Bloggers were invited to write about whatever came to mind when they thought about Freedom.
As someone who is passionate about making the world a kinder, safer, more loving place for LGBTQ+ people the subject of Freedom immediately had me thinking about people past and present in the fight for the LGBTQ+ freedom.
Every movement has its heroes, and the push for equality and freedom for the LGBTQ+ community is no exception.
There are too many to list all of them so I’ve picked 12 to share with you today.
In her ninth decade, she started a judicial odyssey, fighting a battle she never expected to wage—let alone win. Now she’s the matriarch of the gay-rights movement. Edie Windsor is the woman whose lawsuit forced the federal government to recognize same-sex marriage. She filed the lawsuit that helped bring down section 3 of DOMA. After the death of her late wife, Thea Spyer, Windsor was faced with the unfairness of a bill for $360,000 in estate taxes. That injustice won’t happen to others because Windsor brought the case United States v. Windsor to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled that the section was unconstitutional.
2) Janet Mock
Janet Mock is an American writer, transgender rights activist, author and the former staff editor of People magazine’s website.
Mock creates transgender-specific programs and education for the LGBTQ youth center of the Hetrick-Martin Institute, which operates the Harvey Milk High School, a high school for LGBT teens in New York City. She was the person who started the Twitter hashtag #GirlsLikeUs to empower transgender women and is the author of Redefining Realness in which she details her journey as a transgender woman.
Cleve Jones is an LGBT rights and AIDS awareness activist who cofounded the San Francisco AIDS Foundation in 1983. In 1985 he held a memorial for Harvey Milk where he started the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt, a community project that honors the lives of people who died of the disease. Today he is an organizer for Unite Here!, a union that represents workers throughout the U.S. and Canada in the hotel, gaming, food service, manufacturing, textile, distribution, laundry, and airport industries.
Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Mitchell Pritchett on the ABC comedy Modern Family, started a nonprofit charity with his husband Justin Mikita. The organization goes by the catchy name “Tie The Knot” and sells fashionable neckties and bow ties. The funds raised by “Tie The Knot” go to support marriage equality for same-sex couples.
Here is what Jesse and Justin have to say: “Tie The Knot was founded to combine all of our favorite things: humor, style, individuality, fashion, art, and equality. Founded by Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Justin Mikita, the goal of Tie The Knot is clear: to advocate for the civil rights of gay and lesbian Americans throughout the United States & beyond, and to look damn good while doing it.”
For news junkies, Ross Murray is the man to follow. Murray is the Director of News at the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD). At GLAAD, Ross’ role is to amplify pro-LGBT voices of faith, shape the public conversation about LGBT people and faith, and to respond to anti-LGBT faith-based messages. Ross is also the Director of The Naming Project, a faith based LGBT youth group that runs an LGBT teen camp every summer. In all Ross does, he strives to help people cultivate a holistic identity. Murray’s background is in youth ministry.
Few people who set out to change the world actually succeed, Frank Kameny was one of those few. You most likely have never heard of him. But for gay Americans, he’s a founding father of the historic movement that pulled LGBTQ+ people out of the closet and into greater acceptance in the United States. What made Kameny a hero was that he demanded equity and fairness when it was literally him against the world. He was 86 and lived in Washington.
Kameny was fired from his job with Army Map Services in 1957 for being gay and was denied future job opportunities in the United States Civil Service. After being turned down by lower courts, Kameny filed a writ of certiorari to the Supreme Court, arguing that being fired for his sexual orientation was equivalent to being dismissed because of race or gender. Kameny’s petition, the first civil rights claim based on sexual orientation, was denied. In 1971, Kameny became the first openly gay politician to run for Congress and remained an activist for Gay rights for all of his life.
Kameny was known for wearing a “Gay is Good” button back when few gay people had the courage to be out and proud. By his example, perseverance and sacrifice, he showed us what courage looked like. We are a better nation because Franklin Edward Kameny set out to make us so.
American gay rights activist Craig Rodwell founded the Oscar Wilde Memorial Bookshop (the first bookstore devoted to gay and lesbian authors, which has spawned many others since), and was the organizer of for the very first Gay Pride Parade. He facilitated a community gathering place with his bookshop and conceived some the first gay rights protests, preceding the Stonewall riots.
In 1992, at age 19, Chad Griffin became the youngest White House staffer ever to serve as press office manager, under President Bill Clinton. In 2008 he founded the American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER), which helped fight California’s Proposition 8. In March 2012, Griffin became the President of the Human Rights Campaign.
Griffin, who is gay himself, often cites the elevated rate of suicides among LGBT youth as his motivation and has stated that he would especially like to extend his work to advocate for young people in states like Arkansas, where he was born and raised.
Since joining HRC as president in 2012, Griffin has steered the organization into an exciting new era in the fight for equality. From spearheading record-breaking investment in the 2012 elections that enabled unprecedented victories from coast to coast, to historic advocacy around the Supreme Court’s rulings striking down Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act in June of 2013, Griffin has brought renewed passion and energy to a fight that is inspiring Americans—LGBT and straight—all around the country.
A key component in the fight for LGBTQ+ freedom and equality is protecting youth and educating parents of LGBTQ+ kids and that is why I am including Dannielle Owens-Reid and Kristin Russo, the co-founders of Everyone is Gay and The Parents Project.
Everyone Is Gay is an award winning LGBTQ youth organization that provides advice, tours schools, and creates change while keeping everyone laughing and The Parents Project was created as an extension of Everyone Is Gay to answer the many questions they were receiving from parents whose children had recently come out to them.
Recently Dannielle and Kristin also authored This is a Book for Parents of Gay Kids which is a question & answer guide for parents whose kids have recently come out to them!
Dannielle resides in Los Angeles, and has been working with LGBTQ young people for over four years as the co-founder of Everyone Is Gay. She has worked extensively in the world of social media and has used that experience to create a digital presence for LGBTQ+ youth and their parents.
Kristin resides in Brooklyn and has been working with LGBTQ young people for over 6 years, first volunteering at the Hetrick-Martin Institute in NYC, and then co-founding Everyone Is Gay in 2011.
Harvey Milk was our country’s first openly gay elected official. Milk was elected in 1977 to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, where he not only represented the concerns of the city’s LGBT citizens but took up issues like affordable housing and child care. He was tragically shot and killed the year after he took office, but his message of hope and openness lives on to this day.
I’m sure you are thinking of others who should be mentioned. I’m doing the same thing. I’m thinking I should have added Dan Savage and Terry Miller, who started the It Gets Better Project to tell gay kids across the world that life can change after high school and Zach Wahls, a straight young man who stood up in front of the Iowa Supreme Court and so eloquently spoke for the equal rights of his family led by two mothers. And how could I leave out Captain M. Matthew Phelps, a gay U.S. Marine who, after “don’t ask, don’t tell” was repealed, proudly took a male date to the Marine Corps Birthday Ball or Judy Shepard who through her quiet dignity after the loss of her gay son helped the Hate Crimes Prevention Act passed and founded The Matthew Shepard Foundation.
Who would you add?
Be sure and check out the other synchroblog posts about Freedom:
If you are the mom of an LGBTQ+ kid please join you are invited to join our Facebook support group, Serendipitydodah for Moms. The group is for open minded Christian moms who have LGBTQ kids and want to develop and maintain healthy, loving, authentic relationships with their LGBTQ kids. Please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in joining the Facebook support group.