Today in LGBT History – July 16

Our purpose for coming to Palm Springs in the midst of an oppressive heat wave is to honor people dear to us. Yesterday was also my Kelly’s 33rd AA birthday. She’s now been clean and sober for over half her life and the impact she’s had on others is indescribable. Her strength, her courage, and her willingness to be open about her journey put her in front of many others who needed her. I’m deeply honored and filled with so much joy and hope as we make this journey together. Today we celebrate with a party of Kelly’s sponsees and other Desert friends

Also yesterday, Kelly’s niece Little Kelly married Ryan last year without ceremony. Yesterday, at their one year anniversary, they celebrated their wedding.

Tomorrow is the memorial service of our friend retired Navy Capt. Paul Maynard. Though Paul was one of Kelly’s sponsees, he touched both of our lives and our hearts. May his memory be a blessing to so many family and friends who loved him.

Today in LGBT History – July 16

1746 – Mary Hamilton disguises herself as a man in order to marry a woman. Mary Hamilton was the subject of a notorious 18th century case of fraud and female cross-dressing, in which Hamilton, under the name of Charles, duped a woman into supposed marriage. She was arrested, charged with fraud, publicly whipped, and imprisoned for six months. While the surviving records of the case indicate that Hamilton was only prosecuted for deceiving one woman into marriage, newspaper reports at the time claimed that there had been 14 marriages in all.

1943, Cuba – Novelist Reinaldo Arenas (July 16, 1943 – December 7, 1990) is born. He was a Cuban poet, novelist, and playwright who despite his early sympathy for Fidel Castro and the 1959 revolution, grew critical of and then rebelled against the Cuban government. He changed when the government began open persecution of homosexuals. His first novel, entitled Celestino Antes del Alba (Singing from the Well), was published in 1967. He came to the United States in 1980, fleeing the persecution of his homeland. On December 7, 1990, suffering from AIDS and too sick to continue writing, Arenas committed suicide.

1951 – During the height of the McCarthy era, homophobic doctor and Nebraska Senator A.L. Miller reported on this date that “the cycle of homosexual desires follows cycle closely patterned to the menstrual period of women.”

1956 — Tony Kushner (born July 16, 1956) is born. Kushner, openly gay, received a Tony and the Pulitzer Prize for writing Angels in America (now an HBO movie) Angels in America is about AIDS, religion/spirituality, family, sexuality, and politics in our culture. He also authored several children’s plays and an essay book, Thinking about the Longstanding Problems of Virtue and Happiness (1995).

July 16, 1969 – The Mattachine Society of New York hosts an organizing meeting which over 200 attend. During the course of the meeting, approximately 40 participants walk out in dissatisfaction over chapter president Dick Leitsch’s handling of the post-Stonewall political energy. Richard “Dick” Valentine Leitsch (born May 11, 1935) is an American LGBT rights activist. He was president of the Mattachine Society, a gay rights group, in the 1960s. He conceptualized and lead the “Sip-In” at Julius’ Bar, which was one of the earliest acts of gay civil disobedience in the United States in which LGBT activists attempted to legally gain the right to drink in bars in New York. He is also known for being the first gay reporter to publish an account of the Stonewall Riots and the first person to ever interview Bette Midler in print media.

1976 – The discharge of Sgt. Leonard Matlovich (July 6, 1943 – June 22, 1988) is upheld in a civilian court by Federal District Judge Gerhard Gesell. He was a Vietnam War veteran, race relations instructor, and recipient of the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star. Matlovich was the first gay service member to purposely out himself to the military to fight their ban on gays, and perhaps the best-known gay man in America in the 1970s next to Harvey Milk. His fight to stay in the United States Air Force after coming out of the closet became a cause célèbre around which the gay community rallied. Matlovich was the first named openly gay person to appear on the cover of a U.S. newsmagazine. His tombstone, meant to be a memorial to all gay veterans, does not bear his name. It reads, “When I was in the military, they gave me a medal for killing two men and a discharge for loving one.

1982 – The U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service policy of barring homosexuals from entering the country is ruled unconstitutional by a federal judge.

1984 – U.S. News and World Report announces that gays and lesbians make up the seventh-largest voting bloc in the US.

1986 – Jeff Levi, executive director of NGLTF (National Gay and Lesbian Task Force), announces plans for a Privacy Project to fight sodomy laws.

1992 – Bill Clinton becomes the first candidate for president to mention gays and lesbians in a speech accepting the Democratic nomination for president.

2001 – Leaders of the Presbyterian Church (USA) vote overwhelmingly to overturn a ban on ordaining homosexuals as ministers of the church. The 317-208 vote, taken at the church’s annual general assembly in Louisville, Kentucky, comes after more than two hours of debate.

2003 – Drew Barrymore (born February 22, 1975) comes out as bisexual. She is an American actress, author, director, model and producer. She is a member of the Barrymore family of American stage and film actors, and is a granddaughter of actor John Barrymore. Barrymore began acting on television, and soon transitioned to film with roles in E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982) and Irreconcilable Differences (1984).

2003 – Rev. Troy Perry (born July 27, 1940), founder and moderator of the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches, marries his longtime partner in Toronto. Perry lives in Los Angeles with his husband, Phillip Ray DeBlieck whom he married under Canadian law at the Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto. They sued the State of California upon their return home after their Toronto wedding for recognition of their marriage and won. The state appealed and the ruling was overturned by the State Supreme Court after five years in their favor.

2005 – Thailand announces it will provide free HIV meds to any citizen who needs them.

Let your voice speak out and change the world! 




(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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