An Emmy Award-winning actor is lending his voice to an effort to end discrimination and bring local communities together.  

Friday kicks off the Second Annual Dakotas’ Equality Summit. Tickets are still available for this year’s event in Downtown Sioux Falls.  Organizers of the conference say it creates an opportunity for LGBT individuals, families, and allies to come together for fellowship, learning and growth in their everyday lives.

Which brings us to Leslie Jordan. The first thing you will notice about the actor is his bright pink pants. 

“These pants are from – there’s a golfer named John Daly, and I’ve always lusted after the pants,” Jordan said. 

However, even at 4 feet 11 inches tall, Jordan manages to outshine the pants. 

“I’m an aging show pony. They just trot me out,” Jordan said, laughing.

You probably recognize him.  His TV credits include Will & Grace, Night Court, American Horror Story, Reba, Ugly Betty, and the list goes on and on. From television, to movies, to theatre, Jordan has been in almost everything.  He recently made his baseball debut at the Chicago Cubs – Washington Nationals game, throwing the first pitch in honor of the victims of the Orlando shooting. 

“Something came over me. I threw that ball and bam! Sammy Sosa, the catcher, said, ‘dude!'” Jordan said, while re-enacting his big throw. 

Jordan has achieved a lot, even though his personal journey has been full of challenges. That includes growing up gay in the deep south. He admits that took some getting used to for his mom and army lieutenant colonel dad.  

“I was his first born. I was his only son. He was a little concerned. It was the 1950s, and I was twirling the baton in the front yard,” Jordan said. 

This is just one of many personal stories Jordan, who is performing his one-man show “Straight Outta Chattanooga,” and other speakers will share at the Dakotas’ Equality Summit.  

“It’s an opportunity to learn from each other,” Billy Mawhiney, organizer, said.

Mawhiney says the goal of this event is to promote understanding and equality in South Dakota communities.

“The only way we are stronger is if we collaborate together, and I think the most important thing is to get everyone in the same room and talk about how we fix this,” Mawhiney said. 

Jordan says his act about his life brings a lot of laughs, but also has an important message. He hopes everyone sees there is something bright even in life’s darkest, most challenging moments.  

“The rough times are the growth periods,” Jordan said. 

Jordan performs Friday night at the Holiday Day Inn City Centre in Downtown Sioux Falls.  The event starts at 6 pm.  There is still time to get tickets for Friday’s show, and the rest of this weekend’s conference.  To learn more and buy tickets, visit the Dakotas’ Equality Summit’s website