Today in LGBT History – March 28

The LGBT community is disproportionately affected by gun violence: firstly, because most gun deaths in the U.S. are suicides and LGBTQ people are overrepresented among suicide victims (92 percent of transgender adults have attempted suicide by age 25); secondly, because LGBTQ people are the most likely minority to be the victim of a hate crime.   —Gays Against Guns website

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Today in LGBT History – March 28

1929 – Lesbian Katharine Lee Bates (August 12, 1859 – March 28, 1929), author of the song America the Beautiful, dies. Bates was a full professor of English literature at Wellesley College. She lived in Wellesley with Katharine Coman who was a history and political economy teacher and founder of the Wellesley College School Economics department. The pair lived together for twenty-five years until Coman’s death in 1915. In 2012, Bates was named by Equality Forum as one of their 31 Icons of the 2015 LGBT History Month

1931 – Writer Jane Rule (28 March 1931 – 27 November 2007) is born in New Jersey. In 1956, Rule moved to Canada. Her 1975 work “Lesbian Images” set down what it meant for her to be a lesbian and compared her experiences with other famous women. It was hailed as a landmark and helped earn her an Order of British Columbia medal. In 1964, Rule published Desert of the Heart, after 22 rejections from publishers. The novel featured two women who fall in love with each other and caused Rule to receive a flood of letters from “very unhappy, even desperate” women who felt they were alone and would be miserable. Rule’s novel was later made into a movie by Donna Deitch, released as Desert Hearts (1985). The Globe and Mail said, “the film is one of the first and most highly regarded works in which a lesbian relationship is depicted favourably.” She taught at Concord Academy in Massachusetts where she met Helen Sonthoff (September 11, 1916 – January 3, 2000) and fell in love with her. Rule and Sonthoff lived together until Sonthoff’s death in 2000. Rule surprised some in the gay community by declaring herself against gay marriage, writing, “To be forced back into the heterosexual cage of coupledom is not a step forward but a step back into state-imposed definitions of relationship. With all that we have learned, we should be helping our heterosexual brothers and sisters out of their state-defined prisons, not volunteering to join them there.” The ashes of Jane Vance Rule were interred in the Galiano Island Cemetery next to those of her beloved Helen Hubbard Wolfe Sonthoff.

1969 – Society for Individual Rights president Leo Laurence and his lover are featured in a photo-illustrated article in the Berkeley Barb. Calling for “the Homosexual Revolution of 1969,” Laurence exhorts gay men and lesbians to join the Black Panthers and other left-wing groups and to “come out” en masse

1979, Canada – Toronto’s police chief and the police association president both issue statements apologizing after an anti-gay article called The Homosexual Fad appears in the police association newsletter

1989 – 2500 ACT-UP activists demonstrate at the New York City hall protesting Mayor Koch’s handling of the AIDS crisis. Over 100 protestors went to jail.

1990 – With the opening of the Robert Mapplethorpe (November 4, 1946 – March 9, 1989) exhibit less than two weeks away, law enforcement officials in Cincinnati, Ohio, warn the local Contemporary Arts Center to cancel the exhibit or risk prosecution under the city’s stringent anti-obscenity laws. “These photographs are just not welcome in this community,” says the local chief of police. “The people of this community do not cater to what others depict as art.”  After the exhibit finally opens, a Cincinnati grand jury indicts the center’s director, Dennis Barrie, on charges of obscenity and pandering.

2002 – In Mississippi, the George County Times publishes a letter from George County Justice Court Judge Connie Wilkerson which read, in part, “In my opinion, gays and lesbians should be put in some type of mental institution.” Because of the bias expressed in such a statement, an ethics violation complaint was filed against Wilkerson.

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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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