Laurie McBride, a beloved LGBT+ leader who became a figurehead for the community during the HIV/AIDS crisis, has sadly passed away at the age of 71.
McBride died of a heart attack on Friday, 4 December, having suffered a stroke in October. She is survived by her wife of 35 years, Donna Yutzy.
The activist will be known to many through her work in defending the rights of HIV-positive people as co-chair of the Californian lobby group Mobilisation Against AIDS.
In 1986 and 1987 she led the successful grassroots campaigns “No on 69” and “No on 64”, bills which would quarantine HIV-positive people and limit their employment.
Together with law student John Duran – who later became mayor of West Hollywood – she drafted the groundbreaking “gay rights” bill, AB 101, which prohibited private employers from discriminating against employees because of their sexual orientation.
“Laurie was a lesbian warrior,” Duran told the Los Angeles Blade, remembering how they drove across California rallying the LGBT+ community to their cause.
“She fought for her brothers with AIDS. So many gay men alive today are deeply indebted to Laurie for saving their lives.
“My heart goes out to her wife Donna,” he added. “She was one of a kind, gentle and fierce at the same time.”
Donna Yutzy confirmed the sad news on Facebook, saying that Laurie had left her “for a new adventure beyond the stars”.
“She was so proud of the culture-changing accomplishments you all worked on together and I know she cherished her friendship with each and every one of you,” she said.
Those wishing to make a donation in her honour are directed to the scholarship programme that was established in McBride’s name at Sacramento State University.
“This scholarship has paid for the tuition of a number of young people to help them on the road to making the world a better place,” Yutzy said.
“She was the light of my life for 35 years and I will hold every single minute of those memories in my heart forever. We will have a big celebration of Laurie’s life in Sacramento post-COVID. I was proud to be Laurie McBride’s wife.”