I read On Tyranny yesterday by Timothy Snyder (2017). Snyder presents twenty lessons from the 20th century, adapted to the circumstances of today’s politics. I’ll present one lesson each day for the next 20 days (though I may insert a personal thought among the days). I hope you’ll read this little but powerfully inspirational book.
1. Do not obey in advance. Most of the power of authoritarianism is freely given. In times like these, individuals think ahead about what a more repressive government will want, and then offer themselves without being asked. A citizen who adapts in this way is teaching power what it can do. Anticipatory obedience means adapting instinctively without reflection. It taught the Nazis what was possible.
Today in LGBT History – August 7
1885, England – The Labouchere Amendment is passed in England. Section 11 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act 1885, commonly known as the Labouchere Amendment, made “gross indecency” a crime in the United Kingdom. In practice, the law was used broadly to prosecute male homosexuals where actual sodomy (meaning, in this context, anal intercourse) could not be proven. The penalty of life imprisonment for sodomy (until 1861 it had been death) was also so harsh that successful prosecutions were rare. The new law was much more enforceable. It was also meant to raise the age of consent for heterosexual intercourse. It was repealed by the Sexual Offences Act 1967, which partially decriminalized homosexual behavior. It was used in 1895 to convict Oscar Wilde which sent him for two years’ hard labor in prison.
1931 – Clyde Hicks of North Carolina was stationed in Hawaii, arrested on sodomy charges and sentenced to six years in prison. He was transferred to Alcatraz where he was put into solitary confinement for passing a note to another man. He was released in 1935.
1981 – Black and White Men Together members begin weekly demonstrations outside the Ice Palace, a popular disco in New York City, in protest of the club’s allegedly racist door policies. The National Association of Black and White Men Together, Inc.: A Gay Multiracial Organization for All People (NABWMT) is a longstanding network of chapters across the United States focused on LGBT and racial equality, founded in May, 1980, in San Francisco as a consciousness-raising, multicultural organization and support group for gay men forming multiracial relationships. To attain these ends, its local chapters organize social gatherings and engage in educational, cultural, and political activities. It is a registered IRS 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. NABWMT’s goals consist of two major themes: combating racism within the LGBT community and combating homophobia in general society. NABWMT’s vision is an America free of racism and homophobia.
August 7-16, 1984, Canada -The General Council of the United Church of Canada, meeting in Morden, Manitoba, the United Church decides that “ordination is not a human right.”
1986 – A law prohibiting insurance companies in Washington, DC from discriminating against people who test positive for HIV went into effect.
1987, London – Over 100 gay men and lesbians gather at Piccadilly Square in London for a kiss-in to protest at Piccadilly Circus in defiance of the Sexual Offences Act, which decriminalized private sex acts between consenting adults but left public displays of same-sex affection a misdemeanor.
1987 – Whispers, a gay bar, opens in Saginaw, Michigan. The owners soon faced challenges such as rocks thrown through the windows, derogatory terms spray painted on the building, bomb threats, death threats, and vandalism of patrons’ cars. The owner was forced to close because of the attacks.
1987 – Ronald Reagan did not say the word AIDS until 1987. By then, 37,000 Americans had been diagnosed and 21,000 Americans had died.
1988 – Rallies are held in twenty-one American cities for Free Sharon Kowalski day. Kowalski was severely disabled in a car accident in 1983. Her parents barred her lover, Karen Thompson, from visiting her, but Karen sued and won. In re Guardianship of Kowalski, 478 N.W.2d 790 (Minn. Ct. App. 1991), is a Minnesota Court of Appeals case that established a lesbian‘s partner as her legal guardian after Sharon Kowalski became incapacitated following an automobile accident. Because the case was contested by Kowalski’s parents and family and initially resulted in the partner being excluded for several years from visiting Kowalski, the gay community celebrated the final resolution in favor of the partner as a victory for gay rights.
1989 – OutWeek magazine publishes a list of sixty-six allegedly closeted homosexuals. Under the headline “Peek-a-Boo,” New York’s Outweek magazine publishes a list of 66 celebrities and public figures who are allegedly gay but closeted. The article marks the beginning of controversial “outing” by some gay activists.
1992 – A New York City federal judge rejects a request to dismiss a lawsuit against three Drug Enforcement agents for an anti-gay assault against two men. DEA attorneys argues that the bias-related portions should be dismissed because the constitution does not forbid anti-gay harassment or discrimination.
1994 – Two daily newspapers in York, Pennsylvania repeal a policy of refusing to run same-sex personal ads one week after the policy was implemented.
1994, Australia – Victoria police raided the Tasty Nightclub in Melbourne, strip-searching and brutalizing 463 patrons. On this day in 2014, twenty years later, the Victoria Police formally apologize.
1995 – African-American transgender hairstylist Tyra Hunter (1970 – August 7, 1995) dies due to withheld medical care after a hit and run accident. Paramedics in Washington, D.C. began treating the injured Tyra then discovered that she was a pre-op trans woman. They withdrew medical care and made transphobic remarks. The ER staff at DC General Hospital subsequently provided dilatory and inadequate care. Evidence shows Tyra would have survived had the medical care not been withdrawn. On December 11, 1998, a jury awarded Hunter’s mother $2.9 million after finding the District of Columbia, through its employees in the D.C. Fire Department and doctors at D.C. General, liable under the D.C. Human Rights Act for negligence for causing Tyra’s death.
1996 – The Northampton County (North Carolina) board of commissioners vote to pass a resolution describing homosexuality as incompatible with community standards.
1998 – The U.S. House of Representatives votes 227-192 to prevent unmarried couples, including same-sex couples, from adopting children in Washington, DC.
2003 – Hate-monger Rev. Jerry Falwell announces that he is putting aside everything to devote his time to the passage of a constitutional ban on gay marriage.
2003, Singapore – Singapore’s Gay Pride event is expanded to three days. The event was named Nation 03. This was the final year that the event was held in Singapore. The government officially banned the Pride celebration.
2007, Iran – Iran banned a leading daily newspaper for the second time within a year for publishing an interview with a woman alleged to be a lesbian activist.
Do not give your power away without questioning authority.
(Historical information obtained from a variety of sources including QUIST at facebook.com/quistapp, Back2Stonewall.com, Lavender Effect, DataLounge.com, Arron’s Gay Info, All Things Queer, RS Levinson, Amara Das Wilhelm, Safe Schools Coalition, and/or Wikipedia. If you wish to edit an item or add an item, please send an email to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks!)