Lorri L. Jean Protects LGBT People in L.A. and Beyond

The CEO of the Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Center provides LGBT Angelenos medical services, career resources—even lodging—while fighting for civil rights nationwide

Her lightbulb moment: Long before I knew I was a lesbian, I wanted to stand up for what was right. Once I was practicing law, I realized I would have a lot more fun working for my own community.

Her elevator pitch: Legal equality does not mean that you are treated fairly in society. We’re seeing all-time-high numbers of homeless LGBT youth in need because families in L.A. are kicking their kids out because of their sexual orientation. It’s going to be decades before organizations like ours are no longer needed.

Her greatest challenge: There are approximately 65,000 gays and lesbians over the age of 65 in L.A., but people who have the resources to help don’t understand the challenges those seniors face. They say, “They’re adults.Can’t they take care of themselves?” Not always. They are four times more likely than their straight counterparts to have no family to help them as they age.

The reward: On the rare days when I get weary, I talk with one of the kids who is living at the center, and it takes me a nanosecond to get over my job’s frustrations. We’re making a difference in people’s lives.