Musings of an Aging Lesbian

 Tonight is the Melissa Etheridge concert. I’ve never seen her in person but I remember being so impressed with her “Yes I Am” song about coming out. Generationally, I’d rather see Cris Williamson or Holly Near, the artists to whose music I came out in the 70’s. Melissa is more recent among Gen X’ers, not as recent as Milleniums or I-gens. Funny words, eh?

Gratitude Day 14

Today I’m grateful today, too, for our home in Palm Springs, filled with joy and peace and friendship and love. I’m grateful, too, for my former students. These smart, passionate people continue to enrich my life in many ways with their generosity of spirit and bigness of heart.

I invite you to add that for which you are grateful today.

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!


1810, Scotland – Young Jane Cummings makes an accusation of “inordinate affection” between two female teachers Marianne Woods, 27, and Jane Pirie, 26, in Edinburgh. This is the first of a series of events leading to a dramatic trial and which later became the basis for the Broadway play and film “The Children’s Hour,” in 1934 by Lillian Hellman

1874 – Adolf Brand (14 November 1874 – 2 February 1945) was a German writer, individualist anarchist, and pioneering campaigner for the acceptance of male bisexuality and homosexuality. On this day Brand published Der Eigene, the first gay journal in the world, published from 1896 to 1932 in Berlin. Other contributors included writers Benedict FriedlaenderHanns Heinz EwersErich MühsamKurt HillerErnst BurchardJohn Henry MackayTheodor LessingKlaus Mann, and Thomas Mann, as well as artists Wilhelm von GloedenFidus, and Sascha Schneider. The journal may have had an average of 1500 subscribers per issue during its run, but the exact numbers are uncertain. In 1933, when Adolf Hitler rose to power, Adolf Brand’s house was searched and all the materials needed to produce the magazine were seized and given to Ernst Röhm.

1908 – Joseph McCarthy  (November 14, 1908 – May 2, 1957) , the U.S. Senator who presided over a Communist witch-hunt during the 1950s, was born in Appleton, Wisconsin. The red-baiting homophobe was actually a closeted gay man. In an article in the Las Vegas Sun on October 25, 1952, Hank Greenspun wrote that: “It is common talk among homosexuals in Milwaukee who rendezvous in the White Horse Inn that Senator Joe McCarthy has often engaged in homosexual activities.” The number of American lives destroyed in the 1950s by McCarthy’s “outing Communists” and witch-hunts of homosexuals numbered in the tens of thousands in the US. McCarthy died of alcoholism at the age of 48. His right-hand man, lawyer (and also closeted gay man and friend of Donald Trump) Roy Cohn (February 20, 1927 – August 2, 1986) died of AIDS in 1986.

1932, UK- Lillias Irma Valerie Arkell-Smith  (1895–1960), going by the name Sir Victor Barker, serves in the Royal Air Force. Arkell-Smith was physically and legally female. In 1926 while living in London, he accidentally received a letter inviting him to join the National Fascisti which had been addressed to a different Colonel Barker. Arkell-Smith replied to the misdirected letter with the missive “why not”, reasoning that membership of what was a macho group would help him pose as a man. Arkell-Smith died in poverty and obscurity, under the name Geoffrey Norton, in 1960 and was buried in an unmarked grave in Kessingland churchyard, near Lowestoft, Suffolk. The story of the many lives of Arkell-Smith/Barker is told in Colonel Barker’s Monstrous Regiment by Rose Collis, Virago 2001.

1942, Germany – The Nazi SS (storm troops) informs concentration camp commandants that they are free to sterilize any of the prisoners under their control. The directive gives official approval to the practice, already instituted in some camps, of castrating males suspected of sexual attraction to other men.

1969 – In New York City, the Gay Liberation Front launches the premiere issue of the first gay newspaper Come Out! It ran for three years.

1994, China – China determines that same-sex acts are no longer to be considered a “social order” offense.

2001, Egypt – Fifty-two men are arrested on May 11, 2001, on the Queen Boat, a floating gay nightclub on the Nile River. According to the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC), the men were subjected to beatings and forensic examinations to “prove their homosexuality”. 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. On November 14, 2001, twenty-one of the men were convicted of the “habitual practice of debauchery,” one man of “contempt for religion,” and another, accused of being the “ringleader” was convicted of both charges and received the heaviest sentence, five years’ hard labor. A fifty-third man, a teenager, was tried in juvenile court and was sentenced to the maximum penalty of three years in prison, to be followed by three years of probation.

2008 – Transgender woman Lateisha Green is shot and killed outside a house party in Syracuse, NY. Her murderer is sentenced to 25 years for first degree manslaughter. This is the first transgender hate crimes conviction in NY and only the second in the US.

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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