Jun. 28th, 2010

debboamerik: black-and-white cat (Default)
Poets. Runaways. Loudmouths. Drag queens. Queers. Trannies. Perverts. Leather daddies. Outcasts.

Forty-one years ago today, these people took to the streets to defend their right to exist. I owe them my average, middle-class suburban life, a life in which I can walk down the street hand-in-hand with [livejournal.com profile] papertigers and no one stares. This month, in recognition, I have been posting a daily quote to my facebook account. Now it's time for me to give a little more information about the people I quoted (and the people I will quote tomorrow and Wednesday). I will do these in small groups, since it might be overwhelming to read otherwise.

Harvey Milk, (1930-1978), was the first openly gay person to win an election in the United States. He worked to make San Francisco a city in which gay people could walk around without harassment from police, and was instrumental in defeating the Briggs Initiative, which would have made firing gay teachers and any school employee who stood up for them mandatory. He and Mayor George Moscone were assassinated in November 1978.

Audre Lorde, (1934-1992), was a poet and feminist who criticized the feminist establishment for its focus on middle-class white women. She was one of the first thinkers to recognize in her work that oppression is an interlinked system and to advocate coalitions of oppressed peoples fighting oppression together.

Harry Hay, (1912-2002), was a cofounder of the Mattachine Society, one of the first gay rights groups in the United States. Later, he founded the Radical Faeries, and spent much of the rest of his life trying to preserve a place for those marginalized by mainstream gay politics.

Adrienne Rich, b. 1920, is a poet and activist born in (I have to mention this) Baltimore, Maryland. (Go Maryland!) A radical feminist and anti-war activist, Rich has written both poetry and essays. I learned to write a good essay from reading Adrienne Rich.

Cleve Jones, b. 1954, is a gay rights activist, an AIDS activist, and the creator of the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt. Recently, he has formed a coalition between the gay community and UNITE HERE! to create the Sleep With The Right People campaign urging gays and lesbians to stay in hotels that treat workers well.

Rainbow Grannies (Carrie and Elisia Ross-Stone), born sometime before 1952, are longtime partners, mothers and grandmothers, who rode their bicycles across the United States in 2003 and 2004 to educate the public about the need for marriage equality. They are also the founders of Rainbow Law, a website that offers legal document preparation (Living Will, Power of Attorney, etc.) for free to the gay community.

Lynn Lavner is a lesbian comedian and musician.

Rev. Troy Perry, b. 1940, is a minister and founder of Metropolitan Community Churches, a Protestant denomination that was established as a safe place for gay men and lesbians to express Christian spirituality.

Martina Navratilova, b. 1956, is a Czech-born naturalized American tennis player. She was one of the first openly gay athletes and has played professional tennis for more than 20 years.

Frank Kameny, b. 1925, was one of the Stonewall protesters. He was fired from his government job in 1957 because he was gay. He filed a protest with the Supreme Court, which refused to hear the case. Another cofounder of the Mattachine Society, he has just had a section of 17th Street Northwest (in the heart of DC's Dupont Circle gayborhood) renamed "Kameny Way" in his honor. The government officially apologized for his firing in 2009.


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