Quote of the Day: Brenda Howard &Tom Limoncelli on Courage

“The next time someone asks you why LGBT Pride marches exist or why Gay Pride Month is June tell them ‘A bisexual woman named Brenda Howard thought it should be.”

Tom Limoncelli on Brenda Howard BiSqish, July 27th 2005

Origins Of the Quote

Tom Limoncelli was studying at Drew University when he started his activism. Tom had facilitated a men’s support group that was part of the Gay Activists Alliance in Morris County in 1989–1990. Senior activist Brenda Howard was his inspiration. Howard was a pioneer in her field and achieved a tremendous amount. She put in hard work to achieve the collective community goals.

Tom was in awe of Brenda and he was in awe of her political adroitness. His words are a tribute to the fire that she had and all that she stood for. And this is why he said what he did about her. The quote speaks volumes about the subject.

Tom had encountered Brenda in one of the Stonewall demonstrations. Stonewall Inn, the speakeasy, was raided by prohibition agents in December 1930, along with several other Village nightspots. It was in the Greenwich neighborhood of New York City.In 1966, in a hush-hush agreement, invested in by the Mafia, Stonewall Inn, turned it into a gay bar. They believed that a business catering to the ostracised and shunned gay community might turn a profit. Serving watered-down alcohol, demanding regular payoffs for “protection” it was an iconic location. The Mafia often blackmailed closeted wealthy patrons.

The Stonewall riots were a series of violent demonstrations by members of the gay community against a police raid that took place in the early morning hours of June 28, 1969, at the popular Inn. This was the first of many to come.

The Person Behind The Words

Born in the Bronx and growing up in Nassau County, New York she was from in a Jewish family. She graduated from Syosset High School and from Borough of Manhattan Community College with an AAS degree in Nursing.

Activism was in her veins and Howard was active in the movement against the Vietnam War. In 1969 she lived in an urban commune of anti-war activists and draft resisters in downtown Brooklyn New York. It organically followed the anti-war movement, Howard was critical of its domination by men. This was the beginning of her involvement in the feminist movement.

She helped plan and participated in countless LGBT rights actions for over three decades. Brenda was an active member of the Gay Liberation Front. For several years she chaired the Gay Activists Alliance’s Speakers Bureau in the post-Stonewall era.

She is the “Mother of Pride” for her work in coordinating the first LGBT Pride march, which occurred in 1970. She conceived the idea for the week-long series of events around Pride Day which became the genesis of the annual LGBT Pride celebrations. This is now a regularity around the world every June. Howard was active in the Coalition for Lesbian and Gay Rights. This led the New York City’s Gay rights law through the City Council in 1986 as well as ACT UP and Queer Nation.

Tom Limoncelli and Internet Activism

Bisexual activist Tom Limoncelli has taken activism to the next level of online representation. In 1991-2 he worked on New Jersey’s successful effort to amend New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination, to add “sexual or affectional orientation” for protection in housing, hiring, banking, and public accommodations. This was a huge step and a milestone for the LGBTQ community and their employment schemes.

Since 1987, Limoncelli has been active in Internet activism. He has utilised the Internet as an effective organizing tool, with very expansive branches. He maintained information about the 1993 March on Washington and Stonewall 25 events on the Internet. Along with a handful of people he has kept the idea of Stonewall alive. He proposed that there should be a Stonewall 25 celebration in NYC in 1994.

Tom is a system administrator and network engineer since 1987, and naturally continues this as his day job. Fighting for the rights is his passion and he has managed his passion with his profession.

Some Final Thoughts

The LGBT community has been through a lot – trying to make a place and live with dignity and the independence of their own choices. This has been an issue for the past 50 decades and more even. But looking upon the work that Tom and Brenda have done – one cannot help but think of the tremendous compassion that would have driven them.

It cannot be only reduced to militant activism. The impetus that the community has needed to survive the harsh climate that it has lived through is immense. Discrimination is a killer. To feel like one don’t belong for an inherent choice is harsh. Or that they are diseased, or sick and in need to be treated. There have been countless cases of unforgivable violence for sexual preference. A practical, educated and informed attitude towards the LGBTQ is important is imperative.


Check out our Quote of the Day archive where we bring you quotes hand picked by me, Divvya Nirula. Sharing the stories, people, moments behind the inspiration and thought provoking words.