Today in LGBT History – February 5

It is not your responsibility to finish the work of perfecting the world, but you are not free to desist from it either.          –Rabbi Tarfon

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

Today in LGBT History – February 5

1914 – Author William S. Burroughs (February 5, 1914 – August 2, 1997) was born in St Louis. Burroughs was a primary figure of the Beat Generation and a major postmodernist author whose influence is considered to have affected a range of popular culture as well as literature. Burroughs wrote eighteen novels and novellas, six collections of short stories and four collections of essays. He shunned the wealth of his business machine-making family to work a number of jobs but his most famous accomplishment was as a writer. His addiction to drugs led to his first novel Junkie; the highlight was his 1959 hit Naked Lunch, a highly controversial work that was the subject of a court case after it was challenged as being in violation of the U.S. sodomy laws. The 25th anniversary edition of Queer published in 2010, edited by Oliver Harris, called into question Burroughs’s claim, and clarified the importance for Queer of Burroughs’s traumatic relationship with the boyfriend fictionalized in the story as Eugene Allerton.

1981, Canada – Toronto police raid gay bathhouses throughout the downtown arresting 286 people and causing hundreds of thousands of dollars damage. Beginning at 11 p.m., more than 150 police simultaneously raided the Club Baths, the Romans II Health and Recreation Spa, the Richmond Street Health Emporium (heavily damaged, it never reopened), and, for the second time, the Barracks. The raids marked a turning point for Toronto’s gay community; as the protests that followed indicated, people weren’t willing to endure derogatory treatment deriding their lifestyle from the police or from any others in spheres of influence, causing more than one participant to consider this the Canadian Stonewall

1982 -The film Personal Best opens in New York City. It depicts two women, Mariel Hemingway and Patrice Donnelly, as competing athletes who have a lesbian affair while training for the Olympics.

1988 – Arizona Governor Evan Mecham, who at the beginning of his administration tried to purge lesbians and gay men from state government, is impeached by the Arizona House of Representatives.

2005 – The Integrated Regional Information Networks reports that “honor killings’ by Iraqis against gay family members are common in a report entitled “Iraq: Male homosexuality still a taboo.” The Integrated Regional Information Networks, based in Kenya, states that the 2001 amendment to the criminal code stipulating the death penalty for homosexuality “has not been changed,” despite Paul Bremer’s clear order that the criminal code to go back to its 1980s edition.

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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