Maura Healey made history this month, becoming the state's first openly gay or lesbian governor. But in 1974, there was another first: Elaine Noble. Noble's election to the Massachusetts House made her the state's first openly gay or lesbian elected official.
"When I ran for political office, it was really important to me to be open about my gayness, even though I felt a lot of pressure from people telling me to either downplay it or not say anything about it at all," she told filmmakers for a documentary about her, called "Something Personal." "And it was important to me because it's part of who I am personally and it's part of my politics. And I, I didn't really think that I had to play that kind of game in order to win."
It's no secret that it takes a good campaign to win. But how do you do that when you're first? That's a question for Noble's 1974 campaign manager, Ann Maguire.
An LGBTQ pioneer and activist herself, Maguire now lives in Marblehead with her longtime partner, Harriet. At 79 years old, she has plenty of memories of the political past at her dining room table. She flipped through old articles and photos of her career milestones and the power players at the time.
"See all the muckety-mucks behind me?," she said, showing a photo of her speaking in Washington, D.C. She flipped further to moments with some familiar faces. "Senator Kennedy, Ray Flynn, here's Tom Menino. This is the opening of the first international gay rights Congress," she told Morning Edition.
Those people had plenty of examples for how to run for elected office and when. But Maguire and Noble did not.
"It was so different to start that campaign," Maguire said. "I mean, everybody that's running for political office, don't you think that they've talked to somebody or saw something that people had done before? We didn't have any of that."
They didn't have the Internet to connect them with other LGBTQ people running for office.
"It was this just very different," Maguire said. "It was a whole learning experience. We just had knocked on doors before, hadn't figured out where we go, who we talk to."
Some people knew that Noble was a lesbian. The campaign had to think through what to say when people brought it up.
"We would generally say, 'well, yes, I am, but that's not why I'm running,'" Maguire said. "And to bring it back to what she was all about in the state rep race. It wasn't about her being a lesbian, and 'let me tell you all about my being a lesbian.' It was all about running for office."
Maguire won, beating out Joseph P. Cimino, the owner of a local bar, to represent a district covering Back Bay and The Fenway.
"When she was elected, yowza," Maguire said. "There are some victories in life that are just special. And it was just special to have figured it out."
It wasn't all roses. Elaine Noble once described her campaign as very ugly, noting that there was shooting through her windows, destruction of her property and harassment of her houseguest.
Once she was in office, that continued: She described finding human feces in her desk on one occasion.
"One of the things about being a lesbian is it gives you a little bit of spirit," Maguire said. "You just go on. If you get off to [the] side every moment, you're never going to finish."
Maguire was happy about the election of Maura Healey, the first woman and first openly gay person elected governor in Massachusetts. Oregon, too, elected Tina Kotek, an out lesbian, as a governor this month.
"One of the reasons that's wonderful about being elected, being a lesbian, is because it hasn't been done a lot," Maguire said. "There's still, yes, lots of folks who don't think lesbians are the greatest thing in the world. They need to know that just, here we are. We're people. We're good people. And we're going to just go forward."
Maguire herself is also an LGBTQ pioneer: She hosted the show GayWay on WBUR. She opened a few lesbian bars in the 1970s and '80s.
"I know how to have fun too, and I know how to make it work ... and back then, it was where you went at that time where you knew you would meet other lesbians, where you knew you would be okay, where the music was great. There weren't a lot of out lesbians then. It wasn't like, all over the place, no, like it is now," she said, smiling.
"There are some victories in life that are just special. And it was just special to have figured it out."-Ann Maguire
"It makes me happy that you can be who you are and be okay about that," she said. "There's places to go and people to meet. I mean, it's just very different."
Maguire has been watching growing numbers of anti-LGBTQ legislation being filed across America. She worries about keeping the gains her generation made, and about how hateful sentiments will affect future generations.
"On a large scale, how does it affect our grandkids? How does it affect our friends?" she said. "So it's not just way up there that we have to worry about. We also have to worry about, I think, to make sure they're ok."