This Pride, we are encouraging the community to reflect — reflect with joy on our authentic selves, reflect on hard-earned change, and reflect a spirit of community that welcomes everyone. To explore that last idea, we sat down with Abbi Swatsworth, the executive director of OutNebraska, to talk about what community means to her and how we can all work to create strong LGBTQ communities in Nebraska.  

ACLU: Tell us a little about yourself and your work at OutNebraska. 

I am the executive director of OutNebraska – a statewide education and advocacy organization that is working to celebrate and empower thriving LGBTQIA+ communities. With a degree in Social Work and more than 20 years of nonprofit experience, I bring an important perspective to my work. I am a member of Lincoln Rotary #14, the Lincoln Mayor’s Commission on Women and Gender, and serve on the advisory board of the Lincoln/Lancaster Women’s Foundation and as a mentor for Omaha's Huespring. In my free time, I love spending time with my grandchild, cooking, and all things women's sports. My work with OutNebraska began near the founding of the organization as a volunteer, leading to a position on the board, and board leadership. I helped the organization make the jump from an all-volunteer effort to a staffed organization with an expanded mission to organize across the state. I am honored to lead our staff in advocating, celebrating and educating regarding LGBTQIA+ issues. 

What does community mean to you when thinking about advocacy? 

Nebraska is a large geographic area with members of the LGBTQIA+ community living in every region. I think about how OutNebraska can help to elevate LGBTQIA+ issues in the spaces where policy is being made - whether that is in individual schools, at city council or school board meetings, in government offices, at the Unicameral, or at the federal level. There are already people organizing in Greater Nebraska and in our metro areas. I hope OutNebraska can serve as a backbone organization bringing people together to amplify the issues our community faces. 

What are some ways that you work towards building community? 

We host a variety of online activities so that people across the state can join in. We invite people across the state to participate in phonebanks, letter writing events, or other civic engagement things to build community. We are the host organization for Drag Queen Story Hour Nebraska and the producer of the annual Prairie Pride Film Festival. This year's event is July 7-10. More information and passes can be found at 

What are some of your goals and visions for the future? 

Our vision is to activate people to be directly involved in the policymaking process. It's really not that scary and it makes a big difference. We hosted the first-ever LGBTQIA+ legislative day in 2020 before the coronavirus shut down the Capitol. We would love to see this become an annual event (pandemic permitting) so that our state senators can see and hear from people in their districts. Our biggest goal is to continue to defeat bad legislation. In the last session, everything that we opposed was defeated - either in committee or during debate. As the makeup of the Unicameral changes, we will need more people getting involved to make sure we continue making our voices heard when politicians try to attack our communities. 

What are you looking forward to most this Pride? 

The chance to see people and to engage in outreach events across the state!