Today in LGBT History – March 21

I am endorsing Cynthia Nixon for Governor of New York. I am grateful that a participant citizen, with a history in public education activism, support for public employees, who boycotts Israeli settlement products and will therefore protect free speech rights of New Yorkers, and who supports the Arts, is stepping up to take down a corrupt governor who hates the City, degrades CUNY, and endorses apartheid.   —Sarah Schulman

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


Today in LGBT History – March 21

1804, France – Napoleonic Code went into effect, one of the earliest codes to permit same-sex activity

1960, South Africa – International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. In Sharpeville, South Africa on March 21, 1960, police killed 69 people who were demonstrating peacefully against the apartheid ‘pass laws.’ In 1966, the day was officially designated by the United Nations as a marker of efforts to eliminate all forms of racial discrimination.

1962, South Africa – Abdurrazack “Zackie” Achmat (born 21 March 1962) is a South African activist and film director. He is a co-founder the Treatment Action Campaign and known worldwide for his activism on behalf of people living with HIV and AIDS in South Africa. He currently serves as Board member and Co-director of Ndifuna Ukwazi (Dare to Know), an organisation which aims to build and support social justice organisations and leaders, and is the Chairperson of Equal Education. Achmat co-founded the National Coalition for Gay and Lesbian Equality in 1994, and as its director he ensured protections for gays and lesbians in the new South African Constitution, and facilitated the prosecution of cases that led to the decriminalisation of sodomy and granting of equal status to same-sex partners in the immigration process. Achmat was diagnosed HIV-positive in 1990. In 2005 he suffered a heart attack, which his doctor said was unlikely to be caused by his HIV-positive status or treatment. He recovered sufficiently to return to his activism work. On 5 January 2008, Achmat married his same-sex partner and fellow activist Dalli Weyers at a ceremony in the Cape Town suburb of Lakeside. The ceremony was attended by then Mayor Helen Zille and presided over by Supreme Court of Appeal Judge Edwin Cameron. The couple divorced amicably in June 2011.

 1962 – Rosie O’Donnell (born March 21, 1962)) is born. She is an American comedian, actress, author, and television personality. She has been a magazine editor and continues to be a celebrity blogger, a lesbian rights activist, a television producer, and a collaborative partner in the LGBT family vacation company, R Family Vacations.

 1975, Canada – Former jockey John Damien (1933 – 1986) sues Ontario Racing Commission and individuals involved in his firing as a racing steward. Damien’s suit, filed in Ontario Supreme Court, alleged he was fired because he was gay. In 1986, the first legal action, a suit of wrongful dismissal against the Commission, was settled in Damien’s favour; he was awarded one year’s wages plus interest, a total of about $50,000. By this time Damien was in poor health, and he died of pancreatic cancer.

1980, Canada – Three judges of the Divisional Court order fired gay Ontario Provincial Police officer Paul Head reinstated as member in good standing of force. Head was fired with the force discovered he was gay. OPP appealed the decision. 

1987, Finland – Pekka Haavisto (born 23 March 1958), the first openly gay member of parliament, takes office. He is a Finnish politician and minister representing the Green League. He returned to the Finnish Parliament in the Finnish parliamentary election of March 2007 after an absence of 12 years and was re-elected again in 2011. In October 2013 he was appointed as the Minister for International Development after Heidi Hautala resigned from the job. He has also been a member of the Helsinki City Council.

 1994 – Tom Hanks wins best actor Oscar for Philadelphia. The film was one of the first mainstream Hollywood films to acknowledge HIV/AIDShomosexuality, and homophobia. It was written by Ron Nyswaner, directed by Jonathan Demme and stars Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington.

2000 – The remains of Steen Keith Fenrich (1981 – September 9, 1999) are discovered. The gay African-American teen was tortured and murdered by his white, homophobic, racist stepfather who committed suicide.

2001 – Asexual Visibility and Education Network (AVEN) founded by David Jay. AVEN hosts the world’s largest online asexual community as well as a large archive of resources on asexuality. AVEN strives to create open, honest discussion about asexuality among sexual and asexual people alike.

2007 – First national Native AIDS Awareness Day. National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day is observed each year on the first day of Spring. This day is an opportunity for people across the United States to learn about HIV/AIDS, the need for HIV testing among Native Americans, and ways that everyone can help decrease the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS in their own communities.

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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