Dear Sally Miller Gearhart,
I am so fascinated and captivated by the strides and sacrifices you’ve made in your life that have directly influenced my own life, and countless people in my generation and the generations after.
I want to express my extreme never-ending gratitude for the fact that, after obtaining tenure at San Francisco State in 1973 (which is monumental in itself) you created one of the first Women and Gender Studies programs in the country. I have no doubt that without this huge achievement that you made, the program that I myself am majoring in at the University of Oregon, 40 years later, would not exist. I’m sure of this because I know that a fund created in your name supports my program, and therefore supports me and my peers.
I want to say thank you for being brave and going after tenure at SFSU, without that accomplishment you might not have been able to create a program teaching classes that were widely considered controversial. I know that some of your peers in the Science Fiction community were not so lucky as to get tenure, and I know that San Francisco and Northern California were seriously considering passing the Briggs Initiative, which would have been devastating for openly gay teachers, so the fact that you were openly a lesbian and you had the courage to fight for your right to teach and your right to tenure in a seriously adverse climate is inspiring to say the least.
I could only dream of making the impact you’ve made, and I am truly awestruck by your passion and achievements. I just want to express my thanks.