Windy City Media Group Frontpage News

THE VOICE OF CHICAGO'S GAY, LESBIAN, BI, TRANS AND QUEER COMMUNITY SINCE 1985

home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2021-09-01
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
Donate

Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

A Talk with Elaine Noble
2007-10-10

This article shared 7729 times since Wed Oct 10, 2007
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


To mark October as Gay and Lesbian History Month, several individuals have written pieces detailing events in history, and their feelings about these happenings. The effort is coordinated by Philadelphia Gay News and syndicated to dozens of gay publications. Windy City Times will run these articles throughout the month of October.

by LARRY NICHOLS,

PHILADELPHIA GAY NEWS

There often is confusion on who was the first publicly elected LGBT person in the U.S. Jose Saria was the first to run for office in 1961. A waiter and drag performer at Black Cat Café in San Francisco, Saria received 5,400 votes in his bid for San Francisco Board of Supervisors. Though unsuccessful in the race, he was the first out community member to run for political

office.

It wasn't until 1974 that an openly GLBT person would be elected to office. Elaine Noble, a women's rights, gay rights and community activist from Boston, ran and won. Overnight, the new Massachusetts state representative became the highest openly GLBT person elected to office and the face of gay politics in America. In 1976, Noble successfully ran for a second term.

In the early 1970s, Nancy Wechsler—a member of the Ann Arbor, Mich., city council—came out as a lesbian during her term. In 1974, Kathy Kozachenko, an out lesbian, was elected to fill Wechsler's seat on council. But Noble opened the door for out politicians at the state level and across the country.

Larry Nichols: Having been a pioneer in gay rights, how do you feel about where the gay-rights movement is today?

Elaine Noble: I could never have dreamed of some of the advances we have made. We have a long, long way to go but we have taken some wonderful and grand steps, like Massachusetts legalizing gay marriage. It makes me very happy.

LN: You and Harvey Milk were the first highly visible, openly gay politicians of the time. Did it ever occur to you that something like what happened to Milk could happen?

EN: We both know that there were some high risks involved. I think Harvey watched my situation very closely because I was elected in a largely Irish/Catholic town. I was elected in spite of being gay. In the height of desegregation in Boston, I was riding on the buses with children of color. The gay community was just as racist as the straight community. So I had a lot of issues around race, which Harvey didn't have. There was a level of animosity in all strata of society against homosexuality. Harvey really was much more dramatic and pushed the envelope in a way. It was more to his style and he was fearless. I think we both knew that [ one of us was going to die ] . You suffer enough bomb threats and craziness with people shooting through your windows and doing damage to your cars and it just escalates.

LN: Did things get easier or harder for you once you were in office?

EN: It really got harder in terms of the threats and being a target that was readily available to people. One day, I was walking to the State House and there was a guy, 85 years old, and he walked up and said, 'Rep. Noble.' And I reached up to shake his hand and he spit on me. And then I turned around and he started doing his diatribe. I walked all the way home, showered and changed my clothes. So, even walking to work or riding my bike to work was not terribly safe.

LN: In a time where out gays and lesbians running for public office was unheard of, what inspired you to run?

EN: My friend, Ann Lewis, encouraged me to run. Ann is very active in Hillary Clinton's campaign right now. She's Barney Franks' sister. We had helped form the Massachusetts Women's Political Caucus and at that time we were trying to find women to run. It was really Ann's idea. I said I don't know if I'm electable, being gay. She suggested that it probably wasn't the case and knew that there was going to be a district that I grew up in, which was adjacent to Barney's. It was being redistricted. We had worked on Barney's campaign that got him elected to the State House. It was really with Barney Frank's mother and sister that made me take the idea seriously. Also they both thought Barney was gay and I was sort of a gift to him in a way because I think he was struggling with his own sexuality at the time.

LN: So did it surprise you when Barney Frank later ran against you?

EN: He didn't run against me. I don't know where people got that idea. That's totally wrong. Barney wanted to create me a district, my own seat. And I told him no. I had given his sister and mom my word that I would never run against him and I knew the district would be collapsed. Barney went out of his way to say he could make a district for me. I said, 'Barney, I'm done. I've hade enough and I know you'll care about my constituents and they'll be absorbed into yours. I don't care to run against you.' We milked it for all the press it was worth. I never had the intention to run against Barney or him against me.

LN: So by the time Barney ran, you had pretty much decided …

EN: I was gone. We had decided that once I got re-elected into my term. And Barney wanted me to stay but I had had it. I was emotionally and physically exhausted. I got about four or five hours of sleep [ a night ] . My phone was ringing constantly from people all over the country who had very frightened voices. There were people all over the country calling and asking if I would come and speak. They'd say, 'Well, you have a responsibility to a bigger constituency.' I was pulled in a thousand different ways. It was not going to have a happy ending and I was smart enough to know that. I thought, 'Well, I've done my best. It's time for me to move on to the next step in my own life. I've paid my dues.'

LN: Do you think Barney Frank would have been as successful if he had been out from the beginning?

EN: To be honest, Barney would be successful if he were from outer space. He's just one of those rare individuals who had natural leadership ability and so, so bright. He and his sister share an ability to think strategically under fire like no other two people I have met in my life. They're never wrong that way. Not that they don't make mistakes. I think Barney would be successful no matter if he was in the closet or not. He just has that talent.

LN: Boston had a lot of social issues going on at the time, both sexual and racial, especially with the issue of desegregation of the public schools. Did the heightened awareness of civil-rights issues in the city have any impact on your campaign?

EN: I think in the short term, it probably hurt, but it was part of my values system. I was an educator. I asked for an assignment on the education committee at a time where people were leaping off of it and I used a lot of my campaign workers to stand at the bus stops to make sure children got on and off the busses safely. Members of the gay community and a writer from one of the gay newspapers met with me privately and asked me to drop my stand of desegregation of schools. They threatened me and told me if I didn't do this that they would get another legislator and I suggested that they do just that. It was pretty heavy duty. The gay community can be just as racist as the straight community and, remember, it was Boston in the ྂs.

LN: Do you think that GLBT advocates are more or less active than they were in the ྂs?

EN: I think that they've gotten more politically sophisticated and have connected the dots seeing that choice and freedom is for everybody or it's for nobody.

LN: What do you think when you see anti-gay sentiment today, given how much more informed the general public is compared to the ྂs?

EN: I think, in a way, we have become stronger as a community nationwide and worldwide. When we become stronger, the opposition feels entitled to step forward. There is this rigid entitlement that comes with people that think that their view of the world is the only view that one should embrace. It's sort of a Nazi thinking or conservative thinking. I shouldn't equate the two because conservative thinking doesn't mean Nazi thinking. Some people might think it is but I don't. There are extremes everywhere and when you threaten someone's world—and gay rights threaten a lot of people who are not secure in their own world—there's always a backlash. Just like with the violence that came with people of color saying, 'You're not going to do this anymore.' I think it's the same.

LN: What do you do to keep yourself occupied today?

EN: I'm retired. I'm living in Florida. I go back and forth to Massachusetts. I don't like the winters. I live in a part of Florida where I can have my horses and animals. I live a very engaging and quiet life with my gay and straight community. I'm active in the Democratic Party in Florida.

LN: And what about Massachusetts?

EN: You know, I'm sort of like the grandmother to everybody. When I can help, I'll help. But the best ting I can do just be supporting in the background and raise money.

LN: How do you relate to the activists groups of today?

EN: I think it's great. It's wonderful. The more the merrier. People who have a political agenda will call and say, 'Can you help us?' I'm willing to help anyone who's a member of our community. I'm just so excited to watch the progress being made. It's thrilling really. [ When I was elected ] , the National Gay Task Force was just getting started. Now it's in Minnesota and several different states. That's wonderful. It's the same thing with the Human Rights Campaign. They all seem to compliment each other. We all complain and grumble. In the end, I think we have a sophisticated group.

LN: Do you think the political foundation you laid in Massachusetts is one of the reasons it's the only state that legally allows gay marriage?

EN: I can't say that. I think I was just one piece in a conga line that led up to this. People like Joe Berry, who's involved in the Bar Association, the Partners Group, which is a group of very sophisticated legal minds, and Barney's help contributed greatly. I think there's a whole necklace of wonderful people in Massachusetts that made their contributions and I'm just one of many. Nothing happens because of one person. It happens with the culmination of a lot of people's work. And they have taken the sting out in the early days of being gay. When I was in the legislature, many of the representatives and senators would say, 'You're the first homosexual I've ever met.' I'd say, 'That's not true, I'm just the first one that said I was.' You know them because they live all around you. They're your neighbors. They live in your

family.


This article shared 7729 times since Wed Oct 10, 2007
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email





Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

WORLD Germany's compensation, Lyra McKee, LGBTQ Afghans, tennis player 2021-09-19
- Germany has compensated almost 250 people who were prosecuted or investigated under a Nazi-era law criminalizing homosexuality, according to euronews. By September, 317 people had applied for compensation for their ...


Gay News

Patrick J. Kennedy to receive award from Trilogy at virtual gala 2021-09-18
- Chicago-based Trilogy Behavioral Healthcare will present its Partner in Recovery Award to The Kennedy Forum founder, mental-health advocate and former Congressman Patrick J. Kennedy as a part of its virtual 50th-anniversary gala on Thursday, Oct. 21. ...


Gay News

Polis marriage marks first same-sex wedding of sitting governor 2021-09-17
- On Sept. 15, Colorado Democratic Gov. Jared Polis wed longtime partner Marlon Reis—marking the first same-sex marriage of a sitting U.S. governor, NPR reported. Polis keeps making history. In 2018, Polis became the first openly gay ...


Gay News

Hastert settles sexual-abuse lawsuit 2021-09-16
- Days before a trial was set to begin, former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert reached a tentative settlement in a hush-money lawsuit filed by a man whose decades-old sexual-abuse allegations led to the politician's downfall six ...


Gay News

Now, only five of Chicago's 50 aldermen reject automatic pay raises 2021-09-16
- Forty-five out of 50 Chicago aldermen have opted to accept a 5.5% pay increase in 2022 that will push the highest paid among them to an annual salary of more than $130,000, according to The Chicago Tribune. ...


Gay News

Chicago alderman apologizes for 'offensive words' 2021-09-15
- Jim Gardiner, alderman of Chicago's 45th Ward, apologized during the Sept. 14 Chicago City Council meeting for his "offensive words" but said he "never acted on any of those rants" in which he appeared to call ...


Gay News

Gov. Pritzker signs transformative energy legislation for Illinois 2021-09-15
--From a press release - CHICAGO — Delivering on principles previously laid out, Governor JB Pritzker signed landmark legislation into law that puts the state on a path toward 100% clean energy, invests in training a diverse workforce for the jobs ...


Gay News

Gavin Newsom wins Calif. recall election 2021-09-15
- On Sept. 14, California Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom defeated a GOP-backed effort to remove him from office, media outlets reported. Speaking from Sacramento, Newsom thanked Californians for rejecting the recall effort, according to CNN.com. He also ...


Gay News

Catholic theologians urge protections for LGBTQ+ people 2021-09-14
- More than 750 of the nation's leading Catholic theologians, church leaders, scholars, educators and writers have joined New Ways Ministry in voicing support for nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ people, according to a New Ways press release. ...


Gay News

'Homophile' organization New Gay Liberation Front launches 2021-09-13
- The New Gay Liberation Front—which described itself in a press release as a "homophile organization"—has launched. "Homophile" is a term that was used by some gay and lesbian groups in the 1950s. According to the University ...


Gay News

NATIONAL Teachers, GLAAD talks HRC, 9/11 items, Dr. Rachel Levine 2021-09-12
- In North Carolina, a former teacher won a lawsuit against Charlotte Catholic High School and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Charlotte after he lost his job following an announcement on Facebook that he planned to marry ...


Gay News

WORLD False report, Indian activist dies, fashion exhibit, LGBT Awards 2021-09-12
- In Spain, a man who claimed eight hooded men carved an anti-gay slur on his butt using a knife in a horrific hate crime later said the act was consensual, according to out.com. According to police ...


Gay News

Lightfoot attends 'Parade of Hearts' public-art installation series launch 2021-09-09
--From a press release - CHICAGO (September 8, 2021) — The Love, Unity & Values (LUV) Institute, a Chicago non-profit, unveiled a new series of neighborhood art installations Sept. 8 to launch the Parade of Hearts, an initiative to commemorate the ...


Gay News

HRC fires its president, Alphonso David 2021-09-07
- On Sept. 6, the national LGBTQ+ organization the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) fired its president, Alphonso David, for advising now-former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) during his sexual-harassment scandal ...


Gay News

Afghan LGBTQs in peril, with little help in sight 2021-09-06
- Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of LGBT Afghan citizens, who dared to take modest steps toward living openly when their country was under the occupation and influence of a more tolerant "western culture," are now literally hiding in ...


 



Copyright © 2021 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 

 

 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS







Sponsor
Sponsor


 



Donate


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.