Today in LGBT History – July 29

The party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command. His heart sank as he thought of the enormous power arrayed against him, the ease with which any Party intellectual would overthrow him in debate, the subtle arguments which he would not be able to understand, much less answer. And yet he was in the right! They were wrong and he was right.   —George Orwell,1984

Learning our history IS resistance! Thanks for taking this journey with me. Now go write your story!

Today in LGBT History – July 29

1519, Spain – Four men are burned at the stake for sodomy because a Franciscan friar, Luis Castelloli, preached that God’s wrath for sodomy was the plague.

1905, Sweden – Dag Hammarskjold (July 29, 1905 – September, 18 1961) is born in Jonkoping, Sweden. Secretary of the United Nations during its most turbulent years, he died in a plane crash in Africa. A Swedish diplomat, he was the second Secretary General (leader) of the United Nations. After his death, he would be awarded a Nobel Prize. Hammarskjöld was not out about his sexual orientation during his lifetime; that would have been unheard of at that time in history. According to OutSmart magazine, “[Hammarskjold’s] diary, Markings, published posthumously in 1966, alluded to homosexual longings, perhaps never fulfilled.”

1953 – Tim Gunn (July 29, 1953), fashion guru, is born. He served on the faculty of Parsons The New School for Design from 1982 to 2007 and was chair of fashion design at the school from August 2000 to March 2007, after which he joined Liz Claiborne as its chief creative officer. Over 15 seasons Gunn has become well known as the on-air mentor to designers on the television program Project Runway. In 2014, he participated in Do I Sound Gay?, a documentary film by David Thorpe about stereotypes of gay men’s speech patterns.

1962 – Birth date of out actor Kevin Spirtas (July 29, 1962). Spirtas is best known for his roles as Dr. Craig Wesley on the soap opera Days of Our LivesJonas Chamberlain on the ABC soap opera One Life to Live, and as Nick in the slasher film Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood (1988). Spirtas has worked on Broadway, with roles including Hugh Jackman’s understudy in The Boy from Oz, and has also worked as a stunt performer. He began using the name “Kevin Spirtas” professionally in 1995, having been previously credited as “Kevin Blair”.

1967, Scotland – Ian Campbell Dunn (May 1, 1943 – March 10, 1998) was a gay rightscampaigner who lived and worked in Scotland. Dunn began his work in gay rights activism after finding that the Sexual Offences Act 1967, which partially decriminalized homosexual relations between adult men, applied only to England and Wales and not to Scotland. On this day, he wrote to Antony Grey (6 October 1927 – 30 April 2010), secretary of the Homosexual Law Reform Society in London, about establishing a chapter in Scotland. Grey refused.

1975 – The Annual Conference of the Metropolitan Community Church was held in Dallas, Texas. Among the speakers was Elaine Noble (born January 22, 1944), who was the first person to be elected to a state legislature (MA) while running as an open lesbian.

1978 – The Village People’s first major hit Macho Mandisco single debuts and eventually goes gold.

1986 – The Chicago City Council defeats a gay rights bill by a vote of 30-18.

1987 – President Reagan nominated homophobic judge Robert Bork to the Supreme Court. He was rejected by the Senate 58-42.

1998 — World renowned – arguably the best ever American choreographer — Jerome Robbins (October 11, 1918 – July 29, 1998) dies. Robbins was bisexual, though, according to biographers, he was always ashamed of it. He had relationships with a number of people, from Montgomery Clift(October 17, 1920 – July 23, 1966) and Nora Kaye to Buzz Miller (December 23, 1923-February 23, 1999) and Jess Gerstein. He never married. Among his numerous stage productions he worked on were On the TownPeter PanHigh Button ShoesThe King And IThe Pajama Game,  Bells Are RingingWest Side StoryGypsy, and Fiddler on the Roof. Robbins was a five time Tony Award winner and a recipient of the Kennedy Center Honors. He received two Academy Awards, including the 1961 Academy Award for Best Director with Robert Wise for West Side Story. In 1950, Robbins was called to testify before the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC), suspected of Communist sympathies. Robbins, though willing to confess to past party membership, resisted naming names of others with similar political connections; he held out for three years until, according to two family members in whom he confided, he was threatened with public exposure of his homosexuality.  On the evening of his death, the lights of Broadway were dimmed for a moment in tribute.

2004 – The Wyoming Supreme Court rejects a final appeal by Matthew Shepard killer Russell Henderson to have his sentence reduced. Matthew Wayne “Matt” Shepard (December 1, 1976 – October 12, 1998) was an American student at the Wyoming who was beaten, tortured, and left to die near Laramie on the night of October 6, 1998. Six days later, he died from severe head injuries at Poudre Valley Hospital in Fort Collins, Colorado.

2005 – Aerospace manufacturer Raytheon adds transgender to its anti-discrimination policy.

2008, Panama – Same-sex sexual activity is decriminalized

2012, India – The Alan Turing Rainbow festival in Madurai hosts Asia’s first genderqueer Pride Parade.

2018 – Land O’Lakes has named Beth Ford as the company’s first female CEO this week, making her the first openly lesbian woman CEO at a Fortune 500 company.Ford is the third openly gay CEO of a Fortune 500 company and the first woman. Beth earned an MBA from Columbia University Business School and a BBA from Iowa State University.She’s married to a woman, Jill Schurtz, with whom she has three teenage children.She said she recognizes that her ascent could have an impact on minorities who don’t see people like themselves in powerful positions.

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(Historical information obtained from a variety of sources including QUIST at,, Lavender Effect,, Arron’s Gay Info, All Things Queer, RS Levinson, Amara Das Wilhelm,, Safe Schools Coalition, and/or Wikipedia. If you wish to edit an item or add an item, please send an email to me at Thanks!)

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