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Ex-prof honored in gay pride parade

MATT ROBLES/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Maurice Grossman, a former UA art professor, sits in his ceramic studio yesterday afternoon. In addition to being an accomplished artist, Grossman is a politically active figure in the gay community and will be Grand Marshall of this year's Tucson gay pride parade.
By Victor Garcia
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Friday, October 8, 2004
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Former UA professor Maurice Grossman is living a long and honored life, and will be honored again Sunday, this time for his activism in the gay community.

Grossman was named Grand Marshal of this Sunday's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Parade of Tucson, which begins on Toole Avenue and Stone Avenue and ends at Fourth Avenue and Fifth Street with a block party.

Grossman was selected by the board of the LGBT Pride Parade of Tucson for his dedication to gay causes, demonstrated by volunteering and donating his time.

"They had to twist my arm a little bit," said Grossman. He said he is reluctant to accept recognition for his good deeds.

A teacher at the UA for 34 years, Grossman said he has had a very fulfilling career as an artist.

Among the awards he received while teaching are the National Endowment for the Arts Award, the Creative Teaching Award from the U of A Foundation and an Arizona Art Award from the Southern Arizona Foundation.

Grossman served in the Navy during World War II before attending Wayne State University in Detroit. After attending and teaching at other universities he traveled to Japan as a Fulbright scholar, then finally to the UA to teach.

Grossman was a UA professor from1955 to 1989 and started the three-dimensional arts program in the Art Department during that time.

"I'm very proud of what I accomplished and am still acknowledged when I'm on campus," Grossman said. "I loved my students; I love teaching. In a way I'm still teaching."

Grossman said he lived the first part of his life trying to determine who he was. He got married in his 20s, and had two children with his wife, who died in 1978.

"Like most gay men, I was trying to understand more about myself," Grossman said. "At that time, in my 20s, I met a very beautiful and lovely woman and we fell in love."

Though he was married and in love with his wife until she died, Grossman said he knew he was gay before then.

In 1978 Grossman became more politically active in the gay community. He volunteered with Wingspan and Stonewall Democrats in Tucson.

He waited a few years before he told anyone he was gay.

"When I told (my children), they knew; they said, 'we've known for years,'" Grossman said.

Grossman said there was no real fallout or loss of friendships because of his revelation.

"Being gay in your 40s or 50s is not easy," Grossman said. "I didn't want to get discriminated or chastised."

Grossman said when he retired from the UA in 1989, he took it upon himself to get more involved and donate his time to help fight discrimination against the LGBT community.

"It's not just about equal rights for us," Grossman said. "It's about equal rights for everyone. Do we want to take a step forward or a step back?"

At 77, Grossman is still actively marching against the Iraq war as he did during the Vietnam War. He said he stresses talking first and vehemently opposes all violence. He said he believes it leads to more violence.

Kent Burbank, executive director of Wingspan, has worked with Grossman for many years.

"Maurice is an amazing individual," Burbank said. "He has single-handedly taken it upon himself to make sure everyone is registered to vote."

Grossman actively registered people to vote and said people should consider what they're doing when they vote.

"Vote with your conscience," said Grossman. "(Students) need to know what they stand for and what they're voting for."

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