Today we remember the victims of the Pulse shootings in Orlando, Florida. Forty-nine people were killed and 53 others injured. The shooter was also killed. It was the deadliest shooting in U.S. history. No one really knows why the Pulse was selected as the target. After all, there are many other gay bars in Orlando, just as large and just as busy. The shooter, who pledged allegiance to ISIS as he sprayed bullets from an automatic weapon, was a person of color, a man from the Middle East. Most of the patrons of the Pulse were also people of color, mostly Latinas/os. There is nothing that makes sense of this shootings just as there was nothing that made sense of the gay UpStairs Lounge arson attack took place on June 24, 1973 in New Orleans where 32 people died as a result of fire or smoke inhalation. Until the 2016 Pulse shootings, it was the deadliest known attack on a gay club in U.S. history.
We cannot get into the minds of those who do harm to people. In these horrific homophobic cases, is it because the homophobe is so petrified of his or her own internalized homosexuality that he or she must reign terror on others? It’s a theory to which I’ve subscribed based on my own experience as a young person. While in college, I was terrified that people would think I was a lesbian. (I was but I stayed extremely closeted, well aware of my sexual identity.) To avoid detection, I ridiculed and harassed the three gay men I knew on campus. I treated them so cruelly because I didn’t want people to thing/know I was just like them. When I finally came out years later, I found each of those men and apologized, but that couldn’t erase the scars of the past.
May our sisters and brothers of Pulse rest in peace…
June is Pride month. Be visible, be verbal, be open about who you are. Your courage to be out just might be the role model someone needs; you might save someone’s life.
Today in LGBT History – June 12
1730, Netherlands – During a major anti-gay purge of the eighteenth century, five men are hanged and their bodies thrown into the sea at Scheveningen for the crime of sodomy. Hundreds of others were killed or banished. This was described as a pogrom or a reign of terror. The astonishing purges of 1730 were widely reported in the English newspapers during June and July. English news reports state that many Dutch sodomites fled to England where they were not accorded the same reception as refugees from religious persecution.
1799 – Gilbert du Motier (September 6, 1757 – May 20, 1834), better known as the Marquis de Lafayette, wrote a very affectionate letter to George Washington dated on this day. While there is no evidence that the two men were lovers, this and other letters describe a very intimate friendship. Expression of same-sex platonic love was not considered queer during this time. Lafayette spent his lifetime as an abolitionist , proposing slaves be emancipated slowly, recognizing the crucial role slavery played in many economies. He hoped his ideas would be adopted by George Washington in order to free the slaves in the United States.
1929, Germany – Anne Frank (June 12, 1929 – February or March 1945) is born. One of the most discussed Jewish victims of the Holocaust, Anne Frank gained fame posthumously following the publication of The Diary of a Young Girl (originally Het Achterhuis; English: The Secret Annex) in which she documents her life in hiding from 1942 to 1944, during the German occupation of the Netherlands in World War II. It is one of the world’s most widely known books and has been the basis for several plays and films. Born in Frankfurt, Germany, she lived most of her life in or near Amsterdam. There is speculation that she may have been bisexual but her diary had been edited many times and her life as an adolescent was in a hideaway. She was killed at the age of 15 in Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.
1981, Canada – A Provincial Court judge in Toronto finds two employees guilty and three owners not guilty of keeping common bawdyhouse. Charges relate to the Barracks Steambath, raided by police December 9, 1978. Toronto’s oldest steambath at 56 Widmer Street had been open since 1974. They had the privilege of watching Toronto come from the days of raids, arrests, fear and oppression to general acceptance. After over 30 years of service to the gay leather community, The Barracks (in Toronto) closed in 2005.
1989 – Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, DC director Christina Orr-Cahill announces the cancellation of “The Perfect Moment,” a show of 150 photos and objects by Robert Mapplethorpe that includes 13 s&m images. The museum was afraid of losing National Endowment for the Arts funding. ”Robert Mapplethorpe: The Perfect Moment” was exhibition of more than 150 works, many of them explicit homoerotic and violent images. It was partly financed with a grant of $30,000 from the National Endowment for the Arts, an agency that was already under fire from Congress for its grant policies. The exhibition was to have opened on July 1.
2003, France – The European Court of Human Rights rules in favor German transgender woman Van Kuck (Van Kück v. Germany) whose insurance company denied her reimbursement for sexual reassignment surgery. The Court held that there had been a violation of Article 6 § 1 (right to a fair hearing) of the Convention. The German courts should have requested further clarification from a medical expert. With regard to the Court of Appeal’s reference to the causes of the applicant’s condition, it could not be said that there was anything arbitrary or capricious in a decision to undergo sex reassignment surgery and the applicant had in fact already undergone such surgery by the time the Court of Appeal gave its judgment. The Court also held that there had been a violation of Article 8 (right to respect for private and family life) of the Convention. Since gender identity was one of the most intimate aspects of a person’s private life, it appeared disproportionate to require the applicant to prove the medical necessity of the treatment. No fair balance had been struck between the interests of the insurance company on the one hand and the interests of the individual on the other.
2012 – Kylar W. Broadus, founder of the Trans People of Color Coalition, is the first openly transgender person to testify before the U.S. Senate, speaking in favor of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). Kylar Broadus is a professor, attorney, activist and public speaker from Missouri. He is an associate professor of business law at Lincoln University of Missouri, a historically black college where he previously served as the chair of the business department. He has maintained a general practice of law in Columbia, Missouri, since 1997. In February 2011 he was awarded the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force’s Sue J. Hyde Award for Longevity in the Movement. He was featured on BlackEnterprise.com discussing his personal experience with workplace discrimination. In 2010 he founded Trans People of Color Coalition (TPOCC), the only national civil-rights organization dedicated to the needs of trans people of color. He currently serves on the board of the National Black Justice Coalition and was the board chair from 2007 to 2010. ENDA has yet to pass.
2016 – At the Pulse Night Club in Orlando, a terrorist who pledged allegiance to ISIS sprays bullets from an automatic weapon, killing 49 people and wounding 53 others at the popular gay club. It is the deadliest shooting in U.S. history. Pulse was founded in 2004 by Barbara Poma and Ron Legler. On June 12, 2016, the club gained international attention as the scene of the deadliest mass shooting by a single gunman in U.S. history, and the deadliest terrorist attack on U.S. soil since the events of September 11, 2001. Poma’s brother, John, had died in 1991 from AIDS; the club was “named for John’s pulse to live on.” The Washington Post described the Pulse’s first 12 years as “a community hub for HIV prevention, breast-cancer awareness and immigrant rights,” and reported it had partnered with educational and advocacy groups such as Come Out with Pride, Equality Florida, and the Zebra Coalition. In November, 2016, the city of Orlando offered to buy the nightclub for $2.25 million. Mayor Buddy Dyer expressed plans to convert the nightclub into a memorial to honor the memory of the victims, but the owner refused to sell.
Let your voice speak out and change the world!
(Historical information obtained from a variety of sources including QUIST at facebook.com/quistapp, Back2Stonewall.com, 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 email@example.com. Thanks!)