Today in LGBT History – July 15

Fight for the things you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.     —Supreme Court Judge Ruth Bader Ginsberg

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

Today in LGBT History – July 15

1834, Spain – End of the Spanish Inquisition, abolished by Ferdinand VII’s widow Maria Christina. Between 1000 and 1600 people had been convicted of sodomy during that time and 170 were executed.

1914, Scotland – Ring of Bright Waterauthor and naturalist Gavin Maxwell (July 15, 1914 – September 7, 1969) is born on this date. Ring of Bright Water (1960) is about how he brought an otter back from Iraq and raised it in Scotland. The otter was of a previously unknown sub-species which was subsequently named after Maxwell.Though he had been involved with several women and was married for a year, his loves were the men in his life.

1947 – Birth date of Lambda Literary Award winning poet and author Michael Lassell (July 15, 1947). He has written extensively in the fields of design, travel, the arts, and LGBT studies. He lives in New York City. He served as features director of “Metropolitan Home” from 1992 until 2009. Prior to that, he served as managing editor of Interview and L.A. Style magazines, also as a theater critic for the Los Angeles Herald Examiner and L.A. Weekly.Lassell currently resides in Greenwich Village, New York City, with his rescued dachshund, Schuyler.

1962 – In New York City, Randy Wicker (Feb. 3, 1938) talks listener-supported radio station WBAI into broadcasting a taped program in which seven gay people discuss homosexuality. Widely publicized in the local press, the program is probably the first favorable broadcast on the subject in the U.S. While it resulted in positive comments in several newspapers and magazines, a group of homophobic listeners contacted the FCC to challenge the station’s license. The complaint was rejected. The 90-minute program, believed to be the first such in the United States, aired in July, 1962. Several mainstream media outlets, alerted by Wicker, covered the broadcast, which received favorable treatment in The New York TimesThe RealistNewsweek, the New York Herald Tribune, and Variety. As a result of the publicity, from 1962 through 1964 Wicker was one of the most visible homosexuals in New York. He spoke to countless church groups and college classes and, in 1964, became the first openly gay person to appear on East Coast television with a January 31 appearance on The Les Crane Show. Wicker is credited with organizing the first known gay rights demonstration in the United States. Wicker, along with Rodwell, sexual freedom activist Jefferson Fuck Poland and a handful of others, picketed the Whitehall Street Induction Center in New York City in 1964 after the confidentiality of gay men’s draft records was violated. He supported himself by operating, with his lover Peter Ogren, Underground Uplift Unlimited, a slogan-button and head shop. The couple ran the shop from 1967 to 1971,and used the proceeds to open an antique and lighting store. Wicker ran his store for 29 years.Since 2009, he has been documenting and participating in the Radical Faerie communities in Tennessee and New York.

1961 – David Cicilline (born July 15, 1961) is an American politician who has been the U.S. Representative for Rhode Island’s 1st congressional district since 2011. Upon being sworn in, Cicilline became the fourth openly gay member of Congress.A Democratic,he previously served as Mayor of Providence, Rhode Island, from 2003 to 2011, and was the first openly gay mayor of a U.S. state capital. Rep. Cicilline introduced the Equality Act in 2015 to amend the 1964 Civil Rights Act and expand protections to LGBTQ people.In September 2017, he reintroduced the Equality Act.In July 2018, Cicilline was a co-sponsor of The Gay and Trans Panic Defense Prohibition Act. This act would prohibit defense lawyers from using a victim’s LGBTQ identity as justification for a crime or to argue for lesser sentences on the premise that there were extenuating circumstances that motivated their clients to lash out violently.

1975 – Santa Cruz County, California, is the first U.S. county to make job discrimination against gay men and lesbians illegal.

1985 – An obviously ill Rock Hudson (Nov. 17, 1925 – Oct. 2, 1985) appears on television to promote his new cable series with Doris Day. His publicist explains his appearance by saying he was just getting over the flu.

1990 – The book Behind the Maskby Dave Pallone (Oct. 5, 1951) debuts at #15 on the New York Times bestseller list. Pallone was a Major League Baseball umpire who was fired for being gay. He was “outed” in a New York Post article. Pallone now does diversity training for corporations, colleges, universities and athletes with the NCAA. Pallone was part of the first class of inductees to The National Gay and Lesbian Sports Hall of Fame in 2013.

1991 – Col. Margarethe Cammermeyer (March 24, 1942) is informed by a military board that while she is a great American, a great asset, and a superb leader, and that her 27 years of service have been of great value, she is to be discharged for being a lesbian. She was the highest ranking person to be discharged for homosexuality, serving as a colonel in the Washington National Guard. She became a gay rights activist. She had a 15-year marriage to a man and they had four sons. In 1988, when she was 46, she met Diane Divelbess who later became her wife. In 2012, after same-sex marriage was legalized in Washington state, Cammermeyer and Diane became the first same-sex couple to get a license in Island County.They live on Whidbey Island in Washington State.

1999 – A 1897 letter written by Oscar Wilde (Oct. 16, 1854 – Nov. 30, 1900) to novelist Henrietta Stannard fetched $18,745.00 at a Sotheby’s Auction. Stannard was not a lesbian but wrote under the name of John Strange Winter.

2003 –Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, a reality show of gay men who conduct makeovers for straight men, premieres on Bravo. The show features the “Fab Five,” a quintet of gay men – Ted Allen (born May 20, 1965), Kyan Douglas (born May 5, 1970), Thom Filicia (born May 17, 1969), Carson Kressley (born November 11, 1969), and Jai Rodriguez (born June 22, 1979)- who conduct makeovers for straight men. It plays on stereotypes that gay men know more about fashion, food, personal grooming, interior design and culture. The show becomes immensely popular and is praised by much of the mainstream gay press, but receives some criticism for its generalizations and stereotyping. Queer Eye won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Reality Program in 2004. The series’ name was abbreviated to Queer Eye at the beginning of its third season to include making over individuals regardless of gender or sexual orientation. Queer Eye ended production during June 2006 and the final episode aired on October 30, 2007.Netflix announced in January 2017 that it was reviving the series with a new Fab Five in a season of eight episodes. On February 7, 2018, the revival aired its first season to positive reviews.

2005 – Robert Traynham, the chief of staff and communications director for homophobe Sen. Rick Santorum ,(R-Pa.) confirms rumors circulating in Washington for several months that he is gay. He continued to defend Santorum even into the 2016 election cycle. Robert Traynham is currently the Bipartisan Policy Center’s vice president of communications.

2010, Argentina – The Senate approves same-sex marriage by a vote of 33-27.

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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