Tag Archives: hero

Forgotten Gay Heroes: The Legacy of Gay AIDS Activist and “KS Poster Boy” Bobbi Campbell

On August 8, 1983 Bobbi Campbell, and his partner Bobby Hilliard, became the faces of the deadly plague called AIDS that was decimating the gay community with a cover story in Newsweek magazine.

For those who don’t remember or know Bobbi Campbell he was originally from Seattle, WA and became the first person living with AIDS to come out publicly after he became the 16th person to be diagnosed with it in San Francisco.

Bobbi became known as the “KS Poster Boy” appearing with his partner on the above cover of Newsweek on August 8, 1983 and wrote a column for the San Francisco Sentinel from January 1982 describing his experiences. Campbell, who was also a registered nurse, joined the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence at the time of the health crisis in early 1982; in his “sister” persona as Sister Florence Nightmare, he co-authored the first San Francisco safer-sex manual, “Play Fair!”, which was written in plain sex-positive language, offering practical advice and adding an element of humour.

In 1983, Campbell and Dan Turner, who had been diagnosed in February 1982, founded the People With AIDS Self-Empowerment Movement or PWA Movement that believes that those living with HIV/AIDS have the human rights to “take charge of their own life, illness, and care, and to minimize dependence on others”.

In January of 1984, when Dan White, the assassin of gay San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk and Mayor George Moscone was due to be paroled, Campbell and Hilliard stood outside Soledad State Prison. White was being transported to Los Angeles for fear of retributive attacks, Campbell stood in front of the media carrying a sign that read “Dan White’s homophobia is more deadly than AIDS,” bringing further national attention to the health crisis.

On July 15, 1984, Bobbi Campbell gave one of his last speeches at the National March for Lesbian and Gay Rights at the 1984 Democratic National Convention in San Francisco (see video below). Campbell told the crowd that he had hugged his boyfriend on the cover of Newsweek, , “to show Middle America that gay love is beautiful,” He held 15 seconds of silence for the 2,000 who had died of AIDS at that point “and [for] those who will die before this is over,” He then laid-out a series of concerns for politicians to address — including increased funding for both research and support services and a warning of the potential for discrimination with the advent of a test for HTLV-3 (now known as HIV) — and appealing to all candidates in the upcoming elections to meet with people with AIDS.

Two weeks later, Campbell appeared on CBS Evening News in a live satellite interview with Dan Rather. While the rumors and fear of AIDS had reached a mainstream audience, the facts had not, so Campbell was placed in a glass booth, with technicians refusing to come near him to wire up microphones for the interview.

At noon on August 15, 1984, exactly a month after his DNC speech and after 2 days on life support in intensive care, Bobbi Campbell died at San Francisco General Hospital.   His parents and his partner Bobby Hilliard were by his side.  Bobbi Campbell was 32 years old and had lived for over 3½ years with what was by then called AIDS

His partner Bobby Hilliard would succumb to the deadly disease not long afterwards.

It is almost impossible in this day and age to imagine the full extent of the fear, prejudice and misinformation that surrounded the disease in the early years and those who were infected. Even well into the late 1990’s and even sometimes today phobia against people with AIDS runs rampant, along with misinformation about how AIDS is transmitted and threats of criminalization against them.

In the 1980’s, televangelist and fear mongers like Jerry Falwell, Billy Graham and others were spewing the belief that AIDS was “God’s punishment” against homosexuality.  People with AIDS faced ostracism from family and friends, discrimination in housing and employment. At one point even funeral directors refused to bury the bodies of those who died from the disease. And to make matters wasn’t until 1985 that then President of the United States Ronald Reagan would mention the word AIDS,  let alone do anything to stop the disease and by this time thousands of gay Americans had already died.

Both Bobbi Campbell and Bobby Hilliard should be remembered forever as what they are.  True heroes of the gay community.

Shall they never be forgotten.

Bobby Hilliard

Bobbi Campbell newsweek

Unsung Heroes: Dr. Joseph Sonnabend, Doctor and AIDS Warrior

Gay History – Unsung Heroes: Dr. Joseph Sonnabend, Doctor and AIDS Warrior

Dr. Joseph Sonnabend, was a physician, scientist and HIV/AIDS researcher, notable for pioneering community-based research, the propagation of safe sex to prevent infection, and an early multi-factorial model of the AIDS virus.

In 1978 Dr. Sonnabend started a private clinic for sexually transmitted infections in Greenwich Village, NYC for which he was renowned and was one of the first physicians to notice among his gay male patients the immune deficiency that would later be named AIDS, during the 1980’s and 1990’s he treated hundreds of HIV-positive people.

Prior to the identification of HIV as the cause of AIDS in 1984, Sonnabend’s investigations led him to propose that AIDS among gay men might be caused by multiple factors including the Epstein–Barr virus and repeated exposure to cytomegalovirus and semen. This suggestion conflicted with the prevailing view that a single agent was likely responsible.

Sonnabend’s “multifactorial model” led him to argue early in the emerging pandemic that frequent unprotected anal sex increased the risk of what would come to be known as AIDS. Later, Sonnabend’s advice regarding condoms would be accepted as fundamental to HIV prevention.

In 1983 New York State sued a West 12th Street co-op for trying to evict Dr. Joseph Sonnabend for treating AIDS patients because fellow tenents were “afraid” of the disease and his patients. Sonnabend would later be awarded $10,000 and a new lease.

During the height of the AIDS crisis, Sonnabend helped create several AIDS organizations, including the AIDS Medical Foundation (now amfAR),  the nonprofit Community Research Initiative (now ACRIA),] which pioneered community-based research, and the PWA Health Group, the first and largest formally recognized AIDS drugs buyers’ club.

Sonnabend was renowned for protecting and promoting patients’ rights. He did not shy away from criticizing the scientific establishment when he felt it was failing to put patients’ interests first. He often disagreed with mainstream opinion on AIDS

Sonnabend became a prominent critic of the use of AZT  to treat asymptomatic, HIV-positive people, which he thought was based on insufficient clinical evidence. Nevertheless, he did prescribe the drug in short courses for people with indications of elevated interferon, which he believed might play an important role in pathogenesis and could be controlled by AZT. In 2006 he expressed his view that high doses of AZT had “killed thousands” during the late 1980’s and early 1990’s.

Despite his unconventional and often controversial opinions, mainstream AIDS researchers have in recent years become less critical of Sonnabend, recognizing his devotion as a physician and patients’ champion. According to Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases:

“He is one of the true soldiers in the war against HIV. He is a model for a real translation of care to the patient. In terms of the controversy surrounding his work, I think, in general, at the end of the day, most would agree that his contributions have been positive. He is an outstanding man.”

In 2000, he was recognized as an inaugural Award of Courage Honoree by amfAR:

“Joseph Sonnabend, M.D., made Olympian contributions to the fight against AIDS during years when this was a lonely and thankless endeavor. He designed community-based clinical trials when there were few precedents for such research, and he displayed ethical and professional leadership in virtually every other AIDS-related field of action”

In 2005, Joseph Sonnabend retired from medical practice and moved to London.  On World AIDS Day that year, he was awarded a Red Ribbon Leadership Award from the National HIV/AIDS Partnership.

 

 

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5 Gay Celebrities and Heroes We Lost in 2018

Gay Rights Pioneer Dick Leitsch Whose Famous ‘Sip-In’ Helped Change NYC , Dies at 83

Dick Leitsch, a leading gay rights activist in 1960’s New York, where he helped end police entrapment of gays and organized the first major act of civil disobedience by a gay rights group — a  Sip-In at Julius’ bar — died June 22 at a hospice center in Manhattan. He was 83.

In 1966 being homosexual was, in itself, seen as a disorder, It was also “illegal” to serve a homosexual liquor by order of the New York State Liquor Authority. Leitsch who was president of the Mattachine Society’s New York chapter in 1965, took the group in a aggressive direction, taking on the city’s police chief and newly elected mayor, John V. Lindsay.

On April 21, 1966 Dick Leitsch along with two other Mattachine Society members invited along four newspaper reporters, including Thomas A. Johnson of The New York Times. The plan was to convene at noon at the Ukrainian-American Village Hall, a bar on St. Marks Place. “ The Times reporter tipped off the owners, who shut the place. A sign in the window made the establishment’s attitude clear: “If you are gay, please stay away.”

So the men moved across the street to The Dom, a club that, by night, hosted concerts by the Velvet Underground. It had a sign just as unwelcoming as the one at the Ukrainian Hall. The Dom, too, was closed.

After going to a Howard Johnson’s, at Eighth Street and the Avenue of the Americas which served them. The men then advanced to a Mafia-owned tiki bar, The Waikiki. The  amused manager told them: “How do I know you’re homosexuals? Give these guys a drink on us.”

In desperation, the troupe trudged over to Julius’ on West 10th Street. “It was a rather dull, neighborhood place which was about three-quarters gay,” said Randy Wicker, 78, who joined the action at that stop. “I called it a closet queen bar.”

The activists knew Julius’ had to refuse them, because the night before, a man who had been served there had later been entrapped by an officer for “gay activity,” meaning the bar was in jeopardy of having its liquor license revoked. As they entered, the men spied a sign that read “Patrons Must Face the Bar While Drinking,” an instruction used to thwart cruising. (They enforced that rule well into the 1980’s)  

As soon as they approached, the bartender put a glass in front of them. Dick Lietsch announced they were gay and the bartender put his hand over the glass; it was captured in a photograph by Fred McDarrah for The Village Voice.

The next day’s New York Times featured an article about the event with the headline “3 Deviates Invite Exclusion by Bars.” Two weeks later, a far more sympathetic piece appeared in The Voice. The publicity prompted a response from the State Liquor Authority chairman, Donald S. Hostetter, who denied that his organization ever threatened the liquor licenses of bars that served gays. The decision to serve was up to individual bartenders, he said.

Dick Leitsch’s Sip-In led to a growing acceptance of gays at bars in New York and across the country. Perhaps most significantly, the publicity resulted in a Mattachine lawsuit in New Jersey, where in 1967 the state Supreme Court ruled that “well-behaved homosexuals” could not be barred from a drink.

Richard Joseph Leitsch, who often used the family name Valentine as his middle name, was born in Louisville on May 11, 1935. Survivors include a brother and sister. His partner of 17 years, Timothy Scoffield, was diagnosed with AIDS and died in 1989.

HIV/AIDS Pioneer Researcher and Hero Dr. Mathilde Krim Passes Away At 91

 

Mathilde Krim, a pioneer in the field of AIDS research, passed away Monday at the age of 91.

Krim, founding chairman of amfAR, the Foundation for AIDS Research, devoted her life to the fight against HIV/AIDS, in particular raising the public’s awareness of the devastating disease.

Soon after the first cases of what would later be called AIDS were reported in 1981, Krim recognized that this new disease raised grave scientific and medical questions and that it might have important socio-political consequences. She dedicated herself to increasing the public’s awareness of AIDS and to a better understanding of its cause, its modes of transmission, and its epidemiologic pattern. Contributing to the fight against AIDS, she established AIDS Medical Foundation in 1983. Later the Foundation merged with a similar organization and called the American Foundation for AIDS Research (AmFAR).  With Elizabeth Taylor, she founded the American Foundation for AIDS Research contributing generous amounts of her own funds and lending her considerable skills to raising awareness about AIDS and raising funds for AIDS research. She continued working on behalf of AIDS awareness through AmfAR.

Journalist Andy Humm of Gay USA writes:

All honor to the great Dr. Mathilde Krim, founder of AmFAR (started as the AIDS Medical Foundation in 1983), who died today at 91–a giant in the fight against HIV and AIDS bringing both scientific and fundraising savvy and celebrities to the cause in the worst years of the AIDS pandemic. A tireless brilliant, calm, steady voice for healing, research, compassion and justice. Millions owe her their lives.

Krim was awarded 16 doctorates honoris causa and has received numerous other honors and distinctions. In August 2000, President Bill Clinton awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor in the United States, in recognition of her “extraordinary compassion and commitment”. In 2003, Krim received the Award for Greatest Public Service Benefiting the Disadvantaged, an award given out annually by Jefferson Awards.

Mathilda Krim died peacefully at her home in King’s Point, New York on Monday January 16, 2018

8 Arrested in the Country of Georgia After Riots Erupt Over Footballers Support of Gay Rights – Video

 

Riots erupted in the country of Georgia as protesters from the right-wing group Georgian March organized a demo demanding that footballer Guram Kashia be kicked off the national team for wearing a rainbow armband in support of gay rights.

The armband was in support of rights for the LGBT community and formed part of the country’s larger ‘Coming Out Day’ initiative.

In response, dozens of protesters gathered to march outside the Georgian Football Federation in the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, shouting homophobic epithets, lighting flares and smoke bombs, and burned a rainbow flag.

Everyone has the right for freedom of expression,” Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili said in a statement on Facebook on Monday.

“We should respect human rights and liberties. I stand with the unanimous support that sporting society has expressed toward Guram Kashia,” he added.

The AP AP reported that eight people were detained for resisting police and minor hooliganism, and they were due to appear in court on Wednesday.

Kashia told Dutch TV channel NOS he is proud to support equal rights and he has no intention to stop playing for Georgia.

 

 
 

 

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Gay Man Killed in the San Bernardino Terrorist Attack Saved 4 People

Larry David Kaufman

Larry Daniel Kaufman, a gay man who was killed by Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik while working at a coffee cart inside the Inland Regional Center for people with disabilities in San Bernardino is credited with saving the lives of 4 people, according to sources close to Ryan Reyes, Kaufman’s surviving partner.

Daniel was in the hallway of the facility as the shooting began. Daniel, more concerned about everyone around him than himself, was screaming “Get out! Go!  Get out now! Hurry!” He began pushing people out of harms way, urging them to the safety of the door before he was shot and killed.

Many of Daniel’s loved ones gathered at Irwindale, California’s Santa Fe Dam Recreation Area on Saturday for memorial service to remember Daniel.

His partner of three years, Reyes, retold Daniel’s favorite stories.  Daniel, he said, lived to make people laugh.  He loved to get that reaction from people.

Ryan Reyes has a special message he wants to send

“I speak for both Daniel and myself when I say that this attack should NOT encourage people to treat Muslims any differently than they would anyone else. This tragedy was committed by a radical group. The twisted actions and beliefs of a few should not be used to view the majority. Muslims are just as loving and caring as anyone else. It made Daniel sick and continues to make me sick, that Americans refuse to drop this way of thinking.”

 

Loving Christian and FRC Hate Group Leader Tony Perkins Lauds Trump's Budget Plan To Stop Feeding The Elderly

FRC Hate Group Leader Tony Perkins Gloats Over Houston: WE DID IT! Now Give Us More Money!

Via email:

FRC Action

HUGE WIN! You did it!
November 04, 2015 | | Share with Friends

Dear XXXX,

We couldn’t have done it without you! Last night, residents of Houston, Texas celebrated a decisive victory for religious freedom that was over a year in the making—thanks to the prayer and financial support of friends like you.

Brief recap:

Last year, Houston’s City Council tried to push through a radical new ordinance that would give special privileges and special rights to people based upon their sexual behavior. This harmful ordinance would have allowed a man to enter women’s restrooms and other private areas if he identifies as a woman. It also would have forced employers and private business owners to violate their religious and moral convictions regarding homosexual and transgender behavior and fined you a maximum of $5,000 if you chose to not violate your faith!

When pastors and concerned citizens in the city began to rally together to give citizens the right to vote on this dangerous “Bathroom Bill,” Mayor Annise Parker shockingly subpoenaed the sermons and other private communications of five local pastors who dared to speak out against her agenda.

But the “Houston Five” would not back down, and FRC, FRC Action, and the Faith Family Freedom Fund actively stood with them over the past year.

– November, 2014 – FRC organized I Stand Sunday, a power-packed simulcast to support the targeted pastors. Over 7,000 people packed the pews of Grace Community Church in Houston, while over 3,300 churches and home groups joined in from all 50 states to stand for religious liberty. With the public backlash, the mayor finally relented on the subpoenas.

– FRC Action continued the momentum by educating Houston voters on the threat this Bathroom Bill posed to religious liberty. Through FRC’s STAND Summit this past March and the recentWatchmen Summit in August, we gathered pastors and ministry leaders together to collaborate and develop strategies to impact their home communities. FRC Action also conducted a Candidate Training forum after the August Watchmen Summit to equip conservative believers to consider a run for elected office.

– In the final weeks leading up to yesterday’s critical vote, FRC Action produced targeted alerts and analysis of the Bathroom Bill, while the Faith Family Freedom Fund’s new ad informed over 300,000 Houston voters of the truth that this ordinance would give local government the power to punish people because of their beliefs.

When the ballots were tallied on Election Day, the Bathroom Bill was defeated overwhelming by 61% of the voters.

Thank you! It’s good to celebrate…

Unfortunately, this isn’t just about a single ordinance. These ongoing threats to religious liberty are being realized in virtually every community in America!

– State Level
As a result of the Supreme Court’s redefinition of marriage earlier this year, LGBT activists across the country have been emboldened to push the envelope even further. For example, just last week a group in Michigan announced plans to put a measure similar to Houston’s ordinance on the statewide ballot in 2016.

– City Council’s and School Boards
Some on the Left have been pushing this in City Councils across the country. If that’s not bad enough, they are also forcing these policies on students and passing them in School Boards. Just one example of this is Fairfax County, Virginia. Ignoring the vocal concerns of hundreds of parents, the School Board added a broad “gender identity” policy that allowed students of any age who identify as transgender to choose whether to use the boys’ or girls’ restrooms and locker rooms and which sex’s sports teams to play on.

– Deceptively-Named “Equality Act”
The Left has mounted a new assault on your rights and freedoms in Congress. Now they’ve unveiled a bill that not only strips you of your rights regarding employment, but strips you of your rights in 25 areas of U.S. law . . . areas of life! These include: credit, education, federal funding, public facilities and accommodations, and federally funded programs, to name a few.

Would you consider making a celebration donation today? Your gift will enable FRC Action to:

– Elect principled conservative candidates who will stand up for our values;

– Urge Congress and work with our allies on the Hill to stand against this radical agenda;

– Provide word-by-word expert analysis of bills, riders, and other legislative maneuvers and ferret out any and every attempt by the administration to subvert the God-designed gender roles;

– Work at the state and local level to identify threats and equip both elected leaders and voters with the knowledge and resources to stand.

Your continued giving at this time will help FRC Action stand strong, and build on the momentum to engage and defeat these ongoing threats. If this could happen in Houston, Texas, it can happen anywhere in America.

Thank you in advance for your continuing support of FRC Action.

Standing,

Tony Perkins
President

FRC Action is a tax-exempt corporation under section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code. Financial contributions to FRC Action are not tax-deductible.

Houston Texans Owner Bob McNair TAKES BACK His $10K Donation To Anti-LGBT Rights Campaign – BOOYAH!

 

houston Texans

 

After a week of intense pressure, ridicule, and complaints the owner of the Houston Texan’s football team Bob McNair  is rescinding a $10,000 contribution he made to Campaign of Houston, the anti-gay group that is trying to overturn the city’s the anti-LGBT discrimination law otherwise know as HERO in an upcoming voter referendum.

Houston Chronicle:

Texans owner Bob McNair is rescinding a $10,000 contribution he made to Campaign of Houston after being involved in a controversy surrounding opposition to HERO, the city’s equal rights ordinance. McNair released a lengthy statement Friday where he said unauthorized statements attributed to his beliefs were distributed that were never discussed with him, saying he won’t tolerate any personal or professional discrimination.

McNair’s full statement:

“I recently made a personal contribution to Campaign for Houston because my thorough review of the HERO ordinance led me to believe that a thoughtful rewrite would provide a better ordinance that would provide strong non-discrimination protections for all Houstonians, which I would support, and would be less divisive of our city.

“It was on these principles that I made my personal contribution to Campaign for Houston. To my great dismay, Campaign for Houston made numerous unauthorized statements about my opposition to HERO in print, broadcast and social media – including attributing certain statements of belief to me. Their actions and statements were never discussed with nor approved by me. Therefore I instructed the Campaign to return my contribution.

“I do not believe in or tolerate personal or professional discrimination of any kind. I also believe that we Houstonians should have an ordinance that unites our community and provides a bold statement of non-discrimination. I encourage all Houstonians to vote on November 3. Robert F. Kennedy once said, ‘Few will have the greatness to bend history itself; but each of us can work together to change a small portion of events, and in the total of those acts will be written the history of our generation.’”

Many thanks to Ex-NFL football player and straight ally Chris Kluwe for publicly calling this asshole out.  And lets also hope that the NFL itself put some behind the scense pressure on McNair

Houston Texans’ Football Team Owner Donates $10K To Fight Against LGBT Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO)

houston Texans

 

It has come to light that Bob McNair owner of the (crappy) NFL team the Houston Texans’ has donated  $10,000 to the viciously anti-gay coalition that has placed a repeal of Houston’s LGBT rights ordinance on the November ballot.

After incencensed fans contacted the team they sent the following  cop-out reply:

“Our team Founder, Chairman and CEO, Bob McNair made a personal contribution relative to the HERO issue. Mr. McNair’s rationale for his personal opposition to the HERO issue is based on the way the current ordinance is written, it has begun to separate rather than unite our community. He believes this problem can be solved by defeating the current bill in November, thoughtfully rewriting it and then resubmitting it to voters for approval.

“The Houston Texans as an organization are neutral to the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO) and believe that the issue should be decided by Houston voters. We encourage Houston residents to study the issue and vote their conscience on November 3rd. We appreciate your email and would like to thank you for your continued support.

Thank you & Go Texans, Houston Texans.”

So the Houston Texans’ are “neutral” on LGBT rights. are they also “neutral” on racism, the holocaust, and other social justice matters? 

If you are neutral in situations of injustice, quite simply you have chosen the side of the oppressor.

“If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.” ~ Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu

You can leave a note of disgust on the Houston Texans Facebook page by CLICKING HERE

UNSUNG LGBT HEROES: Longtime DC LGBT Activist and Founder of Federal GLOBE Leonard Hirch Passes Away

Len Hirsch

 

There are many LGBT activist who’s work goes unsung in the LGBT community and one person who should be remembered for his hard work to our cause is Leonard Hirch who passed away at the age 60 last night in Washington, D.C. after a battling cancer.

When Len Hirsch started at the Smithsonian in 1988  he was fine being out but soon realized that although the agency was one of the more welcoming in the federal government, there were still many dealing with issues of discrimination and harassment of LGBT employees.  So in response Len founded the group Federal GLOBE: Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Employees of the Federal Government (fedglobe.org),

Federal GLOBE’s chartered purpose is to eliminate prejudice and discrimination in the federal government based on sexual orientation by (1) developing and providing educational programs, materials and assistance mechanisms which address the distinctive concerns and problems of lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals in the federal government and (2) educating the general public, policy makers, and federal employees about issues of concern to lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals.

Hirsch, originally a New York City native, spent time in California, Illinois and Florida before settling in Washington in 1985.  Lenonard Hirsch’s  husband  of 33 years Dr. Kristian Fauchald, a marine biologist, suffered a heart attack and passed away only a few weeks ago.

Thanks to Leonard Hirsch and GLOBE together they educated and  helped countless numbers of LGBT Federal employees who faced harassment and discrimination in the Government workplace.

Len Hirsch was and is a true LGBT American hero.

 

Phil Attey Len Hirsch