15 Inspiring Quotes from LGBT Leaders

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June 28 marks the 48th anniversary of the Stonewall Riot, when members of the LGBT community fought back when police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in New York's Greenwich Village, and arrested a number of patrons. Each June, Pride Month is celebrated to commemorate their stand, which is often regarded as the first major protest on behalf of the homosexual community, and which sparked the creation of various equal rights groups, such as the Gay Liberation Front and the Gay Activists Alliance. These quotes from LGBT leaders on everything from intersectionality to being an ally will ring true well after Facebook pulls the "pride" reaction from your newsfeed.

1. TAMMY BALDWIN // FIRST OPENLY GAY U.S. SENATOR

Tammy Baldwin speaks onstage at an EMILY's List gala
Kris Connor/Getty Images

"There will not be a magic day when we wake up and it's now okay to express ourselves publicly. We make that day by doing things publicly until it’s simply the way things are."

—from her "Never Doubt" speech at the Millennium March for Equality, 2000

2. ESSEX HEMPHILL // POET, PERFORMER, AND ACTIVIST

"We will not go away with our issues of sexuality. We are coming home. It is not enough to tell us that one was a brilliant poet, scientist, educator, or rebel. Whom did he love? It makes a difference. I can't become a whole man simply on what is fed to me: watered-down versions of Black life in America. I need the ass-splitting truth to be told, so I will have something pure to emulate, a reason to remain loyal."

—from Ceremonies: Prose and Poetry, 1992

3. CHARLES M. BLOW // JOURNALIST, COMMENTATOR, AND COLUMNIST FOR THE NEW YORK TIMES

Charles M. Blow at the 2017 Brooklyn Artists Ball
Theo Wargo/Getty Images

"Part of what my discomfort was, in the beginning, is that I wanted something that didn't exist. I wanted something that was so singular, a label that was so singular for me. I was so special—I was so different from everybody else I was meeting. And I wanted a different label. And I had to say, 'Charles snap out of that. What are you talking about?' All identity labels are umbrella terms to some degree, but this term bisexual is not only serviceable but it is sufficient. And yes, it brings together a bunch of people who are maybe shades different from one another. And maybe that’s the beauty of labels: that they force you to be with other people and see the difference."

—from an interview with Michelangelo Signorile about coming out as bisexual in his memoir Fire Shut Up In My Bones, 2014

4. LESLIE FEINBERG // TRANSGENDER ACTIVIST AND AUTHOR OF STONE BUTCH BLUES AND TRANSGENDER WARRIORS

"Like racism and all forms of prejudice, bigotry against transgender people is a deadly carcinogen. We are pitted against each other in order to keep us from seeing each other as allies. Genuine bonds of solidarity can be forged between people who respect each other's differences and are willing to fight their enemy together. We are the class that does the work of the world, and can revolutionize it. We can win true liberation."

—from Transgender Liberation: A Movement Whose Time Has Come, 1992

5. JASON COLLINS // FIRST OPENLY GAY PLAYER IN THE NBA AND IN MAJOR AMERICAN PROFESSIONAL SPORTS

Jason Collins speaks at the 2016 Democratic National Convention
Saul Loeb/Getty Images

"Openness may not completely disarm prejudice, but it's a good place to start."

—from the essay "The Gay Athlete," published in Sports Illustrated in 2013

6. HARVEY MILK // ASSASSINATED SAN FRANCISCO CITY SUPERVISOR AND FIRST OPENLY GAY MAN ELECTED TO PUBLIC OFFICE

"If a bullet should enter my brain, let that bullet destroy every closet door."

—from a tape recording to be played in the event of his assassination, quoted in Randy Shilts's The Mayor of Castro Street: The Life and Times of Harvey Milk, 1977

7. ZACHARY QUINTO // ACTOR AND PRODUCER

Zachary Quinto speaks onstage at the 2017 GLSEN Respect Awards
Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images

"In light of Jamey's death, it became clear to me in an instant that living a gay life without publicly acknowledging it is simply not enough to make any significant contribution to the immense work that lies ahead on the road to complete equality. Our society needs to recognize the unstoppable momentum toward unequivocal civil equality for every gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender citizen of this country.”

—from a blog post in response to the suicide of Jamey Rodemeyer, a bisexual teen and YouTuber known for speaking out against homophobic bullying, 2011

8. AUDRE LORDE // POET, ESSAYIST, AND CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST

"Sometimes we drug ourselves with dreams of new ideas. The head will save us. The brain alone will set us free. But there are no new ideas waiting in the wings to save us as women, as human. There are only old and forgotten ones, new combinations, extrapolations and recognitions from within ourselves–along with the renewed courage to try them out."

—from Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches, 1984

9. ALICE WALKER // NOVELIST, ACTIVIST, AND AUTHOR OF THE COLOR PURPLE

Alice Walker at The Color Purple Broadway opening night
Mark Sagliocco/Getty Images

"Please remember, especially in these times of group-think and the right-on chorus, that no person is your friend (or kin) who demands your silence, or denies your right to grow and be perceived as fully blossomed as you were intended."

—from In Search of Our Mothers' Gardens: Womanist Prose, 1983

10. MARSHA P. JOHNSON // TRANSVESTITE ACTIVIST AND STONEWALL RIOT PARTICIPANT

"I'd like to see the gay revolution get started, but there hasn't been any demonstration or anything recently. You know how the straight people are. When they don't see any action they think, 'Well, gays are all forgotten now, they're worn out, they're tired.' ... If a transvestite doesn't say I'm gay and I'm proud and I'm a transvestite, then nobody else is going to hop up there and say I'm gay and I'm proud and I'm a transvestite for them."

—from an interview in Out of the Closets: Voices of Gay Liberation, 1972

11. CHERRIE MORAGA // POET, ESSAYIST, AND CHICANA ACTIVIST

"Our strategy is how we cope—how we measure and weigh what is to be said and when, what is to be done and how, and to whom, daily deciding/risking who it is we can call an ally, call a friend (whatever that person's skin, sex, or sexuality). We are women without a line. We are women who contradict each other."

—from This Bridge Called My Back, Fourth Edition: Writings by Radical Women of Color, 1981

12. JAMES BALDWIN // POET, NOVELIST, PLAYWRIGHT, AND ESSAYIST; AUTHOR OF NOTES FROM A NATIVE SON

James Baldwin smokes a cigarette at home
Ralph Gatti/Getty Images

“Everybody's journey is individual. You don't know with whom you're going to fall in love. … If you fall in love with a boy, you fall in love with a boy. The fact that many Americans consider it a disease says more about them than it does about homosexuality."

—from an interview with Eve Auchincloss and Nancy Lynch, 1969

13. GEORGE TAKEI // ACTOR, DIRECTOR, AND ACTIVIST

George Takei flashes a Vulcan salute onstage
Adam Bettcher/Getty Images

"We should indeed keep calm in the face of difference, and live our lives in a state of inclusion and wonder at the diversity of humanity."

—from Lions and Tigers and Bears: The Internet Strikes Back, 2013

14. BOB PARIS // AUTHOR, ACTIVIST, BODYBUILDER, AND FORMER MR. UNIVERSE

"Every gay and lesbian person who has been lucky enough to survive the turmoil of growing up is a survivor. Survivors always have an obligation to those who will face the same challenges."

— from Straight from the Heart, a memoir written with his then-husband Rod Jackson, 1995

15. KRISTIN BECK // FIRST OPENLY TRANSGENDER FORMER U.S. NAVY SEAL

Kristen Beck speaks at a conference on transgender military service
Nicholas Kamm/Getty Images

"I don't want you to love me. I don't want you to like me. But I don't want you to beat me up and kill me. You don't have to like me, I don't care. But please don't kill me."

—from a CNN interview with Anderson Cooper, 2013

6 Facts About International Women's Day

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iStock.com/robeo

For more than 100 years, March 8th has marked what has come to be known as International Women's Day in countries around the world. While its purpose differs from place to place—in some countries it’s a day of protest, in others it’s a way to celebrate the accomplishments of women and promote gender equality—the holiday is more than just a simple hashtag. Ahead of this year’s celebration, let’s take a moment to explore the day’s origins and traditions.

1. International Women's Day originated more than 100 years ago.

On February 28, 1909, the now-dissolved Socialist Party of America organized the first National Woman’s Day, which took place on the last Sunday in February. In 1910, Clara Zetkin—the leader of Germany’s 'Women's Office' for the Social Democratic Party—proposed the idea of a global International Women’s Day, so that people around the world could celebrate at the same time. On March 19, 1911, the first International Women’s Day was held; more than 1 million people in Germany, Switzerland, Austria, and Denmark took part.

2. The celebration got women the vote in Russia.

In 1917, women in Russia honored the day by beginning a strike for “bread and peace” as a way to protest World War I and advocate for gender parity. Czar Nicholas II, the country’s leader at the time, was not impressed and instructed General Khabalov of the Petrograd Military District to put an end to the protests—and to shoot any woman who refused to stand down. But the women wouldn't be intimidated and continued their protests, which led the Czar to abdicate just days later. The provisional government then granted women in Russia the right to vote.

3. The United Nations officially adopted International Women's Day in 1975.

In 1975, the United Nations—which had dubbed the year International Women’s Year—celebrated International Women’s Day on March 8th for the first time. Since then, the UN has become the primary sponsor of the annual event and has encouraged even more countries around the world to embrace the holiday and its goal of celebrating “acts of courage and determination by ordinary women who have played an extraordinary role in the history of their countries and communities.”

4. International Women's Day is an official holiday in dozens of countries.

International Women’s Day is a day of celebration around the world, and an official holiday in dozens of countries. Afghanistan, Cuba, Vietnam, Uganda, Mongolia, Georgia, Laos, Cambodia, Armenia, Belarus, Montenegro, Russia, and Ukraine are just some of the places where March 8th is recognized as an official holiday.

5. It’s a combined celebration with Mother’s Day in several places.

In the same way that Mother’s Day doubles as a sort of women’s appreciation day, the two holidays are combined in some countries, including Serbia, Albania, Macedonia, and Uzbekistan. On this day, children present their mothers and grandmothers with small gifts and tokens of love and appreciation.

6. Each year's festivities have an official theme.

In 1996, the UN created a theme for that year’s International Women’s Day: Celebrating the Past, Planning for the Future. In 1997, it was “Women at the Peace Table,” then “Women and Human Rights” in 1998. They’ve continued this themed tradition in the years since; for 2019, it's “Better the balance, better the world” or #BalanceforBetter.

8 Enlightening Facts About Dr. Ruth Westheimer

Rachel Murray, Getty Images for Hulu
Rachel Murray, Getty Images for Hulu

For decades, sex therapist Dr. Ruth Westheimer has used television, radio, the written word, and the internet to speak frankly on topics relating to human sexuality, turning what were once controversial topics into healthy, everyday conversations.

At age 90, Westheimer shows no signs of slowing down. As a new documentary, Ask Dr. Ruth, gears up for release on Hulu this spring, we thought we’d take a look at Westheimer’s colorful history as an advisor, author, and resistance sniper.

1. The Nazis devastated her childhood.

Dr. Ruth was born Karola Ruth Siegel on June 4, 1928 in Wiesenfeld, Germany, the only child of Julius and Irma Siegel. When Ruth was just five years old, the advancing Nazi party terrorized her neighborhood and seized her father in 1938, presumably to shuttle him to a concentration camp. One year later, Karola—who eventually began using her middle name and took on the last name Westheimer with her second marriage in 1961—was sent to a school in Switzerland for her own protection. She later learned that her parents had both been killed during the Holocaust, possibly at Auschwitz.

2. She shocked classmates with her knowledge of taboo topics.

Westheimer has never been bashful about the workings of human sexuality. While working as a maid at an all-girls school in Switzerland, she made classmates and teachers gasp with her frank talk about menstruation and other topics that were rarely spoken of in casual terms.

3. She trained as a sniper for Jewish resistance fighters in Palestine.

Following the end of World War II, Westheimer left Switzerland for Israel, and later Palestine. She became a Zionist and joined the Haganah, an underground network of Jewish resistance fighters. Westheimer carried a weapon and trained as both a scout and sniper, learning how to throw hand grenades and shoot firearms. Though she never saw direct action, the tension and skirmishes could lapse into violence, and in 1948, Westheimer suffered a serious injury to her foot owing to a bomb blast. The injury convinced her to move into the comparatively less dangerous field of academia.

4. A lecture ignited her career.

 Dr. Ruth Westheimer participates in the annual Charity Day hosted by Cantor Fitzgerald and BGC at Cantor Fitzgerald on September 11, 2015 in New York City.
Robin Marchant, Getty Images for Cantor Fitzgerald

In 1950, Westheimer married an Israeli soldier and the two relocated to Paris, where she studied psychology at the Sorbonne. Though the couple divorced in 1955, Westheimer's education continued into 1959, when she graduated with a master’s degree in sociology from the New School in New York City. (She received a doctorate in education from Columbia University in 1970.) After meeting and marrying Manfred Westheimer, a Jewish refugee, in 1961, Westheimer became an American citizen.

By the late 1960s, she was working at Planned Parenthood, where she excelled at having honest conversations about uncomfortable topics. Eventually, Westheimer found herself giving a lecture to New York-area broadcasters about airing programming with information about safe sex. Radio station WYNY offered her a show, Sexually Speaking, that soon blossomed into a hit, going from 15 minutes to two hours weekly. By 1983, 250,000 people were listening to Westheimer talk about contraception and intimacy.

5. People told her to lose her accent.

Westheimer’s distinctive accent has led some to declare her “Grandma Freud.” But early on, she was given advice to take speech lessons and make an effort to lose her accent. Westheimer declined, and considers herself fortunate to have done so. “It helped me greatly, because when people turned on the radio, they knew it was me,” she told the Harvard Business Review in 2016.

6. She’s not concerned about her height, either.

In addition to her voice, Westheimer became easily recognizable due to her diminutive stature. (She’s four feet, seven inches tall.) When she was younger, Westheimer worried her height might not be appealing. Later, she realized it was an asset. “On the contrary, I was lucky to be so small, because when I was studying at the Sorbonne, there was very little space in the auditoriums and I could always find a good-looking guy to put me up on a windowsill,” she told the HBR.

7. She advises people not to take huge penises seriously.

Westheimer doesn’t frown upon pornography; in 2018, she told the Times of Israel that viewers can “learn something from it.” But she does note the importance of separating fantasy from reality. “People have to use their own judgment in knowing that in any of the sexually explicit movies, the genitalia that is shown—how should I say this? No regular person is endowed like that.”

8. She lectures on cruise ships.

Westheimer uses every available medium—radio, television, the internet, and even graphic novels—to share her thoughts and advice about human sexuality. Sometimes, that means going out to sea. The therapist books cruise ship appearances where she offers presentations to guests on how best to manage their sex lives. Westheimer often insists the crew participate and will regularly request that the captain read some of the questions.

“The last time, the captain was British, very tall, and had to say ‘orgasm’ and ‘erection,’” she told The New York Times in 2018. “Never did they think they would hear the captain talk about the things we were talking about.” Of course, that’s long been Westheimer’s objective—to make the taboo seem tame.

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