Lobbying for Civil Rights in 1973
The first gay civil rights bill in the Oregon legislature
Nicola describes his 1973 work for the passage of Oregon's first bill banning discrimination based on sexual orientation. The efforts included a letter writing campaign conducted in a popular gay bar called the Family Zoo. The bill failed to pass in the Oregon House by just two votes short of a majority. But the effort helped trigger the birth of the state level gay civil rights movement, which evolved into the large Oregon LGBT movement we have today.
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.