Watch the whole talk here»

John Dehlin is a practicing Mormon … and an outspoken activist for LGBTQ rights. In this touching talk at TEDxUSU, John shares how a friendship with an openly gay coworker changed his views on homosexuality and led him to a career in psychology.

In his research, John looks at the complex, often-prickly relationship between religion and sexuality. Here, he shares some of his findings — heartbreaking statistics about how negative feelings toward sexuality and attempts to “fix” same-sex attraction inspire suicides and teen homelessness.

A quote from iO Tillett Wright’s TEDxWomen talk, “Fifty shades of gay.” 

In 2010, iO started a project called "Self Evident Truths," for which she photographed thousands of people who consider themselves somewhere on the LBGTQ spectrum. iO hoped to show how diverse human sexual identity is, and put a new perspective on what "gay" looks like.

Above, three portraits from Self Evident Truths: Venus, Jamison, and Carrie.

You can read more about the stories behind the portraits at the TED Blog.

When I was 4 years old I realized that I was different: [I felt like a boy, but everyone] perceived me as a girl. I was born female. Biological female. I learned that I would never grow a penis and for that I could never change into a boy. This was one of the bitterest insights I had in my life… [Yet] I had a happy childhood. I loved to play outside and my parents were very open-minded … I had a carefree life and the little difference between my legs didn’t really matter.

But then, my puberty starts and everything started to change. My body changed [in] a direction I never wanted and I felt very alone and misunderstood. They brought me to psychiatrists, but they didn’t find out what really was going on in my head. I fought an inner, silent battle with my soul and my body…

[Eventually] I asked myself, ‘Am I really happy? Is this my life?’ No, it was not my life and I was not happy at all. I made my biggest decision in my life. I took heart and started to write letters to my friends, to my patients, and even to my colleagues, and I explained that I wanted to live as a man — not only inside, but also outside…I started hormonal therapy and my body responded very well and very fast to this treatment. After a few months I could look into the mirror and I saw my soul in my face…

Could you imagine, in this world, that people get killed because of that? Because they want to be true to themselves? It is a crime that every year hundreds of transsexual men and women have to die because they took heart to live in another gender role than the one they were assigned to at birth. Only because they look different and do not fit into the gender binary or do not fit into the categories…

I think we have to break down the taboo of transsexualism…I think we have to become visible to gain acceptance, and with acceptance we will earn understanding. And, so, I believe we can make the world a better place for all of us…

Being transsexual or transgender is not a matter of pathology, it is a matter of diversity…I found out with my visible masculinity, it is not necessary anymore to find if I’m more female or male. I finally can say, I feel as myself. I stand here in front of you because I want to encourage everybody to become true to his or her life — and to accept the truth of everybody’s life.

From Dr. Niklaus Fluetsch’s talk, “My true gender identity,” given at TEDxZug. Born biologically female, Niklaus took a leap of faith in 2007 — after years of struggle — and now lives openly as a man. For more on his story, watch his entire talk here.