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30 Days of Pride: William J Thom

June 1st kicked off Pride Month! So for the next 30 days let's recognize the people who played pivotal roles in LGBTQ History.


"William J Thom “founded Lambda Legal and submitted incorporation papers for approval to the New York Courts in 1971, but his application was denied on the grounds that its proposed activities would be contrary to public policy. That decision was overturned in 1973 by the New York Court of Appeals which is the highest court of New York State. Because of the scarcity of openly gay lawyers in 1973, Lambda Legal formed a Board of Advisors of eminent New Yorkers sympathetic to the cause of gay rights. 

From its inception, Lambda Legal sought diversity on its board of directors. Initially it could find no lesbian lawyers who were willing or able to be openly associated with a gay activist organization. Nathalie Rockhill a major figure in the early post Stonewall days of Gay Liberation, was the first woman elected to the board in 1974. By the 1980's, men and women were equally represented on Lambda's board.

Lambda's growth paralleled the growth of the gay movement. By the 1980's with the advent of  AIDS, gay awareness and activism had grown significantly. Thomas B Stoddard who was executive director from 1986 to 1992, helped to author a bill passed in 1986 by the New York City Council to protect gays against bias in housing, employment, and public accommodations. Mayor Ed Koch who signed the bill said: "The legislation drafted by Tom Stoddard was perfect."


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