Pioneer Lilli Vincenz — LGBT History Month Day 29


Today’s LGBT History Month icon is Lilli Vincenz.

Vincenz, born September 26, 1937, is a pioneering gay rights activist. In 1965, she was the only lesbian to participate in the first White House picket. From 1965 to 1969, Vincenz demonstrated each Fourth of July in front of Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell. These protests, called Annual Reminders, are credited with launching the gay and lesbian civil rights movement.

Biography via Equality Forum:

Vincenz was born in Hamburg, Germany, and grew up during World War II. Her father died when she was 2 years old. In 1949, after her mother married an American, the family moved to the United States.

In 1959, Vincenz earned bachelor’s degrees in French and German from Douglas College. The following year, she received a master’s degree in English from Columbia University.

After college, Vincenz enlisted in the Women’s Army Corps and worked at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. After serving nine months, she was outed by her roommate and was discharged for being gay.

In 1963, Vincenz joined the Mattachine Society of Washington (MSW). She was in the MSW delegation that held the first meeting with the Civil Service Commission to discuss discriminatory policies toward gays and lesbians.

In 1971, Vincenz helped launch the Frank Kameny for Congress campaign. This marked the first time an openly gay person ran for public office in the United States.

Vincenz filmed two important gay rights demonstrations: the 1968 Annual Reminder in Philadelphia and the first anniversary of Stonewall, known as the first New York Pride Parade.

From 1971 to 1979, Vincenz hosted a monthly Gay Women’s Open House in Washington to provide a safe setting for socializing and discussing common concerns.

In 1990, Vincenz earned a Ph.D. in human development from the University of Maryland. Vincenz has written for numerous publications and has appeared on television and in film.

She resides in Arlington, Virginia, with her partner, Nancy Ruth Davis.



Image from LGBT History Month video.


Jenny Dooley
Jenny Dooley6 years ago

Born in 1937, Lilli Vincenz has seen many changes in the world, and has reason to be personally satisfied that she has brought about changes to benefit many LGBT people (and their families and friends) today.
But we all must know that much more has to happen.

This week we saw an unprovoked and violent attack on a gay student in front of his classmates (on video, but the attacker goes unpunished as yet), bullying and discrimination causing so much pain that yet another gay teen feels he can no longer live in this world, a lesbian wounded in action during military service overseas seeks help in a mental health clinic only to be verbally harangued for 3 hrs by a homophobic nurse, and there are people in politics who'd like to make being LGBT a crime... and this is just in America!

We have a long way to go, so please, don't be complacent. Make sure you do your bit to make this a safer world for our beloved LGBT daughters and sons, especially in their teen years. Keep up the good fight that Lilli began so long ago

Winn Adams
Winn A6 years ago

What a remarkable person!

K s Goh
KS Goh6 years ago

Thanks for the article.

Jutta Suthau
Jutta Suthau6 years ago

Thanks for this article!

Madeline B.
Madeline B6 years ago

This woman is an icon to us all and I am thankful she is there for us. We still have a long ways to go and I am sure she is still in there fighting for us.
So thank you Lilli.

Roger Nehring
Roger Nehring6 years ago

@Norma, discimination against gay folks serving in the military has officially ended. It seems to me that there is still plenty of homophobia in ALL areas of US society.

Allan Yorkowitz
.6 years ago

Very interesting article -thanks

Fred Krohn
Fred Krohn6 years ago

Another great example of why homophobia should be dæmonised and homophobic violence prosecuted as felony or capital assault and hate crime. We should treat fellow citizens who can keep their pants on and avoid groping each other in public as 'fellow citizens', not harangue them over who they choose to find a room with.

Anne P.
Anne P6 years ago

Lilli Vicenz is an amazing woman and a true patriot. My hat is off to her and all other GLBT pioneers. Thank you!

Wayne M.
Wayne M6 years ago

The LGBT community today and anyone who believes in equality for everyone owes a great deal to these early pioneers who could face serious legal and personal repercussions for speaking out in support of equality. Yet their activism sowed the seeds for the strong liberation and equality movement that has helped change America (United States and Canada) and the world for the better, not just for LGBT people, but for minorities everywhere who were and are subject to discrimination.