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The first issue of Der Eigene (Self-Ownership), an openly homosexual publication, appears from 1896 to 1932. Adolf Brand (14 November 1874 – 2 February 1945) writes in this first issue: “This journal is dedicated to Eigen people, such people as are proud of their Eigenheit and wish to maintain it at any price.” Brand was a German writer, individualist anarchist, and pioneering campaigner for the acceptance of male bisexuality and homosexuality.
The Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America (MPPDA) introduces a self-regulatory code of movie ethics, discouraging filmmakers from including frank depictions of sex and sexuality. Nicknamed the Hays Code after the head of the MPPDA, former Republican National Committee chairman Will H. Hays, the regulations become mandatory on July 1, 1934.
1943, The Netherlands
Fifteen men including three gay men had attacked a Nazi-held building on March 27th. An unknown betrayer causes their arrest on this day. The leader of the group, Willem Arondeus (22 August 1894 – 1 July 1943), declares, “Let it be known that homosexuals are not cowards.” Arondeus was a Dutch artist and author, who joined the Dutch anti-Nazi resistance movement during World War II. He participated in the bombing of the Amsterdam public records office to hinder the Nazi German effort to identify Dutch Jews and other wanted by the Gestapo. Arondeus was caught and executed soon after his arrest.
Bowing to McCarthy-era pressure from anti-Communist conservatives, the Civil Service Commission intensifies its efforts to locate and dismiss lesbians and gay men working in government. Over the next six months, 382 are fired, compared with 192 for the preceding two and a half years.
The Advocate estimates that there are approximately 6,817,000 gays in the U.S.
Police confiscate copies of Jean Paul Sartre’s newspaper Tout when it publishes an editorial advocating social acceptance of homosexuality, which was not criminalized in France.
Delaware decriminalizes private consensual adult homosexual acts.
Rachel Anne Maddow (born April 1, 1973) is an American television host and political commentator. Maddow hosts The Rachel Maddow Show, a nightly television show on MSNBC, and serves as the cable network’s special event co-anchor alongside Brian Williams. Her syndicated talk radio program of the same name aired on Air America Radio. Maddow holds a doctorate in politics from the University of Oxford and is the first openly gay anchor to host a major prime-time news program in the United States. Maddow splits her time between Manhattan, New York and West Cummington, Massachusetts with her partner, artist Susan Mikula (born 1958).
In Michigan, Kathy Kozachenko wins a seat on the Ann Arbor City Council. Though overlooked, she is the first openly lesbian or gay person elected to public office in the U.S. On the day after the election in 1974, The New York Times ran an article that ignored the election of Kozachenko and instead focused on the marijuana tax referendum. When listing the winning candidates, the Times depicted her as “a student at University of Michigan who described herself as a lesbian.” Kozachenko ran on the ticket of the local, progressive Human Rights Party (HRP) which had already succeeded in winning two Ann Arbor council seats in 1972.
Mandate, an openly gay nudie magazine, makes its debut.
South Dakota decriminalizes private consensual adult homosexual acts.
The Village People ‘s song In the Navy begins a thirteen-week run on the nation’s Top 40. The U.S. Navy briefly considers using the song as a recruitment theme until the full implications of the lyrics are explained.
Ebony magazine poses the question, “Is Homosexuality a Threat to the Black Family?” The article concludes that it is not.
The Hetrick-Martin Institute opens the Harvey Milk School for 20 openly lesbian and gay teenagers in the basement of a Greenwich Village, NY, church. The city-funded high school provides a place of refuge for the students, many of whom have dropped out of other schools to escape repeated abuse and harassment. In 1979, life partners and educators on gay and lesbian issues, Dr. Emery Hetrick (1946-1987, a psychiatrist, and Dr. Damien Martin (1934-1991), a professor at New York University, heard the heartbreaking story of a homeless 15-year-old boy who had been beaten and thrown out of his emergency shelter because he was gay. They were so moved that they gathered a group of concerned adults and created what was then called the Institute for the Protection of Lesbian and Gay Youth (IPLGY) to assist this group of young people who desperately needed support. In 1988, the organization was renamed Hetrick-Martin Institute in honor of its founders and their lifelong commitment to service.
Ireen W√ºst (born 1 April 1986) is a Dutch long-track all round speed skater and the youngest Dutch Olympic champion in the history of the Winter Games. At the age of nineteen, on 12 February 2006, she won the gold medal at the 2006 Winter Olympic Games 3000 metre event; four years later at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games she won the 1500 metre event; at the 2014 Winter Olympic Games she won two gold and three silver medals, making her the most decorated athlete at the Sochi Games. Following her victory in the 1500 metres at the 2018 Winter Olympics, she has won a record ten Olympic medals, more than any other speed skater, making her the most successful athlete from the Netherlands at the Olympics. She is also a six-time world all round champion, a twelve-time world single distance champion, and a five-time European all round champion. In 2014, she was elected by Reuters as the Sportswoman of the World. Wust came out as bisexual in 2009. In March 2017, W√ºst confirmed she is in a relationship with fellow skater Letitia de Jong.
The first National Gay and Lesbian Youth Conference is held in Los Angeles.
Madonna announces in Vanity Fair that she is not a lesbian and that Sandra Bernhard (born June 6, 1955) is not her lover. Bernhard is openly bisexual and a strong supporter of gay rights. On July 4, 1998, Bernhard gave birth to a daughter, Cicely Yasin Bernhard, whom she raises with her longtime partner, Sara Switzer.
Mecklenburg County, North Carolina Commissioners strips the Arts and Science Council of $2.5 million in funding stemming from a community-wide debate over Angels in America.
Coretta Scott King, widow of civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., calls on the civil rights community to join the struggle against homophobia. She receives criticism from members of the black civil rights movement for comparing civil rights to gay rights.
2001, The Netherlands
First legal same-sex weddings in the world take place in Amsterdam City Hall after The Netherlands becomes the first country to legalize same-sex marriage. The wedding took place at midnight on 1 April 2001, when Amsterdam Mayor Job Cohen married four same-sex couples. Denmark was already recognizing civil unions, but no country had extended to gay and lesbian couples all the protections, rights and responsibilities of marriage until now.
David C. Bohnett (born April 2, 1956) is born. He is an American philanthropist and technology entrepreneur and founder and chairman of the David Bohnett Foundation, a non-profit, grant-making organization devoted to improving society through social activism. Bohnett founded the pioneering social networking site GeoCities in 1994 with John Rezner as co-founder and chief technical officer. The highly successful site went public via an IPO in 1998, and was acquired by Yahoo! in 1999. GeoCities was the first social networking site on the internet, an early forerunner of MySpace and Facebook. Bohnett has funded numerous LGBT CyberCenters including the first university LGBT cyber center, at UCLA. In 1983, Bohnett entered into a long-term rela-tionship with fellow activist and openly gay judge Rand Schrader (May 11, 1945 – June 13, 1993). In the 2000s, he lived for over a decade with entertainment and socio-political commentator and columnist Tom Gregory (April 24, 1960). They are no longer to-gether.
NAACP Chair Julian Bond states in a national speech that “gay rights are civil rights.”
Uruguay senate approves same-sex marriage by a vote of 23-8, becoming the fourteenth country in the world to legalize marriage equality.
The opening of the Oscar Wilde v. the Marquis of Queensbury trial. The Marquis accused Wilde (16 October 1854 – 30 November 1900) of being “a sodomite,” a criminal activity. Wilde sued the Marquis for criminal libel. The Marquis had to prove that the allegation was true in order to escape conviction. The court decided the accusation was true and the Marquis was acquitted. Wilde had to pay the Marquis’ legal fees which left him bankrupt.
William Bast (April 3, 1931 – May 4, 2015) was an American screenwriter and author. In addition to writing scripts for motion pictures and television, he was the author of two biographies of the screen actor James Dean (February 8, 1931 – September 30, 1955). He often worked with his lover author Paul Huson (born 19 September 1942).
The Florida legislative Investigation Committee (the John’s Committee) conducts witch-hunts from 1958 to 1964 at the state’s universities and public school systems. On this day in 1959, the University of Florida fires 14 employees and removes 50 students for being gay.
Nancy Wechsler and Jerry DeGrieck become the first openly LGBT elected officials in America. They were graduate students at the University of Michigan, and both were elected to the Ann Arbor City Council. DeGrieck and Wechsler were elected to the Ann Arbor City Council as members of the Human Rights Party on April 3, 1972.
Iowa is the first state to allow legal same-sex marriages via an Iowa Supreme Court decision.
Anthony Perkins (April 4, 1932 – September 12, 1992) is born. He was an American actor and singer. He was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his second film Friendly Persuasion but is best known for playing Norman Bates in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho and its three sequels. According to the posthumous biography Split Image by Charles Winecoff, Perkins had exclusively same-sex relationships until his late 30s, including with actors Rock Hudson (November 17, 1925- October 2, 1985), Tab Hunter (born July 11, 1931), artist Christopher Makos (born 1948), dancer Rudolf Nureyev (17 March 1938 – 6 January 1993), composer/lyricist Stephen Sondheim (born March 22, 1930), and dancer-choreographer Grover Dale (born July 22, 1935). Perkins has been described as one of the two great men in the life of French songwriter Patrick Loiseau. Perkins died at his Los Angeles home on September 12, 1992, from AIDS-related pneumonia.
The Gestapo decrees that men convicted of homosexuality will be sent to the concentration camps. Between 1933 and 1945 when WWII ended, an estimated 100,00 men were arrested as homosexuals; 50,000 were sentenced and sent to prison. Between 5,000 and 15,000 were in concentration camps. After WWII many remained in jail until 1968 because homosexuality was still a crime in Germany under Paragraph 175 which as not repealed until 1994.
The world’s first LGBT synagogue, Beth Chayim Chadashim (BCC), is founded, in Los Angeles. On April 4, 1972, four Jews – Selma Kay, Jerry Gordon, Jerry Small, and Bob Zalkin – went to a weekly Wednesday night meeting at Los Angeles’s Metropolitan Community Church (MCC). In less than four years MCC, the first church with an outreach to gays and lesbians, had grown to 15,000 members in 40 U.S. cities. In Los Angeles, the “mother church,” led by Rev. Troy Perry and located near USC, had 725 members. The presence of Jews at the church was understandable. In 1972 the existence of lesbian and gay Jews was virtually unheard of. It was a time when same-sex activity was illegal, homosexuality was still classified as a mental illness, and to be openly gay or lesbian usually meant loss of employment and rejection by family and Jewish community. The Stonewall Riots in New York’s Greenwich Village, often considered the watershed event in the modern gay liberation movement, had occurred less than three years earlier. Fifteen people came to the first service, held June 9, 1972 in Jerry Gordon’s home. Beth Chayim Chadashim (“House of New Life”) was founded in Mid-City Los Angeles in 1972 as a synagogue primarily for lesbians and gays. Affiliated with Reform Judaism, it has been acknowledged by the Los Angeles Conservancy as being “culturally significant” as both the first LGBT synagogue in the world, the first LGBT synagogue recognized by the Union for Reform Judaism and, in 1977, as the first LGBT synagogue to own its own building. In 1973, BCC received a Torah scroll from the town of Chotebor, Czechoslovakia, on permanent loan from Westminster Synagogue in London. It continues to be a cherished guest at BCC.
In New York City, more than 1,000 people gather in Greenwich Village to demonstrate support for a gay and lesbian municipal rights ordinance currently under debate in the City Council. The bill had been strongly opposed by, among others, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York and the Uniformed Fire Officers Association.
Pope Paul VI publicly denies press reports that he has had affairs with men.
The 7th District Court of Appeals rules that the Civil Rights Act prohibits workplace discrimination against LGBT employees, after Kimberly Hively sues Ivy Tech Community College for violating Title VII of the act by denying her employment. In the groundbreaking 8-3 decision, the full Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation violates federal civil rights law. This came after Lambda Legal urged the Court to reverse a lower court ruling and allow Kimberly Hively to present her case alleging that Ivy Tech Community College, where she worked as an instructor for 14 years, denied her fulltime employment and promotions and eventually terminated her employment because she is a lesbian.
My Fair Lady, from gay director George Cukor (July 7, 1899 – January 24, 1983), wins the academy award for best picture and best director. It was an open secret in Hollywood that Cukor was gay at a time when society was against it, although he was discreet about his sexual orientation. His home, redecorated in 1935 by gay actor-turned-interior designer William Haines (January 2, 1900 – December 26, 1973) was the scene of many gatherings for the industry’s homosexuals. The close-knit group reputedly included Haines and his partner Jimmie Shields (January 2, 1900 – December 26, 1973), writer Somerset Maugham (25 January 1874 – 16 December 1965), director James Vincent (July 19, 1882 – July 12, 1957), screenwriter Rowland Leigh (1902 – 1963), costume designers Orry-Kelly (31 December 1897 – 27 February 1964) and Robert Le Maire, and actors John Darrow (17 July 1907 – 24 February 1980), Anderson Lawler (May 5, 1902 – April 6, 1959), Grady Sutton (April 5, 1906 – September 17, 1995), Robert Seiter and Tom Douglas.
Newsweek Magazine reports on “Gays on Campus” which highlights how accepted gay organizations and lifestyles are on campuses around the county.
The New York Times covers the Oscar Wilde (16 October 1854 – 30 November 1900) sodomy trial.
Monika Treut (born April 6, 1954) is a German lesbian filmmaker. Famous for her queer films, Treut also makes documentaries. Her films have explored many interests around the world. The subject matter varies from film to film; whether queer-themed, or about one woman’s efforts to help street kids in Rio de Janeiro, or about the culinary arts of Taiwan, her documentaries find interesting, real people to focus on. Since 1990, Treut has been teaching, lecturing and curating retrospectives of her work at colleges across the United States.
Rick Cosnett (born April 6, 1983) is born. The Zimbabwean-Australian actor, whose credits include The Flash and The Vampire Diaries, revealed to fans in February of 2020 that he is gay.
Transgender musician Alexander James Adams (born November 8, 1962), formerly known as Heather Alexander, has his first performance using his new name, in Seattle at Norwescon 30. He is an American singer, musician and songwriter in the Celtic and World music genres. He blends mythical, fantasy, and traditional themes in performances, switching between instrumental fiddle and songs accompanied by guitar, bodhr√°n, and fiddle playing. He has also been a popular and influential artist in the field of folk music and won multiple Pegasus awards. Adams performed as Heather Alexander for 25 years before beginning to tour as Alexander James Adams. His website refers to him as the ‘heir’ to Heather Alexander and continues to credit songs originally released as Heather Alexander under that name.
Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover (1998-2009), 11, hangs himself after daily harassment for being perceived as gay.
Justinian I re-writes Roman Law making it distinctly Christian and states that all same-sex acts are contrary to nature and punishable by death.
The Little Mermaid was written by Hans Christian Andersen (2 April 1805 – 4 August 1875) as a love letter to Edvard Collin (1808-1896).
Martha May Eliot (April 7, 1891 – February 14, 1978) was a foremost pediatrician and specialist in public health, an assistant director for WHO, and an architect of New Deal and postwar programs for maternal and child health. Her first important research, community studies of rickets in New Haven, Connecticut, and Puerto Rico, explored issues at the heart of social medicine. Together with Edwards A. Park, her research established that public health measures (dietary supplementation with vitamin D) could prevent and reverse the early onset of rickets. Eliot shared her personal life in a long emotional and domestic partnership with Ethel Collins Dunham (1883-1969), also a pioneering female pediatrician, who was made the first female member of the American Pediatric Society and was awarded its highest award, the Howland Medal, in 1957.
Violette Leduc (7 April 1907 – 28 May 1972) was born in Arras Pas de Calais. She continually went after gay men. One of them, Maurice Sachs told her to write just to get rid of her. She did. Her book Le Batarde was the story of her upbringing as an illegitimate child which she blamed on the sexuality of her mother. She once told a friend she wanted to wear a tight body stocking to hold in her breasts and then attach a “strap on” in order to bed gay writer Jean Genet. Leduc’s formal education began in 1913 but was interrupted by World War I. After the war, she went to a boarding school, the College de Douai, where she experienced a lesbian affair with her classmate “Isabelle,” which Leduc later adapted into a novel, Therese and Isabelle. In 1968, Radley Metzger made a film of that novel. The film was a commercial feature about adolescent lesbian love starring Essy Persson and Anna Gael.
Harry Hay (April 7, 1912 – October 24, 2002) is born. He was a prominent American gay rights activist, communist, labor advocate, and Native American civil rights campaigner. He was a co-founder of the Mattachine Society, the first sustained gay rights group in the United States, as well as the Radical Faeries, a loosely affiliated gay spiritual movement. Hay passed away in 2002, survived by his partner of 40 years, John Burnside (born 19 March 1955).
Oreste Francesco Pucciani (April 7, 1916 – April 28, 1999) was a pioneer teacher of Jean-Paul Sartre’s philosophy at UCLA. He was the last partner of Rudi Gernreich (August 8, 1922 – April 21, 1985), fashion designer, and at the latter’s death, established the ACLU Rudi Gernreich-Oreste Pucciani Endowment Fund to support the fight for LGBT rights.
The first Gay Community Center in the United States opens. It is located in San Francisco, led by The Society for Individual Rights.
Pacific Center for Human Growth is founded in Oakland in response to a brutal gay bashing in Berkeley.
Musician George Michael (25 June 1963 – 25 December 2016) comes out. He was an English singer, songwriter, record producer, and philanthropist who rose to fame as a member of the music duo Wham! He was best known for his work in the 1980s and 1990s, including hit singles such as Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go and Last Christmas, and albums such as Faith (1987) and Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1 (1990). Michael, who came out as gay in 1998, was an active LGBT rights campaigner and HIV/AIDS charity fundraiser. Michael’s personal life and legal troubles made headlines during the late 1990s and 2000s, as he was arrested for public lewdness in 1998 and was arrested for multiple drug-related offenses after that time. The 2005 documentary A Different Story covered his career and personal life. In the early hours of 25 December 2016, Michael, aged 53, was found dead at his home in Goring-on-Thames, Oxfordshire. A coroner’s report attributed his death to natural causes.
2013, South Africa
First traditional African legal same-sex wedding. Tshepoi Cameron Modisane and Thoba Calvin Sithole marry in the town of KwaDukuza.
The Russian Empire annexes the Crimean Khanate thus legalizing same-sex intercourse in the annexed territory.
In 1978 comedian Robin Tyler (born April 8, 1942) becomes the first out lesbian on U.S. national television, appearing on a Showtime comedy special hosted by Phyllis Diller. The same year she released her comedy album, Always a Bridesmaid, Never a Groom, the first comedy album by an out lesbian. Robin was the main stage producer of the 1979, 1987, and 1993 Marches on Washington for LGBT rights. In 2000, she was the co-founder and national rally coordinator for StopDrLaura.com, a campaign against the quackery of Dr. Laura Schlesinger, a radio personality who routinely spread homophobia over the airwaves. Canadian-born, Tyler was also the first North American speaker to address major LGBT rallies in England, Canada, France, Mexico, and South Africa. She performed her comedy show in Moscow in 1990, at the first LGBT international conference in Russia. Robin was the executive director of The Equality Campaign, and the first lesbian plaintiff to sue the state of California challenging the state’s ban on same-sex marriage (2004-2008). After a successful win, she and her partner Diane Olsen were the first to receive their marriage license in the state.
In 2007 Theresa Sparks (born on April 8, 1949) was elected president of the San Francisco Police Commission by a single vote, making her the first openly transgender person ever to be elected president of any San Francisco commission, as well as San Francisco’s highest ranking openly transgender official. Sparks is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Human Rights Commission and was a candidate for San Francisco Supervisor for District 6 in the November 2010 election. She is a former president of the San Francisco Police Commission and former CEO of Good Vibrations. She was a Grand Marshal in the 2008 San Francisco Pride Parade.
The American Psychiatric Association removes its “sickness” definition of homosexuality, outraging homophobic bigots across America.
Ryan White (December 6, 1971 – April 8, 1990), 18, dies from complications of AIDS after a five-year battle with the disease. Ryan became the national child for HIV/AIDS in the United States, after being expelled from middle school in Kokomo, Indiana, because of his infection. As a hemophiliac, he became infected with HIV from a contaminated blood treatment and, when diagnosed in December 1984, was given six months to live. Doctors said he posed no risk to other students, but AIDS was poorly understood at the time, and when White tried to return to school, many parents and teachers in Kokomo rallied against his attendance. A lengthy legal battle with the school system ensued, and media coverage of the case made White into a national celebrity and spokesperson for AIDS research and public education. Surprising his doctors, Ryan lived five years longer than predicted but died in April 1990, one month before his high school graduation.
Gay rights activist Paul Kasonkomona is arrested after appearing on live TV calling for same-sex relations to be decriminalized.
The Galician Parliament passes LGBT anti-discrimination law.
Leonardo Da Vinci (15 April 1452 – 2 May 1519) and three other young men are accused of sodomy anonymously, subsequently acquitted. Da Vinci was an Italian polymath of the Renaissance whose areas of interest included invention, drawing, painting, sculpting, architecture, science, music, mathematics, engineering, literature, anatomy, geology, astronomy, botany, writing, history, and cartography. He has been variously called the father of paleontology, ichnology, and architecture, and he is widely considered one of the greatest painters of all time. Sometimes credited with the inventions of the parachute, helicopter, and tank, he epitomized the Renaissance humanist ideal.
Cynthia Nixon (born April 9, 1966) is an American actress known for her portrayal of Miranda Hobbes in the HBO series, Sex and the City (1998-2004) for which she won the 2004 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series. She reprised the role in the films Sex and the City (2008) and Sex and the City 2 (2010). Her other film credits include Amadeus (1984), James White (2015), and playing Emily Dickinson in A Quiet Passion(2016). On March 19, 2018, Nixon announced her campaign for governor of New York as a challenger to Democratic incumbent Andrew Cuomo. She lost in the Democratic primary to Cuomo with 34% of the vote to his 66%. Nixon and Christine Marinoni (born March 14, 1967) became engaged in April 2009, and married in New York City on May 27, 2012, with Nixon wearing a custom-made, pale green dress by Carolina Herrera.
The San Francisco Department of Public Health closes the city’s bathhouses in the belief that they contribute to the spread of AIDS. The decision comes after a heated, divisive debate between gay men who believe the baths can be used as a forum for safe(r) sex education and those who see them as contributing to the spread of the epidemic.
On this day Bayard Rustin (March 17, 1912 – August 24, 1987) gives a speech entitled “The New N*ggers Are Gays.” The civil rights leader was arrested more times for being gay than for his civil disobedience. In this speech he says, “Today, Blacks are no longer the litmus paper or the barometer of social change. Blacks are in every segment of society and there are laws that help to protect them from racial discrimination. The new ‘n*ggers’ are gays. It is in this sense that gay people are the new barometer for social change. The question of social change should be framed with the most vulnerable group in mind: gay people.”
Kristen Stewart (born April 9, 1990) is born. She is an American actress and model who received widespread recognition in 2008 for playing Bella Swan in The Twilight Saga film series. Since late 2016, she has been dating New Zealander Victoria’s Secret model Stella Maxwell (born 15 May 1990). In her February 4, 2017 appearance on Saturday Night Live, Stewart described herself as “so gay.” In an interview with The Guardian she clarified that she was bisexual.
Kenneth Dawson (1947 – April 9, 1992), a leader and adviser of gay and lesbian and AIDS organizations, dies on this day in Manhattan of complications from AIDS. He was on the founding board of the Lesbian and Gay Community Services Center in Manhattan in 1983 and served as Executive Director of Seniors Action in a Gay Environment (SAGE).
Clive Betts (born 13 January 1950), a gay man, assumes office in Parliament. He’s a member of the Labour Party and lives with partner James Thomas.
The Register of Societies rejects the application of the LGBT rights group People Like Us without explanation.
Montero Lamar Hill (born April 9, 1999), known as Lil Nas X, comes out as gay, making him the first artist to have done so while having a number-one record. He later became the first openly gay man to be nominated at the Country Music Association Awards. He is an American rapper, singer, and songwriter who rose prominence with the release of his country rap single Old Town Road which first achieved viral popularity on the social media app TikTok in early 2019 before climbing music charts internationally and becoming diamond certified by November of that same year.
2008, South Korea
Choi Hyun-sook (born July 6, 1972) is the first openly gay political candidate who stands for election. Her bid was unsuccessful.
Bisexual British poet John Wilmot (9 April 1647 – 26 July 1680), Earl of Rochester, is born at Ditchley Manor in Oxfordshire. Wilmot’s poems are bawdy and beautifully simple. He was an English poet and courtier of King Charles II’s Restoration court. The Restoration reacted against the “spiritual authoritarianism” of the Puritan era. Rochester embodied this new era, and he became as well known for his rakish lifestyle as his poetry, although the two were often interlinked. He died as a result of venereal disease at the age of 33.
Frances Perkins (April 10, 1880- May 14, 1965) was an American workers-rights advocate who served as the U.S. Secretary of Labor from 1933 to 1945, the longest serving in that position, the first woman and first known LGBT person to serve in the U.S. Cabinet. As a loyal supporter of her longtime friend, Franklin D. Roosevelt, she helped pull the labor movement into the New Deal coalition. She and Interior Secretary Harold L. Ickes were the only original members of the Roosevelt cabinet to remain in office for his entire presidency. Perkins had a romantic and intimate relationship with Mary Harriman Rumsey (November 17, 1881 – December 18, 1934), founder of the Junior League, from 1922 to 1934. The women lived together in Perkins’ home in Washington, D.C. until Rumsey’s death in 1934.
The Gay Activists Alliance publication Out -The Gay Perspective debuts with Ernest Peter Cohen as editor in chief.
Chyler Leigh (born April 10, 1982), the Supergirl and Grey’s Anatomy actor, came out as a member of the LGBTQ community in June 2020, steering clear of traditional labels like “lesbian” or “bisexual.” Leigh said she was inspired to come out upon learning her Supergirl character Alex Danvers was a lesbian. “When I was told that my character was to come out in season 2, a flurry of thoughts and emotions flew through and around me because of the responsibility I personally felt to authentically represent Alex’s journey,” she wrote in a post on the “Create Change” website. “What I didn’t realize was how the scene where she finally confessed her truth would leap off the pages of the script and genuinely become a variation of my own.
Golfer Patty Sheehan (born October 27, 1956) comes out as lesbian. She is the second golfer to ever make such an announcement. Sheehan, a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame, is a winner of six major golf championships.
Civil union law is approved by the Provincial Legislature of Rio Negro.
Vladimir Luxuria (born June 24, 1965) is the first transgender member of Parliament.
William Smith and Theodosius Reed are put in the deadly revolving stockyards for sodomy. People gather to watch.
Johanna Elberskirchen (11 April 1864 – 17 May 1943) was a feminist writer and activist for the rights of women, gays and lesbians as well as blue-collar workers. She published books on women’s sexuality and health among other topics. Her last known public appearance was in 1930 in Vienna where she gave a talk at a conference organized by the World League for Sexual Reform. She was open about her own homosexuality which made her a somewhat exceptional figure in the feminist movement of her time. Her career as an activist was ended in 1933 when the Nazi Party rose to power. There is no public record of a funeral but witnesses report that Elberskirchen’s urn was secretly put into her life partner Hildegard Moniac’s (1891 – 1967) grave.
Marion Dickerman (April 11, 1890 – May 16, 1983) was an American suffragist, educator, and an intimate of Eleanor Roosevelt. In 1913 she moved to Fulton, New York, where she taught American history at Fulton High School. It was here that she met Syracuse classmate Nancy Cook (August 26, 1884 – August 16, 1962) who taught arts. Nancy Cook was an American suffragist, educator, political organizer, businesswoman, and also a friend of Eleanor Roosevelt. The women were co-owner of Val-Kill Industries, the Women’s Democratic News, and the Todhunter School. Dickerman and Cook were lifelong partners, spending almost their entire adult lives together, although Dickerman was also involved in other lesbian relationships off and on. They are buried next to each other at Westfield Cemetery, Westfield, New York.
Glenway Wescott is born in Kewaskum, Wisconsin. One of America’s clearest and lyrical writers, he is best known for The Grandmothers, published in 1927. Throughout his life Wescott kept journals about everything. He is reputed to have had affairs with photographer George Platt Lynes (April 15, 1907 – December 6, 1955) and museum curator Monroe Wheeler (13 February 1899 – 14 August 1988).
Joel Grey (born April 11, 1932) is born. He is an American actor, singer, dancer, and photographer. He is best known for portraying the Master of Ceremonies in both the stage and film versions of the Kander and Ebb musical Cabaret. He has won an Academy Award, Tony Award, and Golden. He also originated the role of George M. Cohan in the musical George M! in 1968, and the Wizard of Oz in the musical Wicked. He also starred as Moonface Martin in the Broadway revivals of Anything Goes and as Amos Hart in Chicago. In January 2015, Grey discussed his sexuality in an interview with People, stating: “I don’t like labels, but if you have to put a label on it, I’m a gay man.”
Dorothy Allison (born April 11, 1949) is an American writer from South Carolina whose writing expresses themes of class struggle, sexual abuse, child abuse, feminism and lesbianism. She is a self-identified lesbian femme. She has won a number of awards for her writing, including several Lambda Literary Awards. In 2014, Allison was elected to membership in the Fellowship of Southern Writers. Allison remains dedicated to safer sex and is active in feminist and lesbian communities. She is one of the founders of the Lesbian Sex Mafia, along with Kirstie Friddle of Quincy, Illinois. This is an information and support group for women of all sexual orientations and identities. She lives in Monte Rio, California with her female partner, Alix Layman, and son, Wolf.
The Mattachine Society holds its first constitutional convention at a church in Los Angeles. The Mattachine Society, founded in 1950, was one of the earliest LGBT (gay rights) organizations in the United States, probably second only to Chicago’s Society for Human Rights. Communist and labor activist Harry Hay formed the group with a collection of male friends in Los Angeles to protect and improve the rights of gay men. Branches formed in other cities and by 1961 the Society had splintered into regional groups.
Michael Callen (April 11, 1955 – December 27, 1993) is born. Singer, songwriter, AIDS activist and author, Michael is recognized as a co-inventor of safe(r) sex. He was a co-founder of the People with AIDS self-empowerment movement and was the lead singer in the group The Flirtations.
Christine Hallquist (born April 11, 1956) is an American politician and former CEO of Vermont Electric Cooperative (VEC). She is the first openly transgender nominee for governor in the United States, winning the 2018 Democratic nomination for Governor of Vermont with over 40% of the vote. The Associated Press reported she had been getting death threats and personal attacks from all over the United States and around the world. On November 6, 2018, Hallquist lost the election to Republican candidate and incumbent Phil Scott. Drawing national attention as a pioneering example of a CEO transitioning while in office, her transition was documented by her son in an award-winning documentary Denial.
GLAD files the Goodridge v. Department of Public Health case in Massachusetts which leads to Massachusetts becoming the first U.S. state to legalize same-sex marriage in 2004.
The French Senate in Paris approves the law for equal marriage and adoption rights for gay and lesbian couples.
Marc-Antoine Muret (12 April 1526 – 4 June 1585) is born near Limoges. The 16th century humanist was accused by the church of being a sodomist and a Protestant.
The film Grand Hotel is released. Star Greta Garbo (18 September 1905 – 15 April 1990) originally did not want to the role but her partner Mercedes de Acosta (March 1, 1893 – May 9, 1968) convinced her to take it. The film wins the Oscar for Best Picture
Sixty-three men are arrested in Waco, Texas at a “homosexual convention.” Tommy Gene Brown, the Waco Bride, led a mock wedding when police raided the two-room private resident in South Waco.
Amy Ray (born April 12, 1964) of the Indigo Girls is born. She is also a solo artist and owner of her own socially and politically conscious record label. About her song Laramie she said in a 2001 gay.com interview, “What I was trying to go for was a song about hate in general, not just about homophobia, but about classism too, about who’s to blame in society and who’s complicit. It’s also these people in the higher echelons of the financial bracket who think they are so damned progressive, but they never do anything to really help anybody out. They sort of think they are tolerant of gay people, because they have a gay person in their yoga class or something. (Laughs) It takes a lot more than that. You’ve got to speak out, you’ve got to work and vote and really try to make a difference for people. A lot of times there’s these hidden attitudes that no one ever expresses that nurture an environment of hate. And then some kid goes off and murders somebody else and they all act so surprised about it, but we all contributed to it because we didn’t do anything to change our attitude in general. I think it’s something we all need to think about and work on. So that song was supposed to deal with a lot more than (Matthew Shepard), that’s why I say, ‘This town ain’t nothing different.’ It could happen anywhere. Ray currently lives in the foothills of North Georgia. She and her partner, Carrie Schrader, have a daughter.
Golden Globe-nominated film actor Lenny Baker (January 17, 1945 – April 12, 1982) succumbs to AIDS-related cancer at the age of 37. Baker was best known for his Tony Award-winning performance in I Love My Wife in 1977.
In response to a Hawaii Supreme court decision questioning the state’s right to bar same-sex marriage, the state senate passes a bill declaring that the need to “foster and protect the propagation of the human” is justification for the ban.
Autumn Sandeen, a U.S. veteran and transgender woman, received a letter from a Navy official stating, “Per your request the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS) has been updated to show your gender as female effective April 12th, 2013.” Allyson Robinson of Outserve declared, “To our knowledge, this is the first time that the Department of Defense has recognized and affirmed a change of gender for anyone affiliated, in a uniformed capacity-in this case a military retiree.”
Deborah Batts (April 13, 1947 – February 3, 2020) is born. She is a Senior United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York and was the nation’s first openly LGBT African American federal judge. She was appointed by President Bill Clinton to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York and confirmed by the Senate in a voice vote in 1994. Batts was the sole openly LGBT judge on the federal bench for seventeen years until President Barack Obama appointed a series of gay and lesbian judges to the district courts. (Judge Vaughn Walker of California served from 1989 to February 2011, but did not come out until April 2011, after his retirement.)
Iowa enacts its “Sexual Psychopath” law in the wake of moral panic brought on by the sexual assault and murder of a boy in 1954.
Openly gay Carl-Friedrich Arp Ole Freiherr von Beust, generally called Ole von Beust (born 13 April 1955), is a German politician who was first mayor of Hamburg from October 31, 2001 to August 25, 2010. He served as President of the Bundesrat from November 1, 2007 for one year.
In New York City, the Gay Activists Alliance borrows a tactic of the New Left and unleashes the first gay zap, a surprise disruption of a public event to call attention to a political issue. Activists begin shouting “gay power” during a public appearance by Mayor John Lindsay, who has resisted meeting with them.
In Los Angeles, U.S. congress representatives open the first committee hearings on the disease that will come to be known as AIDS.
The first public action by Queer Nation takes place at Flutie’s Bar in New York, a straight hangout at South Street Seaport. The goal is to make clear to patrons that queers will not be restricted to gay bars for socializing and for public displays of affection. This action becomes known as “Nights Out.”
Comedian and talk show host Ellen DeGeneres (born January 26, 1958) appears on TIME magazine’s cover with the words, (Yep, I’m Gay.) These words were spoken during the coming-out episode of her sitcom Ellen titled The Puppy Episode which was one of the highest-rated episodes of the show.
The Finnish Post announces that Tom of Finland (Touko Valio Laaksonen, born 8 May 1920 – 7 November 1991) will appear on postage stamps.
Philosopher Tomasso Campanella (5 September 1568 – 21 May 1639) is jailed and spends twenty-seven years imprisoned in Naples, in various fortresses. He was a Dominican friar, Italian philosopher, theologian, astrologer, and poet. He is overheard saying to his cellmate: “O Father Pietro, why don’t you do something so that we may sleep together, and we may get pleasure?” Pietro replied “I wish I could, and I’d even bribe the goalers with ten ducats. But to you, my heart, I would like to give twenty kisses every hour.” Campanella was finally released from prison in 1626, through Pope Urban VIII, who personally interceded on his behalf with Philip IV of Spain. Taken to Rome and held for a time by the Holy Office, Campanella was restored to full liberty in 1629. He lived for five years in Rome, where he was Urban’s advisor in astrological matters.
President Abraham Lincoln (February 12, 1809 – April 15, 1865) is shot and mortally wounded by John Wilkes Booth while attending the comedy Our American Cousin at Ford’s Theater in Washington, D.C. He dies the next day. C.A. Tripp’s (Oct. 4, 1919-2003) book Lincoln makes the case that Lincoln had several homosexual relationships throughout his life. Tripp states that Lincoln’s relationships with women were either invented by biographers (his love of Ann Rutledge) or were desolate botches (his courtship of Mary Owens and his marriage to Mary Todd). Tripp is not the first to argue that Lincoln was secretly gay. Earlier writers have parsed his friendship with Joshua Speed, the young store owner he lived with after moving to Springfield, Ill. Lincoln’s story becomes interesting when Tripp looks at the year 1831, when Lincoln was 22 and moved to New Salem, an Illinois frontier town, where he met Billy Greene. Greene coached Lincoln in grammar and shared a narrow bed with him. “When one turned over the other had to do likewise,” Greene told Herndon. Bed-sharing was common enough in raw settlements, but Greene also had vivid memories of Lincoln’s physique: “His thighs were as perfect as a human being could be.” Six years later, Lincoln moved to Springfield, where he met Joshua Speed, who became a close friend; John G. Nicolay and John Hay, two early biographers, called Speed “the only – as he was certainly the last – intimate friend that Lincoln ever had.”
British actor Sir John Gielgud (14 April 1904 – 21 May 2000) is born in London. Perhaps the greatest actor to grace a stage in the English-speaking world, Gielgud never came out publicly. Interior designer Paul Anstee was his lover for much of the 1950s.
The RMS Titanic strikes an iceberg just before midnight on April 14th. By 2:20 AM, she broke apart and foundered, taking over one thousand three hundred people still aboard to their deaths. Just under two hours after the Titanic foundered, the Cunard liner Carpathia arrived on the scene of the sinking, where she brought aboard an estimated 705 survivors. Among the known gay people who died on the Titanic were crew members second carpenter Michael Brice and Third Officer Sam Maxwell as well as Archibald Willingham Butt (September 26, 1865 – April 15, 1912) who served as an influential military aide to U.S. presidents Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft.
Mart Crowley’s (born August 21, 1935) play The Boys in the Band opens on Broadway in New York. Considered to be a groundbreaking work in American theater, the first truly “honest” portrayal of the lives of contemporary homosexuals. It ran for 1002 performances before being adapted to a successful motion picture. Few gay characters were seldom seen in commercial media except as crude stereotypes, although later in history some in the LGBT community would say that is indeed what Crowley’s play presented. Some LGBT advocates later denounced it as Uncle Tomism because they were worried about attempts to assimilate the community into straight society, ignoring what a groundbreaking piece of LGBT history the play was for the 1960s.
In Havana, thousands of citizens invade the Peruvian embassy to try to obtain permission to leave the country. Over the next few months, Fidel Castro lets more than 100,000 people leave from the port of Mariel on leaky boats and makeshift rafts. Among the refugees, many of whom have been released from prisons and mental institutions, are an estimated 25,000 gay men seeking asylum from persecution.
In the same year that Great Britain reports its first 17 cases of AIDS, the only UK gay magazine, Gay News, stops publication.
The first Gay Erotic Film Awards is held in Los Angeles.
Simone de Beauvoir (January 1908 – 14 April 1986) dies. Born in Paris, France, she was a French writer, intellectual, existentialist philosopher, political activist, feminist, and social theorist. De Beauvoir had a significant influence on both feminist existentialism and feminist theory. She is known for her 1949 treatise The Second Sex, a detailed analysis on women’s oppression. It served as a foundation for contemporary feminism. Her novels include She Came to Stay and The Mandarins. She is also known for her open relationship with French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre. De Beauvoir had a number of female lovers including some of her students. In 1943, de Beauvoir was suspended from her teaching job after she was accused of seducing her 17 year-old student Natalie Sorokin. Sorokin’s parents filed formal charges against de Beauvoir for debauching a minor. It resulted in her teaching license to be permanently revoked. In the early 1960s, Beauvoir began a relationship with Sylvie le Bon (born January 17, 1941) which lasted to the end of Beauvoir’s life.
Malta becomes the first European state to include gender identity as a protected class in its constitution.
American writer Henry James (15 April 1843 – 28 February 1916) is born in New York City. He was an American author regarded as a key transitional figure between literary realism and literary modernism and is considered by many to be among the greatest novelists in the English language. He was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1911, 1912, and 1916. James regularly rejected suggestions that he should marry, and after settling in London proclaimed himself “a bachelor.” As more material became available to scholars, including the diaries of contemporaries and hundreds of affectionate and sometimes erotic letters written by James to younger men, the picture of neurotic celibacy gave way to a portrait of a closeted homosexual.
Singer Bessie Smith (April 15, 1894 – September 26, 1937) is born in Chattanooga, Tennessee. She was an American blues singer. Nicknamed the Empress of the Blues, she was the most popular female blues singer of the 1920s and 1930s. She is often regarded as one of the greatest singers of her era and was a major influence on other jazz singers. In Foolish Man Blues Smith sang: “There’s two things got me puzzled, there’s two things I don’t understand; That’s a mannish-actin’ woman, and a skippin’, twistin’ woman-actin’ man.” Strange words for a woman whose best friend was male impersonator Gladys Fergusson and who had been introduced to the world of ‘women-lovin’ women’ by blues singer Ma Rainey (April 26, 1886 – December 22, 1939). Smith married Jack Gee on June 7, 1923, just as her first record was being released. During the marriage Smith became the highest-paid black entertainer of the day, heading her own shows, which sometimes featured as many as 40 troupers, and touring in her own custom-built railroad car. Their marriage was stormy with infidelity on both sides, including numerous female lovers for Bessie. Gee was impressed by the money but never adjusted to show business life or to Smith’s bisexuality. Smith ended the relationship in 1929 although neither of them sought a divorce. Smith later entered a common-law marriage with an old friend, Richard Morgan, who was Lionel Hampton’s uncle. She stayed with him until her death. Smith’s grave was unmarked until a tombstone was erected on August 7, 1970, paid for by bisexual singer Janis Joplin and Juanita Green who as a child had done housework for Smith.
Sally Miller Gearhart (born April 15, 1931) is an American teacher, radical feminist, science fiction writer, and political activist. In 1973 she became the first open lesbian to obtain a tenure-track faculty position when she was hired by the University of Oregon where she helped establish one of the first women and gender study programs in the country. She later became a nationally known gay rights activist. She has been controversial for her statement that “The proportion of men must be reduced to and maintained at approximately 10% of the human race”, made in her essay “The Future-If There is One-is Female.” The Sally Miller Gearhart Fund for lesbian studies was created to promote research and teaching in lesbian studies through an annual lecture series and an endowed professorship at the University of Oregon. The annual Sally Miller Gearhart Lecture in Lesbian Studies at the University of Oregon was first held on May 27, 2009; this first lecture was titled The Incredibly Shrinking Lesbian World and Other Queer Conundra, given by Arlene Stein of Rutgers University.
In Ottawa, a visible gay contingent joins the Viet Nam Mobilization Committee demonstration protesting the visit of U.S. president Richard Nixon to Canada.
The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence is founded in San Francisco by Ken Bunch (Sister Vicious PHB), Fred Brungard (Sister Missionary Position), and Baruch Golden. Their mission is “to promulgate universal joy and expiate stigmatic guilt.”
ACT UP’s First Use of “Silence = Death,” the iconic pink triangle and slogan, is debuted to thousands waiting in line at New York City’s General Post Office to file their taxes.
Buenos Aires police raid Boicot, a lesbian disco, and arrest 10 women ostensibly to check their police records. Lesbian activist Monica Santino obtains their release after three hours during which time the women are subjected to verbal abuse and threats.
GOProud, an organization representing conservative LGBT people, was founded by Christopher R. Barron (born December 15, 1973) and Jimmy LaSialvia (born December 15, 1970), two former Log Cabin Republican staffers who expressed dissatisfaction with that organization’s centrist political positions. It is now defunct. The Log Cabin Republicans (LCR) is an organization that works within the Republican Party to advocate equal rights for LGBT people in the United States. Log Cabin Republicans was founded in 1977 in California as a rallying point for Republicans opposed to the Briggs Initiative which attempted to ban homosexuals from teaching in public schools and authorize the firing of those teachers that supported homosexuality.
Supreme Court of India recognizes third gender not as a social nor medical issues but a human right.
Pete Buttigieg (January 19, 1982), the 37-year-old mayor of South Bend, Ind., runs for president of the United States. Pete is openly gay and married to his husband, Chasten. However, he’s not the first openly LGBT person to run for U.S. president. In 2012, Republican Fred Karger campaigned in 26 states and beat Mitt Romney and Donald Trump in the first New Hampshire Straw Poll. He was featured in thousands of news stories around the world and constantly in the LGBTQ press. He was even interviewed by legendary journalist David Frost on Aljazeera TV. After the Republican New Hampshire primary he competed in the Michigan, Maryland, and Puerto Rico primaries where he beat Congressman Ron Paul. He appeared on his home state ballot in California and was the last candidate standing to compete against eventual nominee Mitt Romney in the June 26, 2012 Utah primary. Overall he finished in ninth place. Buttigieg made it through the primaries then lost to Biden. In December, 2020, President-Elect Joe Biden named Buttigieg as Secretary of Transportation, the first openly LGBT person to sit on a U. S. president’s cabinet.
The first recorded same-sex wedding occurred when two men were married by a priest at a small chapel in Rairiz de Veiga, Galicia, Spain. The records and historic documents about the church wedding were found at the Monastery of San Salvador de Celanova. It is not known whether the priest was aware of the gender of both.
Leonardo da Vinci (16 April 1452 – 2 May 1519) is born. He was a prolific painter, scientist, mathematician, philosopher, architect and inventor. His most famous works are the Mona Lisa and The Last Supper. Along with three other young men, he was anonymously accused of sodomy (and acquitted) with Jacopo Saltarelli, a notorious prostitute, which in Florence was a criminal offense, even though the general culture attached little social stigma to homosexuality. DaVinci never married and wrote in his notebooks that male-female intercourse disgusted him. His anatomical drawings naturally include the sexual organs of both genders, but those of the male exhibit much more extensive attention. Finally, Leonardo surrounded himself with beautiful young male assistants.
Robert Colin Stigwood (16 April 1934 – 4 January 2016) was an Australian-born British-resident music entrepreneur, film producer and impresario. He was best known for managing Cream and the Bee Gees, theatrical productions like Hair and Jesus Christ Superstar and film productions including the extremely successful Grease and Saturday Night Fever.
Essex Hemphill (April 16, 1957 – November 4, 1995) was an openly gay American poet and activist. He is known for his contributions to the Washington, D.C. art scene in the 1980s, and for openly discussing the topics pertinent to the African American gay community. He died on November 4, 1995, of AIDS-related complications. December 10, 1995 was announced to be a National Day of Remembrance for Essex Hemphill at New York City’s Lesbian and Gay Community Services Center. In 2014, Martin Duberman (born August 6, 1930) wrote Hold Tight Gently: Michael Callen, Essex Hemphill, and the Battlefield of AIDS in which Duberman documents the life of Essex Hemphill along with author and activist, Michael Callen (April 11, 1955 – December 27, 1993). The book won the Lambda Literary Award for LGBT Nonfiction.
Sherry Barone sues Har Jehuda Cemetery (Barone v. Har Jehuda Cemetery). Barone and Cynthia Friedman had been together for 13 years when Friedman passed away from cancer at the age of 35. In several discussions before her death, Friedman had asked that Barone include the inscription on her headstone: “Beloved life partner, daughter, granddaughter, sister and aunt.” Days after Friedman’s death, Barone signed a contract with Har Jehuda Cemetery for two adjoining plots and a headstone. Friedman’s religious principles meant the headstone should have been unveiled one year after she died, but the cemetery had refused to act on Barone’s instructions to follow her loved one’s wishes that “life partner” be included. After filing suit on Barone’s behalf, Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund’s David S. Buckel (June 13, 1957 – April 14, 2018) settled with the cemetery outside of the courtroom. The cemetery agreed to erect the headstone in accordance with Friedman’s wishes and also to compensate Barone $15,000.
Katie Ricks becomes the first open lesbian ordained by the Presbyterian Church. She is the Associate Pastor of the Church of Reconciliation in Chapel Hill.
Donna Red Wing (1951 – April 16, 2018), a civil rights activist who campaigned for LGBTQ equality, died on this day at her home in Des Moines after an eight-month battle with cancer. She was 67. Red Wing, who was once called as “the most dangerous woman in America” by the Christian Coalition, spent more than three decades advocating for civil rights. She was described in an obituary as a well-known national leader in the fight for LGBTQ equality. She served as executive director of One Iowa from 2012 to 2016, expanding the organization’s work into new arenas after the battle for marriage equality ended, the group said in a statement. “Donna was a force to be reckoned with and will be greatly missed by individuals across the country,” said Daniel Hoffman-Zinnel, the organization’s executive director. “Donna inspired so many, including myself.” Red Wing, the first recipient of the Walter Cronkite Award for Faith and Freedom, worked on numerous projects, initiatives and councils that included co-chairing the Obama for America 2008 LGBT Leadership Council. Donna died of lung cancer at the age of 67. She is survived by her wife and partner for more than 30 years, Sumitra.
1725, South Africa
Leendert Hasenbosch (c.1695-probably end of 1725), a Dutch East India Company employee, is convicted of sodomy on a ship in Capetown. He’s left on Ascension Island as punishment and dies of thirst six months later. He kept a diary entitled Sodomy Punish’d which was published in 1726. In 2006 the full story was published by Alex Ritsema in the book entitled A Dutch Castaway on Ascension Island in 1725. A revised edition was printed in 2010.
Constantine Peter (C.P.) Cavafy (April 17, 1863 – April 29, 1933) is born in Alexandria, Egypt. He was an Egyptian Greek poet, journalist and civil servant. His consciously individual style earned him a place among the most important figures not only in Greek poetry, but in Western poetry as well. His sensual poems are filled with the lyricism and emotion of same-sex love, inspired by recollection and remembrance. The past and former actions, sometimes along with the vision for the future underlie the muse of Cavafy in writing these poems. He died of cancer of the larynx on April 29, 1933, his 70th birthday. Since his death, Cavafy’s reputation has grown. His poetry is taught in school in Greece and Cyprus, and in universities around the world. In 1966, David Hockney (born 9 July 1937) made a series of prints to illustrate a selection of Cavafy’s poems. During his lifetime, Cavafy was considered the poet of Alexandria. Today he is primarily identified with Lawrence Durrell’s characterization of him in the Alexandria Quartet.
Thornton Wilder (April 17, 1897 – December 7, 1975) was an American playwright and novelist. He won three Pulitzer Prizes-for the novel The Bridge of San Luis Rey, and for the plays Our Town and The Skin of Our Teet and a U.S. National Book Award for the novel The Eighth Day. Although Wilder never discussed being homosexual publicly or in his writings, his close friend author Samuel Steward (July 23, 1909 – December 31, 1993) acknowledged having sexual relations with him. The third act of Our Town was allegedly drafted after a long walk, during a brief affair with Steward in Zurich Switzerland.
Isabel Vargas Lizano (17 April 1919 – 5 August 2012), better known as Chavela Vargas, was a Costa Rica-born Mexican singer. She was especially known for her rendition of Mexican rancheras, but she is also recognized for her contribution to other genres of popular Latin American music. She was an influential interpreter in the Americas and Europe, muse to figures such as Pedro Almodovar, hailed for her haunting performances, and called her “the rough voice of tenderness.” The Latin Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences, presented her with a Latin Grammy in 2007. Long considered an open secret, she publicly came out as a lesbian at age 81 in her 2002 autobiography. Her coming out was not surprising to her fans. For years Vargas refused to change the genders in her songs. In Paloma Negra(“Black Dove”), Vargas accuses a woman of partying all night long and breaking her heart. Vargas herself, as a young woman, was alleged to have had an affair with Frida Kahlo during Kahlo’s marriage to muralist Diego Rivera. In August 2019, Vargas was one of the honorees inducted in the Rainbow Honor Walk, a walk of fame in San Francisco’s Castro neighborhood noting LGBTQ people who have “made significant contributions in their fields.”
Ten gay men and lesbians silently picket the White House on April 17th and the United Nations on the 18th after learning that Cuba was placing homosexuals in forced labor camps. Staged by the East Coast Homophile Organization (ECHO), it’s one of the first ever public demonstrations for gay and lesbian rights.
Ellen Corby (June 3, 1911 – April 17, 1999) was an American actress. She is best remembered for the role of grandma Esther Walton on the CBS television The Waltons for which she won three Emmy Awards. She was also nominated for an Academy Award and won a Golden Globe Award for her performance as Aunt Trina in I Remember Mama. Corby died at the age of 87, survived by her partner of 45 years Stella Luchetta of Los Angeles.
2013, New Zealand
Marriage equality passes in the New Zealand Parliament 77-44.
Phillip of Macedonia (382-336 BC) is born. He was the military genius who defeated the combined armies of Athens and Thebes, conquering all of Greece. Along the way he availed himself of the 800 young eunuchs that had been brought with the army for his pleasure.
The American Psychiatric Association lists homosexuality as a disturbance in its first publication of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). Immediately following the manual’s release, many professionals in medicine, mental health and social sciences criticize the categorization due to lack of empirical and scientific data. Homosexuality was removed from the DSM in 1973. Homophobia, however, is certainly a disorder!
Greta Garbo, born Greta Lovisa Gustafsson (18 September 1905 – 18 April 1990), dies. She was a Swedish-born American film actress during the 1920s and 1930s. Garbo was nominated three times for the Academy Award for Best Actress and received an Academy Honorary Award in 1954 for her “luminous and unforgettable screen performances.” In 1999, the American Film Institute ranked Garbo fifth on their list of the greatest female stars of classic Hollywood cinema, after Katharine Hepburn, Bette Davis, Audrey Hepburn, and Ingrid Bergman. Recent biographers and others believe that Garbo was bisexual or lesbian, that she had intimate relationships with women as well as with men. In 1927, Garbo was introduced to stage and screen actress Lilyan Tashman (October 23, 1896 – March 21, 1934) and they may have had an affair, according to some writers. Silent film star Louise Brooks (November 14, 1906 – August 8, 1985) stated that she and Garbo had a brief liaison the following year. In 1931, Garbo befriended the writer and acknowledged lesbian Mercedes de Acosta (March 1, 1893 – May 9, 1968), introduced to her by her close friend, Salka Viertel and, according to Garbo’s and de Acosta’s biographers, began a sporadic and volatile romance.
In New York City, an appellate court rules that, contrary to a verdict reached earlier in the year by a lower court, the book The Well of Loneliness is not obscene. The decision clears the way for even wider distribution of the best-selling novel. The Well of Loneliness is a lesbian novel by British author Radclyffe Hall (12 August 1880 – 7 October 1943) that was first published in 1928 by Jonathan Cape. It follows the life of Stephen Gordon, an Englishwoman from an upper-class family whose “sexual inversion” (homosexuality) is apparent from an early age. She finds love with Mary Llewellyn, whom she meets while serving as an ambulance driver in World War I, but their happiness together is marred by social isolation and rejection, which Hall depicts as typically suffered by “inverts”, with predictably debilitating effects. The novel portrays “inversion” as a natural, God-given state and makes an explicit plea: “Give us also the right to our existence”
The Student Homophile League of Columbia University becomes the first gay college group to obtain a campus charter. The SHL had twelve members who fought with university administrators for a year before the group was officially recognized. Stephen Donaldson, a bisexual-identified LGBT rights activist is commemorated by a plaque in the Queer Lounge that bears his name in one of Columbia’s residence halls for spearheading the creation of the group. When the charter was ultimately granted in April 1967, it earned media attention with the New York Times printing a story on the front page. The Columbia Daily Spectator reported that some students believed that the creation of the group was an April Fool’s joke. The group is still in existence to this day and is now called the Columbia Queer Alliance
The Gay Officers Action League, Inc. is founded by NYPD Sergeant Charles Cochrane (August 5, 1943 – May 5, 2008) and retired Detective Sam Ciccone (1944-May 10, 2015), establishing the first official police fraternal society in the world to represent LGBT people within the criminal justice system. Sergeant Cochrane, a 14-year veteran of the NYPD, created shock waves by testifying before a NYC Council hearing in favor of a gay rights bill. Following the testimony of a Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association Vice President, who denounced the bill and declared, “I didn’t know of any homosexual police officers.” Cochrane stunned all present as well as NYC as a whole by his testimony: “I am very proud of being a New York City Police Officer, and I am equally proud of being gay.” In 1987, at the persistent urging of GOAL, NYPD began a concerted effort to actively enlist qualified gay candidates. In 2002, GOAL was admitted into COPS, the Committee of Police Societies, an organization consisting of all recognized NYPD religious, ethnic fraternal organizations. Since its inception, GOAL has evolved not only as a fraternal organization, but also as an activist organization that represents the interests of its LGBT members in all agencies and branches within the criminal justice system.
The Israeli Conservative movement joined the Reform Judaism movement in agreeing to admit LGBT students into rabbinical school.
Renaissance writer and dramatist Pietro Aretino (20 April 1492 – 21 October 1556) is born in Tuscany. He was an Italian author, playwright, poet, satirist and blackmailer, who wielded influence on contemporary art and politics and developed modern literary pornography. He was a lover of men, having declared himself “a sodomite” since birth.
Bisexual Ferdinand I of Bulgaria (26 February 1861 – 10 September 1948) enters into a marriage of convenience with Princess Marie Louise of Bourbon-Parma, daughter of Robert I, Duke of Parma and Princess Maria Pia of Bourbon-Two Sicilies, on this day at the Villa Pianore in Lucca. In his private relations, Ferdinand was a somewhat hedonistic individual. He was an author, botanist, entomologist and philatelist. Bisexual throughout his life, up until early middle age his inclination was more towards women. His regular holidays were on Capri, then a popular holiday destination with wealthy gay men. His sexuality was common knowledge in royal courts throughout Europe.
George Takei (born April 20, 1937) is born. He is an American actor, director, author, and activist. He is best known for his role as Hikaru Sulu, helmsman of the USS Enterprise in the television series Star Trek. In October 2005, Takei revealed in an issue of Frontiers magazine that he is gay and had been in a committed relationship with his partner, Brad Altman, for 18 years. In May 2014, the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation honored Takei with the GLAAD Vito Russo Award which is presented to an openly LGBT media professional who has made a significant difference in promoting equality for the LGBT community. In May 2015, the Japanese American National Museum honored Takei with the Distinguished Medal of Honor for Lifetime Achievement and Public Service at the Japanese American National Museum’s 2015 Gala Dinner in Los Angeles.
Frank Kameny (May 21, 1925 – October 11, 2011) orders 100 “Gay is Good” buttons, indicating a move from his position of “fitting in” to promoting and celebrating gay existence. He was an American gay rights activist and has been referred to as “one of the most significant figures” in the American gay rights movement. In 1957, Kameny was dismissed from his position as an astronomer in the U.S. Army’s Army Map Service in Washington, D.C. because of his homosexuality, leading him to begin “a Herculean struggle with the American establishment” that would “spearhead a new period of militancy in the homosexual rights movement of the early 1960s.” Kameny formally appealed his firing by the U.S. Civil Service Commission. Although unsuccessful, the proceeding was notable as the first known civil rights claim based on sexual orientation pursued in a U.S. court.
The Boys in the Band movie trailer is released. The Boys in the Band is a 1970 American drama film directed by William Friedkin. The screenplay by Mart Crowley (born August 21, 1935) is based on his Off-Broadway play The Boys in the Band. It is among the first major American motion pictures to revolve around gay characters and is often cited as a milestone in the history of queer cinema.
The Chinese remove homosexuality from list of mental disorders.
Same-sex adoption becomes legal. Adoption is not a federal law but state-based. Since April 2018, same-sex couples can adopt children in all jurisdictions within Australia.
John Maynard Keynes, 1st Baron Keynes (5 June 1883 – 21 April 1946) died on this day. He was a British economist whose ideas fundamentally changed the theory and practice of macroeconomics and the economic policies of governments. He built on and greatly refined earlier work on the causes of business cycles, and was one of the most influential economists of the 20th century and the founder of modern macroeconomics theory. His ideas are the basis for the school of thought known as Keynesian economics, and its various offshoots. Keynes’s early romantic and sexual relationships were exclusively with men. Significant among his early partners was British classics scholar and code breaker Alfred Dillwyn “Dilly” Knox (23 July 1884 – 27 February 1943). Keynes was open about his affairs, and, from 1901 to 1915, kept diaries in which he tabulated his many sexual encounters.
Philanthropist and Microsoft pioneer Ric Weiland (April 21, 1953 – June 24, 2006) is born. One of the first five employees of Microsoft, Weiland was a lead programmer and developer for the company’s BASIC and COBOL programming languages. After leaving Microsoft in 1988, he dedicated most of his time to philanthropy, donating millions of dollars to charities, including the Pride Foundation, the Lifelong AIDS Alliance, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, and the American Foundation for AIDS Research. Weiland committed suicide by gunshot on June 24, 2006. Besides his long-standing HIV diagnosis, he was reported to have suffered from clinical depression. His is survived by his partner Mike Schaefer.
The N.Y. Mattachine Society, spearheaded by president Dick Leitsch (born May 11, 1935), staged a “Sip-In” at the Julius Bar in Greenwich Village. This led to court actions that overturned the New York State Liquor Authority’s provisions declaring it illegal for homosexuals to congregate and be served alcoholic beverages in bars. Although Leitch’s complaint to the State Liquor Authority resulted in no action, the city’s human rights commission declared that such discrimination could not continue. The National Park Service Register of Historic Places for the Julius’ Bar states that “Scholars of gay history consider the sip-in at Julius’ as a key event leading to the growth of legitimate gay bars and the development of the bar as the central social space for urban gay men and lesbians.” The bar now holds a monthly party called “Mattachine” honoring the early gay rights pioneers.
Alice Wu (April 21, 1970) is born. She is a Chinese American film director and screenwriter. Wu pursued a career in computer science but began writing a novel while working at Microsoft. Deciding the story would work better as a film, she signed up for a screenwriting class, in which she penned the feature script Saving Face. Encouraged by her screenwriting teacher, she left Microsoft in the late 1990s to try to turn the script into a film, giving herself a five-year window. Production had begun when she reached the fifth year. In 2001, the script for Saving Face won the Coalition of Asian Pacifics in Entertainment screenwriting award. Saving Face was released in 2004 and is her most noted work. The film was inspired by her own experiences coming out as a lesbian in the Chinese American community.
In Saskatoon the Board of Governors of the University of Saskatchewan overturns recommendation of the University Council that homosexuality should not be considered in the selection of dons of residence. But it accepts that sexual orientation not be a factor in treatment of faculty or students in faculty positions
In Toronto six people, including activists George Hislop (June 3, 1927 – October 8, 2005) and lawyer Peter Maloney and head of Club Bath chain in the U.S., Jack Campbell (1932-2012) are charged with conspiracy to live off avails of crime. All three were listed as owners of the Club Toronto. These were the final charges following the February 5th bathhouse raids. Almost all charges are later dropped in court. The event marked a major turning point in the history of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community in Canada; the raids and their aftermath are today widely considered to be the Canadian equivalent of the 1969 Stonewall riots in New York City. Mass protests and rallies were held denouncing the incident. These evolved into Toronto’s current Pride Week, which is now one of the world’s largest gay pride festivals. Almost all the charges against the 300+ men including Hislop, Maloney and Campbell are later dropped in court and the Toronto Metro Police become a laughingstock.
Metro Toronto Police Morality Squad officers seize two magazines, charge assistant manager Kevin Orr of Glad Day Bookshop with “possession of obscene material for purpose of resale.”
1999, Czech Republic
The first openly gay person, Vaclav Fischer (born 22 June 1954), is elected to Czech Senate. Fischer is a Czech-German businessman and politician. He was the founder of the companies CK Fischer and Fischer Air.
1766, France –
Anne Louise Germaine de Stael-Holstein, known as Madame De Stael (22 April 1766 – 14 July 1817) is born near Paris. She was a French woman of letters of Swiss origin whose lifetime overlapped with the events of the French Revolution and the Napoleonic era. For many years she lived as an exile under the Reign of Terror and under Napoleonic persecution. Known as a witty and brilliant conversationalist, often dressed in flashy and revealing outfits, she participated actively in the political and intellectual life of her times. She was an active bisexual who lived for 19 years with Parisian socialite Juliette Recamier (4 December 1777 – 11 May 1849), the most celebrated beauty of her time. Upon Recamier’s death, De Stael wrote “I love you with a love that surpasses that of friendship‚ were I to embrace you with all that remains of me.” Celebrated for her conversational eloquence, she participated actively in the political and intellectual life of her times. Her works, both critical and fictional, made their mark on the history of European Romanticism.
Frank Bartley is shot and killed by police in Berkeley, CA. The shooting is declared accidental. After this, gay rights groups begin to take notice of the number of shootings that were declared ‘accidental.’
Jack Denton Reese (Jan. 25, 1995-April 22, 2012), a gay Mormon teen, commits suicide in Mountain Green, Utah. He was 17 years old. According to Jack’s boyfriend, Alex Smith, Jack was bullied at school. On April 23, Alex, who didn’t know yet that his boyfriend had taken his life, spoke at a panel about the bullying Jack experienced. The panel was held in connection with the screening of the documentary film Bullied. Jack attended Morgan and Weber High Schools.
Harvey Milk (May 22, 1930 – November 27, 1978) is the first openly gay elected official on a U.S. stamp. He was an American politician in the history of California where he was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1977. He fought and defeated the anti-gay Prop 6. Milk was assassinated in 1978 by Supervisor Dan White.
James Buchanan, Jr. (April 23, 1791 – June 1, 1868) is born near Mercerburg, Pennsylvania. The 15th president of the United States was the only bachelor to serve in that office. His closest friend and long-time live-in companion was Alabama Senator William Rufus De Vane King (April 7, 1786 – April 18, 1853) who briefly served as vice president under Franklin Pierce. Buchanan and King lived together in a Washington boardinghouse for 10 years from 1834 until King’s departure for France in 1844. King referred to the relationship as a “communion,” and the two attended social functions together. Contemporaries also noted the closeness. Andrew Jackson called King “Miss Nancy” and prominent Democrat Aaron V. Brown referred to King as Buchanan’s “better half,” “wife” and “Aunt Fancy” (the last being a 19th-century euphemism for an effeminate man). Around Washington, the pair were known as the “Siamese twins,” slang at the time for gays and lesbians. The director of Wheatland, the home and presidential library of President James Buchanan, admits that it can’t be refuted that Buchanan might have been gay. During Buchanan’s presidency, his orphaned niece, Harriet Lane, whom he had adopted, served as official White House hostess.
Margaret Georgina Todd (23 April 1859 – 3 September 1918) was a Scottish doctor and writer. She coined the term isotope in 1913 in a suggestion to chemist Frederick Soddy. Todd was born in Kilrenny, Fife, Scotland. A Glaswegian schoolteacher, in 1886 Todd became one of the first students at the Edinburgh School of Medicine for Women after hearing that the Scottish Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons had opened their exams to women. She took eight years to complete the four-year course because, using the pseudonym Graham Travers, during her studies she wrote a novel, Mona Maclean, Medical Student. She later published Fellow Travellers and Kirsty O’ The Mill Toun in 1896, followed by Windyhaugh in 1898, always using her male pen name, although her real identity was known by then and mentioned in reviews of her books. By 1906, even her publishers added “Margaret Todd, M.D.” in parentheses after her pseudonym. In addition to six novels, she wrote short stories for magazines. Todd was the romantic partner of Dr. Sophia Jex-Blake (21 January 1840 – 7 January 1912). After Jex-Blake’s death she wrote The Life of Dr Sophia Jex-Blake (1918) under her own name, describing the fight of women in the 19th century to enter the medical profession.
The Student Homophile League of Columbia University pickets and disrupts a panel of psychiatrists discussing homosexuality.
Montreal Police raid Sauna David, a gay bathhouse, and arrest sixty-one men on bawdyhouse charges.
U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Margaret Heckler announces that an American scientist, Robert Gallo, has discovered the virus that causes AIDS: a retrovirus is subsequently named HTLV-3, known today as HIV (human immunodeficiency virus). AIDS was originally named called GRID – Gay Related Immune Deficiency. Heckler had announced the probable cause in 1982 and said a vaccine would be available in two years. It wasn’t.
The Hate Crimes Statistic Act is signed into law by President George H. W. Bush. It is the first U.S. bill to use the phrase ‘sexual orientation.’ The act requires the Department of Justice to collect and publish statistics for five years on Hate Crime motivated by prejudice based on race, religion, sexual orientation, or ethnic origin. It is the first law to extend federal recognition to gay men and lesbians. Bush: “We must work together to build an America of opportunity, where every American is free finally from discrimination. And I will use this noble office, this bully pulpit, if you will, to speak out against hate and discrimination everywhere it exists.” Eight years later his son’s presidential administration is one of the most anti-gay in United States recorded history.
Marc Acito (born January 11, 1966) wins the Charles MacArther Award for Outstanding New Play or Musical for his play Birds of a Feather. He lives in New York City with his husband Floyd Sklaver.
The French Senate approves same-sex marriage.
Dame Ethel Smyth (24 April 1858 – 8 May 1944) is born in Surrey, England. A composer, writer, and feminist, Smyth wrote seven torrid volumes of explicit memoir. Smyth’s relationship with acclaimed British harpsichordist and clavichordist Violet Gordon-Woodhouse (23 April 1872 – 9 January 1948) is depicted satirically in Roger Scruton’s 2005 opera Violet.
San Francisco resident Ken Horne, the first AIDS case in the United States to be recognized at the time, is reported to the Center for Disease Control with Kaposi’s sarcoma (KS). By the end of 1981, 270 cases had been reported among gay men. Of these, 121 had died.
The third Gay and Lesbian March on Washington is prefaced by a mass wedding ceremony, conducted by Reverend Troy Perry (born July 27, 1940) at the IRS building, joining 1,500 lesbian and gay couples in marriage. In addition, twenty thousand lesbians joined in the Dyke March, organized by the Lesbian Avengers, to march on the White House in what is the largest lesbian demonstration ever.
Yaroslav Mogutin (born April 12, 1974), the country’s most visible openly gay journalist, makes headlines when he attempts to register his marriage to American artist Robert Filippini. The head of Moscow’s Wedding Palace No. 4 refuses his application.
In a televised interview with ABC’s Diane Sawyer, U.S. Olympic gold medal winner Bruce Jenner (born October 28, 1949) says, “Yes, for all intents and purposes, I’m a woman.” Jenner later reveals that she is now Caitlyn Jenner.
King Edward II (25 April 1284 – 21 September 1327) is born in Caernavon, Wales. He was King of England from 1307 until he was deposed in January of 1327. Ancient Christianity had tolerated homosexuality but by the mid 13th century life was harder on gays and Edward was made an example. His first lover, Piers Gaveston (c. 1284 – 19 June 1312) was murdered by courtiers. His second affair, with Hugh le Despenser (c. 1286 – 24 November 1326), ended with the Baron’s arrest and imprisonment. Le Despenser had his genitals cut off and burned in front of him and then was beheaded. Edward was murdered by having a red-hot poker inserted in his anus.
1918, South Africa
Graham Payn (25 April 1918 – 4 November 2005) is born. He was a South African English actor and singer, also known for being the life partner of the playwright Noel Coward (16 December 1899 – 26 March 1973). Beginning as a boy soprano, Payn later made a career as a singer and actor in the works of Coward and others. After Coward’s death, Payn ran the Coward estate for 22 years.
Andrew Ivan Bell (born 25 April 1964) is the lead singer of the English synth-pop duo Erasure. His solo career includes the albums Non-Stop, Electric Blue, and iPop. Bell is openly gay, and had a longtime partner in Paul M. Hickey. Bell told Melody Maker in 1986, “I don’t want to go out of my way to talk about it but I’m not going to pretend I’m not [gay]. I won’t portray a heterosexual in videos and we’re consciously doing lyrics that could apply to either sex”.
An estimated 150 people participated in a sit-in when the manager of Dewey’s Restaurant in Philadelphia refused service to several people he thought looked gay. Four people were arrested, including homophile rights leader Clark Polak (15 October 1937-18 September 1980) of Philadelphia’s Janus Society. All four were convicted of disorderly conduct. Members of the society also leafleted outside the restaurant the following week and negotiated with the owners to bring an end to the denial of service.
St. Paul, Minnesota votes to repeal its four-year old gay-rights ordinance by a margin of 2-1, another Anita Bryant fallout.
Jury selection begins in the trial of Dan White for the murder of San Francisco Mayor George Moscone and gay activist Supervisor Harvey Milk (May 22, 1930 – November 27, 1978). In a controversial verdict that led to the coining of the legal slang “Twinkie defense,” White was convicted of manslaughter rather than murder in the deaths of Milk and Moscone. White served five years of a seven-year prison sentence. Less than two years after his release, he returned to San Francisco and committed suicide.
David Norris (born 31 July 1944) is the first openly gay person elected to public office. He is an Irish scholar, independent Senator and civil rights activist. Internationally, Norris is credited with having “managed, almost single-handedly, to overthrow the anti-homosexuality law which brought about the downfall of Oscar Wilde,” a feat he achieved in 1988 after a fourteen-year campaign.
The 1993 March on Washington for Lesbian, Gay, and Bi Equal Rights and Liberation was a large political rally that took place in Washington, D.C. on April 25, 1993. Organizers estimated that 1,000,000 attended the March. The D.C. Police Department put the number between 800,000 and more than 1 million, making it one of the largest protests in American history. A powerful and moving piece documenting the LGBTQ movement for equality in the early 1990s, A Simple Matter of Justice: The 1993 March on Washington for Lesbian, Gay and Bi Equal Rights and Liberationexpresses all the emotions of the joyful protest that was the 1993 March on Washington. This feature-length film features sections on civil rights, AIDS and health care, the military, and families are woven together from coverage of the music, comedy, speeches and marchers. Performers include Melissa Etheridge, RuPaul, BETTY, Holly Near and The Flirtations. Martina Navratilova, Sir Ian McKellan, Rev. Ben Chavis, and Eartha Kitt are just a few of the speakers.
Lawrence, Kansas passes an ordinance prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation. The law, the culmination of a 7-year struggle, is the only one of its type in the state of Kansas.
Pakistani Supreme Court rules in favor of a third gender.
Soni Wolf (1949-April 25th, 2018), founder of Dykes on Bikes, dies at the age of 69 from complications due to pneumonia and pulmonary disease. Soni was a native of Rhode Island. She served as a medic in the U.S. Air Force during the Vietnam War, treating veterans in a Texas hospital. After she was discharged, she moved to the San Francisco Bay area in the 1970s. She lived in the Castro district and worked managing copy centers for brokerages and law firms. Wolf came to the fore when she first rode with a group of lesbians during the 1976 San Francisco’s Pride Parade. To avoid overheating their bikes, they rode in front of the parade. During the parade, someone coined the term ‘dykes on bikes’ and it stuck when The San Francisco Chronicle used it. Wolf said of the name, “It rhymes. Just kind of rolls off the tongue.” One of San Francisco’s greatest queer legends, Soni Wolf not only founded Dykes on Bikes, but also took on the U.S. Supreme Court twice in a battle over the right to trademark the group’s name. Wolf is survived by Dykes on Bikes around the world.
Lesbian Visibility Day
William Shakespeare (26 April 1564-23 April 1616) is born at Stratford-on-Avon. He was an English poet, playwright and actor, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world’s pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England’s national poet and the “Bard of Avon.” The debate rages as to whether or not he was gay. It will likely never be resolved. The word “drag” is a stage direction coined by Shakespeare and his contemporaries meaning ‘Dressed Resembling a Girl’.
Creator of “The Blues” Gertrude “Ma” Rainey (April 26, 1886 – December 22, 1939) is born Gertrude Pridgett in Columbus, Georgia. Accompanied by her “Georgia Band,” which included such jazz greats as Louis Armstrong, Thomas Dorsey, and Coleman Hawkins, she belted out song after song with titles like Rough and Tumble Blues, Jealous Hearted Blues, and Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom Blues. In spite of her marriage to “Pa” Rainey, she made no secret of her relationships with women. Indeed, her famous Prove it on Me Blues, recorded in 1928, sounds more like the testimony of a lesbian than a bisexual: “Went out last night with a crowd of my friends, They must have been women, ’cause I don’t like no men. Wear my clothes just like a fan, Talk to gals just like any old man ‘Cause they say I do it, ain’t nobody caught me, Sure got to prove it on me” The political activist and scholar Angela Y. Davis noted that Prove It on Me is a cultural precursor to the lesbian cultural movement of the 1970s, which began to crystallize around the performance and recording of lesbian-affirming songs.”
Author Oscar Wilde (16 October 1854 – 30 November 1900) is prosecuted in Regina v. Wilde. Wilde pleads not guilty to charges of sodomy and gross indecency. On the stand, he says of homosexuality, “It is beautiful. It is fine. It is the noblest of affection. There is nothing unnatural about it.”
Violette Morris (18 April 1893 – 26 April 1944) is killed. She was a French athlete who won two gold and one silver medals at the Women’s World Games in 1921-1922. In 1936, she became a spy for Nazi Germany,which continued during World War II. She was killed in 1944 in a Resistance-led ambush as a traitor to France. Morris had been banned from the 1928 Olympics for her lesbianism.
The first known print use of the term “transgender” appears in The V Guide describing author Gore Vidal’s (October 3, 1925 – July 31, 2012) Myra Breckenridge.
Vermont becomes the first state in the U.S. to legalize civil unions and registered partnerships between same-sex couples.
Jack Cole (April 27, 1911- February 17, 1974) was an American dancer, choreographer, and theatre director known as the founder of the idiom of American show dancing called Theatrical Jazz Dance. If not for Cole, many now-immortal stage and screen actresses probably would not be remembered as dancers today. Cole’s choreography in the Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend sequence in the film Gentlemen Prefer Blondes was reinterpreted by Madonna for her music video of Material Girl.
Luis Zapata (born April 27, 1951), Mexico’s most productive and successful gay writer, is born. Luis Zapata studied French literature at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM). In addition to his novels (most famously, El vampiro de la colonia Roma, 1979), he also wrote plays and short stories and was active in the field of cultural journalism. He was also a specialist translator of medieval French. Zapata died in Mexico City on November 4, 2020, after being hospitalized in Morelos a month earlier.
President Dwight D. Eisenhower signs Executive Order 10450 which establishes grounds for investigation and dismissal: “Any criminal, infamous, dishonest, immoral, or notoriously disgraceful conduct, habitual use of intoxicants to excess, drug addiction, or sexual perversion.” Without explicitly referring to homosexuality, the executive order responded to several years of charges that the presence of homosexual employees in the State Department posed blackmail risks. As a result, more than 640 federal employees lose their jobs over the next year and a half.
The Student Homophile League at Columbia University is founded, making them the first college in the United States to officially recognize a gay student group. Robert Martin, Jr, known as Stephen Donaldson (July 27, 1946 – July 18, 1996), was a bisexual-identified LGBT rights activist who founded the group. He is commemorated by a plaque and a portrait in the queer student lounge that bears his name in one of Columbia’s residence halls. He is best known for his pioneering activism in LGBT rights and prison reform, and for his writing about punk rock and subculture.
John Argue, a swimming instructor with Toronto Board of Education, is fired from his job at public school because he is gay. Argue, a gay activist, later becomes active in Metro Toronto New Democratic Party.
Rachel Morrison (born April 27, 1978) is an American cinematographer. For her work on Mudbound (2017), Morrison earned a nomination for an Academy Award for Best Cinematography, making her the first woman ever-and thus the first lesbian-nominated in that category. She has twice worked with director Ryan Coogler, first on Fruitvale Station(2013) then on Black Panther (2018).
Iowa becomes the third state to allow same-sex marriage.
Gay journalist John Paul Hudson (April 28, 1929 – February 20, 2002) is born. Hudson is one of the first gay writers to take up gay rights and become involved in the media. He also wrote under the pseudonym John Francis Hunter. He wrote for the periodical Gay in 1969, the Advocate in 1970 and contributed to David, Gayweek, News West, Flash and Vector. A tireless activist, he is credited with being one of the founders of the gay rights movement that grew out of the Stonewall riots and was one of the principal organizers of the Christopher Street Liberation Day committee which put together the first Pride March in 1970 on the first anniversary of Stonewall. He died in 2002.
The Home Office announces that a special committee, later called the Wolfenden Committee, will be formed to study the issue of sex Law reform. The Report of the Departmental Committee on Homosexual Offences and Prostitution, better known as the Wolfenden report after Sir John Wolfenden (26 June 1906 – 18 January 1985), the chair of the committee, was published in the United Kingdom on 4 September 1957 after a succession of well-known men, including Lord Montagu of Beaulieu (20 October 1926 – 31 August 2015), Michael Pitt-Rivers (27 May 1917 – December 1999), and Peter Wildeblood (19 May 1923 – 14 November 1999) were convicted of homosexual offences.
Ontario MPP Margaret Campbell’s private member’s bill to include sexual orientation in Ontario Human Rights Code, introduced April 4th, fails in legislature.
Florida Governor Rubin Askew asks Miami voters to rescind a recently passed gay rights ordinance saying, “I would not want a known homosexual teaching my children.” Askew was an ally of Florida Orange Juice spokesperson Anita Bryant who conducted a national anti-gay crusade. He signed legislation prohibiting any gay or lesbian person in Florida from adopting children.
Marilyn Barnett (born January 28, 1948) files a palimony suit against tennis icon Billie Jean King (born November 22, 1943). At the time, King denies that she is a lesbian, although she acknowledges the affair. King lost all her endorsements in a 24-hour period (an estimated $2 million), wins the case and comes out officially. Today King has residences in New York City and Chicago with her doubles partner Liana Kloss.
Over 1000 people attend Queer Nation’s first major demonstration. Queer Nation, founded by AIDS activists from ACT UP, mobilized over a 1000 protesters in a matter of hours outside Uncle Charlie’s Downtown in New York City, responding to a pipe bomb. The explosion occurred at about 12:10 A.M, injuring three men in the very popular Greenwich Village gay bar. The protestors marched their way to the NYPD’s 6th Precinct, blocking traffic. Five years later, in 1995, it was discovered that terrorist El Sayyid Nosair, who was convicted of involvement in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, was responsible for the pipe bomb attack.
The U.S. Supreme Court hears oral arguments on the question of the freedom to marry in Kentucky, Tennessee, Ohio and Michigan. The decision may bring a national resolution on the issue of same-sex marriage.
Thomas Ernest Boulton (Feb. 2, 1848-Dec. 1904) and Frederick William Park (1849-?) were Stella and Fanny to their friends. They were drag queens who were arrested the night after a performance and charged “with conspiring and inciting persons to commit an unnatural offence”. They appear in court in women’s clothing. After the prosecution failed to establish that they had anal sex, which was then a crime, or that wearing women’s clothing was in any sense a crime, both men were acquitted.
Jim Toy (April 29, 1930-January 1, 2022) is born. He was a long-time LGBT activist, considered a pioneer among LGBT activists in Michigan. Jim came out during his speech at an anti-Vietnam-War rally in Kennedy Square, Detroit, in April 1970. At the rally Toy was representing the Detroit Gay Liberation Movement, of which he was a founding member. He was also a founding member of the Ann Arbor Gay Liberation Front. In 1971 he helped establish the Human Sexuality Office (HSO) at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor (later renamed The Spectrum Center). The HSO was the first staffed office in a United States institution of higher learning, and presumably the first of its kind in the world to respond to sexual orientation concerns. Jim served as its Co-Coordinator, and Gay Male advocate, from 1971 until 1994 when Dr. Ronni Sanlo (March 20, 1947) became the director of that center.
Singer Rod McKuen (April 29, 1933 – January 29, 2015) is born in Oakland, California. His “new age” songs made him a celebrity in the late 60s. He told an interviewer “I have had sex with men. Does that make me gay?”
Homophobic singer Anita Bryant’s visit to Edmonton prompts demonstrations.
Homosexual acts between consenting adult males are legalized. Yeltsin signs the law to obtain a place in the Council of Europe, a human rights organization.
The State of Hawaii creates a “domestic partners registry.”
NBA player Jason Collins (born December 2, 1978) comes out in Sports Illustrated. He’s the first currently-playing pro male athlete to come out. In April 2014, Collins featured on the cover of Time Magazine’s “100 Most Influential People in the World.” On November 19, 2014, Collins announced his retirement from professional basketball after 13 seasons in the NBA. Since June 2014, Collins has been in a relationship with Brunson Green (born November 1967). Green is a film producer and president of Harbinger Pictures, an American feature film production company based in Los Angeles. On January 24, 2012, he was nominated for an Academy Award for the movie The Help.
Alice B. Toklas (April 30, 1877 – March 7, 1967) is born in San Francisco. Toklas becomes the lover of Gertrude Stein (February 3, 1874 – July 27, 1946), becoming gay history’s most legendary lesbian couple. After moving to Paris, Stein met Toklas in 1907. Their apartment on the Rue de Fleurus which became a famous meeting place for artists and writers. During the period Toklas and Stein were together, they frequently exchanged love letters. Alice was an early riser, and Gertrude, who wrote late into the night, left her tender, passionate notes to cheer up her mornings. Toklas gained wide attention with the publication of The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas (1933), which is actually Gertrude Stein’s memoir. It records Toklas’s first-person observations of Stein’s life and her friends, among them Ernest Hemingway, Sherwood Anderson, Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, and Georges Braque. The Alice B. Toklas Cookbookcame out when Toklas was 77. It contained 300 recipes and became famous because of one special dish, Toklas’s Haschich Fudge “which anyone could whip up on a rainy day,” she wrote.
Marcel Proust (10 July 1871 – 18 November 1922) publishes the first part of Sodome et Gomorrhe (Cities of the Plain), part of his 16-volume opus A la Recherche du Temps Perdu (Remembrance of Things Past). The themes of male and female same-sex passion interwoven into the previous volumes now come to the fore in an extended essay on the homosexual.
In Toronto, Newsweb Enterprises, a printing company controlled by The Toronto Star, refuses to print Issue 8 of the gay paper The Body Politic following a battle over classified ads which the printer said were “obscene.”.
Two Winnipeg chain bookstores, Coles and Classics, remove copies of Joy of Gay Sex and Joy of Lesbian Sex from shelves following threats from police of obscenity charges.
Some 30,000 demonstrators, including rock stars and other celebrities, march in London to protest the passage of Clause 28 which affected England, Wales and Scotland. This is the largest lesbian and gay rally in the history of the UK. Clause 28 stated that a local authority “shall not intentionally promote homosexuality or publish material with the intention of promoting homosexuality” or “promote the teaching in any maintained school of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship”. It was repealed on June 21, 2000 in Scotland by the Ethical Standards in Public Life etc. (Scotland) Act 2000, one of the first pieces of legislation enacted by the new Scottish Parliament, and on November 18, 2003 in the rest of the United Kingdom.
In Austin, Texas, more than 20,000 people march on the state capital in the largest gay and lesbian rights demonstration in the state’s history.
‘Yep, I’m gay’ – Ellen DeGeneres (born January 26, 1958) comes out on her television show Ellen in The Puppy Episodethat drew in 42 million viewers. Her ratings plunged, which she said was due to a lack of promotion, and the show was pulled the next season, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Her “coming out” heralded an era of other gay celebrities following suit.
Historical information obtained from a variety of sources including:
Safe Schools Coalition http://www.safeschoolscoalition.org
Back to Stonewall http://www.back2stonewall.com
GLBT History https://www.glbthistory.org