Dear GSBA Members and friends,
It is with great sorrow that we let you know that Anna Melle Hilgermann
, a great Pioneer in LGBT rights died early Monday morning, December 26, 2016.
It wasn’t that long ago that GSBA honored Anne with a Special Recognition, Voice for Social Justice Award.
To learn about Anne’s deep commitment to social justice is to learn about our history. Anne Melle was a lifelong activist for social justice, long before she even knew what that meant. She has spent the majority of her life helping parents understand and accept their gay kids, as well as helping gay kids understand their parents.
Long into her 90’s, Anne continued on with her work as a board member of Seattle Out and Proud, the organization that puts on Seattle’s Pride Festival.
Anne's involvement with the LGBT community started years before her own two gay sons came out to her. In the 1960's her hairdresser (who had a gay son) asked for Anne's support and go with her to a Parents of Gays meeting in Chicago. (This group was organized by the pioneering homosexual rights Mattachine Society years before PFLAG was established.) Moved by the wrenching stories she heard Anne quickly became a skilled meeting facilitator. Thus she began a lifelong effort to help parents understand and accept their LGBT kids, LGBT kids to understand their parents, and to fight hard for full rights for all LGBT people as if they were her own grandchildren.
Parents of Gays incorporated with PFLAG in the early 1970's, and Anne began her 40-year association with PFLAG. She continued working in Chicago until moving to rural Maine where she encountered a very different set of issues confronting LGBT people. After 15 years Anne moved to Seattle where she has worked continually at Seattle PFLAG. In 2007 she received recognition from National PFLAG for her outstanding service to PFLAG and LGBT communities across the country. Besides her PFLAG work Anne has served with much pleasure for several years on the board of Seattle Out and Proud, the organization that puts on Seattle's Pride Parade and related activities.
Aware of other people facing all sorts of discriminations and inequalities, Anne has worked on many non-LGBT projects over these same years. These included co-founding a food bank, volunteering as a public school teacher's aide, teaching women how to better manage their finances, collecting clothing for children of battered women, and providing emotional support for elderly folks at a nursing home.
Anne was always ready to respond to any need and help as many people realize their full potentials and help build a community that treats all people with kindness, dignity, and equality. We will miss you Anne but are forever grateful to you for your commitment and love you gave so freely to the LGBT community.
-- Louise Chernin, President & CEO, GSBA