Musings of an Aging Lesbian

For some odd reason, I am feeling nostalgics about my childhood Chanukahs. My m other would set out a TV tray for each of the four of us. Each had our own menorah and presents would be under the tray.  

Last night was the first night of Chanukah tis year. Chanukah means dedication. In the second century BCE, the Holy Land was ruled by the Greeks who tried to force the Jews to accept Greek culture and beliefs. Against all odds, a small band of poorly armed Jews, led by Judah the Maccabee, defeated the Greek army, mightiest on earth. When the Jews tried to light the Temple’s menorah, they found only a single cruse of olive oil that had escaped destruction by the Greeks. Miraculously, the one-day supply of oil lasted for eight days, until new oil could be prepared under conditions of ritual purity. That’s why we celebrate for eight days.

Sarah Hurwitz shared eight Jewish social justice values to celebrate each night of Chanukah which was published by the American Jewish World Service. I will share one a day for the next eight days, starting with Tikkun Olam. The first two days are here. Thank you, Sarah…

 TIKKUN OLAM: Tikkun olam has become a catchphrase for social justice in contemporary Jewish life—and for good reason. Our emphasis on repairing the world speaks to something centrally Jewish: our belief in human responsibility. Jewish worship isn’t just about contemplation or petition, it’s about action. We don’t just sit around believing in God, or asking God for things and having faith that it will all work out for the best. We are empowered and expected to act.

TZEDAKAH: We proudly point out that tzedakah means “justice,” not “charity,” but why does that distinction matter? Charity is given out of the kindness of our hearts, when we feel moved to do so. Tzedakah is considered mandatory under Jewish law. We’re supposed to give it whether we feel like it or not. It’s like ensuring fair procedures in a courtroom—we shouldn’t just do so when we’re feeling particularly generous, but all the time, because otherwise the system doesn’t work. Ditto for tzedakah. In Jewish thinking, society simply doesn’t work when we neglect those in need.   – Sarah Hurwitz

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!


 1868 –  Mary Rozet Smith (Dec. 23, 1868-1934) is born. She was a Chicago-born US philanthropist who was one of the trustees and benefactors of Hull House. She was the companion of activist Jane Addams  (September 6, 1860 – May 21, 1935), for over thirty years. Smith provided the financing for the Hull House Music School and donated the school’s organ as a memorial to her mother. She was active in several social betterment societies in Chicago at the turn of the 20th century.

1888 – Christa Winsloe (23 December 1888 – 10 June 1944) is born. Winsloe was a 20th-century German-Hungarian novelistplaywright and sculptor. Her book Das Mädchen Manuela  (The Child Manuela) was reviewed in the New York Times. It was a translation from a German book about a lesbian relationship in a school for girls. The reviewer referred to it as “a social document that is moving and eloquent.” Das Mädchen Manuela is a short novel based on her experiences at Kaiserin-Augusta. The 1931 film version remains an international cult classic. Winsloe was involved in a relationship with newspaper reporter Dorothy Thompson (9 July 1893 – 30 January 1961), probably before World War II when Thompson was reporting from Berlin.  She moved to France in the late 1930s, fleeing the Nazis. During World War II, she joined the French Resistance. Contrary to what is often stated, she was not executed by the Nazis. Instead, on June 10, 1944, Winsloe and her French partner, Simone Gentet (died 1944), were shot and killed by four Frenchmen in a forest near the country town of Cluny. The men said that they had thought the women were Nazi spies, and were later acquitted of murder.

1959 – The California Supreme Court upholds the right of LGBT people to congregate in Vallerga v. Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control. The Court rules that a 1955 statute allowing the Dept. of ABC to revoke the liquor license of any establishment that was a “resort…for sexual perverts.”

1970 – The film Little Big Man is released. It features a character named Little Horse, played by Robert Little Star, who is biologically male but wears female clothing and identifies as a woman. Little Horse is a “hee-man-eh” which, in the Cheyenne tribe, is the tribe is the word for what anthropologists call a “berdache.”

1993 – Philadelphia starring Tom Hanks premieres. The film is an American drama  and one of the first mainstream Hollywood films to acknowledge HIV/AIDShomosexuality, and homophobia. It was written by Ron Nyswaner, directed by Jonathan Demme and stars Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington. Hanks won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his role as Andrew Beckett in the film, while the song “Streets of Philadelphia” by Bruce Springsteen won the Academy Award for Best Original Song. Nyswaner was also nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay, but lost to Jane Campion for The Piano.

1994 – In a much publicized adoption case in Seattle, Washington, Ross and Luis Lopton win permanent custody of their four year-old foster son, Gailen. The child’s birth mother had challenged the men’s right to adopt him.

1998 – The Centers for Disease Control releases a report on why some people at risk for HIV infection don’t get tested. Reasons included privacy and fear of positive test results.

1999 – Pentagon spokesman Kenneth Bacon announced that a memorandum had been issued calling for immediate action against cases of anti-gay harassment in the military. 

Stand up, speak out, share your story!



(Historical information obtained from a variety of sources including QUIST at,, #LavenderEffect,, #ArronsGayInfo, #AllThingsQueer, #RSLevinson, #AmaraDasWilhelm,, #SafeSchoolsCoalition, and/or Wikipedia. If you wish to edit an item or add an item, please send an email to me at Thanks!)

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