Jun. 30th, 2010

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Here is Part Two of yesterday's list of short biographies of the people I've been quoting throughout the month of June.

Irshad Manji, b. 1968, is a Canadian writer and commentator who promotes a progressive vision of Islam. An out lesbian, she works to inform the international community on gay and lesbian issues in cultures informed by Islam.

Ailbhe Smyth is an Irish feminist and lesbian author who has been an activist since the 1960s. She is deeply involved in radical politics, including the antiracist movement in Ireland. She is a professor at University College Dublin.

Urvashi Vaid, b. 1958, is a scholar and activist. She served as Executive Director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force until 1992. Her particular focus is the elimination of institutionalized homophobia.

Morris Kight, (1919-2003), was a peace activist and one of the founders of the gay rights movement in the United States. The Stonewall Democratic Club was one of many organizations that he founded or co-founded.

Staceyann Chin, b. 1971, is a Jamaican performing artist and poet. She lives in New York City and works for the rights of gays and lesbians in Jamaica and the United States.

John Amaechi, b. 1970, is the first openly gay former NBA player. He is a sportscaster and a British citizen.

Patria Jimenez, b. 1957, is the first openly lesbian Senator in Mexico's Congress. She is also the head of a lesbian rights group in Mexico. She works for peace with the Zapatista movement in Chiapas and is an advocate for victims of domestic violence.

Pat Parker, (1944-1989), was a black lesbian feminist poet. She was involved with the Black Panthers and issues of women's health. She was a powerful early influence in the lesbian feminist movement.

Robin McGehee is a longtime activist for gay rights. She lives in Fresno, California with her wife and their two children. She is currently Co-Chair of GetEQUAL, an organization that aims to create a society that is committed to equality for all. She has been advocating for a comprehensive ENDA (Employment Non-Discrimination Act).

Barney Frank, b. 1940, is a member of the U.S. House of Representatives. An openly gay politician, he is the chair of the House Financial Services Committee. He has championed gay rights legislation since the 1980s.

Barbara Gittings, (1932-2007), was an early organizer for the Daughters of Bilitis. She began protesting for gay rights before Stonewall, in 1965. She was deeply opposed to the classification of homosexuality as a mental illness, and organized the discussions that led to its being eliminated from the APA's list of mental illnesses.

Armistead Maupin, b. 1944, is a gay veteran of the Vietnam War who once worked for former Senator Jesse Helms. He is best known for his Tales of the City series, first published as a newspaper serial starting in 1974, which featured several LGBT characters, including one with AIDS in the 1980s. He has worked in the gay rights and AIDS activist communities.

Cherrie Moraga, b. 1954, is a brilliant author, professor, and playwright. She has worked as a mentor to at-risk queer youth. She is also an essayist and feminist.

Bayard Rustin, (1912-1987), was an openly gay civil rights organizer who worked closely with Martin Luther King, Jr. on techniques of nonviolent resistance. He served on a chain gang for breaking segregation laws and organized the 1963 March on Washington. Later, he worked as an election monitor for Freedom House and testified in favor of gay rights legislation.

Judy Grahn, b. 1940, is a poet and founded common spaces, including book stores, for gay women on the West Coast. She has influenced many feminists, including Adrienne Rich and Ani DiFranco.

Joan Nestle, b. 1940, is the co-founder of the Lesbian Herstory Archives. She is a writer who focuses on oral history.

Happy Pride, everyone. Please remember those who worked hard and risked so much to create a little more freedom in the world.

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