For most Americans, Feb. 20 was a day off from work or school, thanks to the federal government honoring Washington’s Birthday. In D.C., the day also honored one of the GBLT community’s local leaders, Robert York.
”To recognize and honor Robert L. York Jr., on the occasion of his leaving his position in the Whitman-Walker Clinic, for his service to the District of Columbia’s GLBT community, and for tirelessly promoting an expanded sense of community in [D.C.], and to declare Feb. 20, 2006, as ‘Robert L. York Jr. Day in the District of Columbia,” reads the ceremonial resolution, in part, introduced by gay Councilmember Jim Graham (D-Ward 1).
The resolution goes on to cite York’s contributions as former director of the Capital Pride parade and festival, as former director of AIDS Walk Washington, and his involvement with the Human Rights Campaign, Mayor Williams’s executive council for GLBT affairs, and numerous other points of service.
”I was surprised, shocked and deeply humbled,” York says of his namesake day, also his 38th birthday. ”It was one of those things you don’t ever expect. It was one of those, ‘Are you for real?’ moments. There are so many other more-deserving people.”
Robert YorkÂ Read a June 2005 interview
Though York seems to have handled his day in the sun with signature modesty, he notes others close to him played up the event.
”My mom was like, ‘Oh, my God.’ She was very shocked and wanted to see all the paperwork. She was very honored. All of my family has been very supportive,” he says. ”My boyfriend woke me up today saying, ‘Wake up! It’s Robert York Day.”’
York’s plans for celebrating his day included drinks at Halo, as arranged by his boyfriend. He said, however, the chances of a parade were slim: ”Probably not, because I’d have to organize it.”