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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Angela Brightfeather, January 24, 2002. Interview K-0841. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Arguing for the necessity of the GLBT community to work together

Brightfeather continues to discusses tensions between the lesbian and gay communities and the transgender community, focusing specifically on the refusal of the Stonewall Committee in Syracuse, New York, to consider the request of Expressing Our Nature (EON) activists for transgender people to be included in their proposed Human Rights Law. Brightfeather explains that her experiences with EON and the Stonewall Comittee prompted her to build bridges between the two communities for purposes of activism when she moved to North Carolina.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Angela Brightfeather, January 24, 2002. Interview K-0841. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

The most disappointing part of the whole thing was that just before I left Syracuse, they had a Human Rights Law for Onondaga County, they had already achieved a non-discrimination policy in the city of Syracuse, but that was well before EON became active enough to be included, and the Stonewall Committee of Syracuse in Onondaga Country decided to go for a Human Rights Law in Onondaga County. And we petitioned and we petitioned and we petitioned with the lesbians who were in charge of the Stonewall group and the major political activism group in that county and had very much connection. There were a lot of lesbian lawyers is what it was. They were very active and they were very organized and they had very good political connections. We wanted to be included and they wouldn't include us. They refused to include us, and I left there feeling very dejected and very disappointed.
CHRIS MCGINNIS:
When did this happen? Was this in the—
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Oh, this was no more than five years ago.
CHRIS MCGINNIS:
Okay, so this was very recently—
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Yeah, very recently. So, here we had been working all of this time up to this point, only to be rejected by the Stonewall Committee up in Syracuse from being included. And it was seriously considered and we went to the legislators, and we went to the reading and the voting and we had twenty five transgender people there from EON and other groups to speak to the county legislators and to give testimony and it didn't win. It didn't go. So, it is okay to be gay and lesbian in Syracuse, and Onondaga County, but it is not okay to be transgender.
CHRIS MCGINNIS:
So you saw that that was very applicable when you came down here? You recognized that the groundwork had to be laid if you had the opportunity—
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Yeah, yeah.
CHRIS MCGINNIS:
To be more integrated from the beginning.
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
I saw all of this discrimination down here against gays and lesbians and I went back and did a comparison in my own mind. This discrimination that they have experienced, or not so much discrimination, but their ability to be able to [END OF TAPE 1, SIDE B] [TAPE 2, SIDE A] [START OF TAPE 2, SIDE A]
CHRIS MCGINNIS:
We are back; this is the third side of the interview with Angela Brightfeather. The number for this tape is 01.24.02-AB.3.
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
So, when I came down here, I saw this road that I had traveled before, and I said, "How fortuitous" [Laughter]
CHRIS MCGINNIS:
You had a chance to intervene.
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Here, I have actually done this, I have been through it, I know this road, I know what can happen, it is like being able to see into the future, and I can have the ability to be able to bring out the celebration of everybody coming out together and enjoy that for the first time as I did—it was always a fight in upstate New York to try to get and gain credibility, it's like coming down here and everybody's trying to gain credibility, well great.
CHRIS MCGINNIS:
We can do it together.
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
We can do it together; we can show everybody else in the whole dog gone country what it's all about. That yeah, if you do it together, it is more effective and things can happen quicker, we have that ability here to be able to do that and work together as the GLBT community. Unlike many states, I see a little bit in Georgia and Atlanta and the City of Atlanta. I see that. A bastion that is surrounded by what would be considered redneck territory, but a bastion where the gay, GLBT community is working together. And there are actually transgender people running for, for—
CHRIS MCGINNIS:
Offices
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Political offices there.
CHRIS MCGINNIS:
Wow, how many transgender politicians do you know of?
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Well, last year, a good friend of mine, Dallas Denny, she ran for a council person in Atlanta, and this year, I know someone who is going to be running for another position on the board of education in one of the Atlanta district area schools and I have known Karen Karin in New Hampshire, who ran for congress on the Republican ticket, because it was the only one available at the time, it was empty, a strong Democratic area, and no one wanted to oppose a Democrat, so she joined the Republican Party, just to get on the ticket, and put up a bit of a fight. Dawn Wilson in Kentucky, Louisville. She is going to be running for Congress in a couple of years and there's plenty of active transgender people out there and transsexuals, we have not covered them yet either.