May 14, 2024

Remembering Donald Davenport, Activist and Long-time LGBT+ Democrats of VA Board Member

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Donald Davenport

Heartbroken doesn’t begin to describe the incredible feeling of loss at the passing of Donald Davenport. Don passed away on May 6, 2024, at home, surrounded by family. Don and his husband, Chuck Unger, both long-time members of the Executive Board of LGBT+ Democrats of Virginia, are perhaps best known for zig-zagging the Commonwealth, year after year, representing our caucus and Democrats at Pride events throughout Virginia. As Vice-Chair for Outreach, Don was committed to ensuring that the LGBT+ community had the opportunity to engage with the Democratic Party nationally, statewide, and locally. His and Chuck’s efforts resulted in countless voter registrations and connected people with pro-equality Democrats running for office at all levels of government.

Don’s activism extends far beyond LGBT+ Democrats of Virginia. Rejected for being gay by his parents, Don found his way to New York City at the age of 16 and worked hard to provide for himself. On June 27th, 1969, he found himself at the Stonewall Inn. He was there when the police raided the bar. Fearful of being caught underage at an illegal gay bay, he escaped, but he heard Marsha P. Johnson yell, “Oh, hell no!” He saw the crowd begin to fight back. He was there at the ignition of the Stonewall Riot, the birthplace of Pride. Brian Reach, also an LGBT+ Democrats of Virginia Board Member, transcribed Don’s story for the Falls Church News-Press.

Of Don, Brian shared, “Don was infectiously cheery, always smiling and ready for a big bear hug, and indefatigable in his activism. He was everywhere.”

Maggie Sacra, former Chairperson of LGBT+ Democrats of Virginia, shared the news of Don’s passing with current and former members of the Board, writing, “Don and Chuck were two of the first people to welcome Cindy and I when we moved to Caroline to live back at my family farm over two decades ago. We worked shoulder-to-shoulder with them for years as part of the Caroline County Democratic Committee where we served on the Board together, and then I was lucky enough to convince them to join the Board of the LGBT+ Democrats soon after we formed. The years of dedication to Democratic work is actually only a small part of the massive impact that they have had as a couple on everyone around them. Don could always bring a light to a room with a joke or a story, and he had lived through some amazing experiences that he loved to share with others, including being at the Stonewall Riot.”

Joel McDonald, Chairperson of LGBT+ Democrats of Virginia, wrote, “Don’s passing is a loss for the caucus, Party, and our community. Not enough can be said about his dedication and the countless hours he invested into improving the Party for LGBTQ individuals and supporting pro-equality Democrats running for office throughout the Commonwealth. Mostly, I will miss the warmth of his greeting at meetings and events. He will be missed.”

Don’s obituary can be found here. He was 72.