Today in LGBT History – MARCH 20

Today is my 72ndbirthday. It’s quite a shock for me to “get” that that’s my age. I feel so much younger than 72, and yet the wisdom that comes with age is a gift I can’t deny. At 72 I’m still willing to try new things, still active every day and achieving my daily 10,000 steps, still learning new things like how to work the electronics on my boat, and still lucky enough to mentor young professionals. At 72 I’m willing to own my mistakes, apologize when I’m wrong, and say “I love you” daily to my wife. At 72 I understand that I cannot do some of the things I could at 45 like stay awake past 8:30, lift 25 pounds, or eat salty chips, but, ironically, I do believe I’m healthier today than I was 30 years ago, thinner, more active, less tied up in my shorts, less strident. I’m 72 today and grateful for every bump in the road that got me here. Life is good indeed…  writing prompt: how do you see your age?

Rudyard Kipling said: If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.The snippets of LGBTQ history here are the stories of our lives, the stories of the giants on whose shoulders we all stand. Learn about them then tell the stories…and remember, because knowing your history IS resistance!

Thanks for taking this journey with me. Now go write your story!

Today in LGBT History – MARCH 20

1749 – A group of single women called “The Petticoat Club” felt they were paying a severe economic penalty for not marrying while they saw large numbers of “eligible” men who, for whatever reason also chose to not marry and doing well in the world.In a petition to the New York Gazette, the club proposed that those “old bachelors” were not carrying out their proper duties and should be severely taxed for their selfishness and that tax would go to support unmarried women. It didn’t happen.

1890, Denmark – Opera star Lauritz Melchior (20 March 1890 – 19 March 1973)was born in Copenhagen. He was a Danish-American opera singer. He was the pre-eminentWagneriantenor of the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s and has since come to be considered the quintessence of his voice type. Late in his career, Melchior appeared in movie musicals and on radio and television. He also made numerous recordings.He was virtually a household name for his singing at New York’s Met. Between 1944 and 1952, Melchior performed in five Hollywood musical films for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Paramount Picturesand made numerous US radio and television appearances. In 1947, he put his hand and footprints in cement in the forecourt of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood.Novelist Hugh Walpole (13 March 1884 – 1 June 1941)had been his lover and patron.

1901 – Gavin Arthur (March 20, 1901 – April 28, 1972)was born Chester A. Arthur II in Colorado. He was a San Francisco astrologer and sexologist. The grandson of President Chester Arthur, he dropped his famous name and headed out on his own at an early age, working his way around the world in the merchant marine. Along the way he discovered he was bisexual and became friends with many of the gay gurus of the period — Edward Carpenter (29 August 1844 – 28 June 1929), Havelock Ellis (2 February 1859 – 8 July 1939), and Magnus Hirschfeld  (14 May 1868 – 14 May 1935).  

1915 – Sister Rosetta Tharpe (March 20, 1915 – October 9, 1973) was an American singer, songwriter, guitarist, and recording artist. As a pioneer of mid-20th-century music, she attained popularity in the 1930s and 1940s with her gospel recordings, characterized by a unique mixture of spiritual lyrics and rhythmic accompaniment that was a precursor of rock and roll. She was the first great recording star of gospel music and among the first gospel musicians to appeal to rhythm-and-blues and rock-and-roll audiences, later being referred to as “the original soul sister” and “the Godmother of rock and roll.” She influenced early rock-and-roll musicians, including Little RichardJohnny CashCarl PerkinsChuck BerryElvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis. In 1946 Tharpe saw Marie Knight(June 1, 1920 – August 30, 2009)perform at a Mahalia Jackson concert in New York. Tharpe recognized a special talent in Knight. Two weeks later, Tharpe showed up at Knight’s doorstep, people speculated that Knight and Tharpe maintained a romantic and sexual relationship.

1928 – Fred McFeely Rogers (March 20, 1928 – February 27, 2003) was an American television personality, musician, puppeteer, writer, producer, and Presbyterian minister. He was known as the creator, composer, producer, head writer, showrunner and host of the preschool television series Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood (1968–2001). The show featured Rogers’s kind, neighborly persona, which nurtured his connection to the audience. Rogers would end each program by telling his viewers, “You’ve made this day a special day, by just your being you. There’s no person in the whole world like you; and I like you just the way you are.”Rogers met Sara Joanne Byrd (called “Joanne”) from Jacksonville, Florida, while he attended Rollins College. They were married in 1952 and remained married until his death in 2003. They had two sons, James and John. According to biographer Maxwell King, close associates said that Rogers was “absolutely faithful to his marriage vows.” Also according to King, in an interview with Rogers’ friend William Hirsch, Rogers said that if sexuality was measured on a scale, then: “Well, you know, I must be right smack in the middle. Because I have found women attractive, and I have found men attractive,” leading some readers to describe Rogers as bisexual.In January 2018, it was announced that Tom Hanks would portray Rogers in an upcoming biographical film titled A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood directed by Marielle Heller. That same year, the documentary film Won’t You Be My Neighbor? based on the life and legacy of Rogers, was released to critical acclaim and became the highest-grossing biographical documentary film of all time.

1961 -The United States Supreme Court denies certiorari to Frank Kameny’s (May 21, 1925 – October 11, 2011) petition to review the legality of his firing by the United States Army’s Map Service in 1957, bringing his four-year legal battle to a close.

1970 – Twenty-three year old David Bowie (8 January 1947 – 10 January 2016)marries nineteen year old Mary Angela Barnett. A few years later, Bowie explains how they met, “Angela and I knew each other because we were both going out with the same man.”  Angie Bowiewent on to a career in Hollywood. The two divorce in 1980. Bowie was an English singer-songwriter and actor. He was a leading figure in popular music for over five decades, acclaimed by critics and fellow musicians for his innovative work. His career was marked by reinvention and visual presentation, his music and stagecraft significantly influencing popular music. 

1975 – Gays of Ottawa (GO) picket police station and office of Ottawa Journal to protest arrests and homophobic media coverage of arrests in a so-called Sex Scandal.

1977 – The Arkansas State House of Representatives unanimously passes a resolution in praise of Anita Bryant and her anti-gay and lesbian rights campaign.

1978 – The San Francisco Board of Supervisor passes what is described as “the most stringent gay rights law in the country.”  Only one of the eleven supervisors — Dan White — votes against the ordinance. Later that year, he murders Harvey Milk  (May 22, 1930 – November 27, 1978).

1986 – After fourteen years, the New York City Council finally passes a gay rights ordinance with a vote of 21 to 14.  Mayor Ed Koch tells reporters, “The sky is not going to fall.  There isn’t going to be any dramatic change in the life of this city.”

1988 – M. Butterflyopens on Broadway. The play by David Henry Hwang is about a civil servant attached to the French embassy in China who falls in love with a beautiful Chinese opera diva who is a “man masquerading as a woman.” They are together for twenty years until the truth is revealed. The civil servant is convicted of treason and imprisoned, then kills himself.

1990 – Queer Nation forms in New York to eliminate homophobia and increase visibility of LGBT people. It was founded by HIV/AIDSactivists from ACT UP. The four founders were outraged at the escalation of anti-gay violence on the streets and prejudice in the arts and media. The group is known for its confrontational tactics, its slogans, and the practice of outing.On March 20, 1990, sixty LGBTQ people gathered at the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Services Center in New York’s Greenwich Village to create a direct action organization. The goal of the unnamed organization was the elimination of homophobia, and the increase ofgay,lesbianandbisexual visibility through a variety of tactics. The organization of Queer Nation, being non-hierarchical and decentralized, allowed anyone to become a member and have a voice.The group’s use of the word “queer” in its name and slogan was at first considered shocking, though thereclamation has been called a success,[8] used in relatively mainstream television programs such as Queer Eye and Queer as Folk. The use of the word “queer” disarmed homophobes by reversing its derogatory nature

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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