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NLGJA Honors Jill Johnston and Randy Wicker
Posted by: Claude J. Summers on 07/16/12
Last updated on: 07/16/12
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Randy Wicker in 2009.

The National Lesbian and Gay Journalist Association has announced the induction of Randy Wicker and the late Jill Johnston to the NLGJA Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame "honors journalists who have shown courage and resolve by telling the truth, including their own personal truths, whatever the cost and whatever the difficulties." It was established in 2005 as part of NLGJA's 15th anniversary celebration.

Cultural critic Jill Johnston's influential collection of essays Lesbian Nation (1973) helped define lesbian feminism and helped spearhead the lesbian separatist movement of the 1970s. She wrote on politics and the arts for The Village Voice from 1959 to 1981 and then for The New York Times Book Review and Art in America. She may be best known for her provocative statement that "all women are lesbians except those that don't know it yet."

Johnston's journalism was republished in five anthologies, the first one being Marmalade Me (1971). Kate Millett described Lesbian Nation: The Feminist Solution (1973) as "the most important book to come out of the women's movement." Johnston died on September 18, 2010 and was survived by her spouse Ingrid Nyeboe and two children.

Randy Wicker (born Charles Gervin Hayden Jr.) was a pioneering activist who, as a college student at the University of Texas, spent the summer of 1958 working for the Mattachine Society of New York, where he pressed the secretive organization to begin publicizing its events. His work that summer arguably makes Wicker the American equal rights movement's first public relations practitioner.

In 1962, having returned to New York after graduating from the University of Texas, Wicker founded the Homosexual League of New York as a more militant and more open alternative to the Mattachine Society. He participated in a groundbreaking 90-minute broadcast about gay people on WBAI radio in July 1962. It also is believed that on January 31, 1964, Wicker became the first openly gay person on East Coast television through his appearance on "The Les Crane Show."

In 1972, in an effort to illustrate the new post-Stonewall militancy of the glbtq-rights movement, Wicker and Kay Tobin (Kay Lahusen) co-authored The Gay Crusaders, which provided profiles of 15 gay and lesbian leaders. Wicker also joined the Gay Activists Alliance, and covered GAA events for The Advocate and other gay magazines and videotaped some of the organizations famous zaps. Since 2009, he has been active in the Radical Faerie communities in Tennessee and New York.

Previous inductees to the Hall of Fame include Thomas Morgan, III, Sarah Pettit, Randy Shilts, Phyllis Lyon & Del Martin, Leroy F. Aarons, Don Slater, Marlon Riggs, Jim Kepner, Jack Nichols, Barbara Gittings & Kay Tobin Lahusen, Richard Goldstein, Gail Shister, Ronald Gold, Garrett Glaser, Deb Price, Richard Rouilard, Hank Plante, "Lisa Ben," William Dorr Legg, Michelangelo Signorile, and Don Michaels.

The NLGJA was founded in 1990 by the late Leroy (Roy) F. Aarons to foster fair and accurate coverage of glbtq issues, to promote fair and equitable treatment of glbtq journalists, and to provide professional development to its members.

The organization was formed in the aftermath of a mandate from the American Society of Newspaper Editors (ASNE) to conduct a survey of LGBT journalists in American newspapers. In April 1990, Roy Aarons presented the results of the landmark survey and simultaneously came out publicly himself.

Inspired by the report, glbtq journalists from across the United States and a variety of media platforms expressed a desire to create a professional organization. Under Aarons's guidance, NLGJA was formally incorporated in 1991 and chapters were formed throughout the country.

Read more about the NLGJA and its Hall of Fame here.

In the video below, from 2009 at a memorial for Leonard Matlovich on the eve of the National Equality March, Randy Wicker reminisces about the first demonstration against anti-gay military policies when he and others picketed New York's Whitehall Induction Center in 1964 because gay men's draft records were not being kept confidential.

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