Monday, October 8, 2012

LGBT History Month: Stephen Donaldson

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edited by Diana *BunnyKissd* Bukowski

Stephen Donaldson, born July 27, 1946 as Robert Anthony Martin, Jr., was a bisexual LGBT activist, a pioneer in the Gay Liberation movement of the 60s and 70s, as well as an activist for prison reform and a respected author in the punk rock and subculture community.  He was a founding member of the Student Homophile League at Columbia University (now called the Columbia Queer Alliance) which is where he began using the pseudonym Stephen Donaldson to avoid embarrassing his father, who shared his name.

He began his writing career during his college summers as a reporter for the Associated Press and Virginian Pilot, and wrote regular articles for several other LGBT news magazines.  During his college years he was involved in several counterculture activities: hustling, and later as a call boy, to make money, experimenting with marijuana and LSD, and went on to become a "full-fledged hippy-valued radical."  In 1966 he fell in love with Judith Jones and eventually left the gay liberation movement and joined the Navy in 1970 because of the censure and biphobic reactions he encountered from those involved. 

After a letter he wrote to a former shipmate, in which he recounted his sexual encounters with both men & women, was turned over to the Naval Investigative Service, the Navy announced its decision to release Donaldson for suspected homosexual behavior.  Donaldson was the first sailor to fight the homosexual discharge and although he was discharged in 1972, he continued to fight, and eventually was the first sailor to have his homosexual discharge upgraded to an honorable discharge in 1977.

Shortly after his discharge, Donaldson became a pacifist and involved with the Quakers, and in 1973 he was arrested at a Quaker peace protest at the White House.  He refused to post bail and was eventually gang raped approximately 60 times over 2 nights after being moved to a cell block with violent offenders.  This attack, and others during later arrests, led Donaldson to renounce his pacifism, embrace the punk rock subculture, and eventually led to activism on the issue of sexual victimization of male prisoners, becoming president of Stop Prisoner Rape, Inc. (SPR)m which works to stop rape from happening and helps prisoners deal with its  psychological and physical trauma effects.

Donaldson died from complications due to AIDS in 1996. He was only 49 years old.


Also this month:

~ October is also National Bullying Prevention Month.

~ October 10th is Unity Day; wear orange to show your support and remind others about the importance of bullying prevention.

~ October 11th is National Coming Out Day when we celebrate coming out as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or as an ally. See the Human Rights Campaign website for resources on coming out.

~ October 19th is Spirit Day; wear purple on this day to support LGBT youth & stand up against bullying.

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