The passion of Mina Meyer, lesbian and AIDS activist
In the wake of World AIDS Day 2016, we decided to remember Mina Meyer, a lesbian activist who tackled not only issues involving LGBT rights but also the treatment of AIDS patients.
The 76-year old Mina died last June 29 in Long Beach, California, leaving her long-time partner and wife Sharon Raphael.
Mina also left a legacy in the AIDS Hospice Foundation, which later became the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF).
Mina Meyer: A life and love of activism
Born in 1940, Mina grew up in Cleveland Heights, Ohio but moved out to Los Angeles in 1963.
While there, she connected once more with a childhood friend, Sharon, in 1971 during a brunch in Hermosa Beach. They started dating and were inseparable since then, legally marrying in 2008.
“Mina was the love of my life. I am a better person for joining with her in marriage, and before that in partnership both in love and in our life-long battle for justice for all people,” Sharon said.
Together, the two became dedicated LGBT activists, becoming leaders at the Gay Women’s Services Center. This center offered lesbians legal services, support groups, and shelter in LA.
Mina likewise established the first lesbian medical clinic at the Gay Community Services Center, which would later become the Los Angeles LGBT Center.
Later on, the couple formed the National Association of Lesbian and Gay Gerontology. This group merged with the American Society on Aging in 1994.
Mina Meyer: Activism for AIDS care
With close friend Michael Weinstein, the couple helped in the creation of the AIDS Hospice Foundation in the mid-1980s. This foundation provided quality, humane hospice care for patients who were terminally ill with AIDS but had nowhere else to go to die.
The three fought numerous court battles with the LA County government to set up the first hospice facility in LA County. From 1988 to 1996, the hospice helped almost 1,200 AIDS patients die with dignity.
“We had to get the county supervisors to pay attention [to AIDS]. We had to get the powers that be to pay attention, and all the governmental folks to pay attention to us,” Mina said in an interview.
“We didn’t have any money. We had to get all the people to pay attention to us to be able to show the needs for all the people who had AIDS,” she added.
Michael, who is now the AHF president, said Mina was “an irreplaceable treasure.”
“She supported me every step of the way over our 44-year friendship, and played a critical role in creating the AHF movement,” Michael said.