At 26-years-old, Adam Eli is one of the leading faces of LGBTQ activism in New York City (and beyond). Eli uses his magnetic social media presence to promote values of equality, authenticity and care, and when he's not partnering with companies like Snapchat, Grindr, Marc Jacobs and even PAPER, he's busy with old-fashioned activism - organizing buses to D.C.'s Equality March and staging a rally at Stonewall for Gays Against Guns. Eli shows us that being yourself and using your voice and platform to uplift others and call out injustice will aways be beautiful.
When (and where) are you most creative?
I daydream a lot, particularly on the subway or whenever I need to pass the time. I love when a scaled down daydream becomes a tangible reality.
How did you get your start?
I began engaging with social media activism at Gays Against Guns. I was devastated by the Orlando Pulse massacre so I kept showing up to GAG meetings but I mostly sat in silence. When the group needed someone to run the facebook live from our first protest I volunteered. Since then I have been in charge of social media from all our big protests and events.
Can you describe any current projects or activities?
Right now I am working with a new advocacy group called Voices 4 Chechnya. On October 14th we are going to march from Stonewall to Trump Tower United Nations and demand humanitarian visas for the LGBTQ+ people being killed in Chechnya.
What is success to you?
Success is the ability to be authentically myself in every aspect of my life.
What was the first moment you knew you were going to be able to do this as a job – not necessarily your first big break or success, but the first time you thought, "This is it, this is my career"?
The days following the Orlando Pulse Massacre I didn't know how to handle my emotions so I broadcasted them online. As a result tons of devastated people reached out to me and asked what should we do next? I didn't know what to say so I posted on Instagram "Come and meet me on 6th Ave and 11th Street and we can all go to the Memorial Rally together". About 30 people showed up- some I knew but most I didn't. That moment taught me social media had the power to generate action offline. Whatever that meant- I knew I had to explore it.
What's been the biggest choice you've had to make in your career so far?
Coming out of the closet. I could not be where I am today without being entirely honest about who I am. What is your morning routine like? (What time do you get up? Are you a coffee or tea drinker? Any breakfast routines?) The first thing I do in the morning is make my bed and write exactly one page in my One Direction diary. I don't drink coffee or tea! My mother tells me I have always had "boundless natural energy."
What are you most excited about for the future? (Can be about your career, your personal life, the world - anything.)
I am most excited about Voices 4 Chechnya! The group is only three weeks old and a mixture of hope, excitement, camaraderie and community permeates the air. Watching it all come to life is thrilling.
What are you most worried about for the future?
I fear a resurgence of indifference.
Are you good at receiving advice? What is the best advice you've ever received?
If phrased nicely I am good at receiving advice. I am a big fan of #constructivecriticism.
The most important piece of advice I ever got was from Oprah! She said, "You are responsible for your life, and if you're sitting around waiting on somebody to save you, to fix you, to even help you, you are wasting your time, because only you have the power to take responsibility to move your life forward."
What makes a person beautiful?
Empathy makes a person beautiful. I have never seen someone look unattractive while expressing genuine care or concern for others.
What are you most proud of?
I am most proud of my queer and Jewish heritage. My two people's ability to thrive despite a history of pain and oppression is my inspiration and motivation.