Hope Berry — a 1987 Staples High School graduate, and social justice advocate — died in June, from complications of pneumonia. She was 49.
Her death was little noticed in Westport. In national LGBT circles, it was big news.
Hope was the daughter of a gay man and a lesbian. Her father, David Berry, died of AIDS in 1989. Her mother, Karen Veronica, founded Bread & Roses, the AIDS hospice just over the Westport border in Georgetown.
Her obituary calls Hope “a queer femme, a political junkie and activist, a mom to daughter Lila, a long-time ASL interpreter and active member of LGBT deaf communities, and a hub of the spokes of many communities.”
She served in many roles with COLAGE (Children of Lesbians and Gays Everywhere), including advisor to directors and mentor to staff, board members and youth leaders.
The organization called Hope “the keeper of our institutional memory, history and legend. (She) helped transform our nation’s concept of family.”
At a time when children of LGBT parents were ostracized, physically attacked and removed from their homes, Hope was a frequent TV guest, and often quoted in the press.
Professionally, she worked as an ASL interpreter. In 2003 she married Dion Manley, president of the transgender organization FTM International. Their daughter was born the next year.
Shortly before her death, she began a new career in hospitality with Marriott.
A memorial gathering in Hope’s name is set for the Benedectine Grange in West Redding on Wednesday, August 29 (1 p.m.). In lieu of flowers, donations to handle final expenses and provide for Lila can be made here.