Decades-long activist for the lesbian rights movement Susan Silverman passed away at the age of 73 on on August 24, 2022.
According to her obituary in the Philadelphia Gay News (PGN), she came out at age 19 and began her activism right away as a feminist in Manhattan. The next year the Stonewall Riots galvanized her social action and she copied fliers and secured meeting space for the first meeting of what became the Gay Liberation Front, of which she became a member.
Silverman was also a member of the Radicalesbians, Lavender Menace, and Gay Youth New York. She worked to help survivors of child abuse and bereaved people as a social worker and to create space for lesbians within the women’s rights movement in her activism, beyond working for LGBTQ+ rights from the 1960s through the end of her life this year.
“She was a true, true icon of our community,” Silverman’s friend Elizabeth Coffey Williams told PGN. “She was a hard-as-nails, bad-ass Brooklyn broad, and at the same time had the biggest, warmest heart.” PGN publisher Mark Segal remembers, “She was a firecracker then and still was. Through her role in [Gay Liberation Front (GLF)], she helped shape LGBT identity and helped in creating LGBT community. It is fitting that as she aged she chose to live in an LGBT senior building to continue her activism, which in true GLF fashion, never ends. Even age and poor health didn’t stop her. While she’d debate with you, there always was a smile on her face.”
Her significant contributions to the movement will live on and Tagg honors the memory of this elder who helped pave the way for all of us.