Today in LGBT History – August 17

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 10. Believe in truth. To abandon facts is to abandon freedom. If nothing is true, then no one can criticize power, because there is no basis upon which to do so. If nothing is true, then all is spectacle. The biggest wallet pays for the most blinding lights….Truth dies in four modes: (1) open hostility to verifiable reality, (2) shamanistic incantation and endless repetition, (3) magical thinking or the open embrace of contradiction, and (4) misplaced faith. Fascists despise the small truths of daily existence, love slogans that resonate like a new religion, and prefer creativeness to history. And now, as in the past, many people confuse faith in a hugely flawed leader with the truth about the world we all share. Post-truth is pre-fascism.

Find the truth!

Today in LGBT History – August 17

1786 – German monarch Frederick II (January 24, 1712 – August 17, 1786) dies. He was King of Prussia from 1740 until 1786, the longest reign of any Hohenzollern king, and named himself Frederick the Great. Recent major biographers of Frederick are unequivocal that he was predominantly homosexual, and that his sexuality was central to his life and character.

1893 – Mae West is born. Mary Jane “Mae” West (August 17, 1893 – November 22, 1980) was an American actress, singer, playwright, screenwriter, comedian, and sex symbol whose entertainment career spanned seven decades. In 1927, she wrote a play about homosexuality called The Drag, and alluded to the work of Karl Heinrich Ulrichs. It was a box-office success. West regarded talking about sex as a basic human rights issue, and was also an early advocate of gay rights. With the return of conservatism in the 1930s, the public grew intolerant of homosexuality, and gay actors were forced to choose between retiring or agreeing to hide their sexuality.

1967 – The third national planning conference of Homophile Organizations was held in Washington, D.C.

1969 – An Atlanta art theatre was raided during a showing of Andy Warhol’s  (August 6, 1928 – February 22, 1987) film “Lonesome Cowboys,” saying it was a hotbed of homosexuality. Police photographed everyone in attendance as reference material for the vice squad. Written by Paul Morrissey, the film is a satire of Hollywood westerns. It won the Best Film Award at the San Francisco International Film Festival.

1973, Canada – In Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal, Ottawa, Gay Pride Week became a national celebration.

1974, Canada – In Toronto, a Gay Pride March converges on Queen’s Park. For the first time, the daily newspapers cover the march.

1982 – Texas’s sodomy law was repealed by Federal Judge Jerry Buchmeyer who declared it unconstitutional. A new law was passed three years later and approval by the federal bench because it outlawed only homosexual acts.

1984 – A federal appeals board upholds the discharge of a gay petty officer from the US Navy. The man had a spotless record and was frequently cited for excellent job performance.

1987 – City commissioner John Markl of Traverse City, Michigan, during a debate on the sale of condoms within city limits, states that homosexuals are the cause of AIDS and that a quick cut of the scalpel would prevent them from spreading it. He also said that homosexuals were mentally unbalanced.

1993 – Loc Minh Truong of Orange County, California, filed a lawsuit against Jeffrey Raines and Christopher Cribbens who assaulted him because they assumed he was gay (he was not). He was beaten so severely that doctors could not determine his race and did not expect him to live. The amount of the suit was $25,000 to cover medical expenses and lost wages. Ten men who watched the attack but did nothing to intervene and were also identified in the suit.

1998 – Newsweek runs a cover article on the ex-gay debate. The headline reads “Gay for Life? Going Straight: The Uproar over Sexual Conversion.”

2004 – Indiana Governor Joseph Kernan issues an executive order banning gender identity discrimination in the public sector.

2004 – Eugene Lange College in New York City is named most gay-positive school in America by the Princeton Review.

2005 – The FBI said mafia kingpin James (Whitey) Bulger, sought for 30 years, is thouht to be hiding in a gay neighborhood somewhere in the U.S. or Europe.

2007 – The Hollywood Reporter pulls a Ray Richmond column entitled “Merv Griffin (March 16, 1925 – August 12, 2007) died a closeted homosexual.” Several hours later, it was back online with a different title: “Griffin Never Revealed the Man Behind the Curtain.” Griffin was an American television host and media mogul. He began his career as a radio and big band singer who went on to appear in film and on Broadway. From 1965 to 1986, Griffin hosted his own talk show, The Merv Griffin Show. He also created the internationally popular game shows Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune through his television production companies, Merv Griffin Enterprises and Merv Griffin Entertainment. During his lifetime, Griffin was considered an entertainment business magnate. In 1991, he was sued by Deney Terrio, the host of Dance Fever, another show Griffin created, alleging sexual harassment. The same year, Brent Plott, a longtime employee who worked as a bodyguard, horse trainer and driver, filed a $200 million palimony lawsuit. Griffin characterized both lawsuits as extortion. Ultimately, both suits were dismissed.

2012 – ParaNorman, 3D animated comedy film produced by Laika and distributed by Focus Features, is the first mainstream children’s film with an explicit non-adult LGBTQ character. The film has drawn some attention for the revelation in its final scenes that Mitch is gay, making him the first openly gay character in a mainstream animated film. Nancy French of the National Review Online suggested that the film could lead parents “to answer unwanted questions about sex and homosexuality on the way home from the movie theater”. Conversely, Mike Ryan of The Huffington Post cited Mitch’s inclusion as one of the reasons why ParaNorman is “remarkable”. Co-director Chris Butler said that the character was explicitly connected with the film’s message: “If we’re saying to anyone that watches this movie don’t judge other people, then we’ve got to have the strength of our convictions.” In 2013 GLAAD nominated ParaNorman as its first-ever PG-rated movie for its annual GLAAD Media Awards.

2016, Space – The U.S. charity organization Planting Peace launched a rainbow flag as a symbolic gesture to “make space LGBTQ-friendly.” The flag was launched using a high-altitude balloon with a GoPro camera attached and went as high as 21.1 miles over the Earth’s surface, remaining airborne for over three hours.

Find the truth 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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