Tag: pioneer

The Amazon Trail: COVID-19 Pioneer – Lesbian.com

The Amazon Trail: COVID-19 Pioneer – Lesbian.com

Polio PinBY LEE LYNCH
Special to Lesbian.com

Now that President Biden and Vice President Harris are in office, I’ve been able to have my first Covid 19 vaccine shot. It was no big deal. I went to our county fairgrounds expecting to be injected through my car window, the way I was tested. I thank my lucky stars the test was negative. I’m grateful to the medical profession that persisted in making tests and vaccines available despite the disinformation and profiteering of our former leaders.

Turned out, the vaccines were administered in the same exhibit building that’s used for our winter farmers’ market, a very familiar and reassuring space. The six-foot tables that usually serve to display crafts or local mushrooms and goat cheeses, were now place markers.

Two representatives of our Sheriff’s Mounted Posse, minus their mounts, stood at the door, masked and chatting with new arrivals. We weren’t exactly an unruly crowd—age seventy-five at the youngest—so there was little for them to do. Once inside, our temperatures were taken, we were sent along to show ID and turn in required paperwork. Some internet averse or disabled people filled out that paperwork on site, assisted by caretakers and community helpers.

One half hour was allotted for each group to be vaccinated. Firefighters led the way to makeshift corrals, maybe twelve foot by twelve foot, and to inadequately distanced folding chairs. No matter, it’s in the nature of groups to group, and people knew each other so there was never a chance some would voluntarily social distance, despite the fact that they were there to prevent dying in a pandemic.

The firefighters then deposited us, one at each end of the tables. I spotted non-gay neighbors in front of me and we cheerfully visited—at a distance. They’ve since invited me to ride with them for our second shots. That could have been fun and memorable, I thought later, especially if we gave one another the virus while enclosed in a car.

Which brought me back to the first inoculation I remember. I was in elementary school when American schoolchildren became guinea pigs for Dr. Salk’s vaccine. We waited on line outside the Flushing, Queens P.S. 20 gymnasium, in enforced quiet, dozens of solemn, worried kids. Personally, I was terrified of being shut inside an iron lung and welcomed the chance to avoid that fate.

The Covid 19 vaccines have emergency authorization; the polio shots were experimental. Some children received the actual inoculation, others a placebo. We filed into the gym and stopped at little stations staffed by who-knew-who. I asked this time, and confirmed that RNs were giving the Covid injections.

As Polio Pioneers, we received pins and certificates (which many of us still have, including me). Mothers of pupils volunteered to comfort us. I lucked out with a mom who put her arms around me and held me close during my ordeal. If I hadn’t already been a dyke, I would have become one from that experience alone—what pain?

The more recent injection was painless. For about two days afterward I couldn’t lift that arm without great discomfort, but as vulnerable elders, we accepted the necessity of inoculation with stoicism. There was a nurse for each row of recipients so those in the back were able to watch for horrendous reactions from the procedure. There were none.

The last corral was the observation room where we waited thirty minutes, in case we needed an epi pen or ambulance. The firefighters roamed among us, smiling and joking with people they knew, checking on us all. Eventually, we crammed together on line to schedule appointments for our second shots.

As a seasoned Polio Pioneer, sixty-odd years later, it strikes me as funny that I felt a little proud, just as I had in grade school, to be part of this mass health effort. There’s a bond now, between my neighbors and myself, that we went through the unknown together, that we believed in the science and the medicine and did our patriotic duty to keep America safe.

Before my observation period ended, I took a seat at one end of a long bench and exchanged greetings with a courageous man perhaps twenty-five years my senior. As I watched the clock, I considered myself lucky, way back when, to have received the real polio vaccine rather than the placebo. In the present, I know I’m lucky to have reached the current vaccine eligibility cutoff age. And lucky to have outlived the willful mismanagement of the Covid 19 pandemic.

Copyright Lee Lynch 2021 / February 2021

IBM finally apologises for firing transgender computer pioneer 52 years ago

IBM, Lynn Conway

Lynn Conway was fired by IBM in 1968 as she began her transition (Screenshot: YouTube)

It’s taken 52 years, but IBM has finally issued a full apology for firing the pioneering computer scientist Lynn Conway because she was transgender.

In 1964 Lynn Conway joined IBM Research, where she made major innovations in Very Large Scale Integrated (VLSI) chip systems. She is credited with several key discoveries that would go on to power smartphones, the internet, and national defence.

Despite her many foundational contributions to computer architecture, she lost it all in 1968 when IBM’s medical director outed her to the CEO, who fired her on the spot.

Conway struggled to support her family as a result, and the situation worsened when California’s Social Services threatened a restraining order if she attempted to see her children post-divorce.

But it wasn’t the end. Conway overcame the adversity IBM threw at her and worked as a computer architect at Memorex Corporation before moving to Xerox Palo Alto Research Centre. In the 70s and 80s she pioneered new VLSI technology that now underpins current microprocessor chip design.

Later in 1985, the University of Michigan hired her as a professor of computer science and electrical engineering and associate dean of its engineering school. She eventually retired in 1998 with the honorary title of professor emerita.

Now an 82-year-old trans activist, Conway has finally got the vindication she deserves after IBM apologised for its actions, having avoided the issue for decades.

“We deeply regret the hardship Lynn encountered,” the business giant told Forbes, admitting full responsibility for Conway’s firing all those years ago.

IMB agreed a formal resolution with Conway, and in early October the company emailed its employees an invitation to attend a virtual event titled “Tech Trailblazer and Transgender Pioneer Lynn Conway in conversation with Diane Gherson”, IBM’s senior vice president of human resources.

The event began with a heartfelt apology for Conway’s mistreatment, in front of 1,200 people.

“Diane delivered the apology with such grace, sincerity, and humility. Lynn was visibly moved,” said Anna Nguyen, a software engineer who attended the session. “I struggled to hold back tears.”

Conway was also awarded the rare IBM Lifetime Achievement Award, given to individuals who have changed the world through technology inventions.

But it pales in comparison to the long-awaited apology, which finally gave Conway closure to an event that shaped her life.

Beloved LGBTQ+ pioneer, Phyllis Lyon, dies of natural causes at 95 – Lesbian.com

Beloved LGBTQ+ pioneer, Phyllis Lyon, dies of natural causes at

Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon
Phyllis Lyon dedicated her life to LGBTQ+ equality and rights. She died today of natural causes at the age of 95.

She and her partner Del Martin (who passed away in 2008) met in the 1950s. In partnership, this indomitable pair fought for same-sex marriage. Lyon and Martin were the first couple married in California in 2008. Now-Governor Gavin Newsom officiated their wedding.

Gov. Newsom paid tribute on Twitter, posting “Phyllis and Del were the manifestation of love and devotion. Yet for over 50 years they were denied the right to say 2 extraordinary words: I do. / Phyllis—it was the honor of a lifetime to marry you & Del. Your courage changed the course of history./ Rest in Peace my dear friend.”

Kate Kendall, activist and former executive director of the National Center from Lesbian Rights, tweeted, “She and Del are dancing again.”

Tags: Phyllis Lyon

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