Today in LGBT History – JANUARY 16

This is from my friend Rev. Michael Piazza: I keep coming across great protest signs, so I thought I’d share some. What I want to ask us is, “What do we care about enough to protest? What would your sign say?” As I think about the asylum seekers at the border and the children who STILL remain separated from their parents, I am reminded how African people were enslaved, and I ask, “Would I have been a slave owner, or a part of the protest, or would I simply have been a bystander who didn’t care enough to speak up?”Writing prompt: What do you care about enough to protest?

Rudyard 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 16

1847, Canada – Eliza McCormick of Ontario is arrested after posing as a man and proposing marriage to a woman. A Hartford, CT newspaper dubs her “a female Lothario” for living as a man. McCormick had taken on a male persona for two to three years and during this time had at least six courtships, three to whom she proposed and was accepted. One of these women, a dressmaker, even made her own wedding dress. According to The Transgender Foundation of America’s (TFA) Archive in Houston, Texas, social shame was used to force McCormick to conform to typical gender norms after McCormick was jailed.

1887 – George Kelly (16 January 1887 – 18 June 1974)was born in Philadelphia. He was an American playwrightscreenwriterdirector, and actor. He began his career in vaudeville as an actor and sketch writer. He became best known for his satiric comedies, including The Torch-Bearers (1922) and The Show-Off (1924). Kelly maintained a 55-year relationship with his lover William Ellsworth Weagley, Jr., (January 12, 1891 – November 25, 1975) until his death. Weagley was often referred to as Kelly’s valet. That Kelly was gay was a closely guarded secret and went unacknowledged by his family to the point of not inviting Weagley to his funeral but Weagley slipped in and sat quietly on a back seat.

1901 – New York City politician Murray Hall (1841 – January 16, 1901)dies of cancer. He was a New York City bail bondsman and Tammany Hall politician. A poker-playing, whiskey-drinking man-about-town, after his death, the fact that he was biologically female is revealed by the coroner, astonishing and confounding his daughter and his associates. Born inGovan,Scotlandas Mary Anderson, Hall lived as a man for nearly 25 years, able to work as a politician and vote in a time when women were denied such rights. At the time of his death, he resided with his second wife and their adopted daughter.

1929, UK – The first edition of the BBC’s “The Listener” is published, stays in print until 1991. Joe Randolph “J. R.” Ackerley(4 November 1896 – 4 June 1967), who was openly gay despite homosexuality being illegal at the time, was its literary editor from 1935 until 1959. Ackerly was a British writer and editor. Starting with the BBC the year after its founding in 1927, he was promoted to literary editor of The Listener, its weekly magazine, where he served for more than two decades. He published many emerging poets and writers who became influential in Great Britain. He was openly homosexual, a rarity in his time when homosexuality was forbidden by law and socially ostracized.

1933 – Susan Sontag (January 16, 1933 – December 28, 2004) was an American writer, filmmaker, teacher, and political activist. She mostly wrote essays, but also published novels; she published her first major work, the essay “Notes on ‘Camp’“, in 1964. Her best-known works include On PhotographyAgainst InterpretationStyles of Radical WillThe Way We Live NowIllness as MetaphorRegarding the Pain of OthersThe Volcano Lover, and In America. Sontag was active in writing and speaking about, or travelling to, areas of conflict, including during the Vietnam War and the Siege of Sarajevo. She wrote extensively about photography, culture and media, AIDS and illness, human rights, and communism and leftist ideology. Although her essays and speeches sometimes drew controversy, she has been described as “one of the most influential critics of her generation.”  Sontag lived with ‘H’, the writer and model Harriet Sohmers Zwerling whom she first met at U. C. Berkeley from 1958 to 1959. Afterwards, Sontag was the partner of María Irene Fornés(born May 14, 1930), a Cuban-American avant garde playwright and director. Upon splitting with Fornes, she was involved with an Italian aristocrat, Carlotta Del Pezzo, and the German academic Eva Kollisch. Sontag was also romantically involved with the American artists Jasper JohnsPaul Thek, writer Joseph Brodsky. During the early 1970s, Sontag lived with Nicole Stéphane, a Rothschild banking heiress turned movie actress, and, later, the choreographer Lucinda Childs. With Annie Leibovitz(born October 2, 1949), Sontag maintained a relationship stretching from the later 1980s until her final years.

1952 – Julie Anne Peters (born January 16, 1952) is an American author of young adult fiction. Peters has published over 20 works, mostly novels, geared toward children and adolescents, many of which feature LGBT characters. In addition to the United States, Peters’s books have been published in numerous countries, including South Korea, China, Croatia, Germany, France, Italy, Indonesia, Turkey and Brazil. Her 2004 book Luna was the first young-adult novel with a transgender character to be released by a mainstream publisher.

1967 – The Louisiana Supreme Court rules that the state’s statutory ban on “unnatural carnal copulation” applies to women engaged in oral sex with other women, making lesbian sexual contact is illegal.

1981 – The first conference in the eastern U.S. for Black Lesbians opens in Brooklyn, New York. It was called “Becoming Visible: Survival for Black Lesbians. The first “Becoming Visible” conference in the country, though, was in San Francisco in October, 1980. The First Black Lesbian Conference was an outgrowth from the First National Third World Lesbian and Gay Conference by the National Coalition of Black Lesbians and Gays which was held in 1979, in Washington, DC. Although there had been previous conferences supporting both lesbians and gays, the First Black Lesbian Conference was the first in the United States with the mission to hold a conference with the sole focus of supporting African-Americans lesbians. In the decades leading to the conference, it was not uncommon for other various organizations to push African-American lesbian women out, as a result of the lack of knowledge surrounding diversity of sexual orientation and race.Prominent activists in the African-American Lesbian Liberation Movement were keynote speakers for the First Black Lesbian Conference. These speakers included Andrea Ruth Canaan, Pat Norman, and Angela Davis.The First Black Lesbian Conference was coordinated by 8 individuals: Rani Eversley, Kenya Johnson, Rose Mitchell, Marie Renfro, Janna Rickerson, Elizabeth Summers, and Patricia Tilley.

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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