Leo Preziosi, Jr., Production Management: Textiles ’88, Fashion Design ’84

In the fall of 2000, I came across an article about two gay teenagers who were bullied in high school, and out of desperation they committed suicide. I thought, This has to stop—we have to do something to nurture these kids. The following winter, I founded Live Out Loud, a nonprofit that provides educational programs that inspire and empower today’s LGBTQ teens. Our programs connect today’s teens to role models in the LGBTQ community. One of our signature programs, Behind the Scenes, takes students to companies like The New York Times, HBO, and Google to meet employees who share their experiences of being out in the workplace. Our national program, the Live Out Loud Homecoming Project, encourages LGBTQ community members to return to their high schools to offer encouragement to the next generation. So far we’ve had over 100 people address thousands of students in 26 states.
It’s important that we support teenagers and introduce them to new possibilities. I had a rough time in high school. I knew what it was like to live in fear every day. I never knew where the next taunts would be coming from—homeroom, gym, the hallways. I survived by disappearing. But I always yearned to be like those kids who are fully self-expressed and authentic. That’s been my personal goal. I marvel at those who have that freedom. I continue to be inspired by my role models: actor Tyne Daly, who gives 110 percent on stage; author Marianne Williamson, whose lectures are always encouraging and insightful; and my all-time favorite, Whoopi Goldberg, who’s a force of nature and definitely her own creation. These three women have journeyed their own path and have found their freedom, which is what we’re all searching for—and that leads to happiness.

John Jay Cabuay, Illustration BFA ’95, adjunct assistant professor, drew this illustration of Whoopi Goldberg, one of Preziosi’s inspirations, for Hue. He has also drawn portraits for The New Yorker and book covers for Simon & Schuster.