A Look Back at the T in the 1979 “Gay March” on Washington

in Cristan Williams/History

By Cristan Williams
@cristanwilliams

 

121912_0456_LookBackatt1[1]

Official Souvenir Program of the 1979 National March on Washington, Page 40

It should be noted that the organizer of the 1st MOW was Ray Hill from Houston, Texas. Hill was a significant supporter of both trans inclusion and trans empowerment.

121912_0456_LookBackatt2[1]

Trans Leader from Houston, Phyllis Frye (center, holding American flag)

121912_0456_LookBackatt3[1]

Phyllis Frye, leading the Texas contingent

121912_0456_LookBackatt4[1]

Official Souvenir Program of the 1979 National March on Washington, Page 1

“Gay is Good”

This slogan came out of the 1968 North American Conference of Homophile Organizations (NACHO). This meeting was largely funded by transperson, Lee Brewster (a forgotten trans badass who also funded the Mattachine Society, founded the Queens Liberation Front, funded and coordinated the NY anti-GLBT legal challenges that overturned NY anti-gay laws, published most of the early national trans magazines and newspapers, and fought early anti-trans TERFs like Jean O’Leary  who wanted to erase trans folk from the queer rights movement). The meeting was attended by Houston activist, Ray Hill (who planned the March with Harvey Milk… Hill was the lead organizer of the March on Washington) along with several other transpeople – including Transgender Foundation of America’s Vice President, Alexis Melvin.

In 1967, NACHO wrote:

121912_0456_LookBackatt5[1]

121912_0456_LookBackatt6[1]

Official Souvenir Program of the 1979 National March on Washington, Pages 10 – 11

121912_0456_LookBackatt7[1]

Official Souvenir Program of the 1979 National March on Washington, Page 3



Tip this TransAdvocate!

Writers for the TransAdvocate work hard to bring you news and commentary. If you found this article meaningful, let the author know that you appreciate the work they do with a tip!

Cristan Williams is a trans historian and pioneer in addressing the practical needs of the transgender community. She started the first trans homeless shelter in the South and co-founded the first federally funded trans-only homeless program, pioneered affordable healthcare for trans people in the Houston area, won the right for trans people to change their gender on Texas ID prior to surgery, started numerous trans social service programs and founded the Transgender Center as well as the Transgender Archives. Cristan is the editor at the social justice sites TransAdvocate.com and TheTERFs.com, is a long-term member and previous chair of the City of Houston HIV Prevention Planning Group.

Latest from Cristan Williams

Go to Top