Skip to comments.Activist Jean O'Leary Dies (former nun, Dem official, GLSM Leader)
Posted on 06/06/2005 1:15:28 AM PDT by NYer
LOS ANGELES, June 5 /PRNewswire/ -- Lesbian activist, former nun and Democratic party leader Jean O'Leary died June 4 at the San Clemente, California home of Lisa Phelps, her partner of 12 years, and surrounded by her family and close friends. O'Leary, who had been battling lung cancer for two years, was 57.
Feminist leader Gloria Steinem said, "Jean O'Leary was a link of kindness and humanity and inclusive politics who helped the women's movement to recognize the universal cost of homophobia, and the gay movement to see that marginalizing the voices of lesbians would only diminish its power."
Born March 4, 1948, in Kingston, New York, Jean Marie O'Leary grew up mostly in Ohio. She entered Sisters of the Holy Humility convent in 1966, and said in a 1984 anthology, "Lesbian Nuns: Breaking Silence," that she joined the convent because "there was no anti-war movement, no women's movement, no gay movement in Ohio in 1966" and that she "wanted to do something special, to have an impact on the world."
She graduated from Cleveland State University with a degree in psychology in 1970, left the convent and became the drummer for a girl band, "The Satin Dolls." Soon thereafter, she packed up her drums and moved to New York to pursue doctoral studies in organizational development at Yeshiva University.
She was integral to many groundbreaking moments of gay and lesbian history, including:
* In 1972, frustrated with the Gay Activists Alliance's male-dominated sexism, she founded Lesbian Feminist Liberation, taking most of GAA's women with her. * In 1974, she negotiated an agreement for co-gender management of the National Gay Task Force, joining Bruce Voeller as co-executive director. * In 1976, she was elected as the first openly lesbian delegate to a national political convention. She then served on the Democratic National Committee for 12 years, including eight on its Executive Committee, the first openly gay or lesbian person in that capacity. * In 1977, she organized the first meeting of gay rights advocates in the White House. President Jimmy Carter later named her to the National Commission on the Observance of International Women's Year, making her the first openly gay appointee to a Presidential commission.
She founded or co-founded many community organizations, including the National Gay Rights Advocates (NGRA), which became one of the first advocacy organizations to focus on the legal and civil liberties ramifications of the AIDS epidemic. She also founded National Coming Out Day with psychologist Rob Eichberg in 1987, noting that " ... coming out is critically important to our community and to our movement. Our invisibility is the essence of our oppression. And until we eliminate that invisibility, people are going to be able to perpetuate the lies and myths about gay people." In recent years, O'Leary, with her business partner, Palm Springs City Council member Ginny Foat, ran a consulting firm specializing in voter contact and candidate consulting.
In addition to her life partner Lisa Phelps, and their daughter Victoria, she is survived by their son David De Maria, his life partner James Springer, and their son Aiden DeMaria. She is also survived by her brothers, Jim O'Leary and Ken O'Leary, sister Diane Urig, and nieces and nephews.
Phelps said, "I am proud to have been with Jean during the last 12 years of her life, and I am proud of Jean's political accomplishments. She set an example of community involvement for our 15 year old daughter Victoria and instilled in her the importance of political activism."
A memorial service, to be held at the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Community Services Center, is being planned.
Apparently she decided a life of Holy Humility was not what she wanted.
Like she really put that down on her application.
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Why was this story posted?
One of the first lesbian nuns?? Is she a democrat? or a republican? Let me guess.
"Culture/Society; Front Page News; Government; News/Current Events; Philosophy; Politics/Elections;"
There's a few reasons.
"Family" is a outmoded, patriarchal, homophobic societal construct that is cruel and exclusionary. "Close friends" suggests that passing acquaintances were not invited to the deathbed, which is also cruel and exclusionary.
At any rate, good riddance.
foolish pathetic life she lead ...
"she is survived by their son David De Maria, his life partner James Springer"
sad. A person with gender identity problems manages to have a son, to whom she passes along her problems.
I thought the exact same thing. Very sad.
Or did they just happen to adopt somone who was born gay? What would the odds be on that based on their numbers?
Sometimes they just hand the lines right to ya'...
Oh yeah, the "Dark Ages". It must have been just terrible.-sarc.
During the span of her "career", the nuclear family and our culture here in America have taken one heck of a beating, causing much misery for kids caught in the middle. She must have been proud.
I also noticed that her son and his gay partner have a son. Poor kid.
What is liberal, black and white, black and white, black and white, black and white, and yodels in the valley?
Instead of a Mass they are having a Memorial service at a gay and lesbian center?
So sad... so utterly sad.
Why is it she's held up by some because of her personal accomplishments, but seems to have lost her soul along the way?
What profits a man who gains the whole world but loses their soul?
For all intents and purposes, she joined a cult.
She entered Sisters of the Holy Humility convent in 1966, and said in a 1984 anthology, "Lesbian Nuns: Breaking Silence," that she joined the convent because "there was no anti-war movement, no women's movement, no gay movement in Ohio in 1966" and that she "wanted to do something special, to have an impact on the world."
Not exactly a calling to God just because there was no radical movement to suite her taste.
Mother Teresa of Calcutta answered her call out of humility and understanding it was truly from God.
There is nothing to indicate this person had any sort of calling from God except she wanted to do something different -- which is a false pretense to enter a convent.
"She graduated from Cleveland State University with a degree in psychology in 1970, left the convent and became the drummer for a girl band, "The Satin Dolls."" - if she 'joined' the convent in 1966 and graduated CSU in 1970 - she pretty much used the Catholic church to pay for her college bills and then went to become a 'rock star' - isn't it amazing that some 35 years later they still identify her as a nun. I doubt if she ever went beyond a novice or took any vows.
Her statement about Ohio having no 'anti-s' in the late 60's is bunk.
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