OUT50 Palm Beach: Joan Waitkevicz & Shirley Herman — “The Justice Warriors”

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This origin story dates back to 1973.

Joan Waitkevicz and Shirley Herman first laid eyes on one another at a Lesbian Feminist Liberation gathering. They met shortly after, forming a 43-year-long relationship inspired by social justice.

“What holds us together is that we’re activists,” Shirley said, Joan placing a loving hand on her shoulder. They follow the motto: “If you see injustice, say something.”

The couple was self-employed in the ‘70s, allowing them to stay out of the closet unlike many other members of the LGBT community at the time. Joan was a part of the St. Mark’s Women’s Health Collective, which provided healthcare for lesbian women who felt alienated by male doctors. Shirley was an accountant, working for a community that was “very generous” to the two of them.

Their desire is simple: “We want to live in a just society,” Shirley said. Joan added, “Justice for one is justice for everybody.”

Forty-three years after they met, the couple continues to fight for social justice however they can. They are both in the Democratic Women’s Club of Palm Beach County — Joan as president and Shirley as treasurer. They are also respectively membership chair and treasurer of Palm Beach County’s National Organization for Women.

“I’m afraid of what’s in front of us and that my country may be taken from me,” said Shirley, concerned about the rights of the LGBT community following the recent presidential election. “It’s these ideas that keep us together.”

 

Next: OUT50 Palm Beach: Tonya Davis Johnson – The Council Woman

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