These are writtens that where sent in to be read at the memorial but did not get read do to time
Subject: For memorial service
Date: Wed, 20 Jul 2005 00:17:46 -0400
(See any resemblence to Brenda in the attachment?) [ed: http://www.nyabn.org/brenda/images/Gay_liberation 1970 poster.jpg]
June 28, 1969, was the beginning of Stonewall Riots, which, thanks in part to Brenda, would be commemorated for all time.
June 28, 2005, was the day we lost Brenda.
These dates mark off an era of exactly 36 years. That's 36 Pride Days that Brenda either organized, participated in or simply
As a knowledgable Jew, Brenda would have readily recognized that 36 is a multiple of 18. In Jewish numerology, 18 is equivalent
to the Hebrew word "Chai", which means "alive."
Now if you consider that 36 is 2 times 18, and that the prefix for the
number two is "bi", as in bi-coastal or bi-lateral, or, more
we can see very clearly that, on the mystical
level of reality, Brenda lived the complete Bi life.
Not being a mystic myself, I could not have perceived all this during
the years I knew her as a fellow member of Congregation Beth Simchat
Torah. To me she was an enthusiastic supporter of the Sabbath morning
services which I helped organize, and when a group is struggling to get
10 people together to have an official Jewish service, every supporter
is precious. When I attempted to organize a more traditional Friday
evening service at the synagogue, Brenda supported that too, to the
extent that she was not driven away by the faint smell of the cleaning
solutions that only she could notice.
I did not know about her early GBLT activism until my second and last
visit to the Trump Pavilion, when Larry showed me a book that cited her
as a chairperson of the Gay Activists Alliance. You could say there was
the life of Brenda that I saw, and the life of Brenda that was hidden
Double Chai. Two lives in one. Two very precious lives. Two lives that
will be remembered forever.
David Feinberg, The Bethune Street Minyan Congregation Beth Simchat Torah CBST Traditional Egalitarian Minyan.
by Hayyim Obadyah
Brenda Howard cared. And Brenda Howard made a difference.
In recent years, Brenda and I were in a Bible study group together. She
truly cared about the text: what each word really meant; what the
passage meant to the people of biblical times; what it means to us
today. She loved to read the commentaries of others who thought deeply
about the text, and especially respected those who could put their
insights into an articulate and logical framework. She was impatient
with careless or superficial reading, and consistently urged us to dig
into any inconsistency. She challenged any of our deductions that were
vague or unclear. Most of all, Brenda was unflinching in confronting
the moral implications of everything we read: How did these people
treat each other, and what does this tell us about how we should treat
each other? Brenda cared about Bible, and she made a difference in my
study of it.
Brenda lived a deeply Jewish life. We prayed together for some years at
Congregation Beth Simchat Torah. She knew that for lesbian, gay,
bisexual, and transgender Jews to pray together as Jews and as lesbian,
gay, bisexual, and transgender people is both spiritually fulfilling and
politically revolutionary. But there, as everywhere, she made sure that
diversity was not just a word. She was a proud bisexual and a proud
leather person. She would not let anyone take the community's diversity
for granted. Brenda cared about the Jewish community, and she made a
difference in our understanding of inclusiveness.
Brenda truly understood the meaning of "living in leather". I have
never seen Brenda as happy as she would be on Pride Day, walking down
Fifth Avenue, with her beloved partner Larry, surrounded by men and
women in leather. She had such great joy in celebrating the pride,
sensuality, creativity, and egalitarianism of leathersex. Others are
better able than I to describe how much she did for the leather
community, the organizations she was involved in, the events that
wouldn't have happened without her. For me what is important is that
her profound love for the community and for individual leatherfolk meant
to Brenda that she needed not only to participate but also to work on
behalf of the community. Brenda cared about the leather community, and
she made a difference in both how we see ourselves and how others see
It was an honor to know Brenda. I will remember her and I will miss
her. May the Almighty mercifully bring her heavenly rest and eternal
Subject: for the service
Date: Fri, 29 Jul 2005 11:29:13 -0400
From: "name withheld" from DC
I met Brenda at a womenís music festival in 1985. Not exactly her
style, but as I remember, she was there in part to defy the anti-SM
policy there. At the time I considered myself both vanilla and lesbian,
but that changed soon. Anyway, after the workshop (most of which I
missed), we talked briefly, and then she introduced me to a woman who
lived in Maryland near me. At the time, I had not considered a partner
in another city. Iím trusting my memory here, but I think what happened
was that I saw Brendaís personals ad in an SM publication while visiting
that Maryland woman. I ended up answering it, and my life went down a
wild and wonderful path. I had just come out as an SM dyke. My first
scene was with Brenda and her female partner. I was soon introduced to
the New York clubs, TES, and many wonderful people, some of whom I still
One of my favorite memories was a TES meeting that was also attended by
representatives of the local feminist newspaper in order to see if TES
was respectable enough to have their meeting announcements in that
paper. During the meeting, Brenda discreetly (since we had visitors)
removed my shirt and replaced it with a large scarf that also tied my
arms to my sides above the elbow. After the meeting, in my new outfit,
I explained to the newspaper visitors why I could be a feminist and
still do those things.
I worked with Brenda on the marches on Washington, the bisexual network
in the DC area, and various AIDS awareness activities. She encouraged
me to include men in my SM play, and that eventually led to me marrying
one of them this past April. He wears the bathrobe I
originally bought for Brenda to wear on her visits. Itís one of many
physical reminders of Brenda I still have around the house (along with
copies of various political leaflets I keep finding when cleaning out my
Brenda was probably one of the single greatest influences on my life.
Her role in fighting for our rights was even more important, and I am
fortunate to have had the opportunity to help her do some of it. Thank
you for everything, Brenda.
From: Mark Mones Vice President Queens Chapter, PFLAG
I First met Brenda Howard through Larry Nelson, who as a long-standing, loyal board member of P-FLAG in Queens,
introduced her to me at the Queens Pride Day in Jackson Height, quite a few years ago.
It was obvious from the first, that Brenda was a person who was extremely bright and very caring.
I later learned throught Larry and Several other people just how true that was! She helped to fight for gay causes and
establish gay organizations, when to do so was not easy or safe.
Several years ago, when Brenda and Larry established a very loving and strong relationship with each other, Brenda would
attend many of our monthly PFLAG meetings.
I particularly remember the time when we would ask for volunteers to make calls to the GLBT community and other chores
involving our yearly fundraising luncheons, Brenda didn't want to be asked - she had already volunteered.
In retrospect, I think now that I would like to have know Brenda better. What I do know is that this was a really good person!
To Paraphrase a line from Playwright Arthur Miller: "Attention mush be paid to this Woman".
Editors note: this WAS read at the memorial but I feel that it belongs here as well - Larry -
Here is an official BiNet USA appreciation statement on Brenda Howard.
FYI -- Loraine and Lani wrote this over the phone, just like in the old days of co-editing :-) ...
w/finishing touches by Loraine ...
With Love, Honor and Awe: BiNet USA Remembers Brenda Howard
an appreciation by Lani Ka'ahumanu, and Loraine Hutchins,
co-editors of Bi Any Other Name: Bisexual People Speak Out
and two of the many co-founders of BiNet USA: The National Bisexual Network
Brenda Howard was definitely one of the original bisexual curmudgeons of our generation; one of those amazingly persistent/insistent
freedom fighters who make revolution and social change happen. Her heart wouldn't allow her not to. She fought and organized and
educated because she couldn't stand the pain or outrage of being silent, or silenced. But she also fought for us because she had a
BIG vision she knew the world needed to see and she was NOT willing to allow people's ignorance of that vision, or resistence to it,
Brenda was bold and would NOT go away, ever.
She would not take "no" for an answer -- whether working with bisexuals, with the leather community, with the larger LGBT communities,
or on social justice issues important to all peoples.
She was not an "easy" personality; as many visionary and activist leaders aren't.
It gets damn lonely, being patient and forgiving, with every new person needing support, or having trouble grasping an essential element
of oppression or the need for a specific analysis and response. Yet Brenda kept doing the work of grassroots organizing many years after
others had burned out and quit.
Just think, right now, of how many other women you know in this room, or beyond it, who were there in the early 70s GLF and GAA days,
and STAYED struggling, and still hung in there for decades since.
She was a rare gem!
If you haven't seen it yet, check out the 1970 archival picture of Brenda that Larry's added to her website. She's at a demo, in jeans, her
face framed with two long ponytails and glasses, holding her "Power to the People" sign. That's our quintessential Brenda, breaking
trail, out there on the edge, so many of us could follow.
One of the most delightful and blessed things about Brenda is that we, as other national bi organizers, could always talk to her as a
national strategist with minimal need to explain or fill in background info. Since she was a long-time organizer she just "got it" fast.
This made a crucial difference from the late 80s to the mid-90s when our movement was taking off in a more nationally visible way.
One could always rely on Brenda to have the literature table ready for the conference or the march. She always knew exactly what needed
to be on it, and had it all arranged nicely when everyone got there. AND she never let ANYONE walk by without taking something from it
away with them.
One could also count on Brenda to do the difficult things -- to make a stink when stinks needed to be made, to say the hard things no
one else had the guts to say, to point out that "the emperor has no clothes" when everyone else was politely acting like he wasn't
completely naked. She was especially key at building bisexual presence in the 1987 March on Washington and in working on the amazing
national consensus process that placed "Bi" in the name of the 1993 March on Washington for Lesbian, Gay and Bi Equal Rights and
Liberation for the very first time ever in history. That was at a time when biphobia in the movement was incredibly strong and impervious.
(OK, it still is, but she chipped away a big chunk that would not otherwise have gone. Take our word for it on this one!).
We, Lani and Loraine, have our own personal fond memories of her. She used to call us when she was bored waiting for paid phone sex
calls to come in, and make the waiting time a productive organizing opportunity and personal energy recharge instead. First she'd wear
out Loraine on the east coast and then, when Loraine faded, she'd call Lani on the west coast, regaling us both with stories and ideas
for hours. It was quite impossible to hang up. And the parties at Loraine's Washington, DC house she'd come to when she was in town
for demos and conferences were always incredibly livened up and transformed by her sly, comic, bubbling presence.
But for all her fierce passion, Brenda didn't take enough credit for what she did. Maybe it's something about our generational mindset,
us baby boomers, especially the women, who grew up emphasizing the communal, the collective, the value of all of moving forward together,
leaving no one out or behind.
Thank you Brenda Howard for not shutting up, for not giving in, for bluntly blurting out the hard stuff, and most of all for sharing
your big big vision that the world STILL needs SO much.
Note to any glbt group that might want to write an official statement on Brenda Howard. You can have it that statement added here.
Please send it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Remember that this is ©2005 Lawrence Nelson ® All rights reserved.