We can set a vision for ourselves ... We don't have to wait for anybody else to do it for us.'
“When the Eagle opened, there was nothing comparable in the city ... It started club traditions that have spread across the country.”
“When [Brother, Help Thyself] started, there were no funding mechanisms for these groups. We saw a need and filled it ... Part of the reason I'm still there is because I enjoy what I'm doing. It's about stepping up to the plate and raising money.”
Larry Stansbury has worn many different 'hats' in DC's gay community: health educator, manager of the Eagle, stalwart of the leather community and gay motorcycle club scene, Pride organizer, and the energetic director of DC's gay community foundation, Brother, Help Thyself (BHT). Working long days and nights for the community he has seemed indefatigable and is representative of the leather community's tradition of community support. He has played a large part in helping fledgling community groups to organize and thrive.
Before settling here, Larry Stansbury was a frequent visitor because of his involvement in the Centaurs motorcycle club. He later became a member of the Spartans. In Richmond, his home, he had been a gay activist, a DJ, a bouncer, and worked in club administration. He began working at the Eagle in DC in 1977 while still living in Richmond. He recalls that when the Eagle opened there wasn't anything comparable in DC. Don Bruce wanted a home for the leathermen and bikers.
Six months after starting at the Eagle he was made comptroller. He later became manager of the club. He recalls that Bruce believed no one should be home alone at the holidays: the Eagle offered a Thanksgiving dinner and a Christmas Eve dinner to all comers each year.
From Brother, Help Thyself's first days, Stansbury was involved with fundraising and organizing events. He has seen the foundation grow from a $2000 a year organization to one making over $2 million in grants. He has worked for BHT for over a quarter century, retiring as Executive Director in 2006, beginning as the Spartan's representative.
His day job in the health community gave him contacts and backgrounds that served him well during the worst of the AIDS epidemic. He served on the Alexandria (VA) Task Force on AIDS until early 1993.
Stansbury's involvement with producing annual Pride celebrations began in the 70s and continued for thirty more years. He has organized security and events for Pride throughout its long history and has long been seen behind the scenes ensuring that all goes smoothly.
Resources on Larry Stansbury:
Oral history in the Rainbow History collection (contact Rainbow History)