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 – AUGUST 16
1661, France – Jacques Chausson (1618 – December 29, 1661) was a French ex-customs manager and writer. He was arrested on August 16, 1661, and charged with attempted rape of a young nobleman, Octave des Valons. He was convicted of sodomy and sentenced to death. His tongue was cut out and he was burned at the stake (without being suffocated first, the more common and “merciful” practice).
1898 – Bessie Foust, 19, and Maud Hoffnagle, 20, of Philadelphia, committed suicide because they loved one another “like man and woman.” They jumped from a ferryboat into the Delaware river. Both took the leap to death together, hand in hand, and were drowned before they could be rescued. The double suicide was evidently prearranged. A note was found in a pocketbook they had left behind, signed by both, and consisted of a quotation from a melancholy poem and the words, “We find we are utterly unfit for this world and will try another.”
1940 – Alix Dobkin is born (August 16, 1940) into a Jewish Communist family. She is a singer, songwriter, and feminist activist in New York City. In 1965 she married Sam Hood who ran the Gaslight Cafe in Greenwich Village. They moved to Miami and opened The Gaslight South Cafe, but moved back to New York in 1968. Their daughter Adrian was born two years later, and the following year the marriage broke up. A few months later, Dobkin came out as a lesbian, which was uncommon for a public personality to do at the time. In 1977, she became an associate of the American nonprofit publishing organization Women’s Institute for Freedom of the Press(WIFP).Dobkin is a member of the OLOC (Old Lesbians Organizing for Change) Steering Committee.Dobkin has been a highly vocal proponent of women-only space through her consistent exclusion of males. Her controversial criticisms of postmodernism,sadomasochism, transgenderismand other issues appeared in several of her written columns. Her article “The Emperor’s New Gender” appeared in the feminist journal off our backs in 2000. “The Erasure of Lesbians”,co-authored with Sally Tatnall, was published in the legislation and case law website Gender Identity Watch in 2015 (transgender activists consider the site anti-transgender). Dobkin has a small and devoted audience, has been called a “women’s music legend” by Spin Magazine, “pithy” by The Village Voice, “Biting…inventive… imaginative” by New Age Journal, “uncompromising” in the New York Times Magazine, and “a troublemaker” by the FBI. She gained some unexpected fame in the 1980s when comedians such as David Letterman and Howard Stern tracked down her landmark Lavender Jane Loves Women album, and began playing phrases from the song “View From Gay Head” on the air.
1943, Australia – Birth date of writer Dennis Altman (born 16 August 1943). He is an Australian academic and pioneering gay rights activist. Altman was born in Sydney, New South Wales to Jewish immigrant parents, and spent most of his childhood in Hobart, Tasmania. In 1964 he won a Fulbright scholarship to Cornell Universitywhere he began working with leading American gay activists.Returning to Australia in 1969, he taught politics at the University of Sydney, and in 1971 he published his first book, Homosexual: Oppression and Liberation, considered an important intellectual contribution to the ideas that shaped gay liberation movements in the English-speaking world. Altman is a longtime patron of the Australian Lesbian and Gay Archives. In March 2013 Altman wrote about the death of his partner of 22 years, Anthony Smith, who died from lung cancer in November 2012.
1969 – New York City’s Gay Liberation Front sponsored the first “Coming Out” dance at Alternate U. to give gays and lesbians the opportunity to support their own organizations rather than what they said were mafia-owned bars. Alternate U was a free counterculture school and leftist political organizing center in Greenwich Village, for many of its activities through 1970. Founded around 1966 by Tom Wodetski. It had several classrooms in a former dance studio on the second floor of 69 West 14th Street, at the corner of Sixth Avenue.
1971 – Blue Earth County, Minnesota issues a marriage license to two men, Jack Baker (born 1942) and Mike McConnell (born 1942) when Jack changed his name to Pat. Michael McConnell and Jack Baker are pioneering advocates of marriage rights for gay couples. Jack Baker was a stage name used by Richard John Baker in the 1970s to promote full equality for gay men and women. He and Michael McConnell originally applied in Hennepin Countyfor a license to marry which was denied. They appealed the denial to the Minnesota Supreme Courtwhich dismissed the claim. “Under the law at the time (since repealed) governing the [U.S.] Supreme Court’s jurisdiction over appeals from state-court decisions, Baker v. Nelson reached the justices as a mandatory appeal.”The State argued that the marriage license issued previously in Blue Earth Countyproved that the “Questions Raised by This Appeal Are Moot.”Baker and McConnell were still living as a married couple as late as May 2015.
1973 – The chairwoman of the Mississippi Gay Alliance attempted to place an ad in The Reflector, the student newspaper of Mississippi State University. The editor refused to accept the ad. The ad announced hours and services offered by MGA, an unrecognized student organization.
1985 – Dr. Paul Volberding, Chief of Medical Oncology and Director of AIDS Activities at San Francisco General Hospital, writes a “breakthrough letter” to Blaine Elswood, founder of the Guerilla Clinic about obtaining currently unapproved experimental drugs mostly from Mexico. In 1983, Volberding founded the first inpatient ward for persons with AIDS in the San Francisco General Hospital. He worked on early clinical trials to evaluate antiretroviral therapy in HIV infection, and has served on the two major guidelines panels for antiretroviral therapy, addressing issues such as the optimal timing of treatment in early HIV infection when no symptoms are evident. In 2001 Volberding left the SF General Hospital to become chief medical officer at the San Francisco VA Medical Center, at which time he also became vice chairman of the department of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). He became co-director of the Center for AIDS Research (CFAR) at UCSF and the Gladstone Institute of Virology and Immunology. In February 2012, he became the director of UCSF’s AIDS Research Institute, and director of research for UCSF Institute for Global Health Sciences. He is widely considered one of the world’s leading AIDS experts.
1988, Canada – The General Council of the United Church of Canada, meeting in Victoria, BC became the first mainstream church in the world to accept gay ordination without imposing celibacy.
1990, UK – The British action group OutRage demonstrates outside Scotland Yard to call for an end to police entrapment and an increase in efforts to solve anti-gay murders.
1991 – New Jersey governor James Florio issues an executive order prohibiting sexual orientation discrimination in the public sector.
1992 – In an address to the Huntington, West Virginia chamber of commerce, chamber president Richard Bolen states that the enactment of an ordinance banning anti-gay discrimination would be good for business.
1994 – In Largo, Florida, a video store clerk was found not guilty of obscenity charges for renting a gay porn video to an undercover police officer.
1996 – At a volunteer campaign training conference in Chicago sponsored by the Human Rights Campaign, President Clinton said through a videotaped address, “I’m especially proud to be the first president to endorse a civil rights bill that specifically includes gay and lesbian Americans. I support the Employment Non-Discrimination Act because I believe in the fundamental values of fairness and equality.”
1996, Australia – New South Wales announced it would review the “homosexual panic” defense in murder trials to determine the effect it has on the prejudice of a jury.
2004 – The United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS voices concern about the arrests and reported mistreatment of 39 gay men in Nepal.
2008 – Portia DeRossi (January 31, 1973) and Ellen DeGeneres (January 26, 1958) marry. Portia de Rossiis an Australian-American actress, model, and philanthropist. She appeared as a regular cast member on the American political thriller television series Scandal in the role of Elizabeth North from 2014 to 2017. Ellen DeGeneres is a talk show host, comedian, and activist.
Stand up, speak out, share your story!
(Historical information obtained from a variety of sources including QUIST at facebook.com/quistapp, Back2Stonewall.com, Lavender Effect, DataLounge.com, Arron’s Gay Info, All Things Queer, RS Levinson, Amara Das Wilhelm, out.com, Safe Schools Coalition, 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!)