PJ Layng and Maryann McCarthy have been leaders in LGBT rights issues for many years. Both were born and raised in the Northeast. McCarthy attended Boston University while Layng studied at George Washington University. Both pursued graduate degrees and Maryann is a Doctor in Oriental Medicine and an acupuncturist.

Layng’s first foray into gay visibility was marching in the 1976 Washington DC Pride Parade as a member of the University’s Gay Peoples Alliance. McCarthy’s was in the 1978 San Francisco Parade with Harvey Milk. “Those were exciting times,” Layng said. “scary but exciting.”

“Then came the AIDS crisis, just when I started my practice, said McCarthy.” She worked with a colleague and developed an acupuncture regimen that helped alleviate some of the suffering. “We couldn’t cure them but we could help them feel better,” she said.

The women met in Provincetown over 20 years ago. They got married in the Bay State as soon as it was legal in 2004. Their officiant was “Lady Di,” the drag name of the Town Clerk.

“We almost had to go out of town,” Layng said. “There was such a big demand for marriage licenses all the officials were booked. But we managed.”

The women live in West Palm Beach. McCarthy is a member of a group of holistic practitioners and Layng is the Vice President of Philanthropy and Strategic Relationships for the Girl Scouts of South Florida. They are involved in a variety of local and national rights organizations.

“It’s very important to be honest about who you are,” said Layng about coming out. “Then people get to know the real you and it gets safer for the next person.”

McCarthy added, “Come out (shouting)! Be yourself; be engaged and joyful. If you‘re joyful, other people will join you.”

– DC