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Heroic Acts

10 Life Lessons I've Learned From an LGBT Activist

12 Year Old Mexican Boy Faces Down Protesters During March

I Wish I Could Have Been That Brave Kid

Stunning Photo of Courageous Boy

92 Year Old Woman Holds Same Sign for 30 Years

Jeanne Manford Tribute on Rachel Maddow Show

Zach Wahls' Speech to Iowa House of Rep


Extremists for Love

"Will we be extremists for hate or will we be extremists for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice? Or will we be extremists for the cause of justice?"
-Martin Luther King, Jr. / Letter from Birmingham Jail

As leaders in our institutions and in our community, we can have an impact on important issues affecting social change.  Our integrity as servant leaders is crucial to the people for whom we are advocates and protectors.  We cannot take lightly the vital role we play in ensuring the wellbeing of the marginalized, mistreated and disenfranchised members of our communities.


As allies, advocates, and activists we must have the integrity and strength of character to put the needs and concerns of others ahead of their own. We must be selfless in our desire to ensure the success of others, fearless in our zeal to protect the dignity of others, and relentless in our defense of the rights of others.



It takes a very special kind of person to be a an ally, advocate, or activist. Or an "extremist for the cause of justice."  Or an "angelic troublemaker."  It takes extraordinary determination to realize your role as a servant leader. The job entails challenges and responsibilities that must be faced daily.  Your leadership role should never be taken lightly.  People look up to you. People depend on you. 


Leadership is about defending others, not about defending oneself. Leadership is about involving and developing others, not finding one's own success. Leadership is about fostering an environment that is open and affirming to all people, not about gathering together certain people of like mind and opinion.


To be an ally, advocate, or activist requires courage. To be a servant leader oftentimes involves taking risks. To be a leader means that we regularly find ourselves in the arena. It requires commitment and determination. It requires the utmost audacity and boldness to risk being an advocate for others, to address wrongful acts, to defend those who are mistreated, to aggressively speak out against injustices in our society, and to fight ignorance and hatred.


We should be leading the way in advancing the cause of human rights. We do not have the luxury to ignore or deny the pleas from those who need our help. We cannot turn away from the problems around us. It is inherent in our charge as servant leaders to be advocates on behalf of those who are suffering. With a renewed sense of the courage, compassion and character it takes to be a leader, we can confront injustice, we can fight for those who can't fight for themselves, and we can be a catalyst for positive change.


(From Michael Lebeau / ALCA Past President)


Harvey Milk

"If a bullet should enter my brain, let that bullet destroy every closet door."

-Harvey Milk

People told him no openly gay man could win political office. Fortunately, he ignored them.

After Harvey Milk became the first openly gay man elected to any substantial political office in the history of the planet, thousands of astounded people wrote to him. "I thank God," wrote a 68-year-old lesbian, "I have lived long enough to see my kind emerge from the shadows and join the human race." Sputtered another writer: "Maybe, just maybe, some of the more hostile in the district may take some potshots at you — we hope!!!"


There was a time when it was impossible for people — straight or gay — even to imagine a Harvey Milk. The funny thing about Milk is that he didn't seem to care that he lived in such a time. After he defied the governing class of San Francisco in 1977 to become a member of its board of supervisors, many people — straight and gay — had to adjust to a new reality he embodied: that a gay person could live an honest life and succeed. That laborious adjustment plods on — now forward, now backward — though with every gay character to emerge on TV and with every presidential speech to a gay group, its eventual outcome favoring equality seems clear.


When he began public life, though, Milk was a preposterous figure — an "avowed homosexual," in the embarrassed language of the time, who was running for office. In the 1970s, many psychiatrists still called homosexuality a mental illness. In one entirely routine case, the Supreme Court refused in 1978 to overturn the prison sentence of a man convicted solely of having sex with another consenting man. A year before, it had let stand the firing of a stellar Tacoma, Wash., teacher who made the mistake of telling the truth when his principal asked if he was homosexual. No real national gay organization existed, and Vice President Walter Mondale haughtily left a 1977 speech after someone asked him when the Carter Administration would speak in favor of gay equality. To be young and realize you were gay in the 1970s was to await an adulthood encumbered with dim career prospects, fake wedding rings and darkened bar windows.



No one person could change all that, and not all the changes are complete. But a few powerful figures gave gay individuals the confidence they needed to stop lying, and none understood how his public role could affect private lives better than Milk. Relentless in pursuit of attention, Milk was often dismissed as a publicity whore. "Never take an elevator in city hall," he told his last boyfriend in a typical observation. The marble staircase afforded a grander entrance.


But there was method to the megalomania. Milk knew that the root cause of the gay predicament was invisibility. Other gay leaders of the day — obedient folks who toiled quietly for a hostile Democratic Party — thought it more important to work with straight allies who could, it was thought, more effectively push for political rights. Milk suspected emotional trauma was gays' worst foe — particularly for those in the closet, who probably still constitute a majority of the gay world. That made the election of an openly gay person, not a straight ally, symbolically crucial. "You gotta give them hope," Milk always said.


As supervisor, Milk sponsored only two laws — predictably, one barring anti-gay discrimination, and, less so, a law forcing dog owners to clean pets' messes from sidewalks. He lobbied for the latter with a staged amble through a park that ended with his stepping in it. Editors loved the little item, as Milk knew they would, and he explained the stunt this way: "All over the country, they're reading about me, and the story doesn't center on me being gay. It's just about a gay person who is doing his job."


Realizing one is gay is usually cause for terror, or at least mortification, but Milk felt too great a sense of entitlement to let either emotion prevail. Born to a successful retail-clothing family on New York's Long Island, Milk was a popular high school athlete and jokester. According to the biography "The Mayor of Castro Street" by Randy Shilts, Milk had no trouble recognizing his desires; as a boy he would venture to a gay section of Central Park, where in 1947 he was arrested for doffing his shirt (he was 17). The experience didn't radicalize him, though. Milk served in the Korean War and returned to Manhattan to become a Wall Street investment banker.


But banking bored him, and the gay Greenwich Village milieu that he slipped into was full of scruffy radicals, drug-addled theater queens and goofy twentysomethings fleeing Midwest bigotry. Milk befriended or had sex with many of them (including Craig Rodwell, who would help lead the 1969 riots outside the Stonewall bar that launched the gay movement). By the early 1970s, Milk had moved to San Francisco, enraptured by its flourishing hippie sensibilities.


The few gays who had scratched their way into the city's establishment blanched when Milk announced his first run for supervisor in 1973, but Milk had a powerful idea: he would reach downward, not upward, for support. He convinced the growing gay masses of "Sodom by the Sea" that they could have a role in city leadership, and they turned out to form "human billboards" for him along major thoroughfares. In doing so, they outed themselves in a way once unthinkable. It was invigorating.

While his first three tries for office failed, they lent Milk the credibility and positive media focus that probably no openly gay person ever had. Not everyone cheered, of course, and death threats multiplied. Milk spoke often of his ineluctable assassination, even recording a will naming acceptable successors to his seat and containing the famous line: "If a bullet should enter my brain, let that bullet destroy every closet door."


Two bullets actually entered his brain. It was Nov. 27, 1978, in city hall, and Mayor George Moscone was also killed. Fellow supervisor Daniel White, a troubled anti-gay conservative, had left the board, and he became unhinged when Moscone denied his request to return. White admitted the murders within hours.


A jury gave him just five years with parole. Defense lawyers had barred anyone remotely pro-gay from the jury and brought a psychologist to testify that junk food had exacerbated White's depression. (The so-called Twinkie defense was later banned.) Milk's words had averted gay riots before, but after the verdict, the city erupted. More than 160 people ended up in the hospital.


Milk's killing probably awakened as many gay people as his election had. His death inspired many associates--most notably Cleve Jones, who later envisioned the greatest work of American folk art, the AIDS quilt. But while assassination offered Milk something then rare for openly gay men--mainstream empathy--it would have been thrilling to see how far he could have gone as a leader. He had sworn off gay bathhouses when he entered public life, and he may have eluded the virus that killed so many of his contemporaries. He could have guided gay America through the confused start of the AIDS horror. Instead, he remains frozen in time, a symbol of what gays can accomplish and the dangers they face in doing so.

(From John Cloud, Time Magazine's Heroes & Icons)



Harvey Milk Speech
HRC Guide to Campus Group Activism
President Obama Speaks to Gay Rights Activists - Part 1
President Obama Speaks to Gay Rights Activists - Part 2


Wayne Beeson

Wayne Besen visited Birmingham on November 5, 2009 and presented a program on the UAB campus in direct response to the Focus on the Family/Exodus Conference scheduled two days later.


Wayne Besen is author of "Anything But Straight: Unmasking the Scandals and Lies Behind the Ex-Gay Myth" and former spokesperson for HRC.  He is the founder of Truth Wins Out.

Truth Wins Out is a non-profit organization that defends the LGBT community against anti-gay misinformation campaigns, counters the so-called "ex-gay" industry and educates America about gay life. Their goal is to help people be true to themselves and lead genuine lives of honesty and integrity.


Learn More About Wayne Besen
Learn More About Focus on the Family Protest


Bayard Rustin

"I believe in social dislocation and creative trouble...  We need, in every community, a group of angelic troublemakers..." 

-Bayard Rustin

Born: March 17, 1910 / West Chester, PA
Died: August 24, 1987 / New York City / Heart Failure

Occupation: Civil Rights Activist
Executive Summary: Organized the 1963 March on Washington. Advisor to
Martin Luther King.

Boyfriend: Walter Naegle (relationship ten years)

Education: West Chester State College, City College of New York

Memberships: Communist Party, Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Congress of Racial Equality Co-Founder.

Activities: Civil Disobedience Violating the Selective Service Act (prison 1944-46), Public Indecency 1953, Pasadena CA (homosexual act).


Rustin Organizes MLK March on Washington

Did you know that Bayard Rustin, one of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s colleagues and the organizer of the 1963 March on Washington, was gay?

Openly-gay Bayard Rustin was born in 1912 in West Chester, Pennsylvania. Educated at Wilberforce University, Cheyney State College and City College of New York (never received B.A.), Rustin began his impressive political career at an early age. Not only was he an integral part of the African-American civil rights movement, but became one of the leading advocates and examples for gay equality.

Bayard Rustin's celebrated career captured the attention of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who recruited Mr. Rustin as an assistant and colleague in 1956. See what affiliations and causes led up to his lead role in organizing the 1963 March on Washington, where Dr. King gave his famous "I Have a Dream" speech:

1937 Rustin began activist career by training at the American Friends Service Committee.

1937 Became organizer for the Youth Communist League (later to become anti-Communist).

1941 Quit Youth Communist League. Colleague of A. Philip Randolph, President of The Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters. Race Relations Secretary for the Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR).

1942 Field Secretary for the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) Colleague of Norman Thomas, a leader in the democratic socialist movement.

1947 Helped plan the Journey of Reconciliation "freedom ride" which paved way for the freedom rides in the early 1960's. After being arrested, Rustin's experiences on a chain gang were chronicled on The New York Post which initiated an investigation that eliminated chain gangs in North Carolina.

1940's Assisted in lobbying President Truman to eliminate segregation in the military.

1945 Organized the Free India Committee, fighting for India's independence from Britain.

1951 Organized the Committee to Support South African Resistance (American Committee on Africa).

1953 Joined the War Resisters League.

1956 Began assisting Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

1957 Organized the Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom.

1960's Helped form the Recruitment and Training Program (R-T-P). Vice Chairman of the International Rescue Committee.

1963 Deputy Director and chief organizer of the
March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, where Dr. King presented the "I Have a Dream" speech.

1964 Helped found the A. Randolph Institute (APRI).

1980 Participated in the March for Survival on the Thai-Cambodian border.

1982 Helped found the National Emergency Coalition for Haitian Rights. Chairman of the Executive committee of Freedom House.

1983 Rustin's report South Africa: Is Peaceful Change Possible? led to the formation of Project South Africa.

Before his death, Rustin wrote several essays, recorded songs and received numerous honorary doctorates while continuing his involvement as an officer on numerous human rights committees until his death in 1987. He is survived by his partner of 10 years, Walter Naegle.

You can learn more about
Bayard Rustin and his inspiring influence on today's African-American and gay civil rights movements in the documentary Brother Outsider: The Life of Bayard Rustin.

(From Ramon Johnson, Your Guide to Gay Life)


Joe Solmonese

"One of the things I've learned from working in electoral politics here in Washington for almost 20 years is the degree to which we think people are so completely focused on an issue. When you go out to a state and you actually start talking to people, you realize how relatively little attention is often paid to things that we are so completely consumed by here."
Joe Solmonese / HRC President


Joe Solmonese became the President of the Human Rights Campaign in May 2005.  Shortly after taking the helm at HRC, he was asked about his plans.

The first few weeks at a new job are always busy, and that's proving particularly so for Joe Solmonese as he settles in as the new president of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC). When asked about how he spends his time during off-work hours, he laughs.


"It’s kind of hard to look much further than the next plane ticket these days," says the 40-year-old political activist, noting that workaholism is "sort of an inevitability here," as he focuses both on meeting with communities across the nation and facing the political challenges in D.C. "That’s just the nature of this particular job and it will be like this for probably a year or so," he says.

For the previous 11 years, Solmonese worked for EMILY's List, the famed political action committee that works to elect pro-choice Democratic women to office. Since 2003 he had served as the group's CEO. A long-time member and supporter of HRC, his name rose quickly to the top after his predecessor, Cheryl Jacques, left the position late last year.

Solmonese says his biggest goal for HRC is to focus on finding ways to change the anti-gay attitudes and perceptions that too many people still hold.

"How do we change the hearts and minds of people and change their mind-set about us?" he asks. "How do we get people to understand that maybe the equality that we’re seeking is not just important to us but it ought to be important to them?"


Howard Bayless


Alabama...  It's a Bible Belt state, almost certain to toughen its prohibition of gay marriage next month. A major candidate for governor has called homosexuality evil, and a national gay magazine branded Alabama the worst state for gays and lesbians.

So why does Howard Bayless want to stay?


Well, his roots are here, he says. So are his friends. He's partial to the congenial neighborhood in Birmingham that he and other gays helped rescue from decline.


"This is where I've carved out a niche for myself,'' says Bayless, leader of Equality Alabama, who has spent most of his 40 years in the state. ``We've created our community here, and I don't want to leave. I'd rather do the extra work of making my neighbors realize who and what I am.''


In Mobile, Tuscaloosa and elsewhere, Alabama's gays and lesbians - like their counterparts throughout the U.S. heartland - are slowly, steadily gaining more confidence and finding more acceptance.

That doesn't mean relations between gays and other Americans are settled, for one thing, amendments defining marriage as between one man and one woman have passed in 19 states and Alabama is poised to become No. 20 by an overwhelming vote on June 6.


But in the long view, there has been slow, powerful momentum building in the other direction: the quashing of anti-sodomy laws; the extension of anti-bias codes to cover gays; the adoption of domestic-partner policies by countless companies. Recent polls suggest opposition to gay marriage has peaked, and a proposed amendment to the U.S. Constitution banning it is expected to fall far short of the required two-thirds support when the Senate votes on it in early June.


"What Americans see increasingly is there's no negative impact on their own lives to have gays and lesbians living out in the open,'' said Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign. ``They go from an abstract idea to a real person with a real name and a real story. That makes all the difference.''



Kim McKeand and Cari Searcy experience that phenomenon daily in Mobile, where they live openly as a lesbian couple raising a son to whom McKeand gave birth in September.

"We're out to everybody,'' said Searcy, 30. "We know all the neighbors. Everyone else on our street is straight. They say `Hey.' They all wanted to come over and see the baby.''


The couple loves Mobile _ but might consider leaving if Searcy's application to become Khaya's adoptive parent is rejected in the courts.


Those courts weren't accommodating to social worker Jill Bates, who lives in Birmingham with her lesbian partner. She lost custody of her daughter, now 16, to her ex-husband after a legal battle in which her sexual orientation was held against her.


Still, there are other signs of acceptance. An openly lesbian candidate, Patricia Todd, has a strong chance of winning a seat in Alabama's legislature this year - that would be a first. Mobile's recent Pride Parade drew only a handful of protesters. Gay-straight alliances are active at most universities; in the cities, if not the suburbs and small towns, gay-friendly churches are proliferating.


As acceptance increases, so do the concerns of those who believe homosexuality is sinful and wonder if states like Alabama can resist what some have called the erosion of traditional values.


Donna Goodwin, a school board employee in the town of Eclectic, disputes the theory that familiarity with gays leads to support of gay rights.


"I have a lesbian cousin - I can continue to love her without approving of the way she leads her life,'' Goodwin said. "We see each other three or four times a year. We hug. We find out how each other is doing _ but I don't ask her about her girlfriend.'' Goodwin says most Alabamians, however conservative, strive for civility.


"We believe in hospitality - being kind to people whether you approve of their lifestyle or not,'' she said. "But the homosexual community is trying to force us into accepting something that's immoral. If they try to do that, we're going to consolidate and do something about it at the ballot box. We can say, `This far and no farther.' ''


One development that worries her is the increased visibility of gay rights causes at Alabama's colleges, including the University of Alabama, which her son attended.


"The university breaks down the moral values of children,'' she said. ``It's like an open door to whatever is popular at the time _ a hang-loose, do-your-own-thing attitude. It's asking for trouble.''


At the campus in Tuscaloosa, political science department chairman David Lanoue doesn't see the kind of sweeping, pro-gay culture some may fear. But he does see young Alabamians getting messages they might not get at their local high schools and churches.


For example, he said, numerous faculty members display rainbow symbols at their offices, signalling they would provide an empathetic ear to any troubled gay or lesbian student.


"Young people have a more liberal attitude toward sexual preference than their elders,'' Lanoue said. ``Through the national media, they've been brought up on the message that gays and lesbians are part of our society.''


Patty Rudolph, wife of a doctor in the affluent Birmingham suburb of Mountain Brook, said her son knew by age 12 that he was gay, told his family when he was 14, and by 16 choose to go to school in the northeast because he felt _ despite his family's support _ that Alabama was too inhospitable.


The son is now 18 and returns home periodically, reconnecting with friends and family.


"He loves to see us, but after a couple of days he says, `I need to get out of here,' '' Rudolph said. ``There's no overt ugliness.

But he has a sense it isn't as open and welcoming a place as he wants it to be.''


Since her son left, Rudolph has plunged into a new world of activism, doing what she can to make Alabama a state he would one day want to stay in. She speaks at forums and heads the Birmingham chapter of a national support group, Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays.


"By telling my family's story, it has a ripple effect. It humanizes the issue,'' she said.


Activists say the sternest anti-gay rhetoric comes mainly from evangelical pastors and politicians. Among them is Republican gubernatorial candidate Roy Moore, who was ousted as state chief justice after refusing to remove a Ten Commandments monument he had placed in the judicial building.


Moore has many fans and many critics, including Birmingham city councillor Valerie Abbott. After the judge wrote in a court ruling that homosexual conduct is ``abhorrent, immoral, detestable,'' Abbott persuaded the council to condemn those assertions.


"Our legislature is like no other place on earth _ it's stuck back in the dark ages,'' she said. ``But Alabama is changing, like the rest of the country is changing. Like every new idea, it takes a while to absorb.''


Rev. Jim Evans, a Baptist minister in Auburn, received numerous thank-you notes from gay-rights supporters after he wrote a newspaper column criticizing the ban-gay-marriage ballot item as an unnecessary and cynical attempt to frighten voters.


Evans hasn't endorsed gay marriage, and he knows opposition to it is deep-seated. But he also sees change coming as Alabamians such as Bayless, Searcy and Rudolph expand the conversation about gays' place in the state.


"In the South, where we don't talk about unpleasant things, that trend has forced us to talk about it more,'' Evans said. "Once you begin to talk about a prejudice, it begins to die.''


(From David Crary  / Associated Press)


Candace Gingrich

Candace Gingrich received her BA from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. She was the Human Rights Campaign's National Coming Out Project Spokesperson for 1995 and, the same year, named one of Esquire's "Women We Love" and Ms. magazine's "Women of the Year." She is currently Spokesperson for the Human Rights Campaign's voter mobilization project and the youth outreach manager. The lesbian half-sister of Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, she lives in Washington, D.C.


Since 1995, Candace Gingrich has served as a key advocate for issues of importance to the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community. Her 1996 autobiography, The Accidental Activist, was a best seller in the gay and lesbian community. In addition, Gingrich has been profiled in The New York Times, The Washington Post and Newsweek, and has appeared on Good Morning America, Larry King Live, Prime Time Live and other television shows.

Her involvement in the movement for equal rights began when her brother, then-Rep. Newt Gingrich, R-Ga.,was elected House speaker. In 1995, Gingrich traveled to more than 50 U.S. cities on behalf of the Human Rights Campaign to encourage Americans to raise their voices for GLBT equality. In 1996, Gingrich toured the country again to spearhead HRC's voter mobilization project — urging Americans to register to vote and participate in the political process. She has also contributed to HRC's seminars on political training.

As youth outreach manager, Gingrich works to empower and engage GLBT and allied youth in the fight for equality.

Matt Foreman

"By any measure, LGBT people are targets of discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations. More people are being murdered because of their sexual orientation than for any other bias reason. Our young people are still routinely bullied in schools. The examples of injustices in the area of partner and family recognition are too many to list... America is in the midst of another ugly chapter in its struggle with the forces of bigotry. People of good will can either rise up to speak for lesbian, gay bisexual and transgender Americans, or look back upon themselves 20 years from now with deserved shame."
-Matt Foreman / NGLTF Executive Director


Matt Foreman has been executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force since May 2003, and has worked for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights for 25 years. During his tenure, the Task Force's budget and staff have doubled, to over $9 million and over 50, respectively; more than $2 million has been awarded to state and local LGBT organizations; the organization's public profile has increased significantly; and two new departments, including one focused on federal affairs, have been launched.


Foreman came to the Task Force from the Empire State Pride Agenda, where he served as Executive Director from 1997. The Pride Agenda is the nation's largest statewide lesbian and gay political advocacy and civil rights organization. During his tenure, the Pride Agenda was the driving force behind: a statewide law banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation (2003); a law increasing penalties for hate-motivated violence, including crimes against gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) people (2000); a law repealing the consensual sodomy statute (2000); four laws extending equal benefits to surviving domestic partners of those killed in the September 11 terrorist attacks (2002), and the state appropriating $11.8 million specifically for LGBT (non-HIV) health and human services (unique in nation) (1998-2002). Other accomplishments include leading the creation of the "September 11 Gay & Lesbian Family Fund" which raised and distributed $378,000 to surviving domestic partners (2001-2002); winning equal NYS Crime Victims Board benefits for all surviving domestic partners of homicide victims (2002); negotiating one of the nation's most comprehensive domestic partnership laws (New York City - 1998); and local non-discrimination laws in Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester Counties.

From 1990 to 1996, Foreman served as Executive Director of New York City Gay and Lesbian Anti-Violence Project (AVP), building it into the nation's leading GLBT crime victim assistance agency. Foreman used aggressive case advocacy and street activism to focus attention on hate violence, organizing anti-violence marches and demonstrations in all boroughs of the city. His leadership has been credited with galvanizing the community's response to a surge in hate violence in the early 90's and forcing the police department to devote significantly greater resources to the crisis. AVP also led the Hate Crimes Bill Coalition, a diverse coalition of more than 100 organizations working to pass a meaningful Hate Crimes law in New York State.

Prior to joining AVP, Foreman worked in prison policy and administration for 10 years, including service as Assistant Commissioner of the West Virginia Department of Corrections, Executive Assistant to the New York City Correction Commissioner, and as director of a medium/minimum security facility on Rikers Island.

Foreman is a founder of Heritage of Pride (organizers of NYC's lesbian and gay pride events), where he originated many hallmarks of the annual celebration, including the lavender line down 5th Avenue, the moment of silence in memory of those lost to AIDS, and the annual "Dance on the Pier" and fireworks display. He also served for many years on the board of Dignity /NY, an organization of GLBT Catholics.

He is a 1982 graduate of New York University School of Law, where he was President of the Student Bar Association and a lead organizer of the 1979 national conference "Law and the Fight for Gay Rights." He graduated from West Virginia Wesleyan College in 1976, where he was president of the student body and an anti-strip mining activist.

Foreman has been recognized for his work by many groups, including Out, HX and New York magazines, the Anti-Violence Project, the Log Cabin Republicans, Gay & Lesbian Independent Democrats, The New York State Coalition Against Sexual Assault, the Downstate Coalition for Crime Victims, the Lesbian and Gay Lawyers Association of Greater New York, Parents & Friends of Lesbians and Gays, and the Greenwich Village Chamber of Commerce. He was male Grand Marshal of New York City's annual GLBT Pride March in 2001. Foreman is a member of the New York City Commission on Human Rights.

Foreman lives with his partner of 14 years, Francisco De Leon, in Manhattan. His parents reside in Ten Sleep, Wyoming.



National Gay & Lesbian Task Force


Chaz Bono

Chastity Bono is the daughter of the famous 1960s era musicians, Sonny & Cher. Chastity, who, since her sex reassignment, is now known as Chaz Bono, is an outspoken LGBT activist.


Chastity (Now Chaz) is an LGBT rights advocate, writer, actor, and musician. In the early 1990s, Bono was outed by tabloid press then publicly self-identified as lesbian in a 1995 cover interview in The Advocate. The process of coming out to oneself and others was a central topic in Bono's two books: Family Outing: A Guide to the Coming Out Process for Gays, Lesbians, and Their Families (1998) tells the story of her own coming out, as well as stories of other gay and lesbian people; the memoir The End of Innocence (2003) discusses her outing, music career, and partner Joan’s death from non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

On May 7, 2010 Bono legally changed sex and name. From 2009 to 2010, Bono underwent female-to-male gender transition, as confirmed by his publicist.


Family Outing detailed how Bono’s coming out "catapulted me into a political role that has transformed my life, providing me with affirmation as a lesbian, as a woman, and as an individual." In the same book, Bono reported that Cher, who was both a gay icon and ally to LGBT communities, was quite uncomfortable with the news at first, and "went ballistic" before coming to terms with it: "By August 1996, one year after I came out publicly, my mother had progressed so far that she agreed to 'come out' herself on the cover of The Advocate as the proud mother of a lesbian daughter. "Cher has since become an outspoken

LGBT rights activist.


Bono's paternal relationship became strained after Sonny became a Republican Congressman from California. The differences in their political views separated them, and the two had not spoken for more than a year at the time of Sonny's fatal skiing accident in January 1998.

Bono worked as a writer at large for The Advocate. Bono became a spokesperson for the Human Rights Campaign, promoting National Coming Out Day, campaigning for the reelection of Bill Clinton for U.S. President, and campaigning against the Defense of Marriage Act. Bono served as Entertainment Media Director for the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD). Bono was one of the team captains for Celebrity Fit Club 3 (2006) and was supported by girlfriend Jennifer, who orchestrated exercise and training sessions.


Bio & Interview
The Age of Innocence
OutSmart Interview
JanMag Interview


Kate Kendall

Kate Kendall is Executive Director of National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) and is a prominent activist. The NCLR is a national legal organization committed to advancing the civil and human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and their families through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education. NCLR’s legal, policy, and legislative victories set important precedents that improve the lives of all LGBT people and their families across the country. Projects and Legal Issue Areas Include: Asylum & Immigration; Elders; Employment; Family & Relationships; Federal Legislation & Policy; State Legislation & Policy; Hate Crimes; Healthcare; Housing; Low Income & Poverty; Prisons; Rural Communities; Sports; Transgender Law; and Youth.



Kate Kendell (center) is shown here with NCLR Honorees Sheryl Swoopes (left) and Jennifer Harris (right) at NCLR 29th Annual Gala

Kate grew up Mormon in Utah and received her J.D. degree from the University of Utah College of Law in 1988. After a few years as a corporate attorney she was named the first staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Utah. In this capacity, she oversaw the legal department of ACLU of Utah and directly litigated many high-profile cases focusing on all aspects of civil liberties, including reproductive rights, prisoners’ rights, church/state conflicts, free speech, and the rights of LGBT people. In 1994 she accepted the position as Legal Director with the National Center for Lesbian Rights and made the move to San Francisco. In 1996 Kate was named as NCLR’s Executive Director. In that capacity, she assists in the development of litigation and strategy, and is responsible for all aspects of agency operation. She is also responsible for executing a broad and forward thinking vision around policy and project initiatives.

Kate acts as the primary spokesperson on behalf of NCLR to the media. She has appeared in hundreds of media outlets including the New York Times, Washington Post, Good Morning America, CNN, and dozens of on-line blogs. Kate is also a visible and vibrant social media voice.

Kate lives in San Francisco with her spouse and their children.

LGBT Activist Resources

Harvey Milk Organizations
Wikipedia: Harvey Milk
Harvey Milk: Forgotten Populist
Uncle Donald's Castro Street
About the Film: Brother Outsider
Bayard Rustin: Civil Rights Leader
Bayard Rustin Bio Info
Selection of Articles By Bayard Rustin
Rise & Decline of the Black Protest Movement

Wikipedia: Gay Rights
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Association for Lesbian Gay Bisexual & Transgender Issues in Counseling of Alabama