Kelly and I went to a Barry Manilow concert in Palm Desert, CA, with some friend. I was happy to spend a night out with pals but didn’t really think about the concert. After all, Barry Manilow…really? Well, to my surprise, I enjoy the show thoroughly. Barry, at 74, was the ultimate showman. The music, his huge band, his stage presence, enthralled me. I laughed and cried and sand along for a full no-stop 90 minutes. If you get a chance to see Barry Manilow, do yourself a favor and go. This is part of our living LGBT history.
I invite you to go to Kelly’s and my Facebook page cleverly called Resist with Kelly and Ronni. Also, use Resistbot on your phones to text your legislators. Just text to 50409 and type resist. They’ll guide you through the rest.
Today in LGBT History – December 14
1576, Italy – Poet Torquato Tasso (11 March 1544 – 25 April 1595) admits his love for Orazio Ariosto. Tasso was an Italian poet of the 16th century, best known for his poem Gerusalemme liberate (Jerusalem Delivered, 1581), in which he depicts a highly imaginative version of the combats between Christians and Muslims at the end of the First Crusade, during the Siege of Jerusalem. He suffered from mental illness and died a few days before he was due to be crowned as the king of poets by Pope Clement VIII. Until the beginning of the 20th century, Tasso remained one of the most widely read poets in Europe.
1918 – After two years of wearing men’s clothing, Mary Bertha Schmidt, known as Mister Schmidt, is taken to court in St. Louis, Missouri on cross-dressing charges. The judge thought Mister Schmidt, who was dapperly dressed, looked “very nice” and declines to fine Schmidt. Mister Schmidt marries his cousin Mary Ana Assade. A Los Angeles Herald article from 1918 quoted Schmidt as saying, “I always hated men, as did Mary also, so wo both decided to get married. The ceremony was performed by a justice of the peace and we bought a nice little home in South St. Louis. We were living together very happily until the police interfered.”
1946 – Bruce Wayne Campbell (aka Jobriath) (December 14, 1946 – August 4, 1983) is born. He was the first openly gay rock musician to be signed to a major record label, and one of the first internationally famous musicians to die of AIDS.
1971 – A demonstration sponsored by the Gay Activists Alliance took place at Suffolk County Police headquarters in New York. Two men and one woman were arrested. It was held to protest the arrest of two members of GAA on charges of sodomy.
1980 – “La Cage aux Folles” ends its nineteen-month run at New York City’s 68th Street Playhouse. La Cage is a musical with a book by Harvey Fierstein and lyrics and music by Jerry Herman. Based on the 1973 French play of the same name by Jean Poiret, it focuses on a gay couple: Georges, the manager of a Saint-Tropez nightclub featuring drag entertainment, and Albin, his romantic partner and star attraction, and the farcical adventures that ensue when Georges’s son, Jean-Michel, brings home his fiancée‘s ultra-conservative parents to meet them. La cage aux folles literally means “the cage of mad women”. However, follesis also a slang term for effeminate homosexuals (queens). The original 1983 Broadway production received nine nominations for Tony Awards and won six, including Best Musical, Best Score and Best Book. Albin’s Act I finale number, “I Am What I Am“, was recorded by Gloria Gaynor and proved to be one of her biggest hits. It was also recorded by other artists, including Shirley Bassey, Tony Bennett, Pia Zadora, and John Barrowman. It also became a rallying cry of the Gay Pride movement.
1988 – The film adaptation of Harvey Fierstein’s (born June 6, 1954) “Torch Song Trilogy” opens in the United States. Torch Song Trilogy is a collection of three plays by Harvey Fierstein rendered in three acts: International Stud, Fugue in a Nursery, and Widows and Children First! The story centers on Arnold Beckoff, a Jewish homosexual, drag queen, and torch singer who lives in New York City in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The four-hour play begins with a soliloquy in which he explains his cynical disillusionment with love. Fierstein adapted his play for a feature film, released in 1988. It was directed by Paul Bogart and starred Fierstein (Arnold), Anne Bancroft (Ma Beckoff), Matthew Broderick (Alan), Brian Kerwin (Ed), and Eddie Castrodad (David).
1990 – The ACLU filed a lawsuit alleging that Hawaii corrections officers violated an inmate’s civil rights by testing him for HIV without consent.
1990 – At the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, the board of governors voted unanimously to remove the Lesbian Bisexual Gay Alliance’s two ex officio positions. Officials said it had nothing to do with discrimination, that the board wanted to remove all ex officio positions and replace them with elected officials. However, no other ex officio positions were eliminated.
1990 – In New York, Alfred University faculty approved a resolution urging officials to ban ROTC because of the military’s anti-gay policies.
1993 – In Denver Colorado, Judge Jeffrey Bayless ruled Amendment 2 unconstitutional. The amendment to the Colorado state constitution sought to eliminate all gay rights laws in the state and prevent any more from being passed. It would have prevented any city, town, or county in the state from taking any legislative, executive, or judicial action to recognize homosexuals as a protected class.
2006 – Actress Kate Fleming (October 6, 1965 – December 14, 2006) is trapped in a flooded basement room in her Seattle home. Her partner of ten years, Charlene Strong (born May 6, 1963), follows the ambulance to the hospital and is prevented by hospital staff from being at Kate’s side for a number of torturous minutes until Kate’s biological family can be reached on the east coast. Charlene is with Kate, finally, when she dies. Afterward, a funeral director refuses to shake Charlene’s hand or allow her to make arrangements, even with the full support of Kate’s mother. Charlene will testify and help pass a Washington State domestic partner. Had it been in force that December, Charlene would have allowed to be by Kate’s side and would have protected Kate’s right to let Charlene speak for her at the funeral home. For My Wife is a feature documentary chronicling Charlene’s journey into activism following Kate’s death. Strong works closely with Equal Rights Washington, and has endowed a fellowship at the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force in Washington, D.C.
2006 – The New Jersey Legislature enacts a bill to establish civil unions in that state. The measure passes 56–19 in the Assembly, and 23–12 in the Senate.
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, 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!)