Bettie Naylor, a lesbian gay-rights pioneer likened to the “Rosa Parks of the LGBT movement,” died yesterday in her sleep at the age of 84.
Among Naylor’s many achievements: founding board member of the Human Rights Campaign, founder of the Texas and National Women’s Political Caucus groups, and friend and influencer of late Texas gov. Ann Richards.
Naylor (far right) had three children in a thirty-year-long marriage, then found love with her longtime partner, Libby Sykora (left).
And she did all of it in Austin, Texas, the little liberal haven inside the big red state. Reports the Austin Statesman:
She came to Austin in the 1970s and spent decades as a lobbyist, making friends and allies with each cause she believed in. Naylor fought for gay rights, marriage equality and female politicians and, in the 1980s, she helped organize the owners of gay bars in Texas who had little voice in the Legislature.
“She was little this itty bitty powerhouse,” said friend Candice Towe, former executive director of Austin-based Out Youth, an organization Naylor co-founded in 1990 as a support group for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth and young adults in Central Texas. “I don’t even think she stood 5 feet tall. When she walked into a room, she cast a spell over everyone. She lit up the room. She was bigger than life itself. Bettie was truly a champion in every sense of the word.”
Our friends over at the Six Pack conducted a radio interview with Naylor in October 2010. Check it out here and remember Naylor fondly.