SFGN’s “Speak OUT” is a weekly feature giving a regular voice to South Florida LGBT leaders. This week: As another history month wraps up is there anything over the course of the month that stuck out about this year's LGBT history month? Or name an event or person from LGBT history that we should all learn more about – especially LGBT youth. Below are some of their answers:
I was pleased to attend the National LGBTQ Task Force Gala on Saturday evening at the Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami Beach where the 2015 National Leadership Award was presented to attorney Mary L. Bonauto. Mary was one of the three attorneys who argued Obergefell v. Hodges before the U.S. Supreme Court this past June. As a fellow attorney, I am proud of Mary’s work in presenting the winning oral arguments on behalf of the plaintiffs the Obergefell case. This winning case established the freedom to marry for same-sex couples nationwide.
— Michael C. Gongora, former Vice Mayor of Miami Beach
For anyone wanting to learn about the K-12 school-based gay-straight alliance (GSA) movement and lesbian-gay history, I strongly recommend the documentary “Out of the Past.” It tells the story of Kelli Peterson in Utah, interspersed with mini-biographies of Barbara Gittings, Bayard Rustin, Henry Gerber, and other amazing s/heroes who influenced history.... Foremothers and forefathers we all should know.
— Toni Armstrong Jr., Founder/Director of BLAST Women of WPB.
I think a person that more LGBT youth should learn about is Christine Jorgensen, a World War II-era G.I. (and later Las Vegas entertainer) who became the first person widely known in the United States for having sex reassignment surgery. That was in 1951, a time when the local Sheriff threatened to arrest Jorgensen if she appeared offstage in public wearing women’s clothing. Long before Jenner, there was Jorgensen.
— Denise Spivak, Director of Member Relations and External Affairs for CenterLink: The Community of LGBT Centers
In celebrating LGBT History Month 2015, I’ve had the opportunity to do several presentations to introduce people to our movement. I think it’s always fascinating how many people are unaware of the vast history that has brought us to this point. The Stonewall uprising was not the beginning, but it was significant. I hope that people are doing the work to learn all they can about where we’ve been so we can further move this community forward.
— Meredith L Ockman, community activist and a director of NOW
This month, I brought forward and sponsored an initiative supported by residents, professionals, and the business community to have Wilton Manors become one of the first cities to permanently display the pride flag on city property. The goal was to have a monument to the LGBT community, which has had and continues to have a positive economic and social impact to not just Wilton Manors, but the community at-large. Should the rest of the commission vote with me in favor of it, Wilton Manors would be making LGBT history during LGBT History Month. Now that would indeed be something to waive your colors about and celebrate.
— Justin S. Flippen, J.D., Wilton Manors City Commissioner
There are many forgotten names in our struggle to feel safe and valued. Charlie Howard was a young, gay man murdered by three teenagers in Bangor, ME, in 1984. Despite his protest that he couldn't swim, they threw him over a bridge to his death by drowning. After getting out of juvenile detention, one of the bullies began a public speaking campaign against homophobia. In 2011, vandals spray-painted anti-gay slurs on Charlie's memorial. But the day of his death is now Diversity Day in Bangor.
— Brian McNaught, noted columnist, author and LGBT activist