Today in LGBT History – March 15

In the introduction to Rising Strong, I wrote, “People who wade into discomfort and vulnerability and tell the truth about their stories are the real badasses.” This is especially true of people who rumble with failure. These are people who choose courage over comfort, accountability over blame, and are able to embed key learnings from failures into their lives.    —Brene Brown

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

Today in LGBT History – March 15

559, Turkey – “Men-corruptors” are blamed for the earthquake and plague in Constantinople by the Emperor of the Byzantine Empire.  

1633, Sweden – Christina (8 December 1626 – 19 April 1689)  becomes Queen at age six. She always wished to be a boy and is given the nickname “Girl King.” When she was fourteen her tutor remarked that “she is not at all like a female.” Christina is remembered as one of the most educated women of the 1600s, being educated as a royal male would have been.  With her interest in religion, philosophy, mathematics and alchemy, she attracted many scientists to Stockholm, wanting the city to become the “Athens of the North.” She was intelligent, fickle and moody; she rejected what the sexual role of a woman was at the time. She caused a scandal when she decided not to marry and, in 1654, when she abdicated her throne and converted to Roman Catholicism. She changed her name from Kristina Augusta Wasa to  Christina Alexandra. Christina revealed in her autobiography that she felt “an insurmountable distaste for marriage” and “for all the things that females talked about and did.” As she was chiefly occupied with her studies, she slept three to four hours a night, forgot to comb her hair, donned her clothes in a hurry and wore men’s shoes for the sake of convenience. Her unruly hair became her trademark. Her closest female friend was Ebba Sparre (1629 – 19 March 1662), a Swedish lady-in-waitingand noble, with whom she shared “a long time intimate companionship”.

1811, UK – The trial for two Scottish teachers Miss Marianne Woods and Miss Jane Pirie begins, accused of lesbian acts. One of the judges said that sex between women was “equally imaginary with witchcraft, sorcery or carnal copulation with the devil.”

1867, UK – Lionel Pigot Johnson (15 March 1867 – 4 October 1902) is born in Broadstairs, England. An influential poet and literary critic in his time, he was also the victim of one of the oldest ironies in the history of love. He made the mistake of introducing his young lover to a friend, who quickly snatched him away. The young lover was Lord Alfred Douglas (22 October 1870 – 20 March 1945), and the friend, Oscar Wilde (16 October 1854 – 30 November 1900). 

1886 – Gerda Marie Fredrikke Gottlieb (15 March 1886 – 28 July 1940) was a Danish fine-artistillustrator and painter best known for erotica. She met artist Einar Wegener (1882–1931) at art school. They married in 1904, when Gerda was 18 and Einar was 22. They traveled through Italy and France, eventually settling in Paris in 1912. The couple immersed themselves in the Bohemian lifestyle of the time, befriending many artists, dancers and other figures from the artistic world. The couple would often attend carnivals and other public festivals. Einar eventually identified as a male-to-female transgender woman. In 1930 she underwent the second publicly known sex reassignment surgery in history after years of living life solely as Lili Elbe. Dora Richter/Dörchen R. (born 1891) was the first person to undergo complete male-to-female gender reassignment surgery. She was one of a number of transgender people in the care of sex-research pioneer Magnus Hirschfeld at Berlin’s Institute for Sexual Research during the 1920s and early 1930s. She underwent surgical removal of the testicles in 1922, followed in 1931 by removal of the penis and  construction of a vagina. Dora’s success and the resulting publicity encouraged Lili to also have the surgery. Sadly, she died from a post-operative infection.The film The Danish GirlDavid Ebershoff‘s 2000 novel, is about Einar/Lili and Gerda.

1977 – The ABC sitcom, Three’s Company, premieres.  The “sit” in the sitcom is that an unemployed straight chef (John Ritter‘s Jack Tripper) moves in with two female roommates, but in order to satisfy the landlord’s suspicions that there might be sexual impropriety, pretends he is gay. The show stays in the Nielsen Top Ten for the next six years.

1983 – A West Virginia kindergarten teacher, Linda Conway, is forced to resign from her job after parents complain that she LOOKS like a lesbian.  She files a $1 million lawsuit against the school board. However, three years later the state supreme court confirms the school board’s right to dismiss her because of her appearance.

1985 – A new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association concludes that AIDS is most likely NOT spread by casual contact.

2006, Czech Republic – The Czech House and Senate pass a bill allowing same-sex partner registration but President Vaclav Klaus vetoes it. The veto is overturned on this day and the law goes into effect on July 1, 2006.

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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