By Rex Fuller
The guest list was a who’s who of LGBT celebrities — Laverne Cox from “Orange is the New Black,” trans supermodel Geena Rocero, and Sirius XM founder Martine Rothblatt were among the fray. But it was actor Zachary Quinto who almost made our Courtney Gray rethink everything:
“He’s devastatingly handsome on stage but he’s even more handsome in person. I considered changing my sexual orientation for a second,” she jokes.
Courtney has had many highlights in her career. As manager of the Transgender Services Program at the GLBT Community Center of Colorado, she’s also been a vocal and effective advocate for transgender health care issues. She served on a national task force with the Department of Justice to implement national transgender inmate policies. She was recently named one of the Trans 100, a select group of trans activists who are making a difference on a national level. But one of the most thrilling moments of her career was when she and her wife received an invitation from the White House to attend a reception with other activists to celebrate LGBT Pride Month.
Acknowledging the 45th anniversary of Stonewall and the progress that the LGBT community has made in the last year, President Obama issued an official proclamation declaring June LGBT Pride Month. “As progress spreads from state to state, as justice is delivered in the courtroom, and as more of our fellow Americans are treated with dignity and respect, our nation becomes not only more accepting, but more equal as well,” the proclamation begins. “During Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month, we celebrate victories that have affirmed freedom and fairness, and we recommit ourselves to completing the work that remains.” In his comments, the president thanked the attendees for working to make “the United States a more just and compassionate place.”
“I think this means a great deal for trans activists,” says Courtney. “Going into this experience, I figured there would be a handful of trans folks, but there were fifty or sixty of us among 350 or so in attendance. That was a really large delegation of people there who identified as trans means a great deal because we’re being seen and we’re being heard and we have a seat at the table so we can speak up and speak out for what we need as a population inside our big acronym.”
However the excitement of the trip was tempered by news of the murder of Mia Henderson, a transwoman from Baltimore who was found dead in mid-July. In a recent Facebook post, Courtney praised the work of activists who are making marriage equality a reality, but while advances are being celebrated, she expressed deep concern — Henderson’s death was the fifth murder of a trans woman in the previous 41 days.
“Their lives were snuffed out because they had the audacity to be themselves,” Courtney posted. “We need your help! We need to change the conversation in our community from making sure we can all get hitched and back up and realize that not nearly all of us are safe, not all of our identities are even acknowledged by our governments, and most trans people can’t even get the medical care they need.” Last year alone, nearly 300 trans people were murdered.
“I’ve seen us do amazing things as an LGBT community and many of us trans people have been fighting right alongside you. We need to do amazing things for trans people. We need to circle the wagons back around and fight to protect ALL our people. We can do amazing things, and we need you — please don’t leave us behind.”