Laurence Michael Dillon (May 1, 1915 – May 15, 1962) was a British physician and the first trans man to undergo phalloplasty. In 1946 Dillon published Self: A Study in Endocrinology and Ethics, a book about what would now be called transgender though that term had not been coined yet. He described “masculine inverts” as being born with “the mental outlook and temperament of the other sex,” using Stephen Gordon in the novel The Well of Loneliness as an example. Self brought him to the attention of Roberta Cowell who would become the first British trans woman to receive male-to-female sex reassignment surgery. Though Dillon was not yet a licensed physician, he himself performed an orchidectomy on Cowell, since British law made the operation illegal. Cowell’s vaginoplasty was later performed by pioneering plastic surgeon Harold Gillies.
Andy Thayer (born May 1, 1960) is an American socialist, LGBTQ rights and anti-war activist. He is co-founder of the Gay Liberation Network, one of the largest LGBTQ direction-action groups in Chicago. He is also the co-founder of Chicago Coalition Against War & Racism. Thayer founded the Gay Liberation Network in September 1998 under the original name Chicago Anti-Bashing Network which was changed to the Gay Liberation Network in 2004. The group is one of the largest and most-active LGBTQ direct-action groups in Chicago. Thayer is openly gay and lives in the Uptown neighborhood of Chicago. Thayer got engaged in November 2013 and married in the summer of 2014.
At the Second Congress to Unite Women in New York City, lesbian feminists stage the Lavender Menace action in protest of lesbophobia in the women’s movement and particularly in the National Organization for Women. Lavender Menace members included Karla Jay (born February 22, 1947), Martha Shelley, Rita Mae Brown (born November 28, 1944), Lois Hart, Barbara Love (born 1937), Ellen Shumsky, Artemis March, Cynthia Funk, and Michela Griffon, and were mostly members of the Gay Liberation Front (GLF) and the National Organization for Women (NOW).
On this day John Waters’ (born April 22, 1946) outrageous movie Pink Flamingos opens in theaters. Written, produced, filmed, and edited by Waters. It is part of what Waters labelled the “Trash Trilogy”, which also includes Female Trouble(1974) and Desperate Living (1977). The film stars the countercultural drag queen Glen Milstead as Divine (October 19, 1945 – March 7, 1988) as a criminal living under the name of Babs Johnson, “the filthiest person alive” Waters had plans for a sequel, titled Flamingos Forever. Troma Entertainment offered to finance the picture but it was never made because Divine refused to be involved. When the film was initially released, it caused a huge degree of controversy due to the wide range of “perverse” acts performed in explicit detail. It has since become one of the most notorious films ever made and is rated as #29 on the list of 50 Films to See Before You Die.
Gay activists march in Porto for the first time, demanding an end to the country’s sodomy laws and a repeal of all statutes that discriminate against gays and lesbians, following the overthrow of the long-installed Salazar regime.
One Disco opens in West Hollywood, CA. Started in an old World War II-era bomb-sight manufacturing building, Studio One has a long history that played a big part in the lives, politics and gay rights movement. Don Kilhefner wrote: For most gay men living outside West Hollywood, it represented bigotry, racism and sexism. Scott Forbes, its owner, wanted to limit the number of gay men of color and women. His doormen used every racist excuse possible to keep black gay men out, requiring two or three pieces of photo ID from African Americans and none or one piece from white men. To limit the number of women, excuses were made up on the spot based on what they were wearing, like no open-toe shoes. Rather than being a beacon of pride, countless gay community protests were held there. For most conscious gay and lesbian people of that period, Studio One stood for racist discrimination and white male privilege.
The Parliament House in Orlando officially opened as a gay resort on May 1, 1 975. Bill Miller and Mike Hodge had taken control of the almost bankrupt run-down motor lodge and turned it into “a Disney World for gays.”
Maine Legislators decriminalize homosexuality between consenting adults by repealing its sodomy laws. It also lowers the age of consent to 14.
Reports confirm that Paul Newman is having financing trouble with his attempt to bring The Front Runner, a 1974 novel by Patricia Nell Warren (June 15, 1936 – February 9, 2019) to the big screen. Newman eventually allows his option to lapse. The book is considered now to be a classic in LGBT literature.
Christopher Street magazine, a gay-oriented magazine published in New York City, debuts. Known both for its serious discussion of issues within the gay community and its satire of anti-gay criticism, it was one of the two most-widely read gay-issues publications in the U.S. Christopher Street covered politics and culture and its aim was to become a gay New Yorker. Christopher Street printed 231 issues before closing its doors in December, 1995.
Joel Simkhai (born May 1, c. 1976) is an Israeli-American tech entrepreneur and founder and former CEO of geosocial networking and dating apps Grindr and Blendr. His original goal in starting Grindr was for people with similar interests to find new friends nearby. Simkhai was born in Tel Aviv, Israel to Iranian Jewish and Yemenite Jewish parents. His mother sold jewelry, and his father was a diamond dealer. When he was three years old, his family moved to New York City. He received his bachelor of arts degree in International Relations & Economics from Tufts University in May 1998. After starting college, he came out to his parents and friends. He has two brothers,who are also gay.
Wyoming decriminalizes private consensual adult homosexual acts.
The journal Scientific American publishes an ad from the Lesbian and Gay Associated Engineers and Scientists. Science News Journal refused to run the ad.
Advocate Men magazine debuts.
Lesbian Ann Bancroft (born September 29, 1955) is an author, teacher, and adventurer. On this day, she becomes the first woman to reach the North Pole by dogsled. The trip, which started from Ellesmere Island, took her two months. She was also the first woman to cross both polar ice caps to reach the North and South Poles, as well as the first woman to ski across Greenland. In 1993 Bancroft led a four-woman expedition to the South Pole on skis, the first all-female expedition to cross the ice to the South Pole. In 2001, Ann and Norwegian adventurer Liv Arnesen (born June 1, 1953) became the first women to ski across Antarctica. Ann currently co-owns an exploration company, Bancroft Arnesen Explore, with Liv Arnesen. Bancroft is openly gay and in 2006, she publicly campaigned against a proposed amendment to the Minnesota Constitution to prohibit any legal recognition of marriages or civil unions between members of the same sex.
Lesbian Visibility Day, which is now Lesbian Visibility Week, was created in 1991 in Los Angeles to celebrate lesbians. It is a voice for unity and lifts up lesbians who, research shows, are more likely than gay men to be closeted in the workplace. Lesbian Visibility Day celebrates lesbians across the globe to celebrate our identity and seek help and guidance from those who have overcome similar challenges in life. Apart from freedom, the movement represents sisterhood and provides a platform for our voices. International Lesbian Day is a related observation that is observed on April 26 annually as well. It started in New Zealand in the 1980’s and is celebrated mainly in New Zealand and Australia. On this day and every day, it is important for us to honor, respect and uplift one another, and be truly proud of our lesbian identities. I, for one, am thrilled to hear the word ‘lesbian’ being said over and over again with absolute pride.
A grenade is thrown at home of gay politician Manuel Antonio Velandia.
Samoa’s Sodomy Crimes Act goes into effect with a sentence of up to five years in prison. “Keeping a place of homosexual resort” is also a crime.
David Carter (1953-May 1, 2020), author and historian, dies on this day. His best-known book Stonewall: The Riots That Sparked the Gay Revolution was published in 2004, about the Stonewall Inn uprising of 1969. He was 67.
Lorenz Hart (May 2, 1895 – November 22, 1943) was born in New York. He was the lyricist half of the Broadway songwriting team Rodgers and Hart. Some of his more famous lyrics include Blue Moon, The Lady Is a Tramp, Manhattan, Where or When, Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered, My Funny Valentine. They became some of the best songs of the ’20s and ’30s. It was a closely guarded secret that Hart was gay. No one knew until a biography came out 30 years after his death.
Mabel Hampton (May 2, 1902 – October 26, 1989) was an American lesbian activist, a dancer during the Harlem Renaissance, and a philanthropist for both black and lesbian/gay organizations. In addition to her financial contributions to gay and lesbian organizations, Hampton marched in the first National Gay and Lesbian March on Washington in 1979, and she appeared in the films Silent Pioneers and Before Stonewall. In 1919, while attending a women-only party in Harlem, Hampton was falsely imprisoned for sex-work. She viewed her imprisonment as being lesbian encoded. After serving 13 months of a three-year sentence in Bedford Hills, Hampton was released on condition she stayed away from New York. In the 1920s, Hampton danced in all-black productions for Harlem Renaissance notables, including Jackie “Moms” Mabley. This artistic, political and cultural milieu provided Hampton access to other dancers, artists, and gays and lesbians. Mabel Hampton enjoyed a romantic and sexual relationship with Lillian B. Foster (November 13, 1894 – August 7, 1978), whom Hampton met in 1932. The two remained a couple until Foster’s death in 1978. In 1992, Joan Nestle delivered the first Kessler Lecture for the CUNY Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies, titled I Lift My Eyes to the Hill: The Life of Mabel Hampton as Told by a White Woman. In 1984 she said, “I, Mabel Hampton, have been a lesbian all my life, for 82 years, and I am proud of myself and my people. I would like all my people to be free in this country and all over the world, my gay people and my black people.”
Cal Anderson (May 2, 1948 – August 4, 1995) is born. Cal grew up in Tukwila, Washington, graduated from Foster High School, served in Vietnam and became the first openly gay member of the Washington State legislature. There, Anderson worked for civil rights for gay, lesbian and bisexual people as well as on such issues as campaign finance reform and easier voter registration. He died of complications from AIDS on August 4, 1995. On April 10, 2003, Seattle’s Broadway Park was renamed Cal Anderson Park in his honor.
Edgar Hoover (January 1, 1895 – May 2, 1972), the homophobic first director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, dies and leaves the bulk of his estate to Clyde Tolson (May 22, 1900 – April 14, 1975), his “companion” of over 40 years.
Angels in America: Millennium Approaches, a two-part play by American playwright Tony Kushner (born July 16, 1956), opens on Broadway. Angels in America received numerous awards, including the 1993 and 1994 Tony Awards for Best Play. The play’s first part, Millennium Approaches, received the 1993 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.
One of the oldest LGBT magazines, The Metro Weekly in Washington DC, is published.
Justin Fashanu (19 February 1961 – 2 May 1998), the first Black soccer player to earn a million dollars and the first pro soccer player to come out while playing, dies by suicide. After moving to the United States in 1998, he was questioned by police when a seventeen-year-old boy accused him of sexual assault. He was charged and an arrest warrant for him was issued in Howard County, Maryland on 3 April 1998, but he had already left his flat. According to his suicide note, fearing he would not get a fair trial because of his homosexuality, he fled to England where he killed himself in London in May 1998. His suicide note stated that the sex was consensual.
Jacksonville, Florida’s anti-discrimination ordinance which banned discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity was deemed unenforceable in a unanimous appellate court decision on this day and struck down. The reason for the court’s decision had to do with Jacksonville’s City Council and the way it handled the ordinance saying that it would amend the anti-discrimination laws to include sexual orientation and gender identity, but the council never actually did that.
Writer May Sarton (May 3, 1912 – July 16, 1995) is born in Wendelgem. She wrote some of the most lyrical poetry of the 20th century. When publishing her novel Singing in 1965, Sarton feared that writing openly about lesbianism would lead to a diminution of the previously established value of her work. “The fear of homosexuality is so great that it took courage to write a novel about a woman homosexual who is not a sex maniac, a drunkard, a drug-taker, or in any way repulsive” wrote Sarton in Journal of a Solitude. After the book’s release, many of Sarton’s works began to be studied in Women’s Studies classes. She died of breast cancer on July 16, 1995.
Miriam Ben-Shalom (born May 3, 1948) is an American educator, activist and former staff sergeant in the United States Army. After being discharged from the military for homosexuality in 1976, she successfully challenged her discharge in court and returned to military service in 1987, the first openly gay person to be reinstated after being discharged under the military’s policy excluding homosexuals from military service. She served until 1990 when the Army succeeded in terminating her service after prolonged judicial proceedings. She is a member of the New England Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Veterans and of the California Alexander Hamilton American Legion Post 448. A resident of Milwaukee with her partner Karen Weiss, she also serves as a full-time tenured instructor of English with the Milwaukee Area Technical College.
A Chorus Line wins Pulitzer Prize for Drama. A Chorus Line is a musical with music by Marvin Hamlisch, lyrics by Edward Kleban and a book by James Kirkwood Jr. and Nicholas Dante. Centered on seventeen Broadway dancers auditioning for spots on a chorus line, the musical is set on the bare stage of a Broadway theatre during an audition for a musical. A Chorus Line provides a glimpse into the personalities of the performers and the choreographer as they describe the events that have shaped their lives and their decisions to become dancers. Following several workshops and an Off-Broadway production, A Chorus Line opened at the Shubert Theatre on Broadway July 25, 1975, directed and choreographed by Michael Bennett (April 8, 1943 – July 2, 1987). An unprecedented box office and critical hit, the musical received twelve Tony Award nominations and won nine, in addition to the 1976 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Bennett was bisexual. He had numerous affairs with both men and women. He died from AIDS-related lymphoma at the age of 44.
In Toronto, the Coalition for Gay Rights in Ontario distributes Discrimination and the Gay Minority to the members of the Ontario Legislature. Liberal leader Stuart Smith supports inclusion of sexual orientation in human rights code.
Mary Lambert (born May 3, 1989) is an American singer, songwriter and spoken word artist. She worked with Macklemore and Ryan Lewis on a track on their album The Heist. Lambert is the featured artist of their rights single Same Love. Lambert’s contributions to Same Love draw upon her experiences as “a lesbian growing up in a tumultuous, Christian upbringing.” Lambert took the content she created for Same Love and used it to develop the song She Keeps Me Warm which she released on July 30, 2013. Lambert performed at the 2016 Gay Christian Network Conference in Houston, Texas, an annual conference that draws over 1,300 LGBT people from all over the world. Lambert was raised as a Pentecostal, but her family was expelled from the church when she was six after her mother came out as lesbian. Her girlfriend Michelle Jacqueline Chamuel (born 1986) is an American singer, songwriter and producer. She has released several albums and EPs as a solo artist and in partnership with others. She was the lead singer of the band Ella Riot and the runner-up on season four of The Voice. Chamuel released an EP titled I Am in November 2015 under The Reverb Junkie moniker. She co-wrote and produced Hang out with You with Mary.
Christine Jorgenson (May 30, 1926 – May 3, 1989), pioneering transsexual, dies of cancer at age sixty-two. Jorgensen was the first person to become widely known in the United States for having sex reassignment surgery-in this case, male to female. Jorgensen grew up in the Bronx area of New York. Upon returning to New York aft er military service and increasingly concerned over (as one obituary called it at the time) her “lack of male physical development” Jorgensen heard about sex reassignment surgery and began taking the female hormone ethinyl estradiol on her own. She researched the subject with the help of Dr. Joseph Angelo, a husband of one of Jorgensen’s friends. Jorgensen had intended to go to Sweden, where at the time the only doctors in the world performing this surgery were located. During a stopover in Copenhagen to visit relatives, however, she met Dr. Christian Hamburger, a Danish endocrinologist and specialist in rehabilitative hormonal therapy. Jorgensen stayed in Denmark, and under Dr. Hamburger’s direction, was allowed to begin hormone replacement therapy. She then got special permission from the Danish Minister of Justice to undergo the series of operations for sex re-assignment. Jorgensen chose the name Christine in honor of Dr. Hamburger. She became the most famous and outspoken figure for transsexual and transgender community.
Hope Williams (1898-May 3, 1992) dies. She was a debutante with a carefree manner, boyishly clipped blond hair and a humorous walk who was a leading Broadway actress in the late 1920’s and 30’s. She was part of the lesbian “sewing circle” of actresses in New York.
Aya Kamikawa (born January 25, 1968) becomes Japan’s first openly transgender official.
After same-sex marriage legislation passes in both houses of Rhode Island’s legislature, Governor Lincoln Chafee signs it into law. The new law, legalizing same-sex marriage, goes into effect on August 1, 2013
Girolamo Savonarola, a Dominican friar, gives the Ascension Day sermon in which he preaches the suppression of sodomy and the burning of men who are “sodomites.”
The Regina v. Wild trial is depicted on front page of The Illustrated Police News. It shows the drama of Oscar Wilde’s second trial of the year for sodomy.
Keith Haring (May 4, 1958 – February 16, 1990) is born. He was an American artist whose pop art and graffiti-like work grew out of the New York City street culture of the 1980s. Haring’s work grew to iconic popularity from his exuberant spontaneous drawings in New York City subways – chalk outlines on blank black advertising-space backgrounds – depicting radiant babies, flying saucers, and deified dogs. After public recognition he created larger scale works such as colorful murals, many of them commissioned. His imagery has become a widely recognized visual language. His later work often addressed political and societal themes – especially homosexuality and AIDS – through his own unique iconography. Haring’s work very clearly demonstrates many important political and personal influences. Ideas about his sexual orientation are apparent throughout his work and his journals clearly confirm its impact on his work. Heavy symbolism speaking about the AIDS epidemic is vivid in his later pieces. Haring was a gay man who died of complications from AIDS at age 31.
Angels in America: Millennium Approaches opens on Broadway. Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes is a two-part play by American playwright Tony Kushner (born July 16, 1956). The work won numerous awards, including the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, the Tony Award for Best Play, and the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Play. Part one of the play premiered in 1991 and its Broadway opening was in 1993. The two parts of the play are separately presentable and entitled Millennium Approaches and Perestroika, respectively. The play has been adapted into a 2003 miniseries of the same title as well as a 2004 opera by Peter Eotvos.
David Peter Reimer (August 22, 1965 – May 4, 2004) is born. He was a Canadian man born male but reassigned as a girl and raised female following medical advice and intervention after his penis was accidentally destroyed during a botched circumcision in infancy. Psychologist John Money oversaw the case and reported the reassignment as successful and as evidence that gender identity is primarily learned. Academic sexologist Milton Diamond later reported that Reimer’s realization he was not a girl crystallized between the ages of 9 and 11, and he transitioned to living as a male at age 15. Well known in medical circles for years anonymously as the “John/Joan” case, Reimer later went public with his story to help discourage similar medical practices. He later died by suicide after suffering years of severe depression, financial instability, and a troubled marriage.
2010, El Salvador
The President of El Salvador issues a decree banning discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
2400 BCE, Egypt
In 1964 in the ancient necropolis of Saqqara, Egyptian archaeologist Ahmed Moussa discovered the burial chambers of Khnumhotep and Niankhkhnum, servants and royal confidants at the Palace of King Niuserre during the Fifth Dynasty of Egyptian pharaohs, and are believed to be the first same-sex couple in recorded history. They were ancient Egyptian royal servants who shared the title of Overseer of the Manicurists in the Palace of King Nyuserre Ini, sixth pharaoh of the Fifth Dynasty, reigning during the second half of the 25th century BC. They were buried together at Saqqara and are listed as “royal confidants” in their joint tomb.
Leendert Hasenbosch (c.1695- c. 1725) was an employee of the Dutch East India Company who was set ashore as a castaway on uninhabited Ascension Island in the South Atlantic Ocean as a punishment for sodomy. He wrote a diary until his presumed death six months later. The diary is published in 1726 under the title Sodomy Punish’d. In 2006 the full story was published by Alex Ritsema with the book A Dutch Castaway on Ascension Island in 1725; a second, revised edition was printed in 2010.
Albert Cashier’s (December 25, 1843 – October 10, 1915) doctor discovers that Albert is female during a broken leg repair. The doctor keeps the Civil War veteran’s secret. Albert is moved on this day to the Soldier and Sailors Home in Quincy, Illinois, and lives there as a man. In 1913, he’s moved to the Watertown State Hospital for the Insane. Nurses there discover he is female-bodied while giving him a bath after which he was forced to wear a dress. Born Jennie Irene Hodgers, Cashier was an Irish-born immigrant who served in the Union Army during the American Civil War. Cashier adopted the identity of a man before enlisting and maintained it for most of the remainder of his life. She became famous as one of a number of female soldiers who served as men during the Civil War, although the consistent and long-term commitment to the male identity has prompted some contemporary scholars to suggest that Cashier was a transgender man.
Tyrone Power (May 5, 1914 – November 15, 1958) was an American film, stage and radio actor. From the 1930s to the 1950s Power appeared in dozens of films, often in swashbuckler roles or romantic leads. His better-known films include The Mark of Zorro, Blood and Sand, The Black Swan, Prince of Foxes, Witness for The Prosecution, The Black Rose, and Captain from Castile. Power’s own favorite film among those that he starred in was Nightmare Alley. Though largely a matinee idol in the 1930s and early 1940s and known for his striking looks, Power starred in films in a number of genres from drama to light comedy. In the 1950s he began placing limits on the number of films he would make in order to devote more time for theater productions. He received his biggest accolades as a stage actor in John Brown’s Body and Mister Roberts. Power died from a heart attack at the age of 44. Power led an active bisexual life in Hollywood and kept the studio busy keeping his name out of the papers. He had a huge gay following and was involved with several men over the years, among them composer Lorenz Hart (May 2, 1895 – November 22, 1943) and actor Cesar Romero (February 15, 1907 – January 1, 1994). Tyrone Power is one of the top 100 box-office moneymakers of all time.
The Community Homophile Association of Newfoundland (CHAN) is formed becoming the first gay organization in the province.
In Saskatoon, the Saskatchewan Division of Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) at their annual convention supports legislation banning discrimination on basis of sexual orientation.
The Hawaii Supreme Court rules that denying marriage to same-sex couples violates the Equal Protection Clause of the State Constitution.
Supreme Federal Court votes 10-0 for civil unions with the same 112 legal rights as married couples.
Transgender male boxer Patricio “El Cacahuate” Manuel, a Southern California fighter, became the first pro boxer to fight as a man after having fought as a woman. He was the highly decorated amateur female boxer Patricia Manuel who fought at the U.S. women’s Olympic Trials boxing in 2012, but was sidelined by an injury. He started his transition in 2013 and had surgery in 2014.
The term homosexual is written for the first time by Karl-Maria Kertbeny (February 28, 1824 – January 23, 1882) in a letter to Karl Heinrich Ulrichs (28 August 1825 – 14 July 1895). He derived it from the Greek homos (“the same”) and the Latin root sexualis. Kertbeny, a Hungarian-German doctor who is an early sympathizer of Ulrichs’, uses both homosexual and heterosexual, terms he has recently coined as part of his system for the classification of sexual types as replacements for the pejorative terms “sodomite” and “pederast” that were used in the German- and French-speaking world of his time. In addition, he called the attraction between men and women heterosexualism.
Rodolfo Alfonso Raffaello Pierre Filibert Guglielmi di Valentina d’Antonguella (May 6, 1895 – August 23, 1926), professionally known as Rudolph Valentino, was an Italian naturalized American actor who starred in several well-known silent films including The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, The Sheik, Blood and Sand, The Eagle, and The Son of the Sheik. He was an early pop icon and a sex symbol of the 1920s who was known as the “Latin lover” or simply as “Valentino.” His death at 31 caused mass hysteria among his female fans and further propelled him to iconic status. From the time he died, in 1926 until the 1960s, Valentino’s sexuality was not generally questioned in print. At least four books including the notoriously libelous Hollywood Babylon suggested that he may have been gay despite his marriage to actress Natacha Rambova. For some, his marriages to actress and lesbian Jean Acker (the marriage was never consummated) and Rambova (divorced in 1925), as well as the relationship with Pola Negri, add to the suspicion that Valentino was gay and that these were “lavender marriages.”
In Berlin young Nazis attack and destroy the Institute of Sexual Research. A few days later, the Institute’s priceless collection of more than 20,000 publications and 5,000 photographs is burned in a public ceremony. The Institute was founded by Magnus Hirschfeld (14 May 1868 – 14 May 1935), a German Jewish physician and sexologist 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”. Under the more liberal atmosphere of the newly founded Weimar Republic, Hirschfeld purchased a villa not far from the Reichstag building in Berlin for his new Institut fer Sexualwissenschaft (Institute of Sexual Research), which opened on 6 July 1919. In Germany, the Reich government made laws, but the governments enforced the laws, including enforcing Paragraph 175, which they simply didn’t do. After the Nazis gained control of Germany in the 1930s, the Institute and its libraries were destroyed as part of a Nazi government censorship program by youth brigades, who burned its books and documents in the street. On 28 June 1934 Hitler conducted a purge of gay men in the ranks of the SA wing of the Nazis, which involved murdering them in the Night of the Long Knives. This was then followed by stricter laws on homosexuality and the round-up of gay men. The address lists seized from the Institute are believed to have aided Hitler in these actions. Many tens of thousands of arrestees found themselves, ultimately, in slave-labor or death camps.
Jon Reed Sims (May 6, 1947 – July 16, 1984) is born. He was the founder of the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Marching Band and Twirling Corp, world’s first openly gay musical group. Sims was an American choir conductor born in Smith Center, Kansas. Sims studied music composition at Wichita State University, and received his master’s degree in music from Indiana University. Moving to San Francisco, he became a music teacher by profession, serving for a time as a high school band teacher in Daly City but soon became involved in the developing gay community. He formed the San Francisco band in response to Anita Bryant’s anti-gay campaign in the late 1970s. Upon its founding in 1978, it became the first openly gay musical group in the world. In successive years, Sims created the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus, the Lesbian/Gay Chorus of San Francisco, Lambda Pro Musica orchestra (now defunct), and encouraged the formation of the Big Apple Corps GLBT band in New York by Nancy Corporon and The Great American Yankee Freedom Band of Los Angeles by Wayne Love. He died from complications of AIDS at the age of 37. As one friend said in Sims’ newspaper obituary, he gave gays “an alternative to the baths and the bars.”
The Cooper’s Donuts riot is the first documented LGBT uprising in the U.S. A group of drag queens and hustlers fought the police in the donut shop in downtown Los Angeles, furious that LAPD officers were arresting their friends for legally congregating in Cooper’s, a popular gay meeting place. Cooper’s was located on Main Street, the Los Angeles “gay ghetto” of the 1950s and ’60s. The event is chronicled in detail in Gay L.A.: A History of Sexual Outlaws, Power Politics, and Lipstick Lesbians, by Lillian Faderman (born July 18, 1940) and Stuart Timmons (January 14, 1957 – January 28, 2017), a meticulously researched book that positions Los Angeles-and not New York-as the most influential gay city of modern times. By Harry Hay’s (April 7, 1912 – October 24, 2002) recollection, there were even earlier riots and uprisings in which gay and transgender Angelenos were instrumental in resisting police, but Cooper’s was the first such uprising specifically against police treatment of LGBT people.
Two Members of the Ontario Provincial Parliament, Margaret Campbell (Liberal – St George – downtown Toronto) and Ted Bounsell (NDP – Windsor), introduce private members’ bills to amend Ontario Human Rights Code to include sexual orientation. The bills are defeated.
Noah Egidi Galvin (born May 6, 1994) is an American actor and singer. He is best known for playing Kenny O’Neal in the ABC sitcom The Real O’Neals and the titular role in the Broadway musical Dear Evan Hansen. He came out as gay at the age of 14.
The Family Equality Council hosted its first International Family Equality Day. All over the world, more and more children are growing up in families where one or both of their parents identify as LGBTQ. Yet, each of these “rainbow families” have very different lived equality experiences, often depending not only on what country they live in but what street they live on. In some countries, our families enjoy equal rights and social recognition but in far too many others both parents and their children face overt discrimination and have to live under a constant threat of violence. By celebrating IFED, Family Equality Council and our partners across the globe raise awareness among politicians and the general public about the need for equal treatment and recognition for all families, regardless of the sexual orientation or gender identity of their family’s members.
Fifteen year-old Giovanni de Giovanni is castrated and killed for having sex with other men. He is one of the youngest victims of the campaign against sodomy waged in 14th-century Florence.
Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky (7 May 1840 – 6 November 1893) is born in Votinsk. He was a Russian composer of the romantic period, whose works are among the most popular music in the classical repertoire. He was the first Russian composer whose music made a lasting impression internationally, bolstered by his appearances as a guest conductor in Europe and the United States. He was honored in 1884 by Emperor Alexander III and awarded a lifetime pension. Discussion of Tchaikovsky’s personal life, especially his sexuality, has perhaps been the most extensive of any composer in the 19th century and certainly of any Russian composer of his time. It has also at times caused considerable confusion due to Soviet efforts to expunge all references to same-sex attraction and portray him as a heterosexual. Russian violinist Iosif Iosifovich Kopek (6 October 1855 – 4 January 1885) was probably Tchaikovsky’s lover at some point.
Ten groups attend the first Manitoba Gay Conference in Winnipeg and form the Manitoba Gay Coalition.
A former Soviet deputy health minister tells readers of Literaturnaya Gazeta, a popular weekly newspaper, that AIDS is not a concern in the USSR because homosexuality and drug use are both illegal.
In Sacramento, California, 8,000 activists mark the National Day of Protest with the largest gay and lesbian rights rally in the state’s history.
In New York City, some 500 ACT UP activists protest the nation’s lethargic response to the AIDS crisis by blocking traffic in the financial district.
The Hawaii Supreme Court rules that the state must prove a “compelling interest” for denying same-sex partners a marriage license.
Premier of the first Washington D.C. area gay and lesbian television program called Gay Fairfax. The content is political. It airs for four years with a sign-off: “Remember to keep the pride alive.”
Leslie Cheung (September 12, 1956 – April 1, 2003), a Hong Kong-born Canadian singer and actor, is credited as the parent of modern Cantonese and Mandarin pop music. He comes out as bisexual in Time Magazine. Cheung dies by suicide on April 1, 2003 by jumping off the 24th floor of the Mandarin Oriental hotel in Hong Kong. A suicide note left by Cheung stated that he had been suffering from depression.
Civil Union law is approved by the city council of Rio Cuarto, Cordoba.
Jean-Henri Dunant (8 May 1828 – 30 October 1910) is born. He was a Swiss businessman and social activist, the founder of the Red Cross, and the first recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. The 1864 Geneva Convention was based on Dunant’s ideas. In 1901 he received the first Nobel Peace Prize together with Fredric Passy, making Dunant the first Swiss Nobel laureate. His birthday, May 8th, is celebrated as the World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day. Following his death his family burned his personal papers in an effort to suppress the fact he was bisexual.
Tom of Finland, Touko Laaksonen, (May 8, 1920 – November 7, 1991) is born. He is a sex-positive artist who went from the “pornography” underground in the 1950s to the mainstream present. His handsome, outrageously virile and endowed men challenged the perception that all homosexuals were effeminate, at the same time allowing that all types coexisted in the same sexual and social landscape. The nation of Finland issued stamps celebrating his art in 2014.
Susan Feniger (born May 8, 1953) is an American chef, restaurateur, cookbook author, and radio and TV personality. She is known for her cooking show Too Hot Tamales on the Food Network and for several influential restaurants in Los Angeles including City Cafe (1981), Border Grill (1985), and Ciudad (1998). In December 2013, Feniger, with Executive Chef Kajsa Alger, opened Mud Hen Tavern at the former location of Street Cafe. Feniger was awarded the Elizabeth Burns Lifetime Achievement Award by the California Restaurant Association. Feniger is a lesbian and her partner is writer, director, composer Liz Lachman.
The trial begins of those in the Montreal Truxx Bar raid, charged with being keepers of a common bawdyhouse (house of prostitution). In 1976 the City of Montreal launched a pre-Olympic cleanup of gays and prostitutes, a new wave of persecution that shocked the gay community out of its complacency, both francophone and anglophone, and wholescale organizing started up again, energized by the simple exigency of self-defense. The police responded in October 1977 by swooping with machine-guns into the Stanley Street bar Truxx and made the largest mass arrest since the October Crisis. 146 men were forcibly given VD tests, crammed incommunicado all night into tiny cells with standing room only, and charged the next day under the familiar vague and discriminatory bawdy-house and gross indecency laws. That night, 3000 protesters blocked the streets of what was then the West End Peel-Stanley gay ghetto for several hours, and as the Journal de Montreal headline screamed, “Les Homos et la police: c’est la guerre!” No more than 300 demonstrators had ever shown up for a gay lib demo before, and two months later an embarrassed and still idealistic PQ government (only one year in office) passed Loi 88, the first human rights legislation protecting lesbians and gays anywhere in the world (Norway joined Quebec in 1981). The charges hung over the heads of the accused for several years thereafter before finally being dropped.
Tennis great Billie Jean King (November 22, 1943) becomes the first prominent professional athlete to come out as a lesbian when her relationship with her secretary, Marilyn Barnett, becomes public in a May of 1981 “palimony” lawsuit filed by Barnett. As a result, King loses all of her endorsements. King is an advocate for gender equality and has long been a pioneer for equality and social justice. In 1973, at age 29, she won the “Battle of the Sexes” tennis match against the 55-year-old Bobby Riggs. King was also the founder of the Women’s Tennis Association and the Women’s Sports Foundation.
1996, South Africa
South Africa becomes the first country in the world to adopt language in its constitution protecting the civil rights of lesbians and gay men (Section 2 of the State Duty to Protect Human Rights) That same day, anti-apartheid campaigner Edwin Cameron (born 15 February 1953) becomes the world’s first openly gay Supreme Court judge. Cameron is well known for his HIV/AIDS and gay-rights activism and was hailed by Nelson Mandela as “one of South Africa’s new heroes.”
The Gay Pride parade takes place amid violence by anti-gay protestors. With the number of police officers in the street almost outnumbering the participants the Latvian capital of Rig a hosted its most successful and peaceful Gay Pride Parade to date. Police presence was heavy as religious groups and some Neo-Nazis had announced their resistance to the Baltic Pride in Riga ahead of the event. But the counter demonstrators were not to be seen and between 300 and 400 people marched through the cobblestone streets of the Latvian capital.
Chaz Bono’s (born March 4, 1969) new name is legally recognized by the court. He is an American advocate, writer, musician and actor. His parents are entertainers Sonny Bono and Cher. Bono is a transgender man. In 1995, several years after being outed as lesbian by the tabloid press, he publicly self-identified as such in a cover story in a leading American gay monthly magazine, The Advocate, eventually going on to discuss the process of coming out to oneself and to others in two books. Family Outing: A Guide to the Coming Out Process for Gays, Lesbians, and Their Families(1998) includes his coming-out account. The memoir The End of Innocence (2003) discusses his outing, music career, and partner Joan’s death from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Between 2008 and 2010, Bono underwent female-to-male gender transition. A two-part Entertainment Tonight feature in June 2009 explained that his transition had started a year before. In May 2010, he legally changed his gender and name. A documentary on Bono’s experience, Becoming Chaz, was screened at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival and later made its television debut on the Oprah Winfrey Network. A year after his name change, he appears on the 13th season of the U.S. version of Dancing with the Stars. This was the first time an openly transgender man starred on a major network television show for something unrelated to being transgender.
Roy Horn (October 3, 1944 – May 8, 2020) of Siegfried (Fischbacher, June 13, 1929-January 10, 2021) & Roy died on this day of Covid-19. Siegfried & Roy was a duo of German-American magicians and entertainers, best known for their appearances with white lions and white tigers.
Gabriel Lawrence, William Griffin, and Thomas Wright are hanged at Tyburn following a raid on Margret Clap’s molly house. A molly house in 18thcentury England was a tavern or private room where men could meet other men with shared interests such as cross-dressing or potential sex partners.
James M. Barrie (9 May 1860 – 19 June 1937), the creator of Peter Pan, was born in Kirriemuir, Scotland. Married, he never consummated the union and preferred to spend his time with a group of young boys. Before his death, he gave the rights to the Peter Pan works to Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children in London, which continues to benefit from them.
Openly gay Emile Ardolino (May 9, 1943 – November 20, 1993) was an American film director, choreographer, and producer, best known for his films Dirty Dancing (1987) and Sister Act (1992). Ardolino died in California on November 20, 1993 of complications from AIDS.
1972 , Canada
The first issue of The Other Woman is produced in Toronto. It is a combination of several feminist newspapers with input is from lesbian feminists.
In Ottawa, Private Barbara Thornborrow (born 1951) is confronted by officials in the Canadian Armed Forces about her lesbianism. She decides to go public and fight before she is fired. She later challenged the decision, becoming the first person who was discharged based on their sexual orientation to do so publicly. In honor of her role as a significant builder of LGBT culture and history in Canada, a portrait of Thornborrow by artist Barbara Augustine is held by the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives in its National Portrait Collection.
Mark Bingham (May 22, 1970 – September 11, 2001), a gay San Francisco businessman and rugby enthusiast, is born. Bingham helps lead and participates in the attempt to retake control of United Airlines Flight 93 on September 11, 2001, which crashes in a field in Pennsylvania before reaching terrorists’ target on a day that changed America forever. Both for his presence on United 93 as well as his athletic physique, Bingham has been widely honored posthumously for having “smashed the gay stereotype mold and opened the door to many others who came after him.” He is buried at Madronia Cemetery, Saratoga, California. At the 9/11 Memorial Bingham and other passengers from Flight 93 are memorialized at the South Pool, on Panel S-67.
In an ABC interview, Barack Obama becomes the first sitting U.S. president to publicly support the freedom for LGBT couples to marry. It marks a reversal from his 2008 campaign when he said he opposed same-sex marriage but favored civil unions as an alternative. His announcement came one day after voters in North Carolina passed a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage as well as civil unions for gay and lesbian couples.
Gender Identity Law 26,743 is approved. Transgender people may register by their chosen name and gender identity.
320 BC, Greece
Theocritus is born in Syracuse. He developed the verse form known as the pastoral, a stylized and artful form usually about shepherds or cowherds who sing of love and friendship. They were highly homoerotic.
1933 – Germany’s
Institute of Sex Research’s library archives are publicly hauled out and burned in the streets. There were many other books burnings throughout Germany on this day as well. Student groups at universities across Germany carried out a series of book burnings of works that the students and leading Nazi party members associated with an “un-German spirit.” The largest of these book bonfires occurred in Berlin, where an estimated 40,000 people gathered to hear a speech by the propaganda minister, Joseph Goebbels, in which he pronounced that “Jewish intellectualism is dead” and endorsed the students’ “right to clean up the debris of the past.”
Steven Craig Gunderson (born May 10, 1951) is an American former politician who was a Republican U.S. Representative for representing Wisconsin’s 3rd congressional district from 1981 to 1997, when he was succeeded by Democrat Ron Kind. After leaving office, he was president and CEO of the Council on Foundation and then of Career Education Colleges and Universities. In 1994, Gunderson was outed as gay on the House floor by representative Bob Dornan (R-CA) during a debate over federal funding for gay-friendly curriculum, making him one of the first openly gay members of Congress and the first openly gay Republican representative. In 1996, Gunderson was the only Republican in Congress to vote against the Defense of Marriage Act. He has been a vocal supporter of gay rights causes since leaving Congress. During his time in the House, Gunderson was one of only two openly gay Republicans serving in Congress, the other being Jim Kolbe (June 28, 1942 – December 3, 2022) of Arizona.
Todd Gloria (born May 10, 1978) was elected as San Diego’s first openly gay mayor. He is a member of the Democratic Party and is the first person of color (Tinglit-Haida, Puerto Rican and Filipino) and the first openly gay person to serve as San Diego’s mayor. Gloria was then elected to represent California’s 78th State Assembly district, which encompasses much of San Diego. While on the Assembly, he served as House Majority Whip.
OutRage!, the British LGBTQ rights group, is formed by a broad-based group of queers committed to radical, non-violent direct action and civil disobedience. OutRage! was an all-volunteer, non-hierarchical grassroots, democratic movement, with no officers, leaders or paid staff. Weekly meetings were open to any LGBT person to attend, speak and vote. It was funded entirely by donations from activists and supporters. It lasted for 21 years, disbanding in 2011.
1739 & 1755, UK
Eleanor Butler (11 May 1739 – 2 June 1829) and Sarah Ponsonby (May 11, 1755 -December 9, 1831) celebrated joint birthdays and shared their lives for a half century. The “Ladies of Llangollen” were two upper-class Irish women whose relationship during the late 18th and early 19th century scandalized and fascinated their contemporaries. The subject of several excellent books, they seem to have impressed their neighbors as well as London high society. Eleanor was a member of the Butlers, the Earls (and later Dukes) of Ormond. Considered an over-educated bookworm by her family, she resided at the Butler family seat Kilkenny Castle. She was educated in a convent in France. Her mother tried to make her join a convent because she was remaining a spinster. Sarah lived with relatives in Woodstock, County Kilkenny, Ireland. She was a second cousin of Frederick Ponsonby, 3rd Earl of Bessborough, and thus a second cousin once removed of his daughter Lady Caroline Lamb. Eleanor’s and Sarah’s families lived two miles apart. They met in 1768 and quickly became close. Over the years they formulated a plan for a private rural retreat. Butler and Ponsonby lived together for over 50 years. Eleanor Butler died in 1829 at the age of 90. Sarah Ponsonby died two years later. They are buried together at St Collen’s Church in Llangollen.
Mychal Judge (May 11, 1933 – September 11, 2001) is born. Father Judge was a self-identified gay man though celibate due to Catholic restrictions for priests. A long-term supporter of Dignity (a Catholic LGBT activist organization advocating for change in the Catholic Church’s policies/teachings on homosexuality), he was well known and beloved in New York City. He considered himself an “agent of change in both church and society.” He died while administering last rites to a fallen firefighter at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. In 2002, the United States Congress passed The Mychal Judge Police and Fire Chaplains Public Safety Officers Benefit Act into law. The law extended federal death benefits to chaplains of police and fire departments, and also marked the first time the federal government extended equal benefits for same-sex couples by allowing the domestic partners of public safety officers killed in the line of duty to collect a federal death benefit. This act was signed into law on June 24, 2002, but was retroactive only to September 11, 2001.
Fifty-two men are arrested on a floating gay nightclub called the Queen Boat moored on the Nile in Cairo. Of fifty-two men arrested, fifty were charged with “habitual debauchery” and “obscene behavior” under Article 9c of Law No. 10 of 1961 on the Combat of Prostitution. Another two were charged with “contempt of religion” under Article 98f of the Penal Code. All fifty-two men pleaded innocent. The trials of the “Cairo 52” lasted five months and the defendants were vilified in the Egyptian media which printed their real names and addresses and branded them as agents against the State.
African American New Jersey high school sophomore Sakia Gunn (May 26, 1987 – May 11, 2003) was murdered after trying to get a man to leave her and her friends alone by explaining that they were lesbian. Gunn was returning from a night out in Greenwich Village, Manhattan, with her friends. While waiting for the #1 New Jersey Transit bus at the corner of Broad and Market Streets in downtown Newark, Gunn and her friends were propositioned by two African American men. The women rejected their advances and declared themselves to be lesbians. The men attacked; Gunn fought back, and one of the men, Richard McCullough, stabbed her in the chest. Both men immediately fled the scene in their vehicle. After one of Gunn’s friends flagged down a passing driver, she was taken to nearby University Hospital, where she died. Gunn’s death sparked outrage from the city’s gay and lesbian community. The community, in conjunction with GLAAD, rallied the mayor’s office, requesting, among other things, the establishment of a gay and lesbian community center, that police officers to patrol the Newark Penn Station/Broad Street corridor 24-hours a day, the creation of a LGBT advisory council to the mayor, and that the school board be held accountable for the lack of concern and compassion when dealing with students at Westside High School (which Gunn attended) immediately following the murder. The Newark Pride Alliance, an LGBT advocacy group, was founded in the wake of Gunn’s murder. In 2008, a documentary was released about Gunn’s murder, titled Dreams Deferred: The Sakia Gunn Film Project.
Hundreds of veterans from around the country descend on Washington D.C. to lobby Congress on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Over a hundred U.S. military veterans gather on Capitol Hill to press Congress for quick repeal of the law banning gays from serving in the military. Gay, lesbian and straight veterans and supporters converged on steps of the U.S. Capitol for a group photograph with Sen. Joseph Lieberman, I-Connecticut, who is the main sponsor of a bill that would officially repeal the law known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT). Event participant Andre Sauvageot, 77, served in the Army during World War II. He described himself as straight and “happily married to a Vietnamese woman for 40 years,” but said he came from nearby Virginia to show solidarity with gay and lesbian veterans. Eric Alva (born April 1, 1971), a retired Marine, is one of the event’s organizers. “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was the official United States policy on military service by gays, bisexuals, and lesbians, instituted by the Clinton Administration on February 28, 1994. The Department of Defense Directive 1304.26 was issued on December 21, 1993, and lasted until September 20, 2011, when it was repealed by President Obama.
Edward Lear (12 May 1812-29 January 1888) was an English artist, illustrator, musician, author and poet, and is known now mostly for his literary nonsense in poetry and prose and especially his limericks, a form he popularized. His principal areas of work as an artist were threefold: as a draughtsman employed to illustrate birds and animals; making colored drawings during his journeys, which he reworked later, sometimes as plates for his travel books; as a (minor) illustrator of Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s poems. As an author, he is known principally for his popular nonsense collections of poems, songs, short stories, botanical drawings, recipes, and alphabets. He also composed and published twelve musical settings of Tennyson’s poetry. Lear’s most fervent and painful friendship was with Franklin Lushington. He met the young barrister in Malta in 1849 and then toured southern Greece with him. Lear developed an infatuation for him that Lushington did not wholly reciprocate. Although they remained friends for almost forty years, until Lear’s death, the disparity of their feelings constantly tormented Lear. Indeed, Lear’s attempts at male companionship were not always successful; the very intensity of Lear’s affections may have doomed these relationships.
Florence Nightingale (12 May 1820 – 13 August 1910) is born in Florence. She is the founder of modern nursing. Nightingale came to prominence while serving as a manager of nurses trained by her during the Crimean War where she organized the tending to wounded soldiers. She gave nursing a highly favorable reputation and became an icon of Victorian culture, especially in the persona of “The Lady with the Lamp,” making rounds of wounded soldiers at night. She often referred to herself in the masculine, as for example “a man of action” and “a man of business” and wrote about having romantic/erotic relationships with women.
Heinz Neddermeyer (April 20,1914-1984), the first great lover of Christopher Isherwood (26 August 1904 – 4 January 1986), is expelled from Luxembourg. The couple lived together in Berlin until they were forced to flee due to the rise of the Nazis. The day after he was expelled from Luxembourg, Heinz was arrested by the Gestapo. He was sentenced to three and a half years of forced labor and military service. He survived the forced labor and was conditionally free if he married. He married a woman named Gerda in 1938 and had a son named Christian, his only child, in 1940. He died in 1984.
Joan Nestle (born May 12, 1940) is a Lambda Award winning writer and editor and a founder of the Lesbian Herstory Archives, which holds, among other things, everything she has ever written. She sees her work of archiving history as critical to her identity as “a woman, as a lesbian, and as a Jew”. After the Stonewall riots in 1969, gay liberation became a focus of her activism. She joined the Lesbian Liberation Committee in 1971 and helped found the Gay Academic Union (GAU) in 1972. The following year, she and other members of the GAU began to gather and preserve documents and artifacts related to lesbian history. This project became the Lesbian Herstory Archives, which opened in 1974 in the pantry of the apartment she shared with her then-partner Deborah Edel and later with her family friend Mabel Hampton (May 2, 1902 – October 26, 1989), then moved it to a brownstone in Park Slope, Brooklyn in 1992. Today its holdings include more than 20,000 books, 12,000 photographs, and 1,600 periodical titles.
The first public meeting of the Homosexual Law Reform Society is attended by more than 1,000 people.
Robert Reed (October 19, 1932 – May 12, 1992), best known as Mike Brady on the sitcom The Brady Bunch, dies of AIDS-related causes. Reed was gay but kept this fact private, choosing to marry a woman instead. He feared news of his sexual orientation would damage his career. In July 1954, Reed married fellow Northwestern student Marilyn Rosenberger. The couple had one daughter, Karen, before divorcing in 1959. Shortly before his death, Reed appeared in the touring production of Love Letters opposite Betsy Palmer, and taught classes on Shakespeare at UCLA. He died on May 12, 1992 at Huntington Memorial Hospital in Pasadena, California, at age 59.
Jared Schutz Polis (born May 12, 1975) is an American politician, entrepreneur, and businessman, serving as the 43rdgovernor of Colorado since January 2019. He served one term on the Colorado State Board of Education from 2001 to 2007 and five terms as the U.S. representative from Colorado’s 2nd congressional district from 2009 to 2019. He was the only Democratic member of the libertarian conservative Liberty Caucus and was the third-wealthiest member of the United States Congress with an estimated net worth of $122.6 million. He was elected governor of Colorado in 2018, defeating Republican nominee Walker Stapleton. As an openly gay man, Polis has made history several times through his electoral success. In 2008, he became the first same-sex parent elected to the United States Congress. In 2018, he became the first openly gay man and second openly LGBT person, after Kate Brown (born June 21, 1960) of Oregon), elected governor of a U.S. state. He is also the first Jewish governor of Colorado. In 2020, he became the first U.S. governor to be engaged to a same-sex partner; they wed in 2021.
California decriminalizes same-sex acts between consenting adults. Assembly member Willie Brown and state Senator George Moscone (who later in his career was assassinated along with LGBT civil rights great Harvey Milk in San Francisco) co-sponsor AB 489, the “Consenting Adults Bill,” which decriminalizes sexual activity between consenting adults. Governor Jerry Brown signs the bill into law on May 12, 1975, and it goes into effect January 1, 1976. Prior to 2003, Sodomy was not legal in California. And could not be made so while it was illegal on the Federal level. The monumental Supreme Court 2003 case Lawrence v Texas ruled that systematically criminalizing sodomy is unconstitutional. The case serves as a precedent, and most U.S. states responded by decriminalizing gay sex.
Police once again raid The Body Politic, the country’s leading gay and lesbian newspaper, on charges of publishing allegedly obscene material.
Billy Bean (born March 29, 1962), former outfielder and left-handed hitter for the Detroit Tigers, Los Angeles Dodgers, and San Diego Padres, becomes the second baseball player to publicly come out, three years after his retirement. As a closeted pro athlete, he struggled to juggle his secret and his career. He divorced his wife in 1993 and secretly moved in with his first lover. When his lover died of AIDS, Bean didn’t attend the funeral because he was too frightened that his secret would be revealed. Since 2014, he has served as Major League Baseball’s first Ambassador for Inclusion. He is currently a real estate agent in Miami. Glenn Burke (November 16, 1952 – May 30, 1995) was the first baseball player to come out to his teammates and employers during his playing days, though Burke did not come out to the public at large until his career was over. Burke died from AIDS-related causes in 1995.
Israel’s Supreme Court allows same-sex parental rights with a court order only, without the lengthy adoption process.
Jon Penton-Robicheaux (1978 -May 12, 2017), the lead plaintiff in a case that challenged Louisiana’s ban on same-sex marriages, dies at a New Orleans hospice of liver failure after a battle with bacterial meningitis. He was 39. “Though Jon was a very beloved figure in the gay community, he was low-key. He wasn’t a big publicity person at all. But he is definitely part of history now,” said Frank Perez, a tour guide and chronicler of the city’s gay history. His husband, Derek Penton-Robicheaux, was by his side. Together they founded the nonprofit called Louisiana Equality Foundation to further their gay-advocacy work.
Raquel Pennington (born September 5, 1988) faced Amanda Nunes (born May 30, 1988) on May 12, 2018 at UFC 224 in a UFC Women’s Bantamweight Championship bout. Pennington lost the fight via TKO in the fifth round. This was the first event in UFC history to be headlined by two openly gay fighters. Nunes is a Brazilian mixed martial artist who currently fights for the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) where she is the reigning champion in both the women’s Bantam weight and Featherweight divisions. Pennington (born September 5, 1988) is an American mixed martial artist who competes in Ultimate Fighting Championship women’s bantamweight division
Queer holocaust: “We saw barracks surrounded by a double circle of high fences… A torrent of blows awaited us. We were instantly overcome with terror.” With these words in his 1994 memoir, Pierre Seel—one of the few gay Holocaust survivors to publicly share his experience—described his arrival at the Schirmeck-Vorbrück concentration camp on May 13, 1941. Having been arrested because of his homosexuality in Nazi-occupied France, Seel was interrogated, tortured and forced to watch his lover being mauled by a pack of dogs, all before he’d turned 18. Eighty years later, while Holocaust remembrance has become an integral part of our civic duties, stories like those of Seel and other LGBTQ victims are often missing from that collective memory. This, however, isn’t the consequence of an accidental historical oversight. The truth is that for the queer survivors of Nazi oppression, 1945 did not bring about any kind of liberation; rather, it marked the beginning of a systematic process of persecution and willful suppression—one that would result in their erasure from the pages of popular history. Within the National Socialist vision, homosexuality represented an insidious “threat” to the “Aryan” race’s survival that needed to be stamped out. Although male homosexual activity had been technically illegal in Germany since the 19th century, it was generally tolerated and even celebrated within certain urban circles prior to Adolf Hitler’s ascension to power in 1933. Weimar-era Berlin came to be labeled as the “gay capital of the world,” a city where a booming queer nightlife scene was wedded with the budding dissemination of new academic ideas calling for greater acceptance of homosexuality and gender non-conformity.
Novelist Armistead Maupin (born May 13, 1944) is born. Maupin is best known for his Tales of the City novels. Published by Harper Collins, Tales places Maupin’s gay characters within a large framework of humanity, creating a social history of San Francisco during the tumultuous decades of the 1970s and 1980s. Maupin is called the Charles Dickens of San Francisco. He is married to Christopher Turner, a website producer and photographer. Maupin’s life and work, and the settings and the themes therein, are the subject of the documentary The Untold Tales of Armistead Maupin.
Time Magazine reports of “The New Bisexuals.” The magazine says “bisexuals, like homosexuals before them, are boldly coming out of their closets, forming clubs, having parties and stalking out discotheques.” The article cites Kinsey and feminism as causes for the rise in visibility.
Montreal police raid gay clubs including the Taureau d’Or, Studio One, the Stork Club, the Crystal Baths, and Jilly’s, a lesbian bar.
In London, Ontario, the Ontario division of Canadian Union of Public Employees, at its annual conference, opposes discrimination on basis of sexual orientation and urges local affiliates to include it in non-discrimination clauses of collective agreements.
Sex-sex marriage is legalized in Minnesota becoming the twelfth state to do so.
Magnus Hirschfeld (14 May 1868 – 14 May 1935) is born. He was a German Jewish physician and sexologist educated primarily in Germany though he based his practice in Berlin-Charlottenburg. An outspoken advocate for sexual minorities, Hirschfeld founded the Scientific-Humanitarian Committee, the first group to advocate for homosexual and transgender rights. On his 67th birthday, May 14, 1935, Hirschfeld died of a heart attack in his apartment at the Gloria Mansions I building at 63 Promenade des Anglais in Nice. The German Society for Social-Scientific Sexuality Research established the Magnus Hirschfeld Medal in 1990. The Society awards the Medal in two categories, contributions to sexual research and contributions to sexual reform.
Julian Eltinge (May 14, 1881 – March 7, 1941) is born. He was an American stage and screen actor and female impersonator. After appearing in the Boston Cadets Revue at the age of ten in feminine garb, Eltinge made his first appearance on Broadway in 1904. As his star began to rise, he appeared in vaudeville and toured Europe and the United States, even giving a command performance before King Edward VII. Eltinge appeared in a series of musical comedies written specifically for his talents starting in 1910 with The Fascinating Widow, returning to vaudeville in 1918. In 1917 he appeared in his first feature film, The Countess Charming. By the time Eltinge arrived in Hollywood, he was considered one of the highest paid actors on the American stage. Aside from the graceful femininity he exhibited onstage, Eltinge used a super-masculine facade in public to combat the rumors of his homosexuality. But with the arrival of the Great Depression and the death of vaudeville, Eltinge’s star began to fade. He continued his show in nightclubs but found little success. On February 25, 1941, Eltinge fell ill while performing at Billy Rose’s Diamond Horseshoe nightclub. He was taken home and died in his apartment ten days later on March 7th. He leaves a legacy as one of the greatest female impersonators of the 20th century.
Scientific-Humanitarian Committee, the first-ever gay rights organization, was formed in Berlin by Magnus Hirschfeld (14 May 1868 – 14 May 1935) to campaign for social recognition of gay, bisexual and transgender men and women, and to fight for the repeal of the anti-gay law called Paragraph 175 which allowed their legal persecution.
In Berlin, Magnus Hirschfeld (14 May 1868 – 14 May 1935) publishes his ground-breaking study of gender variant people Die Transvestiten, a title which literally translates as the Transvestites. The term is used by Hirschfeld to denote a much wider understanding of sexual and gender variation than the cross-dressing which the term often implies today.
In Berlin, Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld (May, 14 1868 – May, 14 1935) co-founds the Institut fer Sexualwissenschaft (Institute for Sex Research), a pioneering private research institute and counseling office. On July 20, 1932, the Chancellor Franz von Papen carried out a coup that deposed the Braun government in Prussia and appointed himself the Reich commissioner for the state. A conservative Catholic who had long been a vocal critic of homosexuality, Papen ordered the Prussian police to start enforcing the anti-gay Paragraph 175 and to crack down in general on “sexual immorality” in Prussia. The Institut fer Sexualwissenschaft remained open, but under Papen’s rule, the police began to harass people associated with it. On January 30, 1933, President Paul von Hindenburg appointed Adolf Hitler as chancellor. Less than four months after the Nazis took power, Hirschfeld’s Institute was ransacked. On the morning of May 6th, a group of university students belonging to the National Socialist Student League stormed into the institution, shouting “Brenne Hirschfeld!” (“Burn Hirschfeld!”) and began to beat up the staff and smash up the premises. That afternoon, the SA came to the institute, carrying out a more systematic attack, removing all volumes from the library for a book-burning event four days later. In the evening, the Berlin police arrived to announce that the institution was now closed forever. Its library of thousands of books was destroyed by the Nazis.
Richard Lewis Deacon (May 14, 1922–August 8, 1984) was an American television and motion picture actor, best known for playing supporting roles in television shows such as The Dick Van Dyke Show, Leave It To Beaver, and The Jack Benny Program along with minor roles in films such as Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) and Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds (1963). Deacon never married. According to academic writers David L. Smith and Sean Griffin, Deacon was gay and was among a number of actors and actresses who were closeted homosexuals working in Hollywood and often employed in Disney films.
Maria Irene Formes (born May 14, 1930) is born. She is a Cuban-American avant garde playwright and director who was a leading figure of the Off-Off-Broadway movement in the 1960s. Always an iconoclast, each of Formes’ plays was its own world, all vastly different from each other. Whereas contemporary playwrights developed a signature style, the critical factor identifying a Formes play is not tone or structure, but an intense, relentless and compassionate examination of the human condition-especially the way intimate personal relationships are impacted and infected by economic conditions. In 1959, Formes met the writer Susan Sontag (January 16, 1933 – December 28, 2004) at a party and began a relationship that lasted several years. It was while Formes was with Sontag that she began to write plays.
Canada decriminalizes homosexual acts between consenting adults with the passage of the Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1968-69.
American Psychiatric Association meeting in New York City includes a presentation advocating the use of electro-convulsive therapy as a “cure” for homosexuality. Three years later it rules that homosexuality is not an illness. The Gay Liberation Front activists ZAP a special session of the American Psychiatric Association dealing with “sex problems.” The activists protest an Australian doctor’s paper on the use of electroshock aversion therapy to “treat” homosexuality.
U.S. Congress members Bella Abzug and Ed Koch introduce the first national gay civil rights bill, the predecessor to the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. The Equality Act of 1974 would have amended the 1964 Civil Rights Act by adding “sexual orientation” to the list of protected from discrimination. As of the date of this publication in 2021, it has yet to pass though was re-introduced to Congress on February 17, 2021.
Montreal police raid Montreal’s Neptune Sauna and arrest nineteen men, charging them with being “found-ins” in common bawdyhouse.
The Reagan administration cancels the White House subscription to The Advocate.
Serial killer Randy Kraft is arrested. He is known as “the Scorecard Killer” and “the Freeway Killer.” Kraft is described as one of the “deadliest and most depraved serial killers” in the California’s history, He murdered 61 young men before being caught on this day. He is currently on death row in California.
Blake Brockington (May 14, 1996- March 23, 2015) was an American transman whose suicide attracted international attention. He had previously received attention as the first openly transgender high school homecoming king in North Carolina, and had since been advocating for LGBT youth, the transgender community, and against police brutality. Brockington was enrolled at University of North Carolina at Charlotte, majoring in music education. At the time of his death, he was on medical leave and not attending classes. He stated that his plans were to become a band director and composer. Brockington died on March 23, 2015 after being struck by several vehicles on the outer loop of Interstate 485 near Pavilion Boulevard in Charlotte. The incident was considered a suicide and similar in nature to the suicides of Ash Haffner (1999-Feb. 26, 2015) and Leelah Alcorn (November 15, 1997 – December 28, 2014).
The National Council of Justice rules 4-1 to allow same-sex marriage nationally.
Former actor and stunt man Michael B. Watts A 37-year-old man known as an “icon of the local queer community” in Oregon was found dead in the Willamette River on this day. Watts went by the stage name Freddie Hollywood which stemmed from his impersonation of Queen frontman Freddie Mercury.
Walt Whitman (May 31, 1819 – March 26, 1892) registers Leaves of Grass with the U.S. Copyright agency. The collection is considered an expression of homosexuality and leads to years of controversy.
Paragraph 175 is added to the German Criminal Code. It made homosexual acts between males a crime. The Nazis broadened the law in 1935 and gay men were forced to wear a pink triangle to indicate their homosexuality. In the prosecutions that followed, thousands died in Nazi concentration camps. It was repealed on March 10, 1994.
Founding of the first homosexual emancipation organization, including what they termed “sexual intermediates” (trans* people) in Germany called the Scientific Humanitarian Committee, which by two decades later, had about 25 chapter in cities throughout Germany. They were continually harassed and beaten by members of the growing Nazi party and outlawed after the rise of Adolph Hitler to power.
The House of Commons votes to decriminalize private same-sex acts between consenting adults. The new law goes into effect in August.
Hinaleimoana Kwai Kong Wong-Kalu, (born 15 May 1972) also known as Kumu Hina, is a Native Hawaiian māhū – a traditional third gender person who occupies “a place in the middle” between male and female as well as a modern transgender woman. She is known for her work as a kumu hula (“hula teacher”), a filmmaker, artist, activist and as a community leader in the field of Kanaka Maoli language and cultural preservation. She teaches Kanaka Maoli philosophy and traditions that promotes cross-cultural alliances throughout the Pacific Islands. Kumu Hina is known as a “powerful performer with a clear, strong voice” andhas been hailed as “a cultural icon.”
CBS’ 60 Minutes broadcasts a segment on child pornography, concentrating on “adult homosexuals who prey on small boys.” As a result, teenagers from a conservative New York Catholic high school go on a bashing spree, beating one victim to death. They are later sentenced to 35 and 40 years in prison.
Teacher Don Jones is dismissed by the Smeaton, Saskatchewan school board because of a complaint that he is gay.
In the midst of Lesbian/Gay Awareness Week at the University of Florida, a fraternity-circulated petition asserting, “Homosexuals need bullets-not acceptance” draws the signatures of almost fifty people. “We don’t have anything else to do,” says one of the petition’s organizers. “We’re just out here having a good time. I don’t believe in queers.”
Having tied up, tortured, and robbed one gay man the night before, two Hartford, Connecticut, teenagers – Sean Burke and Marcos Perez – bludgeon Richard Reihl to death. Despite attempts by the defense to portray the two teenaged assailants as star athletes and “All-American boys” who deserve leniency and compassion, a judge sentences them to forty and thirty-five years in prison, respectively, for the killing.
Stella Maynes Maxwell (born 15 May 1990) is a British fashion model. She is a New Zealander model known for being a Victoria’s Secret Angel and the face of Max Factor. Since late 2016, she has been dating actress Kristen Stewart (born April 9, 1990).
The Episcopal Church court rules that there is no “core doctrine” against ordaining a gay man as a deacon, the clergy rank below that of priest.
The California Supreme Court rules that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry. By November 3rd, 2008, more than 18,000 same-sex couples have married. On November 4, California voters approve a ban on same-sex marriage called Proposition 8.
The country’s first LGBT Pride parade takes place. It’s the second largest public gathering in Greenland with over 2% of the country’s population attending.
Dr. Saul Levin was named the new chief executive officer and medical director of the American Psychiatric Association, making him the first known openly gay person to head the APA. Levin was born in South Africa and received his medical degree from the University of the Witwatersrand in 1982. He then moved to the United States to complete a residency in psychiatry at UC Davis Medical Center. He completed a master’s degree in public administration at the John F. Kennedy School of Government of Harvard University in 1994.
Elagabalus (203 – 11 March 222) is declared the 25th emperor of the Roman Empire. He was married to five women and a male athlete named Zoticus whom he wed in a public ceremony. However, his most stable relationship seems to have been with his chariot driver, a blond enslaved man from Caria named Hierocles to whom he referred as his husband. Herodian commented that Elagabalus enhanced his natural good looks by the regular application of cosmetics. He was described as having been “delighted to be called the mistress, the wife, the queen of Hierocles” and was reported to have offered vast sums of money to any physician who could equip him with female genitalia. Elagabalus has been characterized by some modern writers as transgender or transsexual. He was assassinated at the age of 18.
Liberace (May 16, 1919 – February 4, 1987) is born Walter Valentino Liberace. For decades, he was known for his flamboyant gender bending style, his music, candelabra, charisma, rhinestones and dazzle. Pianist and entertainer, Liberace enjoyed a career spanning four decades of concerts, recordings, television, motion pictures, and endorsements. At the height of his fame, from the 1950s to the 1970s, Liberace was the highest-paid entertainer in the world, with established concert residencies in Las Vegas and an international touring schedule. Liberace embraced a lifestyle of flamboyant excess both on and off stage, acquiring the nickname “Mr. Showmanship”. Liberace always denied he was gay. In 1982, Scott Thorson, Liberace’s 22-year-old former chauffeur and live-in lover of five years, sued the pianist for $113 million in palimony after he was let go by Liberace. In a 2011 interview, actress and close friend Betty White stated that Liberace was indeed gay and that she was often used as a beard by his managers to counter public rumors of the musician’s homosexuality. Liberace died as a result of AIDS on February 4, 1987, at his retreat home in Palm Springs, California. He was 67 years old.
Adrienne Rich (May 16, 1929 – March 27, 2012) was an American poet, essayist and radical feminist. She was called “one of the most widely read and influential poets of the second half of the 20th century,” and was credited with bringing “the oppression of women and lesbians to the forefront of poetic discourse.” In 1976, Rich began her partnership with Jamaican-born novelist and editor Michelle Cliff (2 November 1946 – 12 June 2016) which lasted until her death. In her controversial work Of Woman Born: Motherhood as Experience and Institution, published the same year, Rich acknowledged that, for her, lesbianism was a political as well as a personal issue, writing, “The suppressed lesbian I had been carrying in me since adolescence began to stretch her limbs.” Her first collection of poetry A Change of World was selected by iW. H. Auden for the Yale Series of Younger Poets Award. Auden went on to write the introduction to the book. Rich famously declined the National Medal of Arts to protest House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s vote to end funding for the National Endowment for the Arts. Rich died from long-term rheumatoid arthritis on March 27, 2012 at the age of 82 in her Santa Cruz, California home. Her last collection was published the year before her death. Rich was survived by her sons, two grandchildren and her partner Michelle Cliff (2 November 1946 – 12 June 2016).
The Fifth BiNational Lesbian Conference in Vancouver draws women from across Canada and organizes the first known lesbian pride march in the world.
HIV-Positive people are banned from entering the United States by the U.S. Public Health Service. President Barack Obama lifts the ban in 2009.
Same-sex sexual activity is legalized in the Bahamas.
2005, Hong Kong
The First Gay Pride Parade in Hong Kong takes place.
2007, Baltic Region
Pride events in the Baltic region faced threats of violence and attempts to be banned by local authorities. In 2006, an LGBT Pride march in Riga was banned because of security threats against the participants. On this day in 2007, the Pride march was allowed to go ahead but inside an enclosed park. Outside of the park, crowds of counter-demonstrators shouted abuses at the Pride marchers and threw two devices which exploded in the park. Amnesty International has been supporting Pride events in the Baltic region through campaigning, participation and monitoring since 2008.
2013, Puerto Rico
Senate approves a non-discrimination bill 15-11.
The film Rocketman premiered on this day. It was the first major film to show gay male sex onscreen. Rocketman is an epic musical fantasy about the incredible human story of Elton John’s breakthrough years. The film follows the fantastical journey of transformation from shy piano prodigy Reginald Dwight into international superstar Elton John. This inspirational story, set to Elton John’s most beloved songs and performed by Taron Egerton, tells the universally relatable story of how a small-town boy became one of the most iconic figures in pop culture.
The Pulse Nightclub Massacre memorial mural on the walls of the local LGBT Center in Orlando, FL community is vandalized and is likely the work of the white supremacists group The Patriot Front. The Patriot Front is identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a “white nationalist hate group.” Orlando Weekly reported that The Center’s phone lines had been cut. On June 12, 2016, Omar Mateen opened fire at Pulse Nightclub leaving 49 dead and 53 injured. He later pledged allegiance to ISIS, saying that the shooting was motivated by Islamic extremism.
International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia
Tsar Pseudo-Demetrius I is the Czar of Russia from June 10, 1605 until his death on May 17, 1606 when he is killed by a mob that stormed the Kremlin. His mutilated body was displayed next to his lover Petr Basmanov.
Charles Robert Ashbee (17 May 1863 – 23 May 1942) was a British architect and designer who was a prime mover of the Arts and Crafts movement that took its craft ethic from the works of John Ruskin and its co-operative structure from the socialism of William Morris. Ashbee has been described by as “half-Jewish, Anglican, bisexual, married, Socialist, conservationist, romantic, rebel, fop, and self-described “practical idealist.” Ashbee was homosexual at a time when sex between men was a criminal offence. He is thought to have been a member of the Order of Chaeronea, a secret society founded in 1897 by the poet and penal reformer George Ives (1 October 1867– 4 June 1950) for the cultivation of a homosexual ethos. He certainly belonged to groups that provided support and understanding to homosexuals. In 1898, seemingly to cover his homosexuality, Ashbee married the daughter of a wealthy London stockbroker, Janet Elizabeth Forbes (1877–1961) to whom he admitted his sexual orientation soon after she accepted his proposal. During thirteen years of rocky marriage, which included his wife’s serious affair, they had four children. Ashbee was influenced in his life by the theories of homosexuality developed by poet Edward Carpenter (29 August 1844 – 28 June 1929).
Composer Erik Satie (17 May 1866 – 1 July 1925) is born in Honfleur, Calvados. Throughout his life he lived in a small Paris room. Dissatisfied with his compositions, he returned to school when he was forty to study music formally. Still his untutored works are among his most popular. An eccentric, Satie was introduced as a “gymnopedist” in 1887, shortly before writing his most famous compositions, the Gymnopodies. Satie’s behavior seemed to indicate that he was asexual; he tended to be dismissive when the topic of sexuality arose.
Jill Johnston (May 17, 1929 – September 18, 2010) is born. She authored the book Lesbian Nation (1973). Johnston’s self-described “east west flower child beat hip psychedelic paradise now love peace do your own thing approach to the revolution” (as she called it in Lesbian Nation) often confounded her feminist allies as much as it did the conservative foes of gay and lesbian liberation. In 1973, she predicted “an end to the catastrophic brotherhood and a return to the former glory and wise equanimity of the matriarchies.” In 1977, Johnson became an associate of the Women’s Institute for Freedom of the Press (WIFP), an American nonprofit publishing organization. In 1993, in Denmark, she married Ingrid Nyeboe. The couple married again, in Connecticut, in 2009. On September 10, 2010, Johnston suffered a stroke in Hartford, Connecticut, and died. She was 81.
John Waters’ Pink Flamingos opens starring DIVINE!
The Toronto Board of Education committee rehires John Argue as swimming instructor, overruling the principal of his school. Argue had been fired because he was gay.
Homosexuality is removed from the list of mental illnesses by the World Health Organization, declaring this day the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHO). WHO established the IDAHO Committee to coordinate grass-roots actions in different countries, to promote the day and to lobby for official recognition on May 17th. The date was chosen to commemorate the decision to remove homosexuality from the International Classification of Diseases of the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1990. For a long time in Germany, May 17th had been unofficially labelled as a sort of “Gay Day.” Written in the date format 17.5, it had a natural affinity with the anti-gay Paragraph 175. The main purpose of the May 17 mobilizations is to raise awareness of violence, discrimination, and repression of LGBT communities worldwide, which in turn provides an opportunity to take action and engage in dialogue with the media, policymakers, public opinion, and wider civil society.
Queer Nation’s name is officially adopted, reclaiming the word queer. Queer Nation is an LGBTQ activist organization founded in March 1990 in New York City by HIV/AIDS activists from ACT UP. The four founders were outraged at the escalation of anti-gay and lesbian violence on the streets and prejudice in the arts and media. The group is known for its confrontational tactics, its slogans, and the practice of outing. The direct-action group’s inaugural action took place at Flutie’s Bar, a straight hangout at the South Street Sea Port on April 13, 1990. Queer Nation Chicago was inducted into the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame in 1995.
Voters approve a wide-ranging reform of the country’s laws, including the deletion of all discriminatory language related to homosexuality, with 73 percent voting in favor.
The first Lavender Graduation took place at the University of Michigan with three graduates. Lavender Graduation is an annual ceremony conducted on numerous campuses to honor lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and ally students and to acknowledge their achievements and contributions to the University. The Lavender Graduation ceremony was created by Dr. Ronni Sanlo, a Jewish Lesbian, who was denied the opportunity to attend the graduations of her biological children because of her sexual orientation. It was through this experience that she came to understand the pain felt by her students. Encouraged by Dr. Royster Harper, the Dean of Students at the University of Michigan, Dr. Sanlo designed the first Lavender Graduation in 1995. The first Lavender graduate was Ryan Bradley. Lavender Graduation is a cultural celebration that recognizes LGBT students of all races and ethnicities and acknowledges their achievements and contributions to the university. Through such recognition LGBT students may leave the university with a positive last experience of the institution thereby encouraging them to become involved as mentors for current students as well as financially contributing alumni.
Massachusetts legalizes same-sex marriage, becoming the first U.S. state to do so after the state Supreme Court ruled that the ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional. Marcia Hams and Sue Shepard are the first same-sex couple to marry. Robyn Ochs (born 1958) and her long-time partner Peg Preble were also among the first same-sex couples to get legally married that day.
The Rainbow Collective is founded, working against homophobia.
A rainbow flash mob happens in St. Petersburg. It is the largest LGBT demonstration in Russia with about 250 people. Nobody was arrested.
Annise Parker (born May 17, 1956) was elected mayor of Houston, making her the first LGBT mayor of a U.S. city with a population over 1 million. She is an American politician who served as the 61st Mayor of Houston, Texas, from 2010 until 2016. She also served as an at-large member of the Houston City Council from 1998 to 2003 and city controller from 2004 to 2010. Parker was Houston’s second female mayor (after Kathy Whitmire), and one of the first openly gay mayors of a major U.S. city. Houston is the most populous U.S. city to elect an openly gay mayor. Parker and her partner, Kathy Hubbard, have been together since 1990. On January 16, 2014, Parker and Hubbard were married in Palm Springs, California. They have three foster children together as well as a then-teenage boy who they offered a home and who they consider their son.
The Senate confirms Eric Fanning (born July 2, 1968) to be secretary of the Army, making him the first openly gay secretary of a U.S. military branch. Fanning previously served as Defense Secretary Ash Carter’s chief of staff and also served as undersecretary of the Air Force and deputy undersecretary of the Navy. He was nominated by President Barack Obama and removed by President Donald Trump on Jan. 20, 2017.
Patrick Dennis (May 18, 1921 – November 6, 1976), pseudonym of Edward Everett Tanner, the writer who created Auntie Mame, was born in Chicago. An out bisexual man, he is the only author to have had three novels on the New York Times best-seller list at the same time. Auntie Mame’s first edition spent 112 weeks on the bestseller list (for 8 weeks in 1956), selling more than 2,000,000 copies in five different languages. The manuscript was turned down by fifteen publishers before being accepted by Vanguard Press. Dennis also wrote several novels under the pseudonym Virginia Rowans. On December 30, 1948, Dennis married Louise Stickney, with whom he had two children. He led a double life as a conventional husband and father, and as a bisexual in later life becoming a well-known participant in Greenwich Village’s gay scene.
Fight Repression of Erotic Expression (FREE), later to be called the Queer Student Cultural Center, is formed at the University of Minnesota. In 1971, an original officer of FREE, Jack Baker, was the first openly gay man elected student body president at a major university. By winning this election he became the first openly gay man to win any public office in the U.S. In 1970, Jack Baker and Mike McConnell also became the first gay couple to seek legal marriage and were featured in Life Magazine. Jack was also re-elected in 1972. FREE pressed for equality and crafted a new University policy. The Administrative Committee approved a final draft 22 May 1972. Complaints could now be filed with the Campus Committee on Placement Services for discrimination by employers recruiting on campus. When challenged, Honeywell admitted that its objection to known homosexuals “still holds.” Facing expulsion from University facilities, Honeywell “quietly reversed its hiring policy.” No longer would it refuse to employ people because they are gay. FREE is the second such organization in the United States, following the Student Homophile League recognized by Columbia University in 1967.
Jack Baker and Mike McConnell file for a marriage license in Minnesota. The clerk of the Hennepin County District Court, Gerald Nelson, said he had “no intention of issuing a marriage license,” because it would “result in an undermining and destruction of the entire legal concept of our family structure in all areas of law.” In mid-August 1971, Baker and McConnell took up residence in Blue Earth County and applied to the District Court in Mankato for a license to marry which was granted once the waiting period expired. Rev. Roger Lynn, a Methodist minister, solemnized their marriage on September 3rd. They were the first legally married couple and remain together to this day.
The first prairie conference of gay organizations is hosted by Saskatoon Gay Action.
In Toronto, the second annual conference of MCC (Metropolitan Community Church) in Canada sees the election of a new Canadian coordinator and installation of Rev. Brent Hawkes (born June 2, 1950) as pastor of MCC Toronto.
Lawrence D. Mass, MD (born June 11, 1946) is the first person to report about AIDS. Many believe that June 5, 1981 is the date of the first published report on the new disease which would later become known as AIDS when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published a notice concerning five previously healthy gay men in Los Angeles who died from rare infections which were normally easily curable. But the first published report actually appeared in the New York Native, a gay newspaper, three weeks earlier, on page seven. Dr. Mass went on the help found the Gay Men’s Health Crisis and was the principal author of the organization’s Medical Answers about AIDS through four revisions spanning ten years. Dr. Mass still works as a physician in New York City, where he resides with his life partner, writer and activist Arnie Kantrowitz (born November 26, 1940). Arnold (Arnie) Kantrowitz was an early secretary and vice-president of the pioneering New York City Gay Activists Alliance and is a co-founder of Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD). He is the author of Under the Rainbow: Growing Up Gay, one of the first autobiographies by a gay activist. From 1999 until his 2004 retirement, Kantrowitz was chair of the English department at the College of Staten Island, where he taught for 41 years. The personal papers of Kantrowitz and Mass are designated for deposit with the New York Public Library.
Mondaire Jones (born May 18, 1987) is an American attorney and politician serving as the U.S. representative for New York’s 17th congressional district since 2021. The district includes most of central and northwestern Westchester County and all of Rockland County. A member of the Democratic Party, he and Ritchie Torres are the first openly gay Black members of Congress.
The Belgium Parliament votes to allow same-sex couples to adopt children.
Jonathan Ned Katz’ (born 1938) new book The Daring Life and Dangerous Times of Eve Adams is released. Eve Adams was a rebel. Born Chawa Zloczewer into a Jewish family in Poland, Adams emigrated to the United States in 1912. The young woman befriended anarchists, sold radical publications, ran lesbian- and gay-friendly speakeasies in Chicago and New York, and took on her new name. Then, in 1925, Adams risked all to write and publish a book titled Lesbian Love, presenting brief portraits of two-dozen women. In a repressive era, Adams’s bold activism caught the attention of the young J. Edgar Hoover and the U.S. Bureau of Investigation, leading to her surveillance and arrest. In a case that pitted immigration officials, the New York City police, and a biased informer against her, Adams was convicted of publishing an obscene book and of attempted sex with a policewoman sent to entrap her. Adams was jailed and deported back to Europe, ultimately murdered by Nazis in Auschwitz. In The Daring Life and Dangerous Times of Eve Adams, historian Jonathan Ned Katz has recovered the extraordinary story of an early, daring activist. Drawing on startling evidence, carefully distinguishing fact from fiction, Katz presents the first biography of Adams, and his publisher reprints the long-lost text of Adams’s rare, unique book Lesbian Love.
Gay author Oscar Wilde (16 October 1854 – 30 November 1900) is released from prison. A short time later, he leaves England to spend the remaining three years of his life in self-imposed exile in France and Italy.
John Vernou Bouvier III (May 19, 1891 – August 3, 1957), father of Jackie Bouvier Kennedy Onassis, was born in New York City. Though a well-known womanizer, he was also known for his man-izer within some circles. A noted narcissist, his Manhattan apartment was covered wall to wall with pictures of himself. Among his lovers was composer Cole Porter (June 9, 1891 – October 15, 1964).
Peter Wildeblood (19 May 1923 – 14 November 1999) is born. He was an Anglo-Canadian journalist, novelist, playwright and gay rights campaigner. He was one of the first men in the UK to publicly declare his homosexuality. His lover was Edward McNally (born 1928).
Wings, the first feature film with a male/male kiss, premiers in Texas! The actors were Richard Arlen and Jack Powell. It is also the first film to win the Academy Award for Best Picture. It’s an American silent film set during the First World War, produced by Lucien Hubbard, directed by William A. Wellman.
Lorraine Hansberry (May 19, 1930 – January 12, 1965) was an African American playwright and writer. Hansberry was the first Black female author to have a play performed on Broadway. Her best known work, the play A Raisin in the Sun, highlights the lives of Black Americans living under racial segregation in Chicago. Hansberry’s family had struggled against segregation, challenging a restrictive covenant and eventually provoking the Supreme Court case Hansberry v. Lee. The title of the play was taken from the poem “Harlem” by Langston Hughes: “What happens to a dream deferred? Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun?” At the young age of 29, she won the New York’s Drama Critic’s Circle Award making her the first African American dramatist, the fifth woman, and the youngest playwright to do so. She was an activist for gay rights and wrote about feminism and homophobia, joining the Daughters of Bilitis and contributing two letters to their magazine, The Ladder, in 1957 under her initials “LHN.” She died in 1965.
Mark Christian Ashton (19 May 1960 – 11 February 1987) was a British gay rights activist and co-founder of the Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners (LGSM) support group. He was a member of the Communist Party of Great Britain and general secretary of the Young Communist League. Diagnosed with HIV/AIDS, Ashton was admitted to Guy’s Hospital on 30 January 1987 and died 12 days later. His death prompted a significant response from the gay community, particularly in publication and attendance at his funeral at Lambeth Cemetery. The LGSM’s activities were dramatized in Pride, a film released in September 2014 featuring Ben Schnetzer as Ashton.
A Bi-national Lesbian Conference is held at University of Toronto.
The U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services officially recognizes May 19th as the National Asian and Pacific-Islander HIV/AIDS Awareness Day.
U.S. District Judge Robin J. Cauthron rules that the state of Oklahoma must, under the full faith and credit clause of the U.S. Constitution, recognize the validity of adoptions approved by courts in other states, regardless of whether the adoptive parents are same-sex couples.
Glee premiers on television featuring LGBT characters and themes.
Rachel Isaacs is the first LGBT person to be ordained in the Jewish Conservative movement. She is now the rabbi of Congregation Beth Israel in Waterville, Maine, which is a Conservative synagogue as well as the Dorothy “Bibby” Levine Alfond Assistant Professor of Jewish Studies at Colby College. In 2014 Isaacs was named one of “America’s Most Inspiring Rabbis” by the Jewish Daily Forward. In 2016, she delivered the evening Hanukkah benediction at the White House
On this day Deborah Sampson (December 27, 1760- April 29, 1827) enlisted as a Continental soldier using the name of her late brother, Robert Shurtliff Sampson, who also served. She was in the Light Infantry Company of the 4thMassachusetts Regiment. She is one of a small number of women with a documented record of military combat experience in that war, serving for months. She was wounded in 1782, and was honorably discharged at West Point, New York in 1783. In January 1792, Sampson petitioned the Massachusetts State Legislature for pay which the army had withheld from her because she was a woman. The legislature granted her petition and Governor John Hancock signed it. The legislature awarded her 34 pounds plus interest back to her discharge in 1783.In 1802, Sampson began giving lectures about her wartime service. She began by extolling the virtues of traditional gender roles for women, but toward the end of her presentation she left the stage, returned dressed in her army uniform. Sampson died of yellow fever at the aged 66 on April 29, 1827.
Karl M. Baer (20 May 1885 – 26 June 1956) was a German-Israeli author, social worker, reformer, suffragette and Zionist. Assigned female at birth and named Martha Baer, Karl became one of the first people to undergo sex-change surgery, and one of the first, on this day in 1907, to gain full legal recognition of his gender identity and to have a new birth certificate issued reflecting his new gender, confirmed by the German courts. Baer also gained the right to marry and did so in October 1907.He began living as a man in 1905 and underwent multistage rudimentary sex-change surgery in October of 1906. He was released from the hospital that December with a medical certificate certifying his male identity. From 1908 to 1911 Baer was an insurance sales agent. On January 1, 1911 he took up a post as Consul for Jewish Life in Berlin. In December 1920, he became director of the Berlin section of the loge B’nai B’rith, a post he held until the Section’s forcible closure by the Gestapo on April 19, 1937. Baer was by then an important figure in Jewish society, and his influence on cultural life brought him into conflict with the Nazi administration. He was allowed to emigrate with his wife in June, 1938, to Palestine, later to become Israel, where he worked between 1942 and 1950 as an accountant. By 1950 he was going blind and had to give up his job. Nothing more is documented about him up to his death in 1956. He is buried in the Kiryat-Shaul cemetery in Tel Aviv under the name Karl Meir Baer.
Valentine Ackland (born Mary Kathleen Macrory Ackland; 20 May 1906 – 9 November 1969) was an English poet, and life partner of novelist Sylvia Townsend Warner (6 December 1893 – 1 May 1978). Ackland was responsible for involving Warner in the Communist Party, which both joined in 1934Their relationship was strained by Ackland’s infidelities and alcoholism but survived for nearly forty years. Both were closely involved with communism, remaining under continued scrutiny by the authorities. Ackland’s poetry did not become widely noticed until after her death, when her reflective, confessional style was more in vogue, and left-wing writers of the 1930s had become a popular topic. Ackland died at her home in Maiden Newton, Dorset, on 9 November 1969 from breast cancer that had metastasized to her lungs.
The German actress Therese Giehse (March 6,1898 – March 3,1975) had been lovers with Erika Mann (November 9, 1905 – August 27, 1969) in 1933. Born in Munich to German-Jewish parents, she first appeared on the stage in 1920. She became a major star on stage, in films, and in political cabaret. In the late 1920s through 1933, she was a leading actress at the famous Munich Kammerspiele. On 20 May 1936 she married the homosexual English writer John Hampson in order to obtain a British passport and thereby avoid capture by the Nazis. She returned to Germany after World War II and performed in theaters on both sides of the Iron Curtain, but mostly in her native Bavaria, until her death in 1975.
Singer v. Hara was a lawsuit filed by John F. Singer (October 21, 1944 – June 5, 2000) and Paul Barwick (born 1946) after being refused a request for a marriage license at the King County Administration Building in Seattle, Washington on September 20, 1971. The suit ended with a unanimous rejection by the Washington State Court of Appeals
The first Mr. International Leather contest is held. The winner is David Klos. International Mister Leather (IML) is an international, though largely American, conference and contest of leathermen held annually in May in Chicago, Illinois.
In the case of Romer v. Evans, the United States Supreme Court decides that Colorado’s Amendment Two, denying gays and lesbians protections against discrimination, is unconstitutional.
Sam Adams (born September 3, 1963) is the first openly gay mayor of a major U.S. city, Portland, OR. He wins with 58% of the vote. Richard Heyman (c. 1935 – September 16, 1994) was the first openly gay person to be elected mayor of any city, in Key West in 1983, stepped down after serving a two-year term, then ran again and won in 1987.
In Ukraine’s capital city, Kiev, rights activists planned that country’s first Pride march. Over 500 Neo-Nazi nationalists attacked and insured some of the marchers, in plain view of police officers merely watching. The march was cancelled.
Some 1,000 people joined a gay pride march in the Romanian capital of Bucharest demanding greater rights amid government moves they say will curtail their rights. Some 30 ambassadors expressed support for the march and for protecting the rights of the LGBT community and U.S. Ambassador Hans G. Klemm was among those taking part, despite the pouring rain. The gay pride march, now in its 13th year in Romania, comes after lawmakers approved an initiative that could amend Romania’s constitution to explicitly state that marriage is a union between a man and woman. The wording now is a union between “spouses.” Romania decriminalized homosexuality in 2001.
Gay circuit party impresario Jeffrey Sanker (1966-May 20, 2021), owner of the Los Angeles based White Party Entertainment company, died at Cedars-Sinai Hospital with family members in attendance after a long battle with liver cancer. The 65 year old West Hollywood resident had built his company and reputation on hosting large scale parties in exotic places, including Puerto Vallarta in Jalisco, Mexico, Las Vegas, Nevada and Miami, Florida although his trademark extravaganza, White Party Palm Springs, had evolved into the nation’s largest gay dance music festival, attracting more than 30,000 attendees from every corner of the globe. Sanker also staged and produced fundraising events on behalf of numerous charities and community organizations, including Gay & Lesbian Elder Housing (GLEH), The Trevor Project, and Desert AIDS Project.
Harold Robbins (May 21, 1916 – October 14, 1997) is born in New York. His original name was Francis Kane. Robbins is the author of some of the best-selling blockbusters in publishing history. Dreams Die First, a novel featuring a bisexual hero, was considered a landmark at the time.
Raymond William Stacy Burr (May 21, 1917 – September 12, 1993) was a Canadian actor known for his lengthy Hollywood film career and his title roles in television dramas Perry Mason and Ironside. Burr’s early acting career included roles on Broadway, radio, television, and film, usually as the villain. His portrayal of the suspected murderer in the Alfred Hitchcock thriller Rear Window (1954) is his best-known film role, although he is also remembered for his role in the 1956 film Godzilla, King of the Monsters! which he reprised in the 1985 film Godzilla 1985. He won Emmy Awards for acting in 1959 and 1961 for the role of Perry Mason, which he played for nine seasons (1957–1966) and reprised in a series of twenty-six Perry Mason TV movies (1985–1993). His second TV series, Ironside, earned him six Emmy and two Golden Globe nominations. Burr died of cancer in 1993, and his personal life came into question as many details of his biography appeared to be unverifiable. He was ranked number 44 of the 50 Greatest TV Stars of All Time by TV Guide magazine in 1996. In 1960, Burr met Robert Benevides (born 1930), an actor and Korean War veteran, on the set of Perry Mason. Benevides gave up acting in 1963, and became a production consultant for twenty-one of the Perry Mason TV movies. They owned and operated an orchid business and then a vineyard in California’s Dry Creek Valley. They were domestic partners until Burr’s death in 1993. Burr bequeathed his entire estate to Benevides, and Benevides renamed the Dry Creek property Raymond Burr Vineyards (reportedly against Burr’s wishes) and managed it as a commercial enterprise. In 2017, the property was sold. Although Burr had not revealed his homosexuality during his lifetime, it was reported in the press upon his death.
A coalition of homophile organizations across the country organize simultaneous demonstrations for Armed Forces Day. The Los Angeles group holds a 15-car motorcade which has been identified as the nation’s first gay pride parade, and activists picket in the other cities. The protest grew out of the first meeting of the organization that would become the North American Conference of Homophile Organizations. (The term homophile emphasized love rather than sex and was in common use in the 1950s and 1960s by LGBT organizations and publications; the groups of this period are now known collectively as the homophile movement.)
Ron Buckmire (born 1968) is born. Buckmire is a mathematician, a professor and a queer activist. He is the founder of the Queer Resources Directory, the largest and oldest website on gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender/AIDS issues on the Internet. He was born on the Caribbean island nation of Grenada.
The Committee for Homosexual Freedom pickets a Tower Records store in San Francisco for several weeks following the firing of Frank Denaro, believing him to be gay. Denaro was reinstated. The CHF ran similar pickets of Safeway stores, Macy’s and the Federal Building.
1969, South Africa
The Immorality Amendment Act of 1969 introduces Section 20A, the infamous “men at a party” clause, which criminalizes all sexual acts committed between men “at a party,” where “party” is defined as any occasion where more than two people are present. The amendment also raises the age of consent for male homosexual activity from 16 to 19, although “sodomy” and “unnatural acts” were already criminal.
Bella Abzug becomes one of the first major U.S. politicians to openly court the gay vote as she addresses a meeting of the Gay Activists Alliance while running for Congress in New York City. She was one of the first members of Congress to support gay rights, introducing the first federal gay rights bill, known as the Equality Act of 1974, with fellow Democratic New York City Representative, Ed Koch, a future mayor of New York City.
Candidate Jimmy Carter announces that if elected he will support and sign a federal civil rights bill outlawing discrimination against gays and lesbians. “I never knew of any word or action of Jesus Christ that discriminated against anyone,” Carter said. The Carter administration was in the midst of extensive meetings with the new National Gay Task Force (NGLTF), founded in 1973. The talks, initiated by Carter aide Midge Costanza (November 28, 1932 – March 23, 2010) and her Office of Public Liaison (OPL), sought to end antigay discrimination. An NGLTF negotiating team had been meeting with agencies like the FCC to persuade them that they could intervene against forms of discrimination that restricted gay and lesbian economic citizenship. They took the position that the Carter administration could open the door to equality by enforcing existing nondiscrimination policies that spoke to human rights principles already endorsed by the president. The group publicly suggested that an executive order establishing gay civil rights would be desirable, they accepted that the president had distanced himself from them as a constituency.
The largest Canadian Gay Rights of Ontario demonstration to date converges on Queen’s Park (The Ontario Legislature) with civil rights demands. The Coalition for Gay Rights in Ontario presents the brief The Homosexual Minority in Ontario to the Ontario Human Rights Commission. The Canadian Human Rights Act, which created the Canadian Human Rights Commission, was finally passed on June 2, 1977, by the Federal Parliament; but homosexuals were not included.
Dan White is found guilty of lesser charges (voluntary manslaughter) but acquitted on murder charges stemming from his assassination of San Francisco Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk (May 22, 1930 – November 27, 1978). Protests following the verdict turn into a riot with over 3,000 people. It became known as the White Night Riots. Dozens were hospitalized.
Cason Crane (born 1992) becomes the first openly gay man to summit Mt. Everest. He does it as part of his Rainbow Summit Project to raise awareness for the Trevor Project. In 2013, he became the first gay mountaineer to scale the Seven Summits.
San Francisco’s oldest surviving gay bar, The Stud, which opened in 1966, is forced to close, becoming another victim of the COVID-19 pandemic. In November, 2020, Oil Can Harry’s in Los Angeles permanently closed as well.
During the declining years of the imperial Roman Empire, a climate of intolerance increased. In this year, Emperor Constantine I (May 22, 337 AD) made Christianity the official religion, with its pronouncements against same-sex sexuality. Christian teachings influenced Roman law.
Alla Nazimova (May 22 , 1879 – July 13, 1945) was a Russian actress who immigrated to the United States in 1905. Nazimova openly conducted relationships with women, and her mansion on Hollywood’s Sunset Boulevard was believed to be the scene of outlandish parties. She is credited with having originated the phrase “sewing circle” as a discreet code for lesbian or bisexual actresses. From 1917 to 1922, Nazimova wielded considerable influence and power in Hollywood. Nazimova helped start the careers of both of Rudolph Valentino’s wives, actress Jean Acker (October 23, 1893 – August 16, 1978) and film costume and set designer Natacha Rambova (January 19, 1897 – June 5, 1966). Although she was involved in an affair with Acker, it is debated as to whether her connection with Rambova ever developed into a sexual affair. Nevertheless, there were rumors that Nazimova and Rambova were involved in a lesbian affair (they are discussed at length in Dark Lover, Emily Leider’s biography of Rudolph Valentino) but those rumors have never been definitely confirmed. She was very impressed by Rambova’s skills as an art director, and Rambova designed the innovative sets for Nazimova’s film productions of Camille and Salome. Of those Nazimova is confirmed to have been involved with romantically, the list includes actress Eva Le Gallienne (January 11, 1899 – June 3, 1991), director Dorothy Arzner (January 3, 1897 – October 1, 1979), writer Mercedes de Acosta (March 1, 1893 – May 9, 1968), and Oscar Wilde’s niece Dolly Wilde (July 11, 1895 – April 10, 1941). Magic realist artist and surrealist painter Bridget Bate Tichenor (November 22, 1917 – died on October 20, 1990) was also rumored to be one of Nazimova’s favored lovers in Hollywood during the World War II years of 1940 to 1942. The two had been introduced by the poet and art collector Edward James, and according to Tichenor, their intimate relationship angered Nazimova’s longtime companion actress Glesca Marshall (September 19, 1906 – August 21, 1987). However, the fact that Tichenor was pregnant most of 1940, giving birth to her son on Dec. 21, 1940, along with the 40-year age gap between the two women, casts some doubt on this rumor. Nazimova lived with Glesca Marshall from 1929 until her death in 1945. Glesca was also the longtime companion of Emily Woodruff, theatrical benefactor and main patron of the Springer Opera House in Columbus, Georgia. Marshall and Woodruff are buried together at Parkhill Cemetery, Columbus, Georgia.
The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Clive Michael Boutilier v. the Immigration and Naturalization Service (1967) is handed. It is a long-forgotten ruling that upheld the deportation of a legal resident from Canada who was classified by the U.S. government as having a “mental or physical defect.” According to the INS’s Annual Report for 1967, the United States excluded or deported more than 100,000 people on this basis from 1892 to 1967, but this represented a small fraction of the total number of foreign “defectives” rejected by the United States for immigration, residency, and citizenship. U.S. immigration law barred the entry of “lunatics, idiots, epileptics, imbeciles, feeble-minded people, constitutional psychopathic inferiors, and anyone likely to become a public charge.” Physical “defects” that were grounds for exclusion and deportation included “arthritis, asthma, blindness, bunions, deafness, deformities, flat feet, heart disease, hernia, spinal curvature, and varicose veins.” Influenced by eugenics, nativism, and racism, policymakers were determined to promote their (limited) vision of national strength. “Sexual perversion” was the “critical consideration” for Boutilier. Guy Carleton Boutilier was a Canadian politician. Born in 1933, he had moved from Nova Scotia to New York in 1955. By the time he applied for U.S. citizenship in 1963, his mother and most of his siblings also lived in the United States and he was working as a building maintenance man; ironically, he had earlier worked as an attendant for a man who was mentally ill. Boutilier’s immigration troubles began when he noted on his citizenship application that in 1959 he had been arrested, but not convicted, on a sodomy charge in New York. This prompted an interrogation by the INS in which Boutilier revealed that he had engaged in sex with men and women before entering the United States and that he had continued to engage in same-sex sex with his partner Eugene O’Rourke and with other men, after moving to New York. Based on this information, the INS rejected his citizenship application and ordered him deported as a “psychopathic personality.” Boutilier’s lawyers, affiliated with the American Committee for the Protection of the Foreign Born, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the Homosexual Law Reform Society, challenged his deportation with multiple arguments. They submitted medical affidavits indicating that Boutilier was not a psychopathic personality. They raised procedural objections because the Public Health Service had not examined Boutilier. They offered expert testimony that challenged the government’s claim that homosexuality was psychopathic. They questioned whether the intent of Congress was to exclude and deport all homosexual aliens. They argued that even if it was, the law was unconstitutionally vague because the average person would not know that the government regarded homosexuality as evidence of psychopathic personality. The American Psychiatric Association declassified homosexuality as a mental illness in 1973 but Congress did not eliminate the “psychopathic personality” provision in U.S. immigration law until 1990. Boutilier died in a home for people with disabilities in 2003, two months before the U.S. Supreme Court overturned state sodomy laws in Lawrence v. Texas.
Mary Dispenza (born May 22, 1940) is born in Chicago. Sister (nun), teacher, principal and archdiocesan administrator, Mary became one of the highest ranking Roman Catholics ever to lose her job with the Church over her sexual orientation. A survivor of abuse at the hands of a priest, Mary Dispenza is on a mission to protect children from harm and end abuse within the Catholic Church. Mary volunteers at Lambert House and for countless other Washington State LGBT community organizations. She is the author of SPLIT, her courageous memoir which reveals the shocking story of her rape by the parish priest at seven years of age.
Barbara May Cameron (May 22, 1954 – Feb. 12, 2002) was a photographer, poet, writer and a nationally recognized human rights activist in the fields of gay women, women’s rights and Native American rights. She was a member of the Hunkpapa Lakota part of the Fort Yates band of the Standing Rock Nation in Fort Yates, North Dakota. Cameron was in a 21-year relationship with Linda Boyd with whom she raised a son, Rhys Boyd-Farrell. Cameron co-founded the Gay American Indians (GAI) in 1975 with Randy Burns (born 1955), a Native Alaskan. GAI was the first gay Indian organization. The reason for founding GAI, according to Cameron, was that Native American gay people had different needs and struggles than the gay white community. Moreover, there was in general a lack of support for people of color within the Gay and Lesbian community. In 1978, she contributed to the anthology Our Right to Love: A Lesbian Resource Book.
Democrat Maryland governor Martin O’Malley signs two bills into law legalizing same-sex domestic partnerships. Full same-sex marriage becomes legal on Jan. 1, 2013.
Harvey Milk Day, organized by the Harvey Milk Foundation, is celebrated each year on May 22 in memory of Harvey Milk, a gay rights activist assassinated in 1978. The day was established by the California legislature and signed into law by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2009 after a series of petitions led by gay rights activist Daren I. Ball and in the wake of the award-winning feature film Milk retracing Milk’s life. It is recognized by California’s government as a day of special significance for public schools.
France creates a new law system where rape is the only punishable sex crime. Sodomy, a former capital offense, is not included, leading France to be the first country to decriminalize sex between men.
Annemarie Minna Schwarzenbach (23 May 1908 – 15 November 1942) is born. She was a Swiss writer, journalist, photographer and traveler. From an early age she began to dress and act like a boy, a behavior not discouraged by her parents, and which she retained all her life. In fact, in later life she was often mistaken for a young man. In 1930 she made contact with German actress Erika Mann (November 9, 1905 – August 27, 1969). She was fascinated by Erika’s charm and self-confidence. A relationship developed which, much to Annemarie’s disappointment, did not last long because Erika had her eye on another woman: the actress Therese Giehse (6 March 1898 – 3 March 1975). Erika and Annemarie always remained friends. In 1935 she returned to Persia where she married the French diplomat Achille-Claude Clarac (31 August 1903 – 11 January 1999), a gay man. They had known each other for only a few weeks It was a marriage of convenience for both of them since she obtained a French diplomatic passport which enabled her to travel without restrictions. They lived together for a while in Teheran but when they fled to an isolated area in the countryside to escape the summer heat, their lonely existence had an adverse effect on Annemarie. She turned to morphine, which she had been using for years for various ailments, but to which she now became addicted. She is reported to have had affairs with the daughter of the Turkish Ambassador in Teheran and a female archaeologist in Turkmenistan.
Margaret Wise Brown (May 23, 1910 – November 13, 1952) was an American writer of children’s books, including Goodnight Moon and The Runaway Bunny, both illustrated by Clement Hurd. She has been called “the laureate of the nursery” for her achievements. In the summer of 1940, Brown began a long-term relationship with Blanche Oelrichs (nom de plume Michael Strange) (October 1, 1890 – November 5, 1950), poet/playwright, actress, and the former wife of John Barrymore. The relationship, which began as a mentoring one, eventually became romantic and included co-habiting at 10 Gracie Square in Manhattan beginning in 1943. As a studio, they used Cobble Court, a wooden house later moved to Charles Street. Oelrichs, who was almost 20 years Brown’s senior, died in 1950. Brown went by various nicknames in different circles of friends. To her Dana School and Hollins friends she was “Tim,” as her hair was the color of timothy hay. To Bank Street friends she was “Brownie.” To William Gaston she was “Goldie,” in keeping with the use of Golden MacDonald as the author of The Little Island. In 1952, Brown met James Stillman ‘Pebble’ Rockefeller Jr. at a party and they became engaged. Later that year, while on a book tour in Nice, France, she died at 42 of an embolism, shortly after surgery for an ovarian cyst. Kicking up her leg to show her nurses how well she was feeling caused a blood clot that had formed in her leg to dislodge and travel to her heart. By the time of Brown’s death, she had authored well over one hundred books. Her ashes were scattered at her island home, “The Only House,” in Vinalhaven, Maine.
Harvard establishes a committee to investigate homosexual activity on campus. The tribunal becomes known as the Secret Court of 1920. Records of the tribunal are discovered in 2002. Many of those interrogated were never charged and have not been identified. In 2002, a researcher from The Crimson, the school’s undergraduate daily newspaper, came across a box of files labeled “Secret Court” in the University Archives. After a protracted campaign on the part of the paper’s staff, the university released five hundred documents relating to the Court’s work. An article by Amit R. Paley in The Crimson’s weekly magazine Fifteen Minutes reported the 1920 events on November 21, 2002.
When the Mattachine Society reconvenes to approve a constitution, it refuses to seat delegates associated with the Communist Party, including Chuck Rowland (Aug. 24, 1917-Dec. 27, 1990), one of the original 1950 Mattachine founders. For the remainder of the decade, the society pursues a low profile, non-confrontational approach to winning societal acceptance of lesbians and gay men. Rowland founded Celebration Theatre in Los Angeles. The Mattachine Society, founded in 1950, was one of the earliest LGBT (gay rights) organizations in the United States, probably second only to the short-lived Society for Human Rights in Chicago (1923). Communist and labor activist Harry Hay(April 7, 1912 – October 24, 2002) formed the group with a collection of male friends including Chuck Rowland in Los Angeles to protect and improve the rights of gay men. Branches formed in other cities and by 1961 the Society had splintered into regional groups. In 2002, Mattachine Midwest was inducted into the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame. A new Mattachine Society of Washington, D.C. was formed in 2011 and is dedicated to original archival research of LGBT political history.
In this day’s issue of the American porno magazine Screw, a column appears by Jack Nichols and Lige Clarke using the term homophobia to refer to straight men’s fear that they might be gay. Screw is usually a straight man’s magazine. John Richard “Jack” Nichols Jr. (March 16, 1938 – May 2, 2005) was a gay rights activist who co-founded the Washington, D.C. branch of the Mattachine Society in 1961 with Franklin Kameny (May 21, 1925 – October 11, 2011). Nichols and his partner Lige Clarke (February 22, 1942-February 10, 1975) began writing the column “The Homosexual Citizen” for Screw magazine in 1968. It was the first LGBT-interest column in a non-LGBT publication. As a result of this column, Nichols and Clarke became known as “The most famous gay couple in America.”
Prescott Townsend (June 24, 1894 – May 23, 1973) was an American cultural leader and gay rights activist from the 1930s through the early 1970s. In the 1950s. He held meetings at his home/bookstore which he described as “the first social discussion of homosexuality in Boston”. He founded a Boston chapter of the Mattachine Society though after the group grew, he was forced out. Townsend had been suffering from failing health brought on by Parkinson’s Disease.
The Boy Scouts of America’s national council votes to remove the ban against gay scouts, causing conflict with some faith-based supporters. The policy for adult leaders remained in place until July 27, 2015.
Pansexual and Panromantic Awareness and Visibility Day
The Virginia Colony passes the first anti-sodomy law of the American colonial period.
Jimmie Shields (May 24, 1905 – March 5, 1974) was the longtime companion of William Haines (January 2, 1900 – December 26, 1973), the first openly gay Hollywood star. In 1926, on a trip to New York while on the cusp of his superstardom, Haines had a whirlwind fling with the 21-year-old former sailor Jimmy Shields. When Haines returned to L.A., he brought Shields with him, moved his new boyfriend into his house and got him work as an extra at MGM. They were one of the few couples to make it into Marion Davies and William Randolph Hearst’s inner circle, meriting invitations to San Simeon nearly weekly. In 1930, Jimmie had become part owner of an antiques shop on La Brea Avenue. By that point he had already turned his own home into a showroom for his exquisite taste, and his guests were always asking where they could buy things like the ones he had, so he gave them a place to do it. Occasionally his antiques and art were borrowed for use in movies—paintings personally owned by William Haines lined the walls of Tara in Gone With the Wind. Above all else, Jimmie understood how people liked to live, and he was able to create spaces in which they could do it. William and Jimmy enjoyed a high position in Hollywood for decades. Some members of the Hollywood community shunned them for living openly but their true friends stayed loyal. They stayed together until William’s death in 1973. Jimmy Shields died by suicide on March 5, 1974. He left behind a note that said, “It’s no good without Billy.”
The first gay feature film Ander Als die Andern/Different from the Others is screened for members of the press at the Apollo Theater in Berlin. The film is about a romantic relationship between two men and intended to educate viewers of the hardships faced by homosexuals under Germany’s recently enacted anti-sodomy laws. It starred Conrad Veidtand Reinhold Schunzel. It was co-written by Richard Oswald and Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld (14 May 1868 – 14 May 1935) who also had a small part in the film and partially funded the production through his Institute for Sexual Science, with the aim of presenting the story as a polemic against the then-current laws under Germany’s Paragraph 175, which made homosexuality a criminal offense. The film was banned across Germany in 1920.
A Mattachine Society circular estimates total membership in the society at over 2,000. There are almost 100 different discussion groups meeting in California from San Diego to the Bay Area.
From the USSR comes a rare public acknowledgment of the country’s repressive policies against gay men and lesbians. American news services report that noted film director Sergei Paradzhanov (January 9, 1924 – July 20, 1990) has been given six years’ hard labor for crimes including “partial homosexuality” and “incitement to suicide.” In 1948 he was convicted of homosexual acts which were illegal in the Soviet Union with an MGB officer named Nikolai Mikava in Tbilisi. He was sentenced to five years in prison but was released under an amnesty after three months. He is one of all estimated 1,000 persons arrested each year on charges related to homosexuality.
Tales of the City column by Armistead Maupin (born May 13, 1944) first appears in the San Francisco Chronicle. The stories become a play and a book. It is among the first fiction works to address a disease that initially affected gay men (it would later be identified as AIDS) and features many minority characters and homosexual relationships.
Section 28 is enacted. It states that local authorities “shall not intentionally promote homosexuality or publish material with the intention of promoting homosexuality,” or teach of the acceptance “of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship.” It was repealed on June 21, 2000 in Scotland by the Ethical Standards in Public Life etc. (Scotland) Act 2000, one of the first pieces of legislation enacted by the new Scottish Parliament, and on November 18, 2003 in the rest of the United Kingdom by section 122 of the Local Government Act 2003.
Lesbian Roberta Achtenberg (born July 20, 1950) becomes Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development(HUD). She is the first openly lesbian or gay public official in the United States whose appointment to a federal position was confirmed by the United States Senate.
Author Oscar Wilde (October 16, 1854 – November 30, 1900) is convicted of “gross indecency” and sentenced to two years’ hard labor in prison. Gross indecency is a crime under the Criminal Law Amendment Act of 1885, meaning homosexual acts not amounting to buggery. He was an Irish playwright, novelist, essayist, and poet. After writing in different forms throughout the 1880s, he became one of London’s most popular playwrights in the early 1890s. He is remembered for his epigrams, his novel The Picture of Dorian Gray, and his plays, as well as the circumstances of his imprisonment and early death. The international publicity given his trial brings awareness of the existence of homosexuality to a new high.
Sir Ian McKellen (born 25 May 1939) is 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. He has been openly gay since 1988 and continues to be a champion for LGBT social movements worldwide. McKellen is a co-founder of Stonewall, an LGBT rights lobby group in the United Kingdom, named after the New York Stonewall riots. He was knighted in the 1991 New Year Honors for services to the performing arts, and made a Companion of Honor for services to drama and to equality in the 2008 New Year Honors.
In a unanimous vote, the San Francisco school board decides to make information on lesbian and gay sexuality a part of the city schools’ sex education programs.
The Everard Baths was a Turkish bath founded by financier James Everard in 1888 in a former church building at 28 West 28th Street. It operated from 1888 to 1986. Everard’s originally intended it to be for general health and fitness. But 30 years later that would change. On January 5, 1919, the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice encouraged a police raid in which the manager and nine customers were arrested for lewd behavior. It was raided again in 1920 with 15 arrests. On May 25, 1977, nine patrons (ages 17 to 40) were killed in a fire: seven from smoke inhalation, one from respiratory burns, and one who had jumped from an upper floor. Contributing factors were the deteriorating conditions and the lack of sprinklers. Firefighters said they were thwarted in rescue efforts by paneling covering the windows. Between 80 and 100 patrons left the building; the indefinite number was because the club did not have registration at the time. Most of the victims were identified by friends rather than family. Despite total destruction of the top two floors, the two floors were rebuilt, and the baths reopened. However, it was closed in April 1986 by New York City mayor Ed Koch during the city’s campaign to close such venues during the AIDS epidemic.
The first “Gay Day” is held at Disneyland in Southern California. A group entity calling itself The Tavern Guild rented Disneyland for a private party. More than 15,000 people attended, making it the largest private party ever held at Disneyland. It represented one of the first times gay people congregated in these numbers outside a gay pride parade. The current “Gay Day” at Disney World in Orlando began in 1991 and is held on the first Sunday in June. The first documented event, in 1991, had 3,000 gays and lesbians from central Florida going to area theme parks on one day wearing red shirts to make their presence more visible.
Transgender Kim Coco Iwamoto (born May 26, 1968) runs in Hawaii’s August 11, 2018, primary election as a Democratic candidate for Lieutenant Governor. Iwamoto has been recognized as an activist, editorialist, policymaker, advocate, and philanthropist, with recent positions including her role as a commissioner on the Hawaii Civil Rights Commission and as a member of the Hawaii Board of Education. Iwamoto was also recognized as a Champion of Change by President Barack Obama. She was elected as a member of the Hawaii Board of Education, making her at that time the highest ranking openly transgender elected official in the United States, as well as the first openly transgender official to win statewide office.
Officers of the National Gay (later: and Lesbian) Task Force Bruce Voeller (1934-Feb. 13, 1994) and Jean O’Leary (March 4, 1948 – June 4, 2005) and other leaders including Pokey Anderson, Charles Brydon, Charlotte Bunch (born October 13, 1944), Frank Kameny (May 21, 1925 – October 11, 2011), Cookie Lutkefedder, Mary Mendola, Elaine Noble (born January 22, 1944), Rev. Troy Perry (July 27, 1940), Betty Powell, George Raya (born April 23, 1949), Myra Riddell (1927 -Jan. 11, 2008), and Charlotte Spitzer meet with President Carter aide Midge Costanza (November 28, 1932 – March 23, 2010). The meeting marks the first official discussion of gay and lesbian rights in the White House.
Start of the first national HIV education campaign in the U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop oversees the mailing of a booklet titled Understanding AIDS to all American households.
The California Supreme Court upholds Prop 8 but legally recognizes 18,000 same-sex marriages that took place before its enactment.
The government of Kenya reaffirms imprisonment of 5 to 14 years of LGBT people. Nearly every country in Africa is vehemently anti-gay, some with calls for penalty of death. The exception is South Africa which has full inclusion of LGBT people.
Daniel Atwood becomes the first openly gay Orthodox person to be ordained as a Rabbi. He was ordained by the respected Israeli Rabbi Daniel Landes in Jerusalem.
On this day White House principal deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre (born August 13, 1974) became the first openly gay woman and only the second Black woman to ever lead a White House press briefing. Karine Jean-Pierre is an American political campaign organizer, activist, political commentator, and author. Since January 2021, she has been White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary in the Biden Administration. Jean-Pierre served as the chief of staff for Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris on the 2020 United States presidential campaign and was the first Black woman to ever hold that position. Previously, Jean-Pierre was the senior advisor and national spokeswoman for MoveOn.org and a political analyst for NBC News and MSNBC. Jean-Pierre is a former lecturer in international and public affairs at Columbia University. As of 2020, Jean-Pierre lives in the Washington, D.C. area with her partner, CNN correspondent Suzanne Malveaux, and their daughter.
Vincent Leonard Price Jr. (May 27, 1911 – October 25, 1993) was an American actor best known for his performances in horror films, although his career spanned other genres. He appeared on stage, television, and radio, and in more than 100 films. Price has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, one for motion pictures and one for television. Price’s first film role was as leading man in the 1938 comedy Service de Luxe. He became well known as a character actor, appearing in films such as The Song of Bernadette (1943), Laura (1944), The Keys of the Kingdom (1944), Leave Her to Heaven (1945), Dragonwyck (1946), and The Ten Commandments (1956). He established himself as a recognizable horror-movie star after his leading role in House of Wax (1953). He subsequently starred in many other horror films. He was also known for his collaborations with Roger Corman on Edgar Allan Poe adaptations such as House of Usher(1960), The Pit and the Pendulum (1961), and The Masque of the Red Death (1964). Price occasionally appeared on television series, such as in Batman as Egghead.
In his later years, Price voiced the villainous Professor Ratigan in Disney’s classic animated film The Great Mouse Detective (1986), then appeared in the drama The Whales of August (1987), which earned him an Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Male nomination, and in Tim Burton’s Edward Scissorhands (1990), his last theatrical release. For his contributions to cinema, especially to genre films, he has received lifetime achievement or special tribute awards from Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films, Fantasporto, Bram Stoker Awards, and Los Angeles Film Critics Association. Victoria Price’s biography Vincent Price: A Daughter’s Biography (1999) details Price’s early antisemitism and initial admiration for Adolf Hitler. However, Price became a liberal after becoming friends with New York intellectuals such as Dorothy Parker and Lillian Hellman in the 1930s, so much so that he was “greylisted” under McCarthyism in the 1950s for having been a prewar “premature anti-Nazi”, and after being unable to find work for a year, agreed to requests by the FBI that he sign a “secret oath” to save his career.. His daughter also confirmed that he was bisexual as were at least one of his wives.
Major Michael Augustus Lane-Fox Pitt-Rivers (27 May 1917 – December 1999) was a West Country landowner who gained notoriety in Britain in the 1950s when he was put on trial for buggery. This trial was instrumental in bringing public attention-and opposition-to the laws against homosexual acts as they then stood.
Berlin doctor Magnus Hirschfeld (14 May 1868 – 14 May 1935) co-founds the Institut fir Sexualwissenschaft (Institute for Sex Research), a pioneering private research institute and counseling office. Its library of thousands of books was destroyed by the Nazis in May of 1933.
Lesbian author Marijane Meaker (born May 27, 1927 – 1995) is born. In 1952 she wrote Spring Fire, the first lesbian paperback novel which was the beginning of the lesbian pulp fiction genre. Her publisher made her change its ending from happy to tragic. The book sold 1.5 million copies. Marijane used the pseudonym Vin Packer among others. Using her own observations of lesbians, she wrote a series of nonfiction books about lesbians under the pen name Ann Aldrich from 1955 to 1972. She died in 1995. In 1972 she switched genres and pen names once more to begin writing for young adults, and became quite successful as M.E. Kerr, producing over 20 novels and winning multiple awards including the American Library Association’s lifetime award for young-adult literature, the ALA Margaret Edwards Award. She was described by The New York Times Book Review as “one of the grand masters of young adult fiction.” As Mary James, she wrote four books for younger children. Meaker was involved romantically with author Patricia Highsmith for two years. She wrote about this relationship in the 2003 nonfiction memoir Highsmith: A Romance of the 1950s and discussed it and her own pulp fiction novels in interviews around the time of the book’s release. Meaker explained her reasons behind writing about their relationship: “I knew Pat when she was young and not yet so jaded and bigoted. The internet is filled with stories of her meanness, and prejudice, and also of her introversion, of her being a loner. I re-met that Pat many years after we broke up.” Meaker died in 1995.
Approximately 200,000 bridge walkers attend the opening day of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. The bridge was considered a symbol of the gay community.
Lambda Book Report, the first periodical devoted exclusively to lesbian and gay literature, makes its debut.
President Boris Yeltsin publishes a decree decriminalizing consensual adult male sodomy.
Canadian Olympic pole vaulter and world champion Shawnacy “Shawn” Campbell Barber (born 27 May 1994) is born. He came out publicly on Face Book on April 24, 2017, when he wrote: “Gay and proud! Thank you to my parents for being such a great support. I continue to grow as a person and have a great support group. My parents are my greatest support and have helped me through a lot recently. To my friends, you are always my friends and I love you too!”
First attempt at Moscow pride. The march accompanying a gay rights forum was banned. Some activists try to march despite the ban. Neo-Nazi groups and Orthodox protesters threaten the gay activists and beat the marchers. About 50 marchers and 20 protesters are arrested. In 2016, arrests took place during Moscow’s 10th Gay Pride Parade, an event that officials have banned every year of its existence. In previous years, police quickly dispersed the demonstrations, and again protesters were quickly arrested and hauled into waiting vans.
Connie Kurtz (1936-May 27, 2018) died in West Palm Beach, Florida. Ruthie Berman (born 1934) and Connie Kurtz are American LGBT rights activists. As a couple, they successfully sued the New York City Board of Education for domestic partner benefits, winning such benefits for all New York City employees. Both women were born in Brooklyn, Berman in 1934 and Kurtz in 1936. They met in the late 1950s and became friends, both married to men and had children at the time. Kurtz moved to Israel with her family in 1970. When she returned to visit America in 1974, she and Ruthie fell in love. They divorced their husbands and became a couple. “Forty-two years we have been ‘significant others,’ we have been ‘life partners,’ we have been any name at the time fitting couples of the same sex,” Connie said. “We now are ‘spouses.’ ” They married on July 26, 2011 in New York City – two days after the state legalized same-sex marriage. Known in the gay world as “Ruthie and Connie,” they received the SAGE Pioneer Award in 2016, presented by Services & Advocacy For GLBT Elders, the country’s largest and oldest organization for LGBT seniors. The 2017 Ruthie and Connie LGBT Elder Americans Act was endorsed by SAGE USA, National Center for Transgender Equality, and National LGBTQ Task Force. In 2002 a documentary titled Ruthie and Connie: Every Room in the House, directed by Deborah Dickson, was made about their lives. The film premiered at the Berlin Film Festival in February 2002, and won six best documentary awards within a year.
Joseph Israel Lobdell (December 2, 1890 – May 28, 1912) was a 19th-century transgender person who was assigned female at birth but lived as a man for sixty years. Author William Klaber wrote an historical novel The Rebellion of Miss Lucy Ann Lobdell which was based on Lobdell’s life. An 1883 account by P. M. Wise, which cast Lobdell as a “lesbian,” was the first use of that word in an American publication. Lobdell was born into to a working-class family Albany County, New York. Lobdell married George Washington Slater who was reportedly mentally abusive and abandoned Lobdell shortly after the birth of their daughter Helen. Lobdell was known for marksmanship and nicknamed “The Female Hunter of Delaware County, writing a memoir about hunting adventures, the disastrous marriage and feelings about God, ending with a plea for equal employment for women. Lobdell became engaged to a young woman but a rival for her affection learned Lobdell was assigned female at birth and threatened to tar and feather him. Lobdell’s fiancé warned him and he escaped. Lobdell married Marie Louise Perry in 1861 in Wayne County, Pennsylvania. They spent years roaming the woods together with their pet bear, living in nomadic poverty. They were arrested for vagrancy and sent to Stroudsburg jail where “discovery that the supposed man was a woman was made.” Lobdell was later arrested again for wearing male clothes. In 1879, Lobdell was taken to the Willard Insane Asylum in Ovid, New York where he became a patient of Dr. P.M. Wise, who published a brief article, A Case of Sexual Perversion. The doctor noted Lobdell said “she considered herself a man in all that the name implies.” Lobdell was presumed to have died on May 28, 1912, and is buried in the Binghamton State Hospital Cemetery.
First U.S. public gathering of lesbians, at San Francisco’s Daughters of Bilitis national convention. Daughters of Bilitis formed in San Francisco in 1955 by Del Martin (May 5, 1921 – August 27, 2008) and Phyllis Lyon (November 10, 1924 – April 9, 2020) as a social alternative to lesbian bars which were subject to raids and police harassment. The DOB endured for 14 years as an educational resource for lesbians, gay men, researchers and mental health professionals. Bilitis is the name given to a fictional lesbian contemporary of Sappho by the French poet Pierre Louys in his 1894 work The Songs of Bilitis in which Bilitis lives on the Isle of Lesbos alongside Sappho.
Barney Frank (D. Mass) (born March 31, 1940) is the first U.S. Congressperson to come out. In July 2012, he married his long-time partner James Ready, becoming the first sitting member of Congress to marry someone of the same sex.
The Leather Pride flag, designed by Tony DeBlase (1942-July 21, 2000), debuts at the International Mister Leather event in Chicago.
1990, Tallinn, Estonia
The Estonian Academy of Sciences History Institute sponsors the first international conference on homosexuality and other sexual minorities to be held in the USSR. Gay British historian Jeffrey Weeks (born 1945) and Dutch sociologist Gert Hekma are among the attendees.
Ma Vie En Rose (My Life in Pink) is released, telling the story of a transgender child. The film was directed by Alain Berliner and depicts Ludovic’s family struggling to accept this transgressive gender expression. The film was selected as the Belgian entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 70th Academy Awards, but was not accepted as a nominee. In the United States the film received an R rating by the Motion Picture Association of America, an unusual decision because the film has minimal sexual content, minimal violence, and mild language. Those opposed to the rating believe that the rating was the result of transphobia. The film won the Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film as well as the Crystal Globe award at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival.
Yahoo! takes over GeoCities for $357 billion from GeoCities developer and openly gay man David Bohnett (born April 2, 1956). Bohnett launched NetZero, PlanetOut and other internet companies. In addition, he has donated computers and accompanying funds for college and university LGBT centers. The first campus David Bohnett Cyber Center was launched at UCLA in 2004.
Rev. Gene Robinson (born May 29, 1947) is a former bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire. Robinson was elected bishop coadjutor in 2003 and succeeded as bishop diocesan in March 2004. Before becoming bishop, he served as Canon to the Ordinary for the Diocese of New Hampshire. Robinson is widely known for being the first priest in an openly gay relationship to be consecrated a bishop in a major Christian denomination believing in the historic episcopate, a matter of significant controversy. After his election, many theologically conservative Episcopalians in the United States abandoned the Episcopal Church, formed the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) and aligned themselves with bishops outside the Episcopal Church in the United States, a process called the Anglican realignment. Rev. Robinson’s story has appeared in print and film. After resigning as bishop of New Hampshire in 2013, Robinson moved to Washington, D.C. to join the Center for American Progress as a senior fellow and serve as bishop-in-residence at St. Thomas’ Parish. In 2014, Robinson and his husband Mark Andrew divorced. In 2017, Robinson was named Vice-President and Senior Pastor of the Chautauqua Institution, a center for arts, education, recreation and religion in upstate New York. He was married to Isabella “Boo” Martin and has children and grandchildren. They divorced in 1986.
Melvin Dixon (May 29, 1950 – October 26, 1992) was an American Professor of Literature, and an author, poet and translator. He was a Professor of Literature at Queens College from 1980 to 1992. He was the author of several books. In 1989, Trouble the Water won the Charles H. and N. Mildred Nilon Excellence in Minority Fiction Award. Vanishing Rooms won a Ferro-Grumley Award for LGBT Literature in 1992. Dixon died of complications from AIDS, which he had been battling since 1989, in his hometown, one year after his partner Richard Horovitz did.
Rupert James Hector Everett (/born 29 May 1959) is an English actor, director and producer. Everett first came to public attention in 1981 when he was cast in Julian Mitchell’s play and subsequent film Another Country (1984) as a gay pupil at an English public school in the 1930s; the role earned him his first BAFTA Award nomination. He received a second BAFTA nomination and his first Golden Globe Award nomination for his role in My Best Friend’s Wedding(1997), followed by a second Golden Globe nomination for An Ideal Husband (1999). As of 2020, Everett lives with his partner Henrique, a Brazilian accountant.
Melissa Etheridge (born May 29, 1961) is born on this day. In 1993 she came out as a lesbian when she released what would become her mainstream breakthrough recording Yes I Am. Etheridge came out publicly at the Triangle Ball, a gay celebration of President Bill Clinton’s first inauguration. In October 2004, Etheridge was diagnosed with breast cancer. At the 2005 Grammy Awards (the same ceremony for which Breathe was nominated), she made a return to the stage and, although bald from chemotherapy, performed a tribute to Janis Joplin with the song Piece of My Heart.Etheridge has had relationships with filmmaker Julie Cypher with whom she has two children, actress Tammy Lynn Michaels with whom she has two children, and actress Linda Wallem who she married on May 31, 2014 in San Ysidro Ranch in Montecito, California, two days after they both turned 53.
Organized by the East Coast Homophile Organizations, seven men and three women picket the White House. It was the first of a series of pickets held throughout the summer, which also targeted the Civil Service Commission, the State Department and The Pentagon. Although the June 28, 1969, Stonewall riots are generally considered the starting point of the modern gay liberation movement, a number of demonstrations and actions took place before that date. A favorite technique of early activists was the picket line, especially for those actions organized by such Eastern groups as the Mattachine Society of New York, the Mattachine Society of Washington, Philadelphia’s Janus Society and the New York chapter of Daughters of Bilitis. These groups acted under the collective name East Coast Homophile Organizations or ECHO.
U.S. Congressman Barney Frank (born March 31, 1940) (D., Massachusetts), publicly came out as gay after coming out to family, friends and close associates a few years prior, becoming the first sitting member of Congress to do so voluntarily.
Robert Hampton “Robbie” Rogers III (born May 12, 1987) is an American professional soccer player. On this day, he signed with the LA Galaxy, making him the first openly gay man to compete in a top North American professional sports league when he played his first match for the Galaxy. Rogers is the second male soccer player to come out worldwide. Britain’s soccer star Justin Fashanu (9 February 1961 – 2 May 1998) came out in 1990.
The English under King Henry VI urged the Catholic church to condemn Joan of Arc for the “crime” of wearing “men’s” clothing: “It is sufficiently notorious and well- known that for some time past, a woman calling herself Jeanne the Pucelle (the maid) leaving off the dress and clothing of the feminine sex, a thing contrary to divine law and abominable before God, and forbidden by all laws, wore clothing and armor such is worn by men.” Joan asserted her style of dressing was her religious duty and higher than Church authority. She asserted: “For nothing in the world will I swear not to arm myself and put on a man’s dress.” Catholic Inquisitors condemn her to death for wearing men’s clothing and armor and burned at the stake as a heretic on May 30, 1431. The Hundred Years’ War waged on until 1453, with the French finally beating back the English invaders. Joan of Arc was nineteen years of age. She is considered a heroine of France for her role during the Lancastrian phase of the Hundred Years’ War and was canonized as a Roman Catholic saint. Over the years it has been suggested that her “crimes” included cross-dressing and inappropriate relationships with women. Around the age of 12 or 13, she began hearing voices and experiencing visions which she interpreted as signs from God. During her trial, she testified that angels and saints first told her merely to attend church and live piously; later, they began instructing her to deliver France from the invading English and establish Charles VII, the uncrowned heir to the French throne, as the country’s rightful king. Joan’s trial was described as so “unfair” that the trial transcripts were later used as evidence for canonizing her in the 20th century.
English poet and playwright Christopher Marlowe, (February 26, 1564 – May 30, 1593) is killed in a fight. Like William Shakespeare, Marlowe is occasionally claimed to have been gay. Others argue that the question of whether an Elizabethan was gay or homosexual in a modern sense is anachronistic. For the Elizabethans, what is often today termed homosexual or bisexual was more likely to be recognized as a sexual act rather than an exclusive sexual orientation and identity.
Christine Jorgensen (May 30, 1926 – May 3, 1989) is born George William Jorgensen, Jr., the first American to undergo sexual reassignment surgery, in 1952, and becomes a champion for the rights and the dignity of transgender people. Shortly after graduating from high school in 1945, she was drafted into the U.S. Army for World War II. After her service she attended several schools, worked, and around this time heard about sex reassignment surgery. She traveled to Europe and in Copenhagen, Denmark, obtained special permission to undergo a series of operations starting in 1951. She returned to the United States in the early 1950s. Her transition was the subject of a New York Daily News front-page story. She became an instant celebrity, using the platform to advocate for transgender people and became known for her directness and polished wit. She also worked as an actress and nightclub entertainer and recorded several songs. Jorgensen said in 1989, the year of her death, that she had given the sexual revolution a “good swift kick in the pants.” She died of bladder and lung cancer four weeks short of her 63rd birthday. Her ashes were scattered off Dana Point, California.
Betrand Delanoe (born 30 May 1950) is a retired French politician who was mayor of Paris from March 25, 2001 to April 5, 2014. He is a member of the Socialist Party. Delanoe was one of the first major French politicians to announce that he was gay, during a 1998 television interview before being elected mayor.
On Memorial Day of 1968, men and women gathered at the Griffith Park Merry-Go-Round for a “gay-in” to hear Mike Hannon, a policeman turned lawyer and Civil Rights activist, speak to the challenges of being gay in a homophobic society. Hannon, who was straight, expressed support for civil rights despite the given the leadership of the police department at the time. He showed that there was broad support to protect the rights of those who demonstrate in the streets. Hannon died at the age of 77 in 2014.
In an essay in Newsweek, applauding the efforts of Anita Bryant in Florida, columnist George Will condemns gay rights ordinances as “part of the moral disarmament of society,” and predicts that if the current trend continues, homosexual marriages will soon flourish across the United States and gay people will be allowed to adopt children.
After winning a landmark lawsuit suit against his high school, Aaron Fricke (born January 25, 1962) takes Paul Guilbert to his senior prom. The suit brought by Aaron Fricke against his school is considered a major milestone in the history of gay rights. Each year cases of young same-sex couples being discriminated against by their schools happen around the world, and when these cases are brought to court, the suit first brought by Aaron Fricke and Paul Guilbert is invariably cited by the plaintiff’s counsel. Aaron later wrote of his experience in a book, Reflections of a Rock Lobster: A Story about Growing Up Gay. He later collaborated with his father, Walter Fricke, on a book about their relationship and of the elder Fricke’s coming to terms with his son’s homosexuality. That book, Sudden Strangers: The Story of a Gay Son and His Father, was published shortly after Walter Fricke’s death from cancer in 1989.
Alaska state-wide human rights conference on sexual orientation is held, sponsored by the Alaska Women’s Resource Center. It lasts for three days and features a keynote by Miriam Ben-Shalom, (born May 3, 1948). Ben Shalom is an American educator, activist and former staff sergeant in the United States Army. After being discharged from the military for homosexuality in 1976, she successfully challenged her discharge in court and returned to military service in 1987, the first openly gay or lesbian person to be reinstated after being discharged under the military’s policy excluding homosexuals from military service. She served until 1990 when the Army succeeded in terminating her service after prolonged judicial proceedings.
The U.S. Supreme Court strikes down a New York state law that prohibits loitering in a public place for the purposes of soliciting for or engaging in “gay sex.
American fashion designer Perry Ellis (March 3, 1940 – May 30, 1986) dies of AIDS related diseases at the age of forty-six. In 1981, Ellis began a relationship with attorney Laughlin Barker (1948-Jan. 2, 1986). Later that year, Ellis appointed Barker as president of the licensing division of Perry Ellis International. They remained together until Barker’s death in January of 1986. Barker died of AIDS related diseases as the age of 37. Ellis’ influence on the fashion industry has been called “a huge turning point” because he introduced new patterns and proportions to a market which was dominated by more traditional men’s clothing.
Poet Walt Whitman (May 31, 1819 – March 26, 1892), author of Leaves of Grass, is born. He wrote of love between men, nearly thirty years before the word “homosexual” was coined. A humanist, he was a part of the transition between transcendentalism and realism, incorporating both views in his works. Whitman is among the most influential poets in the American canon, often called the father of free verse. His work was very controversial in its time, particularly his poetry collection Leaves of Grass, which was described as obscene for its overt sexuality.
Pablo Alboran (born 31 May 1989) is a Spanish singer-songwriter who opened up about his sexuality for the first time in June 2020, telling fans that he is gay. One of Spain’s most successful pop acts, Alboran is known to audiences for his soaring ballads.
Nepal adds a third-gender option to the national census. It is an identity-based category for people who do not identify as either male or female, including those who present as a gender that is different than the one assigned to them at birth based on genitalia or other criteria. It also includes people who do not feel that their male or female gender roles match their true social, sexual, or gender role identity. In the case of Sunil Babu Pant and Others v. Nepal Government and Others, Supreme Court of Nepal (21 December 2007),the Blue Diamond Society, MITINI Nepal, Cruse AIDS Nepal, and Parichaya Nepal, all organizations representing lesbians, gays, and “people of the third gender,” filed a writ petition under Article 107(2) of the Interim Constitution of Nepal seeking recognition of transgender individuals as a third gender, prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, and reparations by the State to victims of State violence and discrimination. India has used a third gender category in several administrative capacities, and in 2005, India’s third gender citizens could start registering for passports as eunuch, denoted by an “E.”
Same-sex marriage is unanimously approved by the Conservative Jewish movement allowing U.S. rabbis to perform same-sex weddings. Two model wedding ceremonies are approved along with guidelines for same-sex divorce. Called the “Covenant of Loving Partners,” the Conservative same-sex marriage document bases the ceremonies on Jewish partnership law. In the covenant, the couple pledges to be faithful and a ring ceremony binds the pair.
More than 3500 people march through the nation’s capital of Nicosia in the first Cypress pride parade as police blocked a small contingent of Eastern Orthodox Christian protesters from entering the celebration grounds. Homosexuality was decriminalized in most of Cyprus in 1998, though the jurisdiction of Northern Cyprus – formally known as the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus – did not repeal its colonial-era law against consensual gay sex until January 27 of 2014, making it the last European jurisdiction to abandon such laws.
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Historical information obtained from a variety of sources including:
Safe Schools Coalition http://www.safeschoolscoalition.org
Back to Stonewall http://www.back2stonewall.com
GLBT History https://www.glbthistory.org