The next time someone asks you why LGBT Pride marches exist or why Gay Pride Month is June tell them
“A bisexual woman named Brenda Howard thought it should be.”
In my education of all things bi, I happily stumbled upon the figure of Brenda Howard the other month. What a fabulous woman. A life well lived. Activist, feminist, war-resister (think Vietnam), a real product of the 1960s. The black and white picture at the top is a way to pay tribute to the brave people who went before us fighting for the LGBT community. In our current climate of amnesia we think these rights just happened, not paying attention to how much toil, sweat, effort went into them.
Photograph at the bottom is in the year of her death from cancer, which was diagnosed and killed her quickly.
For me that Brenda Howard is such an important figure in the LGBT movement is fabulous, because too often bi people feel excluded in the lesbian-gay world, or feel that they are an afterthought-adjunct to the real action going on. Reading a little about the formation of the Pride day(s), marches, events my sense is that bi-trans people were absolutely right there at the forefront with the gay-lesbian community. These days gay-lesbian awareness and their issues suck up so much of the attention, oxygen, energy that bi people are rendered invisible or certainly less visible by what should be their natural allies. Which is particularly ironic if surveys are to be believed, that the largest subgroup of the LGBT population are bi people.
Another aspect that particularly endears me to Ms. Howard is her linking of one form of oppression to another, and seeing their relationship. The war resister-feminist-bi activist. Too often we see things in isolation and not the whole cloth. That organic, holistic, interwoven sense I find lost today. Alas.
Evidently there is a “Brenda Howard Award” created in 2005 by a Queens (NY) PFLAG group. The first award by a major U.S. LGBT group named after an openly bi person.
Awarded to the person-group for their work on behalf of the bi community.
Tom Limoncelli writing about her in her obituary said he liked her ability to stick with a project for the long term. Brava. She was not an “issue of the day” person as he put it. To me, this is all good, in an era of instant gratification. wanting shortcuts, the path of least resistance.
Brenda Howard was instrumental in the one month and 1 year anniversary rally-march around the Stonewall Rebellion in New York City. She originated the concept of “Pride Week”, with events around”Pride Day” So don’t let anyone get up in your face and make you feel like a second class citizen in the LGBT community. How fitting to write all of this
two days after Nelson Mandela died, at age 95, a personal hero of mine, ever since (1983) I read a book about his time in prison at Robben Island.