News: LGBT Rights Activist Jerry Weller Dead At 69
Image Credit: Beverly Stein/The Weller Estate
Gerald K. “Jerry” Weller, a staunch and longtime advocate for the rights of the LGBTQ community, has died a the age of 69, according to The Oregonian.
Weller was born in Pennsylvania, and received his undergraduate degree from Penn State University in 1970. He received his Master’s degree from Roosevelt University in journalism in 1986.
Weller began his activism for the LGBTQ community in 1973, serving as an organizing member of Gays of Oakland for Bobby Seale for Mayor. In 1976, Weller moved from Oakland to Portland, where he became executive director of the Portland Town Council, Oregon’s first legislative gay rights organization.
One particular group that Weller was a part of that grew to become a large part of LGBTQ activism today was the Gay Rights National Lobby, which was the predecessor of the Human Rights Campaign. He was cochair and acting executive director of the Gay Rights National Lobby in 1980.
Weller also founded the Right to Privacy PAC in 1982. This group eventually became the largest LGBTQ political action committee in Oregon. Weller was also the CEO of Chicago’s Howard Brown Memorial Clinic (now Howard Brown Health Center), which specializes in HIV and other LGBT health issues.
He has also had positions with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the Oregon Health Division, and the Oregon Bureau of Labor Civil Rights Division. He also served on the board of the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon and was editor of the Portland LGBT newspaper City Week.
In The Oregonian’s obituary, they noted that Weller “followed state and local politics (and football!) closely and relished political discussions. He was forthright about his beliefs, needs and thoughts but never was without a sense of humor. He was admired as a courageous early advocate for gay rights who connected his commitment to action.”
Truly, the community has lost a pillar of activism.