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Preston Mitchum is available for speaking engagements, on-camera appearances, and freelance writing.

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Preston Mitchum (he/him) is the Director of Advocacy and Government Affairs with The Trevor Project. He is a Black queer attorney, advocate, and activist focusing on the power of Black people, young people, and queer, trans, and nonbinary people.

Before Trevor, Preston served as the Director of Policy at URGE: Unite for Reproductive & Gender Equity. While there, he shaped state and federal strategies on reproductive health, rights, and justice in the South and Midwest, with issues on abortion access, comprehensive sexuality education, and LGBTQ+ health equities.

Previously, he has worked at Advocates for Youth, the Center for Health and Gender Equity, the Center for American Progress, and the National Coalition for LGBTQ Health. In addition, Preston has been an Adjunct Professor of Law at Georgetown University Law Center teaching LGBTQ Health Law & Policy and at American University Washington College of Law teaching Sexuality, Gender Identity, & the Law.

Preston deeply believes in community organizing and training younger generations. He currently serves on the Board of Directors for SPARK Reproductive Justice Now! and the International Youth Alliance for Family Planning (IYAFP). He is also the Vice President of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. Omicron Eta Lambda Chapter. Most recently, Preston served as the Co-Chair of Collective Action for Safe Spaces’ Board of Directors and the National Bar Association Young Lawyers Division’s Social Justice Committee.

Preston has been featured in Washington Post, BET.com, The Root, The Atlantic, Buzzfeed, CNN, Fox News, and other media outlets. He has many accolades, including being named a 2021 Rockwood Fellow for Leaders in Reproductive Health, Rights, and Justice, was named one of the 2020 Best LGBTQ Lawyers Under 40 by the LGBT Bar Association, and in 2021 was voted DC LGBTQ’s “Most Committed Activist” by the Washington Blade. Preston was the first openly LGBTQ Chair of the Washington Bar Association Young Lawyers Division.

He holds an LL.M. in Law and Government from American University Washington College of Law, a Juris Doctorate, cum laude, from North Carolina Central University School of Law, and a Bachelor of Arts, cum laude, in Political Science from Kent State University. Preston resides in Washington, DC, where he actively pushes for safe spaces for Black LGBTQ residents.

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Growing Up

Preston Mitchum was born in Youngstown, Ohio, the son of Carla Postell. From a young age, his mother – primarily a fan of Malcolm X — taught him the importance of seeking the truth and never believing anything without research.

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Though this got him into trouble for most of his schooling, he quickly turned this into his passion for writing, persuasion, and advocacy. Preston has two older sisters, LeShauna and Ebony, who instilled motivation, drive, and learning when – and more importantly, when not – to pick battles. While in middle school, he lost his little brother, Paris. He continues to carry Paris with him in the form of a tattoo on his right arm.

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Academics

Preston attended Trotwood-Madison High School in Trotwood, Ohio, and graduated in 2004.  Following High School, he enrolled at Kent State University, where he obtained his Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science, concentrating in Public Policy. He then pursued his Juris Doctor from North Carolina Central University School of Law in Durham, North Carolina.

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In 2010, Preston became student body president, and in 2011, he graduated cum laude. During law school, Preston published two law review articles: “Gene Patents and Informed Consent: The Mythical Reasonable Person Standard” and “A Robust Conception of Speech: Hate Speech and the First Amendment.” In addition, he was on the school’s Moot Court Board, competing in two oral advocacy competitions, making it to the semifinals in the Luke Charles Moore Invitational, a civil rights competition at Howard University School of Law. Law school instilled in him the importance of research and writing. Over the past several years, those dreams have become realized.

In the fall of 2011, Preston enrolled in American University, Washington College of Law for his Master’s of Law degree in Law and Government, with a concentration in constitutional law and civil rights, along with a specialization in gender and law.  During his LLM tenure, he researched, wrote, and published three law review articles: “Screaming to be Heard: Black Feminism and the Fight for A Voice From the 1950s to the 1970s”, Homophobia as a Public Health Hazard: Gender Identities, Sexual Orientation, and the Human Right to Health,” and “Slapping the Hand of Cultural Relativism: Female Genital Mutilation, Male Dominance, and Health as a Human Rights Framework.” It was at this time he began studying the roots of feminism. With those roots, he began to understand the exclusion of Black women from mainstream feminist movements and wanted to ensure that the voices of marginalized groups would always be heard. Part of understanding feminism was first checking his privilege as a man (despite identifying as queer) and realizing that identities work together.

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Coming Out

Preston remembers his “coming out” experience like it was yesterday. It has been over seven years since he logged onto Facebook and publicly announced his sexual orientation. “I can no longer stay silent, friends,” he wrote.

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“I am gay and have been for a lifetime. I recognize that this may be a shock to some of you, but I would be remiss to only share half of me.” Coming out was both liberating and constricting for him. It was beautiful, although the consequences were occasionally ugly. He is glad he came out. But what about those people who aren’t?  Upon publicly announcing his sexual orientation, he quickly realized that the last thing a closeted LGBT individual needed, faced with a hostile social environment, is to feel like those individuals most accepting of their identity won’t support them unless that identity is publicly proclaimed. He explained this in one of his first viral pieces, “On National Coming Day, Don’t Disparage the Closet.”

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Career

Preston is the Director of Advocacy and Government Affairs at The Trevor Project. Before joining Trevor, he was the Director of Policy at URGE: Unite for Reproductive & Gender Equity, where he shaped local, state, and national strategies and reproductive justice policies that centered the voices and leadership of young people.

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Preston has served as Senior Legal and International Policy Analyst with Advocates for Youth; Senior Policy Analyst at the Center for Health and Gender Equity; Judicial Law Clerk to the Honorable S. Pamela Gray and the Honorable Errol R. Arthur, and was a Policy Analyst with the Center for American Progress’ LGBT Research and Communications department. He has published over 15 columns on workplace discrimination, health, the school-to-prison pipeline, and hot-button issues. In 2014, he co-authored “Beyond Bullying: How Hostile School Climate Perpetuates the School-to-Prison Pipeline for LGBT Youth.”

In addition to his work at Trevor, Preston is an Adjunct Professor of Law at Georgetown University Law Center teaching LGBT Health Law and Policy. He is also an active member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. and serves as the Co-Chair of the Board of Directors for the Collective Action for Safe Spaces, an advocacy organization committed to eliminating gender harassment and assault. Preston was also the first openly LGBTQ Chair of the Washington Bar Association Young Lawyers Division. Preston has written for “The Atlantic,” “The Root,” “Out,” “theGrio,” “Huffington Post,” and “Ebony,” “Advocate.com,” and others.

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The Black Agenda

Check out Preston's chapter.

Queer As in Abolishing the Police:
Criminal Justice and Black LGBTQ People