Cole Ledford: From Attack Victim to Champion Activist

Name: Cole Ledford

Graduation Year: 2016

Major/Minor: Business Real Estate/Leadership Studies

Hometown: Lebanon, Ohio


This week, we had the opportunity to catch up with Cole Ledford for the first time since our interview with him in November 2014. Our original interview, which can be found here, followed an attack on Ledford, after he kissed his boyfriend and departed to make his way home. Since this negative experience, Cole has found ways to share his story to make a positive impact on the lives of others.


Her Campus: Since your attack, what have you done to share your story?

Cole Ledford: Since my incident back in November 2014, I have been sharing my story on a number of different fronts. I have been very fortunate to deliver both a TED talk and a Moth Speech, as well as travel the country to schools and conferences sharing my story and promoting love and support. I also launched a YouTube channel on January 1st of this year to help reach individuals on a more personal and one-on-one scale.


HC: What do you hope will come from sharing your story?

CL: I hope from sharing my story that at least one person out there won't feel alone or ashamed of who they are. I just recently posted a series of videos and tweets while going through a pretty strong period of seasonal depression and anxiety, and it was amazing how my vulnerability of admitting I struggled with this and showing people what it actually looked like in the moment on camera, really helped people. I received so many messages from these people it helped and my goal is to always share every struggle I go through in hopes it always has that effect.


HC: You are associated with the #LoveIsLouder movement. Was this your idea, or have you stepped up to be a spokesman for the existing movement?

CL: The Love is Louder movement is truly incredible, and as much as I would love to be able to take credit for launching it, it was actually founded by Brittany Snow and Courtney Knowles through an organization I work extremely closely with, called The JED Foundation. I am very fortunate to get to be a sort of megaphone for the movement and post the sentiment and messages online, as well as in speeches, but the real brain power and day-to-day work is all thanks to the co-founders and the JED Foundation.


HC: Are there any other causes or movements that you are a spokesperson for?

CL: I am an advocate and a spokesperson per say for many organizations! I like to say if its a good cause, I'll speak out for it and promote it. Directly though, I do run my own nonprofit alongside my co-founder, Conner Mertens, called Out on the Streets, an organization dedicated to ending the struggles that face homeless LGBTQ+ youth. I am so excited for what the future will hold for that organization and any others that I am fortunate enough to be asked to be a part of.


HC: Your website states that you have a book coming out late this year. Do you have a rough estimate of when we can expect to see it? Will it be autobiographical?

CL: Yes, I do have a book coming out this year! I am represented by Jen Chen Tran at Fuse Literary and we are working together to finish my book about my life, and it's becoming an autobiography meets a combinations of essays explaining what made me an activist. There is no set date yet, but I will tweet it as soon as I know!


For more information on Cole and his activism, you can visit his website and his Twitter account!


If you are struggling with needing someone to talk to, depression or thoughts of suicide, please call The Trevor Project at 866-488-7386.