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Equality Forum launches Gay History Month project

Equality Forum launches Gay History Month project


The celebration of October as Gay History is getting a boost this year from Equality Forum, which is honoring the lives and achievements of 31 LGBT leaders, past and present.

The celebration of October as Gay History Month is getting a boost this year from Equality Forum, the international LGBT civil rights organization based in Philadelphia. To impose some structure on the celebration, Equality Forum has selected 31 LGBT leaders, past and present, and created for each a brief video, biography, and bibliography celebrating their achievements.

Each is assigned a different day in October, bookended by two Jameses: Baldwin (October 1) and Hormel (October 31).

"We want people not only to celebrate Walt Whitman, Elton John, and Ellen DeGeneres but to learn about Alan Turing, who broke the German Enigma Code and helped the Allies win World War II; Lupe Valdez, the first Latina and lesbian sheriff of Dallas County, Texas; and Bayard Rustin, an African-American colleague of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who organized the 1963 demonstration at the Lincoln Memorial," said Equality Forum executive director Malcolm Lazin in a press release.

The group has designed the project as a curriculum that can be used by teachers at any education level, as well as an awareness and visibility campaign.

Equality Forum said the 31 leaders selected are all national or international LGBT figures who are "distinguished within their field of endeavor, as national heroes, or in the GLBT civil rights movement." Nominations were solicited from a number of LGBT groups and organizations, and the final selections were made by the Reverend Nancy Wilson, international moderator of the Metropolitan Community Churches, and Yale Law School professor Kenji Yoshino, who are cochairs of the Equality Forum history project.

Each leader's video will be streamed daily on the four largest gay Web portals and broadcast on the two largest gay television channels, Equality Forum promised. The group has also created a Web site,, where the videos and other materials can be downloaded.

In alphabetical order, the 31 LGBT leaders Equality Forum is highlighting this month are: the late writer James Baldwin, the late painter Jean-Michel Basquiat, German politician and gay rights leader Volker Beck, the late historian and author John Boswell, entertainer Ellen DeGeneres, U.S. representative Barney Frank, movie and music mogul David Geffen, entrepreneur and philanthropist Tim Gill, pioneering journalist and activist Barbara Gittings, the late artist Keith Haring, former U.S. ambassador James Hormel, musician Elton John, the late U.S. representative Barbara Jordan, New York City Fire Department chaplain Father Mychal Judge (killed on 9/11), U.S. representative James Kolbe, author and activist Larry Kramer, the late military activist Leonard Matlovich, actor Sir Ian McKellen, assassinated San Francisco city official Harvey Milk, tennis champion Martina Navratilova, the late poet Adrienne Rich, the late Stonewall riot participant Sylvia Rivera, the late civil rights leader Bayard Rustin, former CEO of PlanetOut Lowell Selvin, writer and journalist Andrew Sullivan, basketball superstar Sheryl Swoopes, the late World War II code breaker Alan Turing, Dallas County, Texas, sheriff Lupe Valdez, the 19th century poet Walt Whitman, Victorian-era playwright and wit Oscar Wilde, and AIDS activist Phill Wilson. (The Advocate)

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