Earlier this week, I had the pleasure to speak at Baltimore University about my new book “And Then I Danced: Traveling the Road to LGBT Equality.” This was just one of many stops on the promotional tour over the last six weeks. Each stop has seemed to have special surprises for me, and Baltimore was no exception.
The first surprise was the attendance of an old friend whom I haven’t seen in many years. He was someone who was, in a sense, an LGBT pioneer: His expertise was being the spokesperson for the Human Rights Campaign. In his days, it was know as the Human Rights Campaign Fund, but many in our community referred to it as the Human Rights Champagne Fund: HRC perfected the fundraising in our community to a (highly debated) art form.
My friend, Gregory King, in his capacity had to defend HRC’s efforts, and I’d often get his call. It was an issue that I respected since I’m a firm believer that it takes funds to build a community. As Gregory puts it, the HRC events were also designed to give a certain look and feel to our community, one that the more successful in our community could relate to and, thus, would then feel good about adding their support to our struggle. He and they were correct, and the results speak for that.
But as I was speaking this week, I was brought back to a similar media tour after my disruption of “The CBS Evening News” with Walter Cronkite in 1973. I was again in Baltimore and helped create one of their first LGBT organizations, the Baltimore Gay Alliance.
At times like these, it amazes me how far we as a community have come. And that we owe a big thank you to people like Gregory, who went through those growing pains.