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Dorothy Awards Sponsors
Learn about the 2nd Annual Dorothy Awards honoreesPublished Jan 1, 2005
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The New Haven Pride Center is proud to introduce the honorees for the 2nd annual Dorothy Awards. This year's group of recipients continue the tradition of honoring people who made a difference in the community.
Bobbi Blake & Cyd Slotoroff
Cyd and Bobbi has been a couple for almost 17 years. They are both music therapists and met at a music therapy presentation in Boston in April 1988. After a commuting relationship for nearly three years, Bobbi, a native Bostonian, moved to Connecticut to be with Cyd, who has lived in the New Haven area since 1976. They bought a home together in 1994. In 1998, their tenth anniversary year, they were wed by Rev. Kathleen McTigue in Woodstock, CT in the presence of 80 family members and friends. And, in March 2004, they were legally married in Portland, Oregon. Although they have a valid marriage license, registered with the State of Oregon, the fate of the marriage will be decided by the Oregon Supreme Court, as Oregon was one of 11 states which passed a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman.
In 1995 Bobbi and Cyd started their activism in the Connecticut LGBT community when the "Stonewall Congress," a statewide meeting of LGBT groups, was convened to re-energize the community in response to the threat of a federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). From this Congress, the CT Coalition for Lesbian and Gay Civil Rights was revived, as it had been less active since its victory of the CT Civil Rights law in 1991. The Coalition was organized into Congressional Districts with New Haven being "CD 3," or Rosa DeLauro's area. Cyd and Bobbi became the CD coordinators with the task of building a local, grassroots movement. There was some membership in the Coalition but much of the building came from person to person contacts, newsletters, educational presentations and trainings, retreats, monthly meetings, tabling at community events and conferences, working with other local organizations such as PFLAG and area churches, and holding house meetings with legislators. In those days, communication and organizing technology was more primitive.
The New Haven Gay & Lesbian Community Center was just forming and, once it found a space, became a vital home base for Coalition meetings and the dissemination of information on LGBT issues. Our first Coalition training at the new Center was with Rep. Cam Staples who gave a talk on "How to Talk to Your Legislators."
Through their work with the Coalition (which worked cooperatively with other groups), Bobbi and Cyd witnessed legislation that moved towards important protections, such as: a law adding sexual orientation to anti-harassment policies in schools; fending off a DOMA year after year; a second-parent adoption bill was introduced but painstakingly withdrawn due to a DOMA added to the bill in the House; and a victory with domestic partnership benefits for state employees in January of 2000.
Love Makes a Family (LMF) evolved in the fall of 1999 as a joint effort between the Connecticut Civil Liberties Union, the lobbyists of Betty Gallo and Co., and the Coalition. The goal was to pass the second-parent adoption bill without a DOMA. Bobbi and Cyd continued as Coalition coordinators, and also as new LMF members. Through intense grassroots organizing, and legislator/constituent lobbying and contacts, the adoption bill passed without a DOMA in 2000.
Love Makes a Family grew with this success and set its next goal as marriage equality for same gender couples. With LMF now assuming the lead on focused legislative issues in the state, the Coalition became less prominent. Cyd and Bobbi continued their work as the New Haven Chapter Coordinators for LMF.
Progress towards marriage equality has come in incremental steps over the past few years with continued efforts through community organizing, rallies, a Speak Out, educational forums, lobbying, public hearings, constituent/legislator meetings, a speaker's bureau, and door to door canvassing throughout Equality Knocks. The movement in CT has been inspired and motivated by the passage of a Civil Union law in the Vermont Legislature in 2000 and with the most recent decision by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court mandating same gender Marriage. Love Makes a Family has grown to become one of the most effective and well-respected LGBT political state organizations in the country.
Bobbi and Cyd "retired" this past summer as New Haven Chapter Coordinators for LMF. However, they have not retired from activism. Cyd continues to organize LMF constituent meetings, and Bobbi has been video documenting the process of the marriage movement in Connecticut for archival purposes.
Cyd and Bobbi wish to express their gratitude to the New Haven community, which has helped to make the progress in Connecticut possible by taking action and supporting the Coalition and LMF over the past nine years. Phone calls, meetings with legislators, e-mails, letters, and attending public hearings have made a difference. They are appreciative of supportive legislators, particularly Cam Staples, Mike Lawlor and their Representative, Pat Widlitz, who demonstrated that changing hearts can change minds. And, they wish to acknowledge some of the people they've worked most closely with over the years: Anne Stanback, Leslie and Carolyn Gabel-Brett, Maureen Murphy, Betty Gallo, Chelsea Turner, Pura Gomez, Ricky Stillson and our good friends at the NHGLCC -- John Allen, Frank DeMayo and Keha Esposito. Bobbi and Cyd gratefully accept the Dorothy Award in honor of ALL of us, and the hard work we have done together.
John Anderson was born into a military family on an Indiana Army base during World War II. He traveled wherever the Army sent his father: Chicago, Minneapolis, Tokyo, Washington, Honolulu. Going to elementary school in Japan, middle school and high in Washington, and college in Hawaii and Minnesota, with summers spent on the family South Dakota farm, John developed a sense of acceptance for differences, reverence for nature, and fairness for people.
Setting out on his own to pursue a doctoral program at Catholic University in Washington, John was quickly surrounded by the buzz on Capitol Hill and all things political in the tumultuous 1960s and 70s. It was there he learned that to change things you have to speak up and work at it. He became involved in many causes including women's rights, and a woman's choice, his younger sister the victim of an illegal and fatal abortion. Anti-war protests, The Women's March on Washington and Roe v. Wade demonstrations were the fodder on which John cut his activist teeth.
As the climate and equality issues turned to "gay rights" in the 1980s, John was there as a trailblazer. He planned and mounted the first Gay Americans display in a Connecticut library with the cooperation of the Woodbridge Public Library staff. That display earned Woodbridge a state award. As a high school Latin teacher, Dr. Anderson saw that the young people in his charge were woefully ignorant about what gay is and what it isn't. He set out to develop a series of presentations to educate high school students and their teachers about the need for, and the nitty gritty ways to, make an inclusive environment for GLBT students ands taff. Throughout the region John personally delivered those presentations to more than 50 student and adult groups.
National attention came his way in the early 1990s as a result of publishing GLBT articles in the country's two most prestigious professional education journals: The Phi Delta Kappan, and Educational Leadership. These groundbreaking articles spoke openly, for the first time, about the fact that every day, GLBT students and staff walk unsafe halls of American high schools. They needed to be recognized, included, and made safe -- like all students and staff. The attention that these articles generated in Teacher Education programs, PTAs, PFLAG chapers, Gay/Straight alliances and other like-minded groups throughout the United States and Canada got the topic on the table in ways we will never know.
John is probably best known in New Haven for his 13-year run as our voice in the New Haven Register. As a regularly-scheduled, paid columnist, John has written scores of articles highlighting the concerns, joys, frustrations, and celebrations of GLBT people, bringing those topics to a large mainstream audience. John's columns is one of just a handful in the country that appears in major urban daily newspapers on this topic.
Today, John continues to teach Latin in Stratford and lives in Woodbridge with his partner Garrett Stack. Together for 24 years, they are one of the seven gay and lesbian couples that have filed suit against the State of Connecticut for denying them the right to marry. That case, being litigated by Gay and Lesbian Defenders of Boston, is not working its way through the State court system.
Robin Passariello McHaelen
Robin Passariello McHaelen, MSW is the founder and current Executive Director of True Colors, Inc. Sexual Minority Youth and Family Servies, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that combats homophobia, gender bias and racism. Robins is a 2002, 2003 and 2004 Who's Who in America designate, and is the recipient of numerous awards including a Diversity Leadership Award from the Yale School of Nursing (2003); Leadership Recognition award (2002) from Project 100 LGBT Community Center; "One Woman Makes a Difference," presented by the Connecticut Women's Education and Legal Fund (1999); Sexuality Educator of the Year (1997); and a Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network Connecticut award for her efforts to create a safer, more equitable environment for LGBT youth and their allies in schools (1996).