Musings of an Aging Lesbian
Last June, while leaving Bell Harbor Marina in Seattle, I had a moment of panic and hit the dock with the corner of the swim platform of our boat. I broke the fiberglass on the boat. It was ugly and I was terribly embarrassed that I did such a stupid thing. All summer long people kept noticing that I had a nasty ding. Today, a very talented young man (25) named Marco came to our marina and repaired the boat! He did a splendid job, making it look like new. I feel so relieved by the repair, and especially relieved as Marco shared other horror stories of unfortunate docking incidences. I’m sorry that these things happened, but I feel better knowing I’m not the only one. Boat and ego are now intact. Thank you, dear Marco!
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 14
1888, New Zealand – Kathleen Mansfield Murry (14 October 1888 – 9 January 1923) was a prominent New Zealand modernist short story writer who was born and brought up in colonial New Zealand and wrote under the pen name of Katherine Mansfield. At 19, Mansfield left New Zealand and settled in the United Kingdom where she became a friend of writers such as D.H. Lawrence and Virginia Woolf. In 1917, she was diagnosed with extrapulmonary tuberculosis which led to her death at age 34. Mansfield had two romantic relationships with women that are notable for their prominence in her journal entries. She continued to have male lovers, and attempted to repress her feelings at certain times. Her first same-gender romantic relationship was with Maata Mahupuku (10 April 1890–15 January 1952), a New Zealand Maori tribal leader,sometimes known as Martha Grace who was a wealthy young Māori woman whom she had first met at Miss Swainson’s school in Wellington and then again in London in 1906. In June 1907 she wrote: “I want Maata—I want her as I have had her—terribly. This is unclean I know but true.” She often referred to Maata as Carlotta. She wrote about Maata in several short stories. Maata married in 1907 but it is claimed that she sent money to Mansfield in London. The second relationship, with Edith Kathleen Bendall, took place from 1906 to 1908. Mansfield also professed her adoration for her in her journals.
1977 – Anita Bryant is hit in the face with a pie.
1979 – The first National March on Washington for Gay and Lesbian Rights was attended by an estimated 125,000 LGBT people and straight allies to demand equal civil rights and to urge the passage of protective civil rights legislation. The march served to nationalize the gay movement, which had previously been focused on local struggles. The march was led by the Salsa Soul Sisters, who carried the official march banner. The main rally was emceed by Ray Hill and Robin Tyler. It was also broadcast live on multiple National Public Radio affiliates throughout the US. Speakers and artists who spoke at the main rally included Harry Britt, Charlotte Bunch, Allen Ginsberg and Peter Orlovsky, Flo Kennedy, Morris Kight, Audre Lorde, Leonard Matlovich, Kate Millett, Troy Perry, Eleanor Smeal, first PFLAG President Adele Starr, and Congressman Ted Weiss. Washington DC Mayor Marion Barry gave a welcome to the marchers on behalf of the city. Organizations supporting the march included Lambda Legal Defense Fund, the National Coalition of Black Lesbians and Gays, the National Gay Task Force, and the National Organization for Women.
1982 – Scott Thorson (born January 23, 1959) files a $113 million palimony suit against Liberace (May 16, 1919 – February 4, 1987). This was the first same-sex palimony case filed in U.S. history. The case later settles. At the height of his fame, from the 1950s to the 1970s, Liberace was the highest-paid entertainer in the world. He embraced a lifestyle of flamboyant excess both on and off stage, acquiring the sobriquet “Mr. Showmanship”. When Thorson was 18, Liberace hired him to act as his personal friend and companion, a position that allegedly included a five-year romantic relationship with lavish gifts, travel, and Liberace’s promises that he would adopt and care for Thorson. In 1986, Thorson and Liberace agreed to settle out of court for $95,000. Liberace died of cytomegalovirus pneumonia as a result of AIDS on February 4, 1987, at his home in Palm Springs, California. The 2013 film Behind the Candelabra is their story. Thorson was played by Matt Damon opposite Michael Douglas as Liberace.
1987 – The U.S. Congress votes in favor of banning federal funding for AIDS education organizations that “promote homosexuality.”
1987, Mexico –The first conference of Latin American and Caribbean Feminist Lesbians is held
1990 – Bisexual Leonard Bernstein (August 25, 1918 – October 14, 1990) dies of a heart attack at age seventy-two. He was an American composer, conductor, author, music lecturer, and pianist. He was among the first conductors born and educated in the US to receive worldwide acclaim. According to music critic Donal Henahan, he was “one of the most prodigiously talented and successful musicians in American history.” His fame derived from his long tenure as the music director of the New York Philharmonic, from his conducting of concerts with most of the world’s leading orchestras, and from his music for West Side Story, Peter Pan, Candide, Wonderful Town, On the Town, On the Waterfront, his Mass, and a range of other compositions, including three symphonies and many shorter chamber and solo works.
1999 – California state senator Pete Knight, who sponsored a ballot initiative banning same-sex marriages in California, was criticized in the Los Angeles Times by his gay son David. David questioned his father’s defense of family values because his father rejected him when he came out.
2006 – Rep. Gerry Studds (May 12, 1937 – October 14, 2006) dies in Boston at age 69, several days after suffering a pulmonary embolism. He was an American Democratic Congressman from Massachusetts who served from 1973 until 1997. Studds was the first openly gay member of the U.S. Congress, coming out in 1983.
2009, Uganda – The Anti-Homosexuality Act bill is submitted to Parliament, calling for the death penalty of those convicted of homosexuality. After dropping the death penalty to life in prison, the bill passed. The Constitutional Court of Uganda ruled the law invalid in 2014.
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!)