Brenda Howard

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Brenda Howard
Born December 24, 1946
Died June 28, 2005 (aged 58)
Organization Gay Liberation Front, Gay Activists Alliance, BiNet USA, Act Up, Queer Nation and New York Area Bisexual Network
Movement LGBT rights movement
Religion Reconstructionist Judaism

Brenda Howard (December 24, 1946 – June 28, 2005) was an American bisexual rights activist and sex-positive feminist. Howard was an important figure in the modern LGBT rights movement.


Brenda Howard was born in the Bronx and grew up in Syosset, Nassau County, New York. She graduated from Syosset High School and from Borough of Manhattan Community College with an AAS degree in Nursing.

In the late 1960s, 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. Like many other women in the US anti-war movement at the time, Howard became critical of its domination by men, and she soon became involved in the feminist movement as well.

A militant activist who helped plan and participated in LGBT rights actions for over three decades, Howard was an active member of the Gay Liberation Front[1][2] and for several years chair of the Gay Activists Alliance's Speakers Bureau[3] in the post-Stonewall era.

She is known as the "Mother of Pride" for her work in coordinating a rally and then the Christopher Street Liberation Day March to commemorate the first anniversary of the Stonewall riots. Howard also originated the idea of a week-long series of events around Pride Day which became the genesis of the annual LGBT Pride celebrations that are now held around the world every June.[4][5] Additionally, Howard along with fellow LGBT activists Stephen Donaldson and L. Craig Schoonmaker are credited with popularizing the word "Pride" to describe these festivities.[6]

A fixture in New York City's LGBT Community Howard was active in the Coalition for Lesbian and Gay Rights which helped guide New York City's Gay rights law through the City Council in 1986 as well as ACT UP and Queer Nation.

In 1987 Howard helped found the New York Area Bisexual Network to help co-ordinate services to the region's growing Bisexual community. She was also an active member of the early bisexual political activist group BiPAC, a Regional Organizer for BiNet USA, a co-facilitator of the Bisexual S/M Discussion Group and a founder of the nation’s first Alcoholics Anonymous chapter for bisexuals.

On a national level, Howard’s activism included work on the 1993 March on Washington for Lesbian, Gay and Bi Equal Rights and Liberation where she was female co-chair of the leather contingent and Stonewall 25 in 1994.

In addition to being openly bisexual, Howard was openly polyamorous and involved in BDSM.[7]


Bi, Poly, Switch—I’m not greedy, I know what I want.

—Brenda Howard describing herself, as quoted in 2013 by, a project of Equality Forum


Only a handful of activists in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender movement were there at Stonewall and never stopped.

Andy Humm describing Brenda Howard in Gay City News August 11–17, 2005

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, in BiSquish, July 27, 2005[8]

The Brenda Howard Memorial Award[edit]

Winners of Brenda Howard Memorial Award (L to R) Larry Nelson 05, Wendy Curry 08, Tom Limoncelli 06, Wendy Moscow 07.

The Brenda Howard Memorial Award was created in 2005 by the Queens Chapter of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG).[9] It was the first award by a major American LGBT organization to be named after an openly bisexual person. The award, which is given annually, recognizes an individual or organization whose work on behalf of the bisexual community and the greater LGBT community best exemplifies the vision, principles. and community service exemplified by Brenda Howard, and who serves as a positive and visible role model for the entire LGBT community.


Year Recipient Notes
2005 Lawrence Nelson Founding Member / current Board Member of PFLAG Queens[10]
2006 Tom Limoncelli New Jersey BiNet USA delegate, Bi-identified LGBT rights activist, SysAdmin & Author
2007 Wendy Moscow long-time Queens NY Bi-identified LGBT rights activist[11]
2008 Wendy Curry Bi-identified LGBT rights activist & then President of BiNet USA[12]
2009 Micah Kellner 1st openly Bi-identified LGBT person elected to New York State Assembly[13][14]
2010 Lisa Jacobs Bisexual Rights Activist, Founder & current President of the Transcending Boundaries Conference
2011 Robyn Ochs Long-time LGBT Rights/Bisexual Rights Activist, Speaker & Author[15]
2012 Donna Redd [16] Executive Director of Sistahs in Search of Truth, Alliance, and Harmony (S.i.S.T.A.H.) [17]
2013 Cliff Arnesen [18] Bisexual Veteran (US Army, Vietnam era), past president of the New England Gay, Lesbian & Bisexual Veterans; founding member and former National Vice President, Legislative Affairs of the Lesbian & Bisexual Veterans of America, now known as the American Veterans for Equal Rights (AVER)[19]
2014 Estraven[20]

Other tributes to Brenda Howard[edit]

Brenda Howard was chosen by Equality Forum as one of the 31 Icons for LGBT History Month.[21] The Trevor Project chose her as one of the role models for their Women's History Month project, "highlighting incredible woman-identified powerhouses who have changed the world for the better" and stating "At The Trevor Project we not only want to celebrate this month, we want to shine a light on the often unrecognized influence LGBTQ women have had, and continue to have, on our youth."[22]

The book Coming Out As Bisexual, by J.F. Fisher, published in 2014 by Lulu, (ISBN 978-1-304-93824-4) is dedicated to Brenda Howard.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Gay Liberation Front: In Memorium". Home page. N. A. Diaman. Retrieved 2010-08-02. 
  2. ^ Teal, Donn (1971). The gay militants. New York: Stein and Day. ISBN 0-8128-1373-1. 
  3. ^ Kennedy, Joe. "Summer of 77". 
  4. ^ Channel 13/WNET Out! 2007: Women In the Movement
  5. ^ The Gay Pride Issue: Picking Apart The Origin of Pride
  6. ^ Dynes, Wayne R. Pride (trope), Homolexis[dead link]
  7. ^ a b
  8. ^ In Memoriam, Brenda Howard at the Wayback Machine (archived February 14, 2006)
  9. ^ The PFLAG Queens Chapter Names New Award for Bisexual Activist Brenda Howard
  10. ^ Brenda Howard Memorial Award Information
  11. ^ Bio of Ms. Wendy Moscow
  12. ^ BiNet USA President Wendy Curry Receives the 4th Annual Brenda Howard Memorial Award February 24, 2009 BiNet USA News and Updates
  13. ^ NY Assemblymember Kellner Given Brenda Howard Award February 21, 2009 BiNet USA News and Updates
  14. ^ Gustafson, Anna Queens PFLAG to honor three in February January 1, 2009 Astoria Times.
  15. ^ Robyn Ochs Receives Brenda Howard Award from PFLAG, Queens Chapter, February 05, 2012 BiMagazine.
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^ Queens PFLAG NYC Chapter Honors Cliff Arnesen and New Out LGBT members of the New York City Council, February 22, 2014 Transgender Bisexual Political Nerd.
  19. ^ 2010 Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repealed! A look back at Bi one veteran’s story, 2013 BiNet USA.
  20. ^
  21. ^ 2013 Icons Announced LGBT History Month 2013 Now Online, February 22, 2013 Equality Forum
  22. ^ LGBTQ Women Inspire the Future, March 2014 The Trevor Project

External links[edit]