After experiencing discrimination from her parents, school, adoption agencies, and too many others, Stacey Stevenson has formed a happy family and found a home working for acceptance for all LGBTQ+ families like hers.
Stevenson had what she calls “COVID clarity” in 2020, taking stock of what she really wanted out of life and ditching her steady career in corporate finance to help lead the fight for queer families’ rights full-time. In 2021 she became the first Black CEO of the non-profit organization Family Equality. She now does the job from Washington, D.C., where she moved last year with her wife and two children to escape the increasing amount of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation in her home state of Texas.
It’s not the first time Texas has made Stevenson feel unwelcome. Stevenson dropped out of high school after a fellow student found a love letter Stevenson had written to another girl. “I was bullied. I was taunted,” Stevenson remembers. “I didn’t feel safe in the school anymore. The teachers weren’t protecting me. I didn’t have the support I needed.”
As an adult, Stevenson continued to face anti-LGBTQ+ bias. She and her wife spent a winding eight-year journey to parenthood that included a Texas adoption agency telling the couple that a birth mother would never choose to place her baby with women and a fertility doctor who told them that they would have to have the baby at another hospital than the one where the insemination was done because it was religiously affiliated.
“I know the pain of wanting to become a parent and having that pain and rejection of someone saying you’re not good enough to become a parent, no one’s going to select you, and we’re going to make it as hard as possible.” That’s what drew Stevenson to Family Equality, which provides events, resources, advocacy, and trainings to support LGBTQ+ people who want to find, form, and sustain families with
Stevenson is working to make Family Equality more racially inclusive and diverse, like reaching out to organizations that focus specifically on families of color to be involved with Family Equality’s annual Family Week in Provincetown, Massachusetts. She says she’s especially excited about their Family Equity and Justice Program that surveys mostly families of color at or below the poverty line in rural areas in the South to understand their needs—data that doesn’t really exist yet.
“If I go back to my coming out story and when my parents rejected me after that, and all of the adversity that I dealt with being a Black queer person in South Texas, and a Black queer person, period, I wanted to use that adversity for good,” Stevenson says. “I wanted to ensure that I was using that as an example of what’s possible and that I could put all of that frustration and pain into something that could help other people who are going through the same thing.”