Stonewall and Our Future
Today, I am an out and proud lesbian, and I am prouder still to be the President of the GLAD Board. At the time of the Stonewall Riots 50 years ago, however, I had not yet come out. I was working alongside many others in the anti-racism and anti-war movements – but honestly, I was unaware of my own sexual orientation and I probably wouldn’t have believed you had you told me about my future self.
Then, in 1975, I came out, met my first girlfriend, and joined what was then called the Gay Liberation Movement.
Marching at Pride in 1977. That’s me in front of the banner.
It was scary to be out and it was an act of incredible bravery to go into the streets and announce you were queer. Being LGBTQ was to live a radical existence on the fringes of society. And participating in Pride was a revolutionary act.
Back then there were no protections for LGBTQ people. In fact, in many places, being LGBTQ was still criminalized. Which is exactly why, in the decade after Stonewall, GLAD was founded: to fight for the rights of LGBTQ people and ensure a better future.
GLAD has been on the forefront of the movement for LGBTQ rights ever since.
- 1970s and 1980s: Our first lawsuit was a response to a sting operation against gay men at the Boston Public Library. We challenged state sodomy laws around the country, sued to allow gay and lesbian couples to be foster parents, secured one of the first honorable discharges for a US servicemember targeted for being gay, and won the right of high school students everywhere to take a date of any gender to prom.
- 1990s: We won a lawsuit on behalf of members of Queer Nation who had staged a ‘Kiss In’ and were thrown out of a Boston bar. We won a groundbreaking second parent adoption case for a same-sex couple, and a censorship battle over a photo exhibit about gay and lesbian families entitled “Love Makes a Family.” We went all the way to the Supreme Court to ensure that people living with HIV and AIDS would be protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
- 2000s: We won the right of a transgender girl to wear girls’ clothing in school, and led the fight for marriage equality with court victories in Massachusetts and Connecticut. We won compensation from the September 11 Victim Compensation Fund for a woman who lost her partner on American Airlines flight 11, and filed the first multi-plaintiff legal challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).
- 2010s: In just the past few years, we won the national Supreme Court case allowing same-sex couples to marry, and charged Walmart with a first-of-its-kind class action lawsuit challenging anti-gay discrimination. We successfully fought for a transgender woman to be rightfully transferred to a women’s prison from the men’s facility where she faced daily abuse – the first time that has happened as the result of a court order. And we are suing the Trump Administration for its discriminatory transgender military ban.
That’s just a small sampling of the fights we’ve taken on. And there is so much more to do.
We have spent 40 years transforming the law in order to transform LGBTQ lives. We’re not backing down now. And we need your help to keep moving forward.
It’s up to all of us to keep fighting. No matter what. No matter the opposition. 50 years after Stonewall, we must move forward with clear heads and open hearts.
That’s how GLAD has created a set of protections for LGBTQ people that was once unheard of. As the legal arm of a broad liberation movement, we’ve helped create the possibility for LGBTQ people to live the lives we deserve.
Along with the rest of the GLAD family, I am going to keep fighting. Keep resisting. Keep the flame of the LGBTQ revolution burning bright.
I hope you’ll join me.
GLAD Board President