Today in LGBT History – APRIL 15

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, because knowing your history IS resistance!

Thanks for taking this journey with me. Now go write your story!

Today in LGBT History – APRIL 15

1843 – American writer Henry James (15 April 1843 – 28 February 1916)is born in New York City. He was an American author regarded as a key transitional figure between literary realismandliterary modernism, and is considered by many to be among the greatest novelists in the English language. He was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1911, 1912, and 1916. James regularly rejected suggestions that he should marry, and after settling in London proclaimed himself “a bachelor”. As more material became available to scholars, including the diaries of contemporaries and hundreds of affectionate and sometimes erotic letters written by James to younger men, the picture of neurotic celibacy gave way to a portrait of a closeted homosexual.

1894 – Singer Bessie Smith (April 15, 1894 – September 26, 1937)is born in Chattanooga, Tennessee. She was an American bluessinger. Nicknamed the Empress of the Blues, she was the most popular female blues singer of the 1920s and 1930s. She is often regarded as one of the greatest singers of her era and was a major influence on other jazz singers.In “Foolish Man Blues” Smith sang: “There’s two things got me puzzled, there’s two things I don’t understand;That’s a mannish-actin’ woman, and a skippin, twistin’ woman-actin’ man.” Strange words for a woman whose best friend was male impersonator Gladys Fergusson and who had been introduced to the world of ‘women-lovin’ women’ by blues singer Ma Rainey (April 26, 1886 – December 22, 1939). Smith married Jack Gee on June 7, 1923, just as her first record was being released. During the marriage Smith became the highest-paid black entertainer of the day, heading her own shows, which sometimes featured as many as 40 troupers, and touring in her own custom-built railroad car. Their marriage was stormy with infidelity on both sides, including numerous female lovers for Bessie. Gee was impressed by the money but never adjusted to show business life or to Smith’s bisexuality. Smith ended the relationship in 1929 although neither of them sought a divorce. Smith later entered a common-law marriage with an old friend, Richard Morgan, who was Lionel Hampton‘s uncle. She stayed with him until her death. Smith’s grave was unmarked until a tombstone was erected on August 7, 1970, paid for by singer Janis Joplin and Juanita Green, who as a child had done housework for Smith.

1931 – Sally Miller Gearhart (born April 15, 1931) is an American teacher, radical feminist, science fiction writer, and political activist. In 1973 she became the first open lesbian to obtain a tenure-track faculty position when she was hired by San Francisco State Universitywhere she helped establish one of the first women and gender study programs in the country. She later became a nationally known gay rights activist. She has been controversial for her statement that “The proportion of men must be reduced to and maintained at approximately 10% of the human race”, made in her essay “The Future – If There is One – Is Female”.The Sally Miller Gearhart Fund for lesbian studies was created to promote research and teaching in lesbian studies through an annual lecture series and an endowed professorship at the University of Oregon. The annual Sally Miller Gearhart Lecture in Lesbian Studies at the University of Oregon was first held on May 27, 2009; this first lecture was titled The Incredibly Shrinking Lesbian World and Other Queer Conundra, given by Arlene Stein of Rutgers University.

1972, Canada – In Ottawa, a visible gay contingent joins the Viet Nam Mobilization Committee demonstration protesting the visit of U.S. president Richard Nixon to Canada. 

1979 – The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence is founded in San Francisco by Ken Bunch (Sister Vicious PHB), Fred Brungard (Sister Missionary Position), and Baruch Golden. Their mission is “to promulgate universal joy and expiate stigmatic guilt.”

1987 – ACT UP’s First Use of “Silence = Death,” the iconic pink triangle and slogan, is debuted to thousands waiting in line at New York City’s General Post Office to file their taxes.

1995, Argentina – Buenos Aires police raid Boicot, a lesbian disco, and arrest 10 women ostensibly to check their police records. Lesbian activist Monica Santino obtains their release after three hours during which time the women are subjected to verbal abuse and threats.

2009 – GOProud, an organization representing conservative LGBT people, was founded by Christopher R. Barron (born December 15, 1973)and Jimmy LaSialvia (born December 15, 1970), two former Log Cabin Republican staffers who expressed dissatisfaction with that organization’s centrist political positions. It is now defunct. The Log Cabin Republicans (LCR) is an organization that works within the Republican Party to advocate equal rights for LGBT people in the United States. Log Cabin Republicans was founded in 1977 in California as a rallying point for Republicans opposed to the Briggs Initiative, which attempted to ban homosexuals from teaching in public schools and authorize the firing of those teachers that supported homosexuality.

2014, India – Supreme Court of India recognizes third gender not as a social nor medical issues but a human right.

2019 – Pete Buttigieg (January 19, 1982), the 37-year-old mayor of South Bend, Ind., is running for president of the United States. Pete is openly gay and married to his husband, Chasten. However, he’s not the first openly LGBT person to run for U.S. president. Republican Fred Karger campaigned in 26 states and beat Mitt Romney and Donald Trump in the first New Hampshire Straw Poll. He was featured in thousands of news stories around the world and constantly in the LGBTQ press. He was even interviewed by legendary journalist David Frost on Aljazeera TV. In the Republican New Hampshire primary he received more votes than Michele Bachmannthen competed in the Michigan, Maryland, and Puerto Rico primaries, where he beat Congressman Ron Paul. He appeared on his home state ballot in California and was the last candidate standing to compete against eventual nominee Mitt Romney in the June 26, 2012 Utah primary. Overall he finished in ninth place. Regardless….rock the election world, Mayor Pete!

Stand up, speak out, share your story!




(Historical information obtained from a variety of sources including QUIST at,, Lavender Effect,, Arron’s Gay Info, All Things Queer, RS Levinson, Amara Das Wilhelm,, Safe Schools Coalition, 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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