Our founder, owner, editor-in-chief (and chief Falls Church City Council correspondent) Nicholas F. Benton was honored to be asked by Falls Church Mayor David Tarter to accept the mayor’s signed proclamation issued this week that “the month of June 2022 is proclaimed as Pride Month in the City of Falls Church.” The statement, as read by Council member Marybeth Connelly and on behalf of the whole City Council, “urges all residents to respect and honor our diverse community and celebrate and build a culture of inclusiveness and acceptance.”
“The City of Falls Church is proud of the meaningful, long-lasting impacts that LGBTQ+ people have made and the contributions they have brought to the City’s rich and diverse culture,” the proclamation states, adding, “The City of Falls Church remains committed to treating all people with fairness and respect and to creating a community where everyone can live without fear of prejudice, discrimination, violence or hatred based on gender identity or sexual orientation…(It) recognizes that the inherent dignity and equal and inalienble rights of all people (that are) the foundation of freedom, justice and peace.”
Benton accepted the signed declaration as currently the City’s lone high profile “out” gay activist. Benton was a “gay pioneer” who played a big role in the launching of the modern movement in the early 1970s as he chronicled in his recent books, “Gay Men in the Feminist Revolution: Articles, Pamphlets and Reflections on My Gay Activist Days in San Francisco, 1969-1972” (BCI Books, Falls Church, 2019).
Benton brought his social justice commitment to Falls Church when he moved in the fall of 1985. He founded the News-Press in 1991 and there have now been over 1,600 consecutive weekly editions that have, in the words of Rep. Don Beyer, “served as the glue” to hold together and advance the best interests of the community.
On the LGBTQ+ front here, his newspaper (1) editorially supported the decision by the student board of the local high school’s Lasso newspaper to run an ad, highly controversial at the time, for the pro-LGBTQ+ SMYAL (Sexual Minority Youth Advocacy League) in 1993, (2) was host to a weekly column by pro-LGBTQ+ activist Wayne Besen for a half dozen years in the early 2000s, (3) sponsored a forum featuring gay pioneers Frank Kameny and Lilli Vincenz at Stacy’s Coffee Shop in 2001, (4) co-sponsored a forum at the historic Falls Church Episcopal in 2019 on the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots in conjunction with the Falls Church Social Justice Committee of the Tinner Hill Founation, the (5) ran many pro-LGBTQ+ editorials by Benton and, on its website, Benton’s 100-part column series, “Nick Benton’s Gay Science” that subsequently were published in his book, “Extraordinary Hearts, Reclaiming Gay Sensibility’s Central Role in the Progress of Civilization” (Lethe Press, Philadelphia, 2013).
Benton was honored by Equality Virginia as an “OUTstanding Virginian” in 2012 and by the D.C Pride organization as its “Hero of Pride” in 2014.