Eldon Murray (1930-2007) was a nationally-recognized figure in the gay rights movement. Murray was born and raised in Vincennes, Indiana. He relocated to Chicago at age 18 and later served in the Korean War. He settled in Milwaukee in 1955, where he began a career as a stockbroker.
Murray’s local activism began in 1969, after the 1969 Stonewall Riots in New York City brought national attention to the issue of gay and lesbian rights. He was among the founding members of the Gay People’s Union (GPU), which launched the GPU News in 1971. The GPU News grew into a national publication, one of the first of its kind. Murray served as the magazine’s editor until 1980. Murray also hosted “Gay Perspectives,” one of the first regularly broadcast gay radio programs. The half-hour program ran from 1971 to 1972.
In 1974, Murray worked to open the GPU Venereal Disease Clinic, which continues to operate as the Brady East STD (BESTD) Clinic. The clinic was the first gay men’s STD treatment center in the country. When the AIDS epidemic hit Milwaukee in the early 1980s, Murray wrote the first grants for what would become the Milwaukee AIDS Project, known later as the AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin.
In his later years, Murray worked as an advocate for gay senior citizens, founding SAGE (Senior Action in a Gay Environment) Milwaukee. Among the many honors bestowed upon Murray were induction in the Milwaukee County Committee on Aging’s Senior Citizens Hall of Fame, recognition by the International Gay and Lesbian Archives as one of 32 pioneers of the movement, and Milwaukee Pridefest’s Lifetime Achievement Award.
- ^ “Eldon Murray Biography,” Wisconsin LGBT History Project, accessed August 28, 2014.
- ^ Amy Rabideau Silvers, “Murray Led Early Efforts for Gay Rights,” Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, March 25, 2007, accessed August 28, 2014, http://www.jsonline.com/news/milwaukee/29450534.html.
- ^ “Eldon Murray,” WI Light, May 19-25, 1999, p. 9.
- ^ Bill Meunier, “Eldon Murray: A Senior Citizen in the Halls of Fame,” Gay Today website, accessed August 28, 2014.
- ^ Jamakaya, “Eldon Murray Named to Senior Citizen Hall of Fame,” In Step News, accessed August 28, 2014. Many sources list the GPU News as having launched in 1970. This date, however, refers to a mimeographed newsletter Take Heed, which was the predecessor of the GPU News. See “GPU Publishes New Newspaper,” GPU News, October 1971, p. 1. Also, per “Eldon Murray Biography,” Murray used the pen name “Sam Edwards” while writing for the GPU News. There are conflicting sources on when Murray stopped edited the GPU News. Most sources say he left in 1980. However, the Biographical information on the page for his paper (see note 6) says 1981.
- ^ “Murray Led Early Efforts for Gay Rights,” Eldon Murray Papers: 1938-2007 finding aid, Biography section, Archival Resources in Wisconsin, accessed August 28, 2014.
- ^ “Murray Led Early Efforts for Gay Rights,” “Clinic History,” BESTD website, accessed August 28, 2014.
- ^ “Murray Led Early Efforts for Gay Rights.”
- ^ “Eldon Murray Biography.”
- ^ “Eldon Murray Biography.” Most sources list there being 32 “pioneers” honored, Murray included. The WI Light article (see note 3), however, mentions him being one of 31 such honorees.
For Further Reading
“Eldon Murray Biography.” Wisconsin LGBT History Project. 2014, last accessed August 17, 2017.