I received a long text this morning from a dear friend who I’ve known since high school. For years she’s suffered from a disease that now keeps her entirely bedridden. The text had little to do with her health, but it was a one more of those reminders to me that every moment of every day is precious. I’m grateful for my health, for my wife Kelly, for my family and friends, for this beautiful home, and for the people who came before me. Our LGBT foreparents lived and died so that our lives as LGBT people would be better. Our history, and this daily blog of those past, keep me grounded in the knowledge that the work we do today is allowing our young LGBT folks to live their lives more freely than I was able, more assimilated than I ever imagined, with a greater understanding of social justice. Remember on whose shoulders we stand and honor from where we came….
Today in LGBT History – June 15
1835 – Adah Isaacs Menken (June 15, 1835 – August 10, 1868) is born in New Orleans. She was an American actress, painter and poet, and was the highest earning actress of her time. She was the author of “Infelicia,” a collection of Sapphic poems, that clearly revealed her delight in women. Though she was married to men many times, Menken was also the lover of cross-dressing novelist George Sand, the pseudonym of Amandine Aurore Lucile Dupin, later Baroness Dudevant.
1884, Russia – Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich (May 11, 1857 – February 17, 1905) weds Princess Elizabeth of Hesse (UK). According to contemporary reports, Sergei was homosexual. His sexuality conflicted with his intense religious beliefs and the expectations of his position. Contrary to this belief, the marriage was happy. Forced to defend Sergei against rumors, Elizabeth was devoted to her husband and treasured his memory after his death.
1885 – Malvina Hoffman (June 15, 1885 – July 10, 1966) is born on this day. She was an American sculptor and author, well known for her life-size bronze sculptures of people, particularly of ballerina Anna Pavlova. During WWI, Hoffman helped to organize, and was the American representative, for the French war charity, Appui aux Artistes that assisted needy artists. She also organized the American-Yugoslav relief fund for children. During World War II, Hoffman served the Red Cross and raised money for the Red Cross and national defense during the war. She was married to Samuel Bonarius Grimson but divorced in 1936 because of an affair that she had with Anna Pavlova. On July 10, 1966, Malvina Cornell Hoffman died of a heart attack in her studio in Manhattan which had been purchased by the philanthropist Mary Williamson Averell and provided to Hoffman for a low-priced rent.
1926 — The Greenwich Village Ball is held. Extravagant balls at Webster Hall at 119 East 11th Street in New York City were common during the 1920’s. The advertisement for this 15th annual ball reads “Come […] with whom you like — wear what you like — Unconventional? Oh, to be sure — Only do be discreet!”
1949, UK – Simon Phillip Hugh Callow (born 15 June 1949) is born. He is an English actor, musician, writer, and theatre director, and one of the first actors to publicly declare his homosexuality, doing so in his 1984 book “Being An Actor.” He was listed 28th in The Independent‘s 2007 listing of the most influential gay men and women in the UK. He married Sebastian Fox in June 2016.
1970 – The Gay Liberation Front holds a demonstration in support of members of the Black Panthers who had been arrested.
1973 – Neil Patrick Harris (born June 15, 1973) is born. He is an American actor, comedian, magician, singer, and composer, known primarily for his comedy roles on television and his dramatic and musical stage roles. Harris was named one of Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in 2010. He is married to David Burtka. In 2010, they became the parents of twins through surrogacy.
1982 – Provincial Court judge Thomas Mercer in Toronto acquits gay publisher, Pink Triangle Press and its officers of immorality / indecency charges a second time. The charges involved an article in “The Body Politic” about oral sex.
1987 – The New York Times decides to allow its writers to use the word “gay” as an adjectival synonym for “homosexual.”
1998, Finland – The parliament of Finland votes overwhelmingly to lower the age of consent for homosexual acts from 18 years to 16 to match the age for heterosexual acts.
1999 – Stephen Gately (17 March 1976 – 10 October 2009), member of the heartthrob Irish boy band Boyzone, comes out. Gately made his sexuality known in a blaze of publicity. He wed Andrew Cowles, first in a commitment ceremony in Las Vegas in 2003 and more formally in a civil partnership ceremony in London in 2006. Upon Boyzone’s reformation, Gately was featured as part of the first gay couple in the music video for “Better” in what was to be his last with the band. Gately died of a congenital heart defect on 10 October 2009, in a flat that he and Cowles owned in Mallorca, Spain.
2003 – The world’s longest rainbow flag was unfurled in Florida as part of Key West Pride, stretching from the Atlantic to the Gulf of Mexico all along Duval Street. The finished flag was a mile and a quarter long, and two thousand people were needed to hold it. The Key West flag has had a life of its own, with sections of the historic banner displayed at global events and LGBT festivities around the world including the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Canada, and Australia’s Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade as well as in Sweden, Norway, Germany, and England.
2003 – General Wesley Clark, a former NATO commander shoots down the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on this day. The retired four-star general told the late Tim Russert that “we’ve got a lot of gay people in the armed forces, we always have had, always will. And I think that … we should welcome people that want to serve.”
2006 – The United Methodist Church votes in their national conference to reaffirm the denomination’s stance against homosexual practice while affirming the “sacred worth” of all individuals.
2012, Denmark – Denmark becomes the 11th country in the world to legalize same sex marriage.
2014 – Calvary Baptist Church in Washington, D.C. reaffirms the ordination of Allyson Robinson who had previously been ordained as a male person. Allyson Robinson is an American human rights activist, specializing in LGBT rights in the United States. She attended West Point before gender reassignment, graduated in 1994 majoring in physics, and was then commissioned as an officer serving in the U.S. Army until 1999. She held the rank of Captain. Prior to transition, she became an ordained Baptist minister, earning a Master of Divinity (M.Div.) with an emphasis on social justice.from Baylor University‘s George W. Truett Theological Seminary.
2016, UK – Prince William graces the cover of the LGBT magazine Attitude in the UK. He offers a show of royal support to the LBGT community in one of its darkest moments. A day after signing a condolence book for victims of the Orlando shooting, he becomes the first member of Britain’s royal family to appear on the cover of a gay magazine with the July issue of Attitude, akin to America’s Out. “No one should be bullied for their sexuality or any other reason and no one should have to put up with the kind of hate that these young people have endured in their lives,” he told the magazine, according to a Kensington Palace press release Wednesday.
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!)