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Editor’s Letter: Never Forget the People Who Fought for You

donna red

Diane Anderson-Minshall on the shoulders we stand on.

When I woke up April 17, I found out my longtime friend, legendary lesbian activist Donna Red Wing, had died. Named Woman of the Year by The Advocate in 1992 and dubbed "the most dangerous woman in America" by the far-right Christian Coalition around the same time, Red Wing was an activist for over 30 years. Former executive director of One Iowa, she previously worked for GLAAD, Human Rights Campaign, the Gill Foundation, and with Howard Dean and former Oresident Barack Obama. Oregon queers owe her thanks. In the 1990s, as head of Oregon's Lesbian Community Project, she led successful efforts to defeat Measure 9, a ballot initiative that would have amended the Oregon constitution to ban gay-inclusive civil rights laws, while also declaring homosexuality "abnormal, wrong, unnatural, and perverse."

While I'm sad to lose Red Wing's remarkable spirit and see another lesbian activist not make it out of her 60s -- a reminder of the weight of growing up female and queer -- I saw her legacy everywhere as we put together this "Champions of Pride" issue. Where once we could laud LGBT activists who were under 30, I could now fill this issue with agitators doing amazing stuff in their teens.

The talented actors on our cover and featured in our story about the 50th anniversary revival of The Boys in the Bandhave something in common with all of our champions, our Hall of Fame honoree Emma Gonzalez, and with Red Wing (herself a youth mentor). Everyone here is pushing for change so that each generation can, as Big Bang Theory's Jim Parsons told me, struggle a little less. Being out, gay, and visible, he says, "hasn't been an overly conscious struggle for me... That's on the backs and shoulders of so many people who came before."

In 2018, many have the luxury of not knowing LGBT history, but I agree with Parsons that we should never forget what he calls the "people who fought so hard before me in order that I can lead the out life that I am leading. Those are our elders. And that is, at least a percentage of it, of who you are, part of your heritage. It's not just beneficial to have a connection to that, to heritage of your own. It can be very detrimental to not recognize and deal with the heritage that you came from."

For me, that's Donna Red Wing and Soni Wolf, a founding member of Dykes on Bikes who died the day we sent this magazine to the printer, and a host of queer women before me, who didn't always have the option of love, marriage, career, and kids. (Although Donna did; she leaves behind a wife of 30 years, but she had to fight for it constantly.)

The women coming after me may truly be the first generation of queer women (and men) who will have it all, without a daily battle. I can't wait to see what they do.

What I'm Digging Now:


Reading: Luke Williams's zine Cave Homo premiered last year at New York City Pride, with a hit gallery show and a feature on just-out pro skateboarder Brian Anderson. Its second issue (debuting June 23 at Fierman Gallery in NYC) features Lacey Baker (above), the gender-nonconforming queer skateboarder, with sights on the 2020 Olympics. Proceeds from the event go to the Trevor Project. (


Carrying: I'll be carrying the myCharge Limited Edition PRIDE Power Bank to every march and parade this year since it doubles my phone's battery life, and 5 percent of
its sales go to the Trevor Project.


Marvelling: Howard Schatz's astonishing new tome, KINK, features photos from a booth Schatz has manned at San Francisco's Folsom Street Fair every year for a quarter century. KINK is a groundbreaking, humanizing collection of BDSM and fetish images, many of which have notes by the subjects about their lives. (

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