Randy Wicker may not be a familiar name to those familiar with LGBT history - but the 79-year-old made his mark in the movement, beginning in the 1960s. Many assume the first organized protest for gay rights occurred on April 17, 1965, in front of the White House, where demonstrators, including Frank Kameny, protested the firing of gay and lesbian civil servants.
Today, references to the LGBT community are commonplace. One hears them in both the mainstream media and everyday conversation. What's not generally discussed, though, is how this particular combination of words came to represent the LGBT community. Why were some words admitted to this "alphabet soup" while others were excluded?
When President Barack Obama linked Selma, Seneca Falls and Stonewall in his second Inaugural Address, it was a connection that hit home for Congressman John Lewis.
Kay Tobin Lahusen was the first photojournalist of the LGBTQ movement, a pre- and post-Stonewall activist who helped to document the earliest protests for homosexual rights.
In a time when President Donald Trump has directed a ban on transgender individuals from serving in the military, his administration has rescinded protections for trans students in public schools and the advancement of LGBTQ national historic landmarks are in question, the stories of those who fought for equal rights in an earlier era seem to be more important than ever before. One such story is that of Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin, who ushered in the modern lesbian movement and made history by becoming the first same-sex couple married in San Francisco - twice. Their accomplishments as activists and the love they shared have become a symbol of perseverance, strength and hope for the LGBTQ community.
Many things have been said and written about "Stonewall," the historic confrontation in June 1969 after a police raid at the Stonewall Inn, a Mafia-run gay bar on Christopher Street in New York City's Greenwich Village that ignited the Gay Revolution - and an incredible change in attitudes and feelings about queer people throughout the world.
In 1961, Frank Kameny and Washington, D.C., native Jack Nichols organized the Mattachine Society of Washington, D.C., an affiliate of Harry Hay's original group in Los Angeles in name more than in style. Nichols had been deeply affected at age 15 when he read Edward Sagarin's 1951 book "The Homosexual in America." Nichols recounted decades later in a letter to "The Gay Metropolis"author Charles Kaiser that he was most touched by Sagarin's quotation from the prominent African-American activist and author W. E. B. Du Bois: "The worst effect of slavery was to make the Negroes doubt themselves and share in the general contempt for black folk." Nichols well understood the harmful effects of self-stigma in gay men's lives.
LGBT history can be found in every aspect of our lives. Sometimes it just comes as a surprise to learn that something, or someone, you've known about was gay. Given the title of this column, you may think this is going to be about the lyricist of "Gypsy" - my favorite Broadway composer, Stephen Sondheim, who's gay - it isn't. And if you think it's about another member of the production company of that original Broadway bombastic hit - so many of them were gay - again, it isn't.