The Emerging Leaders Program

Since 2008, the Los Angeles LGBT Center has helped develop an unparalleled network of LGBT leaders on the ground in China. Most of the major LGBT groups and community events in China, such as the AIDS Walk on the Great Wall, are led or supported by alumni of the Center’s Emerging Leaders Program.

The LGBT community in China is growing in strength but still fragile. Enormous cultural stigma against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people contributes to high HIV infection rates among key risk groups and causes many LGBT people to live in secrecy. But even in face of this stigma, self-selecting leaders, driven by new access to information via the internet, are stepping forward to take on tremendous responsibility. At great personal risk, and without access to significant support, role models, networks or resources, they are driving the evolution of a Chinese LGBT movement.

The Emerging Leaders Program regularly hosts up-and-coming activists from China in Los Angeles, where they learn invaluable skills and gain experience that serve them in their roles at the vanguard of China’s movement. In 2010 the Center hired a full-time staff member in China – the program’s first graduate, David Li – to recruit new potential leaders and support the program’s growing network of alumni as they put their new knowledge to work.

Even as this collaboration in China continues to expand, the program is poised to respond to emerging needs in other overseas LGBT communities. We stand ready to support leaders who’ve taken up the battle against anti-LGBT prejudice in their community, wherever that community may be.

What We Do
For any LGBT community to have hope of reducing the stigma it faces it must be healthy, enduring, and organized. If Chinese LGBT leaders are cultivated and supported, the nascent LGBT community there will make accelerated progress on critical issues from anti-LGBT discrimination to HIV/AIDS stigma , health policy, and care.

The Emerging Leaders Program brings the most promising LGBT leaders in China to LA for a 4-6 week immersion program in leadership and NGO development. The Los Angeles LGBT Center provides a model of effectiveness and efficiency in an NGO setting that is far beyond what emerging leaders in China have ever seen. This has a direct impact on their work in China. As a large scale, multi-faceted, concrete example of what the LGBT community can do to meet community needs, the Center is a unique resource to inspire and build the capacity of Chinese LGBT leaders and their organizations. To date, 31 fellows across many disciplines have participated in the program, studying fundraising, volunteer recruitment, program development and much more.

Our partnerships include the Open Society Foundation, the AIBAI Cultural and Education Center in Beijing, and the U.S. Department of State .