Today in LGBT History – March 18

One of the many interesting tropes that Trump uses to justify firings and accusations is when someone does in fact commit a minor wrongdoing that pales in comparison to Trump’s own large structural wrongs. He uses their flaw as a smokescreen to hide his own and uses his power to blow up and escalate their wrong so that it overwhelms any discussion of his. This is a common tactic in every level of society from couples to friends to families to cliques to communities, religious, racial and national groups. One of the biggest lessons of the Trump era is that we should not believe power-based accusations without looking at the MOTIVE of the accuser.   —Sarah Schulman

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

Today in LGBT History – March 18

1308, France – Philip IV of France orders the arrest of all Knights Templars on charges of heresy, idolatry and sodomy, but these charges are only a pretext to seize the riches of the order. Order leaders are sentenced to death and burned at the stake on March 18, 1314 by Notre Dame, including Jacques de Molay (1243 – 18 March 1314) who was found guilty of homosexuality. Though little is known of de Molay’s actual life and deeds except for his last years as Grand Master, he is one of the best known Templars.

1796 – The State of New Jersey adopted a statute that reduced the penalty for same-sex intercourse from death to a fine and a maximum of 21 years of solitary imprisonment with hard labor. This is the first sodomy law in the United States of America to use the term “crime against nature.”

1886 – Actor Edward Everett Horton (March 18, 1886 – September 29, 1970) is born in Brooklyn. He  was an American character actor with a long career in film, theater, radio, television, and voice work for animated cartoons. It’s impossible to think of the comedies of the ’20s, ’30s, or ’40s without recollecting the lanky Nervous Nellie characters he portrayed. A whole new generation discovered him in the ’70’s and ’80s as the voice in Fractured Fairy Tales on the Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoon show. Horton’s companion for many years was actor Gavin Gordon (April 7, 1901 – April 7, 1983), who was 15 years his junior. They both appeared (but shared no scenes) in only one film, Pocketful of Miracles (1961). They also appeared together in at least one play, a 1931 production of Noël Coward‘s Private Lives.

1922, Germany – Magnus Hirschfeld’s (14 May 1868 – 14 May 1935) petition for the repeal of Paragraph 175 is presented to the Reichstag. Although 6,000 people had signed the petition, including Sigmund Freud, the late Leo Tolstoy, and Albert Einstein, it fails to persuade German lawmakers to decriminalize sex between men.

1971 – Idaho decriminalizes “gay” sex acts between consenting adults. However, before the law can take effect, in response to pressure from conservative groups, Iowa reverses itself and keeps the felony statute on the books. 

1975, Canada – Warren Zufelt (1879 – March 18, 1968), one of eighteen men arrested in an Ottawa “sex scandal,” commits suicide by jumping from his apartment building balcony after his name was published in local newspapers. 

1982 – Police raid a Washington, D.C. male escort service called “Friendly Models” and cart away more than a dozen boxes of business records, including the names and addresses of several hundred of the service’s clients.

1990 – OutWeek outs Malcolm Forbes (19 August 1919 – 24 February 1990). He was an American entrepreneur most prominently known as the publisher of Forbes magazine, founded by his father B. C. Forbes. He was known as an avid promoter of capitalism and free market trade, and for an extravagant lifestyle, spending on parties, travel, and his collection of homes, yachts, aircraft, art, motorcycles, and Fabergé eggs. In March 1990, soon after his death, OutWeek magazine published a story with the cover headline “The Secret Gay Life of Malcolm Forbes,” by Michelangelo Signorile, which outed Forbes as a gay man. Signorile was critical of the media for helping Forbes publicise many aspects of his life while keeping his homosexuality a secret. The writer asked, “Is our society so overwhelmingly repressive that even individuals as all-powerful as the late Malcolm Forbes feel they absolutely cannot come out of the closet?”  Even in death, the media was reluctant to disclose his sexuality. A friend stated that Forbes “lived openly as a homosexual… but expected the media and his famous friends to cover for him.”

1995, UK – The Archbishop of Canterbury, the chief primate of the Anglican Communion, tells the press: “We reject homophobia in any form.” He and the other 35 Anglican primates call for a Church-wide debate on issues of sexuality “at variance with the received Christian moral tradition.”

1996 – Hellene Harrington “Muffin” Spencer-Devlin was born Oct. 25, 1953, in Piqua, Ohio. She is the first LPGA pro to come out.

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(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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