World AIDS Day
December 1 is World AIDS Day, designated on December 1st every year since 1988. It is dedicated to raising awareness of the AIDS pandemic caused by the spread of HIV infection and mourning those who have died of the disease.
The General Court of Connecticut adopted a list of 12 capital crimes, including “man lying with man.” The law was based on the Massachusetts Bay Colony’s Liberties of 1641 law which was based on the Old Testament proscription in Leviticus.
An Oxford University student notes in his diary that sodomy is very common there. “It is dangerous sending a young man who is beautiful to Oxford.”
Washington makes sodomy a crime in the U.S.
Magnus Hirschfeld (14 May 1868 – 14 May 1935) petitions the Reichstag to abolish Paragraph 175, the first salvo in a lifelong campaign for repeal. He 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”.
El Universal, a Mexican newspaper, reports that police raided a party attended by single women. The article implied that the women were lesbians.
A California appellate court upholds the sodomy conviction of a man after a private investigator hid under his bed to catch him in consensual sexual relations with his partner.
New York Daily News front page: “Ex-GI becomes Blonde Beauty,” an article about Christine Jorgensen (May 30, 1926 – May 3, 1989), the first American recipient of sex-reassignment surgery.
Gay activists Bernie Toal, Tom Morganti and Daniel Thaxton in Boston chose the purple rhinoceros as a symbol of the gay movement after conducting a media campaign. They selected this animal because, although it is sometimes misunderstood, it is docile and intelligent, but when a rhinoceros is angered, it fights ferociously. Lavender was used because it was a widely recognized gay pride color; the heart was added to represent love and the “common humanity of all people. The entire campaign was intended to bring gay issues further into public view. The rhino started being displayed in subways in Boston, but since the creators didn’t qualify for a public service advertising rate, the campaign soon became too expensive for the activists to handle. The ads disappeared, and the rhino never caught on anywhere else.
The Greek letter lambda was officially declared the international symbol for gay and lesbian rights by the International Gay Rights Congress in Edinburgh, Scotland. The lambda was selected as a symbol by the Gay Activists Alliance of New York in 1970.
Feminist writer Jill Johnston (May 17, 1929 – September 18, 2010) wrote an essay “Are Lesbians Gay?” in which she explained why she believed it was absurd for lesbians to align themselves with the gay movement. Johnston was an American feminist author and cultural critic who wrote Lesbian Nation in 1973 and was a longtime writer for the Village Voice. She was also a leader of the lesbian separatist movement of the 1970s. In 1993, in Denmark, she married Ingrid Nyeboe. The couple married again, in Connecticut, in 2009
In Florida, Willard Allen was released from a mental hospital 26 years after he was ordered by a judge to be held there for having sex with another man. His doctors had been recommending his release for almost 20 years.
Anita Bryant is interviewed by Ladies Home Journal and notes that she no longer feels as “militant” as she once did about gay rights.
The U.S. House of Representatives votes to provide $2.6 million in funding to the Centers for Disease Control to fight AIDS.
Cosmopolitan writes about AIDS noting, “If ever there was a homosexual plague, this disease is it.”
Janelle Monáe Robinson (born December 1, 1985) is an American singer/songwriter, rapper, actress, and record producer. Monáe is signed to Atlantic Records as well as to her own imprint, the Wondaland Arts Society. Monáe has received eight Grammy Award nominations. Monáe won an MTV Video Music Award and the ASCAP Vanguard Award in 2010. Monáe was also honored with the Billboard Women in Music Rising Star Award in 2015 and the Trailblazer of the Year Award in 2018. In 2012, Monáe became a CoverGirl spokesperson. Boston City Council named October 16, 2013 “Janelle Monáe Day” in the city of Boston, Massachusetts, in recognition of her artistry and social leadership. Monáe has said she identifies with both bisexuality and pansexuality. On January 10, 2020, she tweeted the hashtag #IAmNonbinary.
Author James Baldwin (August 2, 1924 – December 1, 1987) dies. He was an American writer and social critic. His essays, as collected in Notes of a Native Son (1955) explore palpable yet unspoken intricacies of racial, sexual, and class distinctions in Western societies, most notably in mid-20th-century America. An unfinished manuscript, Remember This House was expanded and adapted for cinema as the Academy Award-nominated documentary film I Am Not Your Negro. Baldwin’s novels and plays fictionalize fundamental personal questions and dilemmas amid complex social and psychological pressures thwarting the equitable integration not only of African Americans, but also of gay and bisexual men, while depicting some internalized obstacles to such individuals’ quests for acceptance. Such dynamics are prominent in Baldwin’s second novel Giovanni’s Room, written in 1956, well before the gay liberation movement. In 1949 Baldwin met and fell in love with Lucien Happersberger (September 20, 1932 – August 21, 2010), aged 17, though Happersberger’s marriage three years later left Baldwin distraught. Happersberger died on August 21, 2010, in Switzerland.
World AIDS Day, sponsored by the World Health Organization, on December 1st every year is dedicated to raising awareness of the AIDS pandemic caused by the spread of HIV infection, and remembering those who have died of the disease. The United States was the epicenter of the AIDS epidemic of the 1980s, first noticed by doctors in young gay men in Los Angeles, New York City, and San Francisco in 1981. Since then, 1.2 million people live with HIV, more than half of which are unaware of their infection. HIV is a silent disease when first acquired, and this period of latency varies. The progression from HIV infection to AIDS varies from 5 to 12 years. In the past, most individuals succumbed to the disease in 1 to 2 years after diagnosis. However, since the introduction of potent anti-retroviral drug therapy and better prophylaxis against opportunistic infections, death rates have significantly declined. Government and health officials, non-governmental organizations and individuals around the world observe World AIDS Day with education on AIDS prevention and control.
African American dancer and choreographer Alvin Ailey (January 5, 1931 – December 1, 1989) dies of complications from AIDS. He was a choreographer and activist who founded the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in New York City. He is credited with popularizing modern dance and revolutionizing African American participation in 20th-century concert dance. In 2014, President Barack Obama selected Ailey to be a posthumous recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Keith Boykin (born August 28, 1965) of the National Black Lesbian Gay Leadership Forum participated in a meeting with President Bill Clinton to encourage greater inclusion of African American gays and lesbians in the President’s Initiative on Race.
Lavender Country was an American country music band formed in 1972, whose self-titled 1973 album is the first known gay-themed album in country music history. Based in Seattle, the band consisted of lead singer and guitarist Patrick Haggerty, keyboardist Michael Carr, singer and fiddler Eve Morris and guitarist Robert Hammerstrom (the only heterosexual member).
The Treaty of Lisbon and Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union are amended to include sexual orientation protection
American Samoa is obtained by the United States. It had no law against sodomy, making it the only “free” jurisdiction in the United States.
The Montana Supreme Court upholds the right of the state to prosecute attempts to commit sodomy under the general Attempts statute.
Fashion designer Gianni Versace (2 December 1946 – 15 July 1997) is born. He was an Italian fashion designer and founder of Versace, an international fashion house that produces accessories, fragrances, make-up, home furnishings, and clothes. He also designed costumes for theatre and films. As a friend of Eric Clapton, Diana, Princess of Wales, Naomi Campbell, Duran Duran, Kate Moss, Madonna, Elton John, Cher, Sting, Tupac, The Notorious B.I.G., and many other celebrities, he was one of the first designers to link fashion to the music world. He and his partner Antonio D’Amico were regulars on the international party scene. On July 15, 1997, Versace was shot and killed outside his Miami Beach mansion Casa Casuarina at the age of 50.
Daniel Butler (born December 2, 1954) is an American actor and playwright known for his role as Bob “Bulldog” Briscoe on the TV series Frasier (1993-2004), Art in Roseanne (1991-1992), and for the voice of Mr. Simmons on the Nickelodeon tv show Hey Arnold (1997-2002), and later reprised the role in Hey Arnold!: The Jungle Movie (2017), and films roles in Enemy of the State (1998), and Sniper 2 (2001). Butler lives in Vermont and is married to producer Richard Waterhouse. He came out to his family when he was in his early 20s. He wrote a one-man show, The Only Thing Worse You Could Have Told Me which opened in Los Angeles in 1994 and also played in San Francisco and off-Broadway in New York. It was Butler’s public coming out. The play had ten characters “just processing what gay means.” He was nominated for the 1995 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding One-Person Show.
Earl Kade, a prisoner at the Ohio Penitentiary is killed by another prisoner because he had solicited him. The grand jury refuses to indict the killer for murder, stating that the willful killing of a non-violent person from behind bars was justifiable if the person had solicited.
In New York, four gay men and lesbians picketed a lecture by a psychoanalyst espousing the model of homosexuality as a mental illness. The demonstrators were given ten minutes to make a rebuttal.
Transgender Terrie Ladwig, born in the Philippines, is killed. Her murder remains unsolved. She was married to Steven Ladwig.
Republican David Cantania became the first openly gay person to be elected to the Washington D.C. city council.
In India, over 200 right-wing activists, called Shiv Sainiks, stormed two theaters and forced managers to suspend the screening of Toronto director Deepa Mehta’s internationally acclaimed film Fire, the first Indian film to focus on a lesbian relationship.
The first official day that LGBTQ couples in Hawaii (both residents as well as tourists) may marry in the Aloha State.
The Michigan Supreme Court rules that “emission” is required to complete an act of sodomy.
Allan Berubi (December 3, 1946 – December 11, 2007) was an American historian, activist, independent scholar, self-described “community-based” researcher and college drop-out and award-winning author best known for his research and writing about homosexual members of the American Armed Forces during World War II. He also wrote essays about the intersection of class and race in gay culture, and about growing up in a poor, working-class family, his French-Canadian roots, and about his experience of anti-AIDS activism. Among Berubi’s published works was the 1990 book Coming Out Under Fire which examined the stories of gay men and women in the U.S. military between 1941 and 1945. The book used interviews with gay veterans, government documents, and other sources to discuss the social and political issues that faced over 9,000 servicemen and women during World War II. The book earned Berubi the Lambda Literary Award for outstanding Gay Men’s Nonfiction book of 1990 and was later adapted as a film in 1994 narrated by Salome Jens and Max Cole with a screenplay by Berubi and the film’s director Arthur Dong. The film received a Peabody Award for excellence in documentary media in 1995. Berubi received a MacArthur Fellowship (often called the “genius grant”) from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation in 1996. He received a Rockefeller grant from the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies in 1994 to research a book on the Marine Cooks and Stewards Union. He was working on this book at the time of his death.
Alarmed by the rise in prosecutions for male-male sex (including several much publicized cases involving prominent Britons), two MPs first raise the issue of sex law reform in the House of Com-mons.
Rev. Troy Perry (born July 27, 1940), founder of the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches, officiated at his first same-sex holy union, in Los Angeles. He is the founder of the Metropolitan Community Church, a Christian denomination with a special affirming ministry with the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities, in Los Angeles on October 6, 1968. Perry lives in Los Angeles with his husband, Phillip Ray DeBlieck whom he married under Canadian law at the Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto. They sued the State of California upon their return home after their Toronto wedding for recognition of their marriage and won. The state appealed and the ruling was over-turned by the State Supreme Court after five years in their favor.
An Illinois appellate court upholds a public indecency conviction of a man for sex with another man in bushes where they could not be seen by others.
As a result of the case Society for Individual Rights v. Hampton, proceedings were held to determine under what circumstances sexual orientation may be considered in determining whether a person is suitable for employment in the U.S. Government.
The episode of Maude entitled “The Gay Bar” airs on this day. Uptight neighbor Arthur has launched a crusade to close a nearby gay bar, so Maude convinces him he should visit it.
OutRage, a London direct-action group, staged a march from Coleherne pub to Earl’s Court Police Station to protest police harassment of gays in Earl’s Court.
OutRage held a zap of the Church of England in response to a press release condemning homosexuality.
Hawaii’s Judge Chang rules that the state does not have a legal right to deprive same-sex couples of the right to marry, making Hawaii the first state to recognize that gay and lesbian couples are entitled to the same privileges as heterosexual married couples.
Thai airlines recruits transgender flight attendants, called ladyboys, aiming at a unique identity to set itself apart fromcompetitors as it sets out for the skies.
Yolanda Retter (December 4, 1947 – August 18, 2007) was an American lesbian librarian, archivist, scholar, and activist in Los Angeles. Retter attended Pitzer College in Claremont, California and graduated in 1970 with a degree in sociology. In the 1980s she completed masters degrees in library science (1983) and social work (1987) from UCLA and in 1996 she received her Ph.D. in American Studies from the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque. Before becoming a librarian and archivist, Retter held a variety of jobs, some as a volunteer. She worked in prison and parole programs, as a director of a rape hot-line, and original publisher of the Los Angeles Women’s Yellow Pages. She then became the founding archivist of the Lesbian Legacy Collection at the ONE Archives and volunteered at the June Ma-zer Lesbian Archives. From 2003 to the time of her death, Retter served as the head librarian and archivist of the Chicano Studies Research Center at UCLA. She died after a short battle with cancer, surrounded by women she chose including her partner of thirteen years Leslie Golden Stampler.
In Vancouver, Canadian University Press approves a national boycott of CBC for refusing to air public service announcement for a Halifax gay group.
James Webber is the first known victim of serial killer David Bullock. Most of Bullock’s victims were men he brought home for sex.
A vigil is held for Rita Hester (30 November 1963 – 28 November 1998), an African American transgender woman who was slain in Allston, Massachusetts on November 28th. The vigil from her death goes on to become the Transgender Day of Remembrance. In response to her murder, an outpouring of grief and anger led to a candlelight vigil held the following Friday (December 4) in which about 250 people participated. The community struggle to see Rita’s life and identity covered respectfully by local papers, including the Boston Herald and Bay Windows as chronicled by Nancy Nangeroni. Her death also inspired the “Remembering Our Dead” web project and the Transgender Day of Remembrance which Gwendolyn Ann Smith founded in 1999.
Openly gay Xavier Bettel (born 3 March 1973) is sworn in as Luxembourg’s Prime Minister. He is a Luxembourgish politician and lawyer, serving as the 24th Prime Minister of Luxembourg since 4 December 2013 after succeeding Jean-Claude Juncker. He has previously served as Mayor of Luxembourg City, member of the Chamber of Deputies and member of the Luxembourg City communal council. Bettel is a member of the Democratic Party. Bettel is Luxembourg’s first openly gay Prime Minister and, worldwide, the third openly gay head of government following Iceland’s Prime Minister Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir (born 4 October 1942) (2009–2013) and Belgium’s Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo (born 18 July 1951) (2011–2014). As of 2017, he is one of three openly gay world leaders in office, the others being Leo Varadkar (born 18 January 1979), the Taoiseach of Ireland; and Ana Brnabić (born 28 September 1975), the Prime Minister of Serbia. Bettel has been in a partnership with Gauthier Destenay since March 2010. They married on 15 May 2015; same-sex marriage law reforms had come into effect on 1 January 2015, after passing in June 2014.
Martin Jenkins was sworn in as the first openly gay Justice of the California Supreme Court on this day. Martin Joseph Jenkins (born November 12, 1953) is an American attorney and jurist serving as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of California. He was previously a Justice of the California Court of Appeal for the First District, located in San Francisco, and a former United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California.
John Atherton (1598-5 December 1640) is hanged for sodomy. He is the second man to be hanged for the “vice of buggery” in Ireland. He was the Anglican Bishop of Waterford and Lismore in the Church of Ireland. He and John Childe (his steward and tithe proctor) were both tried and executed for buggery in 1640.
A Massachusetts Bay servant is sentenced to be whipped for “unseemly practices” with another woman in the first documented example of legal prosecution in North America for same-sex relations between women.
African American rock artist Little Richard (December 5, 1932-May 9, 2020) is born. Richard Wayne Penniman, known as Little Richard, is an American musician, singer, actor, comedian and songwriter. An influential figure in popular music and culture for seven decades, Little Richard’s most celebrated work dates from the mid-1950s, when his dynamic music and charismatic showmanship laid the foundation for rock and roll. In 1995, Little Richard told Penthouse that he always knew he was gay, saying “I’ve been gay all my life.” He said in 1984 that he played just with girls as a child and was subjected to homophobic jokes and ridicule because of his manner of walk and talk. His father brutally punished him whenever he caught his son wearing his mother’s makeup and clothing. The singer claimed to have been sexually involved with both sexes as a teenager. Because of his effeminate mannerisms, his father kicked him out of their family home at 15. In 1985, on The South Bank Show, Penniman explained, “my daddy put me out of the house. He said he wanted seven boys, and I had spoiled it because I was gay.” In October 2017, he denounced homosexuality in an interview with Three Angels Broadcasting Network, calling homosexual and transgender identity “unnatural affection” that goes against “the way God wants you to live.” He died in 2020 from bone cancer.
A TV critic reviewed the play Bent, saying that the play about two homosexuals who died in a concentration camp had “nothing at all to do with the real tragedy of the holocaust,” and called the play’s message insignificant. Bent is a 1979 play by Martin Sherman. It revolves around the persecution of gays in Nazi Germany, and takes place during and after the Night of the Long Knives. The title of the play refers to the slang word “bent” used in some European countries to refer to homosexuals. The play starred Ian McKellen in its original 1979 West End production, and Richard Gere in its original 1980 Broadway production. In 1989, Sean Mathias directed a revival of the play, performed as a one-night benefit for Stonewall, featuring Ian McKellen, Richard E Grant, Ian Charleson, and Ralph Fiennes.
Berkeley, California becomes the first city in the United States to extend spousal benefits to “domestic partners” of city employees.
The bisexual pride flag, created by Michael Page, is unveiled. He wanted to give the bisexual community its own symbol comparable to the gay pride flag of the larger LGBT community. His aim was to increase the visibility of bisexuals both among society as a whole and within the LGBT comminity. The first bisexual pride flag was unveiled at the BiCafe’s first anniversary party on December 5, 1998 after Page was inspired by his work with BiNet USA.
A New Jersey court rules that school districts have the same responsibility to stop harassment of students that employers have to prevent harassment of employees, ending, at least in NJ, a tougher standard of proof for student complainants than for adults in the workplace.
The Massachusetts State Senate approves a bill to protect lesbian and gay public school students from discrimination.
Delegates of the American Medical Association declare their opposition to medical treatments administered to “cure” lesbians or gay men, urging “nonjudgmental recognition of sexual orientation.”
President Bill Clinton hosts the first White House Conference on AIDS, 14 years after the epidemic began. President Clinton’s active support for HIV and AIDS programs reversed the neglect by Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush. By the end of 1995, more than 500,000 people in the U.S. had been diagnosed with AIDS. Partly as a result of a vigorous federal research effort that began after Reagan and Bush left office, the number of new AIDS/HIV infections and deaths every year declined dramatically.
The Sacramento Bee reports that for the past four years California Social Services director Eloise Anderson had refused an order from Gov. Pete Wilson to withdraw a directive she issued which allowed gay and lesbian couples to adopt children by saying that a stable home with good financial and emotional support is important for an adoptive child, regardless of the marital status of the parents. During her time in California, the Los Angeles Times referred to Anderson as “The Queen of Responsibility” and “an outspoken champion of welfare reform.”
The Los Angeles Times published an editorial by Robert Scheer on conservative Michael Huffington’s (born September 3, 1947) recent decision to come out of the closet, saying it should come as no surprise that Republicans, even conservative members of the party, are gay. Huffington is an American politician, LGBT activist, and film producer. He was a member of the Republican Party and a congressman for one term, 1993–1995, from California. Huffington was married to Arianna Huffington, the Greek-born co-founder of The Huffington Post, from 1986 to 1997.
The film Trembling Before G-d, an American made documentary about lesbian and gay Orthodox Jews trying to reconcile their sexuality with their faith, is released in Israel. The film premiered at Sundance earlier in the year. It was directed by Sandi Simcha DuBowski (Sept. 16, 1970), an American who wanted to compare Orthodox Jewish attitudes to homosexuality with his own upbringing as a gay Conservative Jew. Dubowski is also the producer of Parvez Sharma’s documentary A Jihad for Love (2007) which documents the lives of gay and lesbian Muslims. The U.S.-based OUT Magazine named Sharma, one of the OUT 100 twice for 2008 and 2015, “one of the 100 gay men and women who have helped shape our culture during the year.” In 2016 a year after Larry Kramer, Sharma won the Monette Horowitz award given to individuals and organizations for their significant contributions toward eradicating homophobia.
King Albert II names Elio Di Rupo (born 18 July 1951) Prime Minister of Belgium and, subsequently, the second openly gay male head of government. He served from December 6, 2011 to October 11, 2014. From France, he was Belgium’s first Prime Minister of non-Belgian descent.
The Province of Pennsylvania, under a strong Quaker influence, repeals the capital sodomy law of 1676. The new law makes a first offence punishable by whipping, loss of 1/3 of one’s property, and six months hard labor. A second offence is punishable by life imprisonment. The revision makes the province one of only two where a man could not be put to death for sodomy at the time. In West New Jersey, also a Quaker colony, no sodomy law is in effect.
Author Willa Cather (December 7, 1873 – April 24, 1947) is born. She was an American writer who achieved recognition for her novels of frontier life on the Great Plains, including O Pioneers! (1913), The Song of the Lark (1915), and My Ántonia(1918). In 1923 she was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for One of Ours (1922), a novel set during World War I. Cather wrote a number of short stories, including Tommy, the Unsentimental, about a Nebraskan girl with a boy’s name, who looks like a boy and saves her father’s bank business. Janis P. Stout calls this story one of several Cather works that “demonstrate the speciousness of rigid gender roles and give favorable treatment to characters who undermine conventions. As a student at the University of Nebraska in the early 1890s, Cather sometimes used the masculine nickname “William” and wore masculine clothing. Throughout Cather’s adult life, her most significant friendships were with women. These included her college friend Louise Pound; the Pittsburgh socialite Isabelle McClung, with whom Cather traveled to Europe and at whose Toronto home she stayed for prolonged visits; the opera singer Olive Fremstad; the pianist Yaltah Menuhin; and most notably, the editor Edith Lewis, with whom Cather lived the last 39 years of her life.
Franciscan Chaplain Father Pedro Font describes two-spirit people among the Yuma in his diary entry: “Among the women I saw some men dressed like women with whom they go about regularly. The commander called them amaricados because the Yuma call effeminate men Americas.”
Said to be the oldest surviving organization for LGBT rights, Netherlands’ Center for Culture and Leisure (COC) was established in Amsterdam in 1946. The goals of the COC were twofold: to con-tribute to social emancipation, and to offer culture and recreation for gay men and lesbians. The social emancipation focused on getting article 248-bis in the Wetboek van Strafrecht, the main code for Dutch criminal law, revoked. Originally named the Shakespeare club, the founders were gay men who were active with Levensrecht (Right to Live), a magazine founded a few months before the German invasion in 1940, and re-appeared after the war. The Shakespeare club was renamed in 1949 to Cultuuren Ontspanningscentrum (C.O.C.). From its beginning in 1946 until 1962, the chair was Bob Angelo, a pseudonym of Niek Engelschman (November 12, 1913 – October 27, 1988).
Journalist Ibrehim Eren (born 1964) is imprisoned for protesting police harassment of gays. He was held for four months. In Sep-tember, 2017, he was appointed the 17th director general of public broadcaster Turkish Radio and Television (TRT).
In Texas, Williamson County commissioners reversed a decision to deny Apple Computer tax breaks for a new facility in the county because of its policy of extending benefits to employees’ same-sex domestic partners. Several of the commissioners, however, continued to express condemnation of “the gay lifestyle.”
Speaking before a Georgetown University audience of about 300, three Jesuits presented their different perspectives on how the church should regard and spiritually counsel gay men and lesbians. Cardinal James A Hickey objected to the debate because he felt that the conservative view on the wrongness of homosexuality would not get a fair hearing.
The school board in Orange, California votes 7-0 to reject an application from students at El Modena High School to form a gay/straight alliance.
Transgender woman Tamara Adrian (born 20 February 1954) is elected to the National Assembly. Prior to her election to the Venezuelan legislature, Adrián worked as a lawyer and LGBT activist, including serving on the board of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association and the organizing committee of the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia. She was forced to register her candidacy under her male birth name, as Venezuelan law does not currently permit a transgender person to legally change their name.
Christina, Queen of Sweden (8 December] 1626 – 19 April 1689) is born in Stockholm. Because she is so hairy and has a deep voice, she is mistaken for a boy from birth. As it turns out, from a young age, Christina wanted to be a boy. She was the only surviving legitimate child of King Gustav II Adolph and his wife Maria Eleonora of Brandenburg. At the age of six, Christina succeeded her father on the throne upon his death at the Battle of Lützen but began ruling when she reached the age of 18. Her closest female friend was Ebba Sparre with whom she shared “a longtime intimate companion-ship.” When Christina left Sweden, she continued to write passionate letters to Sparre, in which she told her that she would always love her.
Charley Shively (Dec. 8, 1937 – Oct. 6, 2017) was a pioneering gay liberation activist on the scale, if not with the name recognition, of Harvey Milk. He was a journalist, a poet, and a founding editor of one of the most important gay newspapers in the 1970s. As the founder of Fag Rag, a magazine that unapologetically reversed the stigma of homosexuality, Shively wrote about how gay men imposed heterosexual standards onto their relationships and sex lives. Fag Rag was a Boston based gay newspaper, published from 1971 until the early 1980s. Boston’s gay writers including Larry Martin, Charley Shively and John Mitzel formed the Fag Rag Collective and started the publication. In its early years the subscription list was between 400 and 500 with an additional 4,500 copies sold on newsstands and bookstores or given away. During its run, Fag Rag published interviews with and writing by William S. Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg, Christopher Isherwood, John Wieners, Allen Young, Gerard Malanga, John Rechy, Ned Rorem, and Gore Vidal.
The New York City Gay Men’s Chorus becomes the first openly gay musical group to play at Carnegie Hall with their Christmas concert.
The University of South Carolina Gay Student Association sues USC for official recognition by filing a complaint for civil rights violation in the US District Court. A federal judge rules in favor of the GSA and they are granted official recognition.
Conservative Member of Parliament David Wilshire introduced Clause 28 as an amendment to the Local Government Bill which made it illegal for local authorities to “promote homosexuality or promote the teaching in any maintained school of the acceptability of homosexuality.”
In England, South Yorkshire Police placed a full-page ad in Gay Times as part of a recruitment campaign.
2004, New Zealand
The New Zealand Parliament approves civil unions with a vote of 65-55. Full marriage equality passed in 2013.
A six-inch headline on page one of the Minneapolis Star reads “State Sen. Allen Spear Declares He’s Homosexual.” Spear (June 24, 1937-October 11, 2008) said he was inspired to come out by the election of Elaine Nobel (born January 22, 1944), a lesbian, to the Massachusetts legislature. Spear was an American politician and educator from Minnesota who served almost thirty years in the Minnesota Senate including nearly a decade as President of the Senate.
Reporter Lynn Rosellini of the Washington Star begins a series of articles about homosexuality in sports which said “some of the biggest names in football are homosexual or bisexual.” Washington Redskins linebacker Dave Kopay (born June 28, 1942) agrees to come out in the series.
Metro Toronto police raid the Barracks steam bath and charge twenty-three men as found-ins, five as keepers of a common bawdy house. It becomes the first raid in Toronto to generate substantial resistance.
The New York City Department of Health closes the New St. Marks Baths. The New St. Marks Baths was a gay bathhouse at 6 St. Marks Place in the East Village of Manhattan from 1979 to 1985. It claimed to be the largest gay bath house in the world. The Saint Marks Baths opened in the location in 1913. Through the 1950s it operated as a Turkish bath catering to immigrants on New York’s Lower East Side. In the 1950s it began to have a homosexual clientele at night. In the 1960s it became exclusively gay. On December 9, 1985 the city began the process of closing the baths.
A federal appeals court in San Francisco refused to reinstate Air Force officer Lt. Col. Kenneth L. Jackson who was discharged for homosexuality in 1989. He was 11 months short of his 20-year pension. He argued that the evidence against him should not have been turned over to the military by police who were searching his home because his roommate was under suspicion in a case. The case was Kenneth L. Jackson, Jr., Plaintiff-appellant, v. United States Department of the Air Force, Sheila E.widnall, Secretary of the Air Force, Williamperry, Secretary of Defense, Defendants-appellees, 132 F.3d 39 (9th Cir. 1997)
Republican Mecklenburg Country Superior Court Judge Ray Warren (born 1957) acknowledges that he’s gay in a press conference. He becomes the first Republican elected official in North Carolina who is openly gay. He is now a Democrat.
Brokeback Mountain is released to limited audiences in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco. The film, a neo-American western romantic drama directed by Ang Lee, focuses on a love story be-tween two men that stretches over decades, and survives in a time and place in which the two men’s feelings for each other were utterly taboo. The film stars Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger, and goes on to win several Golden Globe Awards and Academy Awards.
Luma Nogueira de Andrade, the first transgender individual to receive a doctorate degree in Brazil, is inducted as a professor at the University for International Integration of the Afro-Brazilian Lusophony, becoming the first transgender university professor in Brazil.
The government sponsors an anti-gay march that went from the National Assembly to the State House. Gambia president Alhaji Yahya Jammeh attended.
Margaret Clap was indicted for keeping a disorderly house—a Molly House—in which she procured and encouraged persons to commit sodomy. Her house in the City of London had been under surveillance since 10 December 1725. Clap may be characterized as the first “fag hag” to be documented in British history. She seems to have run her molly house more for pleasure than for profit. It was one of the most popular molly houses in London. Her house was probably a private residence rather than a public inn or tavern. Margaret Clap was found guilty as charged and was sentenced to stand in the pillory in Smithfield market, to pay a fine of 20 marks, and to two years’ imprisonment. During her punishment, she fell off the pillory once and fainted several times. It is not known what became of her, if indeed she survived prison.
The Commonwealth of Virginia criminalizes buggery, including female same -sex intercourse, with the death penalty.
Hermes Pan (December 10, 1909-September 19, 1990) was an American dancer and choreographer, principally remembered as Fred Astaire‘s choreographic collaborator on the famous 1930s movie musicals starring Astaire and Ginger Rogers. It was well known in the movie industry that Pan was gay. This information did not become public and the identity of most of his partners is not known.
The Society for Human Rights was founded by Henry Gerber (June 29, 1892 – December 31, 1972) in Chicago. It was among the earliest organizations for gays in the United States and would end less than a year later after police harassment resulted in Gerber being fired, financially crippling the organization. Henry Gerber, a German-born immigrant, receives a charter from the state of Illinois for a nonprofit corporation named the Society for Human Rights. Though the organization was intended to be an American equivalent of contemporary German LGBTQ emancipation groups, Gerber is arrested for creating an “immoral” organization and the society falls apart. Gerber was an early homosexual rights activist in the United States. Inspired by the work of Germany’s Magnus Hirschfeld (14 May 1868 – 14 May 1935) and his Scientific-Humanitarian Committee, Gerber founded the Society for Human Rights (SHR) in 1924, the nation’s first known homosexual organization, and Friendship and Freedom, the first known American homosexual publication. SHR was short-lived, as police arrested several of its members shortly after it incorporated. Although embittered by his experiences, Gerber maintained contacts within the fledgling homophile movement of the 1950s and continued to agitate for the rights of homosexuals. Gerber has been repeatedly recognized for his contributions to the LGBT movement and was posthumously inducted into the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame in 1992
Jane Addams (September 6, 1860 – May 21, 1935), leader in the women’s suffrage and world peace movements, is presented with the Nobel Peace Prize. She is known as the “mother” of social work, and was a pioneer American settlement activist/reformer, social worker, public philosopher, sociologist, author, and leader in women’s suffrage and world peace. In 1889 she co-founded Hull House, and in 1920 she was a co-founder for the ACLU. In 1931 she became the first American woman to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize and is recognized as the founder of the social work profession in the United States. Her partner was Mary Rozet Smith (1868-1934), a Chicago-born US philanthropist who was one of the trustees and benefactors of Hull House.
The United Nations adopts the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Among its key architects was former first lady and human rights activist Eleanor Roosevelt (October 11, 1884 – November 7, 1962). Roosevelt had lifelong emotional support for her human rights work from her husband, Franklin, as well as from her beloved companion, Lorena A. Hickok (March 7, 1893 – May 1, 1968). Besides Roosevelt of the United States, the other major players in drafting this amazing declaration were René Cassin (France), Charles Malik (Lebanon), Peng Chun Chang (China), Hernan Santa Cruz (Chile), Alexandre Bogomolov/Alexei Pavlov, (Soviet Union), Lord Dukeston/Geoffrey Wilson (United Kingdom) William Hodgson (Australia), and John Humphrey (Canada).
The Nobel Prize for Literature was awarded to gay Australian novelist Patrick White (28 May 1912 – 30 September 1990). He is the first openly gay writer to win the Nobel Prize for Literature. He is widely regarded as one of the most important English-language novelists of the 20th century.
R.N. Bobbi Campbell (January 28, 1952 – August 15, 1984) becomes the first person with AIDS to go public in a San Francisco newspaper. He was the 16th person in San Francisco to be diag-nosed with Kaposi Sarcoma and would become known as the K.S. Poster Boy.
In New York City, 5,000 protest the Roman Catholic Church’s opposition to Safe Sex education and the promotion of condom use.
The Irish Prime Minister announces plans to legalize same-sex acts between consenting adults.
Valentina Sampaio (born December 10, 1996) was hired by Victoria’s Secret as their first openly transgender model in August 2019. Valentina Sampaio is a Brazilian model and actress. She also became the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue’s first openly transgender model in 2020.
Florida’s Constitution Review Committee votes 6-2 to reject a proposal that sexual orientation be added to the classes of those granted protection under the state’s constitution.
1998, South Africa
The Treatment Action Campaign, or TAC, is founded by Zackie Achmat (born 21 March 1962) for the purpose of getting anti-retroviral access to HIV+ South Africans. Zackie is a South African activist and film director. He is a co-founder the Treatment Action Campaign and known worldwide for his activism on behalf of people living with HIV and AIDS in South Africa. He currently serves as Board member and Co-director of Ndifuna Ukwazi (Dare to Know), an organization which aims to build and support social justice organizations and leaders, and is the chairperson of Equal Education.
Christina Kahrl (born 1963), an open trans woman, is the first LGBT person to be admitted into the Baseball Writers Association of America. The Association determines who is indicted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Kahrl is an activist on civil rights issues for the transgender community in her hometown of Chicago and a member of the Equality Illinois board of directors. The story of her coming out as a transgender sportswriter in 2003 was part of a GLAAD award-nominated segment entitled Transitions on HBO’s Real Sports that aired in 2010.
Selma Lagerlof (20 November 1858 – 16 March 1940) is the first woman to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. In 1992 her love letters to Sophie Elkan (3 January 1853–5 April 1921) are published which reveal a romantic relationship between the two women from 1894 until Elkan’s death in 1921. A Swedish writer of Jewish origin, Elkan became her friend and companion and their letters suggest Lagerlöf fell deeply in love with her. Over many years, Elkan and Lagerlöf critiqued each other’s work. Lagerlöf wrote of Elkan’s strong influence on her work, often disagreeing sharply with the direction Lagerlöf wanted to take in her books. Selma’s letters to Sophie were published in 1993, titled Du lär mig att bli fri.
John Preston (December 11, 1945 – April 28, 1994) is born. He was an author of gay erotica and an editor of gay nonfiction anthologies. In addition, Preston wrote men’s adventure novels under the pseudonyms of Mike McCray, Preston MacAdam, and Jack Hilt (pen names that he shared with other authors). Taking what he had learned from authoring those books, he wrote the Alex Kane adventure novels about gay characters. These books, which included Sweet Dreams, Golden Years, and Deadly Lies, combined action-story plots with an exploration of issues such as the problems facing gay youth. Preston was among the first writers to popularize the genre of safe sex stories, editing a safe sex anthology entitled Hot Living in 1985. He helped to found the AIDS Project of Southern Maine. In the late 1980s, he discovered that he himself was HIV positive. He died of AIDS complications on April 28, 1994 at age 48, at his home in Portland. His papers are held in the Preston Archive at Brown University.
In Ottawa, representatives of the Canadian Association of Lesbians and Gay Men (CALGM) appear before the Joint Senate/House Committee on the Constitution to argue for inclusion of “sexual orientation” in the entrenched Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms.
San Francisco Mayor Diane Feinstein vetoes a domestic partnership bill.
Austin, Texas passes an ordinance prohibiting discrimination against people with AIDS.
In Newark, New Jersey an inmate with AIDS files suit against the Department of Corrections, saying they moved him out of a private cell and assigned him to labor which could endanger his health. He claimed the action was taken because he spoke to a reporter about AIDS in New Jersey prisons.
At a meeting of the American Psychiatric Association in Denver, a resolution was passed rejecting reparative therapy. It stated that attempts to change a person’s sexual orientation can cause depression, anxiety, and self-destructive behavior. A similar resolution was passed by the American Psychological Association in August, 1997. Dr. Nada Stotland, head of the association’s public affairs committee, told the Denver Post that the very existence of reparative therapy spreads the idea that homosexuality is a disease or is evil and has a dehumanizing effect resulting in an increase in discrimination, harassment, and violence against gays, lesbians, and bisexuals.
The mother of Tyra Hunter (1970 – August 7, 1995) is awarded $2.9 million in a wrongful death lawsuit against the city of Washington D.C. Hunter, a pre-operative transsexual, died of injuries sustained in a car accident in 1995. Emergency medical technicians at the scene were abusive and withheld treatment, and a doctor at D.C. General Hospital failed to follow nationally accepted standards of care.
A Suffolk Superior Court judge struck down Boston’s health plan for same-sex partners of city workers.
Bisexual Christy Hostege is sworn in as mayor of Palm Springs, CA
Police enter the Continental Baths and arrest three patrons and three employees, charging the patrons with lewd and lascivious acts and the employees with criminal mischief. The raid is the first of several on the Continental for the following weeks. The Continental Baths was a gay bathhouse in the basement of The Ansonia Hotel in New York City which was opened in 1968 by Steve Ostrow. It was advertised as reminiscent of “the glory of ancient Rome”. The documentary film Continental by Malcolm Ingram covers the height of the club’s popularity through the early 1970s.
A struggling young pianist and songwriter takes a day job performing at New York’s Continental Baths. His name is Barry Manilow (born June 17, 1943). He is an American singer-songwriter, arranger, musician and producer with a career that has spanned more than 50 years. His hit recordings include Mandy, Can’t Smile Without You and Copacabana (At the Copa).
Over 5,000 attend the “Stop the Church” protest at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City. The 100 activists who laid down in the aisles were arrested. They were protesting Cardinal John O’Connor’s influence on government policies relating to HIV and sexuality.
The Indiana state civil rights commission rules that the civil rights of Kenneth Westhoven (1954-1990) had been violated when his employer, after discovering he was HIV positive, reduced his health benefits cap from $1 million/lifetime to $50,000/lifetime.
The brutal murder of trans man Brandon Teena (December 12, 1972 – December 31, 1993) becomes a cause celebre and the subject of an influential 1999 feature film, Boys Don’t Cry, where the role of Teena is played by Hilary Swank. Brandon was an American transgender man who was raped and murdered in Humboldt, Nebraska. Teena’s murder, along with that of Matthew Shepard (December 1, 1976 – October 12, 1998), led to increased lobbying for hate crime laws in the United States.
A Roseanne episode portrays a same-sex wedding when character Leon marries his boyfriend Scott. ABC moves the episode from its 8:00 time slot to 9:30 because of the adult humor.
The Kentucky state Court of Appeals rules that gay men and lesbians are entitled to protection under the state’s domestic violence laws.
Buenos Aires approves civil unions.
Harold Jerome Herman died on this day at the Washington Hospital Center, Washington D.C. after a brief illness. Harold received his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania in 1957 and taught there until joining the faculty at the University of Maryland teaching the Arthurian Legend, a course that he designed. Much of his published scholarship was in this field. Harold established the Chi Tau Chapter of Signa Tau Delta English Honor Society and introduced an internship program which provided supervised work experience for English majors in organizations such as law firms, state and federal government departments, and newspapers. In addition to academic work, he and his partner African American Harold F. Mays, Jr. operated Two Harolds Antiques in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia for 12 years. After retiring as Professor Emeritus from the University of Maryland in 1994, he compiled the Fritchey Family in America, 1856-2010, a two-volume genealogy, now in the Huntingdon County Historical Society. Harold was survived by his partner of 50 years, Harold, who died at the age of 81.
Richard A. Isay (December 13, 1934 – June 28, 2012) was an American psychiatrist, psychoanalyst, author and gay activist. He was a professor of psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College and a faculty member of the Columbia University Center for Psychoanalytic Training and Research. Isay is considered a pioneer who changed the way that psychoanalysts view homosexuality. On August 13, 2011, Isay married Gordon Harrell, his partner of 32 years. He died ten months later.
Washington, D.C.’s Title 34 makes discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation illegal.
Ryan Otto Cassata (born December 13, 1993) is an American musician, public speaker, writer, filmmaker, and actor. Cassata speaks at high schools and universities on gender dysphoria, being transgender, bullying and his personal transition from female to male, including a double mastectomy surgery in January 2012, when he was 18 years old. He has made appearances on the Larry King Live Show and the Tyra Banks Show to talk about being transgender. He has performed at LGBT music festivals and has gone on tours across the United States of America. Cassata has performed at popular music venues such as Whisky a Go Go, The Saint, The Bitter End, SideWalk Cafe, Turf Club (venue) and Bowery Poetry Club. Cassata won a date on Warped Tour 2013 through the Ernie Ball Battle of the Bands online competition and performed on the Acoustic Basement Stage on June 21, 2013. Cassata also won a date on Warped Tour 2015 through the Ernie Ball Battle of the Bands and performed on the Ernie Ball Stage on June 20, 2015.
Vice President Al Gore announces that he was opposed to the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy and, if elected, would propose legislation to end discrimination against gays and lesbians in the military.
U.S. Defense Secretary William Cohen orders a full review of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy. The policy had recently been criticized for creating a hostile environment.
The Belgium Senate approves same-sex marriage, making Belgium the second country to do so.
Poet Torquato Tasso (11 March 1544 – 25 April 1595) admits his love for Orazio Ariosto. Tasso was an Italian poet of the 16th century, best known for his poem Gerusalemme Liberate (Jerusalem Delivered, 1581) in which he depicts a highly imaginative version of the combats between Christians and Muslims at the end of the First Crusade during the Siege of Jerusalem. He suffered from mental illness and died a few days before he was due to be crowned as the king of poets by Pope Clement VIII. Until the beginning of the 20th century, Tasso remained one of the most widely read poets in Europe.
After two years of wearing men’s clothing, Mary Bertha Schmidt, known as Mister Schmidt, is taken to court in St. Louis, Missouri on cross-dressing charges. The judge thought Mister Schmidt, who was dapperly dressed, looked “very nice” and declines to fine Schmidt. Mister Schmidt then marries cousin Mary Ana Assade. A Los Angeles Herald article from 1918 quoted Schmidt as saying, “I always hated men, as did Mary also, so we both decided to get married. The ceremony was performed by a justice of the peace and we bought a nice little home in South St. Louis. We were living together very happily until the police interfered.”
Bruce Wayne Campbell (aka Jobriath) (December 14, 1946 – August 4, 1983) is born. He was the first openly gay rock musician to be signed to a major record label, and one of the first internationally famous musicians to die of AIDS.
A demonstration sponsored by the Gay Activists Alliance took place at Suffolk County Police headquarters in New York. Two men and one woman were arrested. It was held to protest the arrest of two members of GAA on charges of sodomy.
La Cage aux Folles ends its nineteen-month run at New York City’s 68th Street Playhouse. La Cage is a musical with a book by Harvey Fierstein and lyrics and music by Jerry Herman. Based on the 1973 French play of the same name by Jean Poiret, it focuses on a gay couple: Georges, the manager of a Saint-Tropez nightclub featuring drag entertainment, and Albin, his romantic partner and star attraction, and the farcical adventures that ensue when Georges’s son Jean-Michel brings home his fiancée‘s ultra-conservative parents to meet them. La cage aux folles literally means “the cage of mad women”. However, folles is also a slang term for effeminate homosexuals (queens). The original 1983 Broadway production received nine nominations for Tony Awards and won six, including Best Musical, Best Score and Best Book. Albin’s Act I finale number, I Am What I Am, was recorded by Gloria Gaynor and proved to be one of her biggest hits. It was also recorded by other artists, including Shirley Bassey, Tony Bennett, Pia Zadora, and John Barrowman. It also became a rallying cry of the Gay Pride movement.
The film adaptation of Harvey Fierstein’s (born June 6, 1954) Torch Song Trilogy opens in the United States. Torch Song Trilogy is a collection of three plays by Harvey Fierstein rendered in three acts: International Stud, Fugue in a Nursery, and Widows and Children First! The story centers on Arnold Beckoff, a Jewish homosexual, drag queen, and torch singer who lives in New York City in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The four-hour play begins with a soliloquy in which he explains his cynical disillusionment with love. Fierstein adapted his play for a feature film, released in 1988. It was directed by Paul Bogart and starred Fierstein (Arnold), Anne Bancroft (Ma Beckoff), Matthew Broderick (Alan), Brian Kerwin (Ed), and Eddie Castrodad (David).
The ACLU filed a lawsuit alleging that Hawaii corrections officers violated an inmate’s civil rights by testing him for HIV without consent.
At the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, the board of governors voted unanimously to remove the Lesbian Bisexual Gay Alliance’s two ex- officio positions. Officials said it had nothing to do with discrimination, that the board wanted to remove all ex-officio positions and replace them with elected officials. However, no other ex-officio positions were eliminated.
In New York, Alfred University faculty approved a resolution urging officials to ban ROTC because of the military’s anti-gay policies.
In Denver, Colorado, Judge Jeffrey Bayless ruled Amendment 2 unconstitutional. The amendment to the Colorado state constitution sought to eliminate all gay rights laws in the state and prevent any more from being passed. It would have prevented any city, town, or county in the state from taking any legislative, executive, or judicial action to recognize homosexuals as a protected class.
Actress Kate Fleming (October 6, 1965 – December 14, 2006) is trapped in a flooded basement room in her Seattle home. Her partner of ten years, Charlene Strong (born May 6, 1963), follows the ambulance to the hospital and is prevented by hospital staff from being at Kate’s side for a number of torturous minutes until Kate’s biological family can be reached on the east coast. Charlene is with Kate, finally, when she dies. Afterward, a funeral director refuses to shake Charlene’s hand or allow her to make arrangements even with the full support of Kate’s mother. Charlene will testify and help pass a Washington State domestic partner law. Had it been in force that December, Charlene would have allowed to be by Kate’s side and would have protected Kate’s right to let Charlene speak for her at the funeral home. For My Wife is a feature documentary chronicling Charlene’s journey into activism following Kate’s death. Strong works closely with Equal Rights Washington, and has endowed a fellowship at the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force in Washington, D.C.
The New Jersey Legislature enacts a bill to establish civil unions in that state. The measure passes 56–19 in the Assembly, and 23–12 in the Senate.
James and Louise Hathaway were approached by Boston police regarding a possible attempted car theft. What followed was the unmasking of James’s true identity: James was actually Ethel Kimball of Allston, Mass.
Having been published in Paris the previous July, Radclyffe Hall’s (12 August 1880 – 7 October 1943) The Well of Loneliness, the first major novel in English with an explicitly lesbian theme, is published in the U.S. Americans buy more than 20,000 copies of the book within the next month, making it a bestseller. Marguerite Radclyffe Hall was an English poet and author. She is best known for the novel The Well of Loneliness, a groundbreaking work in lesbian literature. Hall’s partner was Una Vincenzo, Lady Troubridge (8 March 1887-24 September 1963) who was a British sculptor and translator.
A U.S. Senate committee makes public its report on The Employ-ment of Homosexuals and Other Sex Perverts. Asserting that homosexuals are a security risk not simply because they are liable to blackmail but also because homosexuality inevitably perverts “moral fibre,” the report recommends stringent measures be taken to root all lesbians and gay men out of government. The federal government had covertly investigated employees’ sexual orientation at the beginning of the Cold War. The report states since homosexuality is a mental illness, homosexuals “constitute security risks” to the nation because “those who engage in overt acts of perversion lack the emotional stability of normal persons.”
Mattachine officer Don Lucas (1926 – Sept. 24, 2003) writes Boston Mattachine founder Prescott Townsend (June 24, 1894 – May 23, 1973) asking him to not begin a campaign for Massachusetts sodomy law reform. Reflecting the cautious conservatism of the current homophile movement, Lucas believes the risk of a backlash is too great.
Laura M. Ricketts (born December 15, 1967) is co-owner of the Chicago Cubs. Ricketts is also a board member of Lambda Legal and the Housing Opportunities for Women organization. Ricketts’ ownership stake in the Cubs is uniquely noteworthy because it makes her the first openly gay owner of a major-league sports franchise.
The governing board of the American Psychiatric Association unanimously votes to change the classification of homosexuality and removes it from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. This followed three years of pressure from gay liberation movement. The board bases this decision on its finding that most lesbians and gay men are clearly satisfied with their sexual orientation and show no signs of mental illness. The APA declares that “by itself, homosexuality does not meet the criteria for being a psychiatric disorder.”
Christopher R. Barron (born December 15, 1973) is an American political activist best known as the cofounder of GOProud, a political organization representing gay conservatives. He is the president of CapSouth Consulting, a political consulting firm, and previously the organizer of LGBT for Trump and the national political director for Log Cabin Republicans where he directed the organization’s federal lobbying efforts and media relations. Barron lives in Washington, D.C. with his husband Shawn R. Gardner to whom he has been legally married since 2010. He has stated that he served in the Air Force Reserve. Barron has written numerous opinion pieces for The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, The Boston Globe, Roll Call, The Hill, Politico, TheBlaze, The Daily Caller, and United Liberty. He has appeared on numerous national and local television channels, including MSNBC, NBC, CBS, CNN, CNN Headline News, ABC News Now, and Fox News, including being a frequent guest on Red Eye with Greg Gutfeld.
The National Assembly, in quiet late-night session, amends the Quebec Charter of Human Rights to include sexual orientation. It becomes first province and largest political jurisdiction in North America to provide legal protection for homosexuals.
Kortney Ryan Ziegler (born December 15, 1980) is an American filmmaker, visual artist, blogger, writer, and scholar based in Oakland, California. His artistic and academic work focuses on queer/transgender issues, body image, racialized sexualities, gender, performance and Black queer theory. Ziegler is also the first person to receive the Ph.D. of African American studies from Northwestern University in 2011.
The Free University of Amsterdam convenes the International Scientific Conference on Gay and Lesbian Studies. The highlight of the session is a heated debate inspired by the Constructionism vs. Essentialism controversy, entitled Homosexuality, Which Homosexuality?
The Theodosian Code, a compilation of Roman Law authorized by Eastern Roman Emperor Theodosius II, passes. It reads: When a man marries and is about to offer himself to men in womanly fashion, what does he wish, when sex has lost all of its significance; when the crime is one which it is not profitable to know; when Venus is changed to another form; when love is sought and not found?…Those infamous persons who are now or hereafter may be guilty may be subjected to exquisite punishment.
On this day, the new Penal Code of the Brazilian Empire did not repeat the title XIII of the fifth book of the Ordenações Philipinas which made sodomy a crime. In 1833, an anonymous English-language writer wrote a poetic defense of Captain Nicholas Nicholls, who had been sentenced to death in London for sodomy: Whence spring these inclinations, rank and strong? And harming no one, wherefore call them wrong? Three years later in Switzerland, Heinrich Hoessli (6 August 1784–24 December 1864) published the first volume of Eros: Die Männerliebe der Griechen (Eros: The Male Love of the Greeks), another defense of same-sex love.
Noel Coward (16 December 1899 – 26 March 1973), writer and composer, is born. He was an English playwright, composer, director, actor and singer, known for his wit, flamboyance, and what Time magazine called “a sense of personal style, a combination of cheek and chic, pose and poise.” Coward was homosexual but, following the convention of his times, this was never publicly mentioned. Coward’s most important relationship, which began in the mid-1940s and lasted until his death, was with the South African stage and film actor Graham Payn (25 April 1918 – 4 November 2005).
Margaret Mead (December 16, 1901 – November 15, 1978), anthropologist, is born. Mead was a respected and often controversial academic who popularized the insights of anthropology in modern American and Western culture. Her reports detailing the attitudes towards sex in South Pacific and Southeast Asian traditional cultures influenced the 1960s sexual revolution. She was a proponent of broadening sexual mores within a context of traditional Western religious life. Mead never openly identified herself as lesbian or bisexual. In her writings she proposed that it is to be expected that an individual’s sexual orientation may evolve throughout life. Mead also had an exceptionally close relationship with Ruth Benedict, one of her instructors. In her memoir about her parents, With a Daughter’s Eye, Mary Catherine Bateson implies that the relationship between Benedict and Mead was partly sexual. Mead spent her last years in a close personal and professional collaboration with anthropologist Rhoda Metraux with whom she lived from 1955 until her death in 1978. Letters between the two published in 2006 with the permission of Mead’s daughter clearly express a romantic rela-tionship. On January 19, 1979, President Jimmy Carter announced that he was awarding the Presidential Medal of Freedom posthumously to Mead.
A protest march is held in Toronto over the raid of a bathhouse. It is the first major demonstration over a bathhouse rain in Toronto and attracts about 400 people.
1997, New Zealand
The New Zealand court of appeals rules unanimously against giving same-sex couples the right to marry under the Marriage Act of 1955.
Mel Brooks’ To Be or Not To Be, a remake of the Ernst Lubitsch classic, becomes the first mainstream Hollywood film to not just acknowledge Nazi persecution of homosexuals but makes it a key plot element.
Deborah Sampson Gannett (December 17, 1760 – April 29, 1827), who fought in the American Revolution disguised as the soldier Robert Shurtlieff, is born. She was a Massachusetts woman who disguised herself as a man in order to serve in the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War. She is one of a small number of women with a documented record of military combat experience in that war. She served 17 months in the army under the name “Robert Shirtliff” (also spelled Shirtliffe or Shurtleff), was wounded in 1782, and was honorably discharged at West Point, New York in 1783. During World War II the Liberty Ship S.S. Deborah Gannett (2620) was named in her honor. As of 2001, the town flag of Plympton incorporates Sampson as the Official Heroine of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. In her speech at the Democratic National Convention on July 26, 2016, Meryl Streep named Sampson in a list of women who had made history.
Eva Kotchever, known also as Eve Adams or Eve Addams, born as Chawa Zloczower (June 16, 1891-17 December 1943, Auschwitz) was a Polish-Jewish émigré librarian and writer, most known for running from 1925 to 1926 a popular, openly lesbian after-theater club in Greenwich Village called Eve’s Hangout. It closed when Eva was convicted of obscenity and disorderly conduct, which resulted in her deportation. Chawa Zloczower was born in 1891 in Poland. Having emigrated to the United States during the 1920s, she ran with her partner, Swedish painter Ruth Norlander, a business named The Gray Cottage in Chicago, at 10 E Chestnut St. She was a friend of anarchist writer Emma Goldman. In 1925, she opened Eve’s Hangout, also known as Eve Addams’ Tearoom in Greenwich Village. On the outside, she hung a sign that read: “Men are admitted, but not welcome.” She was convicted by New York City’s Vice Squad of obscenity for her collection of short stories Lesbian Love(written under the name Evelyn Adams) and for dis-orderly conduct after undercover police detective Margaret Leonard entered Eve’s Hangout and was shown the book. Leonard said Kotchever made overt sexual advances to her. After a year in jail, where she probably met Mae West, at Jefferson Market Prison, she was deported to Europe. In 1943, she was arrested in Nice with her girlfriend Hella Olstein. The two women were imprisoned in the Drancy internment camp near Paris. Deported to Auschwitz, the two women were murdered by the Nazis on December 17, 1943.
The New York Times runs a frontpage story titled “Growth of Overt Homosexuality in City Provokes Wide Concern.” It told of a series of police raids on gay bars and arrests.
Nine leaders of the women’s liberation movement, including Gloria Steinem and Susan Brownmiller, hold a press conference in New York City to express their “solidarity with the struggle of homosexuals to attain their liberation in a sexist society.”
Sarah Paulson (born December 17, 1974) is an American actress. She is the recipient of several accolades, including a Prime-time Emmy Award and a Golden Globe Award. Born in Tampa, Florida, Paulson was raised there and later in New York City following her parents’ divorce. She began her acting career after high school in New York stage productions before starring in the short-lived television series American Gothic (1995–1996) and Jack & Jill (1999–2001). She later appeared in comedy films such as What Women Want (2000) and Down with Love (2003), and drama films such as Path to War (2002) and The Notorious Bettie Page (2005). From 2006 to 2007, she starred as Harriet Hayes in the NBC comedy-drama series Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip for which she received her first Golden Globe Award nomination. In 2008, Paulson starred as Ellen Dolan in the superhero noir film The Spirit. Paulson has appeared on Broadway in the plays The Glass Menagerie in 2005 and Collected Stories in 2010. She also starred in a number of independent films and had a leading role on the ABC comedy series Cupid in 2009. She later starred in the independent drama film Martha Marcy May Marlene (2011) and received Primetime Emmy Award and Golden Globe Award nominations for her portrayal of Nicolle Wallace in the HBO film Game Change (2012). She was featured as Mary Epps in the 2013 historical drama film 12 Years a Slave, as Abby Gerhard in the 2015 romantic drama film Carol, and as Toni Bradlee in the 2017 political drama film The Post, all of which were nominated for multiple Academy Awards. Paulson’s other films include Serenity (2005), New Year’s Eve (2011), Mud (2012), Blue Jay (2016), Ocean’s 8 (2018), Bird Box (2018), and Glass (2019). Paulson was in a relationship with actress Cherry Jones from 2004 to 2009. Addressing her sexuality in a 2013 interview with Broadway.com, Paulson said “it’s a fluid situation for me.” Before her relationship with Jones, she had dated only men, including then-fiancé playwright Tracy Letts. She would later comment: “If my life choices had to be predicated based on what was expected of me from a community on either side, that’s going to make me feel really straitjacketed, and I don’t want to feel that.” Since early 2015, Paulson has been in a relationship with actress Holland Taylor (born January 14, 1943). Paulson lives in Los Angeles. She was ranked one of the best dressed women in 2018 by fashion website Net-a-Porter.
U.S. District Court for the Central District of California Judge Irving Hill rules that the marriage of Australian Anthony Sullivan and U.S. citizen Richard Adams, under a license issued by Boulder County, Colorado in 1975, is not valid for purposes of Sullivan’s immigration.
The film Tootsie premieres. It is an American comedy in which a talented but volatile actor whose reputation for being difficult forces him to adopt a new identity as a woman in order to land a job.
Morton Downey Jr. is arraigned on charges of attacking a gay guest on his television show.
The OutRage Christmas Celebration for London’s extended Queer family is held in Covent Garden.
Connecticut State Rep. Joseph Grabarz (D) (born 1957) comes out. He becomes Connecticut’s first openly gay state legislator. At the time he was the lover of actor, playwright and voice actor Harvey Fierstein (born June 6, 1954).
Three same-sex couple request marriage licenses in Honolulu. The clerk initially agrees but a supervisor does not allow the request.
Karen Thompson is named Sharon Kowalski’s (born 1956) legal guardian after an eight-year fight. In re Guardianship of Kowalski, 478 N.W.2d 790 (Minn. Ct. App. 1991) is a Minnesota Court of Appeals case that established a lesbian‘s partner as her legal guardian after she became incapacitated following an automobile accident. Because the case was contested by Kowalski’s parents and family and initially resulted in the partner being excluded for several years from visiting Kowalski, the gay community celebrated the final resolution in favor of the partner as a victory for gay rights. The Minnesota Court of Appeals rule in Thompson’s favor on December 17, 1991. Thompson attorney commented: “This seems to be the first guardianship case in the nation in which an appeals court recognized a homosexual partner’s rights as tantamount to those of a spouse.” The two women continue to live together, along with another woman, Patty Bresser, in what Thompson calls her “family of affinity,” and they all continue to speak out about LGBT and disability rights. Their story has been documented in the film Lifetime Commitment: A Portrait of Karen Thompson.
Patricia Ireland (born October 19, 1945), president of the National Organization for Women, comes out as bisexual. She served as president of the National Organization for Women from 1991 to 2001 and published an autobiography, What Women Want, in 1996. Immediately following Ireland’s appointment to president of NOW, questions arose about her sexual orientation. On December 17, 1991 she gave an interview with The Advocate in which she stated that she was bisexual and had a female companion while remaining married to her second husband.
British Secretary of State Chris Smith writes a letter of apology to the Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association for having wreaths removed immediately following a ceremony of remembrance.
Under an agreement with New Jersey state child welfare officials, same-sex couples in the state are granted the right to jointly adopt children.
The Parliament gives the same rights to registered partners as to spouses with some exceptions: adoption, IVF access, surrogacy, and taking a surname.
1654, Sweden –
Queen Christina (18 December 1626 – 19 April 1689) is born. She was hairy and had a deep vice, ‘walked like a man, sat and rode like a man, and could eat and swear like the roughest soldiers.’ She sometimes identified herself as Count Dohna after her abdication, and has been claimed variously as lesbian, transgender, and intersex by historians in search of an angle.
Stagecoach driver Charlotte “Charley” Parkhurst (1812 – Dec. 18, 1879) dies. The medical examiner discovers Charley is female. Parkhurst, who registered to vote in 1868, may have been the first female-assigned transgender citizen to vote in California. Known as “One-eyed Charley,” he wore a black patch over his left eye, lost when attempting to shoe a horse. His lips were stained from constant tobacco chewing and as the years wore on, he talked less and less, earning him another nickname, Silent Charley. When Parkhurst did speak, he didn’t hesitate to sling around swear words in a gruff voice. The only part of his appearance that was out of place was his clean-shaven face, an odd choice for a man in those days. His grave is at the Pioneer Cemetery at 44 Main Street in Watsonville, California.
Marion Barbara ‘Joe’ Carstairs (1900 – 18 December 1993) was a wealthy British power boat racer known for her speed and her eccentric lifestyle. Carstairs lived a colorful life. She usually dressed as a man, had tattooed arms, and loved machines, adventure and speed. Openly lesbian, she had numerous affairs with women, including Oscar Wilde’s niece Dolly Wilde (July 11, 1895 – April 10, 1941) and a fellow ambulance driver from Dublin with whom she had lived in Paris as well as a string of actresses, most notably Greta Garbo (18 September 1905 – 15 April 1990), Tallulah Bankhead (January 31, 1902 – December 12, 1968) and Marlene Dietrich (27 December 1901 – 6 May 1992). During World War I, Carstairs served in France with the American Red Cross, driving ambulances. After the war, she served with the Royal Army Service Corps in France, re-burying the war-dead, and in Dublin with the Women’s Legion Mechanical Transport Section which acted as transport for British officers during the Irish War of Independence. In 1920, with three former colleagues from the Women’s Legion Mechanical Transport Section, she started the ‘X Garage,’ a car-hire and chauffeuring service that featured a women-only staff of drivers and mechanics. Carstairs (and her friends and lovers) lived in a flat above the garage which was situated near Cromwell Gardens in London’s fashionable South Kensington district. Carstairs invested $40,000 purchasing the island of Whale Cay in the Bahamas and constructed a Great House for herself and her guests as well as a lighthouse, school, church, and cannery. She later bought the additional islands of Bird Cay, Cat Cay, Devil’s Cay, half of Hoffman’s Cay and a tract of land on Andros. Carstairs died in Naples, Florida, in 1993 at the age of 93.
Dr. William S. Barker of St Louis presents a paper to the Medical Society of City Hospital Alumni about two men he identified as “W” and “B,” saying W showed an unnatural fondness for B and the two were inseparable.
Dr. Harry Benjamin conducts a symposium on transsexuals for the New York Academy of Medicine. Benjamin was a German-American endocrinologist and sexologist, widely known for his clinical work with transsexualism. Benjamin was married to Gretchen for 60 years. In 1979 the Harry Benjamin International Gender Dysphoria Association was formed, using Benjamin’s name by permission. The group consists of therapists and psychologists who devised a set of Standards of Care (SOC) for the treatment of gender identity disorder, largely based on Benjamin’s cases, and studies. It later changed its name to The World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH), but still reveres its links to Harry Benjamin.
Brian Orser (born 18 December 1961) is born. He is a Canadian former competitive and professional figure skater. He was the 1984 and 1988 Olympic silver medalist, 1987 World champion and eight-time (1981–88) Canadian national champion. At the 1988 Winter Olympics, the rivalry between Orser and American figure skater Brian Boitano (born October 22, 1963), who were the two favorites to win the gold medal, captured media attention and was described as the “Battle of the Brians.” Orser is openly gay. He was forced to reveal his sexuality in November 1998, when he lost a legal battle to prevent public disclosure when an ex-partner sued him for palimony. Orser initially feared the revelation of being gay would ruin his career, but he has since embraced support from other skaters and the public. Since 2008, he has been in a relationship with Rajesh Tiwari, a director of The Brian Orser foundation.
The first International Gay Rights Conference began. It would lead to the formation of the International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA) in 1978. The ILGA is an international organization bringing together more than 750 LGBTI groups from around the world. It continues to be active in campaigning for LGBT rights and intersex human rights on the international human rights and civil rights scene, and regularly petitions the United Nations and governments. ILGA is represented in 110+ countries across the world. ILGA is accredited by the United Nations and has been granted NGO Ecosoc consultative status.
A Toronto police sergeant calls three school boards in the area and informs them six teachers in their employ were arrested in the Barracks steam bath raid. The officer is given only internal department reprimand.
ABC News Close-Up features a documentary on homosexuals. Fifteen affiliates refused to air it and the network was not able to find a single commercial sponsor. It covered topics such as promiscuity and implied that gays could not form stable relationships.
With the state of New York and especially New York City being such a mecca of progressive ideals, it’s hard to believe that it was not until December 18, 1980 that New York became the twenty-fourth state in the nation to legalize homosexuality. The Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court, struck down the New York’s consensual sodomy law in a 5-2 decision. The court ruled that the law violated Constitutional rights to privacy and equal protection, noting that the law banned anal and oral sex only when those acts were performed by unmarried couples. Married couples were exempt under the law.
The Quebec parliament overwhelmingly approves a measure, and becomes the first North American legislative body to authorize Domestic Partnership benefits for same-sex couples. It gives domestic partners of gays and lesbians legal protection and access to economic benefits previously restricted to straights, authorizing “Domestic Partnership” benefits for gay and lesbian couples
The Times of Harvey Milk wins the New York Critics’ Award for Best Documentary of the Year. The film premiered at the Telluride Film Festival, the New York Film Festival, and then on November 1, 1984 at the Castro Theatre in San Francisco. The film was directed by Rob Epstein (born April 6, 1955), produced by Richard Schmiechen (July 10, 1947 – April 7, 1993), and narrated by Harvey Fierstein (born June 6, 1954), with an original score by Mark Isham. In 2012, this film was deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” by the United States Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the National Film Registry.
Dr. Stanley Biber (May 4, 1923 – January 16, 2006) of Trinidad, Colorado is elected to the city council. Dr. Biber performs approximately 60% of the world’s sex change operations. He was an American physician who was a pioneer in sex reassignment surgery, performing thousands of procedures during his long career. Dr. Marci Bowers (born January 18, 1958), a gynecologist and transsexual woman herself, took over his SRS practice. Bowers also offers restorative procedures for victims of female genital mutilation (FGM), whom she does not charge for surgery. Bowers married eleven years prior to her surgery and remains married to her female spouse.
Navy Secretary John Dalton denies that the U.S. Navy violates the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy by participating in witch hunts.
The Maryland Supreme Court rules a parent’s access to his or her children cannot be restricted solely based on sexual orientation.
Asian Games strips runner Santhi Soundarajan (born April 1981) of her silver medal because she is intersex. The Indian Olympic Association then banned her from sports. She is an Indian track and field athlete and winner of 12 international medals for India and nearly 50 medals for her home state of Tamil Nadu. Santhi is the first Tamil woman to win a medal at the Asian Games. She competes in middle distance track events. She was stripped of a silver medal won at the 2006 Asian Games after failing a sex verification test which disputed her eligibility to participate in the women’s competition.
The Bundesrat approve same-sex marriages which takes effect on Jan. 1, 2010.
The Real Housewives of Orange County star Braunwyn Windham-Burke (born November 25, 1977) came out as a lesbian in a GLAAD interview and revealed she is currently dating a woman.
Sholem Asch’s drama The God of Vengeance opens at the Provincetown Playhouse. The drama, translated from Yiddish and per-formed in English for the first time, includes the first lesbian scenes—and Broadway’s first lesbian kiss—on the American stage. It opened on Broadway in 1924. The theatre owner and 12 cast members found guilty of obscenity (later overturned). The play premiered in Yiddish theatre in 1907.
In Ottawa, Justice Minister Jean Chrétien announces proposals to revise the Criminal Code to reduce age of consent to 18 years and make other changes in legislation related to sexual offences.
Mikaela Mullaney Straus (born December 19, 1999), known by her stage name King Princess, is an American singer, songwriter, instrumentalist and producer from Brooklyn, New York. She is signed to Mark Ronson’s label Zelig Records, an imprint of Columbia Records. In February 2018, King Princess released her debut single 1950. The song was a commercial success, charting in multiple territories. The song was later certified platinum by the RIAA. 1950 was followed by King Princess’s second single Talia which was certified gold in Australia by the ARIA. King Princess released her debut studio album, Cheap Queen on October 25, 2019. Straus is gay and genderqueer. From early 2018 to late 2018, Straus dated actress Amandla Stenberg. Since early 2019, Straus has been dating Quinn Whitney Wilson, the creative director of musician Lizzo. Regarding her gender identity, KingPrincess has said in an interview with W Magazine, “I like being a woman sometimes. I would say 49 per-cent of the time I love my titties. But I’m not fully a woman. I’m somebody who falls center on the gender spectrum, and it changes day to day. It’s just not in me to decide.” As of late 2020, King Princess uses she/her pronouns.
Diego Sanchez (born 1957), transgender activist and prominent AIDS leader, is the first appointed Washington Congressional staff member, becoming a legislative assistant to Rep. Barney Frank. Frank is the first out gay member of the U.S. Congress.
Frank Kameny (May 21, 1925 – October 11, 2011) is fired from his job as an astronomer in the U.S. Army’s Map Service in Washington, D.C. because of his homosexuality. A few days later he is blacklisted from seeking federal employment. These events spur Kameny into being a gay rights activist. He has been referred to as “one of the most significant figures” in the American gay rights movement. In 1961 Kameny and Jack Nichols (March 16, 1938 – May 2, 2005), fellow co-founder of the Washington, D.C., branch of the Mattachine Society, launched some of the earliest public pro-tests by gays and lesbians with a picket line at the White House on April 17, 1965. In 1963, Kameny and Mattachine launched a campaign to overturn D.C. sodomy laws; he personally drafted a bill that finally passed in 1993. He also worked to remove the classification of homosexuality as a mental disorder from the American Psychiatric Association‘s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. In 1971, Kameny became the first openly gay candidate for the United States Congress when he ran in the District of Columbia’s first election for a non-voting Congressional delegate. Frank Kameny was found dead in his Washington home on October 11, 2011 (National Coming Out Day). His death was due to arteriosclerotic cardiovascular disease. In front of his headstone lays a marker inscribed with the slogan “Gay is Good.” Kameny coined that slogan, and in a 2009 AP interview said, “If I am remembered for anything I hope it will be that.”
For the second time in two years, the New York City Council rejects a proposed gay rights ordinance for the city.
OutRage! establishes the Coalition for Lesbian and Gay Rights to address legal attacks against the GLBT community. OutRage! was a British LGBT rights group lasting for 21 years, 1990 until 2011. It described itself as “a broad based group of queers committed to radical, non-violent direct action and civil disobedience” and was formed to advocate that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people have the same rights as heterosexual people, to end homophobia and anti-LGBT violence and to affirm the right of queer people to their “sexual freedom, choice and self-determination”.
In Baker v. Vermont, the Vermont Supreme Court orders the state legislature to devise a law to give same-sex couples identical rights to married couples. Baker v. Vermont, 744 A.2d 864 (Vt. 1999, was the lawsuit decided by Vermont Supreme Court on December 20, 1999. It was one of the first judicial affirmations of the right of same-sex couples to treatment equivalent to that afforded different-sex couples. The decision held that the state’s prohibition on same-sex marriage denied rights granted by the Vermont Constitution. The court ordered the Vermont legislature to either allow same-sex marriages or implement an alternative legal mechanism according similar rights to same-sex couples.
U.S. District Judge Robert Shelby strikes down Utah’s gay marriage ban; more than 1,000 same-sex couples marry over the next two weeks. With Utah appealing, the Supreme Court on Jan. 6 stops further marriages from taking place.
Wolfgang Leopold Lauinger (1918 – December 20, 2017) dies at the age of 99. He was a German gay activist. Other German gay acivists paid their respects to Lauinger who was imprisoned both by the Nazis and by the postwar West German government. “We bow before a wonderful person, who fought to the end for the rehabilitation of persecuted gay people and the compensation for all consequences of imprisonment and conviction as a result of Paragraph §175,” the Magnus Hirschfeld Foundation tweeted. Lauinger is best known for his campaign against Paragraph 175, the German law that outlawed male homosexuality. Passed in 1871, the Nazis in 1935 tightened up enforcement of Paragraph 175 by conducting more arrests and increasing the maximum jail sentence for male homosexuality to five years. Around 50,000 people were convicted between 1933 and 1945 under the law, and it sent between 5000 and 10,000 gay men to the concentration camps.
California Gov. Robert Waterman commutes the sentence of Lucilius Miller who had been convicted of sodomy in 1884. He had been sentenced to 12 years in prison.
The Bolsheviks repeal the entire criminal code in favor of “revolu-tionary justice.” Among the laws nullified are those relating to sex acts between men. Seventeen years later Article 121 would re-criminalize it, carrying a sentence up to five years “deprivation of freedom.”
Jim W. Owles (1947-1993) and Marty Robinson (1943-1992) leave Gay Liberation Front in New York City to form a group exclusively dedicated to the pursuit of gay rights. The new organization is called Gay Activists Alliance. They believed GLF was too focused on causes unrelated to gay liberation. Both men died of AIDS related illnesses.
A United States federal judge issues a bulletin stating that the federal civil service may not terminate an employee based on sexual orientation alone.
Time and Newsweek run their first major stories about AIDS.
The Chicago City Council votes 28-17 to approve a bill banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
An MTV poll reports that 92% of America’s teenagers say it would make no difference to them if their favorite rock star came out as gay or lesbian.
President Bill Clinton issues Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell which is a directive prohibiting the U.S. Military from barring applicants from service based on their sexual orientation. “Applicants… shall not be asked or required to reveal whether they are homosexual,” However, the policy forbids applicants from engaging in homosexual acts or making a statement that he or she is homosexual.
Newfoundland and Labrador become the eighth Canadian provinces to legalize same-sex marriage after a Supreme Court judge approves marriage licenses for two lesbian couples.
Singer Elton John (born 25 March 1947) and David Furnish (born 25 October 1962) enter into a civil partnership at Windsor Guildhall. They were legally married on December 21, 2014.
New Jersey governor Jon Corzine signs the bill establishing civil unions in the state. The first civil union licenses become available on February 20, 2007.
Nepal Supreme Court orders the end of anti-LGBTQ laws and creates new laws that safeguard LGBTQ people.
Diego Sanchez (born 1957) is the first openly transgender Washington Congressional staff member, appointed as legislative assistant to Rep. Barney Frank (born March 31, 1940), the first openly gay member of the U.S. Congress. Sanchez had been the first transgender person named to a Democratic National Committee earlier in 2008. Transgender Susan Kimberly (born 1941) had worked for Minnesota Rep. Norm Coleman at his home office (not in Washington) previously.
The Legislative Assembly legalizes same-sex marriage and adoptions.
Wallace Henry Thurman (1902–Dec. 22, 1934), a Black editor, critic, novelist, and playwright associated with the Harlem Renaissance, dies, in New York City. Thurman wrote a play, Harlem, which debuted on Broadway in 1929 to mixed reviews. The same year his first novel The Blacker the Berry: A Novel of Negro Life (1929) was published. The novel is now recognized as a groundbreaking work of fiction because of its focus on intra-racial prejudice and colorism within the Black community where lighter skin has historically been favored. Thurman married Louise Thompson on August 22, 1928. The marriage lasted only six months. Thompson said that Wallace was a homosexual and refused to admit it. Thurman died at the age of 32 from tuberculosis which was likely exacerbated by his long fight with alcoholism.
Bisexual blues singer Ma Rainey (September 1882 or April 26, 1886 – December 22, 1939) dies of heart disease at age 53. Billed as the “Mother of the Blues,” she was one of the earliest African American professional blues singers and one of the first generation of blues singers to record. Some of Rainey’s lyrics contain references to lesbianism or bisexuality, such as the 1928 song Prove It on Me.
Dr. Harry Benjamin testifies at a meeting of the New York Health Department to urge that transsexuals should be allowed to have new birth certificates issued reflecting their gender preference. His recommendations were rejected.
The San Francisco Free Press prints Carl Wittman’s (February 23, 1943 – January 22, 1986) Refugees from Amerika: A Gay Manifesto (1970). Reprinted and distributed all across the country in the next year, it quickly becomes the bible of Gay Liberation. Wittman 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. Wittman declined hospital treatment for AIDS and died by suicide at home in North Carolina.
The Gay/Lesbian Forum airs on public access television in Charlotte, N.C. Closet Busters produced the program.
The Dayton, Ohio city commission rejected a proposal to protect gays and lesbians in housing and employment.
President Obama signs the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.
Mary Rozet Smith (Dec. 23, 1868-1934) is born. She was a Chicago-born U.S. philanthropist who was one of the trustees and benefactors of Hull House. She was the companion of activist Jane Addams (September 6, 1860 – May 21, 1935) for over thirty years. Smith provided the financing for the Hull House Music School and donated the school’s organ as a memorial to her mother. She was active in several social betterment societies in Chicago at the turn of the 20th century.
Christa Winsloe (23 December 1888 – 10 June 1944) is born. Winsloe was a 20th-century German-Hungarian novelist, playwright and sculptor. Her book Das Mädchen Manuela (The Child Manuela) was reviewed in the New York Times. It was a translation from a German book about a lesbian relationship in a school for girls. The reviewer referred to it as “a social document that is moving and eloquent.” Das Mädchen Manuela is a short novel based on Winsloe’s experiences at Kaiserin-Augusta. The 1931 film version remains an international cult classic. Winsloe was involved in a relationship with newspaper reporter Dorothy Thompson (9 July 1893 – 30 January 1961), probably before World War II when Thompson was reporting from Berlin. Winsloe moved to France in the late 1930s, fleeing the Nazis. During World War II, she joined the French Resistance. Contrary to what is often stated, she was not executed by the Nazis. Instead, on June 10, 1944, Winsloe and her French partner, Simone Gentet (died 1944), were shot and killed by four Frenchmen in a forest near the country town of Cluny. The men said that they had thought the women were Nazi spies. They were later acquitted of murder.
The California Supreme Court upholds the right of LGBT people to congregate in Vallerga v. Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control. The Court rules that a 1955 statute allowing the Dept. of ABC to revoke the liquor license of any establishment that was a “resort…for sexual perverts.”
The film Little Big Man is released. It features a character named Little Horse, played by Robert Little Star, who is biologically male but wears female clothing and identifies as a woman. Little Horse is a “hee-man-eh” which, in the Cheyenne tribe, is the tribe is the word for what anthropologists call a “berdache.”
Philadelphia starring Tom Hanks premieres. The film is an American drama and one of the first mainstream Hollywood films to acknowledge HIV/AIDS, homosexuality, and homophobia. It was written by Ron Nyswaner, directed by Jonathan Demme and stars Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington. Hanks won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his role as Andrew Beckett in the film, while the song Streets of Philadelphia by Bruce Springsteen won the Academy Award for Best Original Song. Nyswaner was also nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay but lost to Jane Campion for The Piano.
In a much publicized adoption case in Seattle, Ross and Luis Lopton win permanent custody of their four year-old foster son Gailen. The child’s birth mother had challenged the men’s right to adopt him.
The Centers for Disease Control releases a report on why some people at risk for HIV infection don’t get tested. Reasons included privacy and fear of positive test results.
Pentagon spokesman Kenneth Bacon announced that a memoran-dum had been issued calling for immediate action against cases of anti-gay harassment in the military.
Grand Master Jacques de Molay (1243 – 18 March 1314) and over 500 Knights Templar recant their confessions of homosexual ac-tivities to which they had admitted under torture. King Phillip IV burned 54 of them soon after the false confessions. Philip had Mo-lay burned upon a scaffold on an island in the River Seine in front of Notre Dame de Paris in March 1314. The sudden end of both the centuries-old order of Templars and the dramatic execution of its last leader turned de Molay into a legendary figure.
French diplomat and law professor Hubert Languet (1518 – 30 September 1581) wrote to poet Sir Philip Sidney (30 November 1554 – 17 October 1586), “My affection for you has entered my heart far more deeply than I have ever felt for anyone else, and it has so wholly taken possession there that it tries to rule alone.”
Stormé DeLarverie (December 24, 1920 – May 24, 2014) is born. She was a butch lesbian whose purported scuffle with police was one of the defining moments of the Stonewall riots, spurring the crowd to action. She was born in New Orleans to an African American mother and a white father. She is remembered as a gay civil rights icon and entertainer who graced the stages of the Apollo Theater and Radio City Music Hall. She worked for much of her life as an MC, singer, bouncer, bodyguard and volunteer street patrol worker, the “guardian of lesbians in the Village.” Her partner, a dancer named Diana, lived with her for about 25 years until Diana died in the 1970s. According to friend Lisa Cannistraci, DeLarverie carried a photograph of Diana with her at all times. DeLarverie continued working as a bouncer until age 85.
The state of Illinois issues a charter to a non-profit organization called Society for Human Rights, the first U.S.-based gay human rights group. The Society is quickly shut down, however, after a member’s wife complains to the police and its founder, Henry Gerber (June 29, 1892 – December 31, 1972) is arrested for “obscenity.” Gerber was an early homosexual rights activist in the United States. Inspired by the work of Germany’s Magnus Hirschfeld and his Scientific-Humanitarian Committee, Gerber founded the Society for Human Rights (SHR) in 1924, the nation’s first known homosexual organization, and Friendship and Freedom, the first known American homosexual publication. SHR was short-lived, as police arrested several of its members shortly after it incorporated. Although embittered by his experiences, Gerber maintained contacts within the fledgling homophile movement of the 1950s and continued to agitate for the rights of homosexuals. Gerber has been repeatedly recognized for his contributions to the LGBT movement.
Brenda Howard (December 24, 1946 – June 28, 2005) was an American bisexual rights activist, sex-positive feminist, polyamorist and BDSM practitioner. Howard was an important figure in the modern LGBT rights movement. A militant activist who helped plan and participated in LGBT rights actions for over three decades, Howard was an active member of the Gay Liberation Front and for several years chair of the Gay Activists Alliance’s Speakers Bureau in the post-Stonewall era. She is known as the “Mother of Pride” for her work in coordinating a rally and then the Christopher Street Liberation Day March to commemorate the first anniversary of the Stonewall riots. Howard also originated the idea of a week-long series of events around Pride Day which became the genesis of the annual LGBT Pride celebrations that are now held around the world every June. Additionally, Howard along with fellow LGBT activists Robert A. Martin (aka Donny the Punk) (July 27, 1946 – July 18, 1996) and L. Craig Schoonmaker (born 1944) are credited with popularizing the word “Pride” to describe these festivities. A fixture in New York City’s LGBT Community, Howard was active in the Coalition for Lesbian and Gay Rights which helped guide New York City’s Gay rights law through the City Council in 1986 as well as ACT UP and Queer Nation. In 1987 Howard helped found the New York Area Bisexual Network to help coordinate services to the region’s growing Bisexual community. She was also an active member of the early bisexual political activist group BiPAC, a Regional Organizer for BiNet USA, a co-facilitator of the Bisexual S/M Discussion Group and a founder of the nation’s first Alcoholics Anonymous chapter for bisexuals. On a national level, Howard’s activism included work on both the 1987 March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights and the 1993 March on Washington for Lesbian, Gay and Bi Equal Rights and Liberation where she was female co-chair of the leather contingent and Stonewall 25 in 1994. Howard died of colon cancer on June 28, 2005. Bisexual activist Tom Limoncelli (born December 2, 1968) later stated, “The next time someone asks you why LGBT Pride marches exist or why [LGBT] Pride Month is June tell them ‘A bisexual woman named Brenda Howard thought it should be.'”
Lesbian actress Pat Childers Bond (February 27, 1925 – December 24, 1990) dies of lung cancer at age 65. She was an American actress who starred on stage and on television as well as in motion pictures. She was openly lesbian and was often the first gay woman people saw on stage. Her career spanned some for-ty years. She joined the Women’s Army Corps in 1945. Having accepted her homosexuality by this point, she was interested in meeting other lesbians. She acted as a nurse for soldiers returning from the South Pacific and also served in occupied Japan. In 1947, in Tokyo, 500 women were dishonorably discharged from the army on the charge of homosexuality. During this period, many lesbians testified against each other in trial but Bond married a gay GI soldier to avoid prosecution. Her marriage to Paul Bond in San Francisco afforded Bond an honorable discharge from the army on July 3, 1947. She later said she regretted leaving her lover in the Corps but did so to protect her. In 1990, Pat was honored by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in recognition of her army tenure at the end of World War II. Her personal papers and photo albums were donated to the Gay and Lesbian Historical Society. In 1992, The Pat Bond Memorial Old Dyke Award was founded in her honor. The award recognizes Bay Area lesbians over 60 who have made outstanding contributions to the world.
Rev Brent Hawkes reads the Bannes of Marriage for a gay and a lesbian couple at MCC Toronto. Bannes are an ancient Christian tradition which do not require a marriage license. Weddings in January 2001 are not registered by the Province of Ontario and the case goes to court.
The Serbian Parliament approves changes to the Penal Code to in-clude sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes when it comes to hate crimes.
Alan Turing (23 June 1912 – 7 June 1954), considered the father of computer science, was a code-breaker who helped shorten WWII. Since he was gay, on this day, the British government offered him the choice of prison or chemical castration after he was convicted of gross indecency. He selected hormonal castration via estrogen. He died in 1954 of cyanide poisoning. In 2009, Prime Minister Gordon Brown made an official apology, and the Queen issued Turing a royal pardon on this day in 2013.
Sarah Bigelow, 18, and Lizzie Hart, 19, die by suicide in Massachusetts. Lizzie was apparently so bereft due to her mother’s death that she wanted to die. On her deathbed, Sarah said she loved Lizzie so much that she “would not let her die without me.”
Quentin Crisp (25 December 1908 – 21 November 1999) is born. Named Denis Charles Pratt, Crisp becomes a gay icon in the 1970s after publication of his memoir, The Naked Civil Servant, detailing his life in homophobic British Society. When the book was adapted for television, Crisp began a new career as a performer and lecturer. From a conventional suburban background, Crisp enjoyed wearing make-up and painting his nails, and worked as a rent-boy in his teens. He then spent thirty years as a professional model for life-classes in art colleges. The interviews he gave about his unusual life attracted increasing public curiosity and he was soon sought after for his highly individual views on social manners and the cultivating of style. His one-man stage show was a long-running hit both in Britain and America and he also appeared in films and on TV. In 1995 he was among the many people interviewed for The Celluloid Closet, an historical documentary addressing how Hollywood films have depicted homosexuality. In his third volume of memoirs Resident Alien published in the same year, Crisp stated that he was close to the end of his life, though he continued to make public appearances and in June of that year he was one of the guest entertainers at the second Pride Scotland festival in Glasgow.
Time magazine runs its first article on homosexuality, saying that homosexuals should not work in government jobs because they are a security risk.
Leonard Bernstein (August 25, 1918 – October 14, 1990) conducts Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 in East Berlin’s Schauspielhaus as part of the country’s celebration of the fall of the Berlin Wall. He had conducted the same piece in West Berlin the previous day. Bernstein was an American composer, conductor, author, music lecturer, and pianist who was bisexual. He was among the first conductors born and educated in the U.S. to receive worldwide acclaim. According to music critic Donal Henahan, he was “one of the most prodigiously talented and successful musicians in American history.
The film Mata Hari is released. It’s the first film Greta Garbo (18 September 1905 – 15 April 1990) does after becoming Mercedes de Acosta’s (March 1, 1893 – May 9, 1968) lover. De Costa designs one of the outfits that Garbo wears in the film.
Greta Garbo (18 September 1905 – 15 April 1990) stars as the Queen of Sweden who defies gender-norm expectations. Garbo’s partner, Mercedes de Acosta (March 1, 1893 – May 9, 1968) proposed the film’s concept. Garbo’s Cuban Lover, a 2001 stage play by actress-writer Odalys Nanin, celebrates Latin lesbians including Greta Garbo’s dashing lover de Acosta.
Charles William “Billy” Haines (January 2, 1900 – December 26, 1973) was an American actor and interior designer. Haines was discovered by a talent scout and signed with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) in 1922. His career gained momentum when he was lent to Columbia Pictures where he received favorable reviews for his role in The Midnight Express. Haines returned to MGM and was cast in the 1926 film Brown of Harvard. The role solidified his screen persona as a wisecracking, arrogant leading man. By the end of the 1920s, Haines had appeared in a string of successful films and was a popular box-office draw. Haines’ acting career was cut short by the studios in the 1930s due to his refusal to deny his homosexuality. He quit acting in 1935 and started a successful interior design business with his life partner Jimmie Shields. His work was widely patronized by friends in Hollywood. Haines died of lung cancer in December 1973 at the age of 73. William Haines’ house was the scene of many gatherings for the industry’s homosexuals. The close-knit group reputedly included Haines and his partner Jimmie Shields (January 2, 1900 – December 26, 1973), writer Somerset Maugham (25 January 1874 – 16 December 1965), director James Vincent (July 19, 1882 – July 12, 1957), screenwriter Rowland Leigh (1902 – 1963), costume designers Orry-Kelly (31 December 1897 – 27 February 1964) and Robert Le Maire, and actors John Darrow (17 July 1907 – 24 February 1980), Anderson Lawler (May 5, 1902 – April 6, 1959), Grady Sutton (April 5, 1906 – September 17, 1995), Robert Seiter and Tom Douglas.
Mary Jo Risher announces that she planned to appeal a Dallas jury’s decision to remove her son from her custody because she is a lesbian. Her appeal would fail.
Anti-gay crusader Anita Bryant was named one of the Twenty-Five Most Intriguing People of 1977 in People magazine.
Lesbian Regan Wolf of Lancaster, South Carolina was knocked unconscious by three men who brutally beat her, strung her up from her front porch, and painted “Jesus weren’t born for you, faggot.” Despite giving police the identity of the three men, the sheriff’s office took no action. She was attacked more severely six months later.
In England, Rev. Bray, the leader of the Societies for Reformation of Manners, preached a sermon in which he referred to sodomy as “an evil force invading our land.”
Harry Allen or Harry Livingston (December 27, 1882- December 27, 1922) was an American transgender man from the Pacific Northwest who was the subject of ongoing sensationalist local and national newspaper coverage from 1900 until his death in 1922. As Nell Pickerell, he was a young man in his early 20s who lived by his wits. He could fight, and looked great in a suit, tie and derby. He smoked, drank and ran with a rough crowd. He was reputedly close to the city’s gang leaders and very familiar with the insides of a jail cell, having spent time there for theft, vagrancy, selling liquor to the Indians, resisting arrest and other offenses. He was jugged once in Portland for violating the Mann Act by allegedly transporting a woman over a state line for immoral purposes. The woman was his partner, a Seattle prostitute who “posed” as his wife. Harry was a person recognized by most of society as a woman, but who identified completely as a man.
Wilhelm Murnau (Friedrich Wilhelm Plumpe; December 28, 1888 – March 11, 1931) was a German film director. He was greatly influenced by the Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Shakespeare and Ibsen plays he had seen at the age of 12, and became a friend of director Max Reinhardt. During World War I he served in the Imperial German Army, initially as an infantry company commander on the Eastern Front. Murnau later transferred to the German Army’s Flying Corps as an observer/gunner, and survived several crashes without any severe injuries. One of Murnau’s acclaimed works is the film Nosferatu (1922), an adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Although not a commercial success, owing to copyright issues with Stoker’s estate, the film is considered a masterpiece of German Expressionist cinema. He later directed the film The Last Laugh (1924) as well as a 1926 interpretation of Goethe’s Faust. He emigrated to Hollywood in 1926 where he joined the Fox Studio and made three films: Sunrise (1927), 4 Devils (1928) and City Girl (1930). Sunrise has been regarded by critics and film directors as among the best films ever made. Murnau travelled to Bora Bora to make the film Tabu (1931) with documentary film pioneer Robert J. Flaherty. Flaherty left after artistic disputes with Murnau who had to finish the movie on his own. A week before the opening of Tabu, Murnau died in a Santa Barbara hospital from injuries he sustained in an automobile accident that occurred along the Pacific Coast Highway near Rincon Beach, southeast of Santa Barbara. Of the 21 films Murnau directed, eight are considered to be completely lost. One reel of his feature Marizza, genannt die Schmuggler-Madonna survives. This leaves only 12 films surviving in their entirety. Murnau was gay though sources conflict on whether he was closeted or open about his sexuality.
Actress Marlene Dietrich (27 December 1901 – 6 May 1992) is born. She was a German actress and singer who held both German and American citizenship. Throughout her unusually long career, which spanned from the 1910s to the 1980s, she maintained popularity by continually reinventing herself. She was bisexual and quietly enjoyed the thriving gay scene of the time and drag balls of 1920s Berlin. She had an affair with Mercedes de Acosta (March 1, 1893 – May 9, 1968) who became Greta Garbo’s lover. Greta Garbo has been commonly regarded as Dietrich’s greatest film rival but there is also a rumor of an affair between them.
Hart Crane (July 21, 1899 – April 27, 1932), was an American poet. Finding both inspiration and provocation in the poetry of T. S. Eliot, Crane wrote modernist poetry that was difficult, highly stylized, and ambitious in its scope. In the years following his suicide at the age of 32, Crane has been hailed by playwrights, poets, and literary critics alike (including Robert Lowell, Derek Walcott, Tennessee Williams, and Harold Bloom), as being one of the most influential poets of his generation. On this day, Crane comes out as homosexual in a letter to the critic Gorham Munson. His lover was Emil Opffer, a Danish merchant mariner. As a boy, he had a sexual relationship with a man. He associated his sexuality with his vocation as a poet. The prominent queer theorist Tim Dean (born 1966) argues, for instance, that the obscurity of Crane’s style owes itself partially to the necessities of being a semi-public homosexual—not quite closeted, but also, as legally and culturally necessary, not open.
The New York Times reviewed Queen Christina, a film starring Greta Garbo about Christina of Sweden (8 December, 1626 – 19 April 1689) who cross-dressed and is believed to have been bisexual.
Martha Shelley (born December 27, 1943) is an American lesbian activist, feminist, writer, and poet. She was in Greenwich Village the night of the Stonewall riots with women who were starting a Daughters of Bilitis chapter in Boston. Recognizing the significance of the event and being politically aware, she proposed a protest march. As a result DOB and Mattachine sponsored a demonstration. According to an article in the program for the first San Francisco pride march, she was one of the first four members of the Gay Liberation Front, the others being Michael Brown, Jerry Hoose and Jim Owles. Certainly she was one of the twenty or so women and men who formed the Gay Liberation Front immediately after Stonewall and was outspoken in many of their confrontations. She wrote for their magazine Come Out!. In 1970 she was instrumental in the Lavender Menace zap of the Second Congress to Unite Women. She produced the radio show Lesbian Nation on New York’s WBAI radio station and contributed pieces from Notes of a Radical Lesbian and Terror to the 1970 anthology Sisterhood is Powerful: An Anthology of Writings from The Women’s Liberation Movement, edited by Robin Morgan. After moving to Oakland, California in October 1974, she was involved with the Women’s Press Collective where she worked with Judy Grahn to produce Crossing the DMZ, In Other Words, Lesbians Speak Out and other books. Her poetry has appeared in Ms.magazine, Sunbury, The Bright Medusa, We Become New and other periodicals. Shelley appeared in the 2010 documentary Stonewall Uprising, an episode of the American Experience series. One of the first members of the Gay Liberation Front, Shelley is one of the best-known lesbian activists in America. The name “Shelley” was an alias taken to avoid being identified in FBI surveillance of the Daughters of Bilitis.
Lisa Sue Kove (born Dec. 27, 1958) is an American civil servant and disabled retired combat veteran, a San Diego, California corporate executive, and a civil rights activist. She’s the Executive Director of the Department of Defense Federal Glove, and chairwoman of EXUSMED, Inc., a healthcare corporation based in San Diego. In 1998 Kove filed one of the first child support suits in the nation for children born to same-sex couples. The Superior Court of Pennsylvania affirmed that Kove’s former lesbian partner must pay support for the five children Kove bore during their relationship.
Singer/actor Wilson Cruz (December 27, 1973) is born. Cruz grew up in a Puerto Rican family in New York. He is an American actor known for playing Rickie Vasquez on My So-Called Life, Angel in the Broadway production of Rent and the recurring character Junito on Noah’s Arc. As an openly gay man of Puerto Rican ancestry, he has served as an advocate for gay youth, especially gay youth of color. Wilson is featured on The CBS All Access’ new Star Trek: Discovery series as a gay character in the first openly gay relationship.
1980, The Netherlands
The first international lesbian conference, called the International Lesbian Information Secretariat, is held in Amsterdam with women from 17 countries in attendance. It takes place over six days at a youth hostel. The ILIS’s purpose was to foster international lesbian organizing. It was started in 1980 within ILGA which is an international organization bringing together more than 750 LGBTI groups from around the world. The following year, at a separate lesbian conference arranged prior to the ILGA Turin conference, lesbian organizations decided that ILIS should be a separate organization. ILIS arranged several international conferences. The activities seem to have gradually stopped in the late 1990s.
Joe Beam (December 30, 1954– December 27, 1988) dies. He was the editor of In the Life: A Black Gay Anthology. He was an African American gay rights activist and author who worked to foster greater acceptance of gay life in the Black community by relating the gay experience with the struggle for civil rights in the United States. Beam was working on a sequel to In the Life at the time of his death of HIV-related disease in 1988. This work was completed by Dorothy Beam and the gay poet Essex Hemphill (April 16, 1957 – November 4, 1995), and published under the title Brother to Brother in 1991. Both books were featured in a television documentary Tongues Untied in 1991.
San Antonio’s AIDS Foundation files a complaint with the state consumer affairs board against four funeral homes in the area which charged $75 extra to prepare the bodies of people who died of AIDS complications.
Michael Callen (April 11, 1955 – December 27, 1993), who was a significant architect of the response to the AIDS crisis in the United States, dies. Singer, songwriter, AIDS activist and author, Michael is recognized as a co-inventor of safe(r) sex and a co-founder of the People with AIDS self-empowerment movement. He was a founding member of the gay male a cappella singing group The Flirtations. Callen died of AIDS-related complications in Los Angeles at the age of 38.
Lili Ilse Elvenes (28 December 1882 – 13 September 1931) is born. She was a Danish painter, better known today by the pseudonym ‘Lili Elbe,’ who becomes the second transgender woman to benefit from Gohrbandt’s vaginoplasty technique in 1931. Her castration and penectomy had been performed by Dr. Ludwig Levy-Lenz (1889-1966) the previous year. These preliminaries have sometimes caused confusion over the date of Lili’s ‘sex change’ which—like all other gender transitions—is not so much a single event as a process extended in time. After successfully transitioning in 1930, she changed her legal name to Lili Ilse Elvenes and stopped painting altogether. The name “Lili” was suggested by a friend, actress Anna Larssen. Later in her life, Lili chose the surname Elbe, inspired by the Elbe River in Dresden. She died from complications involving a uterus transplant. Her autobiography Man into Woman was published posthumously in 1933. In 2000, David Ebershoff wrote The Danish Girl, a fictionalized account of Elbe’s life. In 2015, it was made into a film also called The Danish Girl, produced by Gail Mutrux and Neil LaBute and starring Eddie Redmayne as Elbe.
The Los Angeles chapter of the Gay Liberation Front’s Don Jackson outlines a plan for a “gay colony,” to be called Stonewall Nation, in California’s Alpine County whose current population was 450. They would recall the county government and elect an all-gay slate. Although his proposal attracts widespread media attention and support from activists including Jim Kepner (1923 – 15 November 1997) and Don Kilhefner (born March 3, 1938), few gay men and lesbians are willing to make the move. After a brief flurry of national attention, GLF announces that the plan is off.
Terry Dolan (1950 – December 28, 1986), an anti-gay family values advocate, was discovered to have been gay after his death from complications of AIDS at age 36. While he was persistently critical of gay rights, he was revealed to have been a closeted homosexual who frequented gay bars in Washington, D.C.
A district court judge ruled that Karen Thompson must be allowed to visit her lover, Sharon Kowalski, a quadriplegic. He also ruled that Kowalski’s father would remain her guardian. Kowalski had been seriously injured in an accident, and her father refused to al-low Thompson to visit her. Karen fought and won the right to be Sharon’s legal guardian. In re Guardianship of Kowalski, 478 N.W.2d 790 (Minn. Ct. App. 1991) is the Minnesota Court of Appeals case that established a lesbian’s partner as her legal guardian after Sharon Kowalski became incapacitated following an automobile accident. Because the case was contested by Kowalski’s parents and family and initially resulted in the partner being excluded for several years from visiting Kowalski, the gay community celebrated the final resolution in favor of the partner as a victory for gay rights.
The Greensboro, North Carolina council repeals a municipal ordinance forbidding discrimination based on sexual orientation. The council had passed the ordinance only three months earlier.
About 70 men from Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka attend the first regional conference for gay rights in South Asia, a five-day event organized in New Delhi by activist Ashok Row Kawi (born 1 June 1947). Ashok Row Kavi is an Indian journalist and one of India’s most prominent LGBT rights activists. In 1990, he founded Bombay Dost, India’s first gay magazine. He was a representative at the International AIDS Conference in Amsterdam and served as chairman of the Second International Congress on AIDS. At the present, he is founder-chairperson of the Humsafar Trust, an LGBT rights and health services NGO which also agitates for the legal emancipation of homosexuality in India. Row Kavi has been listed among India’s Seven Most Influential Gay & Lesbian individuals by Pink Pages magazine. In September 2017 India Times listed Kavi as one of the eleven Human Rights Activists Whose Life Mission is to Provide Others with a Dignified Life.
1998, The Vatican
Pope John Paul II speaks out against the acceptance of non-traditional families, saying it disfigures the traditional family struc-ture.
The Church of Nigeria issues a press release warning people about Davis Mac-lyalla (born 1972) “who claims to be a member of the Anglican Church.” (Actually, he was not only a member but he worked for the Church for years.) Earlier in the year, Mac-lyalla had been arrested and tortured by the police. In 2008, he was given refuge asylum in the UK and received the Bishop Desmond Tutu Award for Human Rights and Social Justice. He established the Nigerian wing of the British Changing Attitude organization, which presses for internal reform of the Anglican Communion for further inclusion of Anglican sexual minorities.
Elfie Gidlow (29 December 1898 – 8 June 1986) was a British-born Canadian-American poet, freelance journalist, and philosopher. In 1918 she published Les Mouches Fantastiques with journalist Roswell George Mills. It was the first known LGB periodical in Canadian and North American history. Five issues of the magazine were published; it was discontinued in 1920. She is best known for writing On a Grey Thread (1923), possibly the first volume of openly lesbian love poetry published in North America. In the 1950s, Gidlow helped found Druid Heights, a bohemian community in Marin County, California. She was the author of thirteen books and appeared as herself in the documentary film Word Is Out: Stories of Some of Our Lives(1977). Completed just before her death, her autobiography, Elsa, I Come with My Songs (1986), recounts her life story. Towards the last years of her life, Gidlow experienced several strokes. She chose not to seek medical care in a hospital and died at home in Druid Heights at the age of 87. Gidlow’s estate donated her extensive personal papers to the GLBT Historical Society in San Francisco in 1991. One is in the archives of the University of South Florida. The University of Iowa library has an original of all five issues, and the Quebec Gay Archives has a reprint of the final issue.
Wakefield Poole’s (born 1936) trend-setting Boys in the Sand premieres, prompting Variety to remark, “There are no more closets.” Shot on Fire Island, Poole’s slickly produced film marks a dramatic departure from the low-budget pornography previously available. Boys in the Sand had its theatrical debut on December 29, 1971 at the 55th Street Playhouse in New York City. It was the first gay porn film to include credits, to achieve crossover success, to be reviewed by Variety, and one of the earliest porn films, after 1969’s Blue Movie by Andy Warhol (August 6, 1928 – February 22, 1987) to gain mainstream credibility, preceding 1972’s Deep Throat by nearly a year. It was promoted with an advertising campaign un-precedented for a pornographic feature and was an immediate critical and commercial success. The film’s title is a parodic reference to the Mart Crowley (August 21, 1935-March 7, 2020) play and film The Boys in the Band.
As a result of the dismissal of a gay man from his job with the Seattle Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, an action was filed seeking to change the Civil Service Rules which allowed the dismissal of homosexuals from Federal employment on the basis of sexual orientation alone. A year later a federal judge nullified the policy.
Richard Dunne (1944 – December 29, 1990), director of the Gay Men’s Health Crisis from 1985-1989, dies of complications from AIDS at age 46. During his time as director the annual budget in-creased from $800,000 to $11 million and the staff increased from 17 to 120.
John Gilbert, general manager of KOAA-TV in Colorado Springs, pulls tv shows Jenny Jones and Carnie because their shows included homosexuals.
Senator John McCain meets with Arizona state legislator Steve May (born c. 1972), a gay Republican who was in the process of being discharged from the Army reserves. McCain said he stands by the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy but would look into his case to be sure he was being treated fairly.
Same-sex marriage takes effect in Maine with a voter approval of 53%-47%. Maryland and Washington State are the other states to win marriage equality by popular vote.
The New York Times reviews the play Trio from the novel by Dorot Baker, about a relationship between a female college teacher and a young woman. Trio was originally scheduled to open on November 8, 1944 at the Cort Theater; however theater owner Lee Shubert refused to rent it based on the play’s themes of an older woman’s feelings for a girl. Elmer Rice, lease-holder of the Belasco Theatre, allowed the production to open there, where it was still a subject of controversy. It was finally ordered to close by New York License Commissioner Paul Moss who refused to renew the Belasco’s license if Trio remained open; it closed on February 24, 1945.
The New York Post runs an article about illegal tactics used by police to harass gays.
Toronto police take action against The Body Politic, the country’s leading gay and lesbian newspaper, seizing materials and charging the publication with “using the mails to distribute immoral, indecent, and scurrilous material.” It would be six years before they were acquitted.
New Ways Ministries, a Catholic group, took out a full-page ad in the New York Times calling for an end to anti-gay violence.
The ACLU sues the state of Arkansas, arguing that the state’s ban on same-sex adoptions is unconstitutional.
Beauford Delaney (December 30, 1901 – March 26, 1979) is born. He was a gay African American modernist painter. He is remembered for his work with the Harlem Renaissance in the 1930s and 1940s as well as his later works in abstract expressionism following his move to Paris in the 1950s. Beauford’s younger brother, Joseph, was also a noted painter. In Greenwich Village, Delaney became part of a gay bohemian circle of mainly white friends but he was furtive and rarely comfortable with his sexuality. The pressures of being “Black and gay in a racist and homophobic society” was difficult enough, but Delaney’s own Christian upbringing and “disapproval” of homosexuality, the presence of a family member (his artist brother Joseph) in the New York art scene and the “macho abstract expressionists emerging in lower Manhattan’s art scene” added to this pressure. So he “remained rather isolated as an artist even as he worked in a center of major artistic ferment… A deeply introverted and private person, Delaney formed no lasting romantic relationships.
The Council on Religion and the Homosexual holds a costume party in San Francisco to raise money for the new organization. When the ministers informed the San Francisco Police Department of the event, the SFPD attempted to force the rented hall’s owners to cancel it. At the event itself, some of the ministers and ticket takers were arrested, creating a brief riot. Police attempt to intimidate some 600 guests by photographing each guest as they arrive. Three lawyers and Nancy May, a straight volunteer, are arrested. Though charges were dropped, the Council published a brief detailing how police oppressed and abused homosexuals.
In Vancouver, the Association for Social Knowledge, Canada’s earliest homophile organization, opens the first community center to serve the homosexual community in Canada.
During a raid on The Black Cat bar in San Francisco, a gay man was beaten so severely by police that his spleen was ruptured. The police department filed assault charges against the victim but he was acquitted.
Drag queen acting troupe The Cockettes premiers their act in San Francisco. They are one of the first gender-bending performing groups. The group was founded by Hibiscus – George Edgerly Harris II (September 6, 1949 – May 6, 1982) – in the fall of 1969. The troupe was formed out of a group of hippie artists, men and women, who were living in Kaliflower, one of the many communes in Haight-Ashbury, a neighborhood of San Francisco. Hibiscus came to live with them because of their preference for dressing outrageously and proposed the idea of putting their lifestyle on the stage. Hibiscus died of Kaposi’s sarcoma due to complications from AIDS on May 6, 1982 at St. Vincent’s Hospital in New York City. He was a very early AIDS casualty: at the time of his death the new illness was still referred to as GRID.
Life magazine publishes an 11-page spread called Homosexuals in Revolt which discusses the post-Stonewall movement in a generally positive light for the first time.
Article 325 is added to Guinea’s penal code to make same-sex sexual activity illegal.
Ian McKellen (born 25 May 1939) is knighted by the Queen of England. He is the first openly gay man to be knighted. An English actor, he is the recipient of six Laurence Olivier Awards, a Tony Award, a Golden Globe Award, a Screen Actors Guild Award, a BIF Award, two Saturn Awards, four Drama Desk Awards, and two Critics’ Choice Awards. He has also received two Oscar nominations, four BAFTA nominations and five Emmy Award nominations. While McKellen had made his sexual orientation known to fellow actors early on in his stage career, it was not until 1988 that he came out to the general public, in a program on BBC Radio. McKellen is a co-founder of Stonewall, an LGBT rights lobby group in the United Kingdom and also patron of LGBT History Month, Pride London, Oxford Pride, GAY-GLOS, The Lesbian & Gay Foundation, and FFLAG where he appears in their video Par-ents Talking.
Transman Brandon Teena (December 12, 1972 – December 31, 1993) is murdered by the same young men who raped him a week earlier after discovering he’d been born female. His story is captured in the film Boys Don’t Cry. The headstone on his grave is in-scribed with his birth name and uses female descriptors. Teena’s murder, along with that of Matthew Shepard (December 1, 1976 – October 12, 1998), led to increased lobbying for hate crime laws in the United States.
Musab Mohammed Masmari sets fire to the Seattle gay nightclub Neighbours in a stairwell. The fire was extinguished quickly. Masmari reportedly said homosexual people “should be exterminated” after expressing a “distaste” for members of the LGBT community to a friend.
The Russian large gay club called Central Station was forced to close after countless attacks of sprays of bullets and being gassed. It later reopened with the use of bulletproof glass and a longer walk from the metro station.