Today in LGBT History – October 19

Learning our history IS resistance! Thanks for taking this journey with me. Now go write your story!

Today in LGBT History – October 19

1870, UK – Lord Alfred Douglas (22 October 1870 – 20 March 1945) is born near London. Forever known as Bosie,the lover of Oscar Wilde (16 October 1854 – 30 November 1900)becomes an author, poet and translator. Much of his early poetry was Uranianin theme, though he tended, later in life, to distance himself from both Wilde’s influence and his own role as a Uranian poet. Uranian is a 19th-century term that referred to a person of a third sex—originally, someone with “a female psyche in a male body” who is sexually attracted to men, and later extended to cover homosexual variant females and a number of other sexual types. It is believed to be an English adaptation of the Germanword Urning, which was first published by activist Karl Heinrich Ulrichs (1825–1895).

1901, France – Gay Brazilian aviation pioneer Alberto Santos-Dumont (20 July 1873 – 23 July 1932) flies his aircraft, the #6, around the Eiffel Tower two years before the Wright Brothers’ flight, demonstrating that routine, controlled flight is possible.

1946 – Harris Glenn Milstead (October 19, 1945 – March 7, 1988), better known as Divine, is born in Baltimore. Closely associated with the gay independent filmmaker John Waters(born April 22, 1946) , Divine was a character actor, usually performing female roles in cinematic and theatrical appearances, and adopted a female drag persona for his music career. The queen of shock starred in Pink Flamingos, Female Troubleand other films. Described by Peoplemagazine as the “Drag Queen of the Century,” Divine has remained a cult figure, particularly within the LGBT community, and has provided the inspiration for fictional characters, artworks and songs.

1955 – Daughters of Bilitis, the first long-term American organization for lesbians, was founded in San Francisco by Del Martin (May 5, 1921 – August 27, 2008)and Phyllis Lyon (born November 10, 1924)and six other women. They meet with an original priority to have a place to dance since same-sex couple dancing was illegal in San Francisco. The DOB goes on to become one of the most important lesbian rights organizations of the century. The Daughters endured for 14 years, becoming an educational resource for lesbians, gay men, researchers and mental health professionals.

1977, UK – Rev. Ian Paisley fights pro-gay law reform in Northern Ireland by declaring a “Save Ulster from Sodomy” campaign.

1981, Canada – Former Toronto Mayor John Sewell wins the junior aldermanic seat in Ward 6 by election. It is the first time the gay issue has not played a role in an election in the mainly gay area.

1986 – United States Surgeon General C. Everett Koop releases his first report on the AIDS epidemic in America, two years before mailing information about the disease out to every American household. He reportedly waited four years before speaking publicly about the disease on this date.

1991 – At least nine lesbian and gay employees of Cracker Barrel Old Country Stores are fired as a result of the company’s policy of supporting “heterosexual values.” Queer Nation, among other activist groups, mounts a series of protests.

1992 – A report on hate crimes in Michigan is rejected by the U.S. Civil Rights Commission because it included documentation of anti-gay hate crimes.

1993 – Massachusetts state education officials announced that they would use $450,000 in funds raised from a new state cigarette tax to fund programs to stop anti-gay harassment in public schools.

1994 – LGBT Center Awareness Dayis founded by CenterLink to honor the work of LGBT centers around the county. CenterLink develops strong, sustainable LGBT community centers and builds a thriving center network that creates healthy, vibrant communities. Its efforts are based on the belief that LGBT community centers are primary change agents in the national movement working toward the liberation and empowerment of LGBT people. 

1996 – Representatives of the American Psychiatric Association meet with fifty transgender activists who voice their concerns about reforming the diagnosis of Gender Identity Disorder.

1998 – The Matthew Shepard unpermitted political funeral march is held in New York City. Over 5000 people arrive across from the Plaza Hotel. Police respond violently, pushing the crowd back with billy clubs. Many people were injured and 136 people were arrested.

1999, Canada – A rape center in Vancouver was ordered to pay $2,030 in damages for banning a transgendered person from its drop-in center.

1999 – Boeing announces that it will extend health benefits to the same-sex domestic partners of its employees.

2007 – J.K. Rowlings reveals Dumbledore is gay. The Headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, beloved by readers of the Harry Potter books, was, according to the author who created him, a gay man. Some folks find that appalling; many find it sweet or unsurprising. Still others are disappointed that Rowling didn’t write a gay storyline for him.

2009, Sweden – The Lutheran Church of Sweden allows same-sex marriages by a vote of 176 of 249.

Stand up, speak out, share your story!




(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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