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 21
1826 -Frances Ann Wood(August 21, 1826 – November 10, 1901) was an American educator. She was the founder of the Mount Carroll Seminarywhich later became Shimer Collegein Mount Carroll, Illinois. She was also the sole proprietress of the school from 1870 to her retirement in 1896. Turns out Frances and her woman companion, Cinderella Gregory, left upstate NY in 1800s to go out west looking for land to “start a woman’s seminary.” They found it in Mt. Carroll and established Shimer. They moved into a house in Mt. Carroll and lived there for years. When they were in middle age Frances “married” a local townsman named Shimer who moved into the house with them. From 1853 to 1870, Frances Shimer operated the Mount Carroll Seminary as a partnership with Cinderella Gregory, who served as the chief academic officer while Shimer handled finances and other non-academic operations. Shimer and Gregory purchased the school from the discouragedincorporatorsin 1855, when it still occupied only a single building. The subsequent expansion of the seminary to a 25-acre campus with four connected buildings and numerous outbuildings was attributed largely to Shimer’s industry and careful management of finances.
1869 – Walt Whitman (May 31, 1819 – March 26, 1892)wrote to Peter Doyle on this date: “My love for you is indestructible, and since that night and morning has returned more than before.”
1872, UK – Aubrey Beardsley (August 21, 1872 – March 16, 1898) was born in Brighton, England. More than any other artist of his time, Beardsley epitomized the Art Nouveau style. As a young man he would walk down the boulevards of Paris arm in arm with his mother, his makeup far more dazzling than hers. Although Beardsley was associated with the homosexualclique that included Oscar Wilde (16 October 1854 – 30 November 1900)and other English aesthetes, the details of his sexuality remain in question. He was generally regarded as asexual. His association with Oscar Wilde ruined him and he died of tuberculosis three years after Wilde was sentenced to prison.
1928 – James “John” Finley Gruber (August 21, 1928 – February 27, 2011) was an American teacher and early LGBT rights activist. Gruber helped to document the early LGBT movement through interviews with historians, participating in a panel discussion in San Francisco in 2000 commemorating the 50th anniversary of the founding of Mattachine and appearing in the 2001 documentary film Hope Along the Wind about the life of Harry Hay (April 7, 1912 – October 24, 2002). Growing up Gruber considered himself bisexual and was involved with both men and women. His father, a former vaudevillian turned music teacher, relocated the family to Los Angeles in 1936. Gruber enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in 1946 at the age of 18 and was honorably discharged in 1949. Using his G.I. Billbenefits, Gruber studied English literature at Occidental College in Los Angeles. Gruber suffered increasingly ill health for several years before his death on February 27, 2011, at his home in Santa Clara.
1929, Mexico – Bisexual Frida Kahlo (July 6, 1907 – July 13, 1954) marries Diego Rivera. She was a Mexican painter, who mostly painted self-portraits. Inspired by Mexican popular culture, she employed a naïve folk art style to explore questions of identity, post colonialism, gender, class, and race in Mexican society. Her work has been celebrated internationally as emblematic of Mexican national and indigenous traditions, and by feminists for what is seen as its uncompromising depiction of the female experience and form. Kahlo was mainly known as Rivera’s wife until the late 1970s, when her work was rediscovered by art historians and political activists. By the early 1990s, she had become not only a recognized figure in art history, but also regarded as an icon for Chicanos, the Feminism movement, and the LGBTQ movement. Kahlo’s work has been celebrated internationally as emblematic of Mexican national andIndigenoustraditions, and by feminists for what is seen as its uncompromising depiction of the female experience and form.
1935 – Mart Crowley (born August 21, 1935) is an American playwright. He worked for a number of television production companies in Hollyhwood before meeting Natalie Wood on the set of her film Splendor in the Grass. Wood hired him as her assistant, primarily to give him free time to work on his gay-themed play The Boys in the Band, which opened off-Broadway on April 14, 1968 and enjoyed a run of 1,000 performances.Crowley has appeared in at least three documentaries: The Celluloid Closet (1995), about the depiction of homosexuality in cinema; Dominick Dunne: After the Party (2007), a biography of Crowley’s friend and producer Dominick Dunne; and Making the Boys (2011), a documentary about the making of The Boys in the Band. Crowley is openly gay.
1936, Spain – Luisa Isabel Alvarez de Toledo y Maura, 21st Duchess of Medina Sidonia, Grandee of Spain (August 21, 1936 – March 7, 2008) was nicknamed La Duquesa Rojaor The Red Duchess. She was the 21st Duchess of the ducal family of Medina-Sidonia, one of the most prestigious noble families and Grandees of Spain. Eleven hours before her death, on March 7, 2008, Luisa Isabel married her longtime partner and secretary since 1983, Liliana Maria Dahlmann in a civil ceremony on her deathbed.Today, the Dowager Duchess Liliana Maria,her legal widow, serves as life-president of the Fundación Casa Medina Sidonia.
1944, Germany – Felice Schragenheim (March 9, 1922 – December 31, 1944), a young Jewish resistance fighter in Germany, was sent to a concentration camp in Poland on this date. Her love story with Lilly Wust, a German wife of a Nazi, is portrayed in the 1999 film Aimee & Jaguarand in a book of the same name by Erica Fischer. It is also the subject of the 1997 documentary Love Story: Berlin 1942.
1970 – Huey Newton, co-founder of the Black Panthers, publicly announces his support of gay rights, stating his “solidarity” with the “Gay Power” movement.
1971, Canada – In Ottawa, “We Demand,” a brief prepared by the Toronto Gay Action and sponsored by Canadian gay groups, is presented to the federal government. It calls for law reform and changes to public policy relating to homosexuals.
1983 – The musical version of “La Cage Aux Folles” opens on Broadway to rave reviews and $4 million in advance ticket sales. With a book written by Harvey Fierstein (born June 6, 1954) and lyrics and music by Jerry Herman(born July 10, 1931), La Cage is a romantic musical comedy based on a popular French film about two male lovers, the manager and the leading star of a nightclub featuring female impersonators.
1989 – The National Association of State Boards of Education reports that only twenty-four states require AIDS education in schools, and eighteen of those suggest abstinence as the only method of avoiding the disease. Only three programs require teachers to discuss the use of condoms in their programs.
1989 – Lucie McKinney, the widow of Congressman Stewart McKinney (R-CT) (January 30, 1931 – May 7, 1987), the first congressman to die of complications from AIDS, challenges his will in court because he left a car and a 40% share of his Washington, DC house to his lover Arnold Dennison. McKinney’s physician speculated that McKinney became infected with HIVin 1979 as the result of blood transfusions during heart surgery.McKinney was known by friends to be bisexual, though his family said this was not the case, which raised the issue of how he had contracted the disease. Anti-gay prejudice at the time of McKinney’s death in 1987 may have promoted a disingenuous approach to speculations on the cause of McKinney’s HIV infection. Arnold Denson, the man with whom McKinney had been living in Washington, said that he had been McKinney’s lover, and that he believed McKinney was already infected when Denson met him.
1994 – Rikki Streicher (1922 – Aug. 21,1994) dies of cancer at age 68 in San Francisco. She opened Maud’s, America’s oldest continuously operating lesbian bar, in 1966 and Amanda’s, a lesbian dance club that opened in 1978. Maud’s closed in 1989 because of financial problems. Streicher also helped organize the Gay Games in San Francisco in 1986. Streicher was born in 1922. She served in the military and lived in Los Angeles in the 1940s, where she spent time in the gay bars of that city. She also frequented the gay bars of North Beach in San Francisco. Butch-femme roles were very fixed at that time. Streicher, then identified as butch, and was photographed in 1945 in a widely published image, sitting in Oakland‘s Claremont Resort with other lesbians, wearing a suit and tie.In 1966, Streicher opened Maud’s, originally called “Maud’s Study”, or “The Study”, a lesbian bar on Cole St. in the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco. The following year, the Haight-Ashbury would become the epicenter of the hippie movement during the 1967 Summer of Love. Maud’s, said one historian, served to “bridge the gap between San Francisco’s lesbian community and its hippie generation.” Because women were not allowed to be employed as bartenders in San Francisco until 1971, Streicher had to either tend bar herself or hire male bartenders. The bar quickly became a popular gathering place for San Francisco lesbians and bisexual women. One notable customer of Maud’s was singer Janis Joplin(January 19, 1943 – October 4, 1970). Activists Del Martin(May 5, 1921 – August 27, 2008)and Phyllis Lyon(born November 10, 1924)were also early patrons of Maud’s. In 1978, at the height of the disco era, Streicher opened a more spacious bar and dance club on Valencia Street in San Francisco’s Mission District called Amelia’s, named after Amelia Earhart. Streicher died of cancer in 1994, and was survived by her partner, Mary Sager.
1996 – Intel announces that the company will begin offering domestic partner benefits.
1996 – Denver Colorado’s Career Service Authority votes 5-0 to extend health insurance benefits to the partners and children of gay and lesbian city employees. The plan did not cover unmarried heterosexual couples. Mayor Wellington Webb announced that he would approve the plan, which had the support of the majority of the city council.
1997 – Irving Cooperberg, (1932 – Aug. 21, 1997), co-founder of the New York City Lesbian and Gay Community Services Center, dies of complications from AIDS at age 65. Mr. Cooperberg, who was born and raised in Brooklyn, quit college in 1951, joined the Army and served in Korea. Real estate investments in Manhattan and Fire Island Pines, beginning in the early 1960’s, made him wealthy. In 1973, he attended a service at the embryonic gay and lesbian synagogue, Congregation Beth Simchat Torah, in Greenwich Village. He soon volunteered to serve on its board. Because of his role at the synagogue, Mr. Cooperberg was drawn into the effort in the early ’80’s to establish a citywide lesbian and gay center with a full complement of services. One of the first of its kind in the country, it was to occupy the former Food and Maritime High School at 208 West 13th Street. Mr. Cooperberg was elected the center’s first president in July 1983 and served until May 1987. He is survived by his companion, Lou Rittmaster.
1998 – According to a survey by the Arizona Department of Public Safety, hate crimes in the first part of 1998 were down 15% but gay males were the second most commonly targeted group with twenty incidents. Ten incidents against lesbians were reported.
1998 – Elton Jackson was found guilty by a jury in Virginia of the murder of Andrew Smith. He was given a sentence of life in prison. Police suspected him in the murder of twelve gay men.
2002 – Twenty lesbian and gay survivors whose partners died in the September 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center were told they would receive workers’ compensation under a new state law.
2003 – Former Georgia representative Bob Barr, the man who wrote the Defense of Marriage Act that prevents same-sex couples from receiving federal benefits, said it would be a mistake to amend the Constitution to ban gay marriage.
2004 – A Louisiana state judge rules that the proposed constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages and civil unions was unconstitutional and must be taken off the September 18 ballot.
2008 – The Coquille Indian Tribe in Oregon legalizes same-sex marriage which is not recognized by the state.
2008 – Hallmark Greeting Cards based in Kansas City introduces line of same-sex wedding cards.
2018 – A bill was signed into law designating the LGBTQ Veterans Memorial in Desert Memorial Parkin Palm Springs as California’s official LGBTQ veterans memorial. California becomes the first state in the nation to officially recognize LGBTQ military veterans.
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 email@example.com. Thanks!)