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A transformative moment made this man devote his life to LGBT+ rights

Words by Tess Becker

Pride Month is over but LGBTQ+ advocacy matters all year round. One person who understands this too well is Bill Rossi, whose personal and professional journey led him to encourage meaningful conversations about issues that affect the LGBTQ+ community. He particularly focuses on reaching a younger audience to help them work through issues similar to those he faced growing up. 

Bill is a gay man who grew up at a time when being gay was much less accepted than it is today. For a long time, he kept his journey of self-acceptance to himself. But with some encouragement from an agent he decided to open up with the express goal of educating young people.

“It was a big decision to go from being very private to putting my life out there,” Bill tells Smiley News. “A woman who works for me said ‘You can create a platform, you have a unique story, and you need to share it’."

What finally led him to take the plunge was hearing the story of a young person his partner knew who was struggling with acceptance from their family. 

“This young man, who was 15 at the time, kept wanting to meet me to go to lunch or dinner, just to talk to me and his mom was encouraging this conversation,” Bill says. “I kept rescheduling the meeting and the young man ended up taking his own life.”

“I will always have to live with the fact that I was too busy to meet him, talk to him and let him know that he could have a normal life and he could can get through this,” Bill says. 

Since then Bill has devoted his life to helping queer youth, mostly in the form of sharing his personal stories. Through this, he is now a member of Illinois’ LGBT Task Force, a mentor to the LGBT Chamber of Commerce of Illinois Entrepreneurship Program, and a Crain’s Chicago Business Notable LGBTQ+ Executive.

From his work he has discovered that sharing stories can help people be seen and heard, and in the long-run, it can help people feel better about themselves. 

"All I want to do is make a difference,” Bill says.

And the most important aspect of his work? Kindness.

“I always try to promote kindness anywhere I go - always, always, always with everybody I talk to,” he adds.

Charity check-in

At Smiley Movement, we like to elevate the work of charities across the world. Here are three charities whose causes align with the themes in this article.

American Civil Liberties Union. This is one of the largest civil liberty defense organizations in the US. Find out more and support them here

Human Rights Campaign. This is one of the largest equality-focused organizations in the US. Find out more

The Trevor Project. They focus on suicide prevention and mental health support for queer youth. Support them here.

This article aligns with the UN SDG Reduced Inequalities.

This article aligns with the following UN SDGs