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MAY 15, 2002
5:20 PM
CONTACT:  Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund
Jason Young of the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, 202-842-7308 or 202-270-6948 (cell); or R.S. (Ron) Lee, 202-744-0230
Got Pride? Exhibit On Openly Gay Elected Officials Makes Stop In D.C. For Gay Pride Celebration
WASHINGTON - May 15 - It takes a lot of pride in oneself -- and guts, too -- to run for office. Even more so if you're lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgendered.

Elaine Noble was the first in the country to campaign and win as an out candidate, and a handful of men and women quickly followed her. But TIME Magazine in its "Most Influential People of the 20th Century" project perpetuated the myth that Harvey Milk was the first gay person to be "elected to any substantial political office in the history of the planet."

Exhibit creator R.S. Lee is working to rectify that myth and others in a 60-piece photo and text exhibit called "Out & Elected in the U.S.A." The exhibit is traveling the country and is making a stop in Washington, D.C., to coincide with the city's annual Capital Pride festivities.

According to Lee, Milk was elected to San Francisco's board of supervisors in 1977 -- five years after Noble fought off vicious anti-gay attacks to win election to the Massachusetts State House -- but perhaps the reason that Milk is erroneously credited as the first gay officeholder is his 1978 assassination, which made international headlines. Lee personally interviewed Noble, as well as brave men and women from 30 different states, all of whom have held themselves up to public scrutiny and have won elective offices, whether local party posts or seats in Congress.

"This last 25 years is really important because it was the first wave of openly gay and lesbian people in public office," said Mike Nelson, who is the openly gay mayor of Carrboro, N.C., and whose story is included in the exhibit. "(R.S. Lee) has done a service to not just the lesbian and gay community, but the American community in general. It's not unlike the first wave of African Americans being elected to office."

The national tour of "Out & Elected in the U.S.A." is sponsored by the Gay & Lesbian Victory Foundation. Its showing in D.C. would not be possible without the support of Councilmembers Jim Graham and David Catania.

The Washington, D.C., opening of R.S. Lee's acclaimed photo and text exhibit on gay elected officials entitled, "Out & Elected in the U.S.A."

The opening reception is Wednesday, May 29, 6-8:30 p.m. The exhibit runs through June 7.

The Wilson Building, 1350 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Washington, D.C. (Use the D St. entrance; The exhibit is located in the Atrium.)

The opening and exhibit are FREE and open to the public.

FOR INFO: Meghan Duffy at 202-842-7316 or

The Gay & Lesbian Victory Foundation works to educate the public on the contributions and challenges of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered public servants and those who seek a role in public life. In addition, the Victory Foundation is the only national organization dedicated to preparing gay Americans to enter public life and assisting in the professional development of those who win public office.


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