Today in LGBT History – November 15

I attended a memorial service yesterday for a woman who had been about my age, 70. The service was lovely and her partner of 44 years was gracious in her speech and in sharing with the congregation. She invited us to join her at a popular restaurant in town following the service. There were many women there, hugging, consoling, sharing stories of the woman who passed. I wondered, why don’t we do that while we’re still alive? Why don’t we share our stories with one another? Why do we say nice things about those who are deceased? Let’s get together. Start today. Share your stories with one another. Let’s have our celebrations of life while we’re around to enjoy them!

Today in LGBT History – November 15

1636 – A set of laws was enacted for the Plymouth colony (present-day Massachusetts. Eight offences were deemed punishable by death, including sodomy.

1887 – Bisexual artist Georgia O’Keefe (November 15, 1887 – March 6, 1986) is born. She was best known for her paintings of enlarged flowers, New York skyscrapers, and New Mexico landscapes. O’Keeffe has been recognized as the “Mother of American modernism”.

1940, South Africa – Patricia Marion Fogarty (Nov. 15, 1940-Feb. 17, 1999), illustrator and photographer and lover of filmmaker Jayne Parker, is born. She was an illustrator whose drawings and watercolors appeared regularly in newspapers, magazines, books, and in national advertising campaigns – in every size and context, from billboards to brochures to ginger-beer labels.

1941- Hitler orders the death penalty for homosexual SS officers. Heinrich Himmler announced the decree that any member of the Nazi SS or police who had sex with another man would be put to death.

1952 – In Los Angeles, W. Dorr Legg, Tony Reyes, Martin Block, Dale Jennings, Merton Bird, Don Slater, and Chuck Rowland, all with ties to the Mattachine Society, form a group to promote education and research activities beneficial to gay men and lesbians. ONE, Inc., results from the meeting. The name is from an aphorism of Victorian writer Thom Carlyle: “A mystic bond of brotherhood makes all men one.”

1961 – The Washington, DC chapter of the Mattachine Society is formed by activists Jack Nichols (March 16, 1938 – May 2, 2005) and Frank Kameny (May 21, 1925 – October 11, 2011) who is elected president. Kameny was an American rights activist. He has been referred to as “one of the most significant figures” in the American gay rights movement.

1969 – Representatives of the Gay Liberation Front join hundreds of thousands of other demonstrators protesting the Vietnam War in Washington, DC

1970 – “Jet Magazine” features a lesbian couple, Edna Knowles and Peaches Stevens, in their publication under the headline “Two Women ‘Married’ In Chicago — To Each Other.” However, Jet noted that the Illinois marriage license bureau had no record of the union. The image caption refers to Stevens as the “bridegroom.”

1973 – Dr. Howard Brown announces the founding of the National Gay (“and lesbian” was added later) Task Force, considered the first gay or lesbian rights organization with a truly national scope. Dr. Bruce Voeller (May 12, 1934 – February 13, 1994) is named the first executive director;.

1977 – The school board of Santa Barbara, California, votes to ban discrimination against students based on sexual orientation;

1978 – Margaret Mead (December 16, 1901 – November 15, 1978) dies at age 76. Mead, who was bisexual, was perhaps the most famous anthropologist in the world at the time of her death. She helped the world to understand that gender roles differed from culture to culture. She once said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” Mead never openly identified herself as lesbian or bisexual. In her writings she proposed that it is to be expected that an individual’s sexual orientation may evolve throughout life.

1980, Canada – Michael Harcourt, an alderman consistently supportive of the gay community, is elected mayor of Vancouver. An organization called Gay People to Elect Mike Harcourt campaigned actively in the gay community. Harcourt would become NDP premier of British Columbia in 1991.

1983 – A Washington, DC, Superior Court judge dismisses a lawsuit brought by gay students against Georgetown University three years prior, ruling that the students cannot force the university to grant their organization recognition, because the federal government does not have an official national policy on homosexual rights.

1987 – “And the Band Played On,” Randy Shilts’ (August 8, 1951 – February 17, 1994) remarkable book about AIDS and AIDS research, debuts at number twelve on the New York Times best seller list.

1988 – Alexandria, Virginia bans discrimination in employment, housing and other practices based on sexual orientation.

1989 – Massachusetts becomes the second U.S. state to pass a statewide gay rights law.

1992 – Thirty-five members of The Cathedral Project, a gay Roman Catholic group, demonstrate in New York City at St. Patrick’s Cathedral to protest a Vatican directive urging bishops to oppose laws banning anti-gay bias.

1995 – The Florida Baptist state convention approves a resolution to encourage members to boycott the Walt Disney Co. because of the company’s extension of domestic partner benefits to its gay and lesbian employees.

1999 – The Washington Times reports claims George W. Bush ensured conservative supporters that he would not knowingly appoint any homosexuals as ambassadors or department heads in his administration if elected president.

2008 – Comedian Wanda Sykes (born March 7, 1964) comes out at a rally in Las Vegas for marriage equality. She said, “ I’m proud to be a woman, proud to be Black, and proud to be gay…” Sykes is an American actress, comedian and writer. She was first recognized for her work as a writer on The Chris Rock Show, for which she won a Primetime Emmy Award in 1999. In 2004, Weekly named Sykes as one of the 25 funniest people in America. A month earlier, Sykes had married her partner Alex Niedbalski, a French woman, whom she had met in 2006. The couple became parents on April 27, 2009, when Alex gave birth to twins.

Speak out, share your story, keep LGBT history alive.




(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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