Marion Barbara ‘Joe’ Carstairs (1 February 1900 – 18 December 1993) was a wealthy British power boat racer known for her speed, her eccentric lifestyle and gender nonconformity. In the 1920s she was known as the ‘fastest woman on water’. She was also given a Steiff doll by a girlfriend, Ruth Baldwin (1905 – August, 1937), naming it Lord Tod Wadley. She became exceptionally attached to this doll, keeping it with her until her death, although she didn’t take it into her speedboats for fear of losing it. She had clothes made for it in Savile Row and had its name placed with her own on the name plaque on the door of her London apartment. Carstairs died in Naples, Florida in 1993 at the age of 93. The doll Lord Tod Wadley was cremated with her. Her ashes and those of Ruth Baldwin were buried in Oakland Cemetery in Sag Harbor, New York.
James Mercer Langston Hughes (February 1, 1902 – May 22, 1967) is born. He was an African American poet, social activist, novelist, playwright, and columnist from Joplin, Missouri. He was one of the earliest innovators of the then-new literary art form called poetry and best known as a leader of the Harlem Renaissance in New York City. During his time in England in the early 1920s, Hughes became part of the Black expatriate community. Some academics and biographers believe that Hughes was homosexual and included homosexual codes in many of his poems, as did Whitman whom Hughes said influenced his poetry. Hughes’s story “Blessed Assurance” deals with a father’s anger over his son’s effeminacy and “queerness.” Unlike the generation of Black poets who came after him, Hughes approach to American racism was more wry than angry, but he helped set the mood for today’s Black movement. With his friend Countee Cullen who was also gay, he was the center of Harlem’s literary renaissance in the 1920s. On May 22, 1967, Hughes died in New York City at the age of 65 from complications after abdominal surgery related to prostate cancer. His ashes are interred beneath a floor medallion in the middle of the foyer in the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem.
A legal amendment formally extends the death penalty to men found guilty of having sex with other men.
The Paris Prefect of Police issues a decree forbidding men from dancing together in public.
In Greensboro, North Carolina, four African American students sat down and ordered coffee at a lunch counter at the Woolworths Drug Store. They were refused service but did not leave. Instead, they waited all day. The scene was repeated over the next few days, with protests spreading to other southern states, resulting in the eventual arrest of over 1,600 persons for participating in sit-ins. The Black Freedom movement was the inspiration for most of the early gay rights activists in North America.
In 1974, Maureen Colquhoun (born 12 August 1928) came out as the first Lesbian MP for the Labour Party in the UK. When elected she was married in a heterosexual marriage. Colquhoun was deselected due to her sexuality and her feminist views; in late September 1977, members of her constituency party’s General Management Committee voted by 23 votes to 18, with one abstention, to deselect her citing her “obsession with trivialities such as women’s rights”. The local party chairman Norman Ashby said at the time that “She was elected as a working wife and mother … this business has blackened her image irredeemably. “My sexuality has nothing whatever to do with my ability to my job as an MP,” Colquhoun insisted in an article for Gay News in October 1977.
Tom of Finland, born Touko Valio Laaksonen (8 May 1920 – 7 November 1991) has his first U.S. exhibit at Robert Opel’s Fey Way Gallery in San Francisco. He was known for his stylized highly masculinized homoerotic art, and for his influence on late twentieth century gay culture. He has been called the “most influential creator of gay pornographic images” by cultural historian Joseph W. Slade. Over the course of four decades, he produced some 3,500 illustrations, mostly featuring men with exaggerated primary and secondary sex traits, wearing tight or partially removed clothing.
A gang of teenage boys stood outside Tennessee Williams ’s (March 26, 1911 – February 25, 1983) home in Key West, Florida, and began throwing beer cans and firecrackers at the house while chanting “Come on out, faggot!” The incident was the latest in a string of bizarre homophobic attacks aimed at the openly gay playwright. Five days later, his dog was kidnapped from his backyard, never to be seen again.
Paul Schrader’s (born July 22, 1946) film American Gigolo opens nationwide. Though rather homophobic, the whole film is steeped in a gay aesthetic. Years later, Schrader noted, “At the time we were at the apex of the gay movement in all its manifestations, especially in the arts. The influence was everywhere–in our fashion, in disco, in the drug scene. It affected that film’s aesthetic, too. All my friends at the time were gay.” Schrader is an American screenwriter, film director, and film critic. He wrote or co-wrote screenplays for four Martin Scorsese films: Taxi Driver (1976), Raging Bull (1980), The Last Temptation of Christ (1988), and Bringing Out the Dead (1999). Schrader has also directed 18 feature films.
Johanna Siguroardottir (born 4 October 1942) becomes Iceland’s first female Prime Minister and the world’s first openly lesbian head of government
The great Austrian statesman Prince Wenzel Anton von Kaunitz (2 February 1711 – 27 June 1794) was born in Vienna. He was an Austrian-Czech diplomat and statesman in the Habsburg Monarchy. A proponent of enlightened absolutism, he held the office of State Chancellor for four decades and was responsible for the foreign policies during the reigns of Maria Theresa, Joseph II, and Leopold II. In 1764, he was elevated to the noble rank of a Prince of the Holy Roman Empire. Single-handedly he engineered an alliance between traditional enemies France and England. Eccentric, arrogant, conceited and always happy to hear the sound of his own voice, he is said to have had a virtual harem of young men.
Havelock Ellis (2 February 1859 – 8 July 1939) was born in Croydon, England. He was an English physician, writer, progressive intellectual and social reformer who studied human sexuality. He was co-author of the first medical textbook in English on homosexuality in 1897, and also published works on a variety of sexual practices and inclinations as well as transgender psychology. He is credited with introducing the notions of narcissism and autoeroticism, later adopted by psychoanalysis. Ellis was among the pioneering investigators of psychedelic drugs and the author of one of the first written reports to the public about an experience with mescaline which he conducted on himself in 1896. Like many intellectuals of his era, he supported eugenics and he served as president of the Eugenics Society. His monumental seven volume Studies in the Psychology of Sex (1897-1928) changed the Western attitude toward sex in the late Victorian age. In November of 1891, at the age of 32, and reportedly still a virgin, Ellis married the English writer and proponent of women’s rights, Edith Lees (1861-1916). From the beginning, their marriage was unconventional as Edith Lees was openly lesbian. At the end of the honeymoon, Ellis went back to his bachelor rooms in Paddington and Edith lived at Fellowship House. Their “open marriage” was the central subject in Ellis’s autobiography, My Life.
Three women protest the potential Clause 28 by swinging on ropes off the public gallery into the chamber of the House of Lords. Their shouts of “Lesbians are angry!” and “It’s our lives you’re dealing with” distill the current mood of British lesbian and gay activists, galvanized as never before in opposition to the bill. Clause 28 was enacted on May 24, 1988, and 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 by section 122 of the Local Government Act 2003.The law’s existence caused many groups to close or limit their activities. For example, a number of lesbian, gay and bisexual student support groups in schools and colleges across Britain were closed owing to fears by council legal staff that they could breach the act.
Transgender Europe (TGEU) is founded in Vienna during the first European Transgender Council. This NGO works “to support or work for the rights of transgender/transsexual/gender variant people.” It also runs the Trans Murder Monitoring project, which records and reports the many people who are killed each year as a result of transphobia.
The first female physician in the U.S., Elizabeth Blackwell (3 February 1821 – 31 May 1910) was born near Bristol, England. As a girl, her family moved to New York State. She was awarded her MD by the Medical Institute of Geneva, New York, in 1849. She was the first woman to graduate from medical school, a pioneer in promoting the education of women in medicine in the United States, and a social and moral reformer in both the United States and in the United Kingdom. She was active in training women to be nurses for service in the U.S. Civil War. She established a hospital in New York City run by an all-female staff. Her sister Emily was the third woman in the US to get a medical degree. None of the five Blackwell sisters ever married. Since 1949, the American Medical Women’s Association has awarded the Elizabeth Blackwell Medal annually to a woman physician. The Judy Chicago artwork “The Dinner Party” features a place setting for Elizabeth Blackwell.
Lesbian writer Gertrude Stein (February 3, 1874 – July 27, 1946) was born in Allegheny, Pennsylvania. She was an American novelist, poet, playwright, and art collector. Multifaceted, complicated, and impenetrable, Stein was like the cubist paintings she admired so much. She once summed up her long life with partner Alice B. Toklas (April 30, 1877 – March 7, 1967) by writing “I love my love because she is peculiar.”
The 16th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified, granting Congress the authority to collect income taxes. Just wondering: How much have gays and lesbians paid in taxes without full civil rights?
Jonathan Ned Katz (born Feb. 3, 1938) is an American historian of human sexuality who has written about same-sex attraction and changes in the social organization of sexuality over time. His works focus on the idea, rooted in social constructionism, that the categories with which we describe and define human sexuality are historically and culturally specific, along with the social organization of sexual activity, desire, relationships, and sexual identities. His works include The Invention of Heterosexuality, the Gay/Lesbian Almanac and Gay American History: Lesbians and Gay Men in the U.S.A.
Nathan Lane (born February 3, 1956) is an American stage, film and television actor and writer. He is known for his roles as Albert in The Birdcage, Bialystok in the musical The Producers, Ernie Smuntz in Mouse Hunt, Nathan Detroit in Guys and Dolls, Pseudolus in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, his voice work in Stuart Little as Snowbell and The Lion King as Timon, and his recurring roles on Modern Family, The Good Wife, and American Crime Story: The People v. O. J. Simpson as F. Lee Bailey. In 2006, Lane received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and in 2008, he was inducted into the American Theatre Hall of Fame. Lane, who came out officially after the death of Matthew Shepard (December 1, 1976 – October 12, 1998), has been a long-time board member of and fundraiser for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, and has been honored by the Human Rights Campaign and the Matthew Shepard Foundation for his work in the LGBT community. On November 17, 2015, Lane married his long-time partner, theater producer, actor and writer Devlin Elliott (born April 13, 1972).
In Toronto, the House of Bishops of the Anglican Church of Canada affirmed that gay people “are entitled to equal protection under the law with all other Canadian citizens.”
Cameron “Butchie” Tanner (died April 21, 1992) was a bartender and drag performer in San Francisco. On this day, he was elected Empress of San Francisco and awarded the Certificate of Honor by the City of San Francisco through the efforts of Supervisor Hongisto. On March 11, 1992, after having seen a movie at a theater in the Latin area below Castro, he was beaten by two thugs with baseball bats. He died from his injuries on April 21, 1992. Although he was not transgender, and it is believed that his killers were not aware that he was gay, he is often included in several transgender memorial lists.
The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force publishes its report on transgender discrimination, entitled “Injustice at Every Turn: Report on the National Transgender Discrimination Survey.”
On this day the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity issued a regulation to prohibit discrimination in federally-assisted housing programs. The new regulations ensure that the Department’s core housing programs are open to all eligible persons, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.
Social reformer Jeremy Bentham (4 February 1747– 6 June 1832) wrote the first known argument for homosexual law reform in England around 1785, at a time when the legal penalty for buggery was death by hanging. His advocacy stemmed from his utilitarian philosophy, in which the morality of an action is determined by the net consequence of that action on human well-being. He argued that homosexuality was a victimless crime, and therefore not deserving of social approbation or criminal charges. He regarded popular negative attitudes against homosexuality as an irrational prejudice, fanned and perpetuated by religious teachings. However, he did not publicize his views as he feared reprisal; his powerful essay was not published until 1978.
On a speaking tour, Edith Lees Ellis (1861-Sept. 14, 1916), open lesbian wife of Havelock Ellis (2 February 1859 – 8 July 1939), exhorts women to begin “organizing a new love world.” She was an English writer and women’s rights activist. From the beginning, their marriage was unconventional; at the end of the honeymoon Havelock went back to his bachelor rooms and Edith had several affairs with women, of which her husband was aware. Their open marriage was the central subject in Havelock Ellis’s autobiography My Life (1939).
Nazi Thugs fire guns into a Vienna homophile gathering attended by Magnus Hirschfeld (14 May 1868 – 14 May 1935) and wound a number of people in the crowd. Hirschfeld was a German Jewish physician and sexologist educated primarily in Germany; he based his practice in Berlin-Charlottenburg. An outspoken advocate for sexual minorities, Hirschfeld founded the Scientific Humanitarian Committee. Historian Dustin Goltz characterized this group as having carried out “the first advocacy for homosexual and transgender rights.”
Eleanor Roosevelt (October 11, 1884 – November 7, 1962) writes to her lover journalist Lorena Hickok (March 7, 1893 – May 1, 1968) about how lucky they are. “Someday perhaps fate will be kind and let us arrange a life more to our liking [but] for the time being we are lucky to have what we have. Dearest, we are happy together and strong relationships have to grow deep roots.” The nature of Hickok and Roosevelt’s relationship has been a subject of dispute among historians. Roosevelt was close friends with several lesbian couples, including Marion Dickerman (April 11, 1890 – May 16, 1983), educator Esther Lape (October 8, 1881 – May 17, 1981) and scholar and suffragist Elizabeth Fisher Read (1872 – December 13, 1943), suggesting that she understood lesbianism. Marie Souvestre (28 April 1830 – 30 March 1905), Roosevelt’s childhood teacher and a great influence on her later thinking, was also a lesbian.
Gay writer and historian Martin Greif (February 4, 1938 – November 17, 1996) was born in New York City. He was an American editor, lecturer, publisher and writer. A prolific writer, Greif was one of the first people to compile a history of gays and lesbians and biographies of some of the most illustrious people in time. Main Street Press was founded in 1978 by Greif and his life partner, Lawrence Grow, in Clinton, New Jersey. Grow died of a stroke associated with AIDS in 1991. Greif died of an AIDS-related illness in November 1996.
Twenty year old French actress and star of The Last Tango in Paris, Maria Schneider (27 March 1952 – 3 February 2011) admits to the New York Times that she is bisexual, stating “I’ve had quite a few lovers for my age. More men than women…women I love more for beauty than for sex. Men I love for grace and intelligence.” In early 1976, she abandoned the film set of Caligula and checked herself into a mental hospital in Rome for several days to be with her lover, photographer Joan Townsend. Schneider died of breast cancer on 3 February 2011 at age 58.
Police raid Sauna Aquarius in Montreal and arrest thirty-six people as found-ins in a common bawdyhouse. It was the beginning of a police “clean-up” for the 1976 Montreal Olympic Games.
Congressman Jon Hinson (R-Mississippi) (March 16, 1942 – July 21, 1995) is arrested for performing an act of “oral sodomy” with a twenty-eight year-old man in the restroom of a House of Representatives office building. He pleads no contest and is given a thirty-day suspended sentence. Following his 1981 resignation, he became an LGBT activist in metropolitan Washington D.C. Hinson died of respiratory failure resulting from AIDS in Silver Spring, Maryland, at the age of fifty-three.
On this day, author Randy Shilts’ (August 8, 1951 – February 17, 1994) investigative journalism book And the Band Played On is published. It chronicles the 1980–1985 discovery and spread of HIV/AIDS, government indifference, and political infighting in the United States to what was initially perceived as a gay disease. Shilts himself would die of the disease on February 17, 1994.
Liberace (May 16, 1919 – February 4, 1987) dies at the age of 62 in Palm Springs from AIDS-related illnesses. Just two weeks earlier his publicists had denied a Las Vegas Sun story which claimed he had the disease. He is buried in the Los Angeles Forest Lawn Cemetery. Władziu Valentino Liberace was known as Liberace. He was an American pianist, singer, and actor. A child prodigy and the son of working-class immigrants, Liberace enjoyed a career spanning four decades of concerts, recordings, television, motion pictures, and endorsements. At the height of his fame, from the 1950s to the 1970s, Liberace was the highest-paid entertainer in the world. Liberace embraced a lifestyle of flamboyant excess both on and off stage, acquiring the sobriquet “Mr. Showmanship.” In 1982, Scott Thorson (born January 23, 1959), Liberace’s 22-year-old former chauffeur and live-in lover of five years, sued the pianist for $113 million in palimony after he was let go by Liberace. Liberace continued to deny that he was homosexual and HIV-positive, and during court depositions in 1984, he insisted that Thorson was never his lover. The case was settled out of court in 1986, with Thorson receiving a $75,000 cash settlement plus three cars and three pet dogs worth another $20,000. Thorson stated after Liberace’s death that he settled because he knew that Liberace was dying and that he had intended to sue based on conversion of property rather than palimony. In a 2011 interview, actress and close friend Betty White stated that Liberace was indeed gay and that she was often used as a beard by his managers to counter public rumors of the musician’s homosexuality. Behind the Candelabra, a film adaptation of Scott Thorson’s autobiography debuted on HBO in May 2013. Michael Douglas plays Liberace and Matt Damon played Thorson in a story centered on the relationship the two shared and its aftermath.
The Massachusetts high court rules that only full, equal marriage rights for gay couples, not civil unions, would be constitutional. “The history of our nation has demonstrated that separate is seldom, if ever, equal,” an advisory opinion from the four justices who ruled in favor of gay marriage stated. A bill creating only civil unions, not full marriage rights, would be “unconstitutional, inferior, and discriminatory status for same-sex couples.”
Author William S. Burroughs (February 5, 1914 – August 2, 1997) was born in St Louis. Burroughs was a primary figure of the Beat Generation and a major postmodernist author whose influence is considered to have affected a range of popular culture as well as literature. Burroughs wrote eighteen novels and novellas, six collections of short stories and four collections of essays. He shunned the wealth of his business machine-making family to work a number of jobs but his most famous accomplishment was as a writer. His addiction to drugs led to his first novel Junkie. His highlight was the 1959 hit Naked Lunch, a highly controversial work that was the subject of a court case after it was challenged as being in violation of the U.S. sodomy laws. The 25th anniversary edition of Queer, published in 2010, edited by Oliver Harris, called into question Burroughs’s claim, and clarified the importance for Queer of Burroughs’s traumatic relationship with the boyfriend fictionalized in the story as Eugene Allerton.
Toronto police raid gay bathhouses throughout the downtown arresting 286 people and causing hundreds of thousands of dollars damage. Beginning at 11 p.m., more than 150 police simultaneously raided the Club Baths, the Romans II Health and Recreation Spa, the Richmond Street Health Emporium (heavily damaged, it never reopened), and, for the second time, the Barracks. The raids marked a turning point for Toronto’s gay community; as the protests that followed indicated, people weren’t willing to endure derogatory treatment deriding their lifestyle from the police or from any others in spheres of influence, causing more than one participant to consider this the Canadian Stonewall
The film Personal Best opens in New York City. It depicts two women, Mariel Hemingway and Patrice Donnelly, as competing athletes who have a lesbian affair while training for the Olympics.
Arizona Governor Evan Mecham, who at the beginning of his administration tried to purge lesbians and gay men from state government, is impeached by the Arizona House of Representatives.
The Integrated Regional Information Networks reports that “honor killings” by Iraqis against gay family members are common in a report entitled “Iraq: Male homosexuality still a taboo.” The Integrated Regional Information Networks, based in Kenya, states that the 2001 amendment to the criminal code stipulating the death penalty for homosexuality “has not been changed,” despite Paul Bremer’s clear order that the criminal code to go back to its 1980s edition.
Screen actor Ramon Novarro (February 6, 1899 – October 30, 1968) was born in Durango, Mexico. He was a Mexican film, stage and television actor who began his career in silent films in 1917 and eventually became a leading man and one of the top box office attractions of the 1920s and early 1930s. Novarro was promoted by MGM as a “Latin lover” and became known as a sex symbol after the death of Rudolph Valentino (May 6, 1895 – August 23, 1926). Despite being the heart throb of countless women, his real passion was men. In the early 1920s, Novarro had a romantic relationship with composer Harry Partch (June 24, 1901-September 3, 1974) who was working as an usher at the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the time, but Novarro broke off the affair as his acting career began to become successful. He was romantically involved with journalist Herbert Howe (1893–1959) who was also his publicist in the late 1920s, and with a wealthy man from San Francisco, Noël Sullivan. Novarro was murdered on October 30, 1968, by brothers Paul and Tom Ferguson, aged 22 and 17, who called him and offered their sexual services. He had in the past hired prostitutes from an agency to come to his Laurel Canyon home for sex. The Fergusons obtained Novarro’s telephone number from a previous guest.
1971, Sydney, Australia
CAMP (Campaign Against Moral Persecution) holds its first public meetings.
Angelo Pezzana (born September 15, 1940) is the first openly gay person elected to Parliament. He wrote several books including Dentro e fuori – Una autobiografia omosessuale (1996) about the gay liberation movement in Italy.
More than 3,000 people brave the winter cold to protest the previous night’s raid in a demonstration in downtown Toronto. A sit-in at Yonge and Wellesley Streets was the biggest protest of its kind in Toronto.
A decade to the day after John Damien (1933-Dec. 24, 1986) was fired from his job as a racing steward with the Ontario Racing Commission for being gay, his wrongful dismissal suit was to have come to trial but legal maneuvers on the part of racing commission officials stopped it. The civil trial was delayed for seven years. The case was settled out of court for $50,000. Damien died at age 53 of pancreatic cancer on Dec 24, 1986. His death came only 22 days after amendments to the Ontario Human Rights Code gave gays protection against dismissal on the grounds of sexuality.
By a vote of 251-121, the American Bar Association’s House of Delegates approves a referendum in favor of federal rights legislation for lesbians and gay men.
A full-page ad in Globe and Mail, supported by over 800 individuals and groups, calls on Attorney General Roy McMurtry to drop the appeal of the acquittal of The Body Politic. It was the first time an advocacy ad for a gay cause was published in Canadian daily.
1993, The Netherlands
The Netherlands votes to ban discrimination against gays and lesbians.
Jonathan, the son of King Saul, was born. The love affair between Jonathan and David was so great that David betrayed his father for his lover. On his deathbed David is recorded in the Biblical reference 2 Samuel 1:26 as saying “My brother Jonathan, thy love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women.” It could be the first significant reference to a gay love affair ever recorded.
James Dean (February 8, 1931 – September 30, 1955) was born in Marion, Ohio. He was the first major screen idol for gay/bisexual men. His brooding rebellious presence typified the McCarthy era and was the harbinger of the socio-political voice of youth in America. Despite stories of his trysts with men, no proof has ever appeared.
Sometime in the 1940s a sign appeared over the popular Los Angeles bar Barney’s Beanery that read “FAGOTS – STAY OUT.” The message so offended the locals that Life magazine did an article on opposition to the sign in 1964, which included a photograph of the owner steadfastly holding on to it. The owner died in 1968, and efforts continued to have the sign removed. The Gay Liberation Front organized a zap of the restaurant on February 7, 1970 to push for its removal. The sign disappeared that day. The sign was put up and taken down several times over the next 14 years, but the practice ended in December, 1984, days after West Hollywood voted itself into existence. The then-mayor Valerie Terrigno, the entire city council and gay-rights activists marched into Barney’s and relieved the wall of the offending sign. It was held by Morris Kight for many years and now rests in the ONE Archives in Los Angeles.
The U.S. lifts its ban on the employment of lesbian and gay people. It announces that it will consider job applications of open lesbian and gay people on a case-by-case basis going forward for lesbians and gay men for employment in the foreign service and other international agencies.
Tucson changes its Chapter 17 of the City Code to prohibit discrimination and adds the category of “sexual and affectional preference.
Diandrea “Dee” Rees (born February 7, 1977) is an American screenwriter and director. She is known for her feature films Pariah (2011), Bessie (2015), and Mudbound (2017). The latter was adapted from the 2008 novel by the same name by Hillary Jordan and earned Rees an Academy Award nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay. Rees was the first queer Black woman to be nominated for any Academy Award in a writing category. Rees is a lesbian and described Pariah as semi-autobiographical. Since at least 2017, Rees has been in a relationship with poet and writer Sarah M. Broom.
The Oklahoma State House of Representatives passes a so-called “Teacher Fitness” statute which allows local school boards to fire homosexual teachers or any teacher “advocating, encouraging or promoting public or private homosexual activities.” The National Gay Task Force later files suit to challenge the law’s constitutionality.
County Court Judge George Ferguson hears a Crown appeal in Toronto of decision by a Provincial Court judge acquitting The Body Politic of charges related to using the mail to transmit immoral and indecent material.
In an interview reported in the popular press, the president of the USSR Academy of Medical Sciences asserts that homosexuality is a disease that must be fought by all legal means.
The first U.S. lesbian kiss on television occurs between Amanda Donohoe and Michelle Green on L.A. Law.
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in California rules 2–1 that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional because it violates the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. In the ruling, the court said the law “operates with no apparent purpose but to impose on gays and lesbians, through the public law, a majority’s private disapproval of them and their relationships.”
The State of New Hampshire enacts a statute that changed the language of the law to read that “if any Man shall carnally lie with a Man as Man carnally lieth with a Woman.” Thus it was made clear that only sodomy between two men was a crime.
The Commonwealth of Kentucky adopts a statute reducing the penalty for same-sex intercourse from the death penalty to 2-5 years in the jail and penitentiary house.
Elizabeth Bishop (February 8, 1911 – October 6, 1979) was an American poet and short-story writer. She was Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 1949 to 1950, the Pulitzer Prize winner for Poetry in 1956, the National Book Award winner in 1970, and the recipient of the Neustadt International Prize for Literature in 1976. Bishop did not see herself as a “lesbian poet” or as a “female poet” in part because she refused to have her work published in all-female poetry anthologies. Other female poets involved with the women’s movement thought she was hostile to the movement. She lived with at least two female lovers in Key West.
Kanojo no Michi, a novel by Nobuko Yoshiya (12 January 1896 – 11 July 1973), documents two women in love and was made into a film. Yoshiya was a Japanese novelist active in Taishō and Showa period Japan. She was one of modern Japan’s most commercially successful and prolific writers, specializing in serialized romance novels and adolescent girls’ fiction as well as a pioneer in Japanese lesbian literature, including the Class S genre. Several of her stories have been made into films. In January 1923, Yoshiya met Monma Chiyo, a mathematics teacher at a girls’ school in Tokyo. They remained together for over 50 years.
The administration of General Charles de Gaulle decides to maintain the Vichy government’s decree establishing a discriminatory age of consent for same-sex acts.
Nicole LeFavour (born February 8, 1964) is an American politician and educator from Idaho who served as an Idaho State Senator from 2008 to 2012. LeFavour previously served in the Idaho House of Representatives from 2004 until 2008. LeFavour’s partner of 12 years, Carol Growhoski, was, in the later years of LeFavour’s service in the legislature, invited to participate in the “Legisladies, a social organization of legislative spouses. LeFavour was the first ever openly gay member of the Idaho Legislature; her election campaigns have won the backing of the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund.
White House aide Midge Costanza (November 28, 1932 – March 23, 2010) meets with officers of the National Gay Task Force to discuss what the Carter administration can do to further the cause of gay rights. Margaret “Midge” Costanza was an American presidential advisor, social and political activist. A lifelong champion of gay and women’s rights, she was known for her wit, outspoken manner and commitment to her convictions. She was nominated and inducted into the San Diego County Women’s Hall of Fame in 2011 by Women’s Museum of California, Commission on the Status of Women, University of California, San Diego Women’s Center, and San Diego State University Women’s Studies.
At the University of Arizona, Liz Kennedy (born 1939) and Madeline Davis (born 1940) present on butch-fem Imagery and the lesbian fight for public spaces in the 1940s and 1950s. Dr. Elizabeth Lapovsky Kennedy was one of the founding feminists of the field of Women’s Studies and is a lesbian historian whose book Boots of Leather, Slippers of Gold: A History of the Lesbian Community (co-authored with Madeline Davis) documents the lesbian community of Buffalo, New York in the decades before Stonewall. Madeline Davis is a noted rights activist. In 1970 she was a founding member of the Mattachine Society of the Niagara Frontier, the first gay rights organization in Western New York. In 1972, Davis taught the first course on lesbianism in the United States. She was also a founding member of HAG Theater, the first all-lesbian theater company in the US.
The U.S. Senate passes the hate-crimes statistics act, requiring the federal government to compile data on hate crimes against gays and lesbians. It’s the first U.S. law that recognizes gays and lesbians.
The European Parliament, meeting in Strasbourg, approves a resolution initiated by Claudia Roth (born 15 May 1955), representing Germany’s Green Party, that affirms a broadly defined gay and lesbian rights agenda, including the right to marry.
Amy Lowell (February 9, 1874 – May 12, 1925) was born in Brookline. Massachusetts. She was an American poet of the imagist school from Brookline, Massachusetts and posthumously won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1926. A militant literary leader, she thumbed her nose at the Boston Brahmans who raised her and outed herself. Her lover was actress Ada Dwyer (1863–1952) whom she called “Peter.”
Three plays with same-sex love content are raided and the casts and producers are arrested. The plays are The Captive, a controversial play about two women with an “abnormal relationship”; Sex starring Mae West; and The Virgin Man. The three-act melodrama The Captive by Édouard Bourdet was among the first Broadway plays to deal with lesbianism and caused a scandal in New York City. The play was shut down after 160 performances and prompted the adoption of a state law dealing with obscenity; Sex by Jane Mast was “obscene, indecent, immoral, and impure” and put Mae West in prison for 10 days; The Virgin Man was a 1956 Argentine comedy film directed by Román Viñoly Barreto and starring Luis Sandrini.
Sheila James Kuehl (born February 9, 1941) is an American politician and former child actor, currently a member of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors for the 3rd District. In 1994, she became the first openly gay California legislator and in 1997, she was the first woman to be named Speaker pro Tempore in California. Kuehl served as a Democratic member of the California State Senate, representing the 23rd district in Los Angeles County and parts of southern Ventura County. A former member of the California State Assembly, she was elected to the Senate in 2000 and served until December 2008. She was elected to her supervisorial post in 2014. As a child actress she performed under the stage name Sheila James. The role for which she is probably best known is her portrayal of teenaged genius Zelda Gilroy, the wannabe girlfriend of the title character in the television series The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, which aired on CBS from 1959 to 1963. Zelda was originally intended to be a one-shot character in the early Dobie Gillis episode “Love is a Science,” but Dobie creator Max Shulman liked Kuehl and had her sign on as a semi-regular cast member. Since 2010, Kuehl has hosted Get Used To It, a national cable show on LGBT issues, filmed in West Hollywood.
Alice Walker (born February 9, 1944) is born. She is an African American novelist, short story writer, poet, and activist. She wrote the novel The Color Purple (1982) for which she won the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. She also wrote the novels Meridian (1976) and The Third Life of Grange Copeland (1970), among other works. Walker dislikes labels but acknowledges having been in love with both men and women and, in a 1996 Essence article, described herself as bisexual. In the mid-1990s, Walker was involved in a romance with singer-songwriter Tracy Chapman (born March 30, 1964), saying “It was delicious and lovely and wonderful and I totally enjoyed it and I was completely in love with her but it was not anybody’s business but ours.”
Barely a month after the TV show All in the Family takes to the air, Archie discovers that one of his bar buddies, an ex-football player, is gay. This is the first instance in which a network television program aired a positive plotline involving a gay issue.
The world’s first gay and lesbian film festival premieres in San Francisco. Frameline is the oldest ongoing film festival devoted to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) programming currently in existence.
Pope John Paul II attacks the European Parliament resolution in favor of lesbian and gay rights.
The leader of the “moral majority” and founder of the anti-gay hate bastion Liberty University, the “Reverend” Jerry Falwell, claims on this day that the purple-colored Teletubby named Tinky-Winky is gay.
The Canadian House passes a law protecting gender expression rights.
Adam Rippon (born November 11, 1989) is an American figure skater. He won the 2010 Four Continents Championships and the 2016 U.S. National Championships. Rippon was selected to represent the United States at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, Korea where he won a bronze medal thus becoming the first openly gay U.S. male athlete to win a medal in a Winter Olympics. Later that year, he won season 26 of Dancing with the Stars with professional dancer Jenna Johnson, making Rippon the first openly gay celebrity to win the competition.
William “Big Bill” Tilden (February 10, 1893 – June 5, 1953) is born in Philadelphia. Almost as popular as Babe Ruth, Tilden was America’s tennis hero. He is often considered one of the greatest tennis players of all time. Tilden was the World No. 1 player from 1920 through 1925. During his lifetime, however, he was a flamboyant character who was never out of the public eye, acting in both movies and plays as well as playing tennis. He also had two arrests for sexual misconduct with teenage boys in the late 1940s; these led to incarcerations in the Los Angeles area. After his convictions he was shunned in public. He was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1959, six years after his death.
The German League for the Protection of Mothers and Sexual Reform (Deutscher Bund für Mutterschutz und Sexualreform) condemns anti-gay Paragraph 175 and voices its rejection of attempts to extend the law to cover women as well as men.
Mansel Vardaman Boyle (1877-1945), the “Gay Deceiver,” appears in a burlesque show. He was a famous and successful female impersonator of the day and was living with gay silent film star J. Warren Kerrigan (July 25, 1879 – June 9, 1947) in Los Angeles from at least 1936 to 1938, though Kerrigan’s long-time lover was actor James Carroll Vincent (November 9, 1897 – May 15, 1948).
Ellen Marie Barrett (born February 10, 1946) is an American priest of the Episcopal Church. She was the first open lesbian to be ordained to the priesthood following the Episcopal Church’s General Convention approval of the ordination of women in 1977. Barrett’s candor about her homosexuality caused great controversy within the church. Even prior to her ordination, she was a prominent spokesperson for the rights of gays and lesbians in the church, especially regarding their ordination.
Garry Trudeau’s “Doonesbury” introduces a gay character, Andy Lippincott who had first appeared a month earlier. Five newspapers refuse to carry the story arc of Andy’s coming out to Joanie Caucus. Lippincott appears on and off in the daily strip for years. In 1989, he returned to the strip when he is diagnosed with AIDS. Over the course of the next year, Lippincott’s battles with the disease, and eventual death from it, helped bring the AIDS crisis into popular culture.
The Moral Majority (which was neither) announces it will spend three million dollars in anti-gay advertising.
President Reagan nominates that evangelist and noted homophobe Sam Hart will fill a vacancy on the U.S. Civil Rights Commission. Hart withdraws as protests mount, blaming the homosexuals for “sabotaging” his nomination.
A spokesman for the San Francisco Giants tells a banquet audience that the Giants are planning to set up a special seating section for their gay fans. Instead of the grandstand, he ‘jokes’ by saying, “We’re going to call it the ‘fruit stand.”
Bill Sherwood (June 14, 1952 – February 10, 1990), director of the film Parting Glances, dies of AIDS at age thirty-seven. He was an American musician, screenwriter and film director.
The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upholds a ruling that the state of Idaho must provide gender confirmation surgery for Adree Edmo, an inmate in the custody of the Idaho Department of Correction. The ruling marks the first time a federal appeals court has ruled that a state must provide gender assignment surgery to an incarcerated person.
Simeon Solomon (9 October 1840 – 14 August 1905) was an English Pre-Raphaelite painter noted for his depictions of Jewish life and same-sex desire as well as a poet. Solomon and George Roberts, a stableman, are arrested at a public urinal in London and charged with the Crime of Buggery.
At the San Francisco trial of the four people arrested at the Council on Religion and the Homosexual’s New Year’s Ball, the judge orders the jury to find the defendants not guilty. The decision is widely seen as a turning point in the homophile movement’s fight for gay and lesbian civil rights.
Organized by the owner of the gay bar Pandora’s Box, and built on the Black Cat protests of weeks earlier, about 200 LGBT people watch as 40 picketers demonstrate in front of the Black Cat in coordination with hippies and other counterculture groups who had been targeted by police for harassment and violence.
In Winnipeg, Richard North and Chris Vogel are married by a Unitarian-Universalist minister. First publicized as “gay marriage” in Canada, it was not recognized by the government.
Anita Bryant gives her first Save Our Children press conference in Florida. She claims she can prove that homosexuals are “trying to recruit our children to homosexuality.”
Adèle Haenel (born 11 February 1989) is a French actress. She has been nominated twice for the César Award for Most Promising Actress; in 2008 for her performance in Water Lilies (2007), and in 2012 for House of Tolerance (2011). In 2014, Haenel began a romantic relationship with the director Céline Sciamma whom she met on the set of Water Lilies. Haenel publicly acknowledged their relationship in her acceptance speech for her César award in 2014.
Kathleen Wynne (born May 21, 1953) is a Canadian politician and the 25th Premier of Ontario. In office since 2013, she is a member of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. She is the first female premier of Ontario and the first openly LGBT head of a provincial or federal government in Canada.
Philipp Friedrich Alexander, Prince of Eulenburg and Hertefeld, Count von Sandels (12 February 1847 – 17 September 1921) was a diplomat and composer of Imperial Germany who achieved considerable influence as the closest friend of Wilhelm II. He was the central member of the so-called Liebenberg Circle, a group of artistically minded German aristocrats within Wilhelm’s entourage. Eulenburg played an important role in the rise of Bernhard von Bülow, but fell from power in 1907 due to the Harden–Eulenburg affair when he was accused of homosexuality.
The film Making Love, starring Kate Jackson, Harry Hamlin and Michael Ontkean, and one of the first positive Hollywood depictions of bisexuality and gay male romance, opened in theaters across the U.S. Producers timed the release of the film with Valentine’s Day weekend. In response to complaints about the film’s depiction of gay love, star Hamlin rather presciently comments “The more radical elements of the gay culture are going to be disappointed by all the films coming out now sponsored by the major studios. A lot of [these people] feel they’re way beyond where these films take us. But the more intelligent know there has to be a groundbreaking ceremony, which is what this is.”
Under the direction of Mayor Gavin Newsom, the City of San Francisco begins performing same-sex marriages, starting with Phyllis Lyon (born November 10, 1924) and Del Martin (May 5, 1921 – August 27, 2008), who had been a couple for 51 years. That marriage was invalidated by the California Supreme Court, but Lyon and Martin married once again on June 16, 2008, a couple of months before Del Martin’s death on August 27, 2008. Over 80 couples were given quick ceremonies. Robin Tyler and Troy Perry (born July 27, 1940), with attorney Gloria Allred, file a lawsuit for marriage equality shortly after the San Francisco marriages were dissolved. One month later, the cases were consolidated. The marriage equality case actually started in Los Angeles rather than San Francisco.
On February 12, 2015, USA Today reported that the commandant of Fort Leavenworth wrote in a February 5th memo, “After carefully considering the recommendation that (hormone treatment) is medically appropriate and necessary, and weighing all associated safety and security risks presented, I approve adding (hormone treatment) to Inmate [Chelsea] Manning’s treatment plan.” According to USA Today, Chelsea Manning remains a soldier, and the decision to administer hormone therapy is a first for the U.S. Army. Manning is a former United States Army soldier who was convicted by court-martial in July 2013 of violations of the Espionage Act and other offenses, after disclosing to WikiLeaks nearly 750,000 classified, or unclassified but sensitive, military and diplomatic documents. She was imprisoned from 2010 until 2017 when her sentence was commuted by President Barack Obama. A trans woman, Manning stated in 2013 that she had a female gender identity since childhood.
Christine Jorgensen (May 30, 1926 – May 3, 1989) returns to New York after receiving sex reassignment surgery in Denmark by Dr. Christian Hamburger. Christine was an American trans woman who was the first person to become widely known in the United States for having sex reassignment surgery. Jorgensen grew up in the Bronx, New York City. Shortly after graduating from high school in 1945, she was drafted into the U.S. Army for World War II. After her service she attended several schools, worked, and around this time heard about sex reassignment surgery. She traveled to Europe and in Copenhagen, Denmark, obtained special permission to undergo a series of operations starting in 1951. Her transition was the subject of a New York Daily News front-page story. She became an instant celebrity, using the platform to advocate for transgender people and became known for her directness and polished wit. She also worked as an actress and nightclub entertainer and recorded several songs.
The film version of Kander and Ebb’s Cabaret, based on Christopher Isherwood’s (26 August 1904 – 4 January 1986) writings about his time in pre-WWII Berlin, has its world premiere in New York City. Unlike the stage version, the film version adheres slightly more closely to the source material and portrays Michael York’s character, Brian (based on Isherwood himself), as bisexual
Thirteen airmen are expelled from the U.S. Air Force after a four-month investigation into homosexual activity at Carswell Air Force base in Texas.
Rent opens on Broadway. It is a rock musical with music, lyrics, and book by Jonathan Larson (February 4, 1960 – January 25, 1996), loosely based on Giacomo Puccini’s opera La Bohème. It tells the story of a group of impoverished young artists struggling to survive and create a life in New York City‘s East Village in the thriving days of Bohemian Alphabet City under the shadow of HIV/AIDS. Larsen was an American composer and playwright noted for exploring the social issues of multiculturalism, addiction, and homophobia in his work. Typical examples of his use of these themes are found in his works, Rent and tick, tick… BOOM! He received three posthumous Tony Awards and a posthumous Pulitzer Prize for Drama for Rent. Larson died unexpectedly the morning of Rent’s first preview performance Off Broadway on January 25, 1996.
London’s first Bi-Fest march and festival is held.
Del Martin (May 5, 1921 – August 27, 2008) and Phyllis Lyon (born November 10, 1924) meet in 1950, become partners in 1952. On this day in 1953 they moved in together. They founded Daughters of Bilitis and, decades later, were the first couple in the U.S. to be legally married.
British-American writer, Christopher Isherwood (26 August 1904 – 4 January 1986), 48, meets portrait artist Don Bachardy (born May 18, 1934), 18, in California. They were partners until Isherwood’s death in 1986.
First meeting of the Alice B. Toklas Democratic Club, named for the partner of Gertrude Stein (February 3, 1874 – July 27, 1946), takes place in San Francisco. It was founded by political activist Jim Foster, becoming the country’s first gay Democratic political club. Gertrude was an American novelist, poet, playwright, and art collector. Born in the Allegheny West neighborhood of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and raised in Oakland, California, Stein moved to Paris in 1903, and made France her home for the remainder of her life. She hosted a Paris salon, where the leading figures of modernism in literature and art, such as Pablo Picasso, Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Sinclair Lewis, Ezra Pound, and Henri Matisse, would meet. Alice Toklas (April 30, 1877 – March 7, 1967) was an American-born member of the Parisian avant-garde of the early 20th century, and the life partner of American writer Gertrude Stein.
In Toronto Judge Sydney Harris finds Pink Triangle Press, publisher of The Body Politic, and three officers not guilty of publishing obscenity.
Elton John (25 March 1947) marries German recording tech Renate Blauel in Sydney. They divorce in 1988 after he comes out as gay. John is an English singer, pianist, and composer. He has worked with lyricist Bernie Taupin as his songwriting partner since 1967; they have collaborated on more than 30 albums to date. In his five-decade career Elton John has sold more than 300 million records, making him one of the best-selling music artists in the world. In 1993, he began a relationship with David Furnish(born 25 October 1962), a former advertising executive and now filmmaker originally from Toronto, Canada. On December 21, 2005 (the day the UK Civil Partnership Act became law), John and Furnish were among the first couples in the UK to form a civil partnership, which was held at the Windsor Guildhall. After marriage equality became legal in England in March 2014, John and Furnish married in Windsor, Berkshire, on December 21, 2014, the ninth anniversary of their civil partnership. They have two sons.
Three lesbians appear on The Oprah Winfrey Show. Yolanda Retter Vargas (December 4, 1947 – August 18, 2007) and two other women spoke of “lesbian separatism,” an offshoot of a feminist movement that strikes against male patriarchy in all levels of society. Vargas, then Director of Women’s Programs at LA’s Lesbian Center, and her friends were introduced as “women who hate men,” a label that made it all the easier for bigots to hate them and for LGBT activists to compare the women to conservatives. It was not a high point for lesbians, feminists or Oprah, and was just one of the many sensationalized gay stories Oprah covered during this era. In addition to a comparatively progressive 1986 episode on homophobia, Oprah aired “Women Who Turn to Lesbianism” (1988), “All the Family is Gay” (1991), “Straight Spouses and Gay Ex-Husbands” (1992) and “Lesbians and Gay Baby Boom” (1993). Oprah has since become a vocal supporter for equality and LGBT civil rights off-camera, too, and in 2013 suggested that same-sex couples can actually help strengthen the institution of marriage.
San Francisco becomes the first city to register same-sex domestic partners.
Police raid an LGBT Rights conference after the state minister orders the conference to be stopped.
Bill T. Jones (born February 15, 1952) is an American artistic, choreographer and dancer. Jones has received numerous awards for his work including the 2010 Tony Award for Best Choreography for his work in Fela! Jones and his lover of 17 years, Arnie Zane (September 26, 1948 – March 30, 1988) danced and choreographed together. As an openly gay interracial couple they pushed the envelope and challenged their audiences’ preconceived notions about gender, race and sexuality. In 1982, they cofounded the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company. In 1986, Zane was diagnosed with AIDS which claimed his life two years later. Watching his life partner die gave Jones a new sense of passion and urgency. Jones continues to dance and choreograph for the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company.
William Friedkin’s Cruising opens nationwide and is blasted by critics (gay and straight) for its depiction of homosexuality, but also, as one critic puts it, “[its] narrative loopholes [and] unconvincing plot twists.”
Lesbian playwright Jane Chambers (27 March 1937 – February 15, 1983), author if A Late Snow and Last Summer at Bluefish Cove dies of a brain tumor at the age of 45. She was a “pioneer in writing theatrical works with openly lesbian characters.” Beth Allen was her lover, companion and manager.
A Los Angeles jury awards Rock Hudson’s (November 17, 1925 – October 2, 1985) ex-lover, Marc Christian (born on June 23, 1953) $21.75 million in damages for the emotional distress he claims to have suffered upon learning that Hudson had AIDS. The award is later reduced to $5.5 million.
The Celluloid Closet premiers. The film is a 1995 American documentary film directed and written by Rob Epstein (born April 6, 1955) and Jeffrey Friedman (August 24, 1951). The film is based on Vito Russo‘s (July 11, 1946 – November 7, 1990) book of the same name first published in 1981 and on lecture and film clip presentations he gave in 1972 through 1982. Russo had researched the history of how motion pictures, especially Hollywood films, had portrayed gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender characters. The film was given a limited release in select theatres, including the Castro Theatre in San Francisco, in April 1996, and then shown on the cable channel HBO.
Stephen Brady (born 11 June 1959) and his partner Peter Stephens were the world’s first openly gay ambassadorial couple. Accompanied by Stephens, Brady presented his credentials as Australian Ambassador to Denmark to Queen Margrethe II on February 15,1999.
Fifteen-year-old Lawrence King (January 13, 1993 – February 15, 2008) was shot on Feb. 12, 2008 and died two days later after a verbal exchange with 14-year-old Brandon McInerney in Oxnard, CA. King, an eighth-grader who identified as gay and occasionally wore makeup, high heels and other feminine attire to E. O. Green Junior High School, was shot in the head while in class at school. The story is captured in the documentary Valentine Road by director Marta Cunningham.
Premier of RuPaul’s Drag Race American reality TV series. RuPaul Andre Charles (born November 17, 1960) is an American drag queen, actor, model, singer, songwriter, television personality, and author. Since 2009, he has produced and hosted the reality competition series RuPaul’s Drag Race for which he received two Primetime Emmy Awards in 2016 and 2017. RuPaul is widely considered to be the most commercially successful drag queen of all time. In 2017, he was included in the annual Time 100 list of the most influential people in the world. RuPaul has been with his Australian partner, Georges LeBar, since 1994, when they met at the Limelight nightclub in New York City. They married in January, 2017. LeBar is a painter and runs their 50-acre ranch in Wyoming.
Robbie Rogers (born May 12, 1987) is a television producer and former American professional soccer player. On this day, Rogers came out as gay, becoming the second male soccer player in Britain to do so after Justin Fashanu (19 February 1961 – 2 May 1998) in 1990. On May 26, 2013, he became the first openly gay man to compete in a top North American professional sports league when he played his first match for the LA Galaxy. Rogers began dating television writer/producer Greg Berlanti (born May 24, 1972). In 2013, and again on February 18, 2016, they welcomed their children via surrogacy. They were married on December 2, 2017, in Malibu, California.
American feminist Susan B. Anthony (February 15, 1820 – March 13, 1906) was born in Adams, Massachusetts. She was an American social reformer and women’s rights activist who played a pivotal role in the women’s suffrage movement. Born into a Quaker family committed to social equality, she collected anti-slavery petitions at the age of 17. In 1856, she became the New York state agent for the American Anti-Slavery Society. The lesbian orator Anna Dickinson (October 28, 1842 – October 22, 1932) hailed as “America’s Joan of Arc” during the Civil War for rallying the war-weary Union forces to victory with her fiery speeches, became the target of Anthony’s affections in the 1860s. The relationship cooled by the early 1870s. Dickinson went on to have a series of girlfriends over the years and finally settled into a 30+ year relationship with a married woman, Sallie Ackley.
The term “Boston Marriage,” which describes a long-term cohabiting relationship between two women, is written for the first time. Novelist Henry James uses it in his book The Bostonians. Henry James (15 April 1843 – 28 February 1916) 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. Born in the United States, James largely relocated to Europe as a young man and eventually settled in England, becoming a British subject in 1915, one year before his death. James was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1911, 1912, and 1916. Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick’s (May 2, 1950 – April 12, 2009) Epistemology of the Closet made a landmark difference to Jamesian scholarship by arguing that he be read as a homosexual writer whose desire to keep his sexuality a secret shaped his layered style and dramatic artistry.
Katharine Cornell (February 16, 1893 – June 9, 1974) was an American stage actress, writer, theater owner and producer. She married Guthrie McClintic (August 6, 1893 – October 29, 1961) in 1921, a successful theatre director, film director, and producer based in New York, but it is generally acknowledged that Cornell was a lesbian and McClintic was gay, and their union was a lavender marriage. She was a member of the “sewing circle” in New York and had relationships with Nancy Hamilton (July 27, 1908 – February 18, 1985), Tallulah Bankhead (January 31, 1902 – December 12, 1968), and Mercedes de Acosta (March 1, 1893 – May 9, 1968), among others.
The great English film director John Schlesinger (16 February 1926 – 25 July 2003) was born on this date. His Midnight Cowboy (1969) was panned by critics for being too gay, and by gay activists for not being gay enough. Schlesinger died in Palm Springs at the age of 77. He was survived by his partner of over 30 years, photographer Michael Childers.
John Grannan (Feb. 16, 1947-Jan. 31, 2018) was born. An activist in Florida, he died without any remembrance from the LGBT community. John served in the United States Navy at the Pentagon in Washington D.C. and then attended the University of South Florida (USF) in Tampa, Florida. He worked at USF for the State of Florida as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor for 27 years before retiring and moving to his hometown in Citrus County where his roots and history ran deep. Grannan graduated from Crystal River High School in 1965 where he was senior class president and yearbook editor. John had another life as well. John was a powerful mover and shaker in the LGBT rights movement in Florida from about 1978 to probably 2010. John served as both the treasurer and then director of the board of the Florida (LGBT civil rights) Task Force in Tallahassee from the late 1970s and into the 80s. When he left the Task Force, he and three others – Bill Cagle, Herbert Murray and John Snyder – created the Tampa Bay Area Human Rights Council. John was one of the early initial brokers in developing Florida’s LGBT community.
Famed pop artist Keith Haring (May 4, 1958 – February 16, 1990) dies from AIDS-related diseases at age 31. Six months earlier he had been quoted as saying, “The hardest thing is just knowing that there’s so much more stuff to do.” He was an American artist whose pop art and graffiti-like work grew out of the New York City street culture of the 1980s. Haring’s work grew to iconic popularity from his exuberant spontaneous drawings in New York City subways – chalk outlines on blank black advertising-space backgrounds – depicting radiant babies, flying saucers, and deified dogs. After public recognition he created larger scale works such as colorful murals, many of them commissioned. His imagery has become a widely recognized visual language. His later work often addressed political and societal themes – especially of homosexuality and AIDS – through his own unique iconography.
The Direct Action group OUTRAGE! organizes a gay and lesbian kiss-in at Piccadilly Circus in protest of a section of the Sexual Offences Act that makes public displays of affection between men illegal. Also on this day in London, 7,000 demonstrators march to protest the recent arrest of gay male s/m devotees and other anti-gay/lesbian initiatives.
An episode of the Simpsons called “Homer’s Phobia” airs, exploring gay themes.
Lesbian singer Leslie Gore (May 2, 1946 – February 16, 2015) dies at 68. She was an American singer, songwriter, actress, and activist. At the age of 16 (in 1963) she recorded the pop hit “It’s My Party” and followed it up with other hits including “Judy’s Turn to Cry,” “She’s a Fool,” “You Don’t Own Me,” “Maybe I Know” and “California Nights.” Gore also worked as an actress and composed songs with her brother Michael Gore for the 1980 film Fame for which she was nominated for an Academy Award. She hosted an LGBT-oriented public television show, In the Life, on American TV in the 2000s, and was active until 2014. In a 2005 interview with After Ellen, she stated she was a lesbian and had been in a relationship with luxury jewelry designer Lois Sassoon since 1982. She had known since she was 20 and stated that although the music business was “totally homophobic,” she never felt she had to pretend she was straight. At the time of her death, Gore and Sassoon had been together for 33 years.
Washington State Supreme Court rules against discrimination based on sexual orientation in the “gay wedding flowers” case. The Washington Supreme Court ruled unanimously that a florist who refused to provide services for a same-sex wedding broke the state’s antidiscrimination law, even though she claimed doing so would violate her religious beliefs.
Friedrich Alfred Krupp (17 February 1854 – 22 November 1902) was a German steel manufacturer of the company Krupp. He was the son of Alfred Krupp and inherited the family business when his father died in 1887. Whereas his father had largely supplied iron and steel, Friedrich shifted his company’s production back to arms manufacturing. Friedrich greatly expanded Krupp and acquired the Germaniawerf in 1896 which gave him control of warship manufacturing in Germany. He oversaw the development of nickel steel, U-boats, the diesel engine, and much more. He died in 1902 of apparent suicide after his homosexual activities and orgies were published in a newspaper. In the Second Reich, homosexuality was considered one of the worst crimes. Under paragraph of the German Penal Code Paragraph 175, it was punishable by years of hard labor.
Cheryl Ann Jacques (born February 17, 1962), an American politician and attorney who served six terms in the Massachusetts Senate, was the president of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) for 11 months and served as an administrative judge in the Massachusetts Department of Industrial Accidents. Jacques became president of HRC in 2004, succeeding Elizabeth Birch. She addressed the 2004 Democratic National Convention. She resigned on November 30, 2004, citing “a difference in management philosophy” with her board following criticism of the HRC’s failure to defeat voter referendums in 11 states banning same-sex marriage and, in some cases, civil unions. After leaving HRC, she was counsel to the law firm of Brody, Hardoon, Perkins and Kesten and a consultant on diversity issues to corporations and non-profit organizations. In 2008 Jacques was named a Department of Industrial Accidents Administrative Judge by Governor Deval Patrick. On March 12, 2012 the State Ethics Commission charged her with violating Massachusetts’ conflict-of-interest law after she allegedly tried to use her clout as a judge to have a dentist office reduce her brother’s-in-law bill. Jacques contended that she never intended to introduce her position but did so “inadvertently.” The ethics commission found in favor of Jacques on the grounds that the enforcement division failed to prove that Jacques used her official position to intervene in the dispute. In 2014, Governor Patrick chose not to reappoint Jacques, which she alleged was in retaliation for a gender discrimination lawsuit. In 2004, Jacques married Jennifer Chrisler.
The first public gay demonstration in Atlantic Canada is held in Halifax. It was part of a nationally coordinated protest against CBC Radio’s refusal to air gay public service announcements that also included demonstrations in Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Winnipeg, and Vancouver.
Chicago’s new gay rights ordinance takes effect. It mandates fines up to $500 for discrimination based on sexual orientation.
Facebook expands relationship language to add civil unions and domestic partners.
“Emo Killings” begin in Iraq. The series of killings targets young men who appear outside the mainstream, especially gay and “emo” youth. Emo is a style of fashion which includes skinny jeans. On this day, Saif Raad Asmar Abboudi, 20, is beaten to death with a brick. Like many places in the Muslim world, homosexuality is extremely taboo in Iraq. Anyone perceived to be gay is considered a fair target, and the perpetrators of the violence often go free. The militants likely behind the violence intimidate the local police and residents so there is even less incentive to investigate the crimes.
Henry David Thoreau (July 12, 1817 – May 6, 1862) was an American essayist, poet, philosopher, abolitionist, naturalist, tax resister, development critic, surveyor, and historian. A leading transcendentalist, Thoreau is best known for his book Walden, a reflection upon simple living in natural surroundings, and his essay “Civil Disobedience” (originally published as “Resistance to Civil Government”), an argument for disobedience to an unjust state. On this day, he writes about same-sex love in his journal. “All romance is grounded on friendship” is one of his many references to love and friendship between men. Thoreau never married and was childless. He strove to portray himself as an ascetic puritan. However, his sexuality has long been the subject of speculation, including by his contemporaries. Critics have called him heterosexual, homosexual, or asexual. There is no evidence to suggest he had physical relations with anyone, man or woman. Some scholars have suggested that homoerotic sentiments run through his writings and concluded that he was homosexual.
Audre Lorde (February 18, 1934 – November 17, 1992) is born. Lorde described herself as “a black feminist lesbian mother poet” and sometimes “warrior.” Her first poem was published while she was still in high school. Besides poetry, she wrote essays and novels. Eventually she became a professor and was given the great honor of being named Poet Laureate of New York State. She was known to describe herself as African American, Black, dyke, feminist, poet, mother, etc. In her novel Zami: A New Spelling of My Name, Lorde focuses on how her many different identities shape her life and the different experiences she has because of them. Lorde died of liver cancer at age 58 on November 17, 1992, in St. Croix, where she had been living with Gloria I. Joseph. In an African naming ceremony before her death, she took the name Gamba Adisa which means Warrior: She Who Makes Her Meaning Known.
The film Bringing Up Baby with Cary Grant premieres. It’s the first time the word “gay” is used in reference to homosexuality.
The first meeting of the coalition of 14 gay rights groups that will become the Organization stakes place in Kansas City, Missouri.
Nancy Hamilton (July 27, 1908 – February 18, 1985) dies on this day. She was an American actress, playwright, lyricist, director and producer. Hamilton was the lifelong partner of legendary actress Katharine Cornell (February 16, 1893 – June 9, 1974). Hamilton is perhaps best known as the lyricist for the popular song, “How High the Moon.
Members of GATE, the Gay Alliance Toward Equality, picket the Ontario Human Rights Commission on University Avenue for inclusion of gays and lesbians in human rights protections.
Norma Leah McCorvey (September 22, 1947 – February 18, 2017), better known by the legal pseudonym “Jane Roe,” dies. She was the plaintiff in the landmark American lawsuit Roe v. Wade in 1973. Later, McCorvey’s views on abortion changed substantially; she became a Roman Catholic active in the pro-life movement. While working at a restaurant, Norma met Woody McCorvey and married him at the age of 16. She later left him and moved in with her mother and gave birth to her first child, Melissa, in 1965. After Melissa’s birth, McCorvey developed a serious drinking problem. Soon after, she came out and identified as a lesbian. For many years, she had lived quietly in Dallas with her long-time partner Connie Gonzales. “We’re not like other lesbians, going to bars,” she explained in a New York Times interview. Later in life, McCorvey stated that she was no longer a lesbian.
American novelist Carson McCullers (February 19, 1917 – September 29, 1967) is born. She was an American novelist, short story writer, playwright, essayist, and poet who and wrote some of the best novels in the English language: The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter, The Member of The Wedding, and Reflections In A Golden Eye. She married a gay man, Reeves McCullers, and fell in love with a number of women. Her most documented and extended love obsession was with Swiss journalist, photographer Annemarie Schwarzenbach (23 May 1908 – 15 November 1942) of whom she once wrote, “She had a face that I knew would haunt me for the rest of my life.” McCullers had rheumatic fever at the age of 15 and suffered from strokes that began in her youth. By the age of 31 her left side was entirely paralyzed. She lived the last twenty years of her life in Nyack, New York, where she died on September 29, 1967, at the age of 50, after a brain hemorrhage.
Womyn on Wheels Valentines Dance is held at the Unitarian Church in Tucson featuring the band Labrys.
The Crying Game, a film written and directed by Neil Jordan, portrays the relationship between a transsexual woman and an IRA fighter in London. In 1999, the British Film Institute named it the 26th greatest British film of all time.
Sylvia Rivera (July 2, 1951 – February 19, 2002) dies at age 50. She was an American gay liberation and transgender activist and self-identified drag queen. She was a founding member of both the Gay Liberation Front and the Gay Activists Alliance. With her close friend Marsha P. Johnson, Rivera co-founded the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR), a group dedicated to helping homeless young drag queens and trans women of color. As a transgender (MTF) teen, Rivera was among those who resisted police brutality in the Stonewall Rebellion, the days of rioting that launched the modern gay rights movement. Later in her life, she was instrumental in opening shelters for homeless and drug-addicted transgender people and worked to help pass LGBT- inclusive non-discrimination legislation. Rivera died during the dawn hours of February 19, 2002 at New York’s St. Vincent’s Hospital, of complications from liver cancer. Transgender activist Riki Wilchins (born 1952) noted, “In many ways, Sylvia was the Rosa Parks of the modern transgender movement, a term that was not even coined until two decades after Stonewall”.
This is the first day same sex couples can lawfully register in the state of New Jersey for the recognized legal status of “Civil Union.”
The South Carolina legislature introduced a bill entitled the “Marriage and Constitution Restoration Act” which classifies same-sex marriage as “parody” marriage. “Parody” marriage means any form of marriage that does not involve one man and one woman,” read the bill. “Marriage means a union of one man and one woman.”
William Lygon, the Seventh Earl Beauchamp (20 February 1872 – 14 November 1938) was born in London. He was Governor of New South Wales between 1899 and 1901, a member of the Liberal administrations of Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman and H. H. Asquith between 1905 and 1915 and leader of the Liberal Party in the House of Lords between 1924 and 1931. When political enemies threatened to make public his homosexuality, he resigned from office to go into exile.
Roy Cohn (February 20, 1927 – August 2, 1986) is born. During Senator Joseph McCarthy‘s investigations into Communist activity in the United States during the Second Red Scare, Cohn served as McCarthy’s chief counsel and gained special prominence during the Army-McCarthy hearings. He was also known for being a Justice prosecutor at the espionage trial of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg and later for representing Donald Trump during his early business career. Cohn was vehemently anti-gay. When Cohn brought on G. David Schine as chief consultant to the McCarthy staff, speculation arose that Schine and Cohn had a sexual relationship. Speculation about Cohn’s sexuality intensified following his death from AIDS in 1986. In 2008, Roger Stone said, “Roy was not gay. He was a man who liked having sex with men. Gays were weak, effeminate. He always seemed to have these young blond boys around. It just wasn’t discussed. He was interested in power and access.” The Names Project’s AIDS memorial quilt features one anonymously-added square that read: “Roy Cohn: Bully, Coward, Victim.”
Count Hubert James Marcel Taffin de Givenchy (20 February 1927– 10 March 2018) was a French fashion designer who founded the house of Givenchy in 1952. He was famous for having designed much of the personal and professional wardrobe of Audrey Hepburn and clothing for Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy. He was named to the International Best Dressed List Hall of Fame in 1970. His partner was Philippe Venet.
Seven men, including Winnipeg Free Press publisher Richard Malone, (Sept. 18, 1909 – June 24, 1985) are charged with buggery and gross indecency and twelve boys are turned over to juvenile authorities after a five-month investigation of a “juvenile sex ring.”
Over four thousand gays and supporters rally at Toronto’s Queen’s Park and march to Metro Toronto Police’s 52 Division to protest the February 5th bathhouse raids and to call for independent inquiry.
An article in the medical journal Lancet suggests that there is evidence to show inhaling poppers damages the immune system.
Victoria Dunlap, Republican county clerk of rural Sandoval County, New Mexico, begins issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, citing lack of legal grounds for denial.
King Norodom Sihanouk, constitutional monarch of Cambodia, declares that he thought his country should legalize same-sex marriage. He said that he reached this conclusion after watching footage of same-sex couples marry in San Francisco. He also stated that transvestites should be well-treated in Cambodia.
John Henry, Cardinal Newman, (21 February 1801 – 11 August 1890) was born in London. He was an Anglican priest, poet and theologian, and later a Catholic cardinal, who was an important and controversial figure in the religious history of England in the 19th century. His greatest accomplishment was the Apologia pro Vita Sua which contains numerous homoerotic references. Devoted to his friend, Brother Ambrose, the Cardinal was torn by grief at his death in 1875. He spent the night with the corpse. When Newman died 15 years later, he left instructions to be buried in the same grave as Ambrose.
Harry Stack Sullivan (February 21, 1892 – January 14, 1949) was born in Norwich, New York. He was an American Neo-Freudian psychiatrist and psychoanalyst who held that the personality lives in, and has his or her being in, a complex of interpersonal relations. Having studied therapists Sigmund Freud, Adolf Meyer, and William Alanson White, he devoted years of clinical and research work to helping people with psychotic illness. He believed that psychoanalysis, although essentially valid, needed to be supplemented by an understanding of the cultural forces at work in the personality. Much of his work was dismissed because he was gay, but today he is considered the prime developer of the interpersonal approach to psychiatry. Beginning in 1927, Sullivan had a 22-year relationship with James Inscoe Sullivan, known as “Jimmie,” 20 years his junior.
New York City police conduct the first recorded raid on a gay bathhouse in the US, the Ariston Hotel Baths, which had been in operation since 1897. Twenty-six men were arrested and 12 brought to trial on sodomy charges; seven men received sentences ranging from 4 to 20 years in prison.
British writer W. H. Auden (21 February 1907 – 29 September 1973) is born in York, England. He was an English-American poet whose poetry was noted for its stylistic and technical achievement, its engagement with politics, morals, love, and religion, and its variety in tone, form and content. He is perhaps today best known for his poem “The Platonic Blow.” For decades British scholars debated whether it referred to oral sex. He never admitted authorship until the 1960s.
Barbara Charline Jordan (February 21, 1936 – January 17, 1996) is born. Barbara Jordan was the first African American to be elected in Texas, in 1973. She was a Democrat. and the first Black woman to give the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention. She was a lawyer and a leader of the Civil Rights Movement, and the first African American elected to the Texas Senate after Reconstruction, and the first Southern African American woman elected to the United States House of Representatives. She received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, among numerous other honors. Jordan’s companion of twenty years was Nancy Earl, an educational psychologist, whom she met on a camping trip in the late 1960s. Jordan never discussed her sexual orientation and was not out. Nancy Earl was an occasional speech writer for Jordan, and later was a caregiver when Jordan began to suffer from multiple sclerosis in 1973. In a KUT radio documentary Rediscovering Barbara Jordan, President Bill Clinton said that he wanted to nominate Jordan for the United States Supreme Court, but by the time he could do so, Jordan’s health problems prevented him from nominating her. Jordan also suffered from leukemia. She’s been described as “one of the most revered leaders and orators of her time.” She was outed in the press after her death from leukemia and multiple sclerosis in 1996.
A Detroit jury awards more than $200,000 in damages to a man who contends that he was “turned into” a homosexual by a 1975 automobile accident in which his car was rear-ended by another vehicle.
Popular openly bisexual poet Edna St. Vincent Millay (February 22, 1892 – October 19, 1950) is born. She was an American poet and playwright who received the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1923 for “The Ballad of the Harp-Weaver,” only the third woman to do so. She was also known for her feminist activism. Millay entered Vassar College in 1913 and had relationships with several students during her time there. In 1923, she married 43-year-old Eugen Jan Boissevain (1880–1949), the widower of the labor lawyer and war correspondent Inez Milholland, a political icon Millay had met during her time at Vassar. Both Millay and Boissevain had other lovers throughout their twenty-six-year marriage. Millay was named by Equality Forum as one of their 31 Icons of the 2015 LGBT History Month
Kimball Allen (born February 22, 1982) is an American writer, journalist, playwright, and actor. He is the author of two autobiographical one-man plays: Secrets of a Gay Mormon Felon (2012) and Be Happy Be Mormon (2014). The latter premiered at Theatre Row in Manhattan on September 24 and 27, 2014, as part of the United Solo Theatre Festival. He also hosts the recurring Triple Threat with Kimball Allen, a 90-minute variety talk show at The Triple Door in Seattle. Allen lived for many years in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle. He married Scott Wells in October, 2016. They moved to Scottsdale, Arizona.
Andy Warhol (August 6, 1928 – February 22, 1987) dies at the age of 58. He was an American artist, director and producer who was a leading figure in the visual art movement known as pop art. His works explore the relationship between artistic expression, celebrity culture, and advertising that flourished by the 1960s, and span a variety of media, including painting, silk screening, photography, film, and sculpture. Some of his best-known works include the silkscreen paintings Campbell’s Soup Cans (1962) and Marilyn Diptych (1962). Warhol was gay. His lovers included poet John Giorno (born December 4, 1936), photographer Billy Name (February 22, 1940 – July 18, 2016), production designer Charles Lisanby (January 22, 1924 – August 23, 2013), and Jon Gould. His boyfriend of 12 years was Jed Johnson (December 30, 1948 – July 17, 1996) whom he met in 1968, and who later achieved fame as an interior designer. Many of Warhol’s works and possessions are on display at The Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh.
Gerda Verbug (born 19 August 1957) is the first open lesbian elected to government. She becomes the minister of Agriculture, Nature, and Food Quality. She is a Dutch diplomat and former politician and trade union leader. She lives with her wife Willy Westerlaken in Woerden, whom she married in 2012.
Actor Sean Penn wins an Oscar for his role as Harvey Milk in the film Milk. The film also won for Best Original Screenplay. Milk is a 2008 American biographical film based on the life of gay rights activist and politician Harvey Milk, who was the first openly gay person to be elected to public office in California, as a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. Directed by Gus Van Sant (born July 24, 1952) and written by Dustin Lance Black (born June 10, 1974), the film stars Sean Penn as Milk and Josh Brolin as Dan White, the city supervisor who assassinated Milk and Mayor George Moscone.
The U. S. Health and Human Services Department removed the Lesbian and Bisexual Health Fact Sheet from its website.
George Frederick Handel (23 February,1685 – 14 April, 1759) is born in Halle, Lower Saxony. He was a baroque composer who spent the bulk of his career in London, becoming well known for his operas, oratorios, anthems, and organ concertos. Handel received important training in Halle and worked as a composer in Hamburg and Italy before settling in London in 1712. After he moved to England, a contemporary wrote “His social affectations were not strong; and to this may be imputed that he spent his whole life in a state of celibacy; that he had no female attachments of another kind may be ascribed to a better reason.” We never learned who that “better reason” was. Handel never married and kept his personal life private.
Prussian military genius Baron Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben (September 17, 1730– November 28, 1794) arrives at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. Fearing prosecution for alleged indiscretions with young men back in Prussia, Steuben signed on to train George Washington’s ragtag Continental Army. Most historians consider his success at this task a major factor in the American victory. He was a Prussian and later an American military officer. He served as inspector general and a major general of the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War. He is credited with being one of the fathers of the Continental Army in teaching them the essentials of military drills, tactics, and disciplines. He wrote Regulations for the Order and Discipline of the Troops of the United States, the book that served as standard United States drill manual until the American Civil War. He served as General George Washington’s chief of staff in the final years of the war. Von Steuben was most likely gay. His exits from the court of Hohenzollern-Hechingen and from Paris were under clouds of accusation of homosexual activity. Von Steuben arrived in the United States with his 17-year-old secretary, Peter Stephen Du Ponceau, who is rumored to have been his lover. At Valley Forge, he began close relationships with Benjamin Walker and William North, then both military officers in their 20’s, which are assumed by many to have been romantic. Because homosexuality was criminalized at the time, records of his relationships are limited to references in correspondences. Von Steuben formally adopted Walker and North and made them his heirs. A third young man, John W. Mulligan Jr. (1774–1862), also considered himself one of Steuben’s “sons,” inherited Von Steuben’s vast library, collection of maps and $2,500 in cash.
Alice Mitchel (November 26, 1872- March 31, 1898), 19, kills Freda Ward (1875-1892), 17, at the docks in Memphis as a result of jealousy. The story made national headlines for months. The two girls had planned to marry but Alice was furious that Freda had admitted to romantic feelings for two men. Mitchell was subsequently found insane by means of a jury inquisition and placed in a psychiatric hospital until her death in 1898. The case, exploited by sensationalist press, focused attention of the sexual attachments of women and drew out into the public discourse discussions of lesbianism. The case was headlined as “A Very Unnatural Crime” across the country and influenced the popular literature of the era which began to depict lesbians as “murderous” and “masculine”. One identity was the “mannish lesbian,” creating dialogue of gender expression.
Adolf Hitler’s government launches the Nazi persecution of homosexuals with directives to close gay and lesbian clubs, ban pornography and homophile publications, and dissolve homosexual rights groups.
Carl Wittman (February 23, 1943 – January 22, 1986) is born. He was a member of the national council of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and later an activist for LGBT rights. He co-authored “An Interracial Movement of the Poor?” (1963) with Tom Hayden and wrote “A Gay Manifesto” (1970). In 1971, Wittman moved to Wolf Creek, OR, with his then-partner, Stevens McClave. Two years later, he began a long-term relationship with a fellow war resister Allan Troxler. In the early 1980s, Wittman created the North Carolina Lesbian and Gay Health Project (LGHP) with David Jolly, Timmer McBride, and Aida Wakil to address the health needs of sexual minorities in that state. Wittman declined hospital treatment for AIDS and committed suicide by drug overdose at home in North Carolina.
After a television producer cancels plans to develop a weekly series around her, Anita Bryant complains to the press that she is being “blacklisted” in Hollywood because of her crusade against homosexuals.
The first Lesbian organization for Chinese-speaking women in Asia is formed. The group is called Women zhi jizn(Between Us).
Hawaii’s Gov. Linda Lingle vetoed a civil union law in 2010 but her successor, Gov. Neil Abercrombie, makes it the first law he signs on this day.
Attorney General Eric Holder releases a statement regarding lawsuits challenging The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) Section 3. He wrote: “After careful consideration, including a review of my recommendation, the President has concluded that given a number of factors, including a documented history of discrimination, classifications based on sexual orientation should be subject to a more heightened standard of scrutiny. The President has also concluded that Section 3 of DOMA, as applied to legally married same-sex couples, fails to meet that standard and is therefore unconstitutional. Given that conclusion, the President has instructed the Department not to defend the statute in such cases.” In United States v. Windsor (2013), the U.S. Supreme Court declared Section 3 of DOMA unconstitutional under the Due Process Clause of the Amendment. Obergefell (2015) struck down the act’s provisions disallowing same-sex marriages to be performed under federal jurisdiction.
Mary Tomlinson (February 24, 1890 – April 10, 1975), professionally known as Marjorie Main, was an American character actress and singer of the Classical Hollywood period, best known as a Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer contract player in the 1940s and 1950s, and for her role as Ma Kettle in ten Ma and Pa Kettle movies. Main married widower Stanley LeFevre Krebs, a psychologist and lecturer, on November 2, 1921. They met while she was performing on the Chautauqua circuit. Main accompanied Krebs on the lecture circuit, handling the details of their life on the road. They had no children together and made their home in New York City. Main performed with touring companies and in New York theaters on a part-time basis throughout her marriage. She also began her Hollywood film career in 1931. Main considered this period “the happiest years of my life.” She returned to a full-time acting career after Krebs died of cancer on September 26, 1935. The Krebs’ marriage was a nontraditional one. By her accounts, the marriage was happy, but not particularly close. Main claimed to be “brokenhearted” following her husband’s death, but also explained that his death was “like losing a good friend. Like part of the family.” Main’s biographer, Michelle Vogel, quotes a later interview in which the actress related: “Dr. Krebs wasn’t a very practical man. We pretty much went our own ways…” Main had a long-term relationship with actress Spring Byington (October 17, 1886 – September 7, 1971). When asked about Byington’s sexual orientation, Main observed: “It’s true, she didn’t have much use for men.”
Doric Wilson (February 24, 1939 – May 7, 2011) is born in Los Angeles. He was an American playwright, director, producer, critic and gay rights activist. Perhaps the greatest playwright of the “alternative” theatre, he was a pioneer in Off Broadway. He is best known for Forever After, A Perfect Relationship, and The West Side Gang. A veteran of the anti-war and civil rights demonstrations of the early 1960s-mid 1970s, Wilson was a participant in the Stonewall Riots (1969) and became active in the early days of the New York Gay Liberation movement as a member of GAA (Gay Activist Alliance). He supported his theatrical endeavors by becoming a “star” bartender and manager of the post-Stonewall gay bar scene, opening such landmark institutions as The Spike, TY’s and Brothers & Sisters Cabaret. In 2004, Wilson was named a Grand Marshal of the 35th Anniversary Pride Day Parade in New York City. He was featured in the documentary Stonewall Uprising (2010) by Kate Davis and David Heilbroner. Wilson died on May 7, 2011, aged 72, from natural causes at his home in Manhattan.
Winston Churchill’s cabinet discusses homosexuality, asking, “Could we not limit publicity for homosexuality, as was done for divorce?” Secretary David Maxwell Fyfe says of the growing gay population in the UK, “…homosexuals make a nuisance of themselves. But I can’t account for the increase.”
Homophobe Jerry Falwell (August 11, 1933 – May 15, 2007) is hit in the face with two fruit pies by a protester at the annual convention of the Bible Baptist Fellowship. He was an American Southern Baptist pastor, televangelist, and anti-gay conservative activist. He was the founding pastor of the Thomas Road Baptist Church, a megachurch in Lynchburg, Virginia. He founded Lynchburg Christian Academy (now Liberty Christian Academy) in 1967 and Liberty University in 1971 and co-founded the Moral Majority in 1979.
Olympic-medal-winning diver Greg Louganis (born January 29, 1960) is an American Olympic diver, LGBT activist, and author who won gold medals at the 1984 and 1988 Summer Olympics, on both the springboard and platform. He is the only male and the second diver in Olympic history to sweep the diving events in consecutive Olympic Games. He has been called both “the greatest American diver” and “probably the greatest diver in history.” On this day, he announces that he’s HIV-positive.
President George W. Bush announces that he supports a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage.
Wisconsin Governor Republican Lee Dreyfus signs the bill which added the prohibition against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation to the state’s civil rights statute, making Wisconsin the first state in the country to do so.
Tennessee Williams dies at the age of 71 in his suite at the Hotel Elysee in New York City. Thomas Lanier “Tennessee” Williams III (March 26, 1911 – February 25, 1983) was a Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright whose works include A Streetcar Named Desire and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Williams and his partner, actor Frank Marlo (1922-1963) were together for more than 10 years. Their relationship ended when Marlo died of cancer in 1963.
The Supreme Court of Canada rules that a gay man who was denied bereavement leave to attend the funeral of his companion’s father could not claim discrimination. This is Canada’s first gay right’s case.
Benvenuto Cellini (3 November 1500 – 13 February 1571) was an Italian goldsmith, sculptor, draftsman, soldier, musician, and artist who also wrote a famous autobiography and poetry. He was one of the most important artists of Mannerism. He is remembered for his skill in making pieces such as the Cellini Salt Cellar and Perseus with the Head of Medusa. On this day, he was accused of sodomy with his apprentice, Fernando di Giovanni de Montepulciano. This was not the first accusation against Cellini. His penalty was a fine of 50 golden scudi and four years in prison which was remitted to four years of house arrest after intercession by the Medicis.
Christopher Marlowe (26 February 1564 – 30 May 1593) is baptized in Canterbury, England. He was an English playwright, poet and translator of the Elizabethan era. Marlowe was the foremost Elizabethan tragedian of his day. He greatly influenced William Shakespeare, who was born in the same year as Marlowe and who rose to become the pre-eminent Elizabethan playwright after Marlowe’s mysterious early death. Marlowe’s plays are known for the use of blank verse and their overreaching protagonists. Little is known about Marlowe’s life, so much has been written about him over the centuries to create a persona to match his work. He’s now considered gay by default. What is known is that he was a firebrand as a youth, that he was an anti-clerical rebel, that he was in trouble with the law, and that he was dead of a stab wound at the age of 29. Many of his surviving works contain homoerotic references. His epigram reads “All they that love not tobacco and boys are fools.”
Queen Christina (8 December 1626 – 19 April 1689), citing her wish to not marry, abdicates the throne. Elected queen at the age of six after her father King Gustav II Adolph died in battle, Christina was raised and educated as a boy until she took the throne in 1632 at the age of 18. In addition to refusing to marry or have children, Christina had a deeply intimate and passionate relationship with one of her ladies-in-waiting, Countess Ebba Sparre (1629 – 19 March 1662), whom she called “Belle.” She wrote extensively about Sparre’s beauty, and referred to her as a bedfellow.
Jane Wagner (born February 26, 1935) is born. She is an American writer, director and producer, and best known as Lily Tomlin’s (born September 1, 1939) comedy writer, collaborator and wife.
Refusing to consider the cases of Ben-Shalom v. Stone and Woodward v. U.S., the U.S. Supreme Court effectively upholds the right of the U.S. military to discharge gays and lesbians of the armed forces.
Marco McMillian (April 23, 1979 – February 26, 2013), 34, was the first openly gay political candidate in Mississippi. He was murdered by Lawrence Reed, possibly after McMillian showed romantic interest in him. Marco was a businessman and candidate for mayor of Clarksdale, Mississippi in 2013. He was “the first openly gay man to be a viable candidate for public office in Mississippi.” McMillian was CEO of MWM & Associates, a firm that provided consulting to non-profit organizations.
6th Century BC
Sappho (c. 630 – c. 570 BC) is born in Mytilene on the Isle of Lesbos. Most of Sappho’s poetry is now lost, and what is extant has survived only in fragmentary form, except for one complete poem – the “Ode to Aphrodite.” She has been called the greatest lyric poet of early Greece. Some historians believe she loved women romantically or erotically but, of course, interpreting fragments of poetry from other times in history across cultural and linguistic divides is more an art than a science. Plato called her the “Tenth Muse.” An aristocrat she was completely self-contained in her love for other women.
African American lesbian poet, essayist and playwright Angelina Weld Grimké (February 27, 1880 – June 10, 1958) is born. She was an American journalist, teacher, playwright and poet who came to prominence during the Harlem Renaissance. She was one of the first women of color to have a play publicly performed. Analysis of her work by modern literary critics has provided strong evidence that Grimke was lesbian or bisexual. Scholars found more evidence after her death when studying her diaries and more explicit unpublished works. The Dictionary of Literary Biography: African American Writers Before the Harlem Renaissance states: “In several poems and in her diaries Grimké expressed the frustration that her lesbianism created; thwarted longing is a theme in several poems.” Some of her unpublished poems are more explicitly lesbian, implying that she lived a life of suppression, both personal and creative.
Tam Elizabeth O’Shaughnessy (born January 27, 1952) is an American children’s science writer, former professional tennis player and co-founder of the science education company Sally Ride Science. O’Shaughnessy was the life partner of astronaut Sally Ride (May 26, 1951 – July 23, 2012), the first American woman in space, from 1985 until Ride’s death in 2012.
Libby Davies (born February 27, 1953) is a Canadian politician from British Columbia. She was the Member of Parliament for Vancouver East from 1997 to 2015, House Leader for the New Democratic Party (NDP) from 2003 to 2011, and the Deputy Leader of the party from 2007 until 2015 (alongside Mulcair under the leadership of Jack Layton and alongside Megan Leslie, and David Christopherson since Mulcair became leader in 2012). She was the first female Canadian Member of Parliament to come out as a member of the LGBT community. Prior to entering federal politics, Davies helped found the Downtown Eastside Residents Association and served as a Vancouver City Councillor from 1982 to 1993.
Sherry Harris (born February 27,1957) was elected to the Seattle city council in 1991, making her the first openly lesbian African American elected official. She was the first candidate endorsed by the then newly-founded Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, a national organization supporting LGBTQ (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgendered Queer) persons in politics. By a 70% majority, Harris defeated the 24-year incumbent, Sam Smith, who had been the first African American elected to the Seattle City Council. She served as an at-large City Council member from 1992 to 1995. Sherry Harris lost her re-election bid in 1995. She attempted a political comeback two years later but did not win the general election. Since then Harris has focused on a holistic vision of persons, politics, and society. In 2010, Harris published her book, Changing the World from the Inside Out: Politics for the New Millennium. She founded her own company in Seattle, Spirit Mind Body Educational Resources. She lectures and conducts workshops locally, nationally, and internationally.
Deborah Jane Price (February 27, 1958 – November 20, 2020) was an American journalist, author, and pioneering lesbian columnist. A pioneer in representing LGBTQ+ issues in mainstream media, she was the first nationally syndicated columnist on the topic. She won a Lambda Literary Award for her book Courting Justice and was inducted into the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association’s Hall of Fame in 2009. Price met her partner Joyce Murdoch, then a fellow editor at the national desk of The Washington Post, in 1984. While they became a couple in 1985, they were able to register as domestic partners only in 1993, in Takoma Park, Maryland. In 2000 they entered a civil union in Vermont and in 2003 married in Toronto. Theirs was the first same-sex wedding announcement on the Post‘s weddings page. Until then, the paper had published its same-sex union messages in a page titled “Celebrations” instead of the weddings page. This publishing was one of the first same-sex wedding announcements in a major national newspaper. Price died on November 20, 2020, from interstitial pneumonitis in a hospital in Hong Kong at the age of 62. She had suffered from a rare autoimmune lung disease that she contracted in 2011.
A “War Conference” of 200 gay leaders was held in Warrenton, VA in 1988. The closing statement of the conference set out a plan for a media campaign. It included a nation-wide media campaign to promote a positive image of gays and lesbians. Every national, state, and local entity “must accept the responsibility. We must consider the media in every project we undertake. We must, in addition, take every advantage we can to include public service announcements and paid advertisements, and to cultivate reporters and editors of newspapers, radio, and television. To help facilitate this we need national media workshops to train our leaders. And we must encourage our gay and lesbian press to increase coverage of the national process. Our media efforts are fundamental to the full acceptance of us in American life. But they are also a way for us to increase the funding of our movement. A media campaign costs money, but ultimately it may be one of our most successful fund-raising devices.” The statement also called for an annual planning conference “to help set and modify our national agenda.” The Human Rights Campaign lists this event as a milestone in gay history and identifies it as where National Coming Out Day originated.
The U.S.S.R. reports the case of twenty-nine infants and six mothers all of whom contracted AIDS. They were in the same hospital and contracted the disease through a single unsterile syringe that was used over and over again.
The Centers for Disease Control reports a major decline in AIDS-related deaths for the first time.
Two female characters on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Willow and Tara, kiss. Though there had been other lesbian kisses on television, this was the first realistic lesbian relationship on screen.
New Palz, NY, Mayor Jason West begins issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, following San Francisco. The licenses were later nullified.
When We Rise, an ABC mini-series, premiers on this day. It was a docudrama miniseries bout LGBT rights, created by Dustin Lance Black (born June 10, 1974). The 45-year saga tells the evolving history of the modern gay rights movement, starting just after the Stonewall riots in 1969. Black is an American screenwriter, director, film and television producer, and LGBT rights activist. He has won a Writers Guild of America Award and an Academy Award for the 2008 film Milk.
The New Haven Colony, now Connecticut, mandates the death penalty for both women and men for acts “against nature,” as well as for masturbation and anal sex among heterosexual couples. The New Haven Colony also applied the death penalty for adultery. These laws remained in effect for the next ten years until 1665 when the New Haven Colony joined Connecticut and came under Connecticut law which specified the death penalty for “man lying with man” and adultery.
Vincente Minnelli (born Lester Anthony Minnelli; February 28, 1903 – July 25, 1986) was an American stage director and film director. He directed the classic movie musicals Meet Me in St. Louis (1944), An American in Paris (1951), The Band Wagon (1953), and Gigi (1958). An American in Paris and Gigi both won the Academy Award for Best Picture, with Minnelli winning Best Director for Gigi. In addition to having directed some of the best known musicals of his day, Minnelli made many comedies and melodramas. He was married to Judy Garland from 1945 until 1951; the couple were the parents of Liza Minnelli. For years, there was speculation in the entertainment community that Minnelli was gay or bisexual. A biography by Emanuel Levy, Vincente Minnelli: Hollywood’s Dark Dreamer, claims evidence that Minnelli did, in fact, live as an openly gay man in New York prior to his arrival in Hollywood, where the town that made him a film legend also pressured him back into the closet. According to Levy: “He was openly gay in New York – we were able to document names of companions and stories from Dorothy Parker. But when he came to Hollywood, I think he made the decision to repress that part of himself or to become bisexual.”
Testifying before the U.S. Senate Committee on Expenditures in the Executive Department, whose members included Joseph R. McCarthy, Undersecretary of State John Peurifroy reveals that the majority of dismissals of State Department employees are based on accusations of homosexuality. Over the next few months, McCarthy and other conservatives accuse the administration of laxity in rooting out homosexuals in government, bringing the McCarthy Era into high gear.
Danielle Egnew (born February 28, 1969) is a lesbian musician, actress, producer, and psychic who endorsed and provided campaign materials to Virginia’s Vote NO campaign, protecting the legalities of same-sex civil unions in Virginia. She is the spiritual leader and founder of The Church of the Open Christ, an inclusive and progressive LGBT ministry. Born in Billings, Montana on February 28, 1969, Danielle Egnew currently resides there with her wife. At the 2017 Native American Music Awards (NAMMYS), Egnew’s solo album “You’ve Got to Go Back the Way that You Came” won as Best Country Recording. The singer was also nominated for “Best Female”.
The first public hearing of a gay civil rights case under British Columbia’s provincial human rights legislation is heard in Vancouver.
Kehinde Wiley (born February 28, 1977) is an American portrait painter based in New York City who is known for his highly naturalistic paintings of Black people, frequently referencing the work of Old Master paintings. He was commissioned in 2017 to paint a portrait of former President Barack Obama for the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, which has portraits of all previous American presidents. The Columbus Museum of Art, which hosted an exhibition of his work in 2007, describes his work as follows: “Wiley has gained recent acclaim for his heroic portraits which address the image and status of young African-American men in contemporary culture.” Wiley was included in Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People of 2018. Wiley has kept his personal life private but acknowledges that he identifies as a gay man. In reference to his sexuality, Wiley has said “my sexuality is not black and white. I am a gay man who has drifted. I am not bi. I’ve had perfectly pleasant romances with women, but they weren’t sustainable. My passion wasn’t there. I would always be looking at guys.”
Founded as FireFLAG by Gene Walsh, New York City’s first openly gay FDNY firefighter, this LGBT organization was formally incorporated on February 28, 1992. It was later renamed FireFLAG/EMS to include emergency medical services personnel, and has achieved official FDNY fraternal organization status. Under retired FDNY Firefighter Tom Ryan, President Emeritus, former President retired FDNY Capt. Brenda Berkman, and the organization’s current President, FDNY Firefighter Mike Vissichelli, FireFLAG/EMS works tirelessly for the rights of LGBT fire and emergency service personnel as well as the rights of the LGBT community.
The Supreme Court issues a statement saying that “while same-sex partners enjoy all the rights, they do not have special protection similar to concubinage or marriage between a man and a woman, that is, in the same terms that heterosexual partners have.”
Same-sex marriage becomes legal.
Svend Robinson (born March 4, 1952) becomes the first member of the House of Commons of Canada to come out as gay.
Pedro Pablo Zamora (born Pedro Pablo Zamora y Díaz, February 29, 1972 – November 11, 1994) was a Cuban-American AIDS educator and television personality. As one of the first openly gay men with AIDS to be portrayed in popular media, Zamora brought international attention to HIV/AIDS and LGBTQ issues and prejudices through his appearance on MTV’s reality television series The Real World: San Francisco.
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