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Here’s what this LGBTI activist said to make Meghan Markle smile

Here’s what this LGBTI activist said to make Meghan Markle smile

A group of people standing around a tall table at a garden party. Meghan Markle is in a yellow dress smiling at jacob thomas who is wearing a bright pink jacket

A photo featuring the Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle and a ‘hyper-camp’ person has gone viral for all the right reasons. The photo appeared on the official Kensington Palace social media accounts.

The Duchess was seen talking and laughing with members of the Commonwealth Youth Council (CYC) at an official event at Marlborough House on Thursday (5 July).

She was spotted chatting with Australian LGBTI activist, Jacob Thomas. The advocate was proud to sport a handmade jacket made in the colors of the trans pride flag.

Thomas first met Markle and her then fiance, Prince Harry at the Commonwealth Youth Forum in April.

‘In that candid photo being shared by the Kensington Palace Instagram, we were recounting our previous interaction,’ they told Gay Star News.

‘We were just acknowledging that we’d met before and catching up. I asked her “how have you been?” and told her “congratulations on your wedding”.’

Delighted to see Thomas again, Markle made a point of checking in on how they were doing personally.

‘She asked me how everything’s going with my (advocacy) work and she also asked me “how are you doing”?’ Thomas said.

‘Which is very wonderful.’

The CYC is the largest and most diverse youth-led organization in the world. It plays an integral role in advancing the youth development agenda and policies in the Commonwealth.

CYC delegates were in London attending a leadership training forum, which featured the outdoor event with Markle and Prince Harry. Queen Elizabeth named Prince Harry the Commonwealth’s Youth Ambassador earlier this year.

Jacob and the Duchess

Thomas is a long-time LGBTI activist and recently appointed Commonwealth Youth Gender and Equality Network coordinator.

They have received a lot of attention for their interaction with the Duchess, but says they also got taking about serious issues.

‘That photo possibly shows us getting involved in talking about gender equality and how tough it can be, we were talking about “getting down to work”,’ Thomas said.

The advocate does not underestimate the importance of interacting with members of the royal family, even it is only for a few minutes.

‘When it comes to ‘rubbing shoulders’ with people like them, I think a lot of people get really excited to meet with the royal family just for the thrill of meeting the royal family. That’s important and I don’t want to deny them that,’ Thomas said. 

‘But we’re here for work.

‘Being able to engage with them and getting 53 member states of the Commonwealth to have direct input to royal family is very valuable.

‘You’re getting to them to understand and endorse what’s happening on the ground.

‘To have that access even if it’s for a couple of minutes is important to know your work is getting visibility.’

Jacob and the Prince

What the cameras didn’t catch was a cute moment Thomas shared with Prince Harry. The Prince was on his first official engagement as the Commonwealth Youth Ambassador.

Prince Harry spoke at the event.

‘If there is one group of young people who can rise to the challenge of solving the world’s greatest problems — I know we’ve come to the right place!’ he said.

But during the official proceedings, Thomas ‘locked eyes’ with the Prince who nodded and then smiled at them.

‘He then tapped the Duchess on the shoulder and pointed at me and said “there’s Jacob”,’ Thomas said.

No femme-phobia thanks

One of the reasons the Prince remembered Thomas was because of the ‘hyper-camp’ jackets they wore to both events.

Thomas said their choice of wardrobe at traditionally ‘conservative’ events was deliberate.

Other than showing allyship with trans and gender diverse communities, Thomas wanted to send a message to young people.

‘It shouldn’t illegal to be who you are,’ Thomas said referring to the fact that many Commonwealth countries still criminalize the LGBTI community.

‘We have a problem in our (LBGTI) community of being femme-phobic. Femininity and campness should be celebrated.

Thomas said visibility was very important.

‘My visibility might give someone permission to be themselves and be in that space,’ they said.

‘I want to let young people know that you can be femme and hyper-camp and still change the world a little bit in your own way.’