Taiga Ishikawa is the first openly gay public official elected in Japan.
A native of Sugamo, Ishikawa graduated from Meiji Gakuin University School of Law. He came out at age 28 in his autobiography, “Where Is My Boyfriend?” (2002). Since then, he has actively supported LGBT rights, including same-sex marriage and workplace protections. He has appeared on various television programs and participated in the Tokyo Pride Parade. In 2004 Ishikawa founded a nonprofit organization, Peer Friends, that hosts events for gay men in Japanese cities.
In 2011, after serving as the secretary to Social Democratic Party (SDP) Leader Mizuho Fukushima, Ishikawa was elected to a seat on Tokyo’s Toshima Ward Assembly. After his historic win, Ishikawa said, “I hope this news will give hope to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people who still feel isolated from the society.”
Two years later, Ishikawa ran for chairman of the SDP. He was the first openly gay candidate to run for parliamentary party leadership in Japanese history. Although he lost the bid, he was applauded again for breaking barriers. He became one of the most famous gay men in Japan. The Japan Times hailed him as a potentially “valuable asset” to the party who could help “channel the voices of marginalized people.”
In office Ishikawa successfully lobbied for the right of Japanese citizens to marry foreign nationals of the same sex in countries where same-sex marriage is legal. He also campaigned for creation of a domestic partnership registry that managed housing and hospital visitation rights on the municipal level. In 2016 he opposed an anti-LGBT legislator, saying that same-sex marriage and other rights are important in ending discrimination in Japanese society.
Although homosexuality is not criminalized in Japan, people in the LGBT community face open discrimination. “In Japan, gay people instantly know they shouldn’t tell anyone about their sexuality,” Ishikawa said. “Coming out as a gay is not easy in Japan yet.”
"Three years ago I started smoking again after being smoke-free for twenty years. I started again because the day after my father-in-law died my mother was taken to the ER for a critical health issue. I turned to the comfort of cigarettes when faced with the loss of a loved one and the worry over another one.
I was so disappointed in myself for starting again. I kept telling myself I would quit at the end of the summer, before the holidays,etc. I kept making excuses and kept right on smoking. I was on the Board of the Pride Center of Vermont and joined their first smoking cessation class. After the four sessions of class, Mike Bensel, my cessation counselor, really gave me the tools I needed to actually quit. So, after three years of smoking a little and sometimes a lot, and being angry at myself everyday for doing so, I quit on Halloween of 2016 and haven’t smoked since. I feel so much better, my house smells better and I’m proud of myself everyday for not stopping and buying cigarettes."
Do you use tobacco? Is 2017 your year to quit?
The Pride Center of Vermont is offering a free 5-week smoking cessation program. If you're interested in participating or have questions- contact Mike at LGBTQuits@pridecentervt.org.
Lorraine Hansberry is an acclaimed American playwright and author, best known for “A Raisin in the Sun.” She was the first black woman to write a play performed on Broadway.
Hansberry was born on the South Side of Chicago. Her family’s home served as a hub of black intellectualism. Her parents entertained some of the most respected thinkers of the day, including W.E.B. DuBois and Paul Robeson.
Hansberry attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she became politically active and helped to integrate her dormitory. She dropped out after two years and moved to New York City to pursue a writing career. She enrolled in The New School and joined the staff of Paul Robeson’s progressive black newspaper, Freedom.
In 1953 Hansberry married Robert Nemiroff, a Jewish publisher, songwriter and political activist. At the time, Hansberry was a closeted lesbian.
In 1957 Hansberry joined the Daughters of Bilitis, an early lesbian rights organization, and became an activist. She wrote “A Raisin in the Sun” the same year.
“A Raisin in the Sun” premiered on Broadway and ran for 530 performances. It has been translated into 35 languages and was adapted for the screen. The acclaimed play made Hansberry the first black dramatist, the fifth women and youngest person ever to win a New York Drama Critic’s Circle Award.
Hansberry divorced in 1962 and died of pancreatic cancer in 1965. She was 34. At the funeral, the novelist James Baldwin and civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. eulogized her.
After her death, Hansberry’s ex-husband adapted her writings into “To Be Young, Gifted and Black,” which became the longest-running Off-Broadway play of the 1968-’69 season. In 1969 Nina Simone recorded a song of the same name as a tribute to her departed friend.
“Raisin,” a musical adaptation of “A Raisin in the Sun,” opened on Broadway in 1973 and won a Tony Award for Best Musical. A revival of the original play won a Tony in 2004.
Hansberry was named to the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame and to the biographical dictionary “100 Greatest African Americans.” In 2013 she was inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame and the Legacy Walk, an outdoor display in Chicago celebrating LGBT heroes.
Please join representatives of the Vermont Veterans Legal Assistance Project of South Royalton Legal Clinic, the VA Lakeside Clinic, and the Vermont National Guard Pride Program to learn about important resources for LGBTQ veterans and VA-eligible service members in Vermont.
Karl Gorath was imprisoned at Auschwitz for being gay. He was arrested in his home in 1938, after a jealous lover reported him to the Nazis.
Paragraph 175 of the German code criminalized homosexuality. Though the law was on the books long before World War II, the Nazis used it as grounds to make wholesale arrests of homosexuals. Hilter launched a crackdown on gay individuals, organizations and activities after he came to power in 1933.
Gorath was born in a small town in northern Germany. When he was arrested by the Nazis at age 26, he was first imprisoned at Neuengamme, a concentration camp near Hamburg, Germany. He was forced to wear a pink triangle, the symbol used by the Nazi’s to identify gay prisoners. In the camps, homosexuals were worked to death, subjected to torture and forced to endure horrific medical experiments.
Because he had some training as a nurse, Gorath was transferred to a sub-camp, where the Nazis put him to work in a prison hospital. When he was ordered to decrease the already meager bread rations given to Polish patients, he refused. As punishment, the Nazis sent him Auschwitz—the largest and most notorious death camp, located in southern Poland. At Auschwitz he met a Polish man who became his lover.
According to estimates, the Nazi’s murdered 1.1 million people at Auschwitz, including homosexuals. Gorath was one of the lucky ones. He was liberated in 1945.
After the war, Gorath continued to face discrimination. Because he was a “convicted homosexual,” most employers refused to hire him.
The German Legislature, the Bundestag, repealed Paragraph 175 in 1990. In 2002 the Bundestag vacated convictions of homosexuality by the Nazis, and in 2017 Germany pardoned and compensated gays who were convicted under the old law.
Gorath is one of six gay men profiled in the documentary, “Paragraph 175” (2000), which chronicles homosexual persecution during the Holocaust.
“My top priority is serving God’s people in God’s church.”
The Rt. Rev. Mary Douglas Glasspoolis the first out lesbian bishop in the Anglican Communion—an association of Anglican and Episcopal churches around the world. Glasspool follows in the footsteps of Gene Robinson, the first openly gay Anglican bishop, who was consecrated in 2003.
Born on Staten Island, New York, Glasspool is the daughter of a conservative Episcopal priest. She attended Dickinson College and graduated magna cum laude. She received the college’s Hofstader Prize as the outstanding woman in her class.
Glasspool entered the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1976. At the time, the ordination of women was controversial and the church was generally unreceptive to LGBT participation.
Glasspool’s father was opposed to women’s ordination. Nevertheless, he supported his daughter’s calling. “In his own gracious way, he sort of separated out public and private,” Glasspool told Newsweek. While still a seminarian, she attended the church’s General Convention, where she made a presentation regarding the ordination of homosexuals.
Glasspool was ordained an Episcopal deacon in 1981. She became a priest and, later, assistant to the rector at St. Paul’s Church in Philadelphia, before accepting the rectorship at a church in Boston. While in Boston, she met her life partner, Becki Sander.
In 2001 Glasspool was chosen as canon to the bishops of the Diocese of Maryland. She was elected bishop suffragan of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles in 2009. That same year, the Episcopal General Convention resolved, “God’s call is open to all.”
Glasspool is the 17th woman to become an Episcopal bishop and the first out lesbian to become a bishop in the Anglican Communion. Her controversial election gained worldwide attention, helping shape the international debate about LGBT clergy in Anglicanism. Since 2015 Glasspool has served as a bishop in the Episcopal Diocese of New York.
Glasspool and Sander, a Ph.D. social worker, have been together since 1988.
“We understand organizing not to happen online but to be built through face-to-face connections.”
Alicia Garza is an African-American activist and writer who cofounded the racial justice movement Black Lives Matter.
Garza (née Schwartz) grew up with her African-American mother and Jewish stepfather in Marin County, California. Her activism began early. In middle school she worked to make birth control information available to San Francisco Bay Area students.
Garza attended the University of California San Diego. At 22, she met Malachi Garza, a biracial transgender male activist and organizer. A year later she came out to her family. She married Garza in 2008.
In 2013 Garza cofounded #BlackLivesMatter following the the not-guilty verdict in the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black youth. The hashtag derives from a post she published on Facebook.
In 2014 Garza led the Freedom Ride to Ferguson, Missouri, after the shooting death of Michael Brown—another unarmed black youth—by a police officer. She also attempted to stop a Bay Area Rapid Transit train to memorialize Brown’s death. She and other protestors chained themselves to the train before police arrested them. The Ferguson-shooting protests coincided with the development of Black Lives Matter chapters across the country.
Garza works in Oakland, California, as a community organizer around issues of health, student rights, domestic worker rights, police brutality and anti-racism. She identifies as a queer woman and has been an outspoken advocate against violence aimed at transgender and gender-nonconforming people of color. Her writing has been featured in Rolling Stone, The Nation, The Guardian, The Huffington Post and other publications.
Garza served as director of People Organized to Win Employment Rights in San Francisco and won the right of youth to use the city’s public transportation for free. She also fought gentrification and helped expose police brutality in the Bay Area. She serves on the board of directors of Forward Together, a grassroots organization that trains people for leadership, and she is involved with Black Organizing for Leadership and Dignity. She also directs special projects for the National Domestic Workers Alliance.
Along with other honors, Garza received the Bayard Rustin Community Activist Award and twice received the Harvey Milk Democratic Club Award. She was named to The Root 100 list of African-American Achievers between the ages of 25 and 45 and to Politico’s 2015 guide to thinkers, doers and visionaries. In 2015 the Advocate selected her among its nominees for Person of the Year.
“I feel a responsibility as secretary of the Army, not just because of the historical nature of the appointment … because I’m gay.”
Nominated by President Barack Obama, Eric Fanning served as the 22nd Secretary of the Army, the largest branch of the U.S. military. The confirmation made him the first openly gay man to lead a U.S. military department and the highest-ranking openly gay official ever at the Pentagon.
Born in Kalamazoo, Michigan, Fanning attended the prestigious Cranbrook School. In 1990 he earned a B.A. in history from Dartmouth College. At Dartmouth he got involved in a New Hampshire primary election—an experience that cemented his interest in government and politics.
After college Fanning held various political jobs in Washington, D.C. He served as a research assistant with the House Armed Services Committee, as a special assistant in the Immediate Office of the Secretary of Defense and as associate director of political affairs for the White House. In 1997 he took a job with CBS National News in New York, working on national and foreign assignments. He went on to hold executive positions at the Business Executives for National Security, a Washington think tank, and at a strategic communications firm in New York, before becoming director of the Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism.
Although he never served in the military, Fanning held high-ranking posts, including under secretary and chief management officer of the Air Force and under secretary of the Navy/deputy chief management officer. He served as chief of staff to Secretary of Defense Ashton B. Carter.
After the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee confirmed him as Secretary of the Army in March 2016, Fanning publicly thanked his boyfriend Ben Masri-Cohen.
Throughout his career, Fanning has been a vocal supporter of LGBT service members. While serving on the board of directors of the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, he supported the right of openly transgender people to serve in the military.
“I always thought they were going to be pretty big.”
Brian Epstein was a British music producer, best known for discovering and managing The Beatles.
Born to a Jewish family in Liverpool, England, Epstein was expelled from two schools for his poor grades. At 16 he announced his desire to become a dress designer, but his parents insisted he work in the family furniture business.
In the early 1950s, Epstein enlisted in the Royal Army Services Corps. He was arrested at a gay nightclub for wearing an army uniform and was ordered to undergo psychiatric treatment. When he came out to the psychiatrist, the army discharged him for being “emotionally and mentally unfit.” He subsequently enrolled at the Royal Academy of the Dramatic Arts and was arrested outside of a public restroom where gay men met for sex. He left school and returned to Liverpool.
Epstein made his entrée into the music business managing his family’s music store. He helped grow it into one of the largest music retailers in Northern England. During this time, he discovered the Beatles at a small Liverpool club. Though he had no experience managing bands, Epstein secured the Beatles’ first recording contract. He is credited with influencing the Beatles’ early style—black suits and mop haircuts—and hiring drummer Ringo Starr.
As the Beatles’ success grew, so did their relationship with Epstein, whom they trusted and relied upon implicitly. John Lennon chose Epstein as the best man in his first wedding and as the godfather to his eldest son.
Epstein’s sexuality was not public until after his death. Paul McCartney said the band knew he was gay when they signed with him, but didn’t care.
To guard his secret, Epstein took vacations to Amsterdam and Barcelona, where homosexuality was not illegal. Epstein and Lennon were rumored to have had a sexual encounter in Spain, but Lennon denied it. “Well, it was almost a love affair,” Lennon told Playboy, “… we did have a pretty intense relationship.”
Epstein’s memoir, “A Cellarful of Noise,” which describes his early days with the Beatles and growing up Jewish, was published in 1964. Rumors circulated about his drug addiction. He died in 1967 at age 33 from an accidental overdose of sleeping pills combined with alcohol. The Bee Gees paid tribute to him in their 1968 song “In the Summer of His Years.”
Epstein’s family home was converted into a Beatles-themed hotel, Epstein House. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2014.
“Don’t let the love for your sport overshadow the need to love yourself.”
Wade Alan Davis II is the first NFL player to come out. He is a pioneering LGBT advocate who directs the You Can Play Project, an organization that educates the pro sports industry about LGBT issues.
Davis grew up in Shreveport, Louisiana, and Aurora, Colorado, in a devout Southern Baptist family. He played football in high school and for both Mesa State and Weber State in college.
In 2001 Davis made his professional debut with the Berlin Thunder in Europe’s NFL, where he helped win World Bowl IX. Later that year, he joined the Seattle Seahawks before returning to Europe to play for the Barcelona Dragons. In 2003 he signed with the Washington Redskins. A leg injury forced him to retire early.
Davis came out publicly in 2012. He has since toured the country, sharing what it was like to be closeted in professional sports and to grow up in a strict religious family. He became a pioneering activist and paved the way for other LGBT players to come out. Davis has spoken at colleges, universities and corporations around the world.
In 2013 when he was named executive director of You Can Play, Davis helped develop training focused on LGBT inclusion and diversity in professional sports. He also worked with the Hetrick-Martin Institute in New York, where he taught life and employment skills to LGBT youth.
In 2014 Davis became a professor at the Tisch Institute for Sports Management, Media and Business in the NYU School of Professional Studies. He cofounded the YOU Belong Initiative, an organization that provides comprehensive training for LGBT youth and allies. His social media campaign, #ThisIsLuv, celebrates LGBT experiences in the black community.
Davis has written about his life and the need for LGBT acceptance in sports for many publications, including The Advocate and The Huffington Post. He contributed essays to the books “For Colored Boys Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Still Not Enough” and “Coming Home.”
Davis serves on the board of the Gay Men’s Health Crisis in New York City and is a member of the sports advisory board for GLSEN. Among other recognition, Northeastern University awarded him an honorary doctorate for public service. The National Youth Pride Services named him one of 50 Black LGBT Adults That Youth Should Know and The Root named him to its list of 100 black influencers.
identifying places throughout the state that tell the story of our shared LGBTQ history.
Please join us and the Vermont Division for Historic Preservation for a discussion October 17 at 11:30 a.m., following the dedication of the Marriage Equality State Historic Marker at the State House (room 11) in Montpelier to continue identifying historically significant places throughout the state.
Opening its doors to the public once more, the Translating Identity Conference (TIC) explores a wide array of topics in discourses regarding gender and transgender identities, expressions, communities, and intersections. The largest conference of its kind in New England, TIC is a free, student organized, non-profit conference that seeks to reach not only the University of Vermont & the Burlington community, but the nation as a whole. A one-day event, TIC has numerous sessions to choose from at any time, ranging from healthcare to law to education, that are directed towards people at all levels of inclusion in the trans and allied communities. This conference is a safe space for everyone to come, learn, and enjoy themselves!
This conference is open to the national public, but space is limited. Please register as soon as possible to guarantee your spot.
“You can’t have any successes unless you accept failure.”
George Cukor was an Academy Award-winning film director best known for his comedies and literary adaptations for the screen. His film classics include “The Philadelphia Story,” “A Star is Born” and “My Fair Lady.” During his career, he directed more Oscar-winning performances than anyone else.
Cukor was born to Hungarian Jewish immigrants on New York City’s Lower East Side. As a child, he showed an interest in theater, appearing in plays and taking dance lessons. He would often cut classes to watch matinees.
Though Cukor was expected to become a lawyer, he left school and enlisted in the Signal Corps during World War II. After the war, he became a stage manager for a traveling acting troupe. He also worked in summer stock theater and made his Broadway debut as an actor.
Cukor first captured critical attention as director of the stage production of “The Great Gatsby.” He directed six Broadway shows before leaving for Hollywood in 1929.
Cukor signed with Paramount Pictures and began working as a speech coach and subsequently as a dialogue director. He made his directorial debut with the 1931 film, “Tarnished Lady,” starring Tallulah Bankhead. Cukor helped launch the careers of many stars, including Katherine Hepburn. Hepburn and Cukor became lifelong friends.
Rumors regarding Cukor’s personal life circulated in Hollywood. Writer Gore Vidal alleged that Clark Gable refused to work with Cukor because of his homosexuality. Soon after, Cukor was fired from directing “Gone with the Wind.”
Though Cukor never came out publicly, his sexuality was well known among industry insiders. He hosted extravagant parties attended by closeted celebrities, and his home became a refuge for gay and lesbian actors. During his time at MGM, Cukor was arrested on vice charges, which were dismissed due to industry pressure.
Cukor earned a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame in 1960. He was nominated for three Golden Globes and five Academy Awards, winning the Oscar in 1965 for “My Fair Lady.” In 1976 he received the George Eastman Award for distinguished contribution to film.
In 2000 PBS broadcast “On Cukor,”as part of its American Masters series. In 2013 the Film Society of Lincoln Center presented a retrospective titled, “The Discreet Charm of George Cukor.
“If you want to change the future, start living as if you’re already there.”
Born male in Mt. Vernon, New York, Lynn Conway is a pioneer in microelectronic chip design and a transgender activist. She helped shape the way modern computers are designed and built.
Conway, formerly Robert Sanders (a pseudonym), enrolled at MIT at 17, but struggled with his gender identity and dropped out. After working as a computer technician, he resumed his education at Columbia University and earned a master’s degree in electrical engineering. He married a woman and fathered two daughters.
Robert’s outstanding record at Columbia attracted the attention of IBM, who recruited him to work on a supercomputing team. Despite his work on a groundbreaking invention, he was fired in 1968 when he began his gender transition.
After learning about the pioneering work of Dr. Harry Benjamin, Robert underwent gender correction surgery. He completed his transition and took the name Lynn Conway. Conway’s ex-wife would not allow her to see their children.
Conway started over in “stealth mode” for fear of being outed and losing her career again. She advanced quickly. At Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC), she created new methods of silicon chip design and co-wrote a seminal engineering textbook used at universities worldwide. In 1978, on leave as a visiting associate professor at MIT, she invented an e-commerce infrastructure that enabled rapid development of thousands of new chip designs, launching an international revolution in microelectronics and computing.
Conway worked briefly for the Department of Defense before joining the University of Michigan as associate dean of engineering and a professor of electrical engineering and computer science. During this period, she met Charles Rodgers, the man she married.
In 1998, as Conway neared retirement, stories of her innovations at IBM began to circulate. Facing her fear of exposure, she came out on the internet. She created a transgender advocacy website to “illuminate and normalize the issues of gender identity and the processes of gender transition.” She has worked for employment protections for transgender people in the tech industry and successfully lobbied for transgender inclusion in the Institute of Electronic and Electrical Engineers (IEEE) code of ethics.
Conway has received many prestigious awards, including election to the National Academy of Engineering, the profession’s highest honor. In 2004 she was cast in an all-transgender performance of “The Vagina Monologues” and appeared in the documentary “Beautiful Daughters.”
Conway lives with her husband in rural Michigan. They have been together for more than 30 years.
Charlotte Bunch is an internationally renowned activist, feminist author and National Women’s Hall of Fame inductee, who has devoted her life to women’s rights. She is the founding director and senior scholar at the Center for Women’s Global Leadership at Rutgers University, where she is also a distinguished professor in the Department of Women’s Studies.
Raised in a liberal family, Bunch spent most of her childhood in Artesia, New Mexico. She enrolled at Duke University and graduated magna cum laude in 1966. In college she was involved in the Young Women’s Christian Association and the Methodist Student Movement. She became a youth delegate to the World Council of Churches Conference and served as president of the University Christian Movement in Washington, D.C., before leaving the church over its homophobic policies.
Bunch became politically active in the women’s movement and later in lesbian rights advocacy. She was a fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, D.C., and cofounded The Furies Collective, a lesbian organization that espoused lesbian separatism. Bunch helped launch the publications Women’s Liberation and Quest: A Feminist Quarterly. The National Register of Historic Places named The Furies headquarters a landmark. It is the first lesbian-related historic landmark in Washington, D.C.
By 1979 Bunch had become a consultant to the World Conference for the United Nations Decade on Women, which lobbied for women’s rights globally. In 1989 she founded the Center for Women’s Global Leadership at Douglass College at Rutgers University, which created the Charlotte Bunch Women’s Human Rights Strategic Opportunities Fund in her honor.
In 1996 Bunch was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame. She received the Eleanor Roosevelt Award for Human Rights from President Bill Clinton and the Women Who Make a Difference Award from the National Council for Research on Women. In 2002 Rutgers University honored her with its Board of Trustees Award for Excellence in Research.
Bunch has worked with numerous organizations, including the Advisory Committee for the Human Rights Watch, the Global Fund for Women and the International Council on Human Rights Policy. She consulted on the 2006 Report to the U.N. General Assembly on Violence Against Women and has written and edited many books and reports on women’s rights.
A documentary film, “Passionate Politics: The Life & Work of Charlotte Bunch,” explores her lifetime of advocacy on behalf of women worldwide.