On February 14th, 2002 BUNGALO was honored to have the noted LGBT civil rights activist Barbara Gittings present her personal journey in a lecture entitled "Gay and Smiling: Tales from Our First Fifty Years of Activism." The lecture also included an overhead transparency presention. From "commie, Pinko, Queer" inquisitions of the fifties thru the Anita Bryant era of the late seventies, to the "family values" issues of today, this pioneer of the Gay/Lesbian Rights movement has been "out" there fighting on behalf of our community. "Been there, done that," best describes her life in the trenches. During her presentation (in which she rarely, if even, used the word "I"), it became apparent that the early activists had to adopt two agendas. The first was the fight to change govenment and institutional policies which ruled our lives and the second was to convince the members of our community to lift "the fog of invisibility" and join them. After all, becoming visible at that time was and, admittedly, can still be a very dangerous proposition. Being open about one's sexuality meant the likelihood of losing one's job, being arrested, and most certainly being labeled mentally ill. Victories like, permitting the use of the U.S. mail to distribute gay magazaines and periodicals, the beginning of the process to repeal state sodomy laws (thus, de-criminalizing homosexuality), and the 1973 decision by the psychiatric profession to take homosexuality off the list of mental illnesses, helped make the visibility issue less threatening. Her work with the American Library Association, however, could arguably be her most important. Her "Hug a Homosexual" booth at an ALA conference in the early seveneties brought attention to the lack of gay and lesbian literature on the shelves of our public libraries. She was also instrumental in changing the cataloging system the libraries used. We can now be found under the heading "Gay and Lesbian," not under perverts, perversions and the like. Barbara ended her program with these thoughts, (I'm paraphrasing here); Progress on paper (laws), will not cause a change of heart. We must stop the hateful words that come out of peoples' mouths. At some time in our lives, we will all be placed in a position where we can make a difference, be it at work, with our families and friends, or in our community. Our job is to recognize the opportunity and act. We are not invisible anymore.

Click here to see other photos taken during and after Barbara's presentation

Click here to see a list of books on the history of the LGBT civil right movement recommended by Barbara

Listed below are links to various internet articles about Barbara Gittings involvement in the LGBT civil rights movement:

Article about Barbara's activism on QueerTheory's site

Newspaper interview with Barbara