They may have changed your life & you didn’t know it.
This will not be a typical 2019 year-end reflection in that it reaches back into 2018. That was when we lost Ray Hill.
Ray was the first person I ever met who openly identified as part of the LGBTQ community. But it wasn’t his specific goal the day that it happened.
It was the fall of 1980 in Houston. He was a guest speaker in my high school criminal justice class.
He’d long been out and, despite my having followed news coverage of some of the early gay rights events in Houston, I nevertheless was then unfamiliar with him – doubly so for the capacity that brought him to school that day: prisoners’ rights advocate.
At some point during his talk, the issue of sexuality was broached – and he mentioned he was gay. Roughly half the class began laughing and jeering – which shocked me.
Now, what shocked me was that I’d figured it would have been even more. (When one student asked a particularly immature question about gay sex, someone else shouted quite loudly, “Aw man, grow up!”)
Knowing Ray, I’m sure he wasn’t thrilled that his presentation was briefly derailed but otherwise it didn’t faze him.
And that’s the reason for mentioning this one event from a long, radical life that included a Supreme Court victory with his name on it. (He included the case citation on his business card. His listed occupation? “Citizen Provocateur.”)
I eventually got to know him.
It took almost twenty years, but we finally crossed paths again at the final ICTLEP trans law conference. I mentioned that day in 1980 to him. He had no reason to recall me specifically (and he didn’t) but he did insist that there was no possible way I could have been there unless I was bouncing on my mother’s knee.
Over the next two decades, I occasionally mentioned that high school encounter with Ray – and if he was within earshot (in person or online) he’d always insist that I was too young for it to have happened.
That last ICTLEP was in 1997. I was only in my 30s, but it still made me feel good that anyone would think I had to be that young. In my 50s? Triply so.
Ray wasn’t trans, but Sarah DePalma was. It was not long into 2019 when we lost her.
I have an anecdote about her as well: I once intentionally misgendered her. It was out of anger – but not at her. In fact, she shared my anger.
It was the evening of October 27, 1999. Word had come that the San Antonio Court of Appeals had issued its decision in Littleton v. Prange, a case that challenged the validity of both Christie Lee Littleton’s marriage and womanhood.
We had heard that the decision was negative but we had not yet seen the actual opinion. For reasons which I can’t now recall (though probably having to do with dial-up access to the internet), I got off the phone with Sarah to access the just-released opinion.
After I did – and after I read it – I called her back.
Her spouse Lori answered and knew why I was calling. She asked me how bad it was. I responded, “Well, let me put it this way. Can I speak to Mr. DePalma?”
Now, misgendering is a bad thing even this context, and I won’t try to justify it other than to say I didn’t think it through as to how it would look and sound as an anecdote twenty years later. But, it happened.
Oh, also – at the time Lori and Sarah both got the joke – which, ultimately, was no joke. That court ruling undercut trans progress in Texas (and elsewhere) for years to come.
Sarah and I both went to Texas A&M, one of the more conservative public schools in the country. And we were both there, pre-transition, in the 1980s. However, we didn’t cross paths then. I was still too scared to tell anyone anything about a certain aspect of me – but Sarah was already among those involved in legal action against the university for refusing to give official status to a gay student group (and years before that she had been involved in anti-war activism.)
The university eventually lost and Sarah was proud of having played a role in establishing the group and ensuring that it received recognition on par with other groups. But I think that pride paled in comparison to the happiness I saw her exude in 1998 when she (along with myself and Phyllis Frye) gave a presentation on trans rights on campus at Texas A&M – a presentation not merely sponsored by the organization that she helped to found but one which took place in what was then one of the newer buildings on campus, a building named after John Koldus, one of the university officials who had most vociferously opposed the student group years earlier.
What goes around comes around. Well, most of it does.
Sarah did live to see the partial undoing of Littleton v. Prange, but she saw precious little other legal progress in Texas. I’m proud to have taken part in a few of the Trans Lobby Days that she helped lead from the helm of the Texas Gender Advocacy & Information Network (TGAIN). To say she was a dynamo would be an understatement.
If Texas ever does enact a true trans birth certificate statute, hopefully, someone will have sense enough to name it the Sarah DePalma Act.
If you missed getting to know Ray and Sarah, you missed getting to know two truly unique individuals.
Check out the original story here: LGBTQ Nation.
Tags: #BigBankChallenge #BohemianKissChallenge #EqualityActJapan #StopAsianHate 12 Dates of Christmas 2020 Olympics Aaron Schock Adam Castillejo Adam Rippon addiction ageism Aging AhTave AIDS Aime Wichtendal Alaska Alex Morse Almost Love America's Next Top Model American Medical Association Amy Coney Barrett Annise Parker Antes Que El Mundo Se Acabe Anti-Asian Violence Anti-LGBTQ ANTM anxiety Aptima HIV-1 Arizona Armie Hammer astrology At-home date Atlanta Atlanta Black Pride Atlanta GA Atlanta Nightlife Atlanta Pride Atlanta Pride Run Atlanta’s Queer History Bicycle Tour Austin Swink Austin Texas Austin TX Backpacks for the Street Basel Abou Hamrah BFI Flare Bisexual BLACK GAY MEN Black LGBTQ Atlanta Black Lives Matter Black Love Bohemian Rhapsody Boston Boston MA Boston Nightlife Brian Sims Broadway bully Bullying California Call Me By Your Name Canada Capital Pride Capitalism Cason Crane Celebrity News censorship Chemistry Chemsex Chicago Chicago IL Chris Evans Christian proselytizing Christianity Christmas Christmas commercial Christmas movie Christmas Movies Chucky Circus of Books civil unions Cody McCook Colorado Comedy coming out commentary compatibility Confidence Congress conspiracy theory Conversion therapy CoronaVirus Court Vox COVID COVID-19 Covid-19 vaccine Cubbyhole NYC daddy Dallas Dallas Gay Bars Dallas Gayborhood Dallas Texas Danica Roem Daniel Harding Daniel Howell Date night dating dating advice Dating Apps Dating Red Flags dating rut dating tips DC Pride Dead to Me Denver Depression discrimination Disney Documentary Dolf Pasker Dolly Parton Domestic Violence Donald Trump Donna Price Drag Race drag racing Dustin Lance Black election Election 2020 Election Day Elite Employment Entertainment Entertainment news epidemic Fabio Fasoli Family family gatherings Film Finding True Love First Date First Date Etiquette first date ideas first date tips Flirting Tips Flirty Dancing Florida Fort Lauderdale Franklin Graham Freddie Mercury Garrett Clayton gay gay asian gay asian men Gay Atlanta Gay Austin Gay Bars NYC Gay beaches Gay Boston Gay Boston Nightlife Gay Chicago Gay Christmas Gay Couple Gay Couples Gay Culture Gay Dallas Gay Dallas Nightlife gay dating gay dating advice gay dating app gay dating apps Gay Dating Red Flags Gay Dating Solutions Gay Dating Tips Gay DC gay discrimination gay film Gay Florida Gay Fort Lauderdale Gay Health Gay Holiday Movie Gay Houston gay kiss Gay Love Advice gay marriage gay marriage proposal gay men Gay Miami gay midlife Gay Mountaineer Gay Movies Gay New York Gay nightlife Gay Nurse Gay NYC Gay Panic Gay Pride gay relationship advice gay relationship tips gay relationships Gay Santa Gay Scene gay seniors gay sex gay singles Gay Soldier Gay Travel Gay Twitter Gay Washington DC Gay Wedding gay weddings Gay Widower Gays Over COVID gaysian Gen Z Generation Z Georgia Gert Kasteel Ghosting GLAAD GOP Gorsuch Greater Houston LGBTQ Chamber of Commerce grindr Guy Vandenberg Gym Gays Haaz Sleiman Hallmark Halloween Hate Crime HBO Max Health HGVT HIV HIV prevention HIV stigma HIV treatment HIV vaccine HIV/AIDS hobbies Holi-date Holiday Film Holiday Movies Holidays Hollywood Holyoke Homophobia hooking up hookup hookup culture Hot Vax Summer House Hunters Houston Houston Texas Houston TX Hulu Ian Jordan Indya Moore Instagay Instagram intersex Intimacy Intimacy coach Iowa Iowa caucus isolation It's A Sin Jake Gyllenhaal James Bushe Japan Jaymes Vaughan Jayson Conner Jeffrey Newman Jennifer Tilly Jewish Jewish persecution Joe Biden Jonathan Bennett Josef Salvat Jussi-Pekka Kajaala Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg JVN Jwan Yosef Karamo Brown Kristine Stolakis Lady Gaga Lesbian lesbian couple Let It Snow LGBT LGBT Austin LGBT Travel Guide LGBT-Free Zones LGBTQ LGBTQ Asians LGBTQ Atlanta LGBTQ Austin LGBTQ Boston LGBTQ Chicago LGBTQ Dallas LGBTQ DC LGBTQ discrimination LGBTQ employees LGBTQ Family LGBTQ Film LGBTQ Film Festival LGBTQ Films LGBTQ flag LGBTQ Fort Lauderdale LGBTQ Health LGBTQ History LGBTQ Houston LGBTQ Miami LGBTQ movies LGBTQ New York LGBTQ nightlife LGBTQ NYC LGBTQ Pride LGBTQ retirees LGBTQ retirement LGBTQ Rights LGBTQ Seniors LGBTQ Victory Institute LGBTQ Youth Life Lifetime Lifetime TV Network Linda Warren lockdown London LGBTIQ+ Film Festival loneliness Love Victor Love Wins Luke Evans Male Nurse Malik Brown marriage equality marriage proposal Marsha P Johnson Marvel Marvin Cortes Massachusetts mature gay dating mental health Mexico Miami Miami Beach Miami Beach Pride Miami Florida Miami nightlife Michael Cashman Michael Henry Middle-aged gay men midlife Modern Family mormon Mr. Right Muscle gays music video My Gay Match NASCAR National Coming Out Day Nationwide Conversion Therapy Ban Neil Gorsuch Netflix Netflix Special Nevada New Year's Resolution New York New York City Nonbinary North Dakota Northern Ute tribe Norway Nurse Appreciation Week NYC NYC Events NYC Pride NYC Pride 2021 Oak Lawn Obergefell v. Hodges older gay man Omander Omar Ayuso One True Pairing online dating online dating apps online dating tips online gay dating Online trolls Open Relationship Operation Hyacinth OTP Outfest Outfest LA 2021 Outfest Los Angeles Pan-African Pride pandemic Paper Moons Pat Robertson Pennsylvania Perez Hilton personality Personality Matching personality type Pete Buttigieg Pink Capitalism Poland Politics polyamorous polyamorous relationship polyamorous relationships Pope Francis Pose power bottom Pray Away PrEP pride Pride 2021 Pride Afrique Pride Flag Pride Month Prince Harry profile pic Puerto Vallarta quarantine Queer eye Queer Film Queer Films Queer Holiday Movies Queer Lawmakers Queer Love Story Queer Santa Queer Youth racism Rafa Olarra Rainbow Wave red flags Reddit Relationship relationship advice Relationship Tips relationships religion Rep. Andy Biggs Republican retirement Ricky Martin rom-com Romantic Comedy Ryan Murphy Ryan O’Connell Samaritan’s Purse same sex marriage Same Sex Relationships Same Sex Wedding Same-Sex Couples Same-Sex Kiss same-sex marriage same-sex marriage ban Santa Claus Schitt’s Creek Score Miami Score Nightclub Scott Evans Scott Wiener Section 28 self isolation self-care Senior Gay Dating Senior Gay Men senior gays Senior Prom Seven Summits sex Sex and Intimacy Sex Education sex life sexual identity sexual preference sexual racism sexuality short film Shy Gay Guys Single All the Way single gay man Single Gay Men Single Gays Single Young Gays social distancing social isolation social media Social Security Somerville South Florida sports Stonewall Stonewall Riots straight men Super Bowl ads Super Bowl commercials Super Bowl LIV Supreme Court Switzerland Syfy Syria Tan France Television Tennessee The Boys in the Band The Center on Colfax The Christmas Setup The Eternals The First The Thing About Harry Threesome throuple TikTok Tom Daley toxic gay relationship toxic masculinity toxic relationships Transgender Travel Travis Shumake true love Trump administration Turner Free TV series Tweets Twitter Unconditional Love United Methodist Church US economy US Supreme Court Valentine's day viral news viral video Virginia Washington DC Web Series Wedding When Harry met Santa Workplace workplace discrimination World AIDS Day World Pride Young Gay Guys young gay men Youth YouTube
My Gay Match: Dating Guide for Young Gay Guys
Gay relationships and socialization are already complicated by nature, more so if you want to be intimate with someone who you think is special. But don’t fret. This quick guide gives out gay dating advice for young gay guys out there who want to be more prepared.More
Queer Things To Do in NYC This Weekend December 17-19
The home stretch of the holiday season is bringing a selection of options for queer New Yorkers, including LGBTQ storytelling, networking, and benefit concerts.More
This Adorable Same-Sex Marriage Proposal Will Melt Your Heart
A beautiful same-sex wedding proposal has gone viral on TikTok and Twitter for all the right reasons.More
Best LGBTQ-Friendly Weekend in Washington, DC
Make friends at a DC bar, take a tour of the city and delve into the neighborhoods with this weekend guide to LGBTQ+ DC.More
Better Than Grindr? 5 Gay Dating Apps That Can Help Find Your Perfect Match
Most online gay dating apps are a bit superficial in how you match with someone. If you want a different experience, try these gay dating apps.More