Seattle, WA – Charlie Brydon, an early LGBTQ rights leader, died February 9, 2021 at age 81 from complications of Alzheimer’s disease. From the mid-1970s through the 1990s, Brydon tirelessly networked with political and community leaders in Seattle to establish the LGBTQ community as an important constituency group in the public fabric of Seattle. At key points, Brydon took leadership roles in obtaining anti-discrimination protections in Seattle, as well as defending against ballot initiatives in the late 1970s and mid-1990s that sought to repeal those protections.
Born and raised in New Jersey, Brydon’s education included military prep school and college at the Citadel Military College, after which he enlisted in the US Army, serving in Vietnam, where he was awarded two Bronze Stars as an intelligence security officer. Upon moving to Seattle in 1974, Brydon was determined to avoid the ideological battles he had seen elsewhere, preferring to build broad-based coalitions to accomplish specific goals for the LGBTQ community at large. Brydon was a master at networking and was soon taking officials on tours of Gay bars and holding luncheons where city officials got to know LGBTQ folks. Soon Mayor Wes Uhlman was a guest at one of the luncheons. When Uhlman faced a recall effort in 1975, Brydon organized a fundraiser in the LGBTQ community for his campaign. Shortly thereafter, the luncheons were being held monthly, and Brydon and Pam Weeks of the Lesbian Resource Center incorporated the Dorian Group to focus on obtaining and defending LGBTQ civil rights. With Mayor Uhlman’s support, the City Council banned housing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in 1975. In 1977, Brydon was instrumental in getting Mayor Uhlman for the first time to proclaim Seattle Gay Pride Week. In another first, in March 1977 Brydon was one of 14 Gay and Lesbian leaders invited to the White House to meet with President Carter’s staff regarding LGBTQ issues, where he, as a decorated veteran, advocated that the Pentagon end discrimination against Gays and Lesbians.
Anti-LGBTQ groups twice attempted to roll back advances in LGBTQ equality, and each time Brydon played a key role in their defeat. The defeat of the anti-LGBTQ measure in Seattle had national significance, because in all of the other cities, the anti-LGBTQ measures had passed by wide margins. The Seattle victory started to turn the tide on the wave of anti-LGBTQ ballot issues across the country and provided a model of how to launch a broad-based community effort to turn back the forces of bigotry.
In 1979 Brydon turned his attention full-time to national LGBTQ efforts, serving for two years as co-executive director of the National Gay Task Force (now renamed the National LGBTQ Task Force) in New York City. At the Task Force, Brydon focused on efforts to get the American Psychiatric Association to end its classification of homosexuality as a mental illness and get the federal government to end its ban on employing Gay and Lesbian people. Preferring to be a citizen activist rather than a paid staffer, in 1981 Brydon returned to Seattle and opened his own insurance agency. As the owner of a small business, Brydon saw a need for an organization for LGBTQ business owners and professionals, and he helped found the GSBA. Memorial donations may be made in Charlie Brydon’s name to the GSBA Scholarship Fund. (Seattle Gay News – Randy Beitel at http://www.sgn.org/sgnnews49_08/page5.cfm)
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