Tag Archives: history LGBT rights by country or territory

Mel White, Minister of Religion

b. July 26, 1940

“I’m perfectly happy going on TV now and saying I’m a gay man. I’m happy and proud to say that.”

Mel White is an ordained minister who left his career as an adviser to prominent Christian evangelists when he came out during the mid 1990’s. White has dedicated his life to gaining acceptance for GLBT Christians.

In 1962, White graduated from Warner Pacific College. He received a master’s degree in communications from the University of Portland and a Doctorate of Ministry from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California, where he was also a professor.

Early in his career, White served as a speechwriter for evangelical leaders Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson. He married a woman with whom he had one son. When he realized he was attracted to men, he tried to “cure” his homosexuality with therapy and exorcism.  Acknowledging that nothing could alter his sexual orientation, White attempted suicide.

White ultimately accepted his sexuality and amicably divorced his wife. In 1993, he publicly acknowledged that he was gay when he was named dean of the Dallas Cathedral of Hope of the Universal Fellowship at Metropolitan Community Churches. Two years later, he published “Stranger at the Gate,” a book that chronicles his struggles as a gay Christian.

In the early 1990’s, White shifted his focus to GLBT advocacy, both within and outside of the church. In 1996, White led a two-week fast on the steps of Congress as the Senate considered and ultimately passed the Defense of Marriage Act. He moved the fast to the White House, where he was arrested. “How can we stand by in silent acceptance while the president and the Congress sacrifice lesbian and gay Americans for some ‘greater political good’?” he asked.

In 1998, White and his partner of more than 25 years, Gary Nixon, founded Soulforce, an organization whose mission is to “seek freedom from religious and political oppression” for GLBT people. Its name comes from “satyagraha,” a term meaning “soul force” used by Gandhi in to describe his civil rights struggle.

White is the author of nearly 20 books, including “Religion Gone Bad: Hidden Dangers from the Christian Right” (2009). His story is featured in “Friends of God” (2007), a documentary film about evangelical Christians.

In 2008, White and Nixon were legally married in California. In 2009, White and his son, Mike, were a team on the 14th season of “The Amazing Race.”

Bibliography

  • Alston, Joshua. “The Amazing Race’s Mike and Mel White.” Newsweek. 7 Feb. 2009.
  • Avery, Dan. “Grace Under Pressure.” Advocate. 10 Feb. 2009.
  • McDowell, Wendy. “White makes case for gay marriage.” Harvard Gazette. 22 Apr. 2004.
  • “Mel’s Bio.” Mel White. 28 May 2010.
  • Parsons, Dana. “Mel’s Miracle: a Falwell Who Tolerates Gays.” The Los Angeles Times. 10 Nov. 1999.
  • Schwartz, Deb. “The Odd Couple.” Salon.com. Oct. 1999.



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Sep 28: John Perez, State Legislator and Speaker

b. September 28, 1969

“Yes I’m gay, and I’m a politician. It’s a descriptor. I don’t think it’s a definer.”

John A. Pérez is the openly gay speaker of the California Assembly. He is the first GLBT person of color to hold such a position and only the third out leader of a legislative body in United States history. 
Pérez was born in working-class Los Angeles, the son of Felipe, a Mexican immigrant who was disabled from a workplace accident, and Vera, who directed a community clinic. At age 14, Pérez became politically active, motivated by government cuts in disability payments to his father and in government subsidies to his mother’s clinic.
After graduating from the University of California, Berkeley, Pérez spent several years as a labor organizer in Southern California. He served as political director for the United Food and Commercial Workers in Orange County.
Before he held an elective office, Pérez was actively engaged in public service. He was integral in founding California’s statewide GLBT organization, now called Equality California. Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush appointed him to the President’s Advisory Council on HIV and AIDS.  Pérez was a gubernatorial appointee to a panel charged with reforming California’s initiative system and a mayoral appointee to the Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency.
Pérez was elected to the California Assembly in 2008, winning 85 percent of the vote in his Los Angeles district. Two years later, he was selected as speaker by members of the Democratic Party and formally elected by the Assembly. Assemblywoman Fiona Ma said, “He’s someone who sends a signal to the nation that being gay is no longer a barrier to greatness.”
Pérez is a fan of classical music, art museums and the Los Angeles Dodgers.rs.

Bibliography
“3 Questions for Assemblyman John Pérez.” SFGate. 3 January 2010.
Bailey, Eric, and Shane Goldmacher. “Politics is part of John Pérez ‘s DNA.” The Los Angeles Times.17 December 2009.
Bajko, Matthew S. “Political Notes: Gay Latino labor activist set to make history.” The Bay Area Reporter Online. 10 April 2008.
Dolan, Jack. “John Pérez Sworn in as Assembly Speaker.” The Los Angeles Independent. 1 March 2010.
“John Pérez sworn in as Assembly speaker.” PolitiCal. 1 March 2010.
Zahniser, David. “Villaraigosa’s cousin enters Assembly race.” The Los Angeles Times. 23 February 2008.
Article about John A. Pérez
Videos of John A. Pérez
Websites

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John A. Pérez, State Legislator

b. September 28, 1969

“Yes I’m gay, and I’m a politician. It’s a descriptor. I don’t think it’s a definer.”

John A. Pérez is the openly gay speaker of the California Assembly. He is the first GLBT person of color to hold such a position and only the third out leader of a legislative body in United States history. 

Pérez was born in working-class Los Angeles, the son of Felipe, a Mexican immigrant who was disabled from a workplace accident, and Vera, who directed a community clinic. At age 14, Pérez became politically active, motivated by government cuts in disability payments to his father and in government subsidies to his mother’s clinic.

After graduating from the University of California, Berkeley, Pérez spent several years as a labor organizer in Southern California. He served as political director for the United Food and Commercial Workers in Orange County.

Before he held an elective office, Pérez was actively engaged in public service. He was integral in founding California’s statewide GLBT organization, now called Equality California. Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush appointed him to the President’s Advisory Council on HIV and AIDS.  Pérez was a gubernatorial appointee to a panel charged with reforming California’s initiative system and a mayoral appointee to the Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency.

Pérez was elected to the California Assembly in 2008, winning 85 percent of the vote in his Los Angeles district. Two years later, he was selected as speaker by members of the Democratic Party and formally elected by the Assembly. Assemblywoman Fiona Ma said, “He’s someone who sends a signal to the nation that being gay is no longer a barrier to greatness.”

Pérez is a fan of classical music, art museums and the Los Angeles Dodgers.rs.

Bibliography

  • “3 Questions for Assemblyman John Pérez.” SFGate. 3 January 2010.
  • Bailey, Eric, and Shane Goldmacher. “Politics is part of John Pérez ‘s DNA.” The Los Angeles Times.17 December 2009.
  • Bajko, Matthew S. “Political Notes: Gay Latino labor activist set to make history.” The Bay Area Reporter Online. 10 April 2008.
  • Dolan, Jack. “John Pérez Sworn in as Assembly Speaker.” The Los Angeles Independent. 1 March 2010.
  • “John Pérez sworn in as Assembly speaker.” PolitiCal. 1 March 2010.
  • Zahniser, David. “Villaraigosa’s cousin enters Assembly race.” The Los Angeles Times. 23 February 2008.
Article about John A. Pérez
Videos of John A. Pérez
Websites

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