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February 10, 2014 08:59am
A Tribute to Gloria Leonard
Source: Adult Industry News
by: Rich Moreland

Gloria Leonard Gloria Leonard, President of the Free Speech Coalition, 1998-2001 - By Rich Moreland

When I learned of Gloria Leonardís passing, I was unsure about writing a tribute. I only knew her for a short time and I figured that others, lifelong friends, would have much more to say about her life and achievements.

And so they have.

Yet I felt the need to print something about this powerful and compassionate woman so I filtered through my recollections of her for a little guidance.

The first time I interviewed Gloria Leonard I was a newbie to porn history. During that conversation, I mentioned a source who wrote that she was fired as President of the Free Speech Coalition (FSC).

"Iíve never gotten fired from any job in my life!" Gloriaís voice rose with annoyance.

That was my first Gloria Leonard lesson and I never forgot it. The memory of her remark stuck with me because the Gloria I cherished was a political animal who could speak her mind with laser accuracy.

Others remember how Gloria debated anti-porn feminists on talk shows and college campuses. She once told me her ability to string together words in a meaningful way thrust her into the limelight. Thatís modesty, because her words carried clout.

But in thinking about this tribute, I kept returning to the FSC and Gloriaís leadership in a time of crisis.

So in remembrance, I salute Gloria Leonard, President of the Free Speech Coalition, 1998-2001.

Gloria was politically active within the industry having been President of the Adult Film Association of America (AFAA), an organization founded in 1969 primarily to battle obscenity charges and censorship laws.

By the late 1980s the AFAA morphed into the Adult Video Association (Gloria was its administrative director into the early 1990s) and eventually joined with the Free Speech Legal Defense Fund (organized in 1991) to create todayís Free Speech Coalition.

Gloria was there to guide the industry through the first significant HIV outbreak among hetero performers. In response to this 1998 crisis she called a meeting of industry personnel at the Sportsmenís Lodge in the Valley. Expecting around fifty, over two hundred showed. Gloria was prepared to deliver a heavy dose of reality.

In addressing the group, Gloria advocated condom use in filming (her pal Candida Royalle was already on board with her company). Eventually a blood testing protocol to provide a layer of security for talent would be formulated.

At the time, her message was not totally heeded, trumped by financial concerns. Gloria later wrote in the Free Speaker, "When all is said and done, however, HIV is not just another business issue: Itís a life and death issue."

Though she knew her views would not be welcomed by all, she understood the right words at the right moment.

"So while I certainly didnít set out to create controversy, a fire has indeed been lit," Gloria records in her 1998 letter to the industry, "and if nothing else happens, I sure hope it burns a hole in our collective conscience."

The long term message was as clear then as it is today. A well-organized performer-centered health service is integral to the adult film industry. Initial efforts at that time led to the Adult Industry Medical Health Care Foundation (Aim) and Gloria proudly recounted to me how she got "Aim off the ground," persuading the FSC to assist in funding the project.

The industryís foresight to operate a workable and acceptable blood testing plan to protect everyone was a legacy of Gloria Leonardís FSC leadership. Though Aim is now defunct, we have an improved operation. The Performer Availability Screening Services (Pass) monitors a fourteen-day testing protocol to maintain the health safety net.

To all those who are shooting or will shoot in the porn industry, know that an outspoken veteran named Gloria Leonard came along before you who made a difference for you. Your career is in her debt.

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