Today in LGBT History – August 5

We know that every moment is a moment of grace, every hour an offering; not to share them would mean to betray them. Our lives no longer belong to us alone; they belong to all those who need us desperately.   —Elie Wiesel

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

Today in LGBT History – August 5

1473, Italy – Leonardo Da Vinci (April 15, 1452 – May 2, 1519) draws his earliest known work, the Tuscan valley of Arno. His best known is the Mona Lisa. He was an Italian Renaissancepolymathwhose areas of interest included invention, painting, sculpting, science, music, mathematics, engineering, literature, anatomy, geologyastronomybotanywritinghistory, and cartography. He has been called the father of paleontologyichnology, and architecture, and is widely considered one of the greatest painters of all time. Sometimes credited with the inventions of the parachute, helicopter and tank,he epitomized the Renaissance humanist ideal. Leonardo was widely suspected of being gay but the identity label didn’t exist during his lifetime. Today, Leonardo is widely considered one of the most diversely talented individuals ever to have lived.

1730, Germany – Crown Prince Frederick, later Frederick The Great of Prussia was thought to have been in a relationship with Hans Hermann von Katte. They tried to escape from Prussia but were caught, arrested, and imprisoned for treason. Frederick was released by his father. Von Katte wasn’t so lucky. Sentenced only to imprisonment, the verdict was upgraded by the vindictive monarch. As part of Frederick William’s ongoing project to break his son, he made him watch his friend’s beheading from close enough proximity to beg (and receive) von Katte’s forgiveness. Katte was beheaded on Nov. 6, 1730.

1907 – Musician Earnestine Tiny Davis (August 5, 1907 – January 30, 1994) is born. In 1937, the Piney Woods Country Life School of Mississippi founded the 16-piece band known as “The International Sweethearts of Rhythm”. The purpose of the band was to financially support the school, which educated the poor and orphaned black children in that state. But in 1941, the International Sweethearts of Rhythm severed ties with the Piney Woods School, moved to Virginia and recruited seasoned professionals to join their band. The International Sweethearts pushed fevered audiences to new levels as Edna Williams, Willie Mae Wong, and Ruby Lucas upped the ante on the song “Swing Shift.” The Sweethearts were unique in that it was both all females as well as a racially integrated group. Latina, Asian, Caucasian, Black, Indian and Puerto Rican women came together and created music that more than held its own in the Swing Era: the musicians and the music they played were admired by their peers, including the likes of Count Basie and Louis Armstrong. The Jubilee Sessions, originally recorded for radio broadcasts aimed toward America’s black soldiers serving during 1943 to 1946, provide a rare opportunity to hear these women play. The Sweethearts didn’t get as much exposure to mainstream audiences in the South as the all-white, male big bands of their day because of their racial make-up and the atmosphere of violent racism in that region. When they did tour the Deep South, the three or four white women in the group would paint their faces dark so the police would not remove them from the bandstand and arrest them. While their exposure to white audiences was somewhat limited, they were extremely popular with black audiences. The all-girl band singer Tiny Davis and her partner since 1948, Ruby Lucas, owned Tiny and Ruby’s Gay Spot in Chicago during the 1950s. In 1988, a short film entitled Tiny & Ruby: Hell Divin’ Womenwas made as a tribute to Davis, and her lover of 40 years, drummer Ruby Lucas.

1970 – In New York City, the Rockefeller Five, part of the Gay Activists Alliance, appear in court, but their trial is postponed (charges are later dismissed). The GAA was most active from 1970 to 1974 and performed what they called zaps,(protests conceived by Marty Robinson) which were peaceful public confrontations with officials to draw media attention. Some of their more visible actions included protests against an anti-gay episode on the popular TV series Marcus Welby, M.D., a zap of Mayor John Lindsay at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and later at Radio City Music Hall. But the best known was a sit in at in at the offices of then Governor Rockefeller as part of a push for a Gay Civil Rights Bill to become state law.

1973, Canada – The Canadian Gay Archives is founded by The Body Politic, with newspaper’s back files as foundation. 

1986 – The Health Insurance Association of America files a suit claiming a law that had recently been approved to prohibit discrimination against people with HIV in health insurance was unconstitutional.

1987 – The ACLU files suit on behalf of a Chicago physician whose duties were limited because he had AIDS.

1988 – Screenwriter and director Colin Higgins (28 July 1941 – 5 August 1988) dies of complications from AIDS at age 47. He wrote the classic comedies Harold and Maude, Nine to Five, and The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. Two years before his death, Higgins had established the Colin Higgins Foundation that annually presents awards for outstanding work in the areas of AIDS education, advocacy, and the empowerment of the LGBTQ community.

1997 – The Dallas Morning News reports that in Texas, since 1990, twenty-one men had been murdered in anti-gay attacks.

1998 – The U.S. House of Representatives rejects a proposal to nullify President Clinton’s executive order banning discrimination based on sexual orientation in federal employment.

1999 – Charles Monroe Butler, Jr. and Steven Mullin were found guilty of the anti-gay murder of Billy Jack Gaither in Alabama and sentenced to life without parole.

2005 – A bill to allow civil unions in Oregon dies when the state legislature adjourns without voting.

2012, Mexico – Isabel Vargas Lizano (April 17,1919 – August 5, 2012) dies. She was better known as Chavela Vargas, a Costa Rican-born Mexican singer. She was especially known for her rendition of Mexican rancheras, but she is also recognized for her contribution to other genres of popular Latin American music. She had been an influential interpreter in the Americas and Europe, muse to figures such as Pedro Almodóvar, hailed for her haunting performances, and called “la voz áspera de la ternura”, the rough voice of tenderness. The Latin Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences presented her with a Latin GRAMMY Statuette in 2007 after receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award on behalf of that organization. Vargas was alleged to have had an affair with bisexual Frida Kahlo (July 6, 1907 – July 13, 1954) during Kahlo’s marriage to muralist Diego Rivera

August 5-21, 2016 – A record number of openly LGB athletes compete in the summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. The Human Rights Campaign estimates that there are at least 41 openly lesbian, gay and bisexual Olympians, up from 23 who participated in London in 2012, though puts that number at 49.

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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