Today in LGBT History – May 16

Trump’s new CDC director, Dr. Robert Redfield, is a dangerous Christian extremist with a history of demonizing gays and single parents.   —journalist Michael Stone

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

Today in LGBT History – May 16

218, Italy – Elagabalus (203 – 11 March 222)is declared the 25themperor of the Roman Empire. He was married to five women and a male athlete named Zoticus who he wed in a public ceremony. However, his most stable relationship seems to have been with his chariot driver, a blond slave from Carianamed Hierocles to whom he referred as his husband. Herodian commented that Elagabalus enhanced his natural good looks by the regular application of cosmetics. He was described as having been “delighted to be called the mistress, the wife, the queen of Hierocles” and was reported to have offered vast sums of money to any physician who could equip him with female genitalia. Elagabalus has been characterized by some modern writers astransgenderortranssexual. He was assassinated at the age of 18.

1919 – Liberace (May 16, 1919 – February 4, 1987)is born Walter Valentino Liberace. For decades, he was known for his flamboyant gender bending style, his music, candelabra, charisma, rhinestones and dazzle. Pianist and entertainer, Liberace enjoyed a career spanning four decades of concerts, recordings, television, motion pictures, and endorsements. At the height of his fame, from the 1950s to the 1970s, Liberace was the highest-paid entertainer in the world, with established concert residencies in Las Vegas, and an international touring schedule. Liberace embraced a lifestyle of flamboyant excess both on and off stage, acquiring the nickname “Mr. Showmanship”. Liberace always denied he was gay. In 1982, Scott Thorson, Liberace’s 22-year-old former chauffeur and live-in lover of five years, sued the pianist for $113 million in palimony after he was let go by Liberace. In a 2011 interview, actress and close friend Betty White stated that Liberace was indeed gay and that she was often used as a beard by his managers to counter public rumors of the musician’s homosexuality. Liberace died as a result of AIDS on February 4, 1987, at his retreat home in Palm Springs, California. He was 67 years old.

1929 – Adrienne Cecile Rich (May 16, 1929 – March 27, 2012) was an American poet, essayist and radical feminist. She was called “one of the most widely read and influential poets of the second half of the 20th century” and was credited with bringing “the oppression of women and lesbians to the forefront of poetic discourse.” In 1976, Rich began her partnership with Jamaican-born novelist and editor Michelle Cliff(2 November 1946 – 12 June 2016), which lasted until her death. In her controversial work Of Woman Born: Motherhood as Experience and Institution, published the same year, Rich acknowledged that, for her, lesbianism was a political as well as a personal issue, writing, “The suppressed lesbian I had been carrying in me since adolescence began to stretch her limbs.”

1981 – The Fifth BiNational Lesbian Conference in Vancouver draws women from across Canada and organizes the first known lesbian pride march in the world.

1987 – HIV-Positive people are banned from entering the United States by the U.S. Public Health Service. President Obama lifts the ban in 2009.

1991, Bahamas – Same-sex sexual activity is legalized in the Bahamas.

2005, Hong Kong – The First Gay Pride Parade takes place.

2007, Baltic Region – Pride events in the Baltic region faced threats of violence and attempts to be banned by local authorities. In 2006, an LGBT Pride march in Riga was banned because of security threats against the participants. On this day in 2007, the Pride march was allowed to go ahead, but inside an enclosed park. Outside of the park, crowds of counter-demonstrators shouted abuses at the Pride marchers and threw two devices which exploded in the park. Amnesty International has been supporting Pride events in the Baltic region through campaigning, participation and monitoring since 2008.

2013, Puerto Rico – Senate approves a non-discrimination bill 15-11.

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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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