LGBT Oral History 107: Anthony Silvestre

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September 21, 2016

Anthony Silvestre was born in 1946 in the Bronx in New York. He grew up in a working-class, Italian neighborhood and is familiar with stigma. He began identifying as gay in the sixth grade, but went through school still in the closet. After high school, he entered a Catholic religious group in the Boston area called the Holy Cross Brothers. He left after three years due to his disillusionment with the church, not his sexual orientation. He finished his final year at King’s College in Wilkes-Barre, PA, and then attended Penn State as a graduate student.

Silvestre was introduced to LGBT rights while at Penn State, where he remained as student for five or six years. While there, he became active in an organization called the Homophiles of Penn State [HOPS], and, as president, met many of Pennsylvania’s leading activists. He was appointed Chair of the Pennsylvania Council on Sexual Minorities and became a leader in the Pennsylvania Rural Gay Caucus, which supported numerous groups across Pennsylvania. He was appointed Chair of the Pennsylvania State Council and supervised all of the subcommittees, one of which worked with the State Department of Education to create a gay high school in Philadelphia for the young gay kids from the Cuban Mariel Boatlift.

Silvestre worked with the department of Children and Youth Services to ensure that non-straight populations were not short-changed in the bureaucracy. He became executive administrator of the Eromin Center. Eromin [Ero: erotic, and min: minorities] is a center established to provide culturally competent mental health services.

Silvestre discusses how the State Office of Administration during the 80s effectively handled issues related to the AIDs epidemic, including writing policies and conducting sensitivity training around gay issues in various agencies such as the State Police. He interacted with the Governor and made policy with the governor’s aides, adding LGBT language into contracts and policies and requiring reports be generated concerning their efficacy, especially in regard to complaints that were made. He helped establish a community advisory board, probably one of the first in the country dealing with HIV.

Silvestre was hired at the University of Pittsburgh at the Pitt Men’s Study program to supervise their six-month grant sponsored by the NIH—and he still works there, thirty-plus years later. He is now working on non-discrimination policy and education for HIV individuals in nursing homes and home health care.

Silvestre is married and a practicing Buddhist. He has created a group for young LGBT Buddhists, and has organized HIV services through the Ball community by supporting SILK, which is a group for African American young, MSM and trans kids who are members of the Ball community.

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Gift of Anthony Silvestre
LGBT Oral History - Silvestre, Anthony - 107
Dickinson College Archives and Special Collections