By punkpink and several others.
We came across a sort of a laughing matter a few weeks back when scrolling around on different sites. We went over to the Hartford Downtown Dwellers site, well on the “dwellers” site two folks posted the latest survey done by the Human Rights Campaign Fund. They then added a nod to the “gay” Mayor of Hartford. Well that was enough for us, shit like that begs to be talked to. Goosey Bell said, “Why in the world do you even want to bother as no one that we hang with gives one rats bottom what HRC or the downtown dwellers have to say about anything?” Why you yourself have declared HRC to be in the same bag as the enemy.” So I thought about it and decided that this piece is not intended to knock HRC but if it does well then it does. Dear readers be prepared. These HRC types and their fellow travelers will turn any and all of us liberationists in to the man without a second thought. Many of us are in the way of their being model citizens. These types of people go about making alliances with some of the most dreadful corporations in the world, aligning themselves with the masters, the CIA and the military industrial complex all for equality. We ask how can they claim to be for human rights when they align their group with corporate culture and selling good manufactured in sweatshops. Contrary to popular belief, capitalism has nothing to do with respect for human life. Our dislike for HRC did not just drop suddenly out of the sky but has been a long running feud with the comfortable class gays and lesbians who run HRC. Folks like these we have been in rebellion against for most of our life. They seek power and become power, power that is some of the worse kind. They have become face of face of the oppressor. Their power we must continue to deal with in any manner, shape or form that we deem necessary to end it. (1) One question for HRC and all the comfortable class “gays”, now that you have your equality what are you going to do with it?
This piece is not intended to praise the city of Hartford or any part of it for as Fredrick Douglas said, “Power concedes nothing without demand.” Over the years our activists have demanded and piece by piece got what our people deserved and should never had to ask for. This article is for our people who fought the powers that be, way before there was a comfortable class who walked in the doors declaring that the spoils of the fight were theirs. You know when folks step in shit they usually smell it after awhile.
This piece is not intended to praise our “gay” mayor for any reason. After the doors were smashed in he comfortably walk though running as a democrat in a democrat city and wining was an easy job to do. Getting in easy, no fight no hard work, no fighting off the right wing religious nuts that plagued other LGBT candidates in Hartford. We never in all the years that the mayor has lived in town heard that he was out there fighting for the rights of LGBT folks, I for one have never seen his name associated with any of our efforts ( he has been here for many years) except lately testifying once or twice for the marriage issue (selfish issue as far as we are concerned). How far out of touch has Mr. Mayor been? Most queer thinkers that I know see him as an elitist snob with an elitist snob husband who opposed a local church in their neighborhood giving out food to the poor. This mayor has never yet addressed the poverty that is prevalent through out this city. As queers we are not proud of him as mayor, he might be a gay man in office but he has left the very gay soul that made us all a long time ago somewhere. And we know for sure he won’t find it among the sweat shop rainbow flags, the elitists, or the powerful. We see that more and more with gays who have finally realized the americkkkan dream and made it to the top or sit near the top whether it be in power in the city or state or federal government. They are there, they are gay but they are lacking a queer spirit and soul. Yes they are no different than the dreadful straight folks except for what they do it bed. It shows lord how it shows that they have murdered their gay spirit and now they are out to murder the very soul of the GLBT movement. Yes, we have said this so many times before over the years that we begin to sound like a broken record to some. But you know the truth must be told over and over again and hopefully someone and then someone else will understand what we mean, join us and seek real liberation not equality or assimilation. And if not that then by us telling the story over and over it won’t be lost, someone will know that there remains a true queer light among the stinking darkness.
Here is the survey that that the Human Rights Campaign does ranking cities that was on a LGBT Law Project site.
So let’s begin our-stories.
In 1999 I was privileged to be one of the principle “weavers” of an exhibition, Challenging and Changing America: The Struggle for LGBT Civil Rights, 1900-1999. Myself and a few activists in the area were some of the first to pour over Foster Gunninson Jr.’s archives that were still in storage boxes at the University of Connecticut. We also were given access to many archives stored at the Elihu Burritt Library at Central Connecticut State University. Activists around Connecticut and one as far away as Washington state allowed us access to their archives. Our small group of “weavers” were dedicated to this project as the century was turning, to tell the story as best we could of our peoples journey through the 20th century. The archives contained the real stories of many of our revolutionary people, what they fought for at the time, what their stories were and what the resistance was that they faced. The full archives of this exhibition that traveled around the state are now housed at the Elihu Burritt Library at CCSU. The foundation was founded in 1985 as the educational wing of Connecticut Coalition for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Civil Rights. The foundation conducted educational activities such as lectures, conferences, seminars, rallies, pickets and other programming for our members and the general public. We were proud to work with the foundation over the years and we presented programming pertaining to many of the social issues of the mid to late nineties.
The Foundation disbanded in 2000 when efforts to pass a marriage bill and the founding of Love Makes A Family dedicated to this passage began working in the state. At that time I felt and still do that one issue organizing was not the way and never the way to go. So much is lost with any quest that only takes in ones own group. So much of that seems to be selfish and in self interests and does not build communities with others. A statement by Audre Lorde that I have always tried to live by is simple and gets right to the point on how any movement must and should be, Ms. Lorde said, “There is no such thing as a single issue struggle, as we do not lead single issue lives.”
“We had to learn to like ourselves before we could become political.”
As early as 1966 Foster Gunnison Jr. who at that time was a member of the national organization, The North American Conference of Homophile Organizations or NACHO had written an essay titled, The Agony of the Mask in which he declared that homosexuals must end their secrecy and to openly avow one’s homosexuality.” That by doing so was the only way that our people could repair the damage done to them.” In other words, Come out, come out, come out of the closet.
Foster Gunnison Jr. in his archives at Bushnell Towers. Photo Robert Giard 1992 (4)
By 1967 Gunnison had founded the Institute of Social Ethics in Hartford and began to maintain historical records and archives of the American Homophile Movement. These records are now kept at UCONN. By 1969 Gunnison was calling for radical confrontations, street demonstrations, blatant and hard-hitting assaults on social institutions and when necessary riots and violence. (5 ) Gunnison was one of the main planners for the first march to commemorate the Stonewall Rebellion. The group called itself The Christopher Street Liberation Day Committee. In June 1970 and estimated 10,000 people celebrated with a march to Central Park. In 1970 I was living on the Lower East Side of New York and was one of the proud marchers along with a contingent of gay hippy boys, and other assorted outlaws from the neighborhood. I had missed the Stonewall Rebellion living in San Francisco in 69, so as I said to Miguel my boyfriend ,”I am not going to miss this one.”
Stirring in Hartford begin within the gay underground in early 1968 when the Cannon Clinton Jones of Christ Church Cathedral in Hartford began a counseling group for Gays. An early Activist and publisher John Crowley once told me that, ” We had to learn to like ourselves before we could become political.” Crowley published the early radical magazine of the Kalos society, The Connection, The Griffin and also the MCC News of the Metropolitan Community Church and in 1982 founded the Metroline Magazine. We salute John for getting the news out to the people, one of the most important functions of any revolution. Like themselves they did and the activist Kalos Society and then the Hartford Gay Liberation Front was founded.
The year after the great rebellion at Stonewall members of the Kalos Society stood on the streets of downtown Hartford passing out leaflets titled, “The person who gave you this is a homosexual.” A revolutionary act of coming out standing up and declaring in the kingdom of steady habits, insurance executives, bankers, and hundreds of other folks out on the sidewalks . The December issue of The Griffin had this to say, “What appears below is a copy of the flyer currently being passed out on the streets of Hartford by members of the Kalos Society-Gay Liberation. The purpose of the flyer is to give a brief explanation of the concept of “Gay liberation” to the heterosexual community. A Blue and White button reading KALOS SMILE ON YOUR BROTHER is handed out along with the flyer. The original flyer is from the Foster Gunnison, Jr. Papers, Archives & Special Collections at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, University of Connecticut Libraries. (8)
By early 1970 The Gay Liberation Front is founded in Hartford with plans to supplement the activities of the Kalos Society. In 1971 a bill written by Ken Bland of the Kalos would have forbidden discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. The bill if passed would have extended Connecticut’s fair housing and fair employment legislation to include homosexuals. Only 6 senators voted in favor of the bill. Senator Wilbur G. Smith introduced the bill and spoke in favor of it.
Kalos members began to picket The Park West a local Gay Bar in support of their sisters in the group who were being indiscriminately hassled by the management. On Friday September 3, 1971 eleven members of the Kalos Society were arrested and charged with loitering and Breach of the Peace for conducting a spirited picket line. The group is verbally and physically abused by the police. The charges are later dropped after several postponements in court. After the arrests members of the group picketed every night until Pat Shea one of the owners of the bar agreed to drop the dress code and stop hassling women. At this time the Kalos Society made the statement that the Park West was the only gay bar in Hartford that had been liberated and sent out a message to the other bars that it was time to wake up. (9)
In 1971 the Gay community was invited to participate in a Good Friday “Stations of the Cross march through downtown. The march that year intended to point to “the crucifixion” of individuals in modern times. A planned stop on the march was Hartford’s Union Station where activists stated, “this building stands as a symbol of gay oppression in this city.” It is here that our people are arrested and beaten by the police, robbed by heterosexuals,preyed upon by blackmailers and spied upon by the vice squad.” The group planned on reading names of persons who had been beaten, robbed, in the city and close by states or had lost jobs for speaking out as a gay person.
Elsewhere in Connecticut in 1971 Connecticut Motor Vehicle Commissioner refused to reinstate a New London’s resident’s drivers license on the grounds that he “is an admitted homosexual and that his homosexuality makes him an improper person to hold an operators license. According to the man’s attorney “The suspension of the license was not at any time the result of any matter pertaining to the use of a motor vehicle or the use of any public highway.”
1971 Connecticut became the second state to abolish its laws prohibiting homosexual acts between consenting adults.
A Kalos Gay Liberation Front picnic planned for Goodwin Park and advertised in the Griffin (the publication of the group) became a public controversy. Four hundred South End residents lead by Big Boy Carilli a beer salesman signed a petition to city council stating that homosexuality goes against God and feared for their children tried to prevent the picnic from happening. According to corporation counsel John Fitzgerald the group that there was no ordinance that would prevent the use of a city park by any group. The Kalos Society held a press conference and stated that they had, “every intention to hold the picnic” even in the face of possible mob action against them. The group met with the police that assured them that protection would be provided and the picnic was held on September 21, 1971 with Big Boy Carilli in attendance. Over 100 supporters came out to the picnic. A interesting leaflet, again from the Gunnison Collection at UCONN was handed out at the picnic by the Kalos Society called Big Brother Is Watching You which had this to say:
In the October November issue of the Griffin the Kalos/gay Liberation Front/Society issued this statement of purpose, “The achievement of the unqualified acceptance of society of homosexuality as a wholly natural personal trait, and a highly valued expression of human loves.” Our aim and purposes are To Provide varying social activities, to educate the public and ourselves to the true and good nature of homosexuality and to set up counseling services, legal services and medical checks through referrals to members in need.
The first Gay Pride week was held in Hartford June 17-24. During the week panel discussion on homosexuality, gay guerrilla theater pieces, a gay book fair and a gay church service was held.
By 1975 the Kalos Society was attending police roll call in Hartford to brief the police on what it is like to gay. Police Chief Hugo J. Masini arranged the sensitivity sessions which he declared to be successful. However the vice squad continued to entrap and arrest homosexuals around the city. The photo below is from Hartford Train Station area when Kalos members sold copies of the Griffin Magazine. (11) The Kalos Women’s Caucus was begun when women in the Kalos Society came to the conclusion that the group was orientated more toward gay males and was not answering the needs of women.
Around this time in the 1970s the Metropolitan Community Church was founded in Hartford. The churches first pastor was F. J Deacon who as described by one of he founders of the church Bob Marche not only “our spiritual leader but our consciousness raiser as well.” Out and visible he gave talks at schools and colleges, gave interviews in the Hartford Courant and spoke on radio shows to educate the public to who gay people were. Marche tells us in his reflections, “I can remember sitting with him at an all night candlelight vigil in front of Hartford’s city hall to raise awareness of discrimination towards gays in housing. There were 5 of us. These were the early days when only those who were truly brave and proudly out came forward. Jay’s car was torched because of his visibility. It only served to galvanize our community.” (12 )
Again and again we see that power would not concede without people standing up and fighting. By 1973 the Kalos society attempted to pass a “gay” civil rights bill but failed. A similar bill was presented to the Hartford City Council in 1974 which never came up for a vote. By 1978 a civil rights ordinance was passed by the Hartford City Council but vetoed by the then mayor George Athanson. This ordinance would ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation within establishments doing business with the city.
By 1975 a new group came on the horizon The Sexual Orientation Lobby who worked closely with the Human Rights and Opportunities Committee. A bill called the Sexual Orientation bill was approved by the Senate but defeated in the House. This was the first successful gay rights vote by any state legislative chamber in the nation. The defeat of this bill prompted WFSB editorial speaking out against this defeat and calling the debate “shameful, one of misinformation, ignorant comments and myths without foundation. This defeat is not exactly a step forward as we approach the two hundredth birthday of the land of the free. It is obvious that gay people are not included in that land.” another attempt to pass a lesbian and gay civil rights bill fails in 1983. A bit of interesting ourstories is this: Christine Pattee was a lesbian, feminist and gay rights activist long before these terms were socially acceptable. She lobbied for passage of the first Sexual Orientation Bill in Connecticut (1975), and became known as Connecticut’s first gay rights lobbyist. Writing and publishing articles about her experience, she helped to educate gay communities across the country about the obstacles that may be encountered with regard to legislation. (13 )
“Feminism is non collaboration”…Susan Saxe
In 1974 the FIB swept through the Lesbian/Feminist community and the Women’s movement communities in Hartford and New Haven looking for Kathy Power and Susan Saxe who were anti-war activist living underground. Four women refused to cooperate with the FBI questioning and are given subpoenas to appear before a Grand Jury. Two women are imprisoned and charged with Civil Contempt for continuing to not cooperate with the FBI and the Grand Jury. They serve 7 months in jail before their release in December 1975. During this same period the FBI was sweeping through Lesbian/Feminist communities in Lexington Kentucky. The women targeted in Lexington also refused to testify.These women became the Lexington 6. In a solidarity statement released at that time the Lexington Women stated: “as in the case of the Connecticut women, the legal system presently acknowledges certain “sacred” relationships in which people retain legal privacy, including that of husband and wife. The kind of relationships to which we are in claims the same right to privacy and go beyond traditional ones.” (14) At the time of Susan Saxe’s arrest she was involved with the lesbian-feminist community in Philadelphia. She had come out as a lesbian when she was underground. Saxe issued this statement at the time of her arrest: “first greeting of love and strength to all y sisters-courage for our warriors, hope for our people and especially for all my sisters and brothers underground in America. Keep fighting, stay free, stay strong. I promise you a courage to match your own. For me this is not an end but a new beginning. I intend to fight on in every way as a Lesbian, a feminist and as an amazon.”
New Haven Women’s Liberation Center and The Hartford Women’s Center
In 1970 The Gay Women’s Liberation Front is founded in NYC and through discussion within this group the women conclude that lesbian oppression and gay male oppression had less in common than was first believed. The group stated “We are no longer willing to be token lesbians in the women’s movement, nor are we willing to be token women in the Gay Liberation Front. Rita Mae Brown joins the group and in February speaks at Yale University as an out and open lesbian. During 1970 the first meeting of the New Haven’s Gay Women’s Liberation Front is held and a rock band is formed. The rock band debut was on Women’s Day in New Haven. These lines are especially meaningful in describing it all. (What was momentous about August 28, 1970 was that musical skill or not, original songs or not, the band had and the women’s movement had somehow momentarily succeeded in creating an event that incorporated our vision of a better society because it changed the way performers and audiences behaved with each other. It changed the function of music from spectator sport to a real participatory celebration. It changed the function of dancing from mating ritual to communal exuberance and it buoyed us with a sense of collective power.) Virginia Blaisdell.. SISTER VOL. 5 No. 2, The New Haven Women’s Liberation Rock Band. 1970-1976 R.I.P.
During the Congress to Unite Women, held by NOW Lesbians take over the congress wearing tee shirts with the slogan Lavender menace printed on them. Radicalesbians was formed from this action.)
The New Haven Women’s Liberation Center was founded in 1970. Yale allocated two rooms and a carpet for a Women’s Center, but not without a struggle. the previous year women undergraduates had entered Yale. One of their first activities was a guerrilla demonstration at an Alumnae Luncheon to demand that serious concern be show for the women on campus. A single mimeographed sheet named SISTER emerged as their publication. A rape Crisis Center was founded to offer support, accompany women to the hospital, the police interview and through prosecution. The center also offered a Wednesday night discussion series. I laters years the center house three active task forces, The Reproductive Freedom task Force, Task Force Against Violence Against Women and Take Back The Night, The Feminist Union Anti-Nuclear Task Force which called a conference and formed Northeast Women’s Alliance Against Nuclear Weapons and Power. In 1980 the Women’s Liberation Center opened a new home at 614 Orange Street in New Haven. By 1973 feminist health centers, credit unions, rape crisis centers, bookstores, presses and publishing companies were beginning to form across the country. 10 years later in 1983 The Readers Feast Bookstore and Cafe opened in Hartford. The Readers Feast became a meeting and organizing center for the LGBT and progressive communities.
The Hartford Women’s Center and Feminist Library was founded in 1979. The Women’s Center publish a newsletter Women in Hartford and amassed an important collection in their library including newsletters that documented the women’s movement in Hartford. The collection is now housed at the Elihu Burritt Library on the campus of CCSU.
In October 1988 a Lesbian Convergence was held and more than 100 women joined together for a day of learning, listening and love for ourselves and each other. The convergence held eighteen workshops, crafts, dancing and dinner and a keynote address by Kate Millett. Ms. Millet encouraged participants to remember the ancient ways as we come of age, and spoke of the need to discover the beauty of women loving women. “Rediscover the grace, sensuality and outrageous daring of two beautiful women loving. We are the solution to many problems. We are the way to live in the future.”
Gay Spirit Radio
In 1980 Gay Spirit Radio was founded in 1980 on WWUH. During the 1980s the right was on the rise with the election of Ronald Regan, the moral majority had declared war on homosexuals, (this was the year that Dean Wycoff a leader in the moral majority declared, “I agree with capital punishment and I believe that homosexuality is one of those crimes that could be coupled with murder and other sins.”) there were no laws on the books protecting gays, no internet, no cellphones. radio was the way to go if one wanted to get the news out. According to Richard Nelson in an interview, Nelson said, “When a community is struggling, getting information out into the community is a top priority.” Gay Spirit certainly does that job. It was the glue that kept us all together. Keith Brown was one of the founders of Gay Spirit and had this to say “I prefer to deal with the tough, political and social issues of the time, “I try to keep it focused. I don’t want it to degenerate into some kind of silly conversation. That is not worthwhile.” Folks associated with this blog and our comrades in various political groups were on Gay Spirit speaking their politics, talking about culture, announcing events for the Connecticut Stonewall Foundation and just having all around good conversation many times over the years.
Gay Spirit is Western New England’s longest running radio program specifically devoted to lesbian and gay issues, including extensive coverage of AIDS, gay rights legislation, gay cultural events and gay performers. The station was begun by a collective of lesbians and gay men. Keith Brown joined Gay Spirit in 1980 and by the mid 80ties Brown was running the program by himself. The show runs every Thursday Night from 8pm-9pm. Keith Brown was also a founding member of the Kalos Society. One of the most wonderful stories about Keith is from when he was a 16 year old at Newington High School. His class read “The Scarlet Letter”. Keith decided to come out of the closet in a dramatic fashion. He came to school for two weeks with a red, cardboard “H” attached to his chest.
The Connecticut Coalition for Lesbian, Gay Civil Rights 1983
Connecticut Coalition for Lesbian and Gay Civil Rights (CCLGCR) was formed during the summer of 1983 by a group of gay men and lesbian women discouraged by the continued defeat of the Gay Civil Rights Bill. They decided to form a statewide organization dedicated to the passage of civil rights legislation regarding discrimination based on sexual orientation. The coalition worked with progressive political organizations, other minority groups, religious affiliates, educators, and legal, social, and healthcare professionals to develop a lesbian and gay community. In 1985, the group established four regions throughout the state. In 1986, the group added “Connecticut” to the beginning of their name, becoming the CT CLGCR, in order to be able to back political candidates according to state law. The Political Action Committee was thus formed in 1988. The PAC interviewed candidates and reported the information back to the coalition, focusing mainly on areas of importance for homosexuals. The establishment of the PAC also led to inclusion in the statewide Legislative Electoral Action Program (LEAP), strengthening the CT CLGCR’s voice in the state government. (19 )
On May 15, 1988 two Hartford Teenagers murdered Richard Reihl a gay man that they met at a local bar. The Anti-Violence Project a committee of the Connecticut Coalition for Lesbian and Gay Rights is begun in Hartford in response to the Reihl murder. Members of the new group monitored the Reihl case and assisted the prosecution. The AVP also began education programs with the Gay and Lesbian community on how to protect themselves from anti-gay violence, combat anti-gay crimes in Ct. by working towards the passage of a Hate Crimes Bill. The AVP reported that over 251 incidents of violence against Lesbian and Gay people took place in 1988. Speak Out! formed by the AVP is one of the first organized efforts in Connecticut to educate society by talking directly to groups on the realities of our lives. The Anti-Violence Project wrote a a two-part series for the Metroline focusing on gay and lesbian directed assault and violence. Part one focused on the causes and consequences of violence. The article stated that “Since Stonewall, lesbians and gay men have won many battles for civil rights in the courts, legislatures, city councils and corporate board rooms. Meanwhile, a ‘guerrilla war’ continues to be waged against us in the streets, parks, alleyways, schools, and even in our homes.”
This was a very good example of the people again uniting against those who commit crimes against Gay and Lesbian people pushing “power” to respond to our demands.
By 1990 a second piece of legislation on Hate Crimes increasing the penalties if a crime was committed due to the victim’s Race, Religion, Ethnicity or Sexual Orientation is passed. This was the first time that the words, “sexual orientation” were codified into state law. A federal bill the Hate Crimes Statistics Act was signed into law by George Bush. The Justice Department at first refuses to keep track of violence against Lesbian and Gay people.
Direct Action CCLGR
Ct Act Up
In 1989 a direct action group of the Connecticut Coalition holds a rally at the State Capitol and interrupts the Ct. General Assembly by chanting and hanging banners from the visitors gallery. Some of the group are forcibly removed. The Direct action group becomes a separate entity from the Coalition and on February 7th the group interrupted a speech by the then Governor William O’Neil. Twelve members of the group are arrested. According to the steering committee minutes at that time the new group “felt that the creation of this group is part of the diversity of our community that allows for a broad range of political expression through legislative channels and public protests. It was noted that it may become necessary for the Coalition to disassociate itself from an action that may occur.” (20) The new group in 1990 took the name Queer Nation Hartford and maintained a presence at the Capitol. The Nation interrupted a speech by Gov. William O’Neil on February 7th.
One of the most beautiful speeches and one of the top moments that I have felt so proud of our people came in 1989 when gay activist John Bonelli announced his run for Hartford’s City Council on the progressive People for Change ticket. People for Change were able to elect candidates to the city council in 1987. 150 people attended the announcement at City Hall. John said at that announcement these powerful words, “Together we can build the links, which will unite Blacks Hispanics, Lesbians and gay men, workers, women, the elderly, persons with disabilities, Asians, neighborhood leaders, youth and all those working for a more just and equitable city.” Bonelli lost by only a few hundred votes. (21)
Stephen W. Thrasher summed it up in an article when he said these opening lines: In the 1960s and 1970s, LGBT liberation (what we now call “LGBT equality”) was seen by its advocates as an all-inclusive movement intrinsically bound to other social justice movements: there could be no justice for LGBT people without justice for people of color, women, workers, those in other nations, etc. Accordingly, LGBT activists worked hard to build coalitions with all those determined to fight for justice. To read the rest of the article and to see how much things have changed go to, The Largest Donors to HRC Are The Drone Manufactures see Here.
By 1991 due to the determination and the power of a unified gay and lesbian people a comprehensive statute prohibiting discrimination against Lesbian and Gays in the areas of employment, public accommodations, education, membership on professional boards and rental and sale of housing and credit transactions was past by the Connecticut General Assembly. On May 1st Governor Lowell Weicker signs the bill into law. But not all was brotherhood and roses with the bill. Bisexual and Transgender people were left out. Two stories that have circulated around and one can be found in the Metroline of that period are, “we didn’t know what to call people back then,” and “we couldn’t include drag queens or transvestites as the bill would never pass.” Same as everywhere. Conventional wisdom had it that transgender protections would complicate and possibly derail the campaigns. Throw folks under the bus so I can get mine and we will come on back later for you. Our feelings on that are the same today as they were back then. We do not want our rights if all of our people can not have theirs. Going back and helping them at a later date as we have seen time and time again is never the case. This movement moves forward, this movement moves to liberation. Once people get what they want then poof concerns of others fall by the way side. We have always wondered if it is because the comfortable class has somehow always run the movement, tailoring it to their own needs first and then if they have the time or are not too tired help out the next gal. We saw this happen with the group Love Makes A Family. Once marriage rights for gay and lesbian people were granted by the powers that be, once they became respectable and just like straight folks they disbanded ,went home exhausted from begging to say I do and now live happy ever after.
In 1996 The Ct. Coalition for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Civil Rights were one of the main sponsors of the Coalition for a Real Debate held in Bushnell Park with a march to the Bushnell Auditorium during the presidential debate between Dole and Clinton. Representatives from LGBT groups, The American Friends Service Committee, The Ct. Coalition on Cuba, Make your Voice Heard Coalition and others spoke out on issues that the candidates were ignoring. Down the street from the Bushnell were the buses were dropping off attendees to the event members of the CCLGBT were able to speak with both Jessie Jackson and Rev. Al Sharpton as they were going in to the debate. Both expressed support for our issues and both stated they would speak out against DOMA. Rev. Jackson did so the next morning when he was interviewed speaking out against DOMA and for LGBT rights. In the picture above Cheryl Linear of the Hartford Commission on Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Concerns is speaking while Hartford artist Tim Denman dressed as a strange liberty stands with her. Denman’s sign says on one side, “DOMA Supporters You Deny Us Our Liberty, Choke On Your Blue White and Scarlett Hypocrisy.” Both Cheryl and Tim made the National News and were featured in the NY Times and the Hartford Courant. A feature for all of us at this rally is when Leslie Gabel Brett and Carolyn Gabel Brett finished speaking they embraced and kissed. At this time the Coalition had not yet made their new banner and used the old banner for ID purposes. (Holding the banner is Paul Hartung and Richard Nelson. Behind the stage is the Ct. Coalition for Cuba and the American Friends Service Committee getting ready to speak.)(23)
The Defense of Marriage Act was signed into law by Bill Clinton after his reelection defining marriage as between a man and a women. So much for friends of our family.
The Push for Transgender Rights
In the late 90s Jeri Marie Liesegang began a group to insure that legislation would be passed to protect the Trans community from discrimination. Twenty years after Gays and Lesbians were protected Connecticut became the fifteenth state to enact such a law. (9 )Ct. employers with three or more employees are now covered by the act which adds “gender identity or expression to the list of protected groups. Ms Liesegang and a few others formed a grassroots activist group, Its Time Connecticut which evolved into the founding of The Connecticut TransAdvocacy Coalitiion (CTAC). Testifying for the bill Ms. Liesgang said, ” A recent Greater Hartford survey we did support the national statistics that 50% of transgender persons experience employment, discrimination, and for the remaining minority fortunate enough to be employed, most realize annual salaries of less than $15,000; that housing discrimination exceeds 40% and that nearly 50% any type of health insurance. These statistics truly represent the extent of the discrimination that trans people in Ct. face every single day! And sadly it is highly unlikely many will be able to testify here today simply because they are struggling to find shelter and food to exist, let alone secure transportation for a day of testifying at the Capitol. (24)
In 2000, the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities (CHRO) issued a declaratory ruling indicating that transgender people are protected under existing Connecticut sex discrimination laws. In 2004, the Connecticut legislature passed a transgender-inclusive hate crime law.
The City of Hartford in 2011 after a push by transgender activists, allies and the LGBT Commission enacted a ordinance protecting Trans* people . This ordinance added Gender Identity or Expression to the city’s anti-discrimination provisions. The ordinance would protect people from discrimination in City employment, employment with the City contractors and in housing. We have never cared for ordinances that really don’t go far enough like this one. It separates and forms a certain class of people, (those who are lucky enough to secure a job with the city, as if city jobs were bountiful, or anyone who works for a City Contractor, ( folks had hopped that this would end the outrage of Trans* folk being given a hard time and many times turned away at homeless shelters) or in housing (is that only city housing apartments, or 3 families? (25) Well that is a good one but one of the leaders in Ct. TransAdvocacy told me they have been hearing more and more about discrimination in renting to trans* people. The ordinance also mandated that gender identity be incorporated into the city’s affirmation action program and allows for aggrieved individuals to seek redress with the City’s Office of Human Relations.
In 2011 Governor Malloy signed into law Public Act 11-55, An Act Concerning Discrimination which adds gender identity or expression to Connecticut’s anti-discrimination laws. (26)
One story from Comrade Al
When I was asking around to my younger trans* comrades about any experiences that they have had I was sent this moving story from Comrade Al Riccio of New Haven. We can take a lot from this. It is to our shame that this young queer person had to suffer all that he did because of our lousy outreach to the young. I add Al’s statement here.
Al wrote: “Thanks Hmmm, let me think. When shit hit the fan (as it did many, many times) when I was a teenager, I didn’t even seek shelter anywhere. I lived out in the woods, and sometimes in people’s cars. I didn’t know where I could go and be taken seriously; I was so afraid of “the system” that I avoided it at all costs. The HRC was nowhere to be found, at least in my mind, and did not address anything close to my concerns as a 17-year-old closeted transgender kid who was raised in a sexist and transphobic environment. (When I was 17, I hadn’t even heard of the term ‘transgender’ and simply referred to myself as a ‘cross-dresser’ because it was the only term I knew of to describe myself. I knew I didn’t quite feel like I was a lesbian despite the fact that I had always almost exclusively liked women; I knew my queerness had to do with my gender identity but not how to express that feeling.) Actually, at that point in my life, I hated myself so much that I thought I deserved to die, and that I would make life better for everyone around me if I just went away. Considering the abuse I suffered – at school, at home, in pretty much every aspect of my life at the time – it’s not surprising I was led to those conclusions. For years, I was treated as if I was absolutely disgusting. We didn’t have a GSA at my school, and the idea of “gay marriage” was an abstract concept to me. The HRC was inaccessible to me, even at a local level, because there was no school-based outreach. I haven’t had recent experiences with shelters (very grateful for that), but I can ask around.”
“Generally speaking, the times when I had it most difficult (and needed a safe space free of abuse and ridicule) were between 1998 and 2005. I know that’s a long time span. But even as far as current information goes, there’s such a strong connection between being trans and living in poverty – which as we all know, the HRC continually chooses to overlook because they need to appease the Rich White Gays. And of course we know that poverty is just another form of violence, leading to all sorts of horrendous injustices and the vicious cycle of oppression. I’m not safe at work even nowadays; I am constantly on the defensive as I need to protect myself from potential harm and ridicule should my co-workers find out I was born with a differently assigned body. At the end of the day, my personal sacrifices are hardly worth the money I make to barely get by. Not fucking fair, but I have to keep fighting…if only to spite all of the people who once claimed I wouldn’t live past the age of 21.” We are so glad you did live past 21 and so glad you keep fighting and that we are comrades with you. (27)
See our note (28) for more about homelessness and the Trans* community sent in to us by Diana.
Health Care By and For Our People.
A year after the first reported case of a rare cancer among gay men at that time called GRID members of the Gay and Lesbian Task Force , volunteer health professionals and supporters started the Hartford Gay and Lesbian Health Collective which offered health service to the community. A Health Fair was held at Trinity College. According to executive Director Linda Estabrook, “This was a barbones occurrence-mimeographed flyers posted at bars, a small borrowed space, a couple of doctors and some very eager volunteers. But it proved two things: The LGBT community was becoming enlightened about its own health needs and Hartford needed an organization to provide this kind of service.” The first clinic was located at the Community Health Services opening in 1984. By 1986 this clinic was one of two sites funded by the state to provide HIV counseling and testing. Legend has it that the files of the collective were carried home in a cardboard box after each evening clinic out of fear that someone would go through confidential records of those tested for HIV. The Collective today no longer carries records around in a cardboard box but offers many services to the community from their base on Broad Street in Hartford. These services include Dental Clinics, food distribution and meals and other services to people living with HIV/AIDS, Education and Outreach to various communities, The Rainbow Room for LGBT youth, and referrals. I was delighted to work on the 20th anniversary exhibition about the Health Collective held at CCSU where again their story which I considered at that time to be a very revolutionary story of a revolutionary group was woven together from various archives.
Gay and Lesbian Health Collective statement reads: ” The Hartford Gay &Lesbian Health Collective empowers individuals of diverse sexual orientations, gender identities and gender expressions to lead healthy lives through the provision of health and support services, education and advocacy.”
1985: The AIDS Project Hartford is founded with the mission to provide education and support services for all people affected by HIV/AIDS in the greater Hartford region.
By 1987 ACT UP a coalition of diverse individuals united in anger and committed to direct action is founded in New York.
1987 Connecticut AIDS Residence Coalition is founded in Hartford to provide people with HIV/AIDS housing and services.
1988 CT’s first supportive housing program specifically for folks living with HIV/AIDS is started. The agency opened the doors of Peter’s Retreat shared residence in 1994. The Connecticut AIDS Resource Coalition has reported that 81 percent of hose with AIDS who requested housing in a recent year were turned away.
(29) Gran Fury Posters
1989: ACT UP disrupts trading on the New York Stock Exchange, to protest the high price of AZT and the high profits of Burroughs Welcome. Burroughs-Welcome owned the patent to AZT charging up to $10,000 a year for treatment. Burroughs-Welcome finally reduced the cost of AZT. Through ACT UP’s work the Federal Food and Drug Administration announced a new system that would permit access to experimental drugs, some at no cost to patients that needed them and could not afford them.
1994 The Living Center opens in Hartford to provide a resource center dedicated to serving people infected with and affected by HIV/AIDS.
2013 CARC and APH merged to form AIDS Connecticut.
Still the fight goes on. Read HIV Remains A Deadly Reality in Ct. Especially Among Black and Gay Men. Written by Ed Stannard for the New Haven Register it brings us up to date on what is happening as of this year. Mr. Stannard writes in his article:
“The HIV epidemic may be less visible than in the past, and less deadly, but the disease is still claiming victims, especially among blacks and gay men.
The early years of the AIDS scourge, when lesbians and gay men in particular were “watching our friends die in droves,” according to Shawn Lang of AIDS Connecticut, is largely a history lesson to those who are now in their 20s and whose HIV-positive friends show no signs of the infection because of modern medications.
According to the state Department of Public Health’s HIV Surveillance Program, there were 348 newly diagnosed infections in 2011 in Connecticut, 39 percent of them among blacks and 45 percent MSM. The state reported 10,585 people living with HIV in 2011, with the state ranking eighth in the nation.”
For information on HIV/AIDS check out AIDS Connecticut or ACT.
For any legal questions check out: AIDS Legal Network. They state at the network: The AIDS Legal Network for Connecticut (ALN) is a collaborative project of the legal services agencies in Connecticut. We are a statewide program that gives legal information, advice, brief service, representation and referral to people living with HIV/AIDS in Connecticut. We also provide legal education and legal technical assistance to people working within the HIV service community and to family members/support givers. There are no other programs within the state offering legal case management services specifically for people with HIV.
The above posters are just some of the posters by Gran Fury the artist arm of ACT UP. For more on Gran Fury see our posting Gran Fury Exhibition, Read My Lips-1/31-3/17 2012. To see some wonderful examples of Gran Fury’s work just google them in.
The Bisexual Community Rises Up.
In 1984 the first East Coast Conference on Bisexuality is held at the University of Connecticut. This conference was attended by bisexual activists from the Hartford area. According to a Metroline article in October 1989 a proposal to include the word Bisexual into the organization’s name spawned a great debate over bisexual strength or lack of it in the community. Members of the Ct. Coalition for Lesbian and Gay civil Rights questioned whether or not the bisexual community was a strong enough entity to warrant inclusion into the title. Steering committee Alex Burack had suggested the name change and the co-chair of the Coalition who was opposed to the addition stated that the committee would still conduct outreach and educational programs on bisexual issues. The Coalition agreed to add the term bisexual to any brochures as well as to discussion topics. At that time many of us felt that the way to help build community was to include our sisters and brothers in the bisexual community and to do so would mean to add Bisexual to the name of the coalition start outreach and form a more welcoming attitude. (30)
In 1992 a lobbying campaign to include Bisexuals in the title and organization of the upcoming March on Washington begins. Bisexual, Lesbian, and Gay activists sign a letter in support of Bisexual inclusion. Many of us in the Hartford Community signed on. Openly Bisexual people take key leadership roles in local and regional organizing for the march. The title of the march then is changed to the 1993 March on Washington for Lesbian, Gay, Bi Equal Rights and Liberation. In 1995 Hartford area Bisexuals form BiConn which is later renamed Conn-Bi Nation which is the first state-wide political, social and educational group dedicated to the support and visibility of Bisexuals. Conn-Bi Nation raise the issue of inclusion of Bisexuals and Transgender people in the name of the Congress of Lesbians and Gay Organizations. The demand is answered with a newly formed organization including Bisexuals and Transgender people called the Stonewall Congress. In 1997 3rd year law student and Bisexual activist Jennifer Hadlock asks for the inclusion of Bisexual and Transgender in the UCONN Gay and Lesbian Law Student Association and the group votes to change its name to the Lamba Law Student Association. The group was the first out and open Bisexual Group to march in Connecticut’s Pride Parade. Again a name change came about when Conn-Bi-Nation added BI.W.A to its name meaning Bisexuals with Attitude. Over the years the nation fought for inclusion in many Ct. based organizations. In 1999 Conn-Bi-Nation BI.W.A and BiNet USA hosted the First International Celebrate Bisexuality Day at the Macaroni Grille in West Hartford.
A very proud moment for the bisexual community and their comrades came at Pride in 1997 when Evelyn Mantilla came out as America’s first openly bisexual state official. At this time Rep. Mantilla also proposed to her partner Babette to the wild cheers of those of us in the crowd. To have this happen at a event attended by many from organizations that bisexual and Trans* people felt were paying them only lip service pushed the outsider minority status right out the door. We were very proud of Evelyn that day and proud to be counted among her supporter and workers on her campaigns. Viva Mantilla we use to yell whenever Evelyn took the stage.
Rep. Mantilla speaking. Left Babette her wife, behind her Dr. Richard Stillson and Pura Gomez to the right Rep. Patrick Flaherty at the Equality Begins At Home, State Capitol rally and Rainbow Flag Raising. (31)
In 1998 Posters intended to promote diversity came under fire by Reverend Gabriel Carrera because one of the children is wearing a gay pride tee-shirt. These posters were intended to promote diversity in the city of Hartford. He asks city hall to remove the posters and the city responds that they have, “no intention of removing the posters.” Reverend Gabriel Carrera begins his campaign for the fourth district representative seat held by Evelyn Mantilla. The Connecticut Coalition for LGBT Civil Rights along with the National Latina/oLGBT Organization LLEGO, community activists and other groups held a press conference and rally at City Hall in Hartford in support of Representative Mantilla and to denounce the attacks against her. In the election held in 1998 State Representative Evelyn Mantilla was re-elected eight to one over Re. Gabriel Carrera. Again proving the people united can not be defeated.
A very interesting statement was made by our comrade Alice Leibowitz when speaking about the Transcending Boundaries Conference that was held in Connecticut in 2002. Bisexuals are also sometimes misunderstood in the community, Leibowitz spoke to the following:
“Bisexuals are also sometimes misunderstood in the community, Leibowitz reported. “We are sometimes in opposite-sex relationships and that has led to a lot of division between bisexuals and gay people of the same gender especially. The gays will say that although people call themselves bisexual, they are really gay or really straight. A gay person will say that you pass as straight if you’re in an opposite-sex relationship, especially if you get married. And some lesbian feminists have said bisexuals by dating men can’t be feminists in the same way because they date men.”
“One major difference between the bi movement and the mainstream gay and lesbian movement has to do with politics, Leibowitz contended. “[The gay movement] has really pushed the whole framework of ’we’re born this way. W didn’t choose this way.’ A lot of bisexual activists really don’t like that idea. If you allow for bisexuality, you can allow for sexual changing over time. Some say, ’I was born bisexual.’ Others have identified as straight or gay-or maybe both-at various times in their lives.”(32)
The next Transcending Boundaries Conference will be held April 4-6, 2014 at the Hartford Sheraton Bradley Airport. The keynote speaker will be Wintersong Tashlin.(33)
The above is just a short summary of may I say, some of the giants on whose shoulders we stand upon today. Folks who knew that they had to organize and fight power. They were fully aware that power would not concede anything unless they fought. We can never forget the lessons that ACT UP taught us. (34)
I’m getting a bit cranky with those lgbt people who only see the issues at the tip of their nose. We all know them. Working for civil rights for the lgbt community blast off everyone else. Who cares about the brown woman sitting in the sweat shop sewing rainbow flags? Wave those flags brother, wave those flags. Who cares that LGBT folks are getting bombed out of their homes everywhere the Imperialist Uncle Scam operates, as we want to be just like the straight boys and girls and blow them all away. Who gives a damn I am getting married on Saturday and all my troubles lord will be over. Wait till I get a baby.
Kate and Deeg remind us in their essay, Gay Marriage Is Still The Opiate of the Queers, “What assimilationist gays are really asking is that heterosexuals share some of their privilege with queers who want to be like them.” How sad
But that is not the way it always was. We once held a vision that through our liberation that others would be liberated also. That we were here there and everywhere so all issues were and are, our issues. We would never consider assimilating into the main stream because we were too free for that. We were to free because we knew we were not like those who opposed us. We knew we are different and we were proud to be so. We once knew our stories and rejected those who took those stories away from us. We took off our masks our straight jackets and walked freely. No longer were we content reading between the lines. We knew that an injury to one was an injury to all and that all of us in all walks of life, in all communities had something in common with each other and something worth fighting for. Smash the bond of equality! Bring an end to oppression forward to liberation! ALL for one and one for ALL!
Harry Hay once said, “Assimilation is the way you excuse yourself. It absolutely never worked at all.” You may not think your are noticeable. But they know who you are. They know you’re a degenerate, and they’ve never forgotten that. You won’t find out until push comes to shove. And then you’ll find out real fast. Because they’re respectable in the eyes of God and you aren’t.” (35 )
Note From furbirdsqueerly
This essay is part one of a two part posting. In the next essay we will look at the raising of the Rainbow Flag over the State Capitol Building in Hartford, the end of the multi-issue Connecticut Coalition for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Civil Rights, the end of a multi-issue LGBT movement in Connecticut and the birth of the one issue group Love Makes A Family and the movement within the queer community against the assimilation, homonornmative liberal tendencies within the LGBT movement, the rise of the Homocons the gay right, the beginnings of the queer anarchist left and the birth of the group Queers Without Borders. We will end these essays with a warning shot from comrade punkpink called “Mommy and Daddy have been dead for years, get over it”. (or as pink says something along that idea)
Let us leave you with this quote from our comrade Sue Docekal, a Lesbian, Feminist Socialist from Seattle. Sue said and we quote, “Let’s remember that this is a long haul fight for liberation. Winning marriage rights alone will prove an unsatisfying victory-just ask straight people. Only a fight for fundamental economic and social change, alongside our allies around the glob, can we win a world based on moral values of cooperation and sharing, respect for differences and yes free love.”
(1) For a very interesting article on the likes of HRC and the gay elite see Steven W. Thrasher’s article, Haaay to the Chief: The Military Industrial Complex Conquers the Homos. We really like this line and it is something we have been saying for quite awhile. ” To the Professional Homosexual, there is no moral quandary in selling out one’s own queer soul, liberated by a once-radical movement, by accepting endless militarism and corporate greed in return for personal fortune. And since Professional Homosexuals control so many LGBT organizations and spaces, they threaten to drag the entire community down with them.”
(2) Hobby Horse photo from LAGAI Queer Insurection and Gay Shame of San Francisco. Who dares to ask the blaringly obvious questions to HRC and the comfortable class gays and lesbians.
(3) Poster for Challenging and Changing America: The Struggle for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Civil Rights designed by Ed Centeno. Collection of The Ct. Stonewall Foundation exhibition archives housed at Central Connecticut State University.
(4) Photo of Foster Gunnison Jr. in his archives and photo of Kalos Society at 1970 Christopher Liberation Day March from the Metroline announcing the exhibition Challenging and Changing America. Metroline Vol. 26 Issue 20 Late October 199-Masks Off!! Anonymous No More-A Lifetime of History, Gerald Tomas.
(5 ) Foster Gunnison Jr. archives are housed at the Dodd Center in UNCONN. See HERE for more info. Martin Duberman interviewed Gunnison for his book Stonewall. The sections on Gunnison follow his life from pre-Stonewall up until the 1970 march. This photo was found in the Metroline, The quote is from the booklet for the exhibition, Challenging and Changing America.
(6) Kalos Marching in 1970 Christopher Street Liberation Day, NYC.
(7) Cover of the Griffin May June 1972 from Metroline on Line Archives
(8) Leaflet: The Person Who Handed You This Leaflet Is A Homosexual, Foster Gunnison Jr. Papers, Archives & Special Collections at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, University of Connecticut Libraries.
(9) Information on this picket and the arrests of members of the Kalos Society from The Griffin. There was also an article that was written in the Advocate: Pickets brave wind, rain over bars rule for woman. Advocate 9/29/1971, Issue 69, pg. 4.
(10) Big Brother Is Watching You. Leaflet handed out a Kalos Picnic. Foster Gunnison Jr. Papers, Archives & Specials Collections at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, University of Connecticut Libraries.
(11) Kalos Women’s Caucus. Page from the Griffin 1970
(12) Reflections of our Charter Members: Bob Marche Along with Clyde Proch’s reflections this provides a look into the founding of MCC in Hartford. I was very privileged to use notebooks belonging to Clyde Proch when I was weaving the exhibition together. A funny story that I love to tell involved the revolutionary Kalos Society who were planning a fundraiser. On a page in one of Clyde’s notebooks was a recipe for meatloaf. Ah, I thought even revolutionaries have to stop to eat. I had been working almost 24/7 on preparing the exhibition many times missing meals but after reading thinking that line and reading more I then stopped ate food and reflected.
(13) Information on Christine Pattee and the Sexual Orientation Lobby is found in the GLBT Archives at CCSU. The collection contains an extensive archive housed under the name of Christine Pattee Lesbiana Collection 1970-2000. I had the privilege working with Ms. Patee during the research for the exhibition Challenging and Changing America in 1999.
No Middle Ground. Women and Radical Protest. “I am Kathy Power,” Pam E. Goldman
The Ascendance of Cultural Feminism, Susan Saxe Capture pg. 262. (This article also talks about the split in the feminist movement over support for Jane Alpert who denounced the sexual oppression of the radical left, support of Susan Saxe and Kathy Power, and the split in the feminist movement.
Mother Right-A New Feminist Theory, Jane Alpert. (House in Special Collections Duke University.
Interesting reading is Jane Alpert’s Mother Right A new Feminist Theory, sent out to sisters in the Weather Underground.
(16) Cover 10th Anniversary of Women’s Liberation Center, New Haven, Collection L. Schintzer/May Day, Hartford Ct.
(17) Women Liberation Center, Hartford Women’s Center information collection of L. Schintzer/May Day, Hartford Ct.
(18) Women in Hartford Cover, Collection L. Schnitzer/ May Day Hartford
(19 ) For more information on The Connecticut Coalition for Lesbian, and Gay Civil Rights see archives housed at Central Ct. State University. Photo, Coalition for a Real Debate, Hartford Ct. 1996, Nelson/Denman Archives
(20) Direct Action photo, Stonewall Foundation Archives, Challenging and Changing America exhibition 1999
(21) From CCSU archives: People for Change, was founded in 1987 and was a multicultural coalition and political party made up of labor unions, neighborhood activists, LGBT people, Puerto Ricans , African Americans and community activists. The coalition also included environmental, groups and feminists and women issue activists. PFC was successful in unseating members of the republican minority party on Hartford City Council in 1987, 1989 and 1991. Mr. Bonelli was the statewide Co-chairperson of the Ct. Coalition for Lesbian and gay Civil Rights, a member of the Legislative electoral Action Program, and Policy and Community Organizing Director for the Ct. Positive Action Coalition (HIV/AIDS issues) and a staff person, consultant, volunteer or consultant for various progressive candidates in the area. Bonelli is an adjunct faculty member and adviser at UCONN and Hunter College Schools of Social Work. (editors note: This only tells a very small amount of the story of this all time activist who we here at this blog salute and consider a comrade.) For info on the archives see HERE.
(22) Cover Metroline 1989, People for Change Candidates
(23) Coalition for a Real Debate. Photo, Cheryl Linear, Tim Denman Hartford Ct., Nelson/ Denman Archives Hartford Ct.
(24) Statement by Jeri Marie Liesgang, PhD; Director Ct. TransAdvocacy Coalition
(25) Real Hartford, City Council Passes Anti-Discrimination Ordinances
(26) The Act: The Act defines “gender identity or expression” as “a person’s gender-related identity, appearance or behavior, whether or not that gender-related identity, appearance or behavior is different from that traditionally associated with the person’s physiology or assigned sex at birth.” In simpler terms, the law applies to transgendered and transsexual individuals.
There are several steps that employers can take now to make sure that they are in compliance with the new law by the time it becomes effective in October:
1. Review and update your employment policies, including all Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO), harassment, and discrimination policies, to ensure that they include “gender identity and expression” and are otherwise in full compliance with the Act.
2. Train and educate your employees – both workers and managers/supervisors–on the requirements of the new law and on any new policies that you implement. Be available and willing to answer any questions that employees may have.
3. Ensure that all employment policies and practices, including new policies regarding gender identity and expression, are consistently and uniformly applied in your workplace.
(27) Statement to R. Nelson by Al Riccio on being homeless and Trans.
(28 According to Diana who is active in the Connecticut TransAdvocacy Coalition and writes at Diana’s Little Corner in the Nutmeg State, there still is a big problem with shelters. She says in her blog piece article, Arrested While Homeless this: “Connecticut’s anti-discrimination law (Public Act 11-55) also cover gender identity and expression in public accommodation but I still hear reports trans-women and trans-men being turned away or forced to live in their birth gender from the shelters here in Connecticut. Which is a clear violation of the law; however, most of the trans-people are too intimidated to file a complaint with the CHRO. What will it take for the shelters to obey the law, a law suit? Or worst, a death?”
In Diana’s posting, Homelessness of 2012 she writes of a survey called LGBT Homeless Youth Provider Survey, again shocking statics about our youth and what type of services are provided. In the article she brings up the fact that comrade Al talked about, not using shelters. She also states policy for New York, and Boston and provides this about Connecticut:
“What about Connecticut? I know of no policies here in Connecticut that cover trans-people. However, Connecticut law (Public Act No. 11-55) does cover public accommodation and housing…
It shall be a discriminatory practice in violation of this section: (1) To deny any person within the jurisdiction of this state full and equal accommodations in any place of public accommodation, resort or amusement because of race, creed, color, national origin, ancestry, sex, gender identity or expression, marital status, age, lawful source of income, mental retardation, mental disability or physical disability, including, but not limited to, blindness or deafness of the applicant, subject only to the conditions and limitations established by law and applicable alike to all persons
The municipality shall take all necessary steps to insure that occupancy of all housing financed or otherwise assisted pursuant to this chapter be open to all persons regardless of race, creed, color, national origin or ancestry, sex, gender identity or expression, age or physical disability.
The Papers of Bill Bahlman a founder of The Lavender Hill Mob, Swift and Terrible Retribution Committee, ACT UP and other groups are located in the CCSU archives. For a detailed description of what is in the collection see HERE.