Musings of an Aging Lesbian
Twice in the last week, someone has asked me about aging. Each said that I am the role model for aging gracefully. I don’t know about that, but I do know that I have always been grateful to be whatever age I happen to be at the time…and I’m grateful to be 72. I made it through horrible times and wonderful times to get to this place of love and fun and peace and grounding. And I’m very clear that I cannot change the course of the future. I hope it is in the Universe’s plan that I get to be here for a long time to come, but in order to do it with grace, I MUST live in this moment, in this day. It’s all any of us have. This moment. In this moment I can take good care of my body, my brain, and my heart in order to get to the next moment. I hope you do the same as we move into our futures together.
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 31
1876 – Natalie Clifford Barney (October 31, 1876 – February 2, 1972), American playwright, poet and novelist, is born. She lives as an expatriate in Paris and is known as the Queen of the Paris Lesbians.
1896 – Jazz great and Oscar-nominated actress Ethel Waters (October 31, 1896 – September 1, 1977) is born. She was an American singer and actress. Waters frequently performed jazz, big band, and pop music, on the Broadway stage and in concerts, but she began her career in the 1920s singing blues. Waters was the second African American, after Hattie McDaniel, to be nominated for an Academy Award. She was also the first African-American woman to be nominated for an Emmy Award, in 1962. Waters married three times, had no children and was bisexual. She was remarkably open (for her time) about her relationship with dancer Ethel Williams (December 21, 1891-1961).
1955 – Three men are arrested in Boise, Idaho on charges of lewd conduct and sodomy, inciting a “moral panic” that results in 16 arrests, 15 convictions and almost 1,500 people being questioned.
1968 – Silent film star Ramon Novarro (February 6, 1899 – October 30, 1968) is killed. He was a Mexican film, stage and television actor who began his career in silent films in 1917 and eventually became a leading man and one of the top box office attractions of the 1920s and early 1930s. Novarro was promoted by MGM as a “Latin lover” and became known as a sex symbol after the death of Rudolph Valentino. Novarro was troubled all his life by his conflicted feelings toward his Roman Catholic religion and his homosexuality. His body was found after being brutally murdered by hustler brothers Paul and Tom Ferguson, aged 22 and 17, who called him and offered their services. He had hired prostitutes from an agency to come to his Laurel Canyon home for sex previously, and the Fergusons obtained Novarro’s telephone number from a previous guest.
1969 – Sixty members of the Gay Liberation Front (GLF) and the Society for Individual Rights(SIR) stage a protest outside the offices of the San Francisco Examiner in response to another in a series of news articles disparaging LGBT people in San Francisco’s gay bars and clubs. The peaceful protest against the “homophobic editorial policies” of the Examiner turned tumultuous and was later called “Friday of the Purple Hand” and “Bloody Friday of the Purple Hand.” Examiner employees “dumped a bag of printers’ ink from the third story window of the newspaper building onto the crowd.” Some reports state that it was a barrel of ink poured from the roof of the building. The protesters “used the ink to scrawl ‘Gay Power’ and other slogans on the building walls” and stamp purple hand prints “throughout downtown San Francisco” resulting in “one of the most visible demonstrations of gay power.” According to Larry LittleJohn, then president of SIR, “At that point, the tactical squad arrived – not to get the employees who dumped the ink, but to arrest the demonstrators. Somebody could have been hurt if that ink had gotten into their eyes, but the police were knocking people to the ground.” The accounts of police brutality include women being thrown to the ground and protesters’ teeth being knocked out.
1969 – Time magazine runs a cover story entitled, “The Homosexual: Newly Visible, Newly Understood.” The author, Christopher Cory, presents a “case for greater tolerance of homosexuals” yet “emphasized the effeminate side of homosexuality to the exclusion of everyone else,” resulting in a protest at the Time-Life Building on November 12, 1969.
1977, Canada – Halloween brings thousands of queer-bashers to Toronto’s Yonge Street looking for the annual drag parade. Gay representatives meet with police beforehand to try to prevent a crowd from gathering. Operation Jack-o’-Lantern, a gay street patrol, is organized to monitor situation but police do little to control crowd.
1980, Canada – For the first time, Toronto police do not allow queer-bashers and spectators to congregate outside St Charles Tavern to wait for drag queens. Traffic and pedestrians are kept moving with help of large numbers of police officers.
1980 – French-Canadian flight attendant Gaëtan Dugas (February 20, 1953 – March 30, 1984) pays his first known visit to New York City bathhouses. He would later be incorrectly deemed “Patient Zero” for his supposed connection to many early cases of AIDS in the United States. He was a French-Canadian flight attendant who was falsely linked by the CDC directly or indirectly to 40 of the first 248 reported cases of AIDS in the U.S. He was a relatively early HIV patient who once was widely regarded as “patient zero” for AIDS in the United States; his case was later found to have been only one of many that began in the 1970s, according to a September 2016 study published in Nature.
2001, Germany – Openly gay Ole von Beust (born 13 April 1955) becomes the first mayor of Hamburg, Germany. He serves until 2010. He was a finalist for the World Mayor prize of 2010.
2007, New Zealand – Maryan Street (born 5 April 1955) becomes the first openly lesbian member of Parliament. Marilyn Joy Waring (born 7 October 1952) had been the first lesbian MP but she came out after she had entered office.
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 email@example.com. Thanks!)