Lenore Martin (she/her)

  • Associate Professor
  • Cell and Molecular Biology
  • Email: martin@uri.edu

Identity: Lesbian

What motivates you to be visible on campus?

I came fully out as an undergraduate at Northwestern University near Chicago, Illinois, where I grew up. I made some of my best friends and was glad to serve the community as co-chair of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance of NU for 3 years in the early 1980’s at a time of real hostility to LGBT students and faculty on campus. We had a wonderful faculty sponsor in the Philosophy department who was an openly gay man who served as a strong role model for us students. Many exciting things were going on, such as the establishment of the Howard Brown Memorial clinic, where many of us participated in clinical trials of the hepatitis B vaccine. We had great parties and dances and “teach-ins” for the entire campus to help dispel fears many students had of being friends with LGBT students and to learn about LGBT his-her-story in America and to fight anti-gay science and agitate for civil rights for LGBT folks on campus and in the surrounding community. We also sponsored/participated in lecture series, hosting Armistad Maupin and one of the “Lesbian Nuns Breaking silence” authors on campus. We worked together with local and national political groups to educate and sensitize the Evanston and Chicago police about complaints from the LGBT community.

When I came to URI with my spouse in 1994 we joined the anti-homophobia committee on campus and met with student LGBT leaders and tried to be available to students who needed advice and support, even though we had no health insurance for my partner for many years. I really “came out” at URI when I got pregnant about when I was up for tenure in 2000, and raising our daughter who is now a student at URI. I have tried to volunteer to help out my communities whenever I can, but this has been a very stressful and busy 20 years! As my rabbi says “family first”!

I am completely stunned at the progress the LGBT community has made in securing basic human rights and becoming a valued part of the diversity on campuses in the USA. I hope foreign students will benefit from seeing what we have accomplished here and I enjoy learning about many different types of international LGBT communities through our international students. We were lucky to attend the 2nd Tokyo LGBT pride parade in 1998! On a sad note, I’d like to honor all the brave brothers who were my closest friends who died of the AIDS virus before there was a treatment. I and many of my lesbian friends have devoted our lives to scientific research in their honor.