Today is the birthday of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. His “I Have a Dream” speech, delivered before a crowd of some 250,000 people at the 1963 March on Washington, remains one of the most famous speeches in history. Weaving in references to the country’s Founding Fathers and the Bible, King used universal themes to depict the struggles of African Americans, before closing with an improvised riff on his dreams of equality. The eloquent speech was immediately recognized as a highlight of the successful protest, and has endured as one of the signature moments of the civil rights movement. I urge you to go to http://www.history.com/topics/i-have-a-dream-speech to read more, and to read Dr. King’s speech.
Learning our history is resistance! Thanks for taking this journey with me. Now go write your story!
Today in LGBT History – January 15
1622, France – French writer Moliere (15 January 1622 – 17 February 1673) was born in Paris as Jean Baptiste Poquelin. He was a playwright and actor who is considered to be one of the greatest masters of comedy in Western literature. While it may be easy to dismiss some of the commentary about him as the ramblings of jealous rivals, it is known that Moliere fell in love with 15-year old Michel Baron (8 October 1653 – 22 December 1729) after taking him into his home saving him from a troop of young actors of which he was the star. The romance ruined his marriage but Michel was with him until his death. Michel was a French actor and playwright.
1815, France – In the aftermath of the death of lesbian actress Françoise Marie Antoinette Saucerotte (3 March 1756 – 15 January 1815) , known as Mlle Raucourt, her mourners riot because clergy refuse to admit her body to St. Roch. She received considerable criticism for her relationships with women, the most famous of whom was opera singer Sophie Arnould (13 February 1740, Paris – 18 October 1802, Paris)..
1893, UK – British musical comedy performer Ivor Novello (15 January 1893 – 6 March 1951) was born in Cardiff Wales. He was a Welsh composer and actor who became one of the most popular British entertainers of the first half of the 20th century. It seems everyone except the millions of women of swooned over the star knew he was gay. Novello wrote the famous World War I song “Keep the home fires Burning,” but it is not clear which soldier he was keeping them burning for. Even Winston Churchill admitted to having a one night stand with Novello.
1926 – The 15th annual Greenwich Village Ball, extravagant but discreet, is held in New York at Webster Hall
1929 – Martin Luther King (1929-1968) was born in Atlanta, Georgia. As an African American civil rights leader he spoke eloquently and stressed nonviolent methods to achieve equality. He received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. He was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee, on April 4, 1968. In 1983, the third Monday in January was designated a legal holiday in the U.S. to celebrate his birthday. King’s message was a catalyst for many in the gay rights movement and continues to be an inspiration for the GLBT community today.
1958 – The opera “Vanessa,” by American composer Samuel Barber (March 9, 1910 – January 23, 1981), is performed in New York for which Barber wins the Pulitzer. He was an American composer of orchestral, opera, choral, and piano music and is one of the most celebrated composers of the 20th century. Barber’s life partner was Gian Carlo Menotti (July 7, 1911 – February 1, 2007) who was an Italian-American composer and librettist. Although he often referred to himself as an American composer, he kept his Italian citizenship. He wrote the classic Christmas opera Amahl and the Night Visitors, along with over two dozen other operas intended to appeal to popular taste.
1973 – At the Nurturing Place ranch outside of Tucson, straight women and lesbians come together to discuss and develop their feminist values. It becomes a haven for lesbian feminists.
1973 – The New York DMV bans “offensive” license plate combinations, including “DYK” and “FAG.”
1973 – Lance Loud comes out on the PBS series An American Family. He’s the first person to come out on national television.
1974 – After Dark magazine announces it will no longer allow the word “gay” to be included in any advertisements. Although popular with gay men for its art photographs of nude males, the magazine never admitted it was targeting a gay market. It used the subtle phrase, “The Magazine You Can Leave on Your Coffee Table When Your Mother Visits” to get the point across.
1975, Italy – The Vatican releases its “Declaration on Certain Questions Concerning Sexual Ethics” which includes a definition of homosexuality as “a serious depravity.”
1978 – Anita Bryant speaks at the People’s Church in North York. Gays, lesbians and others protest outside.
1982 – On the syndicated “Helen Gurley Brown Show,” the host (and Cosmopolitan editor) asks National Gay Task Force director Lucia Valeska, “Is it true that gay people are sexier than non-gay people?”
2008, Australia – Transgender rights advocate Zoe Belle dies. The Zoe Belle Gender Collective in Victoria is named in her memory.
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, 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!)