Stonewall Speakers, a program of the Connecticut Stonewall Foundation, Inc., is an all volunteer speakers bureau comprised of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender people and their allies.
The organization was originally named ‘Speak! Out!’ and was the creation of the Anti-Violence Project (AVP) of 1988. AVP organized during the hearings for two Hartford area high school students who brutally beat and killed 33 year old, Richard Reihl, a gay man from Wethersfield who was employed by the Aetna Insurance Company.
The boys were sentenced to 30 and 40 years for enacting a murder due to unreasoned fear, hatred and non-acceptance of difference. For this the families and friends of Richard Reihl and the boys suffered needless loss.
AVP recognized the urgent need for a preventive educational program for schools: one that might help to dispel the myths and stereotypes that hurt LGBT people. This program would provide youth an opportunity to: meet LGBT people and their allies in person to hear personal accounts of their lives and obtain informed answers to any questions they might want to ask.
“Speak! Out!” later changed its name to “Stonewall Speakers.” The choice of “Stonewall” in the organization’s name is a tribute to the historical Stonewall Rebellion of June 1969 at the Stonewall Inn in New York City’s Greenwich Village, which is recognized as the start of the Gay Rights movement in the United States.