Musings of an Aging Lesbian

Yesterday, as we continued south to Palm Springs, we stopped (and stayed) at the home of one of my old college roommates, Bobbi. We saw one another every now and then over the years, the last time being 20 year ago. Bobbi is the very first person to whom I admitted I was a lesbian and the first woman I ever kissed in “that” way. It was at homecoming in Gainesville in 1978 when my husband and children and I were the for the festivities. Bobbi is married to Scott now, a wonderful man I we just met and who is fun, smart, and engaging. I’m so happy for this reconnection (thank you, FaceBook) and look forward to seeing Bobbi and Scott in the future…far sooner than 20 years from now!

 Gratitude Day 5

It has taken many years for me to understand and appreciate my talents, skills, and abilities. I knew what I had to do and then did it/them without thinking of the consequences/risks nor the future impact. Today I am able to admit that I accomplished some important things, published some helpful pieces, and impacted lives in ways I didn’t know “back in the day.” Today I’m grateful for the serenity that allows me to look back with pride to see that I actually had the courage to change what I could. I’m grateful for the many old colleagues without whom none of us could have done the work, grateful for the new young colleagues who are taking the work to levels I never could imagine, and grateful beyond words for the thousands of brilliant, kind, tender students without whom there would be no work.

I invite you to add that for which you are grateful today.

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…

Thanks for taking this journey with me. Now go write your story!


1513, Panama – Spanish conquistador Vasco Nunez de Balboa discovers a community of cross-dressing males in present-day Panama and, according to reports, feeds at least 40 of them to his dogs.

1698, England – William Minton, a 19 year old servant, is used as bait to entrap Capt. Edward Rigby, the first homosexual victim of entrapment by the Society for the Reformation of Manners. He was tried for sodomy. These Societies were formed in hamlets, London, in 1690, with their primary object being the suppression of bawdy houses and profanity. A network of moral guardians was set up, with four stewards in each ward of the City of London, two for each parish, and a committee, whose business it was to gather the names and addresses of offenders against morality, and to keep minutes of their misdeeds. By 1699 there were nine such societies, and by 1701 there were nearly 20 in London, plus others in the provinces, all corresponding with one another and gathering information and arranging for prosecutions.

1961 – New York Times critic Howard Taubman launches an attack on “the increasing incidence of homosexuality on the New York stage” in an article headlined “Not What It Seems: Homosexual Motif Gets Heterosexual Guise.”

1969 – The Homosexual Information Center protests at the offices of the Los Angeles Times because of the newspaper’s refusal to print the word “homosexual” in ads. The Times would not print an ad announcing a group discussion on homosexuality.

1970 – The New York Times reports that the Gay Activists Alliance’s petition to incorporate as a non-profit organization was rejected because of the use of the word “gay” in the organization’s name. The Gay Activists Alliance (GAA) was founded in New York City on December 21, 1969, almost six months after the Stonewall riots, by dissident members of the Gay Liberation Front (GLF). Some early members included Jim Owles, Marty Robinson, Tom Doerr (1947 – August 2, 1987) (who introduced the lambda symbol into the gay movement. Originally the lambda sign referred to the political work of the Gay Activists Alliance and “it was only later that it became a sign for gay liberation in general), photojournalist Kay Lahusen  (born January 5, 1930), journalist Arthur Bell (November 6, 1939 – June 2, 1984), author Arthur Evans (October 12, 1942 – September 11, 2011), Bill Bahlman, author Vito Russo (July 11, 1946 – November 7, 1990), transgender rights acitivst Sylvia Rivera (July 2, 1951 – February 19, 2002), drtag queen Marsha P. Johnson (August 24, 1945 – July 6, 1992), Jim Coles, bisexual rights activist Brenda Howard (December 24, 1946 – June 28, 2005), David Thorstad (born June 6, 1941), Michael Giammetta and Morty Manford (son of PFLAG founder Jeanne Manford). GAA’s first president was Jim Owles.

1973 -The Supreme Court of the United States in Wainwright v. Stone finds that the sodomy law of Florida is not unconstitutionally vague, reversing a Fifth Circuit ruling.

1974 – Elaine Noble (born January 22, 1944) becomes the first openly gay or lesbian individual to be elected to a state legislature in the United States when she is elected to the Massachusetts House of Representatives. Inspired by Noble, Minnesota state legislator Allan Spear (June 24, 1937 – October 11, 2008) comes out in a newspaper interview. In 1986 Noble and Ellen Ratner formed a LGBT alcohol and drug treatment center in Minneapolis called the Pride Institute. More recently she has worked as a healthcare administrator and a realtor. Noble had a relationship with writer Rita Mae Brown(born November 28, 1944) in the 1970s and has since retained privacy regarding her personal life. She lives in Florida

1985 – The San Francisco Board of Supervisors passes legislation to protect people with AIDS from discrimination.

1992 – A New York State Bar Association committee issues a recommendation that low-income same-sex couples be granted access to state-subsidized housing.

1992 – A clause prohibiting anti-gay verbal abuse in public schools was repealed by the Fairfax (VA) county board of education because of complaints that it encouraged homosexuality.

1998 – The US Congress kills an amendment by Rep. Frank Riggs (R-CA) which would have barred San Francisco from spending federal housing money to implement its domestic partner ordinance.

2004, Canada – A judge in Saskatchewan rules that same-sex couples have the right to marry in that province.

2008 – Strauss v. Horton, a legal challenge to Proposition 8, is filed. Proposition 8, known informally as Prop 8, was a California ballot proposition and a state constitutional amendment passed in the November 2008 California state elections. The proposition was created by opponents of same-sex marriage in advance of the California Supreme Court‘s May 2008 appeal ruling, In re Marriage Cases, which followed the short-lived controversy and found the previous ban on same-sex marriage (Proposition 22, 2000) unconstitutional. Proposition 8 was ultimately ruled unconstitutional by a federal court (on different grounds) in 2010, although the court decision did not go into effect until June 26, 2013, following the conclusion of proponents’ appeals.

2009, Viet Nam – Pham le Quynh Tram, born intersex and assigned male at birth, successfully petitions the government for legal recognition as a woman. In 2013, the People’s Committee of the southern province of Binh Phuoc ordered the local Department of Justice to revert to recognizing Tram as a male and to refer to her as Pham Van Hiep, her birth name. In addition to the Department of Justice rescinding Tram’s initial recognition, the officials who first approved it are reportedly ordered to be penalized.

Stand up, speak out, share your story!




(Historical information obtained from a variety of sources including QUIST at,, #LavenderEffect,, #ArronsGayInfo, #AllThingsQueer, #RSLevinson, #AmaraDasWilhelm,, #SafeSchoolsCoalition, 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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