Photo: Jason Bell
As we continue to roll out the honorees from our 2009 "School Days"–themed Out 100 -- the latest in our annual look at the 100 gay, lesbian, and trans people who have made an impact in their communities and in mainstream culture -- today we present James Neiley, who we voted "Most Fearless."
What began as a volunteer position at the queer youth center and advocacy organization Outright Vermont during high school quickly became a crash course -- and burgeoning career -- in activism for Neiley. In March the 17-year-old was tapped to deliver a speech in front of state legislators who would decide the fate of gay marriage. His impassioned plea went viral on the Internet and, three weeks later, Vermont became the fourth state to give gay nuptials the green light.
Honoring Neiley's contribution feels particularly apropo today as voters in another New England state, Maine, head to the polls at this very moment to decide if gay marriage will continue to legally stand there. Last night, in a last-minute post, statistician Nate Silver wrote that he believes we'll see a win for gay marriage in Maine today, but it's going to be a close call. If you live in the state -- or have friends or relatives who do -- make sure spread the word and do whatever you can to get yourself -- or anyone else you know -- to the polls.
We'll continue to roll out more honorees in the coming days leading up to the full reveal of the 2009 Out 100 portfolio, shot by renowned photographer Jason Bell, in mid-November.
Previously > The 2009 Out 100: Neil Patrick Harris