David Benjamin Mixner was born on August 16, 1946, near the town of Elmer in southern New Jersey. His father Ben worked on a corporate farm, and his mother Mary worked shifts at a local glass factory and later took a job as a bookkeeper for the local John Deere dealership. David has two older siblings, Patsy Mixner Annison and Melvin Mixner.
Mixner attended Daretown Elementary School, then Woodstown High School, where he got involved in the Civil Rights movement, by participating in picketing and sending his own money to Martin Luther King, Jr. In his bestselling memoir, Stranger Among Friends, Mixner explains that his parents were “livid” over his involvement in the Civil Rights movement, claiming his activism embarrassed them. When Mixner told them he wanted to go south during the summer of 1963 after following the events in Birmingham, Alabama, his parents forbade him.
1982 - MECLA Reception with Peter Scott, David Quarles, David Mixner and Governor Jerry Brown
David Mixner is a civil rights activist and best-selling author. He is best known for his work in anti-war and gay rights advocacy. Shortly after Mixner experienced professional success in 1985, helping defeat Proposition 64, a ballot initiative proposed by Lyndon LaRouche that would require quarantining people with AIDS, Mixner learned that his long-time lover, since 1976, and business partner, Peter Scott, had AIDS. Scott would fight the disease for four years; he died on May 13, 1989.
In the fall of 1964, Mixner enrolled at Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona, where he soon became heavily involved in civil rights and anti-war activism, including helping to organize protests against a speech by General William Westmoreland. Prompted by an article he read in The Arizona Republic about city garbage workers who were seeking the right to unionize, in the fall of 1966, Mixner organized from start to finish the first of many protests he would organize over the next thirty years. Mixner rallied hundreds of workers, students and professors and led a march on City Hall. Although the city successfully broke the strike, the workers eventually earned the right to unionize.
Mixner also experienced his first same-sex relationship at ASU, with a man whom he refers to as Kit in his memoirs. A year into their relationship, Kit was killed in an automobile accident. Mixner did not attend the funeral, and Kit’s parents never discovered that their son was gay.
Soon after Kit’s death, Mixner decided to transfer to the University of Maryland in order to be closer to Washington, D.C., where he would be able to get more involved in anti-war protests.
Mixner found himself much more interested in activism than in pursuing a college degree. While at Maryland, Mixner was a grassroots organizer for the 1967 march on the Pentagon, which was later captured in Norman Mailer’s Armies of the Night.
In 1976, Mixner began the process of coming out of the closet, and soon thereafter was a founding member of the Municipal Elections Committee of Los Angeles (MECLA), the nation’s first gay and lesbian Political Action Committee. At the time, very few candidates were willing to accept donations from openly gay individuals or gay-affiliated organizations. At the time, Mixner was also serving as the campaign manager for Tom Bradley, the mayor of Los Angeles who was seeking reelection, so while he worked to raise funds for MECLA, his involvement was kept secret because of the potential for his sexuality to become an issue in Bradley’s campaign.
In Los Angeles, he soon met the man who was to become his lover and business partner, Peter Scott, a handsome politically savvy businessman.
Soon after Bradley won reelection easily, Mixner turned his focus to fighting Proposition 6, an initiative placed on the California ballot by Orange County State Senator John Briggs that would make it illegal for gays and lesbians to be schoolteachers. Similar initiatives had recently passed throughout the country when Mixner turned his focus to fighting Proposition 6, creating the “NO on 6” organization to fight it; through the process, he would publicly come out of the closet. Mixner and his lover Peter Scott secured a meeting with then-Governor Ronald Reagan, whom they convinced to oppose the initiative publicly. As a result, and through the work of Mixner, Scott, legendary gay rights activist and San Francisco City Councilman Harvey Milk, and others, Proposition 6 was defeated by over a million votes, the first ballot initiative of its sort to be shot down.
As a result of this huge success, Mixner and Scott experienced a huge upturn in business for their fledgling political consulting firm, Mixner/Scott, and were asked by Bill Clinton, then running for governor of Arkansas, to host a reception for Clinton at their Los Angeles home.
Four years after a fundraiser for the Dukakis campaign told Mixner that Governor Dukakis would not accept the million dollars Mixner and his friends planned to raise for him, Mixner found hope in the candidacy of his old friend, Bill Clinton. After Clinton promised Mixner that he would support both an end to the ban on gays in the military and increased funds to find a cure for AIDS, Mixner began raising money for Clinton enthusiastically. Mickey Kantor, Clinton’s campaign chairman, soon asked Mixner to join the National Executive Committee of the Clinton for President campaign, the first openly gay person to become a public face of a presidential campaign.
After Clinton was elected, Mixner helped with the transition team, though he publicly declared that he would not seek an appointment with the new administration. Although he spoke at an event at the inaugural ball, introduced by his old friend Ted Kennedy, Mixner soon thrust himself in the middle of the furor over the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy proposed by Clinton, which represented a total betrayal to Mixner and many in the gay community.
When Mixner went on Nightline to complain about Clinton’s rapid shift away from allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military, his calls to the White House stopped being returned and his consulting business began to tank, as he was no longer perceived as someone who had influence with the new administration.
Shortly thereafter, Mixner participated in a march in Washington for the Campaign for Military Service, which advocated lifting the bans on gays in the military. When Clinton announced the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy on July 19, 1993, Mixner organized a march with CMS and was very publicly arrested outside the White House, for which he received a great deal of publicity because of his personal relationship with Clinton. Mixner and Clinton later healed the rift, but Clinton never again revisited the policy during his Presidency.
David is the bestselling author of Stranger Among Friends, an autobiography published in 1996, and Brave Journeys: Profiles in Gay and Lesbian Courage, published in 2001.
On November 3, 2005, the Yale University Library officially created the David Benjamin Mixner collection, which houses his personal collection of books, papers, films and other materials relating to his involvement in civil rights issues.
In 2006, Mixner moved to Turkey Hollow in Sullivan County, New York, where he lived in a bright yellow house with his two cats, Sheba and Uganda. In 2009, Mixner moved to Hell's Kitchen in New York City. He posts blog entries daily on his website, davidmixner.com. His home was featured in the Real Estate section of the New York Times in an article entitled, "Do Ask, Do Tell." David is the keynote speaker for the Empire State Pride Agenda's 2007 fall dinner. In 2009, Mixner moved back to New York City, where he currently resides near Times Square.
In October 2008, Prime Minister Gordon Brown and his wife Sarah Brown honored Mixner with a luncheon at 10 Downing Street. The luncheon in Mixner's honor represented the first time a British Prime Minister honored an LGBT activist in this manor.
Also in October 2008, Mixner was invited to debate American politics by the Oxford Union, Britain's second oldest university union.
Mixner was featured in Ask Not, a 2008 documentary film about the "don't ask, don't tell" policy.
In May 2009, Mixner used his blog to call for a March on Washington to protest the LGBT community's lack of equal rights. Cleve Jones, spurred by Mixner's call to march, led the organizational efforts for the National Equality March, scheduled for October 10–11, 2009. Mixner and Jones both will be featured speakers at a rally in front of the Capitol after the March. Over 200,000 people marched on Washington on October 11, 2009.
Mixner was honored by the Point Foundation (LGBT), an organization that provides college scholarships to LGBT students, with its Legend Award at the foundation's 2009 Honors Gala in New York City. The award was presented to Mixner by Victoria Reggie Kennedy, the widow of Ted Kennedy.
In 2011, the Theater at Dixon Place announced a one man show starring Mixner, From the Front porch. The show is a benefit for Dixon Place and the Ali Forney Center, an organization benefitting LGBT homeless youth.
Mixner released a memoir of his time in Turkey Hollow, At Home with Myself: Stories from the Hills of Turkey Hollow, in September 2011. The memoir is published by Magnus Books.
At Home with Myself: Stories from the Hills of Turkey Hollow by David Mixner
Hardcover: 175 pages
Publisher: Magnus Books; 1 edition (November 1, 2011)
Amazon: At Home with Myself: Stories from the Hills of Turkey Hollow
Bestselling author and renowned presidential campaign adviser (Bill Clinton, Dick Gephardt, Jerry Brown, Gary Hart) David Mixner returns with his first book in 10 years. In At Home with Myself, Mixner writes from and about his country home in Turkey Hollow, an upstate New York town so small and remote that it has just 10 residents, there's no cable TV, the nearest airport is a three hour drive, and deer and bear are his closest neighbors. However, these bucolic surroundings provide an ideal setting for observation and reflection.
Drawing on his considerable talents as a storyteller in the tradition on Garrison Keillor and Will Rogers, Mixner chronicles his return to nature at the age of 60. No longer willing to do the things young people do and having lost most of his closet friends to AIDS, he felt out of place in the big cities and "gay mecccas" that had been his home all his adult life. So he chose a mountainside home as a retreat from the busy world, a place of meditation on the small, daily wonders of pastoral life, including the beauty of nature and its constant evolution. Observing the arrival of spring's new blossoms or the sudden appearance of new born animals (while speaking to life's daily events) Mixner writes as Thoreau might have had he been gay.
However, At Home with Myself is also a look back on an illustrious 40 year career of protest and politics, including his involvement and leadership in the civil rights movement, the peace movement, the gay and lesbian rights movement, and high-powered presidential politics. In looking at both his--and America's--past and present, Mixner bridges today's world of openly gay elected officials and an African American US president that he and countless other activists fought to build over the past half century and the difficult but exhilarating road traveled to get here.
Brave Journeys: Profiles in Gay and Lesbian Courage by David Mixner & Dennis Bailey
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Bantam (May 1, 2001)
Amazon: Brave Journeys: Profiles in Gay and Lesbian Courage
From a top-gun pilot in the U.S. Navy to an authority on antigay violence, from a member of the Clinton administration to a leading Shakespearean actor, Brave Journeys tells the stirring stories of seven intrepid men and women who effectively challenged the status quo and thereby altered the political and societal landscape of the world we live in.
David Mixner, author of Stranger Among Friends and himself a renowned activist, political adviser, and White House insider, presents a vivid account of seven heroes of the gay rights movement who put their careers and lives on the line in their quest for equality.
Written in collaboration with Dennis Bailey, Brave Journeys is David Mixner's eloquent tribute to gay men and lesbians who have made a difference. Rich in private bravery and public risk, these profiles comprise a vivid map of the gay rights movement over the last fifty years -- and individually they testify to the power of courage to force change against profoundly overwhelming odds.
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