E. Lynn Harris

Gay Through History

BTL looks back at chats with several LGBT icons

Every October, GLBT History Month honors 31 key players who have fought, sung, written, acted and spoke out for civil rights for all gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people in America and beyond. This year, Between The Lines looks back at a few chats we've had with five of the 2010 honorees who have changed our lives for the better and given each and every LGBT person hope that they, too, can keep making history.

E. Lynn Harris, Flint native and author of over 10 novels, including "Invisible Life," "I Say a Little Prayer" and "Mama Dearest"...

...on the motto of his memoir, "Basketball Jones": "Don't ever give up, don't ever give up, don't ever give up. So many people think about it and I'm here, living proof, to tell them to just wait, be patient."

...on being from the Mitten: "I love Detroit. I think they claim me as their own, and I'm really honored by that. It's one of those cities where I could come and stay a week and do something every day and still have nice crowds."

...on being an openly gay author: "I don't ever shy around the fact that I'm gay and that my books are about gay people. I don't let people restrict me and I don't restrict myself."

Eric Alva, retired Marine and first American wounded in the Iraq war in 2003, as well as ardent "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" repeal spokesman...

...on volunteering for the Human Rights Campaign: "I was thinking I would work at a booth signing people up and handing out T-shirts. HRC had bigger plans for me."

...on opponents fear of DADT repeal: "I think that what (opponents) think is that allowing gays to serve openly, that means here comes all the rainbow flags, here comes all the leather. People really fail to see the stupidity of that."

...on why he has faith in equality: "There's still going to be some obstacles and rough waters ahead to get this done, but I think we're headed in the right direction. I mean, we have to. We have to start letting people have the full independence this country was based on and stop discriminating."

Tom Ford, fashion guru and director of hit 2009 film "A Single Man"...

...on the "gay lifestyle": "I live with somebody I love. We make dinner at home together. We lie around and read books and watch television and walk our dogs and go on vacation and argue occasionally - that's a lifestyle?"

...on what he cherishes in life: "They're never material things. You're not going to wish that you worked more. You're not going to die thinking about a car you had in 1970-whatever. You're going to think about the connections that you had with other people; the moment in life where you felt truly connected to someone."

...on what people don't know about him: "I'm extremely romantic, and I'm extremely emotional and insecure and shy. I kind of always pose in the same way. I don't let a lot of people very far into my life. I've always kind of presented a surface veneer, which works for fashion."

Rufus Wainwright, singer/songwriter and political activist...

...on performing his large library of songs: "There's a lot for me to reap after making so many albums and performing in so many different types of venues that it's kind of like farming."

...on doing a pared-down solo show: "I tend to be humorous and everything, but it is a whole other mystique. It's more about really getting down to the business in terms of the songs and music and finding the essence of what is Rufus."

...on the economic crisis: "I think it is time that people spend less and become less consumer animals. And we have to learn how to be more thrifty and more conscious of our fellow man, as opposed to our pocketbooks."

Mara Keisling, activist and executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality...

...on why everyone should care about transgender rights: "There's almost nothing you could do to help transgender people that wouldn't help everybody else as well."

...on working together: "There are a lot of transgender communities, most of which never intersect. That's OK, but it's a question of if we get together on the stuff we need to get together on."

...on how we're making equality happen: "We're winning, because thousands of people around the country are educating their friends, their families and their communities about transgender rights."

For a complete list of the 2010 GLBT History Month icons, visit http://www.glbthistorymonth.com.

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