Chris Woods (he/him) serves as the senior director of inclusive policy and director of the LGBTQ+ Center within the Office of Global Inclusion, Diversity, and Strategic Innovation at New York University. He is the primary point of contact for inclusive policies, practices, and initiatives for LGBTQ+ students, faculty, staff, and alums. Additionally, he collaborates with University partners on inclusive policy development and operational work—advancing the University’s commitment to global inclusion, diversity, belonging, equity, and access.
Which LGBTQ+ icons do you look up to?
I look up to queer and trans elders and ancestors who paved possibilities that have allowed for many of us to be seen and understood as LGBTQ+ people. Audre Lorde—who described herself as Black, lesbian, mother, warrior, and poet—is an icon whose writing inspires me, including my favorite quote: “When I dare to be powerful—to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.”
What actions do you hope to see the government taking to support the LGBTQ+ community?
The rise in anti-trans and queer legislation targeting education, health care, and other protections on the state-level is threatening the livelihood of LGBTQ+ communities nationally. I would like to see the government double down on support for LGBTQ+ communities—creating models for LGBTQ+ inclusive policy and practice at the state and federal level and safety nets for people living in LGBTQ-hostile states to get the care and support they need in that state or elsewhere.
What do you wish people outside of the community knew about the LGBTQ+ community?
As a lifelong educator, I wish more people both within and outside of LGBTQ+ communities thought deeply about and sought education on the unique experiences of LGBTQ+ people who hold multiple marginalized identities (e.g., LGBTQ+ folks of color, disabled folks, undocumented folks, etc.) and identified tangible actions (e.g., inclusive language, contributing funds, volunteering time) that advance their needs. We all have a role to play—what would you like your role to be?
Can you recommend any top book, film, or TV shows that represent the LGBTQ+ experience?
I am obsessed with all things LGBTQ+ media!! The list could go on forever but some of my favorite recommendations would include:
Books: Sister Outsider and Zami: A New Spelling of My Name both by Audre Lorde, Stone Butch Blues by Leslie Feinberg
Films: Pariah, But I’m A Cheerleader, Disclosure