Musings of an Aging Lesbian
Preparations for Thanksgiving…and yet I wonder how this holiday even came about. I know it was a time of gratitude for almost all religions after harvests and that it’s basically an English tradition from the 16th century. According to some historians, the first celebration of Thanksgiving in North America occurred during the 1578 voyage of Martin Frobisher from England in search of the Northwest Passage. Pilgrims and Puritans who emigrated from England in the 1620s and 1630s carried the tradition of Days of Fasting and Days of Thanksgiving with them to New England. And how grateful were the First Nation people as their land was invaded and their people killed? We just don’t see much history written about the effects of Thanksgiving on Native Americans. Even still, I have so much for which to be grateful and look forward to spending the day tomorrow with family.
Gratitude Day 27
This is often a difficult time of the year for many folks, especially my LGBTQ sisters and brothers. There have been several times way back in my past when suicide seemed like the right option. Had I succeeded, a tremendous body of work (from my AIDS work to LGBT work and research in Higher Ed and Lavender Graduation) might not have happened. But the Universe had other plans for me which I did not understand at the time. If you are feeling dispair, call the Suicide Hotline 800-273-TALK (8255). You may be the one who saves a life later or who even cures cancer. For my life and with my heart, I am deeply grateful to those who saw something in me that I could not see, and who helped me to survive.
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 27
111, Italy – Antinous (November 27, 111 – 30 October 130) is born in Bithynia. The Roman Emperor Hadrian (76-138 CE) was smitten with the 15 year old boy at first glance. From that time on Antinous never left the emperor’s side. On a trip to Egypt he drowned in the Nile. Some say it was because of a prophecy that had declared the Hadrian would die unless a sacrifice were made to the river.
1700 – A new law concerning sodomy passes in the Pennsylvania assembly. If committed by a white man, sodomy was punishable by life in prison and, at the discretion of the judge, a whipping every three months for the first year. If married, the man was castrated and his wife was granted a divorce. If committed by a black man, the punishment for sodomy was death.
1784, UK – The UK Morning Herald newspaper publishes the rumor that the famous novelist William Beckford (1 October 1760 – 2 May 1844) was sleeping with William “Kitty” Courtney (c. 1768 – 26 May 1835), the 9th Earl of Devon, calling the two men “the lowest class of brutes in the most preposterous rites,” and leading to Beckford’s ostracism. Beckford was an English novelist, a consummately knowledgeable art collector and patron of works of decorative art, a critic, travel writer and sometime politician, reputed at one stage in his life to be the richest commoner in England. Courtenay was in his time considered a notorious homosexual and attracted infamy for the affair with Beckford. As a youth, ‘Kitty’ Courtenay was sometimes named by contemporaries as the most beautiful boy in England.
1835, UK – John Smith (1795–1835) and James Pratt (1805–1835) are the last Englishmen to be executed for sodomy under the 1828 Offenses Against the Person Act which had replaced the 1533 Buggery Act. They are hanged at Newgate prison.
1931, Germany – The film “Madchen in Uniform” (Girls in Uniform) is released. It portrays a sensitive girl in an all-girls boarding school where she develops a romantic attachment to a female teacher. It’s one of the earliest narrative films to explicitly portray homosexuality. The German feature-length film was based on the play Gestern und heute (Yesterday and Today) by Christa Winsloe (23 December 1888 – 10 June 1944) and directed by Leontine Sagan with artistic direction from Carl Froelich who also funded the film. Winsloe also wrote the screenplay and was on the set during filming. The film remains an international cult classic. It was almost banned in the US, but Eleanor Roosevelt (October 11, 1884 – November 7, 1962) spoke highly of the film, resulting in the film getting a limited release in the US in 1932-33. Prints of the film survived the war, but it was heavily censored until the 1970s, and not shown again in Germany until 1977 when it was screened on television there. Winsloe was a member of the SPD (the German Social Democrats, then largely reform Marxist in orientation), and was open about her sexuality.
1970 – Marty Robinson (1942-1992)and Arthur Evans (October 12, 1942 – September 11, 2011) of the Gay Activist Alliance appeared on the Dick Cavett Show. Evans was an early gay rights advocate and author, most well-known for his book Witchcraft. He was a co-founder of Gay Activists Alliance. Robinson was an organizer for gay-rights causes for 27 years who was known for his provocative protests.
1970, UK – The London Gay Liberation Front mounts its first public demonstration, a torch-lit protest march on Highbury Fields.
1978, Canada – Parents of Gays form in Canada forms.
1978 – Harvey Milk and Mayor Macone are assassinated. Conservative Dan White, after discovering that he would not be re-appointed to his seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, took a gun and extra ammunition and goes to City Hall. He enters through a lower level window to avoid the metal detectors and goes to the office of Mayor George Moscone, who was supportive of the gay community, and fires four shots, two to the head. Those who heard the gunshots did not realize what they were hearing, giving him time to reload his gun and go to the office of Supervisor Harvey Milk, the first openly gay man to be elected in a major American city, and fires five shots. Both men are pronounced dead. Tens of thousands gather for a spontaneous vigil. White is convicted on the reduced charge of “voluntary manslaughter” and sentenced to six years in prison. He is released after serving 5 1⁄2 years and commits suicide soon after returning to his family.
1980 – “Bosom Buddies,” a sitcom about two young broke New York men who dress in drag to live in a low rent, all-girl hotel, premieres on ABC. It stars Tom Hanks and Peter Scolari.
1998, Zimbabwe – Former Zimbabwean President Canaan Banana (5 March 1936 – 10 November 2003) is convicted of eleven counts of sodomy and indecent assault. He served as the first President of Zimbabwe from 18 April 1980 until 31 December 1987. A Methodist minister, he held the largely ceremonial office of the presidency while his eventual successor, Robert Mugabe, served as Prime Minister of Zimbabwe. During his lifetime, Banana brought together two of the country’s political parties, the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) and the Zimbabwe African People’s Union (ZAPU), became a diplomat for the Organization of African Unity, and headed the religious department of the University of Zimbabwe. His later life was complicated by charges of sodomy—a crime in Zimbabwe—which he denied and for which he was later imprisoned. Banana was found guilty of eleven charges of sodomy, attempted sodomy and indecent assault in 1998. He denied all charges, saying that homosexuality is “deviant, abominable and wrong”, and the allegations made against him were “pathological lies” intended to destroy his political career. His wife Janet Banana later discussed her husband’s alleged homosexuality and confirmed it, even though she considered the charges against him to be politically motivated.
1999, New Zealand – Georgina Beyer (born November 1957) is the first transgender member of the New Zealand Parliament and also the first openly transgender mayor in the world. She is also among a very small number of former sex workers to hold political office.
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 email@example.com. Thanks!)