EXTREMISTS FOR LOVE
Human Rights Activists
"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
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.
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.
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
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.
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
(From Michael Lebeau / ALCA
Gay Politician... Activist...
"If a bullet should enter my
brain, let that bullet destroy every closet door."
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
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.
HRC Guide to Campus Group Activism
Speaks to Gay Rights Activists - Part 1
President Obama Speaks to Gay Rights Activists - Part 2
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
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.
Truth Wins Out
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.
is to help people be true to themselves and lead genuine lives
of honesty and integrity.
Civil Rights Activist and Gay
"I believe in social dislocation and creative trouble...
We need, in every community, a group of angelic
Organized the 1963 March on Washington.
Martin Luther King.
Walter Naegle (relationship ten years)
West Chester State College,
City College of New York
Southern Christian Leadership
Congress of Racial Equality
Violating the Selective Service Act (prison 1944-46),
Public Indecency 1953,
Pasadena CA (homosexual act).
Organizer of March on Washington
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
1937 Became organizer for the Youth Communist League (later to become
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
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
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
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
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
(From Ramon Johnson,
Your Guide to
President of Human Rights Campaign
"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 /
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
Former Chair of Equality Alabama
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?
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.
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
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.
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.
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.''
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.''
couple loves Mobile _ but might consider leaving if Searcy's application
to become Khaya's adoptive parent is rejected in the courts.
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.
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.
Goodwin, a school board employee in the town of Eclectic, disputes the
theory that familiarity with gays leads to support of gay rights.
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.
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.' ''
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.
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.''
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.
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.
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
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.
son is now 18 and returns home periodically, reconnecting with friends
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.
he has a sense it isn't as open and welcoming a place as he wants it to
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.
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.
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.
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.''
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.
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 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)
Lesbian Human Rights
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
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.
NGLTF Executive Director
"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
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
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,
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
On May 7, 2010 Bono legally
changed sex and name. From 2009 to 2010, Bono underwent
gender transition, as confirmed by his publicist.
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
LGBT rights activist.
relationship became strained after Sonny became a
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
Bono worked as a writer at
Bono became a spokesperson for the
Human Rights Campaign, promoting
National Coming Out Day, campaigning for the
Bill Clinton for U.S. President, and campaigning
Defense of Marriage Act.
Bono served as Entertainment Media Director
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
Bio & Interview
The Age of
Kate Kendall is Executive Director
National Center for
Lesbian Rights (NCLR) and is a prominent activist.
is shown here with NCLR Honorees Sheryl
Swoopes (left) and
Jennifer Harris (right) at NCLR 29th Annual Gala