Letters: About San Diego’s Nicole Murray RamirezEditorial, Online Only, Section 4A Monday, July 17th, 2017
There is a saying, “You can truly tell our gay pioneers by the arrows in their backs.” Well, Nicole Murray Ramirez has been subjected to those arrows during almost 50 years of activism and leadership.
As most of you know, I don’t usually get involved or comment on Internet battles but after reading some of the ugly attacks on Nicole I just had to say something. Nicole and I have been very close friends for close to 30 years. As my friend and mentor I just feel I have to speak up for my friend as I hope many of you would do for your friends if you felt it necessary. I’m not here to be mean or disrespectful to anyone and hope you’ll read why I am speaking out. I want to bring to your attention to those who do not know or understand Nicole a little bit of his history. It seems that people either love, like, dislike or hate Nicole. Yes, by all means he can be very difficult and rough to deal with. I know this for a fact as I’ve had and still have my own differences and disagreements over our years of friendship. (I along with many of his other friends and community member have been sent to “Siberia” a few times.) But no one can deny the countless contributions and historical difference Nicole has made toward LGBT equality and Latino Civil Rights both locally, across the state and nationally.
What is most upsetting for me and many of Nicole’s supporters is that his July 6 column has been totally misrepresented by some of his long time detractors. In his column Nicole wrote about his conversation with the Police Chief and City Officials that if anyone attempted to shut down and close down this year’s Pride parade they would be arrested for breaking the law. Nicole never took a stand against civil disobedience, demonstrations, the Transgender community, Black Lives Matter etc. He took a stand against anyone attempting to shut down Civil Rights parades, be it Pride, Cesar Chavez or Martin Luther King parades. So many people gay, straight, black, white and every background look forward to our Pride parade some coming for the very first time. We all have our own stories to tell about our Pride parades. Tens of thousands of people gather and line up for miles to enjoy and celebrate their own pride through attending our parade. As the only living co-founders of the San Diego Pride parade Nicole (along with attorney, Tom Homan and Vietnam Veteran Jess Jessop) I believe what Nicole was saying is go demonstrate and take action on the issues where it belongs: Police Headquarters, Court Houses and so on not our LGBT equality parade. We have come so far in the fight for LGBT rights to have some in our very own LGBT community fight against what has taken so many years to achieve and the sacrifices of our brothers and sisters who we owe so much to. Let’s not fight to go back but continue to move forward.
Now some facts about my dear friend Nicole, Did you know Nicole Murray Ramirez is one of the only portraits that has the honor to be hung on the walls of the historic Stonewall Inn in NYC? Did you know he knew Sylvia Rivera and has been advocating for transsexuals since the 1970s? He has personally championed to make sure that transgender appointments and representation is on not only City Boards and Commissions but on Police as well as the Sheriff Boards. Did you know that Nicole and the Imperial Court System have raised money to help bury not only trans people in San Diego but also in Tijuana. (Just ask Carolina Ramos of The LGBT Center about the decades of contributions to the trans and Latino communities)
In fact I have personally witnessed Nicole get arrested along with a U.S. Congressman and past director of the San Diego Labor Council during a sit-in at Old Town in support of mostly poor Latino women who were unjustly fired. I have photos to prove it. He was even arrested for chaining himself to a hotel ballroom door (Town and Country) blocking homophobic State Sen. John Briggs back in the 70s.
Many of us agree with Nicole that we should focus on the real enemies outside of our community rather than trying to attack our very own Pride parade.
Besides being one of the founders of San Diego Pride (1974) he has also founded San Diego County Aids Assistance Fund; he helped bring the Aids Quilt to San Diego; he started The LGBT Veterans Wall of Honor at The Center; he started the very first Harvey Milk Breakfast and People of Color Aids Survival Task Force; I personally worked with Nicole as he established Grocery Hearts Aids Food Bank, Bryan Rustin LGBT African American Honors and The Centers Gala. To add to this list Nicole started one of the first LGBT Youth Scholarships in the United States (1979), the Queen Eddie Colon Youth Fund, Tijuana Aids Fund, Stonewall Citizen Patrol, the Nicky Awards and so many more . Not to mention countless events, organizations and charities.
It is a matter of record that Nicole is responsible these last decades for raising millions of dollars which have benefited our LGBT community, Aids and civil rights causes.
Yet he may not like me saying this, but I think it important you know that he now lives in senior housing and lives on a fixed income. Many of you have asked me,
“How does Nicole fly all over the country?” Well, the answer is that for decades several different individuals (mostly businessman) have provided means to help him travel and they believe in Nicole’s work and activism on behalf of our community.
Among the many things Nicole Murray Ramirez will go down in LGBT history books for is coming up and organizing the national campaign that resulted in the U.S. Postal Service issuing a Harvey Milk postage stamp and the Secretary of the Navy announcing the future “USNS Harvey Milk” naval vessel to be built and dedicated in San Diego. This has brought great honor to San Diego. Nicole also led the efforts to get our city to be the first in the nation to name a public street in honor of Harvey Milk.
I could write a book on Nicole’s accomplishments and I haven’t even gone into his role as the leader and chairman of the International Imperial Court System which was founded in 1965 with chapters in over 68 cities in the United States, Canada and Mexico. I myself have been a member of our local chapter for the last 20 years and have served two terms as president of the board.
It’s true, Nicole can be very controversial, bull headed, outrageous and wrong on issues but who can deny that he has dedicated his life to our LGBT community with all his heart and soul.
OK, disagree with Nicole, his stands in his columns, his ideas or whatever you may disagree with him on but why be ugly and hateful and why totally misrepresent his views?
I think it’s OK to disagree and question all of our LGBT pioneers, patriarchs and leaders or anyone for that matter… but let’s do it with dignity and respect. We all deserve that.
If I may suggest something to all those who question Nicole is to ask him to sit down and communicate with each other; he is always willing to sit down with anyone on issues that concern our communities. May I also suggest you learn more about all our community members, activists and leaders who have also made positive differences in our community by going to the Lambda Archives (4545 Park Blvd. #104 San Diego , 619-260-1522). They have an amazing collection of records dedicated to the struggles and accomplishments of San Diego LGBT history as well as the people who were involved.
I end this by hoping we as a community will be kinder toward each other, love each other, respect each other and get more involved with each other and charities to better our lives. Let’s not go backwards.
Sending lots of love,
Short URL: http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=81147