I cringe every time I write about an Anita Bryant-related historical issue. Her actions affected me deeply – and painfully – for decades. I had an experience yesterday that reminded me – yet again – that I am responsible for my actions, and that for every event in my life, I had a role in the outcome. For many years I blamed Anita Bryant for some of the outcomes in my life. It was certainly easier to blame her than to look at the role I played. But over the years I’ve come to understand that indeed I had a role – and have taken responsibility – for the events of that time of my life. And I know that Anita Bryant was not the author but the puppet of the events for which she is credited, and that she paid nearly as high a price as I. Regardless, Bryant’s actions affected cities and states and thousands upon thousands of people, which mobilized us – including Harvey Milk – like never before, jumpstarting the serious political movement for LGBT rights. Anita Bryant is still alive and lives in Oklahoma with her fourth husband. During this Pride month, wouldn’t it be fun to host a parade past her front door with signs of thanks and gratitude? Just kidding…
Today in LGBT History – June 7
1778 – George Bryan “Beau” Brummell is born in London (June 7, 1778—March 30, 1840). Beau Brummell is credited with introducing, and establishing as fashion, the modern men’s suit, worn with a necktie. He claimed he took five hours a day to dress, and recommended that boots be polished with champagne. The style of dress was referred to as dandyism. He was the caricature of the gay male that persisted for generations. He lived in the poshest apartments, wore the most stylish clothes, and had an acerbic sense of humor. In the United States, Brummell’s life was dramatized in an 1890 stage play in four acts by Clyde Fitch with Richard Mansfield as the ‘Beau’. This in turn was adapted for the 1924 film Beau Brummel, with John Barrymore and Mary Astor. Brummell died of syphilis in an insane asylum in France.
1954 – Mathematical and computer genius and the father of modern computer science Alan Turing (June 23, 1912 – June 7, 1954) commits suicide by cyanide poisoning 18 months after being sentenced to two years in prison or libido-reducing hormone treatment for a year as a punishment for homosexuality. Turing is widely considered to be the father of theoretical computer science and artificial intelligence. Turing played a pivotal role in cracking intercepted coded messages that enabled the Allies to defeat the Nazis in many crucial engagements, including the Battle of the Atlantic. In so doing, he helped shortened the war in Europe by more than two years and saved over fourteen million lives. Turing was prosecuted in 1952 for homosexual acts when the Labouchere Amendment for “gross indecency” was still criminal in the UK. He accepted chemical castration treatment with DES as an alternative to prison. In 2009, following an Internet campaign, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown made an apology on behalf of the British government for “the appalling way he was treated.” Queen Elizabeth II granted him a posthumous pardon in 2013. The Alan Turing law is now an informal term for a 2017 law in the United Kingdom that retroactively pardoned men cautioned or convicted under historical legislation that outlawed homosexual acts.
1957 – The board of directors of the American Civil Liberties Union approves a national policy statement asserting that laws against sodomy and federal restrictions on employment of lesbians and gay men are constitutional.
1977 – A referendum in Dade, County Florida, forced by pressure from fundamentalist Christians singer Anita Bryant, husband Bob Green and their “Save Our Children” organization, repeals the new county ordinance prohibiting discrimination on basis of sexual orientation. It was the first major battle — and defeat — in the struggle for gay civil rights in United States. It was also the first successful use of “child molestation tactics” by anti- gay forces and set the pattern of attack for the remainder of the 1970s and into the 80s. The following year Florida Governor Reubin Askew signed a law prohibiting gay men and lesbians from adopting children. That law was cited to also prevent lesbians and gay men from having custody of their own children. Bryant faced severe backlash from gay rights supporters across the U.S. She lost singing contracts and endorsements and was removed as spokesperson for the Florida Orange Juice Commission. The Miami-Dade gay rights ordinance was reinstated in December 1, 1998, more than 20 years later.
2012, Denmark – The Danish parliament legalizes same-sex marriage. Same-sex sexual activity was legalized in 1933, and since 1977, the age of consent is 15, regardless of orientation or gender. Denmark was the first country in the world to grant legal recognition to same-sex unions, in the form of “registered partnerships“, in 1989. On June 7, 2012, the law was replaced by a new same-sex marriage law, which came into effect on June 15, 2012,and Denmark recognizes same-sex marriages performed elsewhere. Discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation was entirely prohibited in 2004. Same-sex couples are allowed to jointly adopt since 2010, while previously allowing stepchild adoptions and limited co-guardianship rights for non-biological parents. Gays and lesbians are also allowed to serve openly in the military. The Kingdom of Denmark also includes two autonomous overseas territories, Greenland and the Faroe Islands, which are generally more socially conservative. However, Greenland legalized same-sex marriage in 2016
The best resistance is to speak OUT!
(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!)