Donor Profile: Beverly Dash and Debra Lobel

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“While playing bridge with two friends, our artist friend Albert Sharp said he would love to do a portrait of the two of us,” says Beverly, at right in both the photo and the portrait, with Deb.

“Keep fighting everything that is wrong”

BEVERLY DASH AND DEBRA LOBEL HAVE KNOWN EACH OTHER AND BEEN TOGETHER FOR ALMOST SIX DECADES. Although they were born and raised in Philadelphia in Jewish neighborhoods on opposite sides of the city, their paths did not cross until college. Growing up, they were unaware of any LGBT communities in Philadelphia. After leaving Philadelphia they became comfortable with their identities and realized how much collective power such a community could have. “We think it is wonderful that today’s youngsters have the internet to be able to fi nd others and know that they are not alone,” says Debra.

Both were apprehensive about the nature of their relationship during the late 1950s, so their romantic dynamic was slow to develop. “It had gone from being a signifi cant friendship to so much more but we still had to pretend we were straight,” Beverly says. During a time when homosexuality was still in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, and men could get arrested simply for dancing with someone of the same sex, they had to navigate through cultural expectations and multiple hurdles especially in their teaching careers.

Their move to Westchester, New York in 1964 came with new teaching jobs. “I have taught transgender and gay kids, and I have had some of them contact me through Facebook as adults,” says Debra. Both women stress how important it was to both of them to allow their students to be themselves and to support their students’ individual identities.

Beverly and Debra were introduced to Lambda Legal by a lawyer friend in the mid-1970s. About the same time, Debra began to attend law school at night while teaching full time. As the gay community became aware of the AIDS epidemic, there was an urgency to mobilize. One of the first cases that Debra handled as an attorney was the estate of someone who had died of AIDS in the early 1980s. It was a devastating time for Debra and Beverly as their community was ravaged.

“Starting in the mid 1970s, the attorneys at Lambda Legal have been breaking ground because they have been fighting in state and federal courts to protect the rights of the LGBT community,” Debra says. “I thought that it was wonderful and the only place it was going to happen because we knew it was not going to happen in any legislature.”

“Even today we have to be involved to protect young gay kids and keep fi ghting everything that is wrong,” Debra adds. “We were raised to give back and try to leave the world a better place than we found it.”

Beverly and Debra having been together through sickness and health. They married on September 3, 2010, on what they consider their 52nd anniversary. They have been committed to Lambda Legal since the mid-1970s. The fund they started decades ago instructs their successor trustees to follow their lead and continue to support Lambda Legal and other LGBT causes.

Stand strong next to Beverly and Debra and make a planned gift to Lambda Legal. Leaving a legacy gift to Lambda Legal could be one of the most important decisions you make toward protecting yourself, your family and our community. An investment in equality ensures that Lambda Legal will always be there to safeguard the rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgender people and everyone living with HIV, while solidifying our future together.

Join Lambda Legal's Justice Fund with a monthly gift starting at $10. lambdalegal.org/donate