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Get to Know 2013 Dorothy Honorees Carolyn & Leslie Gabel-Brett!Published Feb 5, 2013
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How did the two of you meet?
We love telling this story because it is so representative of who we are: We met in 1979 while doing political work against violence against women. Leslie was co-coordinator of Hartford Interval House, a shelter for battered women, and Carolyn was on the faculty of the UConn School of Social Work, teaching a special curriculum about violence against women. We flirted at meetings, and organized a demonstration together and the rest is history!
What are your proudest accomplishments, both individually and as a couple?
On the political side – being part of building the LGBT movement in Connecticut and passing the gay rights law, more than 15 years before marriage equality. We each have also worked on women’s issues – Carolyn started the NARAL chapter in Connecticut. Leslie is proud to have helped pass legislation to protect women with breast cancer. On the personal side – having a loving family with our children and three wonderful granddaughters.
Who or what inspires you daily?
We feel inspired, in a way, every day by the world around us – the good and the bad - to remain activists working toward social justice and equality. Our family, colleagues and friends inspire us, too, because we are all in this together.
Over the course of your activism and your relationship together, much progress has been made in the state of Connecticut and nationwide. In your opinions, what are the most important challenges that have yet to be overcome?
We still have a lot of work to do to make our communities, schools and families safe and supportive for LGBTQ youth. Too much pain and bullying – too many suicides. And ending gun violence is really on our minds – we need stronger laws and better health services! But we also believe that all the struggles for equality – income, race, gender, and all forms of discrimination – are related one to the other, so we keep supporting the struggle for equality for everyone.
Carolyn, tell us something about Leslie that would surprise us. Leslie, tell us something about Carolyn that would surprise us.
Carolyn won an arm wrestling contest against a boy her age in grade school and won a pocket-knife. Oh, wait – that’s not surprising.
Leslie writes poems and when we were young, she wrote me love songs!
What do you both enjoy doing with in your spare time?
Leslie writes poetry and Carolyn gardens and cooks (and Leslie eats!). We hang out with our kids and grandkids. In fact, Carolyn divides her time between her mother who is 101 and our youngest granddaugter who is about to turn 5. And we send emails to elected officials and go to rallies and demonstrations!
Who would play each of you in the movie of your lives?
Leslie – The person would have to be short and feisty…how about Judi Dench?
Carolyn – How about Lily Tomlin?
Leslie – OMG, that would be an amusing movie!
What can people do to best contribute to this movement?
Be out and be active!
Leslie, describe Carolyn in five words. Carolyn, describe Leslie in five words.
Leslie: Carolyn is strong, smart, nurturing, brave and sexy.
Carolyn: Leslie used all the good words already! But she’s adorable and I love her.
Where do you want to be in five years?
All we want is to be together, healthy and enjoying life.