Today in LGBT History – MAY 11

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 – MAY 11

1739 & 1755, UK – Eleanor Butler (11 May 1739 – 2 June 1829) and Sarah Ponsonby (May 11, 1755 –December 9, 1831)celebrated joint birthdays and shared their lives for a half century. The “Ladies of Llangollen” were two upper-class Irish women whose relationship during the late 18th and early 19th century scandalized and fascinated their contemporaries.The subject of several excellent books, they seem to have impressed their neighbors as well as London high society. Eleanorwas a member of the Butlers, the Earls (and later Dukes) of Ormond. Considered an over-educated bookworm by her family, she resided at the Butler family seat Kilkenny Castle. She was educated in a convent in France. Her mother tried to make her join a convent because she was remaining a spinster. Sarah lived with relatives in WoodstockCounty Kilkenny, Ireland. She was a second cousin of Frederick Ponsonby, 3rd Earl of Bessborough, and thus a second cousin once removed of his daughter Lady Caroline Lamb. Eleanor’s and Sarah’s families lived two miles apart. They met in 1768 and quickly became close. Over the years they formulated a plan for a private rural retreat. Butler and Ponsonby lived together for over 50 years. Eleanor Butler died in 1829 at the age of 90. Sarah Ponsonby died two years later. They are buried together at St Collen’s Church in Llangollen.

1933 – Mychal Judge (May 11, 1933 – September 11, 2001) is born. Father Judge was a self-identified gay man though celibate due to Catholic restrictions for priests. A long-term supporter of Dignity (a Catholic LGBT activist organization advocating for change in the Catholic Church’s policies/teachings on homosexuality), he was well known and beloved in New York City. He considered himself an “agent of change in both church and society”. He died while administering last rites to a fallen firefighter at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. In 2002, the United States Congress passed The Mychal Judge Police and Fire Chaplains Public Safety Officers Benefit Act into law. The law extended federal death benefits to chaplains of police and fire departments, and also marked the first time the federal government extended equal benefits for same-sex couples by allowing the domestic partners of public safety officers killed in the line of duty to collect a federal death benefit. This act was signed into law on June 24, 2002, but was retroactive only to September 11, 2001.

2001, Egypt – Fifty-two men are arrested on a floating gay nightclub called the Queen Boat moored on the Nile in Cairo. Of fifty-two men arrested, fifty were charged with “habitual debauchery” and “obscene behavior” under Article 9c of Law No. 10 of 1961 on the Combat of Prostitution. Another two were charged with “contempt of religion” under Article 98f of the Penal Code. All fifty-two men pleaded innocent. The trials of the “Cairo 52” lasted five months and the defendants were vilified in the Egyptian mediawhich printed their real names and addresses, and branded them as agents against the State.

2003 – African-American New Jersey high school sophomore Sakia Gunn (May 26, 1987 – May 11, 2003)wasmurdered after trying to get a man to leave her and her friends alone by explaining that they were lesbian. Gunn was returning from a night out in Greenwich VillageManhattan, with her friends. While waiting for the #1 New Jersey Transit bus at the corner of Broad and Market Streets in downtown Newark, Gunn and her friends were propositioned by two African American men. The women rejected their advances and declared themselves to be lesbians. The men attacked; Gunn fought back, and one of the men, Richard McCullough, stabbed her in the chest. Both men immediately fled the scene in their vehicle. After one of Gunn’s friends flagged down a passing driver, she was taken to nearby University Hospital, where she died.Gunn’s death sparked outrage from the city’s gay and lesbian community. The community, in conjunction with GLAAD, rallied the mayor’s office, requesting, among other things, the establishment of a gay and lesbian community center, that police officers to patrol the Newark Penn Station/Broad Street corridor 24-hours a day, the creation of a LGBT advisory council to the mayor, and that the school board be held accountable for the lack of concern and compassion when dealing with students at Westside High School (which Gunn attended) immediately following the murder. The Newark Pride Alliance, an LGBT advocacy group, was founded in the wake of Gunn’s murder.In 2008 a documentary was released about Gunn’s murder, titled Dreams Deferred: The Sakia Gunn Film Project.

2010 – Hundreds of veterans from around the country descend on Washington D.C. to lobby Congress on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.Over a hundred U.S. military veterans gather  on Capitol Hill to press Congress for quick repeal of the law banning gays from serving in the military. Gay, lesbian and straight veterans and supporters converged on steps of the U.S. Capitol for a group photograph with Sen. Joseph Lieberman, I-Connecticut, who is the main sponsor of a bill that would officially repeal the law, known as “don’t ask, don’t tell.” Event participant Andre Sauvageot, 77, served in the Army during World War II. He described himself as straight and “happily married to a Vietnamese woman for 40 years,” but said he came from nearby Virginia to show solidarity with gay and lesbian veterans. Eric Alva (born April 1, 1971), a retired Marine, is one of the event’s organizers. “Don’t ask, don’t tell” (DADT) was the official United States policy on military service by gays, bisexuals, and lesbians, instituted by the Clinton Administration on February 28, 1994. The Department of Defense Directive 1304.26 was issued on December 21, 1993, and lasted until September 20, 2011, when it was repealed by President Obama.

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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