Today in LGBT History – January 9

“May we teach our children that speaking out without the fear of retribution is our culture’s new North Star.”     —Laura Dern, at the Golden Globes

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

Today in LGBT History – January 9

1859  – Carrie Lane Chapman (1859-1947) was born in Ripon, Wisconsin. Although there is nothing to suggest she was a lesbian, she was the women’s rights pioneer who founded the National League of Women Voters in 1919. 

January 9, 1941 — Joan Baez (born January 9, 1941 is born. Baez, who is Mexican-American and describes herself as bisexual, is one of the most famous folk singers of all time. She is a songwriter, musician, and activist whose contemporary folk music often includes songs of protest or social justice. She’s also known for standing up for social justice. She sang at Martin Luther King’s 1963 March on Washington and stood with Cesar Chavez in the struggle for the rights of migrant farm workers. She protested the Viet Nam war and capitol punishment and helped establish a west coast branch of Amnesty International. And she’s been a vocal advocate of gay and lesbian civil rights.

1977 – The Episcopal Church ordains Ellen Marie Barrett (born February 10, 1946). She was the first open lesbian to be ordained to the priesthood following the Episcopal Church’s General Convention approval of the ordination of women in 1977. Barrett’s candor about her homosexuality caused great controversy within the church. Even prior to her ordination, she was a prominent spokesperson for the rights of gays and lesbians in the church, especially regarding their ordination.

1978 – Sir John Gielgud, Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir and 26 other international celebrities take out a full-page ad in Time Magazine (Jan. 9, 1978, V.73) to protest the recent series of political backlashes against gays in the U.S. The ad was entitled “What’s Going on in America” and sponsored by the Stichting Vrije Relatierechten Foundation (Foundation for Free Human Partnership).

1978 – Harvey Milk (May 22, 1930 – November 27, 1978)  is inaugurated as San Francisco city supervisor, and is the first openly gay man to be elected to a political office in California.

1988, UK – More than 10,000 lesbians and gay men demonstrate their opposition to Clause 28 in a march through central London.

1991, UK – An unprecedented number of prominent gay and lesbian artists come out in a public forum. Wishing to “respectfully distance” themselves from Derek Jarman’s criticism of gay actor Ian McKellen’s (born 25 May 1939) acceptance of a knighthood from the Conservative government of Margaret Thatcher, they publish a widely discussed statement in support of McKellen in the Guardian. Among the signees are Simon Callow, Michael Cashman, Nancy Diuguid, Simon Fanshawe, Stephen Fry, Philip Hedley, Bryony Lavery, Michael Leonard, David Lun, Tim Luscombe, Alec McCowen, Cameron Mackintosh, Pam St. Clement, john Schlesinger, Antony Sher, and Martin Sherm.

2009, Honduras – Prominent transgender activist Cynthia Nicole (1977-2009) is fatally shot in Comayagua. Human Rights Watch issues a statement saying that “Cynthia Nicole fought tirelessly to secure basic rights protections for transgender sex workers.”

 2016 – When Hubert Edward Spires was just twenty years old, he decided to serve his country by joining the military. Because he was a gay man in a very different time, though, he was removed through an “undesirable” discharge. On this day, the 91-year-old Connecticut man finally received the honorable discharge he was denied 68 years ago. In 1946, he joined what was then called the U.S. Army Air Force and became a chaplain’s assistant at the Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio. Spires quickly took to the work, which included writing letters to families worried about their loved ones, playing organ during Catholic Mass and preparing the chapel for various services. He said, “I can go to my grave with my head held high.”

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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