Internationally celebrated author, poet and activist Dr. Maya Angelou has died at age 86.
Angelou, a longtime civil rights pioneer, also publicly supported same-sex marriage during her lifetime. The New York Times reported that in 2009, Angelou placed three phone calls to New York state senators, including Senator Shirley L. Huntley, urging them to back marriage equality.
Angelou, who had a home in Manhattan's Harlem neighborhood, "felt compelled to speak out because she believes that legalizing same-sex marriage is a matter of social fairness — a subject that has been a theme of her writing," according to the Times' Jeremy W. Peters.
Peters' article continued:
“I would ask every man and every woman who’s had the blessing of having children, ‘Would you deny your son or your daughter the ecstasy of finding someone to love?’ ” she said.
Ms. Angelou said she believed that society made gay relationships hard enough without the added burden of making marriage illegal.
“To love someone takes a lot of courage,” she said. “So how much more is one challenged when the love is of the same sex and the laws say, ‘I forbid you from loving this person’?”
Meanwhile, the Human Rights Campaign's (HRC) President Chad Griffin responded to news of Angelou's passing in an email statement to HuffPost Gay Voices:
“I’ll never forget the first time I heard ‘On the Pulse of Morning’ in 1993. I was only 19 years old and still very much in the closet, but Maya Angelou’s greatest gift was the ability to reach each and every person with her wisdom, the beauty of her language, and her simple insistence upon a better and more just world."
“Angelou has said that there is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside of you. LGBT people know this truth well—and it is part of why so many in our community have looked to her as a hero for so long. For those of us whom Angelou inspired to tell our own stories and live our own truths, we will always miss her indispensible voice.”
Rest in peace, Maya Angelou.