Tonight, February 15, I learned that my old friend Mary Ann Mancini has died. Mary Ann was one of the early 2SLGBTQ+ activists and her contribution to the movement was immense. She protested outside CBC building in the 1970’s when they refused to air community announcements regarding 2SLGBTQ issues.
I had the pleasure of knowing Mary Ann when I first arrived in Halifax in the early 1980’s. She ran a boarding house on Creighton and also on James Street where folks would come to stay, especially those who had no home or family support. Mary Ann also was a friend of Bill W, having maintained constant sobriety and clean time for over 30 years. In fact, she and Joanne 12 stepped me 30 years ago. Mary Ann and I become good friends and participated in many a gay old time events, protesting, hosting, helping and she also worked at Rumours for a while.
Mary Ann was one of the first marchers in the APPLE (Atlantic Provinces Political Lesbians for Equality) conference in the 1970’s. I remember once we were on a panel discussion about Gay 12 Step Groups (the groups were not really welcomed in 12 step programs but more or less tolerated) when we were called upon to do a 12 step call for a gay man who reached out for help. Just by doing this, Mary Ann helped changed the attitude towards gay 12 step meetings.
I also remember Mary Ann was on the phone list for Halifax police who would call her to help talk to desperate Gays/Lesbians who would try to jump off the MacDonald bridge. Many a night, Mary Ann would talk a gay man off the bridge and take him home to recover. She always had a pot of beef stroganoff plus cigarettes at her home and would proudly show everyone the Gay Tartan that one of her boarders created while going to NSCAD.
Mary Ann was also very sex positive, never judging when one of her boarders had a huge collection of gay porn magazines or when she decided to help a leather fetish magazine by acting as it advertising salesperson. Later on, Mary Ann decided to go back to school and learned how to be a machinist, a trade not a lot of women went into.
It is too bad that the local 2SLGBTQ+ community never got the chance to honour Mary Ann by making her a grand marshall in the Halifax Pride Parade or nominate her for the Order of Nova Scotia.
I will forever be grateful for Mary Ann and the sacrifices she made in working towards equality for 2SLGBTQ+.
Originally a Facebook post, this tribute is re-posted here with Mr. Tuma Young’s kind permission.
Mary Ann’s obituary in the Chronicle Herald mentions that a celebration of her life will take place this Friday February 22, 1-4 p.m. in the Bedford Legion, Bedford.
See also: Weekend Video: Halifax Pride March 1989
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