Today in LGBT History – January 5

Dare to be different! Too often we gravitate to familiar, like-minded people, but not all gay men or lesbians share the same political, philosophical, or spiritual ideologies. Engage with someone whose ideas are different from yours, or join an organization new to you. There are many right answers! Today I believe that each new person I meet is a new chapter in my life, allowing me to grow and to learn more about myself.                      –from Proud to Be by Amy E. Dean.

Learning our history is resistance! Thanks for taking this journey with me. Now go write your story!

Today in LGBT History – January 5

1833, Italy – Giacomo Leopardi (29 June 1798 – 14 June 1837) consoles Antonio Ranieri (8 September 1806 – 4 June, 1888) in one of their many love letters. Giacomo was an Italian philosopher, poet, essayist, and philologist. He is widely seen as one of the most radical and challenging thinkers of the 19th century.

1925 – Nellie Tayloe Ross (November 29, 1876 – December 19, 1977) of Wyoming becomes the first female governor inaugurated in the U.S. and is still the only female governor of Wyoming. She was director of the United States Mint from 1933 to 1953. She forged a strong bond with Mary Margaret O’Reilly, the Assistant Director of the Mint and one of the United States’ highest-ranking female civil servants of her time. Ross served five terms as Director, retiring in 1953. During her later years, she wrote for various women’s magazines and traveled. Ross died in Washington, D.C., at the age of 101. At the time of her death, she was the oldest ex-governor in the United States. She may not have been a lesbian, but she was one of the first feminists to gain political office. 

1931 – Alvin Ailey (January 5, 1931 – December 1, 1989) was an African-American choreographer and activist who founded the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in New York City. He is credited with popularizing modern dance and revolutionizing African-American participation in 20th-century concert dance. Ailey died on December 1, 1989 at the age of 58. To spare his mother the social stigma of his death from HIV/AIDS, he asked his doctor to announce that he had died of terminal blood dyscrasia. Despite his professional success, Ailey’s personal life was beset with difficulties. Though his proclivities were an open secret, he rarely spoke of his personal relationships and seemed ill at ease with his sexuality. In the mid-1960s, he was in a romantic relationship with a young white schoolteacher who helped manage the dance company, but this ended after a couple of years. Thereafter, Ailey spent his time socializing in gay bars and hanging out with street people, and had numerous short-term liaisons with young men who his friends felt took advantage of his generosity. Ailey suffered from bipolar disorder which worsened over time as did his drinking and drug use. In 1980, he was arrested for causing a disturbance at the Columbia University residence of a former paramour which landed him in Bellevue hospital. 

1967 – Pride, a Los Angeles homophile group, mobilizes a crowd of several hundred demonstrators on Sunset Boulevard to protest police raids on gay bars.

1974, Canada – Four lesbians  – Adrienne Potts, Pat Murphy, Sue Wells, and Heather (Beyer) Elizabeth – are told to leave the Brunswick tavern in Toronto. They refuse and are arrested for obstruction of justice. As they exit, they sang, “I enjoy being a dyke!” They’re known as the Brunswick Four.

1977, Canada – The Lesbian Organization of Toronto moves to new center at 342 Jarvis Street, sharing with feminist publication The Other Woman and coffeehouse called Three of Cups. 

1978, Canada – Toronto Police arrest three of Pink Triangle Press officers under Criminal Code section 159 for possession of obscene material for distribution”) and section 164 (“use of the mails for purpose of transmitting anything that is indecent, immoral or scurrilous”). 

1988 – Raleigh, North Carolina enacts a gay rights ordinance. Raleigh is the hometown of the famous homophobe Jesse Helms.

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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