Today in LGBT History – MAY 17

Today is the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia.

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 17

1606, Russia – Tsar Pseudo-Demetrius I is the Czar of Russiafrom June 10, 1605 until his death on May 17, 1606 when he is killed by a mob that stormed the Kremlin. His mutilated body was displayed next to his lover Petr Basmanov.

1866, France – Composer Erik Satie (17 May 1866 – 1 July 1925)is born in Honfleur, Calvados. Throughout his life he lived in a small Paris room. Dissatisfied with his compositions, he returned to school when he was forty to study music formally. Still his untutored works are among his most popular. An eccentric, Satie was introduced as a “gymnopedist” in 1887, shortly before writing his most famous compositions, the Gymnopédies. Satie’s behaviour seemed to indicate that he was asexual; he tended to be dismissive when the topic of sexuality arose.

1978 – The Toronto Board of Education committee rehires John Argue as swimming instructor, overruling principal of school. Argue had been fired because he was gay. 

1972 –  John Water’s “Pink Flamingos” opens starring DIVINE!

1990, Switzerland – Homosexuality is removed from the list of mental illnesses by the World Health Organization, declaring this day the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHO).  WHO established the IDAHO Committee to coordinate grass-roots actions in different countries, to promote the day and to lobby for official recognition on May 17. The date was chosen to commemorate the decision to remove homosexualityfrom the International Classification of Diseases of the World Health Organization(WHO) in 1990. For a long time in Germany, May 17 had been unofficially labelled as a sort of “Gay Day.” Written in the date format 17.5, it had a natural affinity with the anti-gay Penal Code 175. The main purpose of the May 17 mobilizations is to raise awareness of violence, discrimination, and repression of LGBT communities worldwide, which in turn provides an opportunity to take action and engage in dialogue with the media, policymakers, public opinion, and wider civil society.

1990 – Queer Nation’s name is officially adopted, reclaiming the word queer. Queer Nation isan LGBTQ activist organization founded in March 1990 in New York City by HIV/AIDS activists from ACT UP. The four founders were outraged at the escalation of anti-gay and lesbian 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. The direct-action group’s inaugural action took place at Flutie’s Bar, a straight hangout at the South Street Sea Port on April 13, 1990. Queer Nation Chicago was inducted into the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame in 1995.

1992, Switzerland – Voters approve a wide-ranging reform of the country’s laws, including the deletion of all discriminatory language related to homosexuality, with 73 percent voting in favor.

1995 –The first Lavender Graduation took place at the University of Michigan, with three graduates. Lavender Graduation is an annual ceremony conducted on numerous campuses to honor lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and ally students and to acknowledge their achievements and contributions to the University. The Lavender Graduation Ceremony was created by Dr. Ronni Sanlo, a Jewish Lesbian, who was denied the opportunity to attend the graduations of her biological children because of her sexual orientation.  It was through this experience that she came to understand the pain felt by her students.  Encouraged by Dr. Royster Harper, the Dean of Students at the University of Michigan, Dr. Sanlo designed the first Lavender Graduation Ceremony in 1995. The first Lavender Graduate was Ryan Bradley. Lavender Graduation is a cultural celebration that recognizes LGBT students of all races and ethnicities and acknowledges their achievements and contributions to the university. Through such recognition LGBT students may leave the university with a positive last experience of the institution thereby encouraging them to become involved as mentors for current students as well as financially contributing alumni.

2004 – Massachusetts legalizes same-sex marriage, becoming the first U.S. state to do so after the state Supreme Court ruled that the ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional. Marcia Hams and Sue Shepardare the first same-sex couple to marry. Robyn Ochs (born 1958) and her long-time partner Peg Preble were also among the first same-sex couples to get legally married that day.

2005, Mauritius – The Rainbow Collective is founded, working against homophobia.

2009, Russia – A rainbow flash mob happens in St. Petersburg. It is the largest LGBT demonstration in Russia with about 250 people. Nobody was arrested.

2009 –  Annise Parker (born May 17, 1956) was elected mayor of Houston, making her the first LGBT mayor of a U.S. city with a population over 1 million. She is an American politician who served as the 61st Mayor of Houston, Texas, from 2010 until 2016. She also served as an at-large member of the Houston City Council from 1998 to 2003 and city controller from 2004 to 2010. Parker was Houston‘s second female mayor (after Kathy Whitmire), and one of the first openly gay mayors of a major U.S. city, with Houston being the most populous U.S. city to elect an openly gay mayor. Parker and her partner, Kathy Hubbard, have been together since 1990. On January 16, 2014, Parker and Hubbard were married in Palm Springs, California. They have three foster children together as well as a then-teenage boy that they offered a home and whom they consider their son.

2016 – The Senate confirms Eric Fanning (born July 2, 1968)to be secretary of the Army, making him the first openly gay secretary of a U.S. military branch. Fanning previously served as Defense Secretary Ash Carter’s chief of staff and also served as undersecretary of the Air Force and deputy undersecretary of the Navy. He was nominated by President Obama and removed by President Trump on Jan. 20, 2017.

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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