Born in Westerly, RI — Israel David Fishman conceived of and organized the Task Force on Gay Liberation in the American Library Association in 1970. The first professional organization in the U.S. to formally organize to protect rights and promote awareness of gays and lesbians, the Taskforce’s earliest public criticisms of the Library of Congress’s treatment of gay and lesbian subjects literally changed the way we intellectually categorized and therefore understood LGBTQ people and subjects. Fishman was born in 1938 in Westerly, Rhode Island. His father, Benjamin Fishman, was an Orthodox Rabbi and his family ran a fruit store. At 8 years old, Fishman entered Yeshiva Torah Vodaath in Williamsburg, New York. At 15 years old he was hospitalized and treated with electric shock therapy.
“How can you be queer and Jewish orthodox? I have studied too much Talmud to be able to accept the fact that somebody is orthodox and queer at the same time. Can’t be! In order to match my sanity and my selfhood I had to leave. I had to rebel. I had to throw everything away.” –Israel David Fishman