 Southern states we surveyed. Our goal is to have this data serve as a tool that can be used by our 140+ state and local partners on the ground as they develop their policy initiatives, grassroots strategies, and fundraising campaigns.

What is the best way to support the LGBTQ Institute?
The best way to support our work is by making a donation by visiting You can also follow our social media (IG: @lgbtq_institute) and stay up-to-date on our work and ways to get involved.


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