Today in LGBT History – May 20

Ten bucks says the man who doesn’t know the difference between HPV and HIV, would also be unable (or more likely, unwilling) to pick up the nuance of a “spy” vs. a “secret informant.  –Amy Siskind

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

Today in LGBT History – May 20

1782 – Deborah Sampson (December 27, 1760- April 29, 1827) enlisted as a Continental soldier using the name of her late brother, Robert Shurtliff Sampson, who also served. She was in the Light Infantry Company of the 4thMassachusetts Regiment. She is one of a small number of women with a documented record of military combat experience in that war, serving for months. She was wounded in 1782, and was honorably discharged at West Point, New York in 1783. In January 1792, Sampson petitioned the Massachusetts State Legislature for pay which the army had withheld from her because she was a woman. The legislature granted her petition and Governor John Hancock signed it. The legislature awarded her 34 pounds plus interest back to her discharge in 1783.In 1802, Sampson began giving lectures about her wartime service. She began by extolling the virtues of traditional gender roles for women, but toward the end of her presentation she left the stage, returned dressed in her army uniform. Sampson died of yellow fever at the aged 66 on April 29, 1827.

1936, Germany – The German actress Therese Giehse (March 6,1898 – March 3,1975) had been involved with Erika Mann  (November 9, 1905 – August 27, 1969)in 1933. Born in Munich to German-Jewish parents, she first appeared on the stage in 1920. She became a major star on stage, in films, and in political cabaret. In the late 1920s through 1933, she was a leading actress at the famous Munich Kammerspiele. On 20 May 1936 she married the homosexual English writer John Hampson, in order to obtain a British passport and thereby avoid capture by the Nazis. She returned to Germany after World War II, and performed in theaters on both sides of the Iron Curtain, but mostly in her native Bavaria, until her death in 1975.

1979 – The first Mr. International Leather contest is held. The winner is David Klos. International Mister Leather (IML) is an international, though largely American, conference and contest of leathermen held annually in May since 1979 in Chicago, Illinois.

1996 – In the case of Romer v. Evans, the United States Supreme Court decides that Colorado’s Amendment Two, denying gays and lesbians protections against discrimination, is unconstitutional, calling them “special rights.”

2008 – Sam Adams (born September 3, 1963)is the first openly gay mayor of a major U.S. city, Portland, OR. He wins with 58% of the vote. Richard Heyman (c. 1935 – September 16, 1994) was the first openly gay person to be elected mayor in any city, in Key West in 1983, stepped down after serving a two-year term, then ran again and won in 1987.

2012, Ukraine – In Ukraine’s capital city, Kiev, rights activists planned that country’s first Pride march. Over 500 Neo-Nazi nationalists attacked and injured some of the marchers while police stood by. The march was cancelled.

2017, Bucharest – Some 1,000 people joined a gay pride march in the Romanian capital of Bucharest demanding greater rights amid government moves that will curtail their rights. Some 30 ambassadors, including U.S. Ambassador Hans G. Klemm, expressed support for the march and for protecting the rights of the LGBT community. Romania decriminalized homosexuality in 2001.

2016 – In May 2011, Rabbi Rebecca Isaacs was the first openly lesbian rabbi ordained by the Conservative movement’s Jewish Theological Seminary. Isaacs was chosen to deliver the final White House Hanukkah benediction of the Obama Administration in 2016. She is the inaugural holder of the Dorothy “Bibby” Levine Alfond chair in Jewish Studies, teaching courses on Hebrew, Jewish theology and Jewish humor. She was named one of “America’s Most Inspiring Rabbis” by the Jewish Daily Forward. 

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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