LGBT History Month is a month-long celebration of the history of the diverse and beautiful lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer community and the importance of civil rights movements in progressing gay rights. Our SEIU Local 1000 Purpose Statement encourages us to pursue social justice for all Californians, and we join proudly in this month-long celebration.

LGBT History Month allows us the opportunity to examine the rich history of the LGBT movement and what factors and measures will be successful in building communities and providing role models who will best represent and address the issues of the LGBT community.

Here are two heroes of the movement we honor today:

Frank Kameny 

Frank Kameny wasn’t the first American to be fired for being gay – but he was the first to fight back all the way to the Supreme Court. Kameny was a WWII veteran and an astronomer for the U.S. Army Map Service in the 1950s, but despite the importance of his skills during the Space Race, he was barred from federal employment. 

Kameny fought the decision, and when the Supreme Court denied his petition, he continued to fight discrimination in the federal government. He co-founded the first gay rights organization in Washington, D.C., and organized one of America’s first gay rights protests, picketing the White House in 1965. He helped file lawsuits for other federal workers who were fired for their sexual orientation, eventually leading to rulings that forced the government to change its hiring policies. His advocacy improved working conditions for generations of LGBT workers around the nation.  

Harvey Milk 

Harvey Milk was one of the first openly gay Americans elected to public office. A small business owner, he became active in San Francisco’s gay rights movement and encouraged gay rights groups to coordinate with labor activists. Working together, they defeated the discriminatory Proposition 6, which would have banned people who were gay or lesbian from working in public schools and successfully boycotted anti-union and anti-gay practices by Coors Brewing Co. Milk was assassinated within a year of his election, but his advocacy work and coalition building were honored with a Medal of Honor in 2009.   

Local 1000’s Lavender–Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Labor–(LGBTL) Committee is responsible for reviewing policies and programs established by the State directly impacting LGBTL members of Local 1000. Read more about our Lavender Committee here.