Vincent Matthew Rutherford was born in Miami, Fl. In 1964. He was a gay teen in the late 70’s through the 80’s and as such he came of age witnessing his friends die of Aids, get beaten to death for being gay, turned out on the street by their families who disowned them. His first hand experiences forged a strong desire to help not only those gay victims of ignorance and hate but also to bring awareness to the community at large. He was driven by this strong urge to bring about change and equality.
There were not many places for gay men to safely meet to socialize in South Florida at that time. Vincent participated in the first Gay Games in the 1970’s at the Blue Marlin in Ft. Lauderdale, Fl. and, as a young man, he worked as a bartender at Uncle Charlie’s bar, both places where gay men could meet and socialize.
With his easy going personality and his need to help, Vincent became a mentor to many young men during his life. He was someone who was easy to talk to, who understood the tragedies many of them had suffered and he helped many of them to just carry on, to survive the times.
His early experiences forged a strong desire to help the community to change the perspective of people to see the equality and humanity of ALL people, with a focused eye on the Gay members of the community. He always focused on the youth and their need to be accepted and have a safe space to meet and share socially. As he grew older, he began to realize that there was now a need for those who were aging, without close friends or family and he also wanted to start a home for aging gay men.
When he moved to Huntsville Al. in 2007, he found a small group of like minded friends and helped to create a platform for action. This group held the first ever “Gay Pride Parade” in Huntsville. He felt strongly that it should be called a Gay Pride March, because as he said “We’re still Marching for equal rights” until all LGBTQ+ people are accepted “as they are, for who they are.”
Sadly, Vincent passed away in April 2017 from cancer and he was unable to continue with his work toward those goals but his spirit remains always with us reminding us “we are still marching.” After looking at the many strides he made within the Huntsville CommUNITY (“CommUNITY” was also started with Vincent) we wanted to continue to lead our March with the memory of him and how much he loved our CommUNITY by naming the “Parade” The Vincent Rutherford Equality March.