When we speak we are afraid our words will not be heard or welcomed. But when we are silent, we are still afraid. So it is better to speak. —Audre Lorde
Learning our history IS resistance! Thanks for taking this journey with me. Now go write your story!
Today in LGBT History – May 3
1912, Belgium – Writer May Sarton (May 3, 1912 – July 16, 1995) is born in Wendelgem. She wrote some of the most lyrical poetry of the 20th century. When publishing her novel Mrs. Stevens Hears the Mermaids Singing in 1965, Sarton feared that writing openly about lesbianism would lead to a diminution of the previously established value of her work. “The fear of homosexuality is so great that it took courage to write a novel about a woman homosexual who is not a sex maniac, a drunkard, a drug-taker, or in any way repulsive” wrote Sarton in Journal of a Solitude. After the book’s release, many of Sarton’s works began to be studied in Women’s Studies classes. She died of breast cancer on July 16, 1995.
1948 – Miriam Ben-Shalom (born May 3, 1948) is an American educator, activist and former staff sergeant in the United States Army. After being discharged from the military for homosexuality in 1976, she successfully challenged her discharge in court and returned to military service in 1987, the first openly gay person to be reinstated after being discharged under the military’s policy excluding homosexuals from military service. She served until 1990 when the Army succeeded in terminating her service after prolonged judicial proceedings. She is a member of the New England Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Veterans and of the California Alexander Hamilton American Legion Post 448. A resident of Milwaukee with her life partner, Karen Weiss, she also serves as a full-time tenured instructor of English with the Milwaukee Area Technical College.
1976 – A Chorus Line wins the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. A Chorus Line is a musical with music by Marvin Hamlisch, lyrics by Edward Kleban and a book by James Kirkwood Jr. and Nicholas Dante. Centered on seventeen Broadway dancers auditioning for spots on a chorus line, the musical is set on the bare stage of a Broadway theatre during an audition for a musical. A Chorus Line provides a glimpse into the personalities of the performers and the choreographer as they describe the events that have shaped their lives and their decisions to become dancers. Following several workshops and an Off-Broadway production, A Chorus Line opened at the Shubert Theatre on Broadway on July 25, 1975, directed and choreographed by Michael Bennett (April 8, 1943 – July 2, 1987). An unprecedented box office and critical hit, the musical received twelve Tony Award nominations and won nine, in addition to the 1976 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.
1978, Canada – In Toronto, the Coalition for Gay Rights in Ontario distributes Discrimination and the Gay Minority to the members of the Ontario Legislature. Liberal leader Stuart Smith supports inclusion of sexual orientation in human rights code.
1989 – Mary Danielle Lambert (born May 3, 1989) is an American singer, songwriter and spoken word artist. She worked with Macklemore and Ryan Lewis on a track on their album The Heist. Lambert is the featured artist of their LGBTQ rights single “Same Love.” Lambert’s contributions to “Same Love” draw upon her experiences as “a lesbian growing up in a tumultuous, Christian upbringing.” Lambert took the content she created for “Same Love” and used it to develop the song “She Keeps Me Warm” which she released on July 30, 2013. Lambert performed at the 2016 Gay Christian Network Conference in Houston, Texas, an annual conference that draws over 1,300 LGBT people from all over the world. Her girlfriend, Michelle Jacqueline Chamuel (born 1986), is an American singer, songwriter and producer. She has released several albums and EPs as a solo artist and in partnership with others. She was the lead singer of the band Ella Riot and the runner-up on season four of The Voice. Chamuel released an EP titled “I Am” in November 2015 under The Reverb Junkie moniker. She co-wrote and produced “Hang out with You” with Mary Lambert. Lambert was raised as a Pentecostal, but her family was expelled from the church when she was six after her mother came out as lesbian.
1989 – Christine Jorgenson (May 30, 1926 – May 3, 1989), pioneering transsexual, dies of cancer at age sixty-two. Jorgensen was the first person to become widely known in the United States for having sex reassignment surgery—in this case, male to female. Jorgensen grew up in the Bronx area of New York. Upon returning to New York after military service and increasingly concerned over (as one obituary called it at the time) her “lack of male physical development” Jorgensen heard about sex reassignment surgery and began taking the female hormone ethinyl estradiol on her own. She researched the subject with the help of Dr. Joseph Angelo, a husband of one of Jorgensen’s friends. Jorgensen had intended to go to Sweden, where at the time the only doctors in the world performing this surgery were located. During a stopover in Copenhagen to visit relatives, however, she met Dr. Christian Hamburger, a Danish endocrinologist and specialist in rehabilitative hormonal therapy. Jorgensen stayed in Denmark, and under Dr. Hamburger’s direction, was allowed to begin hormone replacement therapy. She then got special permission from the Danish Minister of Justice to undergo the series of operations for sex re-assignment. Jorgensen chose the name Christine in honor of Dr. Hamburger. She became the most famous and outspoken figure for transsexual and transgender community.
1990 – Hope Williams (1898-May 3, 1992) dies. She was a debutante with a carefree manner, boyishly clipped blond hair and a humorous walk who was a leading Broadway actress in the late 1920’s and 30’s. She was part of the lesbian “sewing circle” of actresses in New York.
2003, Japan – Aya Kamikawa (born January 25, 1968) becomes Japan’s first openly transgender official.
2013 – After same-sex marriage legislation passes in both houses of Rhode Island’s legislature, Governor Lincoln Chafee signs it into law. The new law, legalizing same-sex marriage, goes into effect on August 1, 2013
Stand up, speak out, share your story!
(Historical information obtained from a variety of sources including QUIST at facebook.com/quistapp, Back2Stonewall.com, Lavender Effect, DataLounge.com, Arron’s Gay Info, All Things Queer, RS Levinson, Amara Das Wilhelm, out.com, Safe Schools Coalition, and/or Wikipedia. If you wish to edit an item or add an item, please send an email to me at email@example.com. Thanks!)