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    In Memoriam: Patricia Elise Norman (1939–2022), Longtime Leader in the Fight for LGBTQ Rights

    Patricia Elise Norman, 82, passed away peacefully on August 5, 2022, in Las Vegas, Nevada. Born on October 21, 1939, and raised in Brooklyn, New York, she was the youngest of four children; her parents were James A. and Maude B. Richardson. Her father was the owner of Richardson Trucking Company and Norman was inspired by both of her parents. She was especially influenced by her mother, who was a community activist and leader of the civil rights movements in the 1940s. Norman was encouraged by her parents to get involved with various African American civic groups, and in high school, she was a member of the Brooklyn chapter of the NAACP. She went on in her education as far as a Masters in Clinical Psychology.

    Norman was a longtime leader in the fight for lesbian and gay rights, and a constant fighter for women and people of color. She dedicated over 40 years of her life to providing timely vision, steadfast programs, and services. When the HIV/AIDS epidemic surfaced in San Francisco, for example, she was there with her creative, outside-the-box vision and strength to respond to the many challenges.

    She began her activism in California in 1971, when she founded the Lesbian Mothers’ Union to address and defend child custody issues for lesbians. In 1972, she became first openly gay person hired by the San Francisco Department of Health to serve the gay community. She was a key leader in the development of AIDS care, called the San Francisco Model, which involved a collaborative network of city agencies, community organizations, hospitals, and healthcare providers.

    Norman was a lecturer and consultant to nonprofit and public agencies from 1974–1988, and was the statewide director of training for the Youth Environment Study (YES), Inc., from 1988 to 1989. She was a co-chair for the California State Mobilization for Peace, Jobs, and Justice, 1984; co-chair of the National March on Washington for Lesbian/Gay Rights, 1987; a delegate to Jesse Jackson, Democratic National Convention, 1988; a member of the Nelson Mandela Reception Committee, 1990; and a co-chair of the Stonewall 25 Organizing Committee, 1994, where demonstrators unfurled a one-mile-long, 30-foot rainbow-colored flag symbolizing lesbian and gay rights. Roughly one million participants from around the world converged on the Avenue of Americas in New York City on that day.

    Norman was founder, president, and chief executive officer of the Institute for Community Health Outreach, an organization that provides training for community health workers, especially focusing on underserved and stigmatized populations. She retired in 2002, and shortly thereafter moved to Kauai, Hawaii, where she lived for 20 years.

    Throughout the years, Norman also served on several public commissions: the Police Commission, Fire Commission, and the Human Rights Commission. She provided years of leadership on nonprofit boards such as serving as the president of the Black Coalition on AIDS, the president of SAGE (Standing Against Global Exploitation), and the president of Larkin Street Youth Center.

    She was a dedicated member of the California State Democratic Party Central Committee, the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP), the Women’s AIDS Network, the National Gay Task Force, the Lesbian Rights Project, the Human Rights Foundation, the Community Against Violence, and more.

    She was very happy to spend her last months surrounded by her family, whom she loved very much. She will truly be missed by many. Her family and friends encourage others to google “Pat Norman” (“activist” can be added to the search) for more information about her contributions and accomplishments.

    Published on August 11, 2022