Morris Kight, a pioneering leader in Southern California's gay rights movement, has died at age 83. Kight, who served for more than 20 years on the Los Angeles Human Rights Commission until retiring last year, died Sunday at a Los Angeles hospice. He had been in declining health in recent weeks, suffering from liver cancer, heart trouble, and other ailments.
Kight cofounded the Gay and Lesbian Community Service Center of L.A. (now called the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center) and was a key organizer of the city's first gay pride parade in 1970. That event is credited with galvanizing the modern-day gay rights movement in Los Angeles. The annual parade is now one of the largest in the nation, drawing as many as 500,000 people.
"Morris invented a great deal of what we think of as the gay community in Southern California," said Miki Jackson, a gay rights activist who also is a consultant for the AIDS Healthcare Foundation. "He had tremendous vision and imagination and great drive to make his visions a reality."
Kight was also a founder of the nonprofit organization Christopher Street West and the gay political group Stonewall Democratic Club.
He is survived by his partner of 25 years, Roy Zucheran; two daughters, Carol Kight of Claremont and Angela Bonin of Texas; two grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.