The following items were written and read at the Memorial by her best Friend Dorothy Danaher-Gilpin, Ed.D.
July 31, 2005
I had the pleasure to meet Brenda over the phone when I called for information regarding the New York Area Bisexual Network. She was
instrumental in helping found the first Bisexual Alcoholics Anonymous group in New York City, and one of the first such groups
anywhere. I was very discouraged due to lack of attendance in the beginning, but Brenda refused to give up on the group and kept
pushing me to keep it alive. Later, I was priviledged to serve as Brendaís AA sponsor. She would often say that she was quite
surprised to find herself needing the services of the group she encouraged me to start.
Brenda was definitely larger than life. When she entered the room, I was acutely aware of her presence. She had an engaging smile.
Her intelligence was immediately apparent, and she had an excellent sense of humor. All of this charm was usually employed to one
end - her unceasing activism for human rights. No one was to be excluded from the table, and people were not supposed to restricted
to categories. Your gender, sexual orientation, disability, dress, income level were not to play a part in how she or anyone else
As much as I love the LGBT community, over and over again I ran into people who were passionate about defending their right to exist
in world unmolested due to the category they found themselves assigned to by mainstream society - however, these same people were
quite unwilling to tolerate others who might be different from themselves. Brenda would call me when she ran into these types when
running her recovery-oriented support groups, whether in person or online. She would bend over backward to try to reach out and
educate the unenlightened. Often, these folks would not be responsive to either the message of the group in spite of her best
efforts. I would have to spend some time with her to help her let go and move on to someone who was more open to change.
Alcoholics Anonymous has a lot of slogans. Some of these are "One Day at a Time", "Easy Does It", "Think", and "Live and Let Live."
The slogans are very important part of the program, especially in the beginning when people are not able to concentrate that well.
Brenda, however, had her own slogans. Some of her slogans were "Might as Well Cope", "What a Concept", and ĎThatís not Helpful".
When I was upset about a situation, Brenda always knew just what to say. Usually her response would involve her great sense of
I always felt priviledged to know Brenda because of her history as an activist. She didnít talk about it much, but she organized the
first Stonewall march, which launched the gay rights movement. I was ten years old and growing up in Miami, so I will leave it to
others to describe the experience. I enjoyed walking with her during the annual Pride Parade at the end of June. Stonewall Veterans
would ride in a top-down sixties cadillac, decked out in drag, and say hello to her. That moment was always the best part of the
parade for me. It reminded me that I got to hang out with a national hero.
As proud as I am of all Brendaís accomplishments as an activist, I will always remember simply as one of the best friends I have ever
had. Iíll miss you, Brenda.
Dorothy also wrote a poem for Brenda
In Honor of Brenda
When I was in pigtails
You were already marching
Voice firm and loud
Banners held high
I, blissful in suburbia
Years from sexual maturity
Watched you on TV
What all the fuss was about.
I grew older
And tired of the nonsense
I moved to the Big City
In search of
Many spirits were trampled
Yours was emboldened
You strode harder
A leather vest and buttons
Your simple uniform
Tireless hours on the phone
To help you hold
You leave us now
With a Legacy
Fight for whatís Right
Remember that this is ©2005 Lawrence Nelson ® All rights reserved.