Monday, June 23, 2008

Did you go to your high school Prom?

Aaron Fricke and his date Paul talk to attorney John Gaffney just before the Prom.

Photo: Daniel G. Dunn/Picture Group.

LGBT students have dealt with that beloved/dreaded high school ritual - The Prom - in various ways throughout history. Some of us muddled our way through opposite-sex "dates", pretending to have the time of our lives while secretly longing to slow dance with our best friend. Some of us truly did have a great time, spending the evening with a best friend who was also queer. Some skipped the Prom entirely. Some - more, these days - actually did get that special slow dance with the very person they wanted.

In 1980, an 18-year-old student in Cumberland, Rhode Island took a courageous step that helped make it easier for LGBT students to have the Prom experience they deserve. Aaron Fricke went to court to fight for his right to take a male date to his high school Prom, and, with GLAD's help, he won. You can hear Aaron tell his story, along with Attorney John Ward, in this month's podcast (listen at right), Tuxedoes for Two: Fricke v. Lynch, and read more on the case - including press coverage in everything from Gay Community News to People magazine - on GLAD's website.

Did you attend your Prom? Tell us about your experience!

Other sites of interest:
Aaron Fricke at Gay for Today

Aaron Fricke on

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Transgender Pride

Nearly 800 proud, visible transgender marchers took to the streets of Northampton last Saturday, June 7. What a fantastic day it was and how delighted I was to have been a part of it.

When I drove through Northampton around 11:30 that morning, I was not confident that the first New England Transgender Pride March would be a success. While it was a busy day in the downtown area, I did not see much of a crowd either lining the streets getting ready to watch a march or heading to Bridge Street School where the march was to begin. In fact, I decided that there was no rush for me to get my family to the assembly point in time to march, guessing that the organizers would have to start late in order to get an adequate mass assembled before taking to the streets.

As a result, it was probably around noon (the time that the march was scheduled to begin) when my family and I got a ride across town to where the march was to begin. So, given my complacency (and just a bit of pessimism), imagine my surprise when we drove under the train bridge only to see hundreds of beautiful trans marchers heading directly toward us and a police car with flashing lights ordering us to pull over so the march could begin. We quickly pulled over, jumped out of the car, and joined the marchers just as we saw the GLAD contingent heading toward us (following closely behind the march organizers and the very vocal Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition).

Whatever crowds had been lacking when I scanned downtown earlier that morning had assembled by the time the march made its way to the area. People were chanting (“What do we want? Trans Rights. When do we want them? Now”). And the crowds cheered and clapped as we made our way to the rally. My kids were too excited to be part of the march to be willing at any point to step out to watch the marchers who had assembled behind us. So I had no idea of its magnitude until we finally got to the rally space at the end. I never heard any official tallies but was unsurprised to hear credible reports of between 800 and 1,000 people being part of the march and rally.

Of course, for me, it wasn’t so much the numbers that mattered as the incredible range of identities (and bodies) I saw participating in the event. What struck me throughout the day was how few opportunities there are to be in a space where trans identity is the norm and where something more conventional is aberrational. For me, it was a day of feeling at home.

One of the more clever ideas of the march organizers was making available nametags for rally participants that had a blank for “name” and “I identify as.” Lots of people put “male,” “female,” “boi,” “girl,” or “trans.” Pronoun designations ranged from “he/his,” “she/her,” to “ze,” “hir,” and “you pick it.” Some of the more creative entries for identity included, “me,” “human,” “here,” and “person.” The feeling of freedom was palpable; the celebration was intense.

The day was a scorcher and everyone was happy for the bottles of water freely available through the duration of the rally. GLAD had a table not far from the speakers and stage seating and from where I could see everything. There was little coverage, though, from the sun so I spent a fair bit of time huddled in the shade behind GLAD’s table. But the heat of the day seemed to wither noone’s spirits or enthusiasm for the event. The nearly 5 hour rally was a great opportunity to talk to people about GLAD’s newly launched Transgender Rights Project as well as a chance to hear more about the injustices many of us face in our daily lives.

Unsurprisingly, I heard from a lot of people who have been plagued by the challenges of getting gender markers on identity documents that reflect their lived gender identities. More than a few people shared their experience of being denied insurance coverage for medically necessary surgery or hormone therapy, some foregoing essential procedures and others emptying savings accounts in order to get the care and treatment they need and deserve. A couple of people spoke of the challenges they faced as parents defending their relationships with their kids in the face of a legal system rife with bias and prejudice against anyone who doesn’t fit the stereotype of what a “real woman” or “real man” should look or act like.

I was reminded of why GLAD believes it is essential at this moment in time to launch a Transgender Rights Project. So few laws exist that clearly protect our community and so many of us face daily legal obstacles to living our lives with dignity and in safety.

I wanted to round out this blog with two personal stories that were highlights of my day. At the GLAD cocktail reception, I was delighted to meet up with a trans woman (forgive me if that’s not quite an accurate description of your identity) who I first met nearly fifteen years ago. Danielle (not her real name) and I first met at a Sunshine Club barbecue in Western Massachusetts where she and I bonded over neither easily fitting in the gender typical community nor easily fitting in the trans community into which she and I had both just recently found our way. A lot of our trans brothers and sisters at the barbecue were mad that she unapologetically wore her hair butch short, rode a motorcycle, and retained the physique of (for lack of better description) a male body builder. I thought she looked great (still do). But more than that, I was grateful to find someone within the trans community who comfortably exploded so many myths about gender. I was thrilled to learn that she continues to live her truth with all the challenges (and comfort as well) that brings to her.

The other highlight of my day was finally meeting Imani Henry. Imani is a performance artist, trans activist, and all around fantastic guy. I have been a fan of him and his work for many years. He and I have corresponded about a number of issues, political and legal, that have come up in the community throughout the last 12 years or so. We have not, however, ever formally met. We finally did last Saturday. We were both happy to finally be in the same room and have the chance to talk in person. Probably the funniest part of that meeting was his learning that I am not someone who identifies from an MTF-perspective but rather from an FTM one. I suspect it was my name in combination with my trans identity (but no visual context) that supported his assumption. He didn’t come quite out with it, but I knew from his energetic laugh and delight at the discovery of my actual identity that he and I (and likely everyone in the room) still hold onto prejudgments and expectations based on gender categories despite all our work and best efforts. We laughed for a while before putting our heads together again to figure out how best to continue to challenge gender stereotypes.

Jennifer Levi
Director, GLAD Transgender Rights Project

Monday, June 2, 2008

What a Good Family Can Look Like

Maureen, Kate, Mary Bonauto, and Ellen in 1993

Today's post is in honor of Blogging for LGBT Families Day.

Maureen Brodoff and Ellen Wade had been together for 13 years when in 1989 Maureen gave birth to their daughter Kate. By Kate’s fourth birthday, Maureen and Ellen were fully immersed in the day-to-day lives of working moms. But even though Ellen did the hard work of being a parent, as far as the law was concerned she and her daughter were strangers.

That changed in 1993, when the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) ruled that the unmarried partner of a child’s biological parent can adopt the child without the biological parent giving up his or her rights.

This change came about because of GLAD's 1993 case, Adoption of Susan and a companion case, Adoption of Tammy.

GLAD filed a joint petition on behalf of Maureen and Ellen in the Massachusetts Probate and Family Court, in which both parents sought to adopt Kate. After the judge denied the petition, GLAD appealed to the Massachusetts SJC, which heard the case in May 1993. On September 10, 1993, the SJC issued its ruling allowing Ellen to adopt Kate.

Susan established that the Massachusetts Probate and Family Court had jurisdiction to grant Ellen’s adoption of Kate. The Court saw nothing in Massachusetts adoption law prohibiting Maureen and Ellen from jointly adopting their daughter.

In Tammy, the Court held that the state adoption law allows adoption by two unmarried people living together, including adoption by the child’s biological parent, regardless of sexual orientation. The Court also said that the existing parent’s rights are not terminated by the adoption.

The common thread connecting these decisions—and subsequent legislation and court decisions throughout the country—is the recognition that, quite simply, adoption is good for kids. The legal, financial, and emotional security of having two legal parents clearly and unequivocally is in a child’s best interest.

More information on this case is available on GLAD's website, and you can hear Maureen, Ellen, and Attorney Mary Bonauto tell their story in this month's podcast What a Good Family Can Look Like (listen at right, download here or subscribe in iTunes).

Thursday, April 24, 2008

HIV and the Politics of Invisibility

That was the title of GLAD’s panel discussion held Tuesday night at the Jorge Hernandez Cultural Center. It is a heavy title that forces us to ask the question: “Where are we today with regards to the AIDS epidemic?” How is it possible that after so many years of devastating loss and discrimination that infection rates continue to soar, disproportionately affecting minority communities? A panel of four renowned individuals in the fight against AIDS: Douglas Brooks, ED of JRI Health; Jacob Smith Yang, ED of Massachusetts Asian and Pacific Islanders for Health; Reverend Irene Monroe, writer and activist; and Kevin Cathcart, ED of Lambda Legal took the stage to discuss their thoughts on the invisibility of the HIV epidemic in the United States.

Kevin Cathcart addressed the paradox of the US government requiring national HIV plans in developing countries, but never forcing our own country to develop one. Other countries that have placed HIV/AIDS at the forefront of national policies and used culturally appropriate prevention strategies have been successful in reducing the transmission rate of HIV. Thailand, for example, implemented a “100 percent condom program” in the 1990’s providing all sex workers with boxes of free condoms. HIV infection rates dropped significantly. What makes it so hard for the US to implement a national strategy that would decrease infection rates across the board? Is our country just too diverse to come up with one national plan?

Jacob Smith Yang discussed the complexity and diversity of the US population. Neglecting to address this diversity has left minority populations behind in the fight against HIV. Yang described the diversity within the Asian population that’s often invisible in the US. It’s necessary to break down the larger Asian population to understand the specific populations affected. When it comes to collecting demographic data for the AIDS epidemic it does not suffice to simply fill in “Asian” (or, worse, “Other” – lumping anyone who is not white, African American or Latino into one category) on a form.

Recording agencies such as the CDC have claimed that desegregating this data is useless because the differentiated numbers are too small to matter, but when infection rates continue, what number is too small? Why can’t we be concerned nationally and on a state level about the health and well being of every individual? We are lucky to live in a diverse society where each population is unique in terms of its cultural dynamics, but that makes it all the more necessary for a national HIV plan to address these differences. By failing to develop a national HIV plan for our own country, we are making this epidemic invisible to the greater public, when in fact decreasing infection rates takes the awareness of every single individual.

- Noreen Giga, Bilingual Outreach Educator

Panelists Reverend Irene Monroe, Jacob Smith Yang, and Kevin Cathcart discuss educating youth about HIV and AIDS.

Monday, April 14, 2008

A Culture-Shifting Moment: Establishing Protections for People with HIV

When Dr. Randon Bragdon of Bangor, Maine refused dental care to Sidney Abbot in 1994 because she had HIV, his attitude reflected widespread fear and misinformation about the disease. GLAD represented Sidney, suing and ultimately winning at the U.S. Supreme Court in 1998. The landmark victory established that people with HIV are protected from discrimination by the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Sidney Abbott tells her story, and attorneys Bennett Klein, Wendy Parmet, and Chai Feldblum offer legal insight on the fight to protect people with HIV from discrimination in GLAD's April audio podcast .

In this video clip, attorney Bennett Klein talks about the importance of fighting HIV discrimination

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Gay and...

This month's podcast (listen at right) tells the story of the Irish American Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual Group of Boston (GLIB)'s fight in the mid 1990s to march in South Boston's annual St. Patrick's Day Parade.

The group's members were fighting to claim their identities as both gay, lesbian, bisexual people and Irish Americans.

The U.S. Supreme Court ultimately framed the question as a First Amendment issue, ruling that the parade organizers could control the "message" of the parade by excluding those they deemed to have a contrary message.

According to the Allied War Veteran's Council (and leader John "Wacko"Hurley), the presence of people carrying a banner saying they were both Irish and gay was contrary to the desired message of Boston's St. Patrick's Day parade.

GLIB's fight has added to our discussion about identity and community, about the right to be fully who you are and to be included. Continuing this discussion publicly - in the courts, in parades, on blogs, wherever we are - ensures that more and more people realize that there is no contradiction between being gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender and being Irish, or a mother, or a son, or a teacher - or anything other than fully human.

Former GLAD employee Jacob Smith Yang discusses the St. Patrick's Day Parade case. Video is courtesy of The History Project's exhibit The Queer East

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Advocating for Trans Rights and Protections

Posted by Attorney Jennifer Levi

Monday night, March 3, 2008

It’s the night before the legislative hearing in Massachusetts on HB 1722, a bill which would add “gender identity or expression” discrimination prohibitions to our state laws in the areas of employment, lending, housing, education, public accommodations as well as in our hate crimes laws. It feels about time that we have this essential public discussion. For the last ten years, as long as I have been an attorney with Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, we have had a growing number of calls from members of the transgender community come into our InfoLine. Those calls are a daily reminder (as if I needed one) of all of the ways in which transgender people’s lives are made harder because of the pervasive discrimination and prejudice that we face. Reviewing the intakes with Bruce Bell, our Info Line manager, and my colleague Janson Wu who is often the front line attorney reviewing those calls, gives me the data I need to take our case to legislators.

Preparing for a meeting last week with several government officials including a district attorney, a legislative aide, and the Attorney General, I asked Bruce to print out only the employment-related calls we received. I was dismayed at how many of them there were and how predictable the fact scenario had become. Caller after caller reported similar experiences. A person who identifies as FTM called to say that he worked at a major retail outlet. (The facts of this call and the one that follow re actually a blend of facts from a number of different calls in order to preserve the confidentiality of the identity of our callers. Both are, however, completely reflective of the types of calls we receive. For another example of discrimination, please see Rachel Jette's story on MTPC’s website. He had received positive reviews from his supervisors for 3 years. Everything was fine for him until he was transferred to a different store because of some personnel changes. Five days after he started at the new store, someone from the human resources office told his co-workers that he is transgender. From that point on, life changed for him at the store. Co-workers began making disparaging remarks. His punch card disappeared. Supervisors were unresponsive to his complaints of harassment. Eventually he left the store.

Another call came from a trans woman with an advanced degree in science. She reported that she responded to an on-line advertisement for a position in sales in a field in which she has 10 years of experience. The person who arranged the interview commented during the scheduling call that she was surprised to hear the caller was still on the market given the demand for skilled sales people as well as her background and experience. She looked forward to meeting her. On the day of the interview, the caller immediately sensed a different interest on the part of the employer in her application. Though she answered all of the questions and the caller thought the interview had gone reasonably well, at the end of the day, she was told that she likely wouldn’t hear anything any time soon. As it turned out, she was told, there was no position at the company any more. The caller was skeptical. Four weeks of continued advertisements for the same position by the potential employer confirmed the caller’s suspicion that the reason she never heard anything was because of her being visibly transgender. She is continuing to look for work.

This post could fill pages of cyberspace with similar stories. A recent incident of hate violence makes the need to pass HB1722 even more urgent. Just last June in Lowell, Jenine Nickola, a young transgender woman, was attacked and brutally beaten in Lowell. According to publicly released reports, she was attacked by two men very early one Saturday morning was she was walking home. Early news reports indicated that she was a gay man. The truth, Ms. Nickola later disclosed, is that she is transgender but had hidden that fact. Her decision the hide the truth of her life is unsurprising given both the serious stigma attached to being transgender and confusion about the state of the law which has no clear protections for transgender people.

So tonight as I finalize my preparation for tomorrow’s hearing, I think of how far we have come. I can remember testifying before a subcommittee of the Rhode Island legislature in May of 2001
and thinking at that time that people listening to my testimony have no idea what I am talking about when I say that transgender people face pervasive discrimination. The hearing was held in a small conference room and a handful of people spoke on behalf of the legislation. Not everyone understood the issue but enough legislators understood the importance of guaranteeing civil rights for all Rhode Island citizens and visitors that it passed the same year it was introduced.

We have come quite far with regard to popular understandings of transgender people’s lives. The Academy Award winning film “Boys Don’t Cry,” the movie “TransAmerica,” and the television show “Ugly Betty” are but a few examples of the cultural representations that have made it easier to talk to people who don’t think they have ever met a transgender person and don’t think they can even imagine one. Since Rhode Island became the second state to explicitly add gender identity and expression protections to its laws, 10 states have joined suit. While it may have taken 20 years to get 2 states to have trans explicit protections in state laws, its taken just under 8 years to get the next 11 to follow.

I can and will say to the Joint Committee on the Judiciary tomorrow that we are not asking Massachusetts to take a leadership position on this issue. It is true that Massachusetts led the way by being the second state, in 1989, to add sexual orientation protections to its employment and public accommodations laws. It is also true that Massachusetts has led the way by becoming the first state to allow same-sex couples to marry. It is not true that Massachusetts would be taking the lead in this country in making clear and consistent our laws’ inclusion of transgender people. Fourteen states including Minnesota, Rhode Island, New Mexico, California, Maine, Illinois, Hawaii, Washington, New Jersey, Vermont, Oregon, Iowa, and Colorado as well as the District of Columbia have already done so.

Tuesday 1:20, March 5, 2008

Wow, what a crush of humanity I had to move through to find this seat in the back of Room A-1 at the statehouse. The hearing on HB 1722 is scheduled for today before the House-Senate Joint Judiciary Committee. The transgender equality legislation is far from the only bill being heard by the committee. Sixty-seven other bills will be heard today on a number of far ranging issues. The hearing has started and so far there have been 2 panels focused on other bills (a victim’s rights bill and a breastfeeding bill). I know the committee will get to our bill soon but still I am eager to be talking about the importance of transgender rights.

... 4.5 hours later

I finally got to testify on HB 1722. I was fortunate to be on one of the earlier panels heard by the committee focused on the trans legislation. I did my legal bit along with fabulous advocacy by representatives of the Massachusetts Bar Association, the Boston Bar Association, the Massachusetts Lesbian and Gay Bar Association, and about a million affiliated bar associations, according to Chic Wagner, co-chair of the MLGBA, who were standing with us but not physically present at the hearing. We laid out the legal justifications for the law, the fact that transgender people face rampant and pervasive discrimination and incidents of violence, how Massachusetts would be far from a leader on this issue since it would be doing what now 13 other states and the District of Columbia have already done, and how this is a measured response to a serious problem.

As clearly as I can recall, we were the first of any of the panels to receive a question and we received multiple questions. I’ll try as best as I can to recall what they were. The first question was whether a transgender person who is told she is denied a job because of her gender identity or expression is protected under the law. Answer: yes, in theory. The Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination has issued two decisions making clear that transgender people are protected under the law. The Massachusetts Superior Court and Appeals Court has agreed. So, what’s the problem? Answer: the problem is that the law doesn’t make clear our coverage AND some employers disagree with the interpretation of the law. The state high court hasn’t spoken clearly so the legislature should. Moreover, even if the courts were clear, law needs to speak explicitly of protections in order to be sure that the most marginalized members of our community know of this protection. So far, so good.

Next question: If a person is attacked for being transgender, can the perpetrator be prosecuted? Answer: yes, but not independently under the hate crimes law. Still, so far, so good.

Finally, the committee asked the bathroom question. And not just one bathroom question, multiple bathroom questions. The question was asked in multiple forms but best as I recall, it was rooted in two fundamental concerns. Now that I think of it, pretty much every time I hear the bathroom question I think it is rooted in basically two fundamental concerns.

First, the question reflects an absolutely unfounded myth that transgender people pose a risk of danger to others; that we are predators, seeking to prey on vulnerable women and children. The truth, of course, is that transgender people pose no more risk of safety to others than do non-transgender people. Anyone seeking to prey on vulnerable women or children in restrooms is absolutely not protected by HB 1722. And the truth is that in none of the 13 states or hundreds of municipalities (including Boston, Cambridge, and Northampton) that have passed the same protections included in HB 1722 has any mythical man in a dress turned up in any public (or private, for that matter) facility to attack anyone in a restroom.

The bathroom question alternately seems rooted in what sometimes gets phrased as “discomfort” that some non-transgender people have about being around transgender people. Ah, discomfort. That great bugaboo often raised in opposition to non-discrimination laws. In truth, it should come as no surprise that some people feel discomfort being around transgender people. Lots of people have discomfort around people who they perceive as being different or strange. Which is, after all, the very point of passing non-discrimination laws. We, as a society, have come to believe that people should be afforded opportunities based on each person’s individual merits, not based on bias, prejudice, or stereotypes rooted in a fear of difference. “Discomfort” has always been raised as an objection to non-discrimination laws – discomfort based on racial and ethnic differences, discomfort based on religious differences, discomfort based on physical differences, and, yes, discomfort based on gender identity and expression differences.

At its essence, this “bathroom discomfort” question reflects perhaps one of the most important points of non-discrimination laws. As a society, we recognize that people feel discomfort about differences. But we should not let that discomfort dictate who should be allowed to safely walk on our streets, who should be able to work, who should be able to apply for a loan, who should be afforded access to our schools, and who should be able to use public facilities with safety and dignity.

Non-discrimination laws provide necessary protections to communities marginalized because of bias and prejudice. But they also state a public policy about the aspirations of our society, aspirations that seek to ensure equal opportunity for all citizens despite our differences. And, as we make clear this public policy of inclusion, inclusion that embraces transgender people, I suspect that the discomfort people anticipate they may have using bathroom facilities will quickly disappear.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Morally Clean and Straight? The Boy Scouts and Discrimination

David Knapp, now 81, was expelled from the Boy Scouts after a lifetime of scouting and service when the organization “discovered” he was gay.

In the late 1990’s, lawsuits all over the country challenged the Boy Scouts’ discrimination against gay men and youth.

Boy Scouts of America v. Wyman in Connecticut was one of the successful suits, in which the Scouts were barred from a state employee fund-raising campaign because their anti-gay policy violates Connecticut's non-discrimination law.

David Knapp and GLAD attorney Jennifer Levi tell the story of Boy Scouts and discrimination in our podcast, Morally Clean and Straight: Boy Scouts of America v. Wyman.

Tell us your story:

Were you a Boy Scout? Were your children? Share your thoughts on the Boy Scouts’ anti-gay policy.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Religion and Equality

We received news this week that our friends at the Religious Coalition for the Freedom to Marry (RCFM) will be closing their doors here in Massachusetts – for the best of reasons. “We’ve accomplished our mission!” said RCFM leader Rabbi Devon Lerner. While marriage equality is secure in Massachusetts, Rabbi Lerner also told us that she recognizes that the work of religious leaders is not done: “We know we have more work to do in our denominations and in our faith communities for GLBT equality, but it will be done through new and different coalitions.”

Our partnerships with religious people over the years have subverted the idea that religion = bigotry, and that the religious right speaks for all people of faith when they denounce gay equality. In our work throughout New England, we’ve seen religious coalitions for equality grow in strength and numbers in Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Maine, and of course here in Massachusetts.

One of the most powerful moments on the June day that our Massachusetts legislature was to vote marriage equality up or down came early in the morning. The Religious Coalition held a rally and prayed at St. Paul's Cathedral, then marched en masse across the Boston Common to the State House. Religious opponents to marriage equality, praying across the street, had to part ways to let the supportive clergy through. It was only one of many times and many ways over the years that RCFM has demonstrated its support for equality, and we are extraordinarily grateful.

Friday, February 1, 2008

School's Right to Teach About Family Diversity Upheld

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit yesterday unanimously affirmed District Court Judge Mark L. Wolf's dismissal of a lawsuit brought by two sets of parents against the Lexington school system. In the suit, parents David and Tonia Parker and Robert and Robin Wirthlin claimed that a Lexington elementary school violated their constitutional rights by exposing their children to books portraying many different kinds of families, including non-judgmental depictions of families headed by same-sex couples.

Judge Sandra Lynch wrote for a unanimous court that the parents who brought the suit have no constitutional "right to be free from any reference in public elementary schools to the existence of families in which parents are of different gender combinations." Her decision further stated, "Given that Massachusetts has recognized gay marriage under its state constitution, it is entirely rational for its schools to educate their students regarding that recognition."

We're delighted that school systems remain free to include age-appropriate material featuring a wide variety of families, including those with two moms and two dads. As a result, gay and lesbian parents and their children can feel safe and supported in their schools, and all children can learn about the true diversity of the society we live in.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Sex on the Margins - The More Things Change...

We recently had the pleasure of hosting writer/sex educator Susie Bright, writer/cultural critic Michael Bronski, and GLAD founder Attorney John Ward at Boston's Old South Meeting House. The event, Sex on the Margins: The More Things Change..., was meant to foster a provocative discussion about the past, present, and future of the LGBT rights movement.

And it did.

Our panelists did not disappoint, posing questions about whether the gay community in the U.S. has become too assimilationist for its own good while reminding us that almost everywhere in the world you are still at risk - physically, legally, politically - if you are not heterosexual; suggesting that we have practically settled the question of marriage equality and now need to come up with the next big thing (an "exit strategy" as Susie Bright put it); and taking the gay community to task for not coming to the defense of Senator Larry Craig when he became the victim of a bathroom police sting - just like the 103 men whose arrests at the Boston Public Library prompted the founding of GLAD in 1978.

The audience, too, raised important issues - reminding us that many in our community don't have the luxury of pondering assimilation as they continue to struggle for things like jobs, health care, and basic safety; that marriage equality is still a distant goal in many parts of this country; and that, while their concerns and strategies may differ from those of their predecessors, there is a vibrant, active, and engaged young LGBT community out there pushing the movement forward.

Were you at this event? Join the conversation - where are we and where should we be heading?