Musings of an Aging Lesbian
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 eight days of Chanukah. Today at Sunday begins Day 3, CHESED:
CHESED: Translated as “loving-kindness,” chesed isn’t just an emotion—it’s a kind of action we take to help those who are physically or emotionally in need. And it generally involves more than simply writing a check or sending flowers. It’s often about showing up for people when they’re suffering and offering what chaplains refer to as “the ministry of presence.” When others are at their most vulnerable—when they’re sick, in mourning, or otherwise struggling—Judaism doesn’t tell us, “Awkwardly avoid them because they make you uncomfortable, and maybe just send an email.” We’re told, “Show up for them, and do whatever you can to make them feel loved.”
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 24
1305, France – Grand Master Jacques de Molay (1243 – 18 March 1314) and over 500 Knights Templar recant their confessions of homosexual activities to which they had admitted under torture. King Phillip IV burned 54 of them soon after the false confessions. Philip had Molay burned upon a scaffold on an island in the River Seine in front of Notre Dame de Paris in March, 1314. The sudden end of both the centuries-old order of Templars and the dramatic execution of its last leader turned Molay into a legendary figure.
1573, France – French diplomat and law professor Hubert Languet (1518 – 30 September 1581) wrote to poet Sir Philip Sidney (30 November 1554 – 17 October 1586), “My affection for you has entered my heart far more deeply than I have ever felt for anyone else, and it has so wholly taken possession there that it tries to rule alone.”
1920 – Stormé DeLarverie (December 24, 1920 – May 24, 2014) is born. She was a butch lesbian whose purported scuffle with police was one of the defining moments of the Stonewall riots, spurring the crowd to action. She was born in New Orleans to an African American mother and a white father. She is remembered as a gay civil rights icon and entertainer who graced the stages of the Apollo Theater and Radio City Music Hall. She worked for much of her life as an MC, singer, bouncer, bodyguard and volunteer street patrol worker, the “guardian of lesbians in the Village.” Her partner, a dancer named Diana, lived with her for about 25 years until Diana died in the 1970s. According to friend Lisa Cannistraci, DeLarverie carried a photograph of Diana with her at all times. DeLarverie continued working as a bouncer until age 85.
1924 – The state of Illinois issues a charter to a non-profit organization called Society for Human Rights, the first US-based gay human rights group. The Society is quickly shut down, however, after a member’s wife complains to the police and its founder, Henry Gerber (June 29, 1892 – December 31, 1972) is arrested for “obscenity.” Gerber was an early homosexual rights activist in the United States. Inspired by the work of Germany’s Magnus Hirschfeld and his Scientific-Humanitarian Committee, Gerber founded the Society for Human Rights (SHR) in 1924, the nation’s first known homosexual organization, and Friendship and Freedom, the first known American homosexual publication. SHR was short-lived, as police arrested several of its members shortly after it incorporated. Although embittered by his experiences, Gerber maintained contacts within the fledgling homophile movement of the 1950s and continued to agitate for the rights of homosexuals. Gerber has been repeatedly recognized for his contributions to the LGBT movement.
1946 – Brenda Howard (December 24, 1946 – June 28, 2005) was an American bisexual rights activist, sex-positive feminist, polyamorist and BDSM practitioner. Howard was an important figure in the modern LGBT rights movement. A militant activist who helped plan and participated in LGBT rights actions for over three decades, Howard was an active member of the Gay Liberation Front and for several years chair of the Gay Activists Alliance‘s Speakers Bureau in the post-Stonewall era. She is known as the “Mother of Pride” for her work in coordinating a rally and then the Christopher Street Liberation Day March to commemorate the first anniversary of the Stonewall riots. Howard also originated the idea of a week-long series of events around Pride Day which became the genesis of the annual LGBT Pride celebrations that are now held around the world every June. Additionally, Howard along with fellow LGBT activists Stephen Donaldson and L. Craig Schoonmaker are credited with popularizing the word “Pride” to describe these festivities. A fixture in New York City’s LGBT Community, Howard was active in the Coalition for Lesbian and Gay Rights which helped guide New York City’s Gay rights law through the City Council in 1986 as well as ACT UP and Queer Nation. In 1987 Howard helped found the New York Area Bisexual Network to help co-ordinate services to the region’s growing Bisexual community. She was also an active member of the early bisexual political activist group BiPAC, a Regional Organizer for BiNet USA, a co-facilitator of the Bisexual S/M Discussion Group and a founder of the nation’s first Alcoholics Anonymous chapter for bisexuals. On a national level, Howard’s activism included work on both the 1987 March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights and the 1993 March on Washington for Lesbian, Gay and Bi Equal Rights and Liberation where she was female co-chair of the leather contingent and Stonewall 25 in 1994. Howard died of colon cancer on June 28, 2005.
1990-Lesbian actress Pat Childers Bond (February 27, 1925 – December 24, 1990) dies of lung cancer at age 65. She was an American actress who starred on stage and on television, as well as in motion pictures. She was openly lesbian and in many cases she was the first gay woman people saw on stage. Her career spanned some forty years. She joined the Women’s Army Corps in 1945. Having accepted her homosexuality by this point, she was interested in meeting other lesbians. She acted as a nurse for soldiers returning from the South Pacific and also served in occupied Japan. In 1947, in Tokyo, 500 women were dishonorably discharged from the army on the charge of homosexuality. During this period, many lesbians testified against each other in trial but Bond married a gay GI soldier to avoid prosecution. Her marriage to Paul Bond in San Francisco afforded Bond an honorable discharge from the army on July 3, 1947. She later said she regretted leaving her lover in the Corps, but did so to protect her. In 1990, Pat was honored by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in recognition of her army tenure at the end of World War II. Her personal papers and photo albums were donated to the Gay and Lesbian Historical Society. In 1992, The Pat Bond Memorial Old Dyke Award was founded in her honor. The award goes to recognize Bay Area lesbians over 60 who have made outstanding contributions to the world.
2000, Canada – Rev Brent Hawkes reads the Bannes of Marriage for a gay and a lesbian couple at MCC Toronto. Bannes are an ancient Christian tradition which do not require a marriage license. Weddings in January 2001 are not registered by the Province of Ontario and the case goes to court.
2012, Serbia – The Serbian Parliament approves changes to the Penal Code to include sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes when it comes to hate crimes.
2013, UK –Alan Turing (23 June 1912 – 7 June 1954), considered the father of computer science, was a code-breaker who helped shorten WWII. Since he was gay, on this day, the British government offered him the choice of prison or chemical castration after he was convicted of gross indecency. He selected hormonal castration via estrogen. He died in 1954 of cyanide poisoning. In 2009, Prime Minister Gordon Brown made an official apology, and the Queen issued Turing a royal pardon on this day in 2013.
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!)