gay activists alliance

May 16th is Honor Our LGBT Elders Day.

Today, let’s remember our history and acknowledge that while the world we live in today is not a perfect place it’s still better than it was 50, 40, even 10 years ago, and that that didn’t happen by accident.

Let’s remember the LGBTQ+ people who fought and died for our rights so that we would live in a world that was more accepting than the one they lived in.
Specifically, let’s acknowledge the people who fought and died for LGBTQ+ rights but whose roles are still forgotten and ignored by us today, whose names many of us don’t even know.

Marsha P. Johnson–the black trans woman who started the Stonewall Riots which grew into the LGBTQ+ rights movement as we know it, who co-founded STAR (Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries) through which she supported young drag queens, trans women, and other homeless kids, whose mysterious death in 1992 is STILL unsolved.

Storme DeLarverie–the butch lesbian drag queen, singer, and bodyguard who fought back against the police during the riots, whose obituary described her as “Tall, androgynous and armed…She literally walked the streets of downtown Manhattan like a gay superhero. … She was not to be messed with by any stretch of the imagination.”

Sylvia Rivera–the then 17 year old puerto rican trans woman who was one of the first bystanders to throw a bottle, who dedcated her life to helping homeless trans women, who was a founding member for the Gay Liberation Front and Gay Activists Alliance and with Marsha P. Johnson co-founded STAR.

Tammy Novak, Allyson Allante (who was only 14 when she was arrested), Diane Kearney, Zazu Nova, Miss Peaches, and so many more people whose names most of us do not know, so many people who are still alive today and still fighting for LGBTQ+ rights.

Don’t forget LGBTQ+ history. Don’t forget the people who made it. Don’t take the world we live in today for granted.

The GAA’s [Gay Activists Alliance] response was often ingenious: In the summer of 1971, the owner of a credit agency on New York’s 42nd Street was questioned about his agency’s practice of informing employers of the suspected homosexual tendencies of prospective employees, as well as credit applicants. When questioned about how he determined sexual orientation, he was quoted as saying, “If a man looks like a duck, walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and associates with ducks, I’d say he is a duck.” In a short time, a dozen GAA members dressed in duck costumes were waddling around the sidewalk at the entrance to the credit agency, quacking and carrying picket signs.
—  The Rise of the Gay and Lesbian Movement by Barry D. Adam, 1987, p. 80-81.
APRIL 29: Jeanne Mansford launches PFLAG (1972)

On this day in 1972, a letter written by a woman named Jeanne Manford appeared in the New York Post. Just two weeks before, Jeanne’s son Marty had been assaulted by the NYPD while protesting with the Gay Activists Alliance and she penned the letter in order to call out the NYPD’s violent acts of homophobia. By simply writing the words, “"I have a homosexual son and I love him,” Jeanne Manford lauched a movement that would eventually culminate in the creation of PFLAG – Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays.

Jeanne Mansford marches in the 1975 Christopher Street Liberation Day Parade with a sign that reads, “Mothers and Father in Support of Gays…No one is free unless we are all free” (x).

In her open letter, Jeanne writes:

“I am proud of my son, Morty Manford, and the hard work he has been doing in urging homosexuals to accept their feelings and not let the bigots and sick people take advantage of them…I hope that your [] coverage of the incident has made many of the gays who have been fearful gain courage to come out and join the bandwagon. They are working for a fair chance at employment and dignity and to become a vocal and respected minority. It is a fight for recognition such as all minority group must wage and needs support from outsiders as well as participants in the movements.” 

The publicity the letter received coupled with Jeanne’s presence at the 1972 Christopher Street Liberation Day Parade (an early incarnation of today’s Pride parades) forced the public to begin seeing gay and lesbian people in a new light; for perhaps the first time, gay and lesbian people were not an enigmatic societal problem, but real people who had mothers and fathers and who were someone’s son or daughter. In 1973, Jeanne and her husband Jules Manford organized the first PFLAG meeting where they and twenty others gathered in the basement of a church in Greenwich Village. Today, PFLAG is a nationwide organization with over 350 chapters and 20,000 members throughout the United States. We have PFLAG to thank for not only fighting to include gay and lesbian students in Title IX protections, but for also making hundreds of young lesbians feel more safe and loved! 


lgbt_history: “I don’t know what I am if I’m not a woman.” – Marsha P. Johnson, 1971
Picture: “S.T.A.R. PEOPLE ARE BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE,” Marsha P. Johnson (August 24, 1945 – July 6, 1992), Albany, New York, March 1971. Photo by Diana Davies, c/o @nyplpicturecollection. [TW]
Marsha P. Johnson, who was born seventy-two years ago today, was one of the founders of the queer liberation movement. She was, among other things, part of the Stonewall Riots, a founding member of the Gay Liberation Front and the Gay Activists Alliance, and a co-founder (with Sylvia Rivera) of the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (S.T.A.R.), the first organization dedicated to assisting homeless drag queens, trans women, and survival (i.e., sex) workers.
While the story of Johnson having thrown “the first” brick at Stonewall oversimplifies the events that triggered the riots (she later told @makinggayhistorypodcast, for example, that she “didn’t get downtown until about two o’clock, because when I got downtown the place was already on fire…The riots had already started”), she was on the front lines of the queer liberation movement from the outset (to be clear: police treatment of drag queens and trans women played a large part in starting the riots, and Johnson was there for much of the most intense fighting).
In the face of constant attempts to exclude trans people from the movement, Johnson remained a symbol of her community’s courage, kindness, and resolve.
Johnson, who relied on survival work for much of her life, struggled with mental health issues, and was prone to bouts of great anger; she was not, however, known to be depressive or suicidal.
On July 6, 1992, days after New York’s Pride, Johnson’s body was pulled from the Hudson River near Christopher Street; she was forty-six.
Despite friends telling police that Johnson had been facing increasing harassment, and that she had been missing for days, her death was ruled a suicide; in 2002, police ruled there was, in fact, not enough information to call the death a suicide, instead classifying it as “undetermined.”
In December 2012, the NYPD officially reopened the case. #Resist #BlackTransLivesMatter #MarshaPJohnson

Mel Boozer on the floor of the Democratic National Convention, New York City, 13 August 1980.
Photo by Lisa M. Keen, Washington Blade archive.

Melvin Boozer was nominated in 1980 for the office of Vice President of the United States by the Socialist Party USA and, by petition at the convention, by the Democratic Party. He was the first openly gay person ever nominated for the office. Boozer spoke to the Democratic convention in a speech televised in prime time, calling on the party to support equality for LGBT people.

Boozer received 49 votes before the balloting was suspended and then-Vice President Walter Mondale was renominated by acclamation.

At the time of his nomination, Boozer served as President of what was then known as the Gay Activists Alliance of Washington, DC.

Sylvia Rivera: Afro-Latina, Mestiza, or both?

This has been bugging me all week, followers: was Sylvia Rivera (the Puerto Rican transwoman who founded the Gay Liberation Front and the Gay Activists Alliance and helped found Street Transgender Action Revolutionaries) of African descent? I cannot find for the life of me a definitive answer one way or another (meaning I can’t find a single mention of her race, period, except the “woman of color” and “Latina” titles, which don’t really answer my question). I’ve been told that it’s “likely,” but I don’t want to label her based on that alone. Anyone with some knowledge to drop, please get at me.

So I wrote this thing for a local LGBTQ ‘zine and now the ‘zine has been published so I can post it here. It’s US-centric because it’s a local publication.

The Importance of M*A*S*H in LGBTQ Representation on Television

Set during the Korean War, which was waged from 1950 to 1953, the television show M*A*S*H was a groundbreaking eleven season series airing from 1972 to 1983. The show tackled issues such as racism, sexism, feminism, and in one episode, sexual orientation in a time when those issues were barely discussed and often did not pass television censorship. The episode “George” originally aired in M*A*S*H’s second season on February 16, 1974.

George Weston, a decorated Army private and a patient at the 4077 MASH unit, approached the chief surgeon Captain Benjamin Franklin “Hawkeye” Pierce regarding bruises and contusions that did not appear to be caused by combat. “Doc, two guys got beat up in my outfit: One colored and one homosexual,” Private Weston confessed. Weston inadvertently admitted he was gay during a drunken evening on leave with some of the men in his unit. As a result, he was assaulted.

Hawkeye responded, “Funny, you don’t look like a Negro.” The comment was delivered in comedic fashion and intended to be a statement of one who is supportive.

It’s important to note that many fans believe Hawkeye Pierce was a bisexually coded character, although neither the creators, actor Alan Alda who played Hawkeye, nor the studios have confirmed that belief. Hawkeye was often seen interacting with both male and female characters in a mannerism that could be interpreted as flirting. In one scene, he neither confirmed nor denied accusations that he might be “one of those” and was called a “Mary,” a gay-coded word.

While Private Weston was not the first depiction of a gay character on primetime television, he was one of the first gay characters treated as sympathetic and even heroic. In 1970’s television, gays and lesbians were often portrayed as murderers, pedophiles, sexual assailants, or people suffering from mental illness.

An example is the 1973 episode of Marcus Welby, MD entitled “The Other Martin Loring.” Loring, a patient of title character, was diagnosed with depression and alcoholism. As the episode progressed, Loring later admitted he may be gay. Welby tells Loring that he was in fact not gay, but the fear of being gay led to his depression and alcoholism. In addition, Welby assured Loring that with treatment he could go on to lead a “normal” life. This episode drew the ire of the Gay Activists Alliance, who advised the portrayal of homosexuality in the episode was negative.

When asked about the episode “George” in 2004, M*A*S*H creator and producer Larry Gelbart said, “CBS was extremely nervous about this episode. The subject [of homosexuality] was more to be avoided than confronted in those days. The network demanded certain changes and it was a challenge to place them while maintaining the integrity of the idea.” The episode opened doors for CBS and other networks to begin portraying LGBT characters in more positive roles.

In 1976, the second episode of Alice introduced Jack, a gay man who befriended Alice and her preteen son Tommy. Jack invited Tommy on a fishing trip, which Alice initially balked at. She later realized Jack’s sexual orientation didn’t matter. An All In the Family episode in 1977 dealt with the death of Edith Bunker’s cousin Liz and the revelation that Liz and her roommate Veronica had a relationship “like a marriage.” Although her husband Archie disapproved of it, Edith immediately accepted the relationship.

Forty-five years later, LGBTQ representation on television is still problematic and producers often use minor characters to gay bait or as expendable. M*A*S*H’s positive episode “George,” though, paved the way for LGBTQ representation such as Billy Crystal’s character Jodie, an openly gay main character on the sitcom Soap; the first lesbian kiss on television between CJ Lamb and Abby on the drama LA Law; and David Duchovny’s portrayal of transwoman Agent Denise Bryson on Twin Peaks.

Brenda Howard – 24th December 1946 – 28th June 2005

Known as “The Mother of Pride”, Brenda Howard was a feminist bisexual activist, fighting for marginalized communities while being unapologetic in celebrating her identity. A year following the Stonewall Riots, and the barrage of police brutality against the Stonewall Inn, Howard organized the Christopher Street Liberation March. The event marked the one-year anniversary of the riots; she inspired many Pride events nationally and internationally. Howard also popularised the term “Pride” used for modern events today.

She chaired the Gay Activist Alliance and became extremely active within the Gay Liberation Front. She battled against police oppression when taking part in demonstrations supporting people of colour’s healthcare and those living with HIV/AIDS to name a few, which resulted in several arrests.

 “She was an in-your-face activist; she fought for anyone who had their rights trampled on.” – Larry Nelson, husband of Howard.

During the 1980’s, Brenda cofounded the New York Area Bisexual Network, who provide a communication hub and safe-space for bisexual people. She lobbied in the 1993 March on Washington for bi-inclusion, which largely excluded and erased the bisexual community. As well as participating in famous-group ACT UP’s protests.

Brenda was also polyamorous and involved in the BDSM community, and promoted sex-positivity throughout her time as an activist. Brenda was public and proud of things frowned and heavily disputed against throughout the 60’s to 90’s.

“Bi, Poly, Switch—I’m not greedy, I know what I want.” – Brenda Howard

In homage to her, Parents for Lesbians and Gays created the Brenda Howard award, given for the work dedicated to the Bisexual community. When celebrating pride marches and events, the works and activism of bisexual woman Brenda Howard, should never be forgotten.

You’ve been treating us like shit all these years? Uh-uh. Now it’s our turn!

Sylvia Rivera, who was in full drag and in Stonewall during the riots, additionally remembered: “… It was one of the greatest moments in my life.” (source: Deitcher, David (ed.) (1995). The Question of Equality: Lesbian and Gay Politics in America Since Stonewall, Scribner. ISBN 0-684-80030-6)

Rivera was a bisexual trans Woman of Color who founded the Gay Liberation Front and Gay Activists Alliance, and co-founded the organization Street Transgender Action Revolutionaries (S.T.A.R) with her friend, fellow trans Woman Of Color, Marsha P. Johnson. Johnson was found dead floating in the Hudson River July 1992 shortly after a local Pride March, and her death was listed as a ‘suicide’ by police. Rivera, along with Johnson’s other friends, insisted that Johnson was never suicidal, supporting the declaration that Johnson had earlier been harassed near the spot where her body was found. 

In May 1995, Rivera attempted to commit suicide in the same river, but did not succeed. She lived to be 50 years old and died February 19, 2002 from liver cancer complications. Another activist, Riki Wilchins, is quoted to have said: “In many ways, Sylvia was the Rosa Parks of the modern transgender movement, a term that was not even coined until two decades after Stonewall”. 

anonymous asked:

Hi! I love your blog! I wanted to ask for piece of advice. I have an opportunity to write an article about awesome women that are often forgotten by history. The problem is that I have to chose only 10-15, and there are so many to choose from. Who do you think are women that should be absolutely mentioned?

Oh my god. Picking so few physically hurts me.

Ugh, off the top of my head?

  1. Enheduanna: She’s regarded by literary and historical scholars as possibly the earliest known author and poet.
  2. Queen Nzinga of Ndongo: The “greatest military strategist that ever confronted the armed forces of Portugal.” Her military campaigns kept the Portuguese in Africa at bay for more than four decades. (Personally I think she may have been one of the best strategists in history.)
  3. Mariam “Al-Astrolabiya” Al-Ijliya: A scientist who designed and constructed astrolabes.
  4. Ching Shih: One of world history’s most powerful female pirates.
  5. Eva Peron: (OH MY GOD I CAN’T FIND HER IN OUR ARCHIVE THIS IS A HORRIBLE DAY.) First lady of Argentina who worked to improve labor rights and advocated allowing women to vote, In 1951 a mass rally of two million people called “Cabildo Abierto” begged her to run for vice president. It has been claimed that “Cabildo Abierto” was the largest public display of support in history for a female political figure. 
  6. Hatshepsut: One of the most successful female pharaohs, reigning longer than any other woman of an indigenous Egyptian dynasty-her reign as king is usually given as twenty-two years.
  7. Mary Seacole: A nurse who is best known for her involvement in the Crimean War, who set up and operated boarding houses in Panama and the Crimea to assist in her desire to treat the sick. 
  8. Marsha P Johnson and Sylvia Rivera (Their stories are intertwined) Stone wall and American transgender activists, who were founding members of both the Gay Liberation Front, the Gay Activists Alliance and STAR.
  9. Queen Lili’uokalani: Revolutionary Queen, who sought to empower Hawaiians through a new constitution.

Yeah, these ladies are pretty rad.

I hope your article goes well! Good luck!


Watch on

[Trigger Warning: transphobia, racism, rape, police brutality, suicide (attempt), and violence]

Introducing Sylvia Rivera, born on July 2, 1951 – died on February 19, 2002, was an American bisexual transgender activist and trans Puerto Rican/Venezuelan woman. She was a founding member of both the Gay Liberation Front and the Gay Activists Alliance and helped found Street Transgender Action Revolutionaries (STAR), a group dedicated to helping homeless young street drag queens and trans women, with her friend Marsha P. Johnson. She was abandoned by her birth father and became an orphan after her mother committed suicide when she was three years old. Rivera was then raised by her Venezuelan grandmother, who disapproved of Rivera’s behavior, particularly after Rivera began to wear makeup in fourth grade. As a result, Rivera began living on the streets at the age of eleven and worked as a prostitute. She was taken in by the local community of drag queens where she stayed until she was 18. In this particular video, Sylvia had to fight her way to the stage when radical feminists, transphobes, and racists denied her the right to speak about the cis-white-gay community disregarding the struggles and issues of Queer people of color at the 1973 Christopher Street Liberation Day rally. Due to the negative reactions to her speech, she came home that night and attempted suicide. Sylvia then left the movement and didn’t come back for years. I want to remind you all that it is Sylvia Rivera and a black trans woman named Marsha P. Johnson who started the Stonewall Riots and queer liberation.You better thank these brave and badass trans women of color for their sacrifices.

Watch on

Trailer: Vito 

Vito recounts the life of Vito Russo, one of the founding fathers of the gay liberation movement. Playing a pivotal role in the formative years of the GAA (Gay Activists Alliance), GLAAD and ACT UP, he was also a writer, best known for “The Celluloid Closet,” the first book to examine how LBGT people were portrayed in the movies. Just months before his death from AIDS in 1990, Russo remained an active lecturer on gay issues, traveling to college campuses and gay film festivals.