Musings of an Aging Lesbian
I’m writing a play about old lesbians. Today 7 of my friends from Palm Springs helped me to think it through and what it should look like. I’m deeply grateful for my precious friends who take their time to come over to our house and help me brainstorm. And each left with homework…something I’d never considered. Truly amazing!
Gratitude Day 20
Today I’m grateful for the rain, piddly as it is here in the desert. This is a sweet morning and I’m glad to be awake to watch the clouds move through as the sun comes up.
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!
THIS DAY IN LGBT HISTORY – NOVEMBER 20: Transgender Day of Remembrance
1893, Canada – Grace Darmond (November 20, 1893 – October 8, 1963) was a Canadian-born American actress from the early 20th century. Although performing in a substantial number of films over roughly 13 years, she was known in Hollywood’s inner circle as the lesbian lover to actress Jean Acker, the first wife of actor Rudolph Valentino. She was also associated, as many struggling actresses of the day were, with the actress Alla Nazimova, who was the former lover to Acker, although it has never been verified that Nazimova and Darmond were ever linked romantically.
1910 – Anna Pauline “Pauli” Murray (November 20, 1910 – July 1, 1985) is born. She was an American civil rights activist, women’s rights activist, lawyer, Episcopal priest, and author. Drawn to the ministry, in 1977 Murray became the first black woman to be ordained as an Episcopal priest and was among the first group of women to become priests in that church. In 1940, Murray sat in the whites-only section of a Virginia bus with a friend, and they were arrested for violating state segregation laws. This incident, and her subsequent involvement with the socialist Workers’ Defense League, led her to pursue her career goal of working as a civil rights lawyer. As a lawyer, Murray argued for civil rights and women’s rights. National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Chief Counsel Thurgood Marshall called Murray’s 1950 book, States’ Laws on Race and Color, the “bible” of the civil rights movement. In 1966 she was a co-founder of the National Organization for Women. Murray struggled in her adult life with issues related to her sexual and gender identity, describing herself as having an “inverted sex instinct”. She described herself as having an “inverted sex instinct” that caused her to behave as a man attracted to women would. She wanted a “monogamous married life”, but one in which she was the man. She had a brief, annulled marriage to a man and several deep relationships with women. In her younger years, she occasionally had passed as a teenage boy. In addition to her legal and advocacy work, Murray published two well-reviewed autobiographies and a volume of poetry. On July 1, 1985 the Rev. Dr. Pauli Murray died of pancreatic cancer in the house she owned with a lifelong friend, Maida Springer Kemp, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In 2012 the General Convention of the Episcopal Church voted to honor Murray as one of its Holy Women, Holy Men, to be commemorated on July 1, the anniversary of her death, along with fellow writer Harriet Beecher Stowe. In December, 2016, the Pauli Murray Family Home was named as a National Historic Landmark.
1934 – “The Children’s Hour,” a play by Lillian Hellman in which two school teachers are accused of having a lesbian relationship, opens on Broadway to rave reviews and sellout audiences. A largely sympathetic account of two schoolteachers accused of lesbianism by one of their students, the play is loosely based on an actual case in 19th-century Scotland.
1975 – Members of the Austin Lesbian Organization and Gay Community Services picketed the Austin-American Statesman for refusing to run ads for gay organizations and running housing and employment ads which specified “no gays.” The paper agreed the next month not to print ads which state “no gays,” and began printing ads from gay and lesbian organizations the following April when the Austin City Council passed a Public Accommodations Ordinance which outlawed discrimination based on sexual orientation.
1995 – Steven Powsner (November 19, 1955 – November 20, 1995), who had been president of the New York City Lesbian and Gay Community Services Center from 1992-1994, dies of complications from AIDS at the age of 40. His first lover, Bruce Philip Cooper, died of AIDS in 1987.
1996 – The Ashland Wisconsin school district agrees to pay former student Jamie Nabozny $900,000 in damages. While he was a student, administrators took no action to alleviate the physical and verbal abuse he suffered because he was gay. The nearly one-million-dollar settlement makes Jamie the first of a long string of students to successfully sue schools and school employees for failing to protect them from horrendous homophobic abuse. Nabozny v. Podlesny, 92 F.3d 446 (7th Cir. 1996) was a case heard in the Circuit regarding the protection of a school student in Ashland, Wisconsin, who had been harassed and bullied by classmates because of his sexual orientation. The plaintiff in the case—Jamie Nabozny—sought damages from school officials for their failure to protect him from the bullying. A jury found that this failure violated Nabozny’s constitutional rights and awarded him $962,000 in damages.
1998 – John Geddes Lawrence and Tyrone Garner of Texas are ordered to pay fines of $125 each after being arrested for having sex in their home. The couple refuse to pay and announce they would challenge the Texas sodomy law. Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U.S. 558 (2003) is a landmark decision by the United States Supreme Court. The Court struck down the sodomy law in Texas in a 6–3 decision and, by extension, invalidated sodomy laws in 13 other states, making same-sex sexual activity legal in every U.S. state and territory. The Court, with a five-justice majority, overturned its previous ruling on the same issue in the 1986 case Bowers v. Hardwick, where it upheld a challenged Georgia statute and did not find a constitutional protection of sexual privacy.
!999 – Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) was started in 1999 by transgender advocate Gwendolyn Ann Smith as a vigil to honor the memory of Rita Hester, a transgender woman who was killed in 1998. The vigil commemorated all the transgender people lost to violence since Rita Hester’s death, and began an important tradition that has become the annual Transgender Day of Remembrance. To date in 2019, 331 trans and gender diverse people have been killed this year.
2003 – The United States Congress passes a resolution condemning all violations of internationally recognized human rights norms based on the real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity of an individual
2010, Japan – Transgender Japanese singer Alaru Nakamura’s (born 28 June 1985) album “Boy-Girl” wins the Excellent Album music award at the 56th Japan Record Awards ceremony. Nakamura was assigned male at birth but transitioned after struggling with issues of gender identity.
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!)