October is LGBT History Month. The month of observance was first organized in 1994 by high school teacher Rodney Wilson to coincide with National Coming Out Day (Oct. 11) and was meant to highlight the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights movement.
In 2006, the Equality Forum began promoting the annual commemoration by featuring a different LGBT icon each day.
“This is the 7th anniversary of LGBT History Month. There are a total of 217 Icons that inspire pride in our heroes and our impressive national and international accomplishments,” said Malcolm Lazin, Equality Forum executive director, in a statement.
Harlan Smith isn’t a name you read frequently in the press, but he was recently voted the Best Male Activist in the GA Voice 2012 Best of Atlanta reader survey. For Smith, the recognition comes from years of working with HIV organizations, promoting safe-sex habits.
Smith, 34, left behind the corporate world in 2010, trading a job at Verizon Wireless to work in HIV/AIDS activism. He feels fortunate to work toward a cause that he’s passionate about, and notes that activism doesn’t always have to be high profile.
“If you give a friend a condom, you’re an activist,” Smith says.
Smith is also the founder of the MSM Public Health Professional’s Network group on Facebook (http://on.fb.me/NDOUqW), a group dedicated to connecting health professionals who work with African-American men who have sex with men.