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Portrait of Jay Gilliam. He is wearing a suit, tie, and glasses, and he is smiling. In the background stands a flag that bears the emblem of the United States Agency for International Development.

Jay Gilliam

Senior LGBTQI+ Coordinator At The United States Agency For International Development

Throughout his career in human rights advocacy, Jay Gilliam has consistently expressed his unequivocal support of the LGBTQIA+ community. Jay has served in multiple roles at the Human Rights Campaign including Director of Global and Director of Global Leadership, in addition to having been appointed previously to USAID under the Obama Administration. Gilliam has also coauthored a report that expresses full support of reproductive, sexual and sex worker’s rights and recognizes attacks on these rights as interconnected with attacks on gender and the LGBTQIA+ community. Jay Gilliam has been categorized as green.

Jay Gilliam Was Appointed Senior LGBTQI+ Coordinator At USAID In November Of 2021

USAID Introduced Jay And His Role As The Senior LGBTQI+ Coordinator On December 6, 2021 [Medium, 12/06/2021]

Jay Has Been Working As Senior LGBTQI+ Coordinator At USAID Since November 2021 [LinkedIn, November 2021]

Gilliam’s Role As Senior LGBTQI+ Coordinator Was Established As A Part Of The Biden Administration’s Diversity And Inclusion Efforts

President Biden Released A Memo In February 2021 Regarding The Advancement Of The Human Rights Of Individuals Within The LGBTQI Communities Around The World. “This memorandum reaffirms and supplements the principles established in the Presidential Memorandum of December 6, 2011 (International Initiatives to Advance the Human Rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Persons).  That memorandum, for the first time, directed executive departments and agencies (agencies) engaged abroad to ensure that United States diplomacy and foreign assistance promote and protect the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons everywhere.  This memorandum builds upon that historic legacy and updates the 2011 memorandum. All human beings should be treated with respect and dignity and should be able to live without fear no matter who they are or whom they love.  Around the globe, including here at home, brave lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex (LGBTQI+) activists are fighting for equal protection under the law, freedom from violence, and recognition of their fundamental human rights.  The United States belongs at the forefront of this struggle — speaking out and standing strong for our most dearly held values.  It shall be the policy of the United States to pursue an end to violence and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or sex characteristics, and to lead by the power of our example in the cause of advancing the human rights of LGBTQI+ persons around the world.” [The White House, 2/4/21]

The Senior LGBTQI+ Coordinator Works To Meaningfully Integrate LGBTQI+ Communities Into USAID’s Programming. “In this role, he works to meaningfully integrate LGBTQI+ people into USAID’s inclusive development programs, policies, research and training. Most recently, he was the Engagement and Communications Advisor in the Center for Education at USAID.” [USAID, 02/10/2022]

A Similar Role Was Last Held During The Obama Administration. “Todd Larson, who worked in a variety of positions at the U.N. between 1990 and 2010 where he spearheaded efforts to extend domestic partner benefits to the same-sex partners of U.N. employees, in March became USAID’s Senior LGBT Coordinator. He was also co-chair of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission Board of Directors for the majority of the time he was a member between 2007-2013. Larson’s primary responsibility at USAID is to ensure the agency implements President Obama’s 2011 memorandum that instructed agencies charged with implementing American foreign policy to promote global LGBT rights.” [Washington Blade, 7/23/14]

Gilliam’s Goals In This Position Are To Bridge Gaps Between Research And Programs And Increase Integration And Visibility Of LGBTQIA+ People. “First, I am grateful for the work being done by our existing LGBTQI+ team. They have continued to find ways to maintain and make new inroads under challenging circumstances. I am also mindful that my vision must be co-created and shared with all of those who have been and are working in this space — both global LGBTQI+ activists and USAID staff in Washington and Missions around the world. So these ideas come with the humility that my initial vision will grow and change. My vision for advancing LGBTQI+ inclusive development includes:

  • Ensuring USAID’s programs and work are more accessible to LGBTQI+ people.
  • Accelerating and revitalizing integration efforts across development sector programs and policies.
  • Increasing visibility and leadership
  • Transforming recommendations from research and reports into action.” [Medium, 12/06/2021]

Gilliam Was A Previous Appointee To USAID Under The Obama Administration

Jay Gilliam Was Previously Appointed To USAID By The Obama Administration As A Special Assistant And Advisor.  “He served in the Obama administration at USAID where he worked on program policy, public engagement and communications, particularly on the Agency’s LGBTQI+ and food security work.” [USAID, 02/10/2022]

Gilliam Is Committed To Using An Intersectional Framework In Advancing LGBTQIA+ Rights

Gilliam’s Vision For Implementing LGBTQIA+ Initiatives Across The Globe Includes An Intersectional Framework. “Gilliam said he will work to ensure USAID is ‘giving rightful attention to all parts of our community, the L, the G, the B, the T, the Q and I and all those along the spectrum so that we can really understand and help and support and get people or maybe more attention to those that haven’t gotten it yet.’ Gilliam also told the Blade that he is committed to intersectionality. ‘I always like to think about it from my own perspective of being Black and gay and sitting in many different communities and seeing the way that I am included or not included in that work,’ he said. ‘And I think about that in relation to the needs from the global LGBTQI+ community and the way that they might have multiple identities that include privileges, that include being marginalized by broader society.’” [Washington Blade, 12/22/21]

Gilliam Cites His Own Experience Growing Up As A Black Person And As Part Of The LGBTQIA+ Community As Informing His Work. “Growing up in religiously conservative Texas and not seeing Black queer people recognized and applauded for being their full, authentic selves — whether in Black or queer communities — has given me unique insights into this work. When thinking about the global LGBTQI+ space, I often think about all of the different identities that people bring to the fight to be visible and valued.” [Medium, 12/06/2021]

Gilliam Decried The Trump Administration’s Anti-Gender Foreign Policy And Has Signaled Support For Enhanced Reproductive Rights In U.S. Foreign Policy Moving Forward

Gilliam Cowrote A Report That Determined Commitment To Reproductive Rights As Integral To Advancing LGBTQIA+ Rights In U.S. Policy Abroad. “In its own foreign policy, the United States has reinstated and expanded the Global Gag Rule, dramatically curtailed its coverage of reproductive rights violations in its annual human rights reporting, and adopted executive orders that subordinate LGBTI equality to religious freedom claims. It has decoupled women‘s rights from LGBTI rights, including in a draft USAID policy on gender equality that erases existing references to LGBTI people. Therefore, if it is to be a credible voice on the rights of LGBTI people once again, it is imperative that in multilateral forums and in its foreign policy, the United States strengthen its commitment to women’s rights, reproductive rights, comprehensive sexuality education, the rights of sex workers, and other sexual rights.” [Center for American Progress, 11/06/20]

Gilliam Advocates For Holding Governments Accountable For Upholding LGBTQIA+ And Other Human Rights

Gilliam Wrote A Report During The Beginning Of The Pandemic, Noting How LGBTQIA+ Advocacy Would Be Restricted. “LGBTQI+ advocates across the globe were hindered by canceled in-person events, reduced interactions with potential donors, and reduced opportunities to meet with their communities face-to-face, including facilitating access to crucial HIV care.” Jay called for increasingly scrutinizing governments, considering the pervading incentives to restrict movement and surveil populations. “As the International Center for Not-for-profit Law noted, ‘Governments can use a crisis as a pretext to infringe rights.’ New government powers can easily have a negative impact on LGBTQ people.” He also published this report on how a group of the Human Rights Campaign’s Global Alumni traversed the new logistical political territory of LGBTQIA+ advocacy work in their respective nations and communities during the global pandemic, obtaining HRC’s full support for their work. [Human Rights Campaign, 03/23/2020]

Gilliam Condemned Moscow Police For Failing To Investigate Death Threats Preceding The Murder Of Grigorieva Kochetkov, A Russian LGBTQIA+ Rights Activist. “Those same authorities and leaders have an obligation to protect those targeted because of their sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and their allies,” Gilliam said. “Leaders must also publicly condemn this atrocity and uphold the human rights of LGBTQ people.” [Toronto Sun, 01/28/20]

Jay Decried The Trump Administration’s 2020 Anti-Rights “Gender Equality And Women’s Empowerment Policy,” Which Is Currently Being Revised By USAID

Jay Cowrote A Center For American Progress Report In Which He Decried The Trump-Era USAID Report Which Erased Reproductive Health, Sexual Orientation And Gender Identity. “In its own foreign policy, the United States has… decoupled women‘s rights from LGBTI rights, including in a draft USAID policy on gender equality that erases existing references to LGBTI people.” [Center for American Progress, 11/06/20]

The 2020 USAID Gender Policy Was Problematic In That It Removed Inclusive Language... “The Agency has walked back its prior commitments by removing critical language affirming inclusivity of all people, the definition of “gender identity,” the definition of gender-based violence, and all references to LGBTQI individuals.” [United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, 08/31/2020]

…And Enforced A Restrictive Definition Of The Gender Binary. “The draft also enforces a strict, binary definition of gender, talking only about women and men, deleting previous language about gender identity. Nowhere is there reference to LGBTI people, who are included in other USAID policy statements and its everyday gender work, but are glaringly absent in the draft gender policy.” [Brookings, 09/10/2020]

The 2020 USAID Policy Eschewed Evidence-Based Reproductive Health Recommendations In Favor Of Ideology. “The draft policy fails to recognize the critical role that comprehensive reproductive health plays in ensuring gender equality and women’s and girls’ empowerment. For example, access to modern, evidence-based contraceptives is critical for gender equality, but this new policy excludes any mention of contraceptives from the health section, and only references ‘‘communication between spouses’ as the recommended tool for family spacing.” [Congresswoman Grace Meng, 08/28/2020]

Equity Forward Was Among Many Groups That Submitted Public Comment To USAID Expressing Alarm Over Its Erasure Of Gender, LGBTQIA+ And Reproductive Rights Despite Established International Human Rights Framework. [Equity Forward Public Comment Submitted to USAID, 8/25/20]

In A Page Updated In July 2021, USAID States That The Policy Is Currently Being Revised.

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[USAID, 07/26/2021]

USAID Administrator Samantha Power Met With Gilliam In December 2021, Praising His Decades Of Experience In Human Rights Including LGBTQIA+ Rights

USAID Administrator Samantha Power Tweeted A Picture Of Her Meeting With Jay, Acknowledging His Experience With Human Rights Advocacy And “Thrill” With Him Fulfilling The Role.

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[Samantha Power Twitter, 12/6/21]


The Human Rights Campaign Congratulated Jay On His Appointment, Anticipating Working With Him In The Future

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[Human Rights Campaign Twitter, 01/03/2022]

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