Musings of an Aging Lesbian
Today is the 21st anniversary of the death of University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard. 21 years. Matthew was just 21 when he was killed. I was working at UCLA at the time. A student’s death is always the worst thing we as Student Affairs professionals can experience, and we felt Matthew’s death on every campus in the country. Matthew’s death was so tragic: he was beaten and left for dead because he was gay. His killers, two young men, are spending their lives in prison after they attempted to use a “homosexual panic” defense. May Matthew rest in peace forever, knowing that his story has helped change lives all over the world.
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!
Today in LGBT History – OCTOBER 12
1774 – Adolph Jans van Oldeberkoop of Frisia, Netherlands, a fifty year old customs officer, was convicted of seduction to sodomy and banished for two years.
1871, India – The Criminal Tribes Act, which defines certain social communities as “addicted to the systematic commission of non-bailable offences,” comes into effect. One of these “criminal tribes” is the Hijra, a term referring to several identities within the transgender spectrum across South Asia. After independence from Britain rule, the Hijara were no longer officially criminalized.
1957 – Debra Chasnoff (October 12, 1957 – November 7, 2017) was a documentary filmmaker and activist whose films address progressive social justice issues. Her production company GroundSpark produces and distributes films, educational resources and campaigns on issues ranging from environmental concerns to affordable housing to preventing prejudice. Chasnoff had been a member and owner of the film distribution company New Day Films since 1996 and has served as Chair of New Day’s Steering Committee twice. Chasnoff’s organization Groundspark has produced several films as a part of its Respect for All Project. The series includes the following films, all directed and produced by Chasnoff: Straightlaced—How Gender’s Got Us All Tied Up, It’s Elementary—Talking About Gay Issues in School, It’s STILL Elementary, Let’s Get Real, and That’s a Family! It’s Elementary—Talking About Gay Issues in School(1996) illuminate how all young people are affected by anti-gay stigma, and have helped schools all over the world address anti-gay prejudice in the classroom. Chasnoff was married to Nancy Otto who works as a glass blowing artist and a non-profit fundraising consultant.
1971 – New York City Dept. of Consumer Affairs recommends repealing a law that prohibits homosexuals from being employed in or frequenting the city’s bars, cabarets and dance halls.
1979 – The National Coalition of Black Gays sponsored a conference in Washington DC, the first Third World Lesbian and Gay Conference, in preparation for the upcoming March on Washington.
1998 – Openly gay college student Matthew Shepard, 21, (December 1, 1976 – October 12, 1998) was an Americanstudent at the University of Wyoming who was beaten, tortured, and left to die near Laramieon the night of October 6, 1998. He was taken to Poudre Valley Hospital in Fort Collins, Colorado, where he died six days later from severe head injuries from being beaten and tortured. Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson robbed and beat Shepard four days earlier and tie him to a split-rail fence outside of Laramie, Wyoming. The murder, for which the pair are each serving two consecutive life sentences, inspired “The Laramie Project,” a play and later film about Laramie, WY. Shepard’s murder brought national and international attention to hate crime legislation at the state and federal levels. In October 2009, the United States Congress passed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act (commonly the “Matthew Shepard Act” or “Shepard/Byrd Act” for short), and on October 28, 2009, President Barack Obama signed the legislation into law. Following her son’s murder, Judy Shepard became a prominent LGBT rights activist and established the Matthew Shepard Foundation. Shepard’s death inspired notable films, novels, plays, songs, and other works.
2008 – Connecticut Supreme Court legalizes same-sex marriage in a 4-3 decision.
2011 – Huffington Post launches Gay Voices, the first mainstream news organization to have an LGBT-focused section. Noah Michelson is the section’s first editor. The name was changed to Queer Voices in 2016.
Stand up, speak out, share your story!
(Historical information obtained from a variety of sources including QUIST at facebook.com/quistapp, Back2Stonewall.com, #LavenderEffect, DataLounge.com, #ArronsGayInfo, #AllThingsQueer, #RSLevinson, #AmaraDasWilhelm, out.com, #SafeSchoolsCoalition, 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!)