Nadine Smith

What Were You Doing 25 Years Ago?

Filed By Nadine Smith | August 03, 2009 4:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Politics
Tags: Amsterdam, anniversary, IGLYO youth international, International Gay and Lesbian Youth Organization

As kissin.jpga college student I helped to found the International Gay and Lesbian Youth organization along with a team of amazing activists aged 15-24.

This past week IGLYO celebrated 25 Years with a huge conference in Amsterdam that brought the original board and all the successive leaders together.

I couldn't make the trip but here are some pictures from way back when we we all young and brave. Most are photos I'd never seen until now.

Here's the message I sent to young activists who now run IGLYO for the intergenerational dialogue:


More than 20 years later, I still draw on my experience with IGLYO to inspire me and keep me focused.

I learned from my IGLYO team mates never to settle for less than full equality.

I remember when a handful of our guys were roughed up by US soldiers at Volkfest.
I thought "What a shame, these things happen."

I did not realize how I'd come to accept a certain amount of danger until I saw everyone around me spring into action.

We held a massive demonstration in a matter of days in the largest square in Berlin with the full support of labor, women and green organizations.

When I was prevented from crossing the border into East Berlin, my IGLYO colleagues were willing to cancel the trip to stand in solidarity with me.

It took great urging to get them to go on with out me and even then several stayed behind with me.

I am filled with pride to see that IGLYO has grown. And I'm thrilled the alternative name United Gay/Lesbian Youth (UGLY) was abandoned.

I carry IGLYO with me even now, the lessons and bravery I learned back then.

If you are new to IGLYO, be bold, be brave and make your time there an inspiration for you and for all of us.

Here's how you can find out more about IGLYO and the work the organization is doing support LGBT youth advocacy around the world.

Follow IGLYO activities on, or by becoming a fan of 'IGLYO' on Facebook or Twitter, or by subscribing to the online newsletter.


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It is great to see you were so focused on your education. As i look back to 1985 i see myself on automatic pilot. I remember from that year walking into Trinity Church on Bush Street in SF. There were 12 step programs and there was also a group of PWAs in the front room i would visit and talk with. One day one of the guys collapsed and lost control of his bowels and after that ordeal i waltzed down the hallway to the kitchen where i spotted this little old lady cooking away. She was actually no more that 62 or 65 years of age i think and i asked her what she was doing. She said she was cooking for People With AIDS and i asked her if she needed help. "Yes please" she said. She had a big closet stuffed with canned goods that had been donated to her and she introduced herself to me as Ruth Brinker. I had no car but she did and so i would jump out and deliver the dinner and the next days lunch to these beautiful gay men who would come to the door with gratitude and need so great it frightened me. We had seven deliveries. One day i asked Ruth how she came about to doing this and she told me she had a friend who she visited who did not have the energy to prop himself up against the stove to boil a can of soup and knew right then she had to do something to help. Ruth Brinker is the founder of OPEN HAND in San Francisco and in the 1990s were serving meals out of a warehouse to over 3000 people. She will always be a saint, an inspiration and my fondest memories of humanity i experienced in the year 1985. I know that there are countless gay men in the beyond who thank Ruth Brinker for the love she showed them and the city of San Franciso at a time i now look back on with both sadness and joy.

Can I get a "FIERCE"?

God, I want to start a Nadine fan club ;D.

Twenty five years ago I had my eldest daughter home for her first few days from the base hospital on Gran Canaria at Las Palmas where she was born....

Well, this post is great. It reminds students to study hard. Forseeing ones future may bring determination in achieving dream. Had your teacher tackled about phonetic alphabet?Occasionally, someone might hear the term Charlie Foxtrot. Charlie Foxtrot is not a person, and if there ever was a child so named, they would no doubt change it as soon as they were able to do so. Charlie Foxtrot is an acronym that uses the NATO phonetic alphabet, in which each letter has a word indicating that letter – A is said alpha, B is bravo, D is delta, V is victor, etc. CF is the abbreviation of the lascivious term for a messy and confusing situation referred to as a cluster f---. (You know the word.) If my parents named me Charlie Foxtrot, I'd get a cash advance to change it.

Rick Sours | August 4, 2009 4:51 PM

As openly Gay male member of the LGBT community,
the year 1984 seems like a life time away. It
was truly a year of crisis and sadness for us in
the LGBT community. Most of us knew friends who
had died of AIDS or were dying. A number of my
good friends died in the 1980's. Some younger members of today's LGBT community are not aware of this past of our shared history.

@Lucrece-Hmmm. Fierce? I like that.
Thanks to those who shared their own stories as well.
I always feel more connected to fellow activists when I know the history that led them to step up.

To coincide with the Spanish EU Presidency, and in the context of the important discussions taking place around the proposed horizontal Anti-Discrimination Directive among EU Member States, we feel that this is a prime opportunity to meet in Spain for a conference focusing on Anti-Discrimination legislations. IGLYO aims with it to empower young LGBTQ activists to be part of high-level decision-making. - published on main IGLYO site.
Lower there is a link to application form. But I wander will I need to pay something because in this case I will force to get installment payday loan but I really don't want do it.