Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Death of a Champion.

I'll post later today on Day Two of my weekend in Rehoboth. But first, there's important business to be discussed.

The LGBT Community lost a real Champion last Sunday night. Barbara Gittings passed away in Kennett Square, PA. at the age of 74.

For those of you who don't know who she was, Barbara was a founding pillar of the gay community (and I mean that in the fullest sense of the word... "community").

I first met Barbara, not knowing much about her, at a Gay Conference (for that's what we called them in those days) at Rutgers University, in the fall of 1972. I was freshly out of the Navy and freshly into gay liberation.

I was expecting to meet a militant lesbian. What I found was a bookish, soft-spoken woman of intensity and integrity . In fact, if you squinted your eyes she probably looked a lot like Harry Potter. Although Barbara was not a librarian by profession, she did a lot of work with and for the ALA over the years, especially their gay liberation roundtable. Barbara had a partner, Kay Tobin Lahusen. They'd been together for 46 years.

I met Barbara several more times over those early years of gay lib, at conferences, and at the earliest Pride parades in New York and Philly. The last time I saw her was on the street in Atlantic City, sometime in the mid-70's. She and Kay had been out celebrating something.

She was warm, funny and absolutely pigheaded about her civil rights.

We should all mourn her passing. God rest her soul.

If you want to know more, and you should because she has an amazing history, start with Barbara's entry in Wikipedia.

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