Passing: Allan Spear 1937-2008

How fitting that Minnesota’s preeminent gay political figure, Senator Allan Spear, passed away October 11—National Coming Out Day—for his courageous coming out 32 years ago paved the way for subsequent openly GLBT elected officials nationwide.

Allan Spear. Photo by Sophia Hantzes

Born June 24, 1937, Spear received his doctorate degree from Yale University. He was Professor of History at the University of Minnesota for three-and-a-half decades until his retirement in 2000.

In 1972, Spear first was elected to the Minnesota Senate. When he came out in 1974, he was only the second openly gay state legislator ever in the United States. From 1993 until 2000, he was President of the Minnesota Senate.

US Representative Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin said, “In Senator Allan Spear’s passing, I have lost a mentor. Allan encouraged countless individuals to enter the political arena, and use their talents to confront the challenges of the day. He was particularly inspirational to those of us who, like Allan, are a part of the LGBT community. Allan was among the first in our nation’s history to come out in office, blazing a path that many others could follow.”

Spear is survived by his life partner of many years, Junjiro Tsuji.

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