Today in LGBT History – January 16

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’[s Galloup Poll ratings: 

1966: 33% favorable, 63% unfavorable

2018: 94% favorable, 4% unfavorable

“Edgar Hoover did everything in his power as Director of the FBI to publicly discredit King. He made it known that MLK was a “womanizer.” Hoover, himself, was a manizer.”       —Brian McNaught

Learning our 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 of whom she proposed, and it 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.

January 16, 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) up until his death and was often referred to as his 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; he instead slipped in and sat quietly on a back seat

January 16, 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 in GovanScotland as 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.

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.

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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