“Proposition 8 fails to advance any rational basis in singling out gay men and lesbians for denial of a marriage license.”
As a federal judge in the U.S. District Court of Northern California, Vaughn Walker ruled as unconstitutional California’s Prop 8 prohibition of same sex-marriage.
Born in Watseka, Illinois, Walker attended the University of Michigan and was a Woodrow Wilson Fellow in economics at the University of California at Berkeley. He attended Stanford Law School and practiced law in San Francisco.
In 1987 President Ronald Reagan nominated Walker for a judgeship. The nomination was stalled due to Walker’s previous representation of the U.S. Olympic Committee in a lawsuit that disallowed the use of the title “Gay Olympics.” House Democrats, including Rep. Nancy Pelosi, accused him of being insensitive to the LGBT community.
In 1989 when President George H. W. Bush renominated Walker for a seat on the federal district court, Walker was confirmed unanimously. He presided over numerous important cases, including drug legalization, NSA surveillance without a warrant, antitrust, mergers and copyright infringement.
In 2010 Walker presided over Hollingsworth v. Perry, the landmark case that challenged California’s Proposition 8, a ballot initiative eliminating the right of same-sex couples to marry. Walker ruled Prop 8 unconstitutional. His decision influenced subsequent state and federal marriage equality cases, including Obergefell v. Hodges, the Supreme Court case that legalized same-sex marriage nationwide.
After retiring from the bench in 2011, Walker came out and acknowledged his decade-long same-sex relationship. He maintained a private practice in San Francisco and lectured at Stanford University Law School and the University of California Berkeley School of Law. The Bar Association of San Francisco honored him with its the Tara J. Riedley Barristers Choice Award.
“I was a bond trader by day and an AIDS activist by night.”
Peter Staley is a pioneering American AIDS activist who founded the Treatment Action Group (TAG) and AIDSmeds.com. He is featured in the Oscar-nominated documentary “How to Survive a Plague.”
Staley was born in Sacramento, California. He attended Oberlin College, where he studied classical piano. He later studied economics and government, which led to a job as an investment banker at J.P. Morgan.
Though Staley was out to his family, he was closeted at his job on Wall Street. After he was diagnosed with AIDS-related complex (ARC) in 1985, he joined the advocacy group ACT-UP to help fund-raise. In 1988 he took part in an ACT-UP protest on Wall Street and talked about his diagnosis on the local news.
After giving up his career in banking, Staley became a prominent AIDS activist. He was one of three men who barricaded themselves at a drug research company to protest the exorbitant price of AZT, one of the first marketed AIDS drugs. He worked with pharmaceutical companies to lower the cost of AIDS drugs and raised large contributions for AIDS clinical trials and charities. Staley spoke at many of the earliest AIDS conferences around the globe.
In 1991 Staley founded TAG to help find AIDS treatments. He is famous for draping a giant condom over the home of North Carolina Senator Jess Helms, after the senator criticized the use of federal money for AIDS research.
From 1991 to 2004, Staley served on the board of amfAR, the foundation for AIDS research. During that period, President Bill Clinton named him to the AIDS Task Force on AIDS Drug Development. The Task Force honored him with the Award of Courage in 2000.
In 1999 Staley created AIDSmeds.com, a portal offering information and resources on HIV/AIDS drugs and gay health. In 2006 the website merged with POZ, a publication for people living with the virus. Staley became an advisory editor and blogger for the site.
Staley created an educational campaign about crystal meth addiction in the gay community. A former addict, he talked publicly about his recovery and launched an ad campaign, funded with his own money, to highlight the dangers of the drug and its relationship to HIV transmission.
The 2012 documentary “How to Survive a Plague” chronicles Staley’s activism. The film earned critical acclaim, including best documentary from the Gotham Independent Film Awards and the Boston Society of Film Critics and nominations from the Sundance Film Festival and the Academy Awards. GLAAD Media named it the outstanding documentary of the year.
How often can you say a kid who was homeless is going to Congress?”
Kyrsten Sinema is the first openly bisexual person elected to the U.S. Congress.
Sinema was born to a Morman family in Tucson, Arizona. Her parents divorced and her mother remarried. When her stepfather lost his job, the family moved into an abandoned gas station without running water or electricity.
Despite many hardships, Sinema graduated at 16 as valedictorian of her high school. By 18 she had earned a bachelor’s degree from Brigham Young University on a full scholarship. She subsequently earned a master’s degree, a law degree and a doctorate—all from Arizona State University.
From 1995 to 2002, Sinema was employed as a school social worker, helping struggling families. In 2000 she lobbied at the state capitol against budget cuts in her school district. The visit inspired her interest in politics. Running as an Independent, her first bid for the State Legislature was unsuccessful.
Sinema subsequently registered as a Democrat. In 2005 she was elected to the Arizona State House of Representatives, where she served for a year as the assistant minority leader for the Democratic Caucus. She was elected to the Arizona State Senate in 2010 and to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2012.
In office, Sinema worked for the adoption of the Dream Act, a proposal that gives illegal immigrants conditional residency, and actively campaigned against two voter referenda that sought to ban same-sex marriage and civil unions in Arizona. In 2013 she co-sponsored the bipartisan LIBERT-E Act, which sought to prevent the NSA’s mass collection of electronic information from innocent Americans.
Sinema was named Legislator of the Year by the Stonewall Democrats, the Arizona Public Health Association and the National Association of Social Workers. She received Planned Parenthood’s CHOICE Award, and in 2010 was named to TIME magazine’s list of 40 Under 40.
In addition to politics, Sinema has served as an adjunct instructor at the Arizona State University School of Social Work. In 2013 she completed an Ironman Triathlon and summited Mount Kilimanjaro.
In Vermont, 50% of homicides are domestic violence related.
SafeSpace works to end violence in the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and HIV-affected people. We provide information, support, referrals, and advocacy to LGBTQH survivors of violence.
In conjunction with the Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, SafeSpace is able to connect survivors to the Legal Assistance for Victims Clinic (LAV).
LAV provides services and representation to survivors, free of charge. Their legal team can provide support pertaining to:
Restraining orders- both Relief from Abuse Orders and Orders Against Stalking
Name change/social security number change, needed as a result of violence
We are here for you.
Advocates are available to meet in person or answer your call Monday - Thursday 10a - 6p and Friday 10a - 2p.
Every Act of Life chronicles the four-time Tony winner’s five decades working in the American theatre.
Jeff Kaufman and Marcia Ross have launched a Kickstarter fund-raising campaign for their documentary on four-time Tony-winning playwright and librettist Terrence McNally.
Entitled Every Act of Life, the film chronicles McNally's pioneering work in the American theatre over five decades, his fight for LGBT rights, his battles with alcohol and cancer, and more. The producers describe the project as the “first documentary about one of the world’s most honored and risk-taking writers, and an immersive exploration of how to make the third act of life as interesting as the first two.”
As filming and editing are complete, the funds raised (with a goal set for $42,000) would go toward final post-production elements, including color correction, sound design, and promotional assets. “Terrence says in Every Act of Life, ’Theatre is collaborative, and life is collaborative,’” write Kaufman and Ross. “Filmmaking is also collaborative. In this case, it is tax deductible, as well, because your contribution will go through our non-profit fiscal sponsor.”
McNally earned Tony Awards for his plays Master Class and Love! Valour! Compassion! as well as the books to the musicals Kiss of the Spider Womanand Ragtime. His works also include The Ritz, Deuce, The Lisbon Traviata, The Rink, A Man of No Importance, Catch Me If You Can, and It's Only a Play. He is currently represented on Broadway with Anastasia.
For more information or to donate to the campaign, which continues through November 22, visit Kickstarter.com.
I would first like to open by thanking Sean Dorsey Dance for coming to Burlington for an incredible week of arts and love, and the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts for hosting such incredible performers to share their passion with us and our community. Another round of thanks is in order for the countless people out there working at AIDS Service Centers, survivors of previous generations, and the generations to come that will continue this incredible work for years to come.
Before Sean Dorsey Dance arrived in Burlington, my experience with stories, survivors, or connection to the AIDS Epidemic were extremely limited due to my upbringing; and I especially did not realize how transformative this experience would be for me. I grew up in a small town in Upstate New York during a time where accessing information or stories of the epidemic was still considered shameful on top of the geographic and societal isolation of queer people made the whole issue taboo; so, with those two barriers, my scope or sense of the struggles of my community during that time of desperation were severely narrowed. After breaching what felt like the surface when I finally made it to college, I was exposed to the histories of my community but only through channels such as reading articles or watching historical films; I was closer to finding this connection or understanding, but there was still a crucial missing piece I would remain unaware of until after moving to the Burlington area. I was unaware just how profound the week of Sean Dorsey Dance would impact me. At Generations Positive, I was able to hear from the people who experienced this crisis which started only a few decades ago. Listening to these stories of grief, resilience, and progress in person and witnessing a performance that portrayed an entire generation’s plight in person was eye opening to say the least. Listening to these stories and seeing the performance helped me understand the gravity of what went on only a few decades ago and why these stories were so important. Being present in the face of these experiences resonated with me to an even deeper level because I was there in person and helped lighten their burden by being present in the same space, just listening
The stories and performance impacted me so much I recognized that the work I am able to do for my community is wholly in thanks to the pioneers, the missing generation, the storytellers of the AIDS epidemic. This experience also allowed me to reorient myself in the sense of how much work there is left to do in HIV/AIDS prevention, intervention, treatment and services; whether they live with the virus or not. After attending such a powerfully moving week of sharing our most intimate selves with community members and strangers alike, my gratitude for the work I am able to do has grown tremendously because of my being present in a space I was unfamiliar with and to my predecessors fight to live and be heard. Thank you.
Is your New Years resolution to quit/cut down or maintain your smoking?
Get the tips, tools and community support you need before the new year!
The Pride Center of Vermont is offering a free 5-week smoking cessation program. Programming starts the second week of November in Chittenden County. Programming starts in January for Washington County.
“I fail all the time and I have to be willing to fail in order to succeed.” Jeffrey Seller is Tony Award-winning theater producer best known for the smash hits “Rent,” “Avenue Q,” “In the Heights” and “Hamilton.” Seller grew up in suburban Detroit, the adopted middle child of a Jewish family. He was enamored of musical theater from an early age. After hearing Patti LuPone sing “Evita” on the “Tony Awards,” he dashed to the library in search of the soundtrack. In fourth grade he wrote his first play, “Adventureland,” which later became the name of his production company. In 1986 Seller graduated from the University of Michigan and moved to New York City. He got his start as a booking agent and became a publicist and producer. Along with his business partner, Seller produced “Rent” in 1996, “Avenue Q” in 2003 and “In the Heights” in 2008. All three shows received the Tony for Best Musical. While working on “Rent,” Seller created the idea for the first-ever rush and lottery ticket policies. With prices and demand for popular Broadway tickets soaring, he was determined to make shows accessible to all people, regardless of their income. He offered a number of front-row seats at a low price on a first-come, first-served basis. People camped out overnight to get the coveted spots. The success led him to offer discounted seats through a lottery system. Seller has worked on numerous shows, including “De La Guarda” in 1998, the “Wild Party” and “High Fidelity” in 2000, the revival of “West Side Story” in 2009, and the “Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo” in 2011, starring Robin Williams. He produced the film adaptation of “Rent” in 2005. In 2014 Seller produced “The Last Ship”—the musical written by rock icon Sting, based on the album of the same name. In 2015, with collaborator Lin-Manuel Miranda, Seller produced “Hamilton.” A Broadway phenomenon, “Hamilton” received 11 Tony Awards and a record-breaking 16 nominations—the most ever for a musical. Seller lives in New York City with his spouse, John Lehrer. They are the parents of a daughter and son.
“There was no one thing that happened or one person. There was just … mass anger.”
Craig Rodwell was a Gay Pioneer and the leading New York activist of the 1960s. He founded the Oscar Wilde Memorial Bookshop, the nation’s first gay bookstore, and the New York Pride Parade.
Born in Chicago, Rodwell attended an all-male Christian Science boarding school, where he experimented with same-sex relationships. After graduating from a public high school, he accepted a scholarship in 1958 to the American Ballet School in New York City. In New York he volunteered for The Mattachine Society, one of the nation’s first gay organizations.
In 1962 Rodwell developed a relationship with Harvey Milk. It was his first serious romance.
In 1964 Rodwell protested against the exclusion of gays from the military. It was the first gay rights demonstration in New York City. The same year, he and fellow Gay Pioneer Frank Kameny conceived the first organized public demonstrations for gay and lesbian equality. Known as Annual Reminders, the protests took place in Philadelphia each Fourth of July from 1965 to 1969 in front of Independence Hall. Demonstrators participated from Philadelphia, New York and Washington.
During those seminal years, Rodwell was involved in numerous gay rights organizations. He was an early member of East Coast Homophile Organizations (ECHO) and started the Homophile Youth Movement in Neighborhoods, which held rallies and published the periodical HYMNAL.
In 1965 Rodwell led a protest at the United Nations Plaza against the detention of gay Cubans in work camps. The following year, he participated in a “sip in” at Julius, a gay bar in Greenwich Village, to protest a State Liquor Authority rule prohibiting homosexuals from congregating in places that served alcohol. Continuing protests ended the rule in New York State.
Rodwell opened the Oscar Wilde Memorial Bookshop in 1967. Located in the heart of Greenwich Village, it became a mecca for gay activists.
In 1969 Rodwell took part in the Stonewall Rebellion and was the first to shout “Gay Power!” At an ECHO meeting thereafter, he proposed a resolution to suspend the Annual Reminders in favor of an event commemorating the anniversary of Stonewall. Rodwell, Frank Kameny, Barbara Gittings and other pioneering activists organized a march. Held on June 28, 1970, it is remembered as the first New York Gay Pride Parade.
Rodwell remained a consequential figure in the gay liberation movement of the ’70s and ’80s. He was honored with the Lambda Literary Award for Publisher’s Service in 1992. He sold his bookstore the following year. It remained open until 2009.
Rodwell died of stomach cancer at age 52.
“When silence is prolonged over a certain period of time, it takes on a new meaning.”
Yukio Mishima is the pen name of Kimitake Hiraoka, one of the most prolific and influential Japanese authors of the 20th century. He was the first living Japanese writer to gain broad recognition in the West.
Born in Tokyo, Mishima was not allowed to play sports or interact with other children his age. He attended an elite Japanese school, studied several languages and was exposed to European culture. His early experiences played an important role in shaping his writing.
Mishima’s first opportunity at professional writing came as a teenager, when he was invited to write a short story for a prestigious literary magazine. He based the story on the bullying he suffered at school. To avoid scandal, he adopted the pseudonym Yukio Mishima, which he continued to use for the rest of his life.
In 1947 Mishima graduated from the University of Tokyo and began work in the government finance ministry. He quit to focus on his writing.
Mishima wrote 50 plays, 34 novels, 25 books of short stories and 35 books of essays. One of his most famous works, “Confession of a Mask,” tells the semi-autobiographical story of a young gay man who must hide behind a mask in order to be accepted by society. He wrote the book when he was 24 and found fame shortly thereafter.
In addition to writing, Mishima worked as a model and a movie actor. In 1958 he married a woman and fathered two children, before exploring the underground gay culture in Japan. Although his widow denied his homosexuality, a gay writer published an account of his relationship with Mishima.
Mishima practiced martial arts and strove to live by the ancient samurai code. In the late 1960s, he became a radical nationalist and formed a private militia called the Tatenokai. In 1970 he and several of its members captured the commandant of the Japanese army in an attempted coup. When the coup failed, Mishima committed the ritual samurai honor suicide, seppuku (also known as hara-kiri), a self-evisceration followed by decapitation. He was buried in Tokyo.
Mishima received many awards and was nominated three times for the Nobel Prize in Literature. A biographical film, “Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters,” was released in 1985, and in 1988 the Mishima Yukio Prize, a literary award, was created in his memory. In 1999 the Mishima Yukio Literary Museum opened in Japan.
“Sometimes being famous gets in the way of doing what you want to do.”
Johnny Mathis is a Grammy Award-winning American singer who sold more than 100 million albums worldwide. One of the most popular solo artists of the 20th century, he released more than 200 singles. “The Tonight Show” host Johnny Carson called him “the best ballad singer in the world.”
Mathis’s family moved to San Francisco when he was a boy. His father, a vaudeville performer, spotted his young son’s talent and encouraged his singing. Also a star athlete, Mathis excelled in high jump and basketball. In 1954 he enrolled at San Francisco State University on an athletic scholarship.
As a teenager, Mathis caught the attention of a club owner who offered to become his manager. After she invited a talent agent from Columbia Records to see him perform, the company signed him.
Despite a recording deal, Mathis was torn between music and sports. The U.S. Olympic Team invited him to try out at the same time he secured the contract with Columbia.
On his father’s advice, Mathis recorded his first album, “Johnny Mathis: A New Sound in Popular Song” in 1956. He recorded two of his most famous songs, “Wonderful! Wonderful!” and “It’s Not For Me to Say,” that same year. By the end of the 1960s, he had released a greatest hits album, which spent an unprecedented 461 consecutive weeks on the Billboard charts.
Mathis struggled with drugs and alcohol. He was candid about his addiction and rehabilitation. He was reluctant, however, to discuss his sexuality. In 1982 he told US magazine, “Homosexuality is a way of life that I’ve grown accustomed to.” He received death threats over of the comment.
Mathis’s music has been featured in movie soundtracks and in more than a hundred television series. His 1978 song “The Last Time I Felt Like This” was nominated for an Academy Award. He has appeared in films and more than 300 times on TV, including in his own specials.
In 2003 the Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences honored Mathis with its Lifetime Achievement Award. He was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame and into the Great American Songbook Hall of Fame.
In 2016 Mathis performed a sold-out show as part of his 60th Anniversary Concert Tour. A year later, he came out on “CBS Sunday Morning.” “I come from San Francisco,” he said. “It’s not unusual to be gay in San Francisco … I knew that I was gay.”
Barry Manilow is an award-winning American singer and songwriter. He has recorded 47 Top 40 singles and sold more than 80 million albums worldwide, making him one of the best-selling recording artists of all time.
Born Barry Alan Pincus in Brooklyn, New York, he adopted his mother’s maiden name, Manilow, at the time of his bar mitzvah. He attended the New York College of Music and studied musical theater at Julliard.
Early in his career, Manilow earned a living as a pianist, producer and arranger for CBS. He also wrote advertising jingles for clients such as State Farm (“Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there”) and Band-Aid (“I’m stuck on Band-Aid, ’cause Band-Aid’s stuck on me”) and sang jingles for Kentucky Fried Chicken, Pepsi and McDonald’s, including for the hamburger chain’s famous “You deserve a break” campaign.
By 1971 Manilow was playing piano for a then-unknown singer, Bette Midler, in the Continental Baths—a gay bathhouse in New York. He wrote and recorded his own music and arranged and co-produced Midler’s chart-topping 1972 debut album, “The Divine Miss M.”
Manilow’s first big hit came in 1974 with “Mandy,” which reached No. 1 on the Billboard charts. He followed it with a string of hits, albums and television appearances. His international hit “Ready to Take a Chance Again” was nominated for the Oscar for Best Song in 1978. The same year, he met Garry Kief, the man he would marry in 2014 after California legalized same-sex marriage. The longtime couple kept their relationship secret for most of Manilow’s career.
In the early 1980s, Manilow hosted his own variety show on ABC for which he won an Emmy Award. He went on to win another Emmy, four Academy Awards, two American Music Awards and a special Tony Award. He has been nominated for 15 Grammys.
Manilow has toured worldwide. He has performed at many charity events for health organizations and to benefit victims of natural disasters. He created the Barry Manilow Scholarship for the six highest-achieving lyric-writing students at UCLA.
Manilow officially came out two years after making headlines for marrying his longtime partner. He told People magazine that he kept his sexuality secret for fear of disappointing his female fans. Manilow’s first marriage, to a woman, was annulled in 1966.
Born Malcolm Michaels, Marsha P. Johnson was a well-known New York City drag queen who fought police at the Stonewall Riots in 1969 and became a trailblazing transgender, gay rights and AIDS activist.
Immediately after Stonewall, Johnson joined the nascent Gay Liberation Front. In 1970 she cofounded Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (S.T.A.R.) with fellow Stonewall agitator, Sylvia Rivera. At the time, transvestitism was illegal in New York. Gender-nonconforming people, particularly those of color, faced intolerance, harassment and violence. Like Johnson, many lived on the streets and resorted to sex work for their survival.
S.T.A.R. created a shelter where transgender adults and youth could share food, clothing and support in relative safety. At the residence, Johnson’s maternal behavior earned her the nickname “queen mother.”
Johnson performed at local clubs and became a visible presence at gay rights events and protests. Andy Warhol photographed her and produced screen prints of her portrait. Although she favored the pronoun “she,” Johnson described herself as a “gay transvestite.” When asked about her middle initial, she would reply that “P” stood for “pay it no mind”— words that helped her persevere.
Johnson struggled with drug addition. She contracted AIDS and joined ACT UP, an organization founded in the 1980s to combat the epidemic. She was instrumental in raising awareness about issues impacting people with the virus.
In 1992, shortly after New York’s Gay Pride Parade, Johnson’s body was found floating in the Hudson River. Although police initially ruled the death a suicide, she was last seen being harassed by a group of men. Despite a grassroots campaign to investigate her death, the N.Y.P.D. did not reopen the case until 2012. It remains unsolved.
Johnson has been the subject of multiple plays and films. Ten days before she died, she was interviewed for what became the 2012 documentary, “Pay it No Mind: The Life and Times of Marsha P. Johnson.” Johnson was also featured in the Oscar-nominated 2012 documentary “How to Survive a Plague,” about the early years of the AIDS crisis. A new documentary, “The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson,” premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in April 2017.
Want more queer space in Burlington? Let's make it happen.
Join us on Friday 10/27 for an LGBTQIA+ bar takeover at Lamp Shop and Radio Bean from 10pm to 1am! This event is 18+ (on the Radio Bean side) with a $5 cover (we're working on options for those who cannot pay). Both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages are available for purchase. All are welcome!
Invite your friends from the community! More details to come!
Laverne Cox is an American actress and LGBT advocate. She rose to prominence with her role as Sophia Burset on the Netflix series Orange Is the New Black, becoming the first openly transgender person to be nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award in the acting category, and the first to be nominated for an Emmy Award since composer/musician Angela Morley in 1990. In 2015, she won a Daytime Emmy Award in Outstanding Special Class Special as executive producer for Laverne Cox Presents: The T Word.. This made her the first openly transgender woman to win a Daytime Emmy as an executive producer. Also in 2015, she became the first openly transgender person to have a wax figure of herself at Madame Tussauds. In 2017, she became the first transgender person to play a transgender series regular on broadcast TV as Cameron Wirth on CBS's Doubt.