Today in LGBT History – JANUARY 21

“We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn’t matter with me now, because I’ve been to the mountaintop … I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land.”Martin Luther King, Jr. said these words to an overflowing crowd in Memphis, Tennessee, on April 3, 1968, where the city’s sanitation workers were striking. Less than 24 hours after these prophetic words, King was assassinated by James Earl Ray.

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 21

1885, Scotland – Artist Duncan Grant (21 January 1885 – 8 May 1978)was born in Rothiemurchus, Scotland. One of the last members of the Bloomsbury Group, he designed pottery, textiles, and theatre decor. Handsome and sexual, he was the toast of the gay artists group. Grant’s early affairs were exclusively homosexual. His lovers included his cousin, the writer Lytton Strachey(1 March 1880 – 21 January 1932), the future politicianArthur Hobhouse(15 February 1886 – 20 January 1965)and the economist John Maynard Keynes(5 June 1883 – 21 April 1946), who at one time considered Grant the love of his life because of his good looks and the originality of his mind. In Grant’s later years, his lover, the poet Paul Roche(26 September 1916 – 30 October 2007)whom he had known since 1946, took care of him. Grant and Roche’s relationship was strong and lasted even during Roche’s marriage and five children he had by the late 1950s. Roche was made co-heir of Grant’s estate. Grant eventually died in Roche’s home in 1978.

1903 –New York policeconduct the first recorded raid on a gay bathhouse, the Ariston Hotel Baths. Twenty-six men are arrested and 12 brought to trial on sodomy charges. Seven men received sentences ranging from 4 to 20 years in prison

1966 – Time magazine publishes an unsigned two-page article, “The Homosexual in America” which includes statements such as “Homosexuality is a pathetic little second-rate substitute for reality, a pitiable flight from life… it deserves no encouragement . . . no pretense that it is anything but a pernicious sickness.”

1989 — Jazz artist Billy Tipton (December 29, 1914 – January 21, 1989)dies at age 74 of an ulcer. He was an American jazz musician and bandleader. Born female, Tipton lived as a male from age 19. He married five times and adopted three sons. Early in his career, Tipton presented as a male only professionally, continuing to present as a woman otherwise. He spent those early years living with a woman named Non Earl Harrell, in a relationship that other musicians thought of as lesbian. The relationship ended in 1942.

2013 – President Obama made the first mention of gay rights in a U.S. inaugural address. The text of President Obama’s Inauguration speech reads: “It is now our generation’s task to carry on what those pioneers began. [. . .] Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law –- (applause) — for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.” 

2018 – Helen Grace James (born 1928) grew up in Pennsylvania  and enlisted in the Air Force in 1952. She had a fine service record and was promoted to Airman 2nd Class.But when she was stationed at Roslyn Air Force Base on Long Island, Airman James came under investigation by the Office of Special Investigation. One night in the winter of 1955, during The Lavender Scare, she sat with a friend in her car to eat sandwiches when an officer shined a blinding light into her eyes and took her into custody. She was later interrogated for hours. Investigators told Helen Grace James that if she didn’t sign a statement they put in front of her, they would tell her family she was gay.Helen Grace James signed. She was discharged as “undesirable.”Now, 60 years later Helen Grace James has received her honorable discharge this week after decades of fighting the government for recognition. “I’m still trying to process it,” she told NBC. “It was both joy and shock. It was really true. It was really going to be an ‘honorable discharge. The Air Force recognizes me as a full person in the military,” she said, having done “my job helping to take care of the country I love.”

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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