bring your hammers and fists –
we have a glass ceiling to shatter.
let’s leave this place roofless.
—Rupi Kaur, Instapoet
Learning our history is resistance! Thanks for taking this journey with me. Now go write your story!
Today in LGBT History – February 27
6th Century BC – Sappho (c. 630 – c. 570 BC) is born in Mytilene on the Isle of Lesbos. Most of Sappho’s poetry is now lost, and what is extant has survived only in fragmentary form, except for one complete poem – the “Ode to Aphrodite“. She has been called the greatest lyric poet of early Greece. Some historians believe she loved women romantically or erotically but, of course, interpreting fragments of poetry from other times in history across cultural and linguistic divides is more an art than a science. Plato called her the “Tenth Muse.” An aristocrat she was completely self-contained in her love for other women.
1880 – African-American lesbian poet, essayist and playwright Angelina Weld Grimké (February 27, 1880 – June 10, 1958) is born. She was an American journalist, teacher, playwright and poet who came to prominence during the Harlem Renaissance. She was one of the first women of color to have a play publicly performed. Analysis of her work by modern literary critics has provided strong evidence that Grimke was lesbian or bisexual. Scholars found more evidence after her death when studying her diaries and more explicit unpublished works. The Dictionary of Literary Biography: African-American Writers Before the Harlem Renaissance states: “In several poems and in her diaries Grimké expressed the frustration that her lesbianism created; thwarted longing is a theme in several poems.” Some of her unpublished poems are more explicitly lesbian, implying that she lived a life of suppression, both personal and creative.
1952 – Tam Elizabeth O’Shaughnessy (born January 27, 1952) is an American children’s science writer, former professional tennis player and co-founder of the science education company Sally Ride Science. O’Shaughnessy was the life partner of astronaut Sally Ride (May 26, 1951 – July 23, 2012), the first American woman in space, from 1985 until Ride’s death in 2012.
1957 – Sherry Harris (born February 27, 1957) was elected to the Seattle city council in 1991, making her the first openly lesbian African-American elected official. In 1991, Harris ran for political office in Seattle. She became the first candidate endorsed by the then newly-founded Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, a national organization supporting LGBTQ (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgendered Queer) persons in politics. By a 70% majority, Harris defeated the 24-year incumbent, Sam Smith, who had been the first African American elected to the Seattle City Council. She served as an at-large City Council member from 1992 to 1995. Sherry Harris lost her re-election bid in 1995. She attempted a political comeback two years later but did not win the general election. Since then Harris has focused on a holistic vision of persons, politics, and society. In 2010 Harris published her book, Changing the World from the Inside Out: Politics for the New Millennium. She founded her own company in Seattle: Spirit Mind Body Educational Resources. She lectures and conducts workshops locally, nationally, and internationally.
1989, Russia – The U.S.S.R. reports the case of twenty-nine infants and six mothers all of whom contracted AIDS. They were in the same hospital and contract the disease through a single unsterile syringe that was used over and over again.
1997 – The Centers for Disease Control reports a major decline in AIDS-related deaths for the first time.
2001 – Two female characters on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Willow and Tara, kiss. Though there had been other lesbian kisses on television, this was the first realistic lesbian relationship between two women on screen.
2004 – New Palz, NY, Mayor Jason West begins issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, following San Francisco. The license were later nullified.
2017 – When We Rise, an ABC mini-series, premiers on this day. It was a docudrama miniseries about LGBT rights, created by Dustin Lance Black (born June 10, 1974). The 45-year saga tells the evolving history of the modern gay rights movement, starting just after the Stonewall riots in 1969. Black is an American screenwriter, director, film and television producer, and LGBT rights activist. He has won a Writers Guild of America Award and an Academy Award for the 2008 film Milk.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks!)