Today in LGBT History – July 31

The past was erased, the erasure was forgotten, the lie became the truth.   —George Orwell,1984

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

Today in LGBT History – July 31

1607, Italy – Pope Paul V orders the confiscation of 105 paintings from the artist Cavaleiere d’Arpino who had been unable to pay his taxes. Among the paintings was Caravaggio’s Boy with a Basket of Fruit, an overtly homoerotic image of a youth extending both a basket of fruit and his tongue seductively toward the viewer. Art historian, Andrew Graham-Dixon has aid: A lot has been made of Caravaggio’s presumed homosexuality, which has in more than one previous account of his life been presented as the single key that explains everything, both the power of his art and the misfortunes of his life.

1889  – Nels Anderson (July 31, 1889 – October 8, 1986)is born. He was an early American sociologist who studied hobos, urban culture, and work culture. The word f*g is first used in print in reference to gays in Nels Anderson’s 1923 monograph “The Hobo: Fairies or F*gs,” defining the words as men or boys who exploit sex for profit.” Anderson studied at the University of Chicago under Robert E. Park and Ernest Burgess, whose Concentric zone model was one of the earliest models developed to explain the organization of urban areas. Anderson’s first publication, The Hobo (1923), was a work that helped pioneer participant observation as a research method to reveal the features of a society and was the first field research monograph of the famed Chicago School of Sociology, marking a significant milepost in the discipline of Sociology. (I use * for the letter A to avoid being penalized by FaceBook.)

1932 – Barbara Gittings (July 31, 1932 – February 18, 2007), one of the pioneers of gay and lesbian activism, is born. She was a prominent American activist for LGBT equality. She organized the New York chapter of the Daughters of Bilitis (DOB) from 1958 to 1963, edited the national DOB magazine The Ladder from 1963–66, and worked closely with Frank Kameny in the 1960s on the first picket lines that brought attention to the ban on employment of gay people by the largest employer in the US at that time: the United States government. Her early experiences with trying to learn more about lesbianism fueled her lifetime work with libraries. In the 1970s, Gittings was most involved in the American Library Association, especially its gay caucus, the first such in a professional organization, in order to promote positive literature about homosexuality in libraries. She was a part of the movement to get the American Psychiatric Association to drop homosexuality as a mental illness in 1972. Her self-described life mission was to tear away the “shroud of invisibility” related to homosexuality, which had theretofore been associated with crime and mental illness.

1939 – Susan Flannery(born July 31, 1939) is an American actress, known for her roles in the daytime dramas The Bold and the Beautiful and Days of Our Lives. She and Fannie Flagg (September 21, 1944) had been together for eight years. The cracks in their relationship widened under the pressure. Many of Susan and Fannie’s friends knew they were lovers.

1940, Germany – The German Reich Commissar of the occupied Netherlands territories makes all sexual activities between men illegal.

1965 – First Lesbian and gay protest of the Pentagon. Twelve male and four female veterans of the armed services picket the Pentagon to protest discrimination in the military. Coverage airs on CBS in Washington that evening.

1965, Australia – Birth date of out Australian Ian Roberts (born 31 July 1965). He is an Australian actor, model and former professional rugby league footballer of the 1980s and 1990s. A New South Wales State of Origin and Australian international representative forward, he played club football with the South Sydney RabbitohsWigan WarriorsManly-Warringah Sea Eagles and North Queensland Cowboys. In 1995 Roberts became the first high-profile Australian sports person and first rugby footballer in the world to come out to the public as gay.

1969 – The first meeting of the Gay Liberation Front was held in New York City at Alternative U. Gay militants separate from the more moderate homophile movement to form a counterculture-inspired group they vote to call Gay Liberation front.The meeting was advertised with a leaflet which read, DO YOU THINK HOMOSEXUALS ARE REVOLTING? YOU BET YOUR SWEET ASS WE ARE. About 50 people attended.

1974 – The Centers for Disease Control reports that gay and bisexual men account for one third of all cases of syphilis in the US.

1976 — Dykes on Bikes is founded. A group of lesbians on motorcycles comes together to lead the 1976 San Francisco Pride Parade. Founding member Soni Wolf was to be the Community Grand Marshal during the San Francisco Pride parade in 2018. Unfortunately, Wolf passed away in April 2018. Her close friends represented her in the 2018 parade by carrying the custom-painted motorcycle tank from the bike she rode during the inaugural ride in 1976.Chapters of the club have been leading Pride Parades around the world ever since.

1986 – Jeff Levi, executive director of National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, addressed the U.S. Senate during hearings on the nomination of William Rehnquist to the Supreme Court. Strom Thurmond questioned him on why NGLTF doesn’t work for something constructive such as changing homosexuals into heterosexuals.

1989 – Urvashi Vaid (born 8 October 1958) replaces Jeff Levi as the executive director of the NGLTF. Urvashi is an Indian-American LGBT rights activist. In April 2009 Out magazine named her one of the 50 most influential LGBT people in the United States. Vaid shares homes in Manhattanand Provincetown, Massachusettswith her partner, comedian Kate Clinton.

1996 — Jamie Nabozny (born October 1975) wins nearly a million dollars in the first ever case of a gay teen suing school officials for failing to protect him from years of horrendous abuse. (Nabozny v. Podlesny)The United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit rules that a public school and individual school employees, may be held liable under federal equal protection law for failing to respond to the anti-gay abuse of a student by other students.

1998, UK – Kristina Sheffield and Rachel Horsham, both male-to-female transsexuals, lost a legal battle to be recognized as women under English law when the European Court of Human Rights ruled that the British government had not violated their rights by refusing to issue them new birth certificates or by refusing to allow them to marry men.

1999 – Simone Wallace (born 1945) and Adele Wallace close their Sisterhood bookstore in Los Angeles. Founded in 1972,  it operated at the intersection of Westwood and Rochester near UCLA. Sisterhood was so much more than a bookstore, it was a community center and supported women far and wide for decades. Its books are now in the Mazer Archives.

2003 – The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Ottawa warns Canada’s Prime Minister Jean Chretien that if he continues to support same-sex marriage he could be denied the sacraments.

2005, The Netherlands – The Netherlands halted the extradition of gays back to Iran following reports of gay executions.

2012 – Gore Vidal (October 3, 1925 – July 31, 2012) dies. He was an American writer and public intellectualknown for his patrician manner, epigrammatic wit, and polished style of writing.As a public intellectual, Gore Vidal was identified with the liberal politicians and the progressivesocial causes of the Democratic Party.In 1960, he was the Democratic candidate for Congress, for the 29th Congressional District of New York State, a usually Republican district on the Hudson River, but lost the election to the Republican candidate J. Ernest Wharton, by a margin of 57 percent to 43 percent.In 1950, Gore Vidal met Howard Austen(January 28, 1929 – September 22, 2003), who became his life-partner in a 53-year relationship. In 2010, Vidal began to suffer from Wernicke–Korsakoff syndrome, a brain disorder often caused by chronic alcoholism.On July 31, 2012 Vidal died of pneumonia at his home in the Hollywood Hills at the age of 86.

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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