Today in LGBT History – OCTOBER 17

Musings of an Aging Lesbian

Brene Brown wrote: The willingness to show up changes us, It makes us a little braver each time. I once was in a workshop that asked how we show up to places. I have always shown up as a white person. I was present as a woman, as a Jewish person, as a lesbian, but those parts of me stayed silent for many years. When I discovered the willingness to show up with all of my identities in the room, my life changed…not necessarily did it become easier, just authentic. And it was one small step at a time because, frankly, it’s scary. But each time I allowed my voice in my totality to speak, it became easier. Today, it’s simply and importantly a part of who I am in the world.

With what identities do you show up?

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 17: Spirit Day, Wear Purple

Spirit Day: Wear purple!

Spirit Day is an annual LGBTQ awareness day observed on the third Thursday in October. Started in 2010 by Canadian teenager Brittany McMillan, it was initially created in response to a rash of widely publicized bullying-related suicides of gay school students in 2010, including that of Tyler Clementi. Promoted by GLAAD, observers wear the color purple as a visible sign of support for LGBTQ youth and against bullying during National Bullying Prevention Month, as well as to memorialize LGBTQ victims of suicide. Since 2010, Brittany, with the help of GLAAD, has inspired many celebrities, companies, and schools to wear purple and stand up against bullying. The name “Spirit Day” comes from the purple stripe of the Rainbow flag, whose creator Gilbert Baker defined it as “representing ‘spirit'”.

976, Cordoba, Spain – Hisham II becomes Caliph at age 11. He is the openly homosexual son of the openly homosexual Al-Hakam II. Both kept male harems.

1535, Rome – Pope Paul III wrote a letter to his son Duke Pier Luigi Farnese  (19 November 1503 – 10 September 1547) on this day and scolded him for having male lovers with him on an official mission to the court of the Emperor. Born in Rome, Pier Luigi was the illegitimate son of Cardinal Alessandro Farnese who later became Pope Paul III.

1920 – Actor Montgomery Clift (October 17, 1920 – July 23, 1966) is born in Omaha, Nebraska. His sexuality was carefully guarded from fans but few in Hollywood did not know. Clift burned himself out and was dead at the age of 46. He is best remembered for roles in Red River (1948), The Heiress (1949), A Place in the Sun (1951), Alfred Hitchcock’s I Confess (1953), From Here to Eternity (1953), The Young Lions (1958), Judgment at Nuremberg (1961), and The Misfits (1961). He received four Academy Award nominations during his career: three for Best Actor and one for Best Supporting Actor. Clift was age 45 when he died by suicide.

1977, Canada – An appeal of an obscenity conviction against Vancouver’s Gay Tide is heard before the Supreme Court of Canada. It is the first time a gay civil rights case is heard by the Supreme Court.

1980 – The first Black Lesbian Conference, with over 200 women in attendance, took place in San Francisco, California. The conference grew from the first National Third World Lesbian and Gay Conference held in Washington, D.C., the previous year. 

1992 – 400,000 people view the Names Project AIDS Memorial Quilt which (then) has over 20,000 panels covering 13 acres.

1995 – The Advocate publishes a ground-breaking interview with Barney Frank, Steve Gunderson and Gerry Studds, the three openly gay members of the U.S. Congress at that time.

1995 – For the first time in its history, the United Nations considers lesbian and gay rights abuses at its International Tribunal on Human Rights Violations Against Sexual Minorities. Following testimony from a number of women and men who have suffered abuse ranging from torture to forced institutionalization, the tribunal recommends that the UN document sexual orientation and gender identity issues around the world and integrate them into the organization’s human rights agenda.

1998 – Santa Cruz, CA, attorney Melinda Whiteway is appointed co-chair of the National Lesbian and Gay Law Association, making her the first transgendered person to co-chair a national gay and lesbian organization. The National Gay and Lesbian Law Association is the only queer law association to be affiliated with the American Bar Association.

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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