Rudyard Kipling said: If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten. The snippets of LGBTQ history here are the stories of our lives, the stories of the giants on whose shoulders we all stand. Learn about them then tell the stories and remember… because knowing your history IS resistance!
Thanks for taking this journey with me. Now go write your story!
Today in LGBT History – JULY 17
1730, Netherlands – In Rotterdam, Leendert de Haas, age 60, candlemaker, Casper Schroder, distiller, and Huibert v. Borselen, gentleman’s servant, were strangled, burnt, and their ashes carried in an ash cart out of the city and then by ship to the sea and thrown overboard during the anti-gay purge. The major anti-gay purge of the eighteenth century occurred in the Netherlands. In April 1730 some men were arrested in Utrecht. They incriminated others, and on June 21st, the States of Holland issued a Placat, posted in every town, that set off wide-scale persecution. The document began with the customary warnings about the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah, then lamented that no laws had heretofore been provided to punish “this execrable crime of sodomy”, and concluded with its measures for obliterating this evil: that sodomy be punished by death, that those who offer their homes for its commission also die, that their corpses be burned to ashes and thrown into the sea “or exposed as unworthy of burial”, that the names of the convicted — including the fugitives — be publicly posted, and that the magistrates be specially authorized to investigate thoroughly any suspicions, particularly against those who mysteriously flee the province. Some 250 men were summoned before the authorities; 91 faced decrees of exile for not appearing. At least 60 men were sentenced to death. The astonishing purges of 1730 were widely reported in the English newspapers (mainly in June and July), and probably sent men running for cover even in England. The English news reports also state that many Dutch sodomites fled to England — where they unfortunately were not accorded the same reception as refugees from religious persecution.
1859, UK – Ernest Rhys (July 17, 1859 – May 25, 1946) is born in London. Rhys was the editor of the Everyman Library, a collection that totaled 967 volumes containing the classics. After he retired, he wrote his autobiography filled with anecdotes about his gay clique including Oscar Wilde (16 October 1854 – 30 November 1900).
1883, Finland – Swedish director Mauritz Stiller (July 17, 1883 – November 18, 1928) is born in Finland. In addition to discovering Greta Garbo (18 September 1905 – 15 April 1990), Stiller is given credit for creating a Swiss national cinema that took a progressive attitude toward sexuality and desire.
1898 – Photographer Bernice Abbott (July 17, 1898 – December 9, 1991) is born in Springfield, Ohio. Famous for her photographs of the changing New York City cityscape, Abbott also photographed many gay, lesbian, and bisexual images during the 1920s and 30s. The film Berenice Abbott: A View of the 20th Century, which showed 200 of her black and white photographs, suggests that she was a “proud proto-feminist”; someone who was ahead of her time in feminist theory. Before the film was completed she questioned, “The world doesn’t like independent women, why, I don’t know, but I don’t care.” She lived with critic, writer, and historianElizabeth McCausland (1899–1965)for 30 years.
1942 – Fred Halsted (July 17, 1941 – May 9, 1989) is born. He was an American gay pornographic film director, actor, escort, publisher, and sex club owner. His films Sex Garage and L.A. Plays Itself are the only gay pornographic movies in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art, where they were screened before a capacity audience on April 23, 1974.A screening of L.A. Plays Itself was sponsored by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art on February 28, 2013and another took place on December 16, 2011 at the Los Angeles art gallery Human Resources. His films have also been shown the Netherlands Film Museum and in competition at The Deauville Film Festival. His lover, Joseph Yanoska, died of AIDS in 1986.
1945 – Drag performer Ethyl Eichelberger (July 17, 1945 – August 12, 1990) is born in Pekin, Illinois, under the name John Roy Eichelberger. He was an American drag performer, playwright, and actor. He became an influential figure in experimental theater and writing, and performed nearly forty plays. He became more widely known as a commercial actor in the 1980s. With the lack of AIDS medications, Ethyl committed suicide on August 12, 1990.
1968 – The Wall Street Journal publishes an article entitled “U.S. Homosexuals Gain in Trying to Persuade Society to Accept Them”. The article, an overview of what was happening during the late 1960’s, was written by Charles Alverson.
1982, UK – Commander Michael Trestrail (born 1931),Queen Elizabeth’s personal bodyguard, is forced to resign after he was outed in the British newspapers. Soon after, reports surfaced that Margaret Thatcher wanted to raise the issue of gays in the palace until the Queen reportedly summoned her to Buckingham Palace and told her to mind her own business.
1988 – Massachusetts governor Michael Dukakis signs into law an amendment that bars homosexuals from becoming foster parents unless no heterosexual couples are available. The law was in effective for only one year.
1998 – A group of ex-gays hold a press conference to counter ads stating that gays and lesbians could become straight by converting to Christianity. They said the ads were an attempt to falsely present gays and lesbians as anti-Christian and deny that many are spiritual people.
Stand up, speak out, share your story!
(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, out.com, 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!)