Cerritos College
Cerritos College • Norwalk, Calif.

Talon Marks

Cerritos College • Norwalk, Calif.

Talon Marks

Cerritos College • Norwalk, Calif.

Talon Marks

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The story of an activist and professor

Ethan Ortiz
Professor Diane Pirtle hosted an activism presentation in which she told her stories as an activist. She explained the different organizations she was involved in. Photo credit: Ethan Ortiz

Fighting for what you believe in is something Sociology Professor Diane Pirtle knows all about.

The professor hosted a presentation called My life as an activist: How to use your talents effectively! about her years prior to becoming a teacher as part of the Women’s History Month Celebration.

The event was held on Thursday, March 31 at 11 a.m. in the Social Science Building where a packed audience filled the classroom beyond capacity.

Sociology major Linda Sanchez spoke about being inspired by Pirtle from a board of trustees meeting that she spoke about faculty wages. “The passion that she has for the human being (is inspiring),” Linda Sanchez, said.

Pirtle, who is known for her passion, delivered to the crowd with her stories filled with emotion and dedication.

She began by giving a background on why she was so passionate for defending her beliefs.

She discussed living with two gay men in the early nineties before one of them got the AIDS virus and got extremely ill, before he passed.

“Once he passed many funeral homes refused to take him away because they lived in a “gay zip code”.

“Finally a gay owned mortuary took him in, but it took two days for them to pick him up,” she said.

She explained so many gay men were dying from the disease that the mortuary had a list of people to take away.

She revealed she joined gay rights organizations after her friend’s passing.

“I wasn’t going to get AIDS, so I didn’t have to join,” she said.

She explained it was something she wanted to do, after having to change her friend to the clothes he wanted to be found in.

“The activism came from my heart, because my friends were dying,” she said.

Some of the organizations she joined were “A.C.T. U.P.” (AIDS Coalition to Uphold Power) and the “Woman’s Action Coalition”

As part of those organizations she went from going to Chicago and almost getting arrested before she was saved by her fellow activists, to being in charge of stopping the Rose Parade in 1992.

She went into detail saying she was in charge of about 15-20 people that were expecting to get arrested, and then going to get them released when they were in jail.

The first gay pride parade really brought sadness to Pirtle, in response to the religious protesters that attended.

“We were being spat at […], and the heartbreaking part was seeing children holding signs saying derogatory remarks against homosexuals,” she said.

After several stories told, she took questions, with many people asking what they could do to have their voices heard.

One thing she is against is violence, “violence is never necessary”, she said.

Although she felt everyone had a voice to write a letter to a congressmen, and she stated that no one has to be in the streets to be an activist.

“You guys will take action when you feel the consequences for not taking action,” she ended.

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About the Contributor
Ethan Ortiz, Editor in Chief
Hi! My name is Ethan and I am serving as the Editor-In-Chief for the Fall 2016 semester. I am a journalism major and love to write stories for the newspaper. In addition to writing hard hitting news, I like to create fictional stories on the side. I am co-hosting a radio show on WPMD at Cerritos College called "Beyond the Ropes" happening Wednesday at 11am. I like to listen different music, mostly Rock/Alternative and some of my favorite bands are Silversun Pickups, Cage the Elephant, and Metallica. If you want to know more about me feel free to tweet me at @EthanEnvy95.
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The story of an activist and professor