Leading from the Left

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Unsung Hero Dies

One of the great things about our country is our legion of pioneers and unsung heros who go largely unnoticed and un-thanked. Yesterday, one of those pioneers died. He was a man most of you probably never heard of, yet he quietly helped shaped and guide the LGBT movement for decades. He was Allan Spear, a State Senator from Minnesota.

Allan, who was a dear friend of mine, came out of the closet in 1974 during his first term as a State Senator. It was an era when being openly gay likely meant political suicide, but Allan chose honesty over safety. And for several decades, he remained one of only a handful of openly gay or lesbian elected officials in the US. As recently as 1993, when I was elected to the Carrboro Board of Aldermen, there were less than 50 openly gay elected officials across the country.

He not only was a leader in Minnesota, but he also took time to mentor younger openly gay leaders like Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin) and me.

You may have never heard of Allan Spear, but he helped change America for the better. Read about Allan here.