Image: City of Portland Archives (Used by Permission)
The Miracle on the Willamette
Taking pride in the accomplishments of the LGBT community
George Nicola is impressed that after the Oregon LGBT community faced many anti-gay ballot measures and struggled to obtain basic human rights, it made huge strides in equality and in acceptance, especially in Portland. Nicola calls this "the Miracle on the Willamette" because this community, which prior to 1972, was labeled as undesirable and criminal, managed to better its status substantially.
As Told By...
Advocate for LGBT Civil Rights, volunteer for GLAPN
George T. Nicola came out through the Portland Gay Liberation Front, Oregon’s first gay political organization, in 1970. In 1973, he wrote and lobbied for the first Oregon bill that would ban discrimination based on sexual orientation. The bill failed House passage by just two votes short of a majority. But the process created numerous straight allies, many of whom were increasingly influential supporters for decades to come. Within the gay community, the bill helped build a sense of purpose and identity instrumental in the evolution of what became today’s large Oregon LGBT movement. In the early days of the movement, George also wrote articles for local gay newspapers. He appeared on quite a few local radio and television talk and news shows, and convinced other gay men and lesbians to do the same. In the past few years, George has spent considerable time documenting Oregon LGBT history through the Gay & Lesbian Archives of the Pacific Northwest (GLAPN). He also researches and publicizes information on current LGBT issues. George is active with a number of LGBT groups, where he tries to promote inclusion of all segments of the community.