People We Love :: Conrad Honicker

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Empowering LGBTQ Youth

When Conrad Honicker, then 14, was harassed for holding another teen boy's hand in a public park, the aggressors probably didn't expect their actions to result in a procession of same-sex couples marching hand-in-hand through downtown Knoxville, Tennessee.

But they also didn't know that Honicker had grown up with a “second home” at the Highlander Center, which provides support for activists fighting prejudice and injustice in Appalachia.

After organizing the Holding Hands demonstration, Honicker, now 16, founded the first gay-straight alliance in Knox County and now works with the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network to increase its impact in schools. 

He's become, in his words, a “poster child” for youth activism in the area, attention he would rather share with the many effective young organizers he knows. His advice for nurturing activists? “Appreciate the work that youth do, and help them along.”