From the movie THE POST: “In the First Amendment, the Founding Fathers gave the free press the protection it must have to fulfill its essential role in our democracy. The press was to serve the governed, not the governors. The Government’s power to censor the press was abolished so that the press would remain forever free to censure the Government. The press was protected so that it could bare the secrets of government and inform the people.” Justice Black, New York Times v. United States [“Pentagon Papers” Case]
Learning our history is resistance! Thanks for taking this journey with me. Now go write your story!
Today in LGBT History – January 22
1561 – Sir Francis Bacon (1561 – 1626) was born in London. He is best known for his philosophical works concerning the acquisition of knowledge: Novum Organum and The Advancement of Learning. His mother wrote a letter to him, which still survives, complaining about the long list of male “servants and envoys” who find their way to his bed. She refers to a gay Spanish envoy as “that bloody Perez and bed companion of my son.” We don’t know what she wrote to her other son, Roger, who was also gay.
1788, UK – George Gordon, Lord Byron (22 January 1788 – 19 April 1824), was borhn. He was an English nobleman, poet, peer, politician, and leading figure in the Romantic movement. He is regarded as one of the greatest British poetsand remains widely read and influential. His memoir My Life and Adventures was burned being considered too scandalous for publication. A champion of freedom and an enemy of hypocrisy, he had a ravenous sexual appetite. His most enduring was with John FitzGibbon, 2nd Earl of Clare. Scholars acknowledge a more or less important bisexual component in Byron’s very complex sentimental and sexual life.
1952 – Jim Kepner (1923 – 15 November 1997) and members of Mattachine discussed the idea of publishing a magazine for the LGBT community. They named their magazine ONE Inc. and put out the first issue in January 1953. In 1956, ONE opened the Institute for Homophile Studies. Today, ONE is the National Gay and Lesbian Archives at the University of Southern California and the largest repository of LGBT materials in the world. Kepner was a journalist, author, historian, archivist and leader in the gay rights movement.
1957, Germany – Cabaret singer and open lesbian Claire Waldoff (21 October 1884 – 22 January 1957), dies. She was a famous kabarett singer and entertainer in Berlin during the 1910s and 1920s, chiefly known for performing ironic songs in the Berlinish dialect and lesbian undertones and themes. After the war, she lost her savings in the West German monetary reform of 1948 and from 1951 relied on little monetary support by the Senate of Berlin. In 1953, she wrote her autobiography. Waldoff died aged 72 after a stroke. She and her partner of 40 years, Olga von Roeder (June 12, 1886-July 11, 1963), share a final resting place in Stuttgart. They lived in Germany their entire lives. Claire Waldoff has a star in Walk of Fame of Cabaret, Mainz.
1966 – The first lesbian to appear on the cover of the lesbian magazine The Ladder with her face showing was Lilli Vincenz (born September 26, 1937). Lilli is a lesbian activist and the first lesbian member of the gay political activist effort, the Mattachine Society of Washington (MSW). She served as the editor of the organization’s newsletter and in 1969 along with Nancy Tucker created the independent newspaper, the Gay Blade, which later became the Washington Blade. She was the only self-identified lesbian to participate in the second White House picket with Frank Kameny (May 21, 1925 – October 11, 2011). In 2013 her papers, films and other memorabilia were donated to the Library of Congress.
1973 – Abortion became legal in the U.S. as the Supreme Court announced its decision in the case of Roe vs. Wade striking down local state laws restricting abortions in the first six months of pregnancy. In more recent rulings (1989 and 1992) the Court upheld the power of individual states to impose some restrictions. In 1994, Norma Leah McCorvey (aka “Jane Roe”) (September 22, 1947 – February 18, 2017) wrote of her sexual orientation in her memoir I Am Roe: My Life, Roe V. Wade, and Freedom of Choice. For many years, she had lived quietly in Dallas with her long-time partner, Connie Gonzales. A few years later she claims that she has converted to Christianity and was no longer a lesbian.
1978 – New York City Mayor Ed Koch issues Executive Order 50 which forbids discrimination against gay men and lesbians in municipal government.
1986 – Carl Wittman (February 23, 1943 – January 22, 1986) dies. Carl was a member of the national council of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and later an activist for LGBT rights. He co-authored “An Interracial Movement of the Poor?” (1963) with Tom Hayden and wrote “A Gay Manifesto” (1970). Wittman was denied hospital treatment for AIDS and committed suicide by drug overdose at home in North Carolina.
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(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!)