Washington, D.C. resident Dan Massey, a scientist and technology development executive who advocated for LGBT rights and sexual freedom causes, died Jan. 28 following a battle with cancer. He was 70.
Local activists who knew Massey said he and his wife and partner of 35 years, Alison Gardner, worked tirelessly behind the scenes to raise money and provide support for a wide range of local and national LGBT and sexual freedom advocacy organizations.
“Dan was a gentle and generous soul, and will be missed by the many people he helped and inspired,” said Rick Rosendall, president of the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance of Washington.
“He was always helping someone,” Rosendall said. “I do not know anything nicer to say about anyone. Our hearts go out to Dan’s wife and soul mate, GLAA Secretary Alison Gardner.”
A biography of Massey published on Wikipedia and distributed by Gardner says Massey’s professional career was in the fields of computer science and information technology.
He was a graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University and authored seven books in the fields of artificial intelligence, probability and statistics, and managing computers in business, according to the biography.
He worked as chief engineer for the Cambridge, Mass., based firm BBN Technologies from 1972 to 1992. He worked from 1994 until his retirement in January 2011 for Science Applications International Corporation in Vienna, Va.
While working in the field of science, Massey teamed up with Gardner over the past 20 years or longer to advocate for sexual freedom and the elimination of societal bias and discrimination against individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity and expression, his biography says.
Massey served for more than 20 years on the executive committee of the Urantia Book Fellowship and founded the Urantia Society of Central Connecticut. The two groups seek to study and carry out spiritual and philosophical teachings of an early to middle 20th century collection of spiritual writings known as the Urantia Papers.
He also served on the Advisory Council of the Woodhull Sexual Freedom Alliance; the Policy Advisory Board of Gender Rights Maryland, a transgender advocacy organization; and the “WikiQueer” Global Advisory Board, according to information provided by Gardner.
In recent years, activists got to know Massey and Gardner through the sexual freedom organization and blog they founded in 2009 called VenusPlusX. Its stated purpose is to “inform and uplift” the ideals of sexual liberation “through education, training, and communications to support and accelerate the New Age.”
Its website, which Gardner continues to publish, VenusPlusX.com, says the group adopted its name from a science fiction novel that takes place in a “post-gender future.” The website says the group’s members are inspired from “two famous androgynous, transgender U.S.A. icons – the Statue of Liberty and “Columbia,” the statue on top of the U.S. Capitol dome.
Transgender activist Dana Beyer, co-founder of Gender Rights Maryland, called Massey a champion of transgender rights.
“Dan called himself an androgyne,” Beyer told the Blade. “He did not view himself as male or female.”
In a tribute to Massey in the Huffington Post last week, Beyer said Massey’s most important legacy is his “passionate advocacy over the years in support of social justice for all.”
The VenusPlusX blog says Massey and Gardner sought to advance their sexual freedom advocacy through “a new concept of the intrinsic value of sex and gender expression, of personal erotic freedom, to replace millennia of unreasoned ignorance, fear, and hatred with the true joy of Love.”
In addition to Gardner, Massey is survived by his son Ross and daughter Tiye.
A memorial service for Massey is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 23, at 1:30 p.m. at the Josephine Butler Parks Center, 2437 15th St., N.W., which overlooks Meridian Hill/Malcolm X Park.
In lieu of flowers, Gardner said Massey requested that contributions be made to D.C.’s Latino LGBT community center Casa Ruby; the newly endowed Dan Massey Transleadership Scholarship Fund; “or a charity of your choice.”