|Member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives
from the 6th Suffolk district
January 1, 1975 – January 1, 1979
January 22, 1944 |
New Kensington, Pennsylvania
Elaine Noble (born January 22, 1944) is an American politician and LGBT activist who served in the Massachusetts House of Representatives for two terms starting in January 1975. She was the first openly lesbian or gay candidate elected to a state legislature. She served two terms as representative for the Fenway-Kenmore and Back Bay neighborhoods of Boston.
Noble gained her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Boston University and went on to study at Boston University, Emerson College and Harvard University. Before entering politics she worked as a speech instructor and an advertising manager. She was involved in LGBT rights activism in Boston.
In 1974 she was elected to the state House of Representatives with 59% of the vote. She has described the campaign as "very ugly": it included her windows being shot in, her car being destroyed, her campaign headquarters having their windows broken and her supporters suffering serious harassment. Nevertheless, she was successful and was sworn into office on New Year's Day 1975 by governor Michael Dukakis. Her election made her the first openly LGBT candidate elected to a state-level office in the United States; the second, after Kathy Kozachenko, to be elected to office; and the third openly LGBT elected official overall (Kozachenko's predecessors, Nancy Wechsler and Jerry DeGrieck, having come out while in office but not publicly known to be lesbian and gay at the time they were elected).
In March 1977, she was part of the first delegation of gay men and lesbians invited to the White House under President Jimmy Carter to discuss issues important to the LGBT community. After two terms in the House of Representatives, Noble ran for the United States Senate in 1978. She was one of five Democrats who competed in the primary, finishing fifth with 52,464 votes (5.8%). She later went to work for Kevin White who was Boston mayor at the time. Whilst working for White's office, Noble became involved in an FBI investigation in which she had to testify in front of a grand jury for nineteen hours. No charges were brought against Noble. In the 1990s she unsuccessfully ran for Cambridge, Massachusetts city council.
In 2009, she made a rare fundraising appearing at "Pride" gala benefiting Palm Beach, Florida's LGBT center.
- Gianoulis, Tina (2005-10-13). "Noble, Elaine". glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Culture. Retrieved 2007-09-24.
- "30 Years after the White House Meeting: Participants then and now". National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-24.
- "OutHistory: Elaine Noble". Retrieved 2009-03-15.
- Neff, Lisa (2002-11-12). "Elaine Noble November 1974: a progressive Massachusetts candidate becomes the first openly gay person elected to a state-level office". The Advocate. Retrieved 2007-09-24.[dead link]
- Stein, Marc (2012). Rethinking the Gay and Lesbian Movement. Routledge. p. 107.
- Sklar, Roberta. "Press conference commemorates first White House meeting". Qnotes. Retrieved 2007-09-24.
- Massachusetts Election Results, 1978 (PDF)
- Should Marriage Between Homosexuals Be Permitted?, Debate on Same-sex Marriage, The Advocates, 1974.
- Elizabeth Dean, A Portrait of Elaine Noble, WGBH, 2013.