Today in LGBT History – April 16

Being open helped me understand that everybody, no matter who they are and what they look like, is going through a lot of different things.  —Emma Gonzalez

Learning our history is resistance! Thanks for taking this journey with me. Now go write your story!

Today in LGBT History – April 16

1061, Spain – The first recorded same-sex wedding occurred when Pedro Díaz and Muño Vandilaz were married by a priest at a small chapel in Rairiz de Veiga, Galicia, Spain. The historic documents about the church wedding were found at theMonastery of San Salvador de Celanova. It is not known whether the priest was aware of the gender of both.

1453, Italy – Leonardo da Vinci (16 April 1452 – 2 May 1519) is born. He was a prolific painter, scientist, mathematician, philosopher, architect and inventor. His most famous works are the Mona Lisa and The Last Supper. Along with three other young men, he was anonymously accused of sodomy (and acquitted), which in Florence was a criminal offense, even though in most cases the authorities looked the other way and the general culture attached little social stigma to homosexuality. The accusation specifically charged him with a homosexual interaction with Jacopo Saltarelli, a notorious prostitute. DaVinci never married nor showed any (recorded) interest in women; indeed, he wrote in his notebooks that male-female intercourse disgusted him. His anatomical drawings naturally include the sexual organs of both genders, but those of the male exhibit much more extensive attention. Finally, Leonardo surrounded himself with beautiful young male assistants.

1934, Australia – Robert Colin Stigwood (16 April 1934 – 4 January 2016) was an Australian-born British-resident music entrepreneur, film producer and impresario. He was best known for managing Cream and the Bee Gees, theatrical productions like Hair and Jesus Christ Superstar and film productions including the extremely successful Grease and Saturday Night Fever.

1957 – Essex Hemphill (April 16, 1957 – November 4, 1995) was an openly gay American poet and activist. He is known for his contributions to the Washington, D.C. art scene in the 1980s, and for openly discussing the topics pertinent to the African-American gay community. In the 1990s, Hemphill would rarely give information about his health, although he would occasionally talk about “being a person with AIDS.” It was not until 1994 that he wrote about his experiences with the disease in his poem “Vital Signs.” He died on November 4, 1995, of AIDS-related complications. After his death, December 10, 1995, was announced by three organizations (Gay Men of African Descent(GMAD), Other Countries, and Black Nations/Queer Nations?) to be a National Day of Remembrance for Essex Hemphill at New York City‘s Lesbian and Gay Community Services Center. In 2014, Martin Duberman (born August 6, 1930) wrote Hold Tight Gently: Michael Callen, Essex Hemphill, and the Battlefield of AIDS in which Duberman documents the life of Essex Hemphill, along with author and activist, Michael Callen (April 11, 1955 – December 27, 1993). The book would go on to win the Lambda Literary Award for LGBT Nonfiction.

1997 – Sherry Barone sues Har Jehuda Cemetery (Barone v. Har Jehuda Cemetery). Barone and Cynthia Friedman had been together for 13 years when Friedman passed away from cancer at the age of 35. In several discussions before her death, Friedman had asked that Barone include the inscription on her headstone: “Beloved life partner, daughter, granddaughter, sister and aunt.” Days after Friedman’s death, Barone signed a contract with Har Jehuda Cemetery for two adjoining plots and a headstone. Friedman’s religious principles meant the headstone should have been unveiled one year after she died, but the cemetery had refused to act on Barone’s instructions to follow her loved one’s wishes that “life partner” be included. After filing suit on Barone’s behalf, Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund’s David S. Buckel (1958-April 14, 2018) settled with the cemetery outside of the courtroom. The cemetery agreed to erect the headstone in accordance with Friedman’s wishes and also to compensate Barone $15,000.

2009 – Jaheem Herrera (1997-2009), age 11, takes his own life after unrelenting anti-gay bullying at school. No matter how many times his mother went to the school and complained, nothing was ever done. On April 16 after showing his mother and sister his report card of A’s and B’s, he went to his room and hung himself. His best friend said Jaheem was tired of complaining, tired of the bullying, tired of the talking. He felt that his teachers, counselors were doing nothing and he just couldn’t take it anymore.

2012 – Katie Ricks becomes the first open lesbian ordained by the Presbyterian Church. She is the Associate Pastor of the Church of Reconciliation in Chapel Hill.

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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