Steven Romeo, MPA
Steven Romeo. Age 26. Pronouns: They/Them
Steven Romeo is the founder, executive director and primary artist for The Change Project based in Birmingham, Ala. Their work was recognized by The White House in November of 2015 as an LGBT Artist Champion of Change. The Change Project is an arts and storytelling organization that seeks to transform discrimination against all LGBTQ people into acceptance through the art of photography, social media campaigns, educational resources and partnerships with social justice organizations.
Steven’s first fine art installation is “Our Bodies. Our Lives,” which engages viewers to consider what LGBTQ people want to be called versus the labels that society places on them. Steven currently studies at The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), working towards their master’s degree in Public Administration with a focus in non-profit management. While at UAB, Steven served as the first LGBTQ Student Affairs professional with 100% of their job description devoted to LGBTQ work. In this role they built the foundation of LGBTQ programming at UAB, and is currently writing his masters thesis which assesses the campus climate for LGBTQ students, faculty and staff at UAB.
In 2012, when artist and director of The Change Project, Steven Romeo was conceptualizing what The Change Project's artwork should look like, they were always drawn to the idea that queer people should be called what they want to be called. In the first draft of the Embody Progress collection, participants were asked to share a word they most identified with, in addition to the Change picture. Once they moved to the open shoot model, however, this idea went away. Over the past year they began to play with powder paint and combine the original identity word concept to a new collection called Our Bodies. Our Lives. A conversation that has been missing in the movement for LGBTQ equality is one around humanizing queer people. Not assimilationism, but the idea that queer people are humans and should be treated as such while acknowledging that each is unique in their own identity. In addition, language that is currently used to define queer folks is often negative, and centered around sex and deviance. This collection focuses on queer people claiming words that they want to be called, and sharing that with the larger Southeast community.
Steven got their start in organizing with Relay for Life as a freshman at C. Leon King High School, where they graduated with an International Baccalaureate Degree, and received the honor of Coca-Cola Foundation National Scholar. While in high school, they were heavily involved with their church group and Invisible Children. Steven then went to the University of Alabama for undergrad and came out as gay for the first time in a fraternity. Upon coming out, they were shunned by their fellow brothers and began their exploration of progressive organizing. They were selected as a Young People For (YP4) fellow and launched the first safe space program at a local Birmingham high school. After being a fellow, Steven returned to YP4 as a blueprint reader, trainer, mentor, selection committee member and Alumni Board Member.
Upon graduating college, Steven began a gap year of self-discovery. This year led them to come out as genderqueer in a professional working environment and build The Change Project from the ground up. Their journey as an innovator begins here. Using art as the medium for creating conversation around LGBTQ equality was a new concept for most they encountered.
Now Steven is a recent graduate of The University of Alabama at Birmingham with their Master of Public Administration.They are available for booking year round.
Ideas to Reality: An Artist's Journey to Embodying Progress - Steven dives deep into their journey of self discovery on what it means to be queer. This keynote focuses on the founding of The Change Project and how the art of photography changed their live. Through their love of the visual arts, Steven was able to embody progress and create a new space for their work to flourish.
From a Red State to The White House: The Importance of Recognizing Advocacy Work in the South - Focussing on the South, Steven addresses the disparities in funding in the South, specifically the Deep South. Steven explores the ideas of grassroots fundraising and how identity politics plays a distinct role in how The Change Project has been a success. They will also discuss their trip to the White House and the historic moment when the Obama administration recognized LGBTQ work being done in the Deep South.
Destigmatizing Queerness: Taking Revolutionary Art Off The Walls And Onto Our Bodies - Steven explores their genderqueer identity in this keynote address. Steven breaks down queer and genderqueerness to simple and understandable language. Gender is quite an interesting thing, and they walk listeners through their journey as a visual artist as they discover their queer identities.
Art, Education and the LGBTQ Community - This workshop explores how art informs the movement for LGBTQ equality. In a 55 minute lecture-style workshop, Steven will explore the history of how art has been a vital part of every civil rights movement, and how it informs the work of The Change Project.
Using Art to Mobilize Grassroots Campaigns - This interactive 55 minute workshop explores the use of graphics and digital media to mobile grassroots campaigns. Through a social/cultural lens, Steven will walk participants through developing a campaign of their own with hashtags and media packets.
LGBTQ Organizing in the (Deep) South - This is a hand-on one hour and thirty minute workshop that allows participants to think through the work they are currently doing in the south. Steven will engage participants around topics such as campus or community climate, power, privilege and oppression, along with the unique struggles southerners have.
Creating Successful LGBTQ Campus Programming - Steven was the first LGBTQ student affairs professional in the state of Alabama. They will work with student leaders and campus officials to help develop successful programming. In this 55 minute workshop, Steven will help participants understand the importance of evaluation along with understanding the climate of their campus
Art and Storytelling: Building Authentic Movements for Equality - In conjunction with the fine art collection Our Bodies. Our Lives. Steven along with campus and community leaders will engage in a 55 minute artist talk and panel discussion. More about Our Bodies. Our Lives. here.
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