I have been a seeker and I still am, but I stopped asking the books and the stars. I started listening to the teaching of my Soul. —#Rumi, from Mike Thompson
Learning our history IS resistance! Thanks for taking this journey with me. Now go write your story!
Today in LGBT History – May 8
1828, Swtizerland – Jean-Henri Dunant (8 May 1828 – 30 October 1910) is born. He was a Swiss businessman and social activist, the founder of the Red Cross, and the first recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. The 1864 Geneva Convention was based on Dunant’s ideas. In 1901 he received the first Nobel Peace Prize together with Frédéric Passy, making Dunant the first Swiss Nobel laureate. His birthday, 8 May, is celebrated as the World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day. Following his death his family burned his personal papers in an effort to suppress the fact he was a bisexual.
1920, Finland – Tom of Finland, Touko Laaksonen, (May 8, 1920 – 1991) is born. He is a sex-positive artist who went from the “pornography” underground in the 1950s to the mainstream present. His handsome, outrageously virile and endowed men challenged the perception that all homosexuals were effeminate, at the same time allowing that all types coexisted in the same sexual and social landscape. The nation of Finland issued stamps celebrating his art in 2014.
1978, Canada – The trial begins of those in Montreal Truxx Bar raid, charged with being keepers of a common bawdyhouse (house of prostitution). In 1976 the City of Montréal launched a pre-Olympic cleanup of gays and prostitutes, a new wave of persecution that shocked the gay community out of its complacency, both francophone and anglophone, and whole-scale organizing started up again, energized by the simple exigency of self-defense. The police responded in October 1977 by swooping with machine-guns into the Stanley Street bar Truxx, and made the largest mass arrest since the October Crisis. 146 men were forcibly given VD tests, crammed incommunicado all night into tiny cells with standing room only, and charged the next day under the familiar vague and discriminatory bawdy-house and gross indecency laws. That night, 3000 protesters blocked the streets of what was then the West End Peel-Stanley gay ghetto for several hours, and as the Journal de Montréal headline screamed, “Les Homos et la police: c’est la guerre!” No more than 300 demonstrators had ever shown up for a gay lib demo before, and two months later an embarrassed and still idealistic PQ government (only one year in office) passed Loi 88, the first human rights legislation protecting lesbians and gays anywhere in the world (Norway joined Quebec in 1981). The charges hung over the heads of the accused for several years thereafter before finally being dropped.
1981 – Tennis great Billie Jean King (November 22, 1943) becomes the first prominent professional athlete to come out as a lesbian when her relationship with her secretary, Marilyn Barnett, becomes public in a May of 1981 “palimony” lawsuit filed by Barnett. As a result, King loses all of her endorsements. King is an advocate for gender equality and has long been a pioneer for equality and social justice. In 1973, at age 29, she won the “Battle of the Sexes” tennis match against the 55-year-old Bobby Riggs. King was also the founder of the Women’s Tennis Association and the Women’s Sports Foundation.
1996, South Africa – South Africa becomes the first country in the world to adopt language in its constitution protecting the civil rights of lesbians and gay men (Section 2 of the State Duty to Protect Human Rights) and, that same day, anti-apartheid campaigner Edwin Cameron (born 15 February 1953) becomes the world’s first openly gay Supreme Court judge. Cameron is well known for his HIV/AIDS and gay-rights activism and was hailed by Nelson Mandela as “one of South Africa‘s new heroes”.
2010, Lithuania – Baltic Pride parade takes place amid violence by anti-gay protestors. With the number of police officers in the street almost outnumbering the participants the Latvian capital of Riga hosted its most successful and peaceful Gay Pride Parade. Police presence was heavy as religious groups and some Neo-Nazis had announced their resistance to the Baltic Pride in Riga ahead of the event. But the counter demonstrators were not to be seen and between 300 and 400 people marched through the cobblestone streets of the Latvian capital.
2010 – Chaz Salvatore Bono’s (born March 4, 1969) new name is legally recognized by the court. He is an American advocate, writer, musician and actor. His parents are entertainers Sonny Bono and Cher. Bono is a transgender man. In 1995, several years after being outed as lesbian by the tabloid press, he publicly self-identified as such in a cover story in a leading American gay monthly magazine, The Advocate, eventually going on to discuss the process of coming out to oneself and to others in two books. Family Outing: A Guide to the Coming Out Process for Gays, Lesbians, and Their Families (1998) includes his coming-out account. The memoir The End of Innocence (2003) discusses his outing, music career, and partner Joan’s death from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Between 2008 and 2010, Bono underwent female-to-male gender transition. A two-part Entertainment Tonight feature in June 2009 explained that his transition had started a year before. In May 2010, he legally changed his gender and name. A documentary on Bono’s experience, Becoming Chaz, was screened at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival and later made its television debut on the Oprah Winfrey Network. A year after his name change, he appears on the 13th season of the U.S. version of Dancing with the Stars. This was the first time an openly transgender man starred on a major network television show for something unrelated to being transgender.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks!)