Cade Ware

Cade Ware Pioneers Portrait

Cade Ware.

After a brief stint with the short-lived and radical Gay Liberation Front in the immediate aftermath of Stonewall, Cade Ware shifted to the mainstream political style of the Gay Activists Alliance (now the Gay & Lesbian Activists Alliance) shortly after it was formed in April 1971. He quickly became one of GAA's most committed and thoroughly engaged leaders, a role he sustained throughout the 1970s.

One bruising and long-lasting fight closest to his heart was his crusade against gay bars that openly barred or severely limited blacks, women, and drag queens (among others) from entering. Cade led numerous pickets and other direct actions against the offending establishments, met with the owners and managers, and eventually filed formal complaints with the Office of Human Rights that forced some of these businesses to either reform their admission policies or else close down.

Cade helped to lead the successful campaign to end the Metropolitan Police Department's use of plainclothes police to entrap gay men in outdoors cruising areas, an abusive tactic the MPD adopted in response to Congressional pressure to identify gay federal employees so they could be summarily fired. He was arrested during a sit-in he helped organize in the office of the MPD's chief when the chief refused to meet with a delegation from the gay community to discuss the issue. 

Cade was a central player in securing enormous advances for the gay community in the earliest days of DC Home Rule (1971-75). Among many other accomplishments, he developed the system (still largely in use by GLAA) to rate all candidates in DC elections for Mayor and Council; induced the Board of Education in May 1972 to adopt a ban on anti-gay discrimination in public schools; led the effort that culminated with the October 1973 passage of Title 34 (later reenacted as the DC Human Rights Act of 1977), the District's first comprehensive regulation protecting lesbians and gay men from discrimination in employment, housing, public accommodations, credit and education;  persuaded Mayor Walter Washington to appoint Dr. Frank Kameny to the Human Rights Commission in March 1975; and successfully lobbied the Council to abolish the MPD's notoriously homophobic Prostitution Perversion & Obscenity Squad and to grant $50,000 for the Gay Men's VD Clinic (predecessor to the Whitman-Walker Clinic) in early 1975. In July of that same year he testified before the Council on behalf of one of the first marriage equality bills ever introduced in an American legislative body.

Even after stepping down as GAA President in September 1975, Cade continued to make enormous contributions to the community. For example, he spearheaded "Project Gaycare," the first systematic attempt to improve treatment of lesbian and gay students in DC public schools; and he coined the memorable motto "Someone In Your Life Is Gay," resulting in the production of Public Service Announcement posters for display on Metrobuses. Cade was eventually appointed by Mayor Marion Barry to the D.C. Human Rights Commission, a fitting culmination to a life dedicated to freedom, diversity, and simple human dignity.