20 Years Later, GLAA Remembers Mel Boozer

20 Years Later,
GLAA Remembers Mel Boozer

Democratic National Convention, 1980:

"... I rise in thankful recognition of the citizens of the District of Columbia who voted for me to come here knowing that I am gay, and who continue to labor and live in a city which has no voice in determining how it shall be taxed and which has no power to effect the decisions which affect the quality of our lives.

"And finally, Mr. Chairman and members of the convention, I rise in anguished recognition of more than 20 million Americans who love this country and who long to serve this country in the same freedom that others take for granted, 20 million lesbian and gay Americans whose lives are blighted by a veil of ignorance and misunderstanding....

"We come from towns and cities where our friends are jailed and beaten on the slightest pretext. We come from churches which have been burned to the ground because they admit us to worship. We come from families which have been torn apart because we have lost our jobs, and we have lost our good names which have been slandered by false accusations, myths, and lies....

"Would you ask me how I'd dare to compare the civil rights struggle with the struggle for lesbian and gay rights? I can compare, and I do compare them. I know what it means to be called a nigger. I know what it means to be called a faggot. And I can sum up the difference in one word: none.

"Bigotry is bigotry. I have been booed before. Discrimination is discrimination. It hurts just as much. It dishonors our way of life just as much, and it betrays a common lack of understanding, fairness and compassion...."

Melvin Boozer
President, Gay Activists Alliance of Washington, DC
New York City, 1980
Addressing the Democratic National Convention
(withdrawing his nomination for Vice President of the United States)

[Note: The late Melvin Boozer was president of GAA (as it was then known) for two terms, from 1979 to 1981. GAA achievements during this period included:

Boozer was also active in Black and White Men Together. In September 1981, he opened the Washington office of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. He died of AIDS in 1987.]

Related Links

GAA President Mel Boozer Addresses 1980 Democratic National Convention (complete text)

GLAA: a brief history and timeline

Blacklight Interview with Melvin Boozer
(includes photo) 1980

Blacklight Online: Who's Who in Gay Politics, by Melvin Boozer 1983

Blacklight Online: Past as Prologue

National Association of Black & White Men Together: Memorial

Africana.com: Gay and Lesbian Movements in the United States

I Speak: A Poem for the Millennium March, by Keith Boykin 04/30/00

See also: Dudley Clendinen and Adam Nagourney, Out for Good, 1999, Simon & Schuster, New York, NY, p. 418-420.