Why Ellen Sturtz, the Lesbian Activist, Heckled Michelle Obama

Ellen Sturtz, the GetEQUAL activist who heckled Michelle Obama at a fundraiser early this week and made international headlines, defends her actions today in a WaPo opinion piece.

SturtzWrites Sturtz:

As a gray-haired, 56-year-old lesbian, I don’t have time to wait another generation for equality — it’s been almost 40 years since similar legislation to ENDA was first introduced in Congress. And being polite hasn’t gotten us any closer to it becoming a reality.

Sturtz says her comments were a spontaneous reaction to Obama's statement about standing up for kids because she thought about all the homeless LGBT youth on the streets who have nobody to speak for them.

Continues Sturtz:

For most of my life, I have been in one closet or another, as my “coming out” process took decades. I remained in the work closet the longest, as a public servant doing environmental and consumer protection work. In the mid-90s, in the final round of interviews for a position I was offered and accepted, I was asked why I was moving to the area. I lied and responded that I was moving to help take care of a “family member.” The interviewer seemed satisfied with the response, not wanting to pry further and assuming it was an elderly parent. In truth, it was my partner of seven years — who I felt I had to hide and whose humanity I felt ashamed to acknowledge.
After years of these lonely, isolating and dehumanizing experiences, I’ve only recently been able to find the strength to advocate for myself and millions of others.

ObamahecklerSturtz praises the First Lady but stands by her statements:

Mrs. Obama has accomplished extraordinary things and is inarguably the conscience of the White House. She understands injustice at a deep level, and it was that political conscience I was hoping to stir at this week’s fundraiser. Some have said it was disrespectful for a white woman to interrupt an African American woman, or for an activist to interrupt the first lady. All I can say is that in that moment, I could no longer remain silent while standing in front of one of our country’s most powerful political figures. I spoke up for the millions of LGBT Americans who have to make small and excruciating choices each day about the extent to which they are able to live safe and honest lives.

Read the full editorial here.