We can’t ignore the issues of gun control that this tragedy raises. And so, I’m asking — no, demanding — we take action now. Why? Because at the end of the day, the students at my school felt one shared experience — our politicians abandoned us by failing to keep guns out of schools. This time, my classmates and I are going to hold them to account. This time we are going to pressure them to take action. This time we are going to force them to spend more energy protecting human lives than unborn fetuses. —Cameron Kasky, a survivor of the Parkland, FL, school shooting this week.
Learning our history is resistance! Thanks for taking this journey with me. Now go write your story!
Today in LGBT History – February 16
1886 – The term “Boston Marriage,” which describes a long-term cohabiting relationship between two women, is written for the first time. Novelist Henry James uses it in his book The Bostonians. Henry James (15 April 1843 – 28 February 1916) was an American author regarded as a key transitional figure between literary realism and literary modernism, and is considered by many to be among the greatest novelists in the English language. Born in the United States, James largely relocated to Europe as a young man and eventually settled in England, becoming a British subject in 1915, one year before his death. James was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1911, 1912, and 1916. Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick‘s (May 2, 1950 – April 12, 2009) Epistemology of the Closet made a landmark difference to Jamesian scholarship by arguing that he be read as a homosexual writer whose desire to keep his sexuality a secret shaped his layered style and dramatic artistry.
1893 – Katharine Cornell (February 16, 1893 – June 9, 1974) was an American stage actress, writer, theater owner and producer. She married Guthrie McClintic (August 6, 1893 – October 29, 1961), a successful theatre director, film director, and producer based in New York, in 1921, but it is generally acknowledged that Cornell was a lesbian, and McClintic was gay, and their union was a lavender marriage. She was a member of the “sewing circles” in New York, and had relationships with Nancy Hamilton (July 27, 1908 – February 18, 1985), Tallulah Bankhead (January 31, 1902 – December 12, 1968), and Mercedes de Acosta (March 1, 1893 – May 9, 1968) , among others.
1920 – American feminist Susan B. Anthony (February 15, 1820 – March 13, 1906) was born in Adams, Massachusetts. She was an American social reformer and women’s rights activist who played a pivotal role in the women’s suffrage movement. Born into a Quaker family committed to social equality, she collected anti-slavery petitions at the age of 17. In 1856, she became the New York state agent for the American Anti-Slavery Society.
1926 – The great English film director John Schlesinger (16 February 1926 – 25 July 2003) was born on this date. His Midnight Cowboy (1969) was panned by critics for being too gay, and by gay activists for not being gay enough. Schlesinger died in Palm Springs at the age of 77. He is survived by his partner of over 30 years, photographer Michael Childers.
1990 – Famed pop artist Keith Haring (May 4, 1958 – February 16, 1990) dies from AIDS at 31. Six months earlier he had been quoted as saying, “The hardest thing is just knowing that there’s so much more stuff to do.” He was an American artist whose pop art and graffiti-like work grew out of the New York City street culture of the 1980s. Haring’s work grew to iconic popularity from his exuberant spontaneous drawings in New York City subways – chalk outlines on blank black advertising-space backgrounds – depicting radiant babies, flying saucers, and deified dogs. After public recognition he created larger scale works such as colorful murals, many of them commissioned. His imagery has become a widely recognized visual language. His later work often addressed political and societal themes – especially homosexuality and AIDS – through his own unique iconography.
1991, London: The Direct Action group OUTRAGE! organizes a gay and lesbian kiss-in at Piccadilly Circus in protest of a section of the Sexual Offences Act that makes public displays of affection between men illegal. Also this day in London, 7,000 demonstrators march to protest the recent arrest of gay male s/m devotees and other anti-gay/lesbian initiatives.
1997 – An episode of the Simpsons called “Homer’s Phobia” airs, exploring gay themes.
2015 – Lesbian singer Leslie Gore (May 2, 1946 – February 16, 2015) dies at 68. She was an American singer, songwriter, actress, and activist. At the age of 16 (in 1963) she recorded the pop hit “It’s My Party“, and followed it up with other hits including “Judy’s Turn to Cry“, “She’s a Fool“, “You Don’t Own Me“, “Maybe I Know” and “California Nights“. Gore also worked as an actress and composed songs with her brother, Michael Gore, for the 1980 film Fame, for which she was nominated for an Academy Award. She hosted an LGBT-oriented public television show, In the Life, on American TV in the 2000s, and was active until 2014. In a 2005 interview with After Ellen, she stated she was a lesbian and had been in a relationship with luxury jewelry designer Lois Sasson since 1982. She had known since she was 20 and stated that although the music business was “totally homophobic,” she never felt she had to pretend she was straight. At the time of her death, Gore and her partner Lois Sasson had been together for 33 years.
2016 – Washington State Supreme Court rules against discrimination based on sexual orientation in the “gay wedding flowers” case. The Washington Supreme Court rules unanimously that a florist who refused to provide services for a same-sex wedding broke the state’s antidiscrimination law, even though she claimed doing so would violate her religious beliefs.
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!)