Today in LGBT History – JANUARY 1

Happy New Year! May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. We hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you’re wonderful, and don’t forget to make some art – write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And we hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself! (author unknown but a great wish indeed!)

I will continue to add LGBTQ history on these pages for 2019, but this is my last year. I encourage you to continue to search, continue to learn, as our stories continue to develop. As Kipling said: If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.The snippets of LGBTQ history here are the stories of our lives, the stories of the giants on whose shoulders we all stand. Learn about them then tell the stories…and remember, because knowing your history IS resistance!

Thanks for taking this journey with me. Now go write your story!

Today in LGBT History – JANUARY 1

1879, UK – E. M. Forster (1879 – 1970) is born in London. After his brilliant novel A Passage to Indiain 1924, he produced no new works. His gay novel Mauricewas written in 1914, but not published until after his death. For 50 years his lover was a married London policeman named Bob Buckingham. 

1886, UK – English Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1885 takes effect. “Indecencies” between adult males in private become crimes punishable by up to two years imprisonment. 

1892 – Ellis Island in New York harbor opened. Over 20 million new arrivals to America were processed until its closing in 1954. It is unknown how many of the new immigrants were gay or lesbians. Some estimates are as high as 1 million.

1895 – J. Edgar Hoover (1 January 1895 – 2 May 1972)is born in Washington. He was an American detective and the first Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) of the United Stateswhere he remained director until his death in 1972 at the age of 77. Hoover has been credited with building the FBI into a larger crime-fighting agency than it was at its inception and with instituting a number of modernizations to police technology, such as a centralized fingerprint file and forensic laboratories. From the 1940s, rumors circulated that Hoover, who was still living with his mother, was homosexual. His ever-constant companion and fellow FBI man Clyde Tolson was speculated to have been his lover. Hoover described Tolson as his alter ego: the men worked closely together during the day and, both single, frequently took meals, went to night clubs, and vacationed together.There are numerous stories of Hoover appearing in drag in New York, usually in a red dress. He liked to be called “Mary. 

1906 – Imre: A Memorandumis published. It is one of the first gay American novels with a happy ending, about two gay men in Budapest. Written by Edward Prime-Stevenson (1858-1942), it was republished in 2003.

1933, UK – John Kingsley (1 January 1933 – 9 August 1967)was born in Leicester, England. Writing under the name Joe Orton, he became of Britain’s most popular comic playwrights. He was murdered by his lover, actor Kenneth Halliwell  (23 June 1926 – 9 August 1967),who then committed suicide in the London flat they had occupied for 15 years. In 1967 Orton had written in his diary “I have high hopes of dying in my prime.”

1933, Germany – Lovers Erika Mann (November 9, 1905 – August 27, 1969)and Therese Giehse (6 March 1898 – 3 March 1975)write and direct the anti-fascist Cabaretin Germany. The Nazis shut it down on Jan. 30th. It re-opened in Zurich and became a rallying point for exiles. Mann was a German actress and writer. She was the eldest daughter of the novelist Thomas Mann. Giehse was a German actress. 

1933 – James Hormel(born January 1, 1933) is born. In 1999 he became the first openly gay U.S. ambassador, appointed by President Bill ClintonThis was around the time then-Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) compared homosexuality to alcoholism, kleptomania and sex addiction. Hormel is a noted LGBT activist.

1959 – Fidel Castro seizes power in Cuba after leading a revolution that drove out dictator Fulgencio Batista. Castro then established a Communist dictatorship. Although homosexuality was illegal under the Batista government, the laws were largely ignored in fun loving Cuba. Since Castro, tens of thousands of gays have been rounded up and imprisoned. 

1962 – Illinois repeals its sodomy laws, becoming the first U.S. state to decriminalize homosexuality.

1965 – Gays and lesbians are arrested at the New Year’s Day Mardi Gras Ball in San Francisco. The ball was a fundraiser for the Council on Religion and the Homosexual at California Hall. The event galvanizes the local gay and lesbian community.

1966 – Dr. Harry Benjamin (January 12, 1885 – August 24, 1986) publishes the first book devoted to a treatment of transsexuals, a term he also coined. The Transsexual Phenomenon becomes an influential voice in defense of that community.

1967 – The Los Angeles Police Department raid the New Year’s Eve parties at two gay bars, the Black Cat Tavern and New Faces. Several patrons were injured and a bartender was hospitalized with a fractured skull. Several hundred people spontaneously demonstrate on Sunset Boulevard and picket outside the Black Cat. The raids prompted a series of protests that began on January 5, 1967, organized by P.R.I.D.E. (Personal Rights in Defense and Education). It’s the first use of the term “Pride” that came to be associated with LGBT rights and fuels the formation of gay rights groups in California.

1970 – Chinese-American bisexual singer, songwriter, painter, educator, inventor and poet Magdalen Hsu-Li (born Jan. 1, 1970) is born. She would found Chickpop Records. 

1971 – First issue of The Empty Closetis ublished. It was a free newspaper originally published by the University of Rochester Gay Liberation Front, It isnow published by the Gay Alliance of the Genesee Valley, based in Rochester, New York. The motto of the Gay Alliance of the Genesee Valley is “Champions for LGBTQ life & culture in Rochester, NY. In February, 2011, the New York State Senate passed Resolution K130-2011 “Commemorating the 40th Anniversary of The Empty Closet,” noting the contributions of the newspaper to creating an atmosphere of social tolerance in the Rochester region.

1971 – Colorado and Oregon decriminalizes private consensual adult homosexual acts.

1972 –Sciencemagazine publishes a report that suggests male homosexuality may be determined in the womb due to chemical and/or hormonal stress of the pregnant woman.

1972 – Hawaii decriminalizes private consensual adult homosexual acts.

1973 – Maryland becomes the first state to statutorily ban same-sex marriage.

1974 – Ohio repeals its sodomy laws and decriminalizes private consensual adult homosexual acts. 

1975 – New Mexico decriminalizes private consensual adult homosexual acts.

1976 – Iowa decriminalizes private consensual adult homosexual acts. 

1977 – Vermont decriminalizes private consensual adult homosexual acts.

1977 – Harvey Milk (May 22, 1930 – November 27, 1978)takes office. He was an American politician and the first openly gay elected official in the history of California, where he was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. Although he was the most pro-LGBTpolitician in the United States at the time, politics and activism were not his early interests; he was neither open about his sexuality nor civically active until he was 40, after his experiences in the counterculture movement of the 1960s. Milk served almost eleven months in office and was responsible for passing a stringentgay rights ordinance for San Francisco. On November 27, 1978, Milkwas assassinated. Milk was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009 by President Obama.

1977 – The first lesbian mystery novel in America, Angel Danceby Mary F. Beal (1937), is published.

1978 – Good Housekeepingreaders name Anita Bryant “The Most Admired Woman in America.” 

1978 – North Dakota decriminalizes private consensual adult homosexual acts. 

1980 – Arizona decriminalizes private consensual adult homosexual acts. 

1989 – Adèle Haenel (born 1 January 1989) is a French actress. She has been nominated twice for the César Award for Most Promising Actress; in 2008 for her performance in Water Lilies (2007), and in 2012 for House of Tolerance(2011).In 2014, Haenel began a romantic relationship with the director Céline Sciammawhom she met on the set of Water Lilies. Haenel publicly acknowledged their relationship in her acceptance speech for her César award in 2014.

1990, Iran – The government of Iran beheads three gay men and stones two lesbians to death as part of an intensified campaign against “vice.”

1993- The World Health Organization officially deletes “homosexuality” from its list of “diseases.

1998, Turkmenistan – Article 135 of the new criminal code takes effect making male-male sex punishable by imprisonment.

2003 – Phat Family Records, an organization of LGBT hip-hop artists and fans, releases the groundbreaking CD Phat Family Volume 2: Down 4 the Swerve, featuring 14 tracks by gay, lesbian and bisexual hip-hop artists from across the U.S. and Europe, including Rainbow Flava, Tori Fixx, Miss Money, Tim’m T. West and others.

2008 – The Arizona LGBTQ Storytelling Project is founded by Jamie Ann Lee. The purpose of the project is to teach LGBTQ communities media production skills.

2009, Norway – Same-sex marriage becomes legal making Norway the first Scandinavian country and sixth country world-wide to legalize same-sex marriage.

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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