A dignified tapestry of trailblazing pioneers who have contributed to the gay liberation movement.
Funk’s nonprofit OUTWORDS is an initiative dedicated to recording and preserving the stories and histories of LGBTQ revolutionaries. Among the dynamic voices featured in his empowering anthology are activists, leaders, and individual contributors who represent the struggle of LGBTQ people to be heard above the perennial din of intolerance, discrimination, and hate. Recognizing that many of the pioneers are baby boomers and that there will be “fewer of our elders around to interview,” the author briskly traveled across America arranging interviews for a volume he knew would “do justice to the long, complex journey that our community has traveled.” Split into 10 thematic sections, the collection begins with community-focused individuals like Emma Colquitt-Sayers, a Dallas-based organizer who overcame the ravages of a difficult childhood to emerge successful and immensely philanthropic. Other contributors include former Los Angeles nightclub owners Jewel Thais-Williams, whose Catch One bar was born during the sexual revolution, and Gene La Pietra, who consistently thwarted rampant anti-gay police brutality at his venues (he recalls one night when “the cops game in with billy clubs flying…helicopters, the whole nine yards…giving out commands just like Nazis”). Many of these diverse voices come from transgender activists, and others have legal, political, or performance backgrounds and media, military, and ministerial affiliations. “Pioneering protester” Dick Leitsch recalls rushing to the Stonewall Inn in June 1969 to witness the riots firsthand, and organizer Donna Red Wing’s posthumous profile reflects her lifelong dedication to humanitarian equality. Many of these stories are highly introspective and poignant—e.g., interviews with several longtime AIDS survivors and a few spirited octogenarians—while some are humorous, including that of drag queen Bradley Picklesimer’s trajectory from Chess King–wearing youth to Hollywood performance artist. To Funk, each voice is essential, and “if we hurry, we can record many more stories—and thank our pioneers in person.”
A significant educational and motivational tribute to dozens of social justice heroes.