Mixner leads National LGBTQ Wall of Honor inductees

  • by Cynthia Laird, News Editor
  • Monday May 13, 2024
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David Mixner is one of six deceased LGBTQ leaders who will be inducted into the National LGBTQ Wall of Honor at the Stonewall Inn in New York City next month. Photo: From Facebook
David Mixner is one of six deceased LGBTQ leaders who will be inducted into the National LGBTQ Wall of Honor at the Stonewall Inn in New York City next month. Photo: From Facebook

Gay former presidential adviser David Mixner is among six posthumous inductees this year for the National LGBTQ Wall of Honor at the historic Stonewall Inn in New York City. The Bay Area Reporter got a sneak peak of this year's honorees Monday, May 13.

Mixner died March 11 in New York City, as the B.A.R. previously reported. He was 77. He is best known for advising former President Bill Clinton before the two had a falling out over Clinton implementing the homophobic "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy after winning the White House in the 1992 election. Clinton had campaigned on a pledge to allow gay men and lesbians to serve openly in the armed forces, but met stiff resistance from many in Congress, military leaders, and conservatives.

DADT was presented as a compromise that would allow gays and lesbians to serve if they remained in the closet. The policy was finally repealed under former President Barack Obama, who signed legislation passed by Congress in 2010, with it becoming effective a year later, in 2011.

Mixner lived for a short time in San Francisco in the late 1970s. While in the city, he worked with the late gay San Francisco supervisor Harvey Milk to defeat California Proposition 6, the 1978 Briggs initiative that would have banned gays from teaching in public schools. He told the B.A.R. during a 2008 phone interview that one of the saddest days of his life was November 27, 1978 — the day that former San Francisco supervisor Dan White assassinated Milk along with then-mayor George Moscone in their City Hall offices.

"He was one of the funniest people I worked with in politics. He took great joy at needling people effectively," Mr. Mixner said of Milk. "Another time and place he would have been a U.S. senator."

The National LGBTQ Wall of Honor recognizes deceased queer individuals. It is sponsored by the International Imperial Court System and the National LGBTQ Task Force. This year's induction ceremony will take place Thursday, June 27, at 3 p.m. (Pacific Time) at the Stonewall Inn, 53 Christopher Street. It comes just ahead of Pride weekends in New York City and San Francisco.

Other inductees

The five other members of this year's honor class are Cecilia Gentili, Charles Cochrane Jr., Larry Baza, Abilly Jones-Hennin, and Sakia Gunn.

Gentili was an Argentine American transgender woman who advocated for the trans community, sex workers, and those living with HIV/AIDS. She died February 6 at her home in the Marine Park section of Brooklyn, New York at the age of 52.

An obituary in the New York Times noted she was a fierce advocate, working at GMC (formerly Gay Men's Crisis) and other organizations. She lobbied for passage of the New York State Gender and Expression Act in 2019, and was one of two lead plaintiffs in a successful lawsuit against the Trump administration, which tried to roll back protections for trans people in the Affordable Care Act, the paper reported.

CNN later reported that the cause of Gentili's death was poisoning from fentanyl-laced heroin.

Cochrane was the first New York City police officer to come out as gay. According to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, it was on November 20, 1981 when he testified before the New York City Council as it debated whether to pass a gay rights bill banning discrimination against gays in employment, housing, and public accommodations.

"I am very proud of being a New York City policeman," he said. "And I am equally proud of being gay."

The bill did not pass, but Cochrane's testimony did make an impact. His decision to come out publicly was one he struggled with for months, according to the website.

Cochrane died in 2008 at the age of 64.

Baza was a gay man who was a titan of the arts scene in San Diego. In 2016, lesbian then-Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) appointed Baza to the California Arts Council. Atkins reappointed Baza to the council in 2020 when she was president pro tempore of the state Senate. (Atkins, who is in her last year in the Senate, stepped down from the leadership role earlier this year. She announced in January that she's running for California governor in 2026.)

Baza was a professional arts administrator who spent his career advocating for the arts at the local, state, and national level, according to the California Arts Council. He had been chair of the arts council when he died in February 2021 of COVID-19; he was 76.

A Black bisexual, Jones-Hennin founded the first national organization for Black lesbians and gays, according to a Washington Post obituary. He oversaw health programs in Washington, D.C. during the AIDS epidemic of the 1980s, and shifted his focus to disability rights as his health declined, the paper noted.

Jones-Hennin died January 19 at his home in Chetumal, Mexico, where he lived part-time. (He also had a home in D.C.) The cause was complications from Parkinson's disease and spinal stenosis, his husband, Cris Hennin, told the Post. He was 81.

Gunn was a 15-year-old Black queer woman who was stabbed to death in what authorities said was a hate crime in New Jersey on May 11, 2003. Gunn and her cousin, Valencia Bailey, who was with her when she died, both came out when they were 12, according to an article on NewJersey.com.

Last year in Newark, Academy Street became Sakia Gunn Way. The National LGBTQ Task Force noted that other changes have taken place in the Newark community in the years since Gunn's killing.

"The establishment of the Essex County Office of LGBTQ Affairs, the Newark LGBTQ Center, and the mural on the side of Newark's McCarter Highway are a few examples of the city's commitment to the inclusion of the LGBTQ+ community," it stated in a release about the street renaming.

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