Today in LGBT History – January 1

Happy New Year! In this political time of our lives where discrimination is renewed and uncertainty hovers over us, I will share with you my daily meditations and quotes that help keep me grounded as I strengthen my resolve to resist. This year I’ll use the book Proud to Be by Amy E. Dean.

I have the opportunity to re-create the world for myself. Today I set one goal that will help me remake this world into a place that is right for me. I spread my arms wide, open my heart, and face my new world with energy, hope, and vitality

Learning our history IS resistance!

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

Today in LGBT History – January 1

1533, Italy –Michelangelo write a love letter to Tommaso de Cavalieri, devoting “the present and the time to come that remain to me.”

1801, UK – Ireland was added to Great Britain by an Act of Union thus creating the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. It also put Ireland, and today, Northern Ireland under British laws on morality and particularly homosexuality. 

1879, UK – E. M. Forster (1879 – 1970) is born in London. After his brilliant novel A Passage to India in 1924, he produced no new works. His gay novel Maurice was 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 a crime 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 gays and lesbians. Some estimates are as high as 1 million (This is lower than 10% since most of those admitted to the US were families). 

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 States. He was appointed as the fifth director of the Bureau of Investigation — the FBI’s predecessor — in 1924 and was instrumental in founding the FBI in 1935, where 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”. 

1901, Australia – The Commonwealth of Australia was founded as six former British colonies became six states with Edmund Barton as the first prime minister, and Canberra as the capital. Today, Sydney, the biggest city in Australia, has one of the world’s largest gay communities. It’s annual Mardi Gras celebrations draw nearly a million a people from all over the globe. 

1906 – Imre: A Memorandum is 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 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.” Halliwell was a British actor, writer and collagist.

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 Cabaret in Germany. The Nazis shut it down on Jan. 30th. It re-opens in Zurich and becomes 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 Clinton This 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 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 5 January 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 Closet published.It was a free newspaper originally published by the University of Rochester Gay Liberation Front which is now 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.”The Empty Closet reports on issues of interest to the local and national LGBT/LGBTQ and allied communities. 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 – Science magazine 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 stringent gay rights ordinance for San Francisco. On November 27, 1978, Milk was assassinated. Milk was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009 by President Obama.

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

1978 – Good Housekeeping readers 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. 

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

1991, Kosovo –The age of consent for sexual activity becomes 14 regardless of the gender of the parties involved. All sexual criminal laws become gender neutral.

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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