- 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
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 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
The opening and exhibit are FREE and open to the public.
FOR INFO: Meghan Duffy at 202-842-7316 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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