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.

New feminist heroes: 4 TEDx speakers named feminist icons of today

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TEDxTeen speaker Tavi Gevinson (via Refinery29)

Refinery29 recently put a face to the future of feminism, honoring “17 thinkers, activists, and creatives taking up the mantle of women’s rights” right now.

We’re absolutely thrilled that 4 TEDx speakers have made the list (including one of our coworkers!). Below, 4 TEDx Talks on feminism for a new generation:

Contraception is not controversial: Melinda Gates at TEDxChange
Contraception. The topic has become controversial in recent years. But should it be? In her talk at TEDxChange, listmaker Melinda Gates talks about how ensuring that women are able to control their rate of having children is a crucial aspect to many of the world’s social change issues, and makes the case for the world to re-examine an issue she intends to lend her voice to for the next decade.

Violence against women — it’s a men’s issue: Jackson Katz at TEDxFiDiWomen
Activist Jackson Katz made a splash with his TEDx talk challenging why domestic violence and sexual abuse are often called “women’s issues,” when, really, they are issues that affect us all — men included. In this bold, blunt talk, he breaks down this stigma and puts a call out for men to fight against conceptions of manhood that glorify sexual harassment, violence, and abuse, before asking everyone, men and women, to be leaders of change.

A teen just trying to figure it out: Tavi Gevinson at TEDxTeen
The talk that provided the very quotable “Just be Stevie Nicks,” Tavi Gevinson’s talk at TEDxTeen sheds light on how hard it can be to find strong, female role models in the media when you’re 15 and trying to figure yourself out. Faced with this problem, Tavi created Rookie, a web magazine for and by teen girls, where bright young thinkers can share the things they really want to talk about — conversations that put a new, unapologetically uncertain and richly complex face on modern feminism.

How I became a feminist: Jamia Wilson at TEDxYouth@Hewitt
We might be totally biased, but we at TEDx are super excited that Jamia made this list of feminist leaders, as we get to see her every day at work. Right now, Jamia is a storyteller for TED’s TED Prize, and in her talk at TEDxYouth@Hewitt she talks about her journey to becoming a feminist activist, overcoming assertions that she needed to be thinner, have lighter skin, and straighter hair to be a force in the media, and her work to make sure everyone realizes that womanhood — and feminism — doesn’t come in one type.

Four, almost five years ago, Proposition 8, the great marriage equality debate, was raising a lot of dust around this country. And, at the time, getting married wasn’t really something I’d spent a lot of time thinking about, but I was struck by the fact that America, a country with such a tarnished civil rights record, could be repeating its mistakes so blatantly…

And this powerful awareness rolled in over me that I was a minority, and in my own home country, based on one facet of my character. I was legally and indisputably, a second-class citizen.

I was not an activist. I waved no flags in my own life. But I was plagued by this question: How could anyone vote to strip the rights of the vast variety of people that I knew, based on one element of their character? How could they say that we as a group were not as deserving of equal rights as somebody else?

Were we even a group? What group? And had these people even ever consciously met a victim of the discrimination? Did they know who they were voting against and what the impact was?

And then it occurred to me. Perhaps if they could look into the eyes of the people that they were casting into second-class citizenship, it might make it harder for them to do. It might give them pause.

Obviously, I couldn’t get 20 million people to the same dinner party, so I I figured out a way where I could introduce them to each other photographically — without any artifice, without any lighting, or any manipulation of any kind on my part. Because in a photograph, you can examine a lion’s whiskers without the fear of him ripping your face off.

For me, photography is not just about exposing film, it’s about exposing the viewer. To something new; a place they haven’t gone before; but — most importantly — to people they might be afraid of.

From Artist iO Tillett Wright’s TEDxWomen talk, "Fifty shades of gay" , where she explained how she came to photograph 2,000 people who consider themselves somewhere on the LBGTQ spectrum.