Joseph Norton. Photo: Rick | 14184
The Times Union advises us of the passing of gay activist and pioneer Joseph Norton of Albany, New York, a former psychology professor, a World War II veteran and a leading figure in the gay rights movement, and a recipient of the Harvey Milk Award who died aged 92. In 1970, Norton was among a group of men who formed the Capital District Gay & Lesbian Community Council, now 41 years old and believed to be the oldest such continuously operating organization of its kind in the US.
“Norton recalled his surprise at the response after the group took the relatively risky step of advertising one of its meetings. “The next week,” Norton said, “there were so many people who came … that they couldn’t get in, there were almost 100 people the first time anybody in Albany had suggested something for gay folk. But, anyhow, that was the beginning of gay lib.”
The list of organizations Norton either helped found or lent his time to was lengthy, including the Association of Gay, Lesbian and Bisexuals in Counseling, National Gay & Lesbian Task Force, the New York State Coalition of Gay Organizations, National Association of Gay Psychologists and, locally, the Interfaith Partnership for the Homeless and the Capital District Counselors Association.
In 2006, Norton summed up the importance of the movement this way:
“It’s important to be out and proud and visible,” he said. “People need to know the diversity of the people they live around.””