Author & LGBTQ Activist
For 50 years, Cleve Jones has given a voice to the voiceless, organized the struggling and disenfranchised, and inspired activists and audiences alike with his life stories of driving history-making change. He was recognized as a Champion of Change by President Obama and portrayed in an Oscar-winning film. His acclaimed keynotes connect the historic struggles of the past with the most urgent issues of our time: overcoming pandemics, achieving economic justice, protecting the vulnerable, and standing up for all forms of human rights. Read More >
Reminder to Keep Moving Forward
When We Rise
Harvey Milk's Legacy
Taking a Bold Steps
Harvey Milk and the Power of Ordinary People
Fighting the HIV/AIDS Epidemic
Fighting for Marriage Equality
We Will be United, We Will Defend Them
Before social media –even before the digital age itself, Cleve Jones co-founded the San Francisco AIDS Foundation (SAF), one of the largest and most influential advocacy organizations of its kind. SAF was the foundation for 50 years of standing up for individuals and groups that need a strong voice, including the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt and Jones’ current work for UNITE HERE, the international union representing hotel, casino, food service and restaurant workers. In this essential talk for advocates, activists, fundraisers and changemakers, Jones, now one of the elder statesmen of human rights activism, translates the tenets of grass roots mobilization for a new generation of changemakers. From messaging to best practices in organizing to how to be an effective leader in this space, Jones provides an essential toolkit—and sage advice— for anyone seeking to advance a cause and create real and lasting change.
Worldwide, 35 million people have lost their lives to HIV/AIDS. With no cure and no vaccine, that pandemic is far from over. While our nation and the world now focus on COVID-19, Cleve Jones points to stunning parallels between the two pandemics and the political will that led to historic medical and social breakthroughs in the fight against AIDS. Key to all was the Ryan White Care Act, a bipartisan response that was a crucial component of a sustained, long-term science-based approach to addressing HIV. In this timely talk, one of the country’s most noted AIDS and social justice advocates examines the similarities between the two pandemics—what we can replicate to address the coronavirus today, as well as the inevitable health challenges of the future.
In this moving talk, drawn from his critically acclaimed memoir, When We Rise, Cleve Jones shares his 50-year personal and political journey to becoming a hero of the LGBTQ+ community. Beginning with the electrifying atmosphere of 1970s San Francisco, Jones takes audiences through the Gay Liberation Movement, his mentorship by legendary activist Harvey Milk, the terrifying early years of the AIDS pandemic, and his own rise to the forefront of activism as co-founder of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and AIDS Memorial Quilt. Speaking as both a witness to history and as one who critically shaped it, Jones chronicles an era that forever changed both the fabric of our nation and the lives of millions of LGBTQ+ Americans.
"Cleve Jones was amazing. I must have received over 50 notes and counting about how wonderful and impactful the discussion was."
“Cleve spoke about his journey from early struggles around coming out to driving grass roots level change and activism with icons like Harvey Milk. During the session Cleve talked a lot about endurance from one stage of change to the next and inspired us with his talk, which resonated even more given the current landscape of racial tensions. We are honored and humbled to hear you share your story, Cleve."
"The event was great! Cleve did a great job and his speech was very powerful and moving. I think his words really hit home with our audience."
"We were blown away by Cleve's address to us today. His message is powerful, inspiring, and what we needed to hear to come back energized for the upcoming 25th AIDS Walk/Run."
"We can’t think of a better way to have ended our conference than with [his] presentation, which was so moving and inspiring. We so much appreciated hearing about [his] personal journey, the challenges [he] faced and the extraordinary optimism, perseverance and dedication [he] displayed. It was also great to see [him] talking with so many of our members after the presentation. [He] left our members with a great memory and a strong message that will remain with them as they head back to their organizations and causes."
“Our attendees enjoyed listening to you share your inspirational life story. Your skills to present your story so candidly and fluidly were just what we wanted. Your words both inspired and rejuvenated our conference attendees. We are appreciative of your time and efforts you took to share your experiences with us. Thank you for helping us to keep our loved ones forward in our minds. I cannot say enough how incredibly moving your presentation was. We would like to add our particular gratitude for staying after your presentation, signing books, taking photos, and greeting attendees. Clearly you sparked a lot of interest in your story, as there were many willing to wait in line to meet you and share a few words. Thank you so much for being so generous with your time. We truly appreciate it. Best wishes as you continue on in your speaking career and advocacy for justice. Your story is an inspiration. Long may it continue!”
"Cleve was impressed with our medical home and our staff. From the tour we brought him down to the museum for our event and his speech was spot on – just what we were hoping for. He received a standing ovation. We took good care of him while he was here and he gave us a great speech."
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