Today in LGBT History – August 16

Kelly and I continue with On Tyranny by Timothy Snyder (2017). Snyder presents twenty lessons from the 20th century, adapted to the circumstances of today’s politics. On this blog, I present one lesson each day for 20 days (though I may insert a personal thought among the days). Kelly is posting them on our FB page called Resist with Kelly and Ronni. I hope you’ll read this little but powerfully inspirational book.

 Lesson 9. Be kind to our language. Avoid pronouncing the phrases everyone else does. Think up your own way of speaking, even if only to convey the thing you think everyone is saying. Make an effort to separate yourself from the Internet. Read books….Any good novel in life and our ability to think about and pick your situations in charge of the intentions of others. Harry Potter and the deathly hallows offers an account of tyranny and resistance. If you’ve read it before, it bears reading again.

We suggest On Tyranny, Captains and Kings, The Handmaid’s Tale, and maybe even the Big Book. We also suggest participating in some activities that bring joy to your heart. We all need some joy in this political time.

 Speak up! Stand out! And go play!

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).

1893 – Dr. F. E. Daniel, editor of the Texas Medical Journal, presented a paper which advocated the castration of male and female sexual perverts, including homosexuals, to prevent them from reproducing and passing on these traits. He also recommended that those convicted of such offenses be stripped of all rights.

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 a rescue could be effected. 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 – Birth date of Alix Dobkin (born August 16, 1940), singer, songwriter, and activist, in New York City. Dobkin has been a highly vocal proponent of women-only space through her consistent exclusion of males. In one letter to the National Center for Lesbian Rights, she explained, “For over twenty years men have declared themselves ‘women,’ manipulated their bodies and then demanded the feminist seal of approval from survivors of girlhood…. [My lyrics] are not ‘oppressive’ but refer to those of us who have a girlhood & a clitoris, & no one else.” Her controversial criticisms of postmodernism, sadomasochismtransgenderism and other issues appeared in several of her written columns.

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 SydneyNew South Wales to Jewish immigrant parents, and spent most of his childhood in HobartTasmania. In 1964 he won a Fulbright scholarship to Cornell University, where 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.

1971 – Blue Earth County, Minnesota issues a marriage license to two men, Jack Baker and Mike McConnell 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 County for a license to marry which was denied. They appealed the denial to the Minnesota Supreme Court which 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 County proved 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.

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 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.

2002 – New York City Council votes to recognize gay marriages from other jurisdictions.

2004 – The United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS voices concern about the arrests and reported mistreatment of 39 gay men in Nepal.

2005 – The leader of an Illinois group fighting same-sex marriage and partner benefits suggest militant anti-gay preacher Fred Phelps was “actually a gay plant”.

2008 – Portia DeRossi (January 31, 1973) and Ellen DeGeneres (January 26, 1958) marry. Portia de Rossi is an Australian and 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! Let your voice speak out and change the world! 




(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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