This is my third and final installment of my “lists of five” as we approach June and LGBT Pride Month. Please do link to and read my first two installments:
• LINK: Five things to never say to gay people
• LINK: Five common misconceptions about gay people
In this third and final installment here is my list of five heroes of the early LGBT rights movement in the USA:
1. Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon. These two lesbians met at work in 1950 and began their relationship two years later. They were active in the Council of Religion and the Homosexual, National Organization for Women (NOW) and helped form the early lesbian group and publication “Daughters of Bilitis” in 1955. Del and Phyllis realized their life-long dream of legally marrying on June 16, 2008 as soon as California permitted same-gender marriage, and Del died two months later at the age of 87.
2. Dr. Frank Kameny. Frank was an out open gay man who was fired simply for being gay from his job as an astronomer for the US Army Map Service. His court case proceeded all the way to theUS Supreme Court (he lost), but Frank continued to be a leading gay-rights activist and lead and won the battle to have homosexuality removed from the American Psychiatric Association’s classification of mental disorders. Frank passed away in October 2011 at the age of 86.
3. Bayard Rustin. Bayard was an African-American civil rights leader who was the main organizer of Dr. Martin Luther King’s 1963 March of Washington. He was a long-time key figure working behind the scenes in the Black Civil Rights movement and in the later part of his career in the 1970s and 1980s shifted his focus to gay rights work, mostly in New York state.
4. The drag queens of Stonewall. On June 27-28, 1969, several patrons (a hand full of drag queens) of the Stonewall gay bar got fed up with the unfair police harassment at the bar and fought back, leading the “Stonewall Rebellion” which is considered by most people the beginning of the US’s Gay Rights Movement. Many cities now celebrate LGBT pride the last weekend of June each year to commemorate these brave members of our community.
5. Rev. Troy Perry. As a gay minister, Troy was forced out of his pastorate. Having the strong call to minister to the LGBT community, Troy held a worship service in his home with 12 people in October, 1968, and from this humble beginnings, Troy lead the Metropolitan Community Churches to become a dynamic global movement of approximately 15,000 members of over 200 churches across 40 different countries.
We should all remember and honor these leaders who paved the way for all us to continue in the journey for full equality of all LGBT people across the globe.