Musings of an Aging Lesbian
Impeach Day! How historic is THIS??? This is only the third time in the history of the United States is impeachment taking place. I remember the impeachment of Bill Clinton. His crime: he lied to congress about having an affair. Nothing he did affected the national security of the country nor did he create legislation to destroy lives. Today, live are at stake and the very core of democracy is at risk. Impeaching the current president is imperative. Frankly, in my mind’s non-lawyer humble opinion, he’s guilty of treason.
Rudyard Kipling said: If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten. The snippets of LGBTQ history here are the stories of our lives, the stories of the giants on whose shoulders we all stand. Learn about them then tell the stories and remember…
Thanks for taking this journey with me. Now go write your story!
THIS DAY IN LGBT HISTORY – DECEMBER 18
1654, Sweden – Queen Christina (18 December 1626 – 19 April 1689) is born. She was hairy and had a deep vice, ‘walked like a man, sat and rode like a man, and could eat and swear like the roughest soldiers.’ She sometimes identified herself as Count Dohna after her abdication, and has been claimed variously as lesbian, transgender, and intersex by historians in search of an angle.
1879 – Stagecoach driver Charlotte “Charley” Parkhurst (1812 – Dec. 18, 1879) dies. The medical examiner discovers Charley is female. Parkhurst, who registered to vote in 1868, may have been the first female-assigned transgender citizen to vote in California. Known as “One-eyed Charley,” he wore a black patch over his left eye, lost when attempting to shoe a horse. His lips were stained from constant tobacco chewing and as the years wore on he talked less and less, earning him another nickname Silent Charley. When Parkhurst did speak, he didn’t hesitate to sling around swear words in a gruff voice. The only part of his appearance that was out of place was his clean-shaven face, an odd choice for a man in those days. His grave is at the Pioneer Cemetery at 44 Main Street in Watsonville, California.
1900 – Marion Barbara ‘Joe’ Carstairs (1900 – 18 December 1993) was a wealthy British power boat racer known for her speed and her eccentric lifestyle. Carstairs lived a colourful life. She usually dressed as a man, had tattooed arms, and loved machines, adventure and speed. Openly lesbian, she had numerous affairs with women, including Oscar Wilde‘s niece Dolly Wilde (July 11, 1895 – April 10, 1941)and a fellow ambulance driver from Dublin with whom she had lived in Paris—and a string of actresses, most notably Greta Garbo (18 September 1905 – 15 April 1990), Tallulah Bankhead (January 31, 1902 – December 12, 1968) and Marlene Dietrich (27 December 1901 – 6 May 1992) During World War I, Carstairs served in France with the American Red Cross, driving ambulances. After the war, she served with the Royal Army Service Corps in France, re-burying the war-dead, and in Dublin with the Women’s Legion Mechanical Transport Section, which acted as transport for British officers during the Irish War of Independence. In 1920, with three former colleagues from the Women’s Legion Mechanical Transport Section, she started the ‘X Garage,’ a car-hire and chauffeuring service that featured a women-only staff of drivers and mechanics. Carstairs (and her friends and lovers) lived in a flat above the garage, which was situated near Cromwell Gardens in London‘s fashionable South Kensington district. Carstairs invested $40,000 purchasing the island of Whale Cay in the Bahamas and constructed a Great House for herself and her guests as well as a lighthouse, school, church, and cannery. She later bought the additional islands of Bird Cay, Cat Cay, Devil’s Cay, half of Hoffman’s Cay and a tract of land on Andros. Carstairs died in Naples, Florida, in 1993 at the age of 93.
1902 – Dr. William S Barker of St Louis presents a paper to the Medical Society of City Hospital Alumni about two men he identified as “W” and “B,” saying W showed an unnatural fondness for B and the two were inseparable.
1953 – Dr. Harry Benjamin conducts a symposium on transsexuals for the New York Academy of Medicine. Benjamin was a German-American endocrinologist and sexologist, widely known for his clinical work with transsexualism. Benjamin was married to Gretchen, to whom he dedicated his 1966 major work, for 60 years. In 1979 the Harry Benjamin International Gender Dysphoria Association was formed, using Benjamin’s name by permission. The group consists of therapists and psychologists who devised a set of Standards of Care (SOC) for the treatment of gender identity disorder, largely based on Benjamin’s cases, and studies. It later changed its name to The World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH), but still reveres its links to Harry Benjamin.
1961 – Brian Orser (born 18 December 1961) is born. He is a Canadian former competitive and professional figure skater. He is the 1984 and 1988 Olympic silver medalist, 1987 World champion and eight-time (1981–88) Canadian national champion. At the 1988 Winter Olympics, the rivalry between Orser and American figure skater Brian Boitano (born October 22, 1963), who were the two favorites to win the gold medal, captured media attention and was described as the “Battle of the Brians“. Orser is openly gay. He was forced to reveal his sexuality in November 1998, when he lost a legal battle to prevent public disclosure when an ex-partner sued him for palimony. Orser initially feared the revelation of being gay would ruin his career, but he has since embraced support from other skaters and the public. Since 2008, he has been in a relationship with Rajesh Tiwari, a director of The Brian Orser foundation.
1974 – The first International Gay Rights Conference began. It would lead to the formation of the International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA) in 1978. The ILGA is an international organization bringing together more than 750 LGBTI groups from around the world. It continues to be active in campaigning for LGBT rights and intersex human rights on the international human rights and civil rights scene, and regularly petitions the United Nations and governments. ILGA is represented in 110+ countries across the world. ILGA is accredited by the United Nations and has been granted NGO Ecosoc consultative status.
1978 – A Toronto police sergeant calls three school boards in the area and informs them six teachers in their employ were arrested in the Barracks steam bath raid. The officer is given only internal department reprimand.
1979 – ABC News Close-Up features a documentary on homosexuals. Fifteen affiliates refused to air it and the network was not able to find a single commercial sponsor. It covered topics such as promiscuity and implied that gays could not form stable relationships.
1980 – The New York State Court of Appeals abolishes the state’s sodomy laws.
1982, Canada – The Quebec parliament overwhelmingly approves a measure, and becomes the first North American legislative body, to authorize Domestic Partnership benefits for same-sex couples. It gives domestic partners of gays and lesbians legal protection and access to economic benefits previously restricted to straights, authorizing “Domestic Partnership” benefits for gay and lesbian couples
1984 – “The Times of Harvey Milk” wins the New York Critics’ Award for Best Documentary of the Year. The film premiered at the Telluride Film Festival, the New York Film Festival, and then on November 1, 1984 at the Castro Theatre in San Francisco. The film was directed by Rob Epstein (born April 6, 1955), produced by Richard Schmiechen (July 10, 1947 – April 7, 1993), and narrated by Harvey Fierstein (born June 6, 1954), with an original score by Mark Isham. In 2012, this film was deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” by the United States Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the National Film Registry.
1990 – Dr. Stanley Biber (May 4, 1923 – January 16, 2006) of Trinidad, Colorado is elected to the city council. Dr. Biber performs approximately 60% of the world’s sex change operations. He was an American physician who was a pioneer in sex reassignment surgery, performing thousands of procedures during his long career. Dr. Marci Bowers (born January 18, 1958), a gynecologist and transsexual woman herself, took over his SRS practice. Bowers also offers restorative procedures for victims of female genital mutilation (FGM), whom she does not charge for surgery. Bowers married eleven years prior to her surgery, and remains married to her female spouse.
1997 – Navy Secretary John Dalton denies that the US Navy violates the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy by participating in witch hunts.
1998 – The Maryland Supreme Court rules a parent’s access to his or her children cannot be restricted solely based on sexual orientation.
2006, Qatar – Asian Games strips runner Santhi Soundarajan (born April 1981) of her silver medal because she is intersex. The Indian Olympic Association then banned her from sports. She is an Indian track and field athlete and winner of 12 international medals for India and around 50 medals for her home state of Tamil Nadu. Santhi is the first Tamil woman to win a medal at the Asian Games. She competes in middle distance track events. She was stripped of a silver medal won at the 2006 Asian Games after failing a sex verification test which disputed her eligibility to participate in the women’s competition.
2009, Austria – The Bundesrat approve same-sex marriages which takes effect on Jan. 1, 2010.
Stand up, speak out, share your story!
(Historical information obtained from a variety of sources including QUIST at facebook.com/quistapp, Back2Stonewall.com, #LavenderEffect, DataLounge.com, #ArronsGayInfo, #AllThingsQueer, #RSLevinson, #AmaraDasWilhelm, out.com, #SafeSchoolsCoalition, and/or Wikipedia. If you wish to edit an item or add an item, please send an email to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks!)