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Stonewall riots historian, author David Carter dies at 67

Served as adviser to the National Park Service

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David Carter, Commission on Civil Rights, gay news, Washington Blade
Last year, author David Carter spoke before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. (Blade photo by Lou Chibbaro, Jr.)

David Carter, an author and historian on LGBTQ civil rights who is credited with writing the definitive book about the 1969 Stonewall riots that he said triggered a worldwide “mass movement” for LGBTQ rights, died May 1 at his Greenwich Village apartment in New York City. He was 67.

His brother, Bill Carter, said doctors believe the cause of death was a heart attack.

David Carter’s 2004 book “Stonewall: The Riots That Sparked the Gay Revolution” thrust Carter into the limelight as a leading expert on the June 1969 riots triggered by the now infamous police raid on the Stonewall gay bar in Greenwich Village in which the patrons fought back.

Carter’s book was the basis for the PBS American Experience film “Stonewall Uprising,” which won a Peabody Award. He also played a key role working with the U.S. National Park Service to have the site of the Stonewall bar and surrounding streets designated as a national monument and an historic landmark.

Shortly after his Stonewall book was published, Carter began work on what he considered his next major project – a definitive biography of gay rights pioneer Frank Kameny, the co-founder of the Mattachine Society of Washington, D.C. in the early 1960s. For more than 10 years, Carter conducted extensive research on Kameny’s role as one of the first known pre-Stonewall activists who declared homosexuals to be a minority group deserving of full civil rights.

It couldn’t immediately be determined whether others might assemble Carter’s findings and documentation on Kameny, including recorded interviews with dozens of people who knew Kameny, into the book Carter was unable to finish.

Carter was born and raised in the Southeast Georgia town of Jesup. He graduated from the town’s Wayne County High School before attending Emory University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in religion and French, according to information provided by his brother.

During his junior year in college he studied at the Paris-Sorbonne University in France. He later attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he earned a master’s degree in 1978 in South Asian Studies, a write-up prepared by his brother says.

Carter, who was gay, first became involved in the gay rights movement while a graduate student in Madison, his brother said in his write-up on Carter. Among other things, Carter organized a 1977 dance that raised more than $1,000 to support a Dade County, Fla., gay rights group that was fighting a campaign by anti-gay advocate Anita Bryant to overturn the Florida county’s gay rights law.

A short time later, Carter co-founded an organization in Madison that led a successful effort to prevent anti-gay advocates from overturning Madison’s gay rights law, making Madison one of the few places in the country in the late 1970s and early 1980s to stop an effort to repeal a pro-LGBTQ nondiscrimination law.

Carter later became involved in the successful lobbying effort that made Wisconsin the first state in the nation to pass a law banning discrimination based on sexual orientation.

He moved to New York City in 1985 shortly before starting work as an editor at Chelsea House Publishers, a publisher of young adult multicultural books, according to his brother Bill Carter. The brother said the company accepted a proposal by David Carter that it publish two separate book series for young adults, “Issues in Gay and Lesbian Life” and “Lives of Notable Gay Men and Lesbians.”

After leaving Chelsea House, Carter began work on the Stonewall book and a separate book consisting of a collection of interviews of famed gay poet Allen Ginsberg that was later published as “Spontaneous Mind: Selected Interviews 1958-1996.”

“Stonewall: The Riots That Sparked the Gay Revolution” was published by St. Martin’s Press in 2004 with many positive reviews, including from the New York Times. In 1998, six years before the book’s release, Carter received a grant to put together material from his research on Stonewall to support an effort to place the Stonewall riots site on the National Register of Historic Places, where it was placed in 1999. A year later the site was named a National Historic Landmark.

In 2014, Carter served as the historic adviser to the National Park Service in the successful effort to have the Stonewall site become a National Monument.

Beginning in 2006, Carter began work on his planned biography of Frank Kameny. Although he didn’t live to complete that project, Carter talked and wrote about Kameny’s groundbreaking work in the early homophile movement in writings in the gay press and in lectures and other speaking appearances.

Carter talked about Kameny in D.C. in June 2019 before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, which invited him to give a presentation on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots. As members of the commission and a small audience listened intently, Carter provided detailed historical background on the discrimination and persecution LGBTQ people faced prior to the 1969 Stonewall rebellion.

He noted that contrary to the generally accepted belief that the Stonewall riots triggered the modern gay rights movement, Carter said Stonewall triggered a mass movement for LGBTQ rights that actually began as a civil rights phase of the “homophile” movement started by Kameny and his followers in the early 1960s.

The earlier phase started by Kameny, Carter said, made it possible for activists to convert the spontaneous street protests that followed the Stonewall riots in Greenwich Village into a focused and effective political movement for LGBTQ rights.

“The Stonewall uprising is historic for one reason,” he said in his presentation to the U.S. Civil Rights Commission. “It inspired the creation of a new phase of the movement for the rights of gay men and lesbians and later for bisexuals and the transgendered, and this new phase, the gay liberation movement, created a mass movement, making most of the gains over the past five decades possible.”

Following publication of the Stonewall book, Carter appeared on national TV news programs, including on CNN and CBS and has written on LGBTQ issues for CNN, Time magazine, the BBC, the Washington Blade, and the Gay and Lesbian Review.

Carter has told the Blade in the past that one reason for the delay in completing the Kameny book was the need to work full time in a regular paying job. Eric Danzer, Carter’s longtime friend in New York, said at the time of his passing Carter was working as senior medical editor at Saatchi & Saatchi, a global communications firm.

“In his medical editing and his LGBT history work, he showed a passion for accuracy,” Danzer said. “In his LGBT history work, he was painstakingly methodical in assembling the facts, passionate about following them wherever they led to make sure that our history is recorded accurately.”

Added Danzer, “He had great respect for the subjects of his work and felt a great responsibility to preserve the legacy of subjects whose contributions were generally not well known, but should be, like Frank Kameny.”

Carter was preceded in death by his parents W. L. and Sarah Carter of Jesup, Ga. He is survived by longtime friend Eric Danzer; his brother William C. Carter and sister-in-law Lynn; three nieces, Josephine Monmaney, Sarah Davis, and Susanna Carter; and five great nieces and great nephews.

Arrangements were being made for David Carter’s burial in Jesup, Ga. A memorial service in Georgia and New York will be held at a later date.

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Bill to ban conversion therapy dies in Puerto Rico Senate committee

Advocacy group describes lawmakers as cowards

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Puerto Rico Pulse nightclub victims, gay news, Washington Blade

 

A Puerto Rico Senate committee on Thursday killed a bill that would have banned so-called conversion therapy on the island.

Members of the Senate Community Initiatives, Mental Health and Addiction Committee voted against Senate Bill 184 by an 8-7 vote margin. Three senators abstained.

Amárilis Pagán Jiménez, a spokesperson for Comité Amplio para la Búsqueda de la Equidad, a coalition of Puerto Rican human rights groups, in a statement sharply criticized the senators who opposed the measure.

“If they publicly recognize that conversion therapies are abuse, if they even voted for a similar bill in the past, if the hearings clearly established that the bill was well-written and was supported by more than 78 professional and civil entities and that it did not interfere with freedom of religion or with the right of fathers and mothers to raise their children, voting against it is therefore one of two things: You are either a hopeless coward or you have the same homophobic and abusive mentality of the hate groups that oppose the bill,” said Pagán in a statement.

Thursday’s vote comes against the backdrop of continued anti-LGBTQ discrimination and violence in Puerto Rico.

Six of the 44 transgender and gender non-conforming people who were reported murdered in the U.S. in 2020 were from Puerto Rico.

A state of emergency over gender-based violence that Gov. Pedro Pierluisi declared earlier this year is LGBTQ-inclusive. Then-Gov. Ricardo Rosselló in 2019 signed an executive order that banned conversion therapy for minors in Puerto Rico.

“These therapies lack scientific basis,” he said. “They cause pain and unnecessary suffering.”

Rosselló issued the order less than two weeks after members of the New Progressive Party, a pro-statehood party  he chaired at the time, blocked a vote in the Puerto Rico House of Representatives on a bill that would have banned conversion therapy for minors in the U.S. commonwealth. Seven out of the 11 New Progressive Party members who are on the Senate Community Initiatives, Mental Health and Addiction Committee voted against SB 184.

“It’s appalling. It’s shameful that the senators didn’t have the strength and the courage that our LGBTQ youth have, and it’s to be brave and to defend our dignity and our humanity as people who live on this island,” said Pedro Julio Serrano, founder of Puerto Rico Para [email protected], a Puerto Rican LGBTQ rights group, in a video. “It’s disgraceful that the senators decided to vote down this measure that would prevent child abuse.”

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Undocumented LGBTQ immigrants turn to Fla. group for support

Survivors Pathway is based in Miami

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Survivors Pathway works with undocumented LGBTQ immigrants and other vulnerable groups in South Florida. (Photo courtesy of Francesco Duberli)

 

MIAMI – The CEO of an organization that provides support to undocumented LGBTQ immigrants says the Biden administration has given many of his clients a renewed sense of hope.

“People definitely feel much more relaxed,” Survivors Pathway CEO Francesco Duberli told the Washington Blade on March 5 during an interview at his Miami office. “There’s much hope. You can tell … the conversation’s shifted.”

Duberli — a gay man from Colombia who received asylum in the U.S. because of anti-gay persecution he suffered in his homeland — founded Survivors Pathway in 2011. The Miami-based organization currently has 23 employees.

Survivors Pathway CEO Francesco Duberli at his office in Miami on March 5, 2021. (Washington Blade photo by Yariel Valdés González)

Duberli said upwards of 50 percent of Survivors Pathway’s clients are undocumented. Duberli told the Blade that many of them are survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and human trafficking and victims of hate crimes based on their sexual orientation and gender identity.

“Part of the work that we have done for years is for us to become the bridge between the communities and law enforcement or the justice system in the United States,” said Duberli. “We have focused on creating a language that helps us to create this communication between the undocumented immigrant community and law enforcement, the state attorney’s office and the court.”

“The fear is not only about immigration,” he added. “There are many other factors that immigrants bring with them that became barriers in terms of wanting to or trying to access the justice system in the United States.”

Duberli spoke with the Blade roughly a week after the Biden administration began to allow into the U.S. asylum seekers who had been forced to pursue their cases in Mexico under the previous White House’s “Remain in Mexico” policy.

The administration this week began to reunite migrant children who the Trump administration separated from their parents. Title 42, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention rule that closed the Southern border to most asylum seekers and migrants because of the coronavirus pandemic, remains in place.

Duberli told the Blade that Survivors Pathway advised some of their clients not to apply for asylum or seek visa renewals until after the election. Duberli conceded “the truth of the matter is that the laws haven’t changed that much” since Biden became president.

Survivors Pathway has worked with LGBTQ people in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody in South Florida. American Civil Liberties Union National Political Director Ronald Newman in an April 28 letter it sent to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas called for the closure of the Krome North Service Processing Center in Miami, the Glades County Detention Center near Lake Okeechobee and 37 other ICE detention centers across the country.

The road leading to the Krome North Service Processing Center in Miami on June 7, 2020. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

Survivors Pathway responded to trans woman’s murder in 2020

Survivors Pathway has created a project specifically for trans Latina women who Duberli told the Blade don’t know they can access the judicial system.

Duberli said Survivors Pathway works with local judges and police departments to ensure crime victims don’t feel “discriminated, or outed or mistreated or revictimized” because of their gender identity. Survivors Pathway also works with Marytrini, a drag queen from Cuba who is the artistic producer at Azúcar, a gay nightclub near Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood.

Marytrini and Duberli are among those who responded to the case of Yunieski “Yuni” Carey Herrera, a trans woman and well-known activist and performer from Cuba who was murdered inside her downtown Miami apartment last November. Carey’s boyfriend, who had previously been charged with domestic violence, has been charged with murder.

“That was an ongoing situation,” noted Duberli. “It’s not the only case. There are lots of cases like that.”

Duberli noted a gay man in Miami Beach was killed by his partner the same week.

“There are lots of crimes that happen to our community that never gets to the news,” he said. “We got those cases here because of what we do.”

Yunieski “Yuni” Carey Herrera was murdered in her downtown Miami apartment in November 2020. (Photo courtesy of social media)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Patrick O’Connell, acclaimed AIDS activist, dies at 67

Played key role in creating red ribbon for awareness

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Activist Patrick O’Connell was instrumental in creating the red ribbon to promote AIDS awareness. (Photo courtesy of Allen Frame; courtesy Visual AIDS)

Patrick O’Connell, a founding director of the New York City-based AIDS advocacy group Visual AIDS who played a lead role in developing the internationally recognized display of an inverted, V-shaped red ribbon as a symbol of AIDS advocacy, died on March 23 at a Manhattan hospital from AIDS-related causes, according to the New York Times. He was 67.

Visual AIDS said in a statement that O’Connell held the title of founding director of the organization from 1980 to 1995.

During those years, according to the statement and others who knew him, O’Connell was involved in the group’s widely recognized and supported efforts to use art and artist’s works to advocate in support of people with HIV/AIDS and efforts to curtail the epidemic that had a devastating impact on the art world.

Thanks to a grant from the Art Matters foundation, Visual AIDS was able to retain O’Connell as its first paid staff member in 1990, the group said in its statement.

“Armed with a fax machine and an early Macintosh computer, Patrick helped Visual AIDS grow from a volunteer group to a sustainable non-profit organization,” the statement says. “A passionate spokesperson for the organization, he helped projects like Day Without Art, Night Without Light, and the Red Ribbon reach thousands of people and organizations across the world,” the group says in its statement.

“We were living in a war zone,” the statement quoted O’Connell as saying in a 2011 interview with the Long Island newspaper Newsday. “But it was like a war that was some kind of deep secret only we knew about,” O’Connell said in the interview. “Thousands were dying of AIDS. We felt we had to respond with a visible expression,” he told the newspaper.

With O’Connell’s help, Visual AIDS in 1989 organized the first annual Day Without Art in which dozens of galleries and museums in New York and other cities covered art works with black cloths to symbolize the mourning of those who died of AIDS. Among those participating were the Brooklyn Museum, the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, which replaced a Picasso painting with a “somber informational placard,” according to the New York Times.

In 1990 O’Connell helped Visual AIDS organize the first Night Without Light, which was held at the time of World AIDS Day. New York City’s skyscraper buildings, bridges, monuments, and Broadway theaters turned off their lights for 15 minutes to commemorate people who lost their lives to AIDS, the New York Times reported.

In the kickoff of its Red Ribbon Project in 1991, McConnell helped organize volunteers to join “ribbon bees” in which thousands of the ribbons were cut and folded for distribution around the city, the Times reports. Those who knew McConnell said he also arranged for his team of volunteers to call Broadway theaters and producers of the upcoming Tony Awards television broadcast to have participants and theater goers display the red ribbons on their clothes.

Among those displaying a red ribbon on his label at the Tony Awards broadcast was actor Jeremy Irons, who was one of the hosts. In later years, large numbers of celebrities followed the practice of wearing the red ribbon, and in 1993 the U.S. Postal Service issued a red ribbon stamp.

The Times reports that O’Connell was born and raised in Manhattan, where he attended Fordham Preparatory School and later graduated from Trinity College in Hartford, Conn., in 1973 with a bachelor’s degree in history. According to Visual AIDS, O’Connell served as director of the Hallwalls arts center in Buffalo, N.Y. from 1977 to 1978 before returning to New York City to work for a gallery called Artists Space.

The Times reports that O’Connell learned in the middle 1980s that he had contracted AIDS and began a regimen of early AIDS treatment with a cocktail of over 30 pills a day. His involvement with Visual AIDS, which began in 1989, ended on an active basis in 1995 when his health worsened, the Times reports.

As one of the last remaining survivors of his New York contemporaries who had HIV beginning in the 1980s, O’Connell continued in his strong support for AIDS-related causes through 2000s and beyond, people who knew him said.
Visual AIDS says it is gathering remembrances and photos for a tribute post for O’Connell on its website. It has invited people to share their memories of him by sending written contributions and images via email to: [email protected].

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