Today in LGBT History – July 3

Kelly and I are back from a week-long Alaskan cruise with Olivia Travel. Nineteen hundred women on one giant ship! The best part was that we were able to screen our film Letter to Anita to standing ovations and giant hearts. After the screening, women shared their tender heartfelt stories with us which is always such a privilege to hear. Thank you, Olivia and Andrea Meyerson for making this happen.

Everyone has a story. I encourage you to write yours.

Today in LGBT History – July 3

 1783 – Deborah Sampson Gannett (December 17, 1760 – April 29, 1827), was a woman who disguised herself as a man in order to serve in the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War. She is one of a small number of women with a documented record of military combat experience in that war. She served 17 months in the army under the name Robert Shirtliff of Uxbridge, Massachusetts.  During her first battle, on July 3, 1782, outside Tarrytown, New York, she took two musket balls in her thigh and a cut on her forehead. She begged her fellow soldiers to let her die and not take her to a doctor, but a soldier put her on his horse and took her to a hospital. The doctors treated her head wound, but she left the hospital before they could attend to her leg. Fearful that her identity would be discovered, she removed one of the balls herself with a penknife and sewing needle, but the other one was too deep for her to reach. Her leg never fully healed. On April 1, 1783, she was reassigned to new duties, and spent seven months serving as a waiter to General John Paterson. During the summer of 1783, Sampson became ill in Philadelphia and was cared for by Doctor Barnabas Binney. He removed her clothes to treat her and discovered the cloth she used to bind her breasts. Without revealing his discovery to army authorities, he took her to his house where his wife, daughters, and a nurse took care of her. She was discharged at West Point, New York, on October 25, 1783, after a year and a half of service. In January 1792, Sampson petitioned the Massachusetts State Legislature for pay which the army had withheld from her because she was a woman. The legislature granted her petition and Governor John Hancock signed it. The legislature awarded her 34 pounds plus interest back to her discharge in 1783. An Official Record of Deborah Gannet’s service as “Robert Shirtliff” from May 20, 1782 to Oct 25, 1783 appears in the “Massachusetts Soldiers and Sailors of the Revolutionary War” series.  During World War II the Liberty Ship S.S. Deborah Gannett (2620) was named in her honor. It was laid down March 10, 1944, launched on April 10, 1944 and scrapped in 1962. As of 2001, the town flag of Plympton incorporates Sampson as the Official Heroine of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Meryl Streep named Deborah Sampson as one of the women who made history in her speech at the 2016 Democratic National Convention on July 26, 2016.

1975 – In a change of policy, the U.S. Civil Service Commission decides to consider applications by lesbians and gay men on a case-by-case basis. Previously, homosexuality was grounds for automatic disqualification.

1981 – AIDS is first mentioned in the press. The New York Times wrote an article entitled “Rare cancer seen in 41 Homosexuals.” It’s the first story of a rare pneumonia and rare skin cancer found in 41 gay men in New York and California. The Centers for Disease Control initially refers to the disease as GRID – Gay Related Immune Deficiency Disorder.

1989 – Andy Lippincott, a fictional character in the cartoon strip “Doonesbury,” is hospitalized with AIDS. The character first appears in January 1976, in a law library. Joanie Caucus becomes attracted to him but Lippincott confesses he is gay. Lippincott contributes position papers to Virginia Slade’s failed run for Congress in 1976. He disappears from the strip for a few years after this storyline. In 1982, the character reappears as an organizer for the Bay Area Gay Alliance, and contributes to the congressional re-election of Lacey Davenport. In 1989 he returns to the strip again when he is diagnosed with AIDS. Over the course of the next year, Lippincott’s battles with the disease, and eventual death from it, helped bring the AIDS crisis into popular culture. Ultimately, he is shown dying to the sound of the Beach Boys‘ song “Wouldn’t It Be Nice.” This storyline led to a Pulitzer Prize nomination for Garry Trudeau, but three newspapers of the 900+ carrying the strip refused to publish it as being in bad taste. Andy Lippincott may be the only fictional character with a panel on the AIDS quilt which hangs in The NAMES Project Foundation‘s offices in Atlanta. It is not actually sewn into a block of The AIDS Memorial Quilt.

1992, Buenos Aires – An estimated 300 lesbians and gay men march in Argentina’s first-ever Pride Celebration. While same-sex sexual activity between consenting adults in private had been legal since 1887, there were no civil rights laws designed to protect LGBT people, and public opinion tended to look down on LGBT people. While not given official recognition until 1992, the Comunidad Homosexual Argentina publicly campaigned for the human rights of LGBT people. Since 1987 the rights of lesbian and bisexual women have been defended by Cuadernos de Existencia Lesbiana. Significant legal and social progress began to be seen in the 1990s.

2003, Spain – The first gay hotel, the Axel, opens in Barcelona. The Axel company created a company where atmosphere, diversity and respect are valued. The construction of Axel Hotel Barcelona, which opened in 2003, was the beginning of a project that became what is now an international chain. In 2007, Axel Hotels opened its first hotel in Buenos Aires and two years later, in 2009, in Berlin.   

2005, Spain – Same-sex marriage is legalized. In 2004, the nation’s newly elected Socialist Party (PSOE)Government, led by Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, begins a campaign for its legalization, including the right of adoption by same-sex couples. The law took effect on this day, making Spain the third country in the world to allow same-sex couples to marry across the entire country, after the Netherlands and Belgium, and 17 days ahead of the right being extended across all of Canada.

 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, 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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