Our Stories: Pioneers in Oregons fight for gay rights,
January 12, 2008

Pioneers DVD coverThis program was videotaped, and a DVD of the proceedings is available.

On January 1, 2008, the Oregon Equality Act, a comprehensive set of anti-discrimination laws, went into effect to end discrimination against homosexuals and queer-identified individuals in all facets of Oregon’s governance and society.
On January 2, Oregon’s Domestic Partnership Law went into effect to honor and protect the rights of “domestic partnerships,” as a compromise to previous failed efforts to enact gay marriage within the State. It took 35 years of struggle and sacrifice to see this legislation through.

This program was recorded on January 12, 2008, at the Portland Q Center. It honors just a few of the stories from some of Oregon’s leading pioneers in the struggle for gay civil rights. Terry Bean, one of the panelists, also provided the support to get this video completed and into our hands.

Twenty-one community leaders from the 1960s through the 1990s reminisced about activism leading up to the passage of Oregon’s civil rights legislation which went into effect in January, 2008.

The evening's panelists were:


Sam AdamsSam Adams, first openly gay Portland City Commissioner; aide to mayor Vera Katz, and liason between Mayor's office and LGBTQ community (1992-2004)

John BakerJohn Baker, Portland Town Council (1974); gay rights activist; energized campaign to defeat Ballot Measure 8 in 1988; one of the founders of Right to Privacy PAC
Terry BeanTerry Bean, early gay bar owner in Eugene; co-founded Right-to-Privacy Policital Action Committee (1982); originated fundraising for candidates with Lucille Hart dinners
Gary ColemanGary Coleman, co-founder of Portland Gay Mens Chorus (1980); Mr. Leather (1982)
Larry Copeland
Larry Copeland, was a founding member of the Portland Town Council (PTC), one of Portland's earliest gay civil rights groups, in the mid-1970s. He was the PTC office co-coordinator from 1974 to 1976, and a board member from 1976 to 1978. Larry was the first openly gay person in Portland to seek elective office when he ran for City Council in 1982 to raise awareness of gay presence in Portland politics.
Cindy Cumfer
Cindy Cumfer, helped start a women's resource center and Lesbian Community Project; lawyer working for the Community Law Project; one of first layers to handle domestic partner issues; wrote do-it-yourself book for couples wanting a domestic partner agreement
Charles Hinkel
Charles Hinkle, Portland Town Council (1974); lawyer who represented lesbian teacher Peggy Burton in Federal court
  Neal Hutchins, started Portland's first gay newspaper, The Fountain (1971); owner/editor of the Cascade Voice (1982-84); founded RoseTown Ramblers (1982)
Kristan Knapp, Ursa Minor, first Portland Lesbian music group (1974); Pride Board; Lesbian Community Project Interim Director; Walk for Love and Jstice organizer (1992) with Ann Galisky
Denis Moore
Denis Moore, Gay Males Together co-founder (1971); leader of Portland Community Church (1974), later MCC; founding member of Counseling Center for Sexual Minorities
George Nicola
George Nicola, worked with the Second Foundation, Gretchen Kafoury and Vera Katz in 1973 as the first lobbyist for statewide legislation (House Bill 2930) that would ban employment and housing discrimination based on sexual orientation. The all-volunteer effort gathered 17 sponsors and failed passage in the House by only one vote short of a majority.
Paula Nielsen
Paula Nielsen, transsexual secretary for MCC's Austin Amerine and Don Borbe (1976-81); edited MCC Chalice; columnist for Cascade Voice, Eagle Newsmagazine, City Week and Alternative Connection; Last of the Red Hot Mamas at Darcelle XV; telegangelist since 1987; podcast since 2005 at
George Oberg
George Oberg, founding member and first president of the Second Foundation (1971) which opened the first gay community center in 1972
Donna Red Wing
Donna Red Wing, activist, agigator and advocate; Executive Director of the Lesbian Community Project (1989-93), ADVOCATE woman of the year (1992); named "Most Dangerous Woman in Oregon" by the OCA (1992)
Barbara Roberts
Barbara Roberts, Governor of Oregon 1991-95; had Portland Gay Men's Chorus sing at her inauguration as Secretary of State, 1985; known for strong support of LGBTQ rights; continues to make public appearances on behalf of the community
Frank Schreckenberger
Frank Schreckenberger, 1978 ISRC (Rose Court) Emperor; Portland Town Council foundation; chaired Brinker Fund for PWA's; board member of Cascade Aids Project
Susie Shepherd
Susie Shepherd, Portland Town Council Board; Gay Woman of the year (1978 and 1987); Int'l Miss Leather (1989)
Harold Strong
Harold Strong, original member of the Portland Forum; Imperial Sovereign Rose Court board member; 2nd Rose Court Emperor, 1967
  Steve Suss, co-owner of first declared gay bar in Portland, The SideDoor/Embers (1971); sponsor of numerous fundraising events; Esther's Pantry board member (1983)
Chris Tanner
Chris Tanner, sued OHSU for domestic partner benefits; Tanner vs OHSU granted domestic partner benefits to all public employees in Oregon, and prohibited employment discrimination throughout the State
Jerry Weller
Jerry Weller, first executive director of Portland Town Council (1976); founding co-chair & executive director of Gay Rights National Gay Lobby (1978); co-founding board member of Human Rights Campaign (1981).

Little GLAPN return

P.O. Box 3646 • Portland, OR 97208-3646 • info@glapn.or
Copyright © 2015, Gay & Lesbian Archives of the Pacific Northwest