June 3, 2015
While putting together this narrative I got to see all of the components that have gone into building GLAD’s past. I saw the smiling faces. Faces lit up with the thrill of victory, or the nervous smile that comes before an Argument; the energy that has continued to provide fuel for the fire.While interning at GLAD, my time has been defined by sorting through hundreds of pictures and reading through thousands of words. None of these things on their own are special, they certainly bestow knowledge, but they sound like quite boring, remedial tasks. However, during the past eight months here at GLAD I have been granted the opportunity to build something with these seemingly mundane building blocks, something that has had more of an impact on my life as a young Divinity School student than I thought possible. Amanda, GLAD’s Manager of Integrated Media, came to me in October of 2014 with a project. She wanted me to take the old timeline created in 2008 for GLAD’s 30th Anniversary and format it for a new web interface and add some of GLAD’s new important work to it. The project seemed in the beginning like it would take a maximum of a month to complete, and that the job itself would require little more than some creative copy and pasting. Seven months later and that simple project is finally complete. The timeline is more than just a regurgitation of GLAD’s historic work; it helps to create a narrative for the mission that has lain at the heart of GLAD since its founding in 1978, all the way to the present day. That narrative includes many things. It shows GLAD’s ongoing support for those living with HIV. A commitment first formalized in 1983 when GLAD created its AIDS Law Project and then demonstrated through cases like Ben Klein’s historic win at the Supreme Court in Bragdon v. Abbot, as well as through their continued investment in litigation and advocacy fighting for insurance coverage for lipodystrophy (Dixit v. Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, Shaw v. Murphy, forming the Lipodystrophy Coalition). The narrative also highlights GLAD’s dedication to LGBTQ youth. A mission that stretches all the way back to its support of Aaron Fricke in 1980 , a high school senior who fought and won the right to bring his boyfriend to prom. Now, we can see it continue 34 years later through GLAD’s tireless work confirming confirm Nicole Maines’ right to use the bathroom that matches her gender identity in a public middle school in Maine. Then of course the narrative includes GLAD’s work in marriage equality. Work that started in Vermont when a case for marriage resulted in the first recognition that same-sex couples deserve the same rights and responsibilities as opposite sex couples in the form of civil unions, and could possibly culminate at the U.S. Supreme Court this spring after the argument of GLAD’s Civil Rights director, Mary Bonauto. All of these narratives are important, and I have worked on trying to show to anyone clicking through the slides that GLAD’s history is not any single one of these, but rather all of these threads woven together. While putting together this narrative I got to see all of the components that have gone into building GLAD’s past. I saw the smiling faces. Faces lit up with the thrill of victory, or the nervous smile that comes before an Argument; the energy that has continued to provide fuel for the fire. I’ve also read through the history of the cases that GLAD’s lost, the cases that don’t make the timeline, but are equally important components of how GLAD has grown over the (almost) four decades. And importantly, I’ve got to look in at the people that have made GLAD so impactful over the years. All of the staff members that have given some part of their lives to GLAD, and left making it (and often the world) a better place. Many of these people have gone, but it has been compelling to see those who have remained around: Those who began as legal assistants, and are now a leading part of GLAD’s legal staff. Their commitment to GLAD’s legacy and the LGBTQ community is inspiring. Putting together a timeline of GLAD’s history has given me great insight into the impact that GLAD has made on all of the communities it serves, and has shown this Divinity school student that ministry takes its form all kinds of various ways. Check it out here!