Disabilities and LGBTQ+ Advocacy is All Love: An Interview with Nicole “For Love” Adler

by | Jun 5, 2024 | All, Content Types, News, Profiles

Being a trailblazer is familiar to Nicole Adler. In 2014, at 19 years old, Nicole was one of the youngest governor-appointed councilmembers to serve on the California State Council on Developmental Disabilities (SCDD). She is currently serving her second term and she also serves on SCDD’s Executive Committee and previously chaired SCDD’s Self-Advocates Advisory Committee.

Over the last decade, Nicole has developed a thriving career as a public speaker, advisor, and human rights advocate for the disabilities and LGBTQ+ communities. Using various mediums to share her message of love and inclusion, she continues to expand her role as an advocate and member of the LGBTQ+ community.

In April 2024, Nicole was selected as the Member’s Choice, Community Grand Marshal of the 2024, San Francisco Pride Beacon of Love Parade

In the Q&A below, Nicole shares details about her exciting role for Pride Month, and how she would like to use the platform to spread her message of love and acceptance worldwide. 

Q: Can you share your initial reaction upon learning that you were chosen as the Community Grand Marshal for San Francisco Pride?

N.A.–I’ve seen the grand marshals the last few years when I attended. It’s a huge deal. When I see who went before me, I can’t believe it.  It’s a true honor. I feel like I am getting the opportunity to make a difference.

Q: What does this honor mean to you?

N.A.–It allows me to have a global platform to spread my mission of creating a love revolution and gain more exposure in the LGBTQ community. I am taking real action to end the hate and foster a human rights movement to put people first, always! It’s gaining global acceptance.

Q: How do you envision your role as the Community Grand Marshal impacting the LGBTQ+ community in San Francisco and beyond?

N.A.–As a representative of the community, I am a role model to show that people with Trisomy 21 can love anyone they choose and are deserving of love in all of its many forms without judgment or discrimination.

Q: What are some key issues facing the LGBTQ+ community today, and how do you hope to address them in your role?

N.A.–Right now, all the attacks are coming at the highest levels of government. We seem to be turning back the clock on LGBTQ+ rights. Our human rights are under attack, and it’s not acceptable.

Q: How will you use your platform to advocate for inclusivity and equality?

N.A.–By having these types of conversations. By talking with the media, meet with elected officials, and use my “The No No Show” on YouTube as a place to have difficult conversations about topics that are sensitive and not typically discussed in public.   

Q: What specific events or initiatives are you excited to participate in during San Francisco Pride?

N.A.–It’s my Disneyland! I look forward to participating in all the events, meeting new people, and networking.

Q: How do you think Pride events like this can contribute to broader societal change and acceptance?

N.A.–Well, gay people and transgender people are not going away. Pride festivals are a way to say we are a big part of our society. It also gives us a chance to honor and remember the people who were trailblazers for the gay rights movement. So, it’s better for society to start embracing and accepting people as human beings first and not placing so much importance on gender labeling. We must remove societal rules around gender and sexual identity. If we don’t place so much importance on it, we may be able to start accepting people for who they are. 

Q: Can you share any personal experiences or challenges you’ve faced as a member of the LGBTQ+ community and how they’ve shaped your advocacy work?

N.A.–I was born with a label. I had endured the label of Down Syndrome my whole life and all of the stereotypes that are associated with it. Then, when I came out as a gay person, I had to endure twice the labels and discrimination. So, this has shaped my advocacy work to eliminate labels and to see people as human beings first. One of the challenges I have faced is the lack of support and a sense of community in the disability sector for people who also identify as gay. There is a lack of education. I think it’s super important that people don’t make assumptions based on how a person looks on the outside. “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” People automatically assume that I have a boyfriend or want a husband. But that’s not me. And until you get to know me, you wouldn’t know that. I am a gay person and very proud!

Q: In what ways do you hope to celebrate and uplift the diverse voices within the LGBTQ+ community during your reign as Community Grand Marshal?

N.A.–I am starting a love revolution. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “Love has the power to change the world.” I want to continue that legacy. I want to heal the world through love.

Q: What message do you have for young LGBTQ+ individuals who may be struggling with their identity or facing discrimination?

N.A.–Educate yourself, attend trainings and webinars, listen to music, find support groups, and read self-care books. Talk to people in your life who can understand you. There are a lot of resources at your local LGBTQ center in your city or county. Don’t be afraid to open up. You are not alone! 

Q: As the Community Grand Marshal, what do you see as the biggest achievements or milestones in the LGBTQ+ rights movement, and what work still needs to be done?

N.A.–Media has done a good job of showing gay love, being married, and having kids, such as Ultimatum Queer Love. Gay marriage was a major milestone, but now it’s being attacked on the state level, and we will have to work to protect it. Transgender rights also need to be protected and better-defined gender identity in voting rights.

Q: How do you plan to collaborate with other community leaders and organizations to advance LGBTQ+ rights and visibility further?

N.A.–I would like to work with medical professionals and educational institutions to collaborate on training and materials so people who identify as both someone with a disability and gay can get the support they need.

Q: As someone in a leadership position within the LGBTQ+ community, how do you prioritize intersectionality and ensure that the voices of marginalized groups are heard?

N.A.–By collaborating with both movements and people working to advance awareness for the intersectionality of disabilities and LGBTQ+. For example, I contributed to the development of a training manual, “The Rainbow Support Group Guidebook for the LGBTQ+ and Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities,” that is being used by regional centers and other agencies.

Q: Pride events often involve celebration and serve as a reminder of ongoing struggles. How do you balance celebration with activism during Pride festivities?

N.A.–Just being my true authentic self, staying positive, and not focusing so hard on the struggles we are facing. Making sure we are being heard. 

Q: How do you plan to address issues of accessibility and inclusivity within Pride events to ensure that all members of the community feel welcome and represented?

N.A.–Leading by example. No one should feel they can’t be a part of this celebration, no matter how they look, talk, and express themselves.

Q: As an advocate for LGBTQ+ rights, what advice do you have for individuals and communities outside of San Francisco who may be looking to create more inclusive spaces?

N.A.–I encourage entrepreneurs to create meetups or safe places for people in the LGBTQ+ community to meet each other. And by hosting public events with civic leaders, social influencers, or community leaders who show support for people in the LGBTQ+ community. Everyone knows someone who has a disability and/or is gay, either in their family, at school, at work, or in the community. Take the time to get to know that person, and don’t assume who they are or make judgments or assumptions about their character based on stereotypes. See each person as a human being first, and not as a label.

Q: Finally, can you share a memorable moment or experience from a past Pride celebration that has had a lasting impact on you?

N.A.–I have attended Pride festivals many times. For me, seeing everyone having human connections, hugs, and the smiles on people’s faces makes me so happy. The feeling of being safe to be ourselves. The feeling of being happy and excited, and feeling a sense of belonging and community is what I remember the most. Pride celebrations hit my core value of love is love. It’s the LGBTQ’s summer of love. We can celebrate as a community instead of focusing on all the hardships we are facing. Pride is there for us to connect, be ourselves, and share our stories. 

Nicole’s views on these topics and more can be found in a series of videos and public speaking engagements on her YouTube channel or website at NicoleforLove.com