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October 14: The First National LGBTQ March

October 13, 2015

22-26342Some 100,000 people participated in the first National March on Washington For Gay and Lesbian Civil Rights on this date in 1979, galvanized by the assassination of Harvey Milk, who had helped to plan and organize the event. The National Steering Committee for the march, with mandated gender parity and 25 percent representation of people of color, was selected through community meetings throughout the country. Allen Young, a gay Jewish journalist who had been active in SDS and Liberation News Service, wrote the welcome program; the Jews among the speakers included Allen Ginsberg, Peter Orlovsky, Congressional Rep. Ted Weiss, and Adele Starr, founder of Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays in 1976.

“Today in the capital of America, we are all here, the almost liberated and the slightly repressed; the butch, the femme and everything in-between; the androgynous; the monogamous and the promiscuous; the masturbators and the fellators and the tribadists; men in dresses and women in neckties; those who bite and those who cuddle; celebates[sic] and pederasts; diesel dykes and nelly queens; amazons and size queens, Yellow, Black, Brown, White, and Red; the shorthaired and the long, the fat and the thin; the nude and the prude; the beauties and the beasts; the studs and the duds; the communes, the couples, and the singles; pubescents and the octogenarians. Yes, we are all here! We are everywhere! Welcome to the March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights!” —Allen Young