Musings of an Aging Lesbian
Silence evaded me for much of my life. As a child, I talked constantly. My grandmother even said I was vaccinated with a Victrola needle! I always had something to say. And I suppose I always have. The weird thing is that sitting in silence was just plain difficult. I moved around; I needed something to do; I was the energizer bunny. I even received the energizer bunny for my 50th birthday! Today, though, I’ve come to understand the need for silence in my busy life. Today I watch the sea outside my house, sitting in awe of the beauty and the joy of the moment. Today I listen to my heartbeat and am grateful that at 72 I still have one! As Madisyn Taylor wrote: Silence can make us nervous thinking we need to fill the void, but there is immense strength in silence.
Seek your strength in the silence…
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 6
1791, France – France was the first Western European country to decriminalize homosexual acts.
1851 – Charity Bryant (May 22, 1777 – October 6, 1851) dies and is interred with her lover of 44 years, Sylvia Drake, in Weybridge Hill Cemetery, Addison County, Vermont. This couple is most strongly documented in historian Rachel Hope Cleves‘ 2014 book Charity and Sylvia: A Same-Sex Marriage in Early America. Charity was an American business owner and writer. She was a diarist and wrote acrostic poetry. Because there is extensive documentation for the shared lives of Bryant and her partner, Sylvia Drake, their diaries, letters and business papers have become an important part of the archive in documenting the history of same-sex couples.
1928 – The New York Times reported that George Bernard Shaw and H.G. Wells had protested the seizure of the lesbian novel by Radclyffe Hall, The Well of Loneliness, by English customs agents. The novel had been published in France and was being imported into England.
1963 –Judy Garland sings with Barbra Streisand on Judy’s variety show. It is their one and only performance together. Neither are lesbian but both are gay icons.
1968 – Metropolitan Community Church is founded in Los Angeles by Rev. Troy Perry (born July 27, 1940) in the living room of his home. Perry founded the church with a primary outreach to the GLBT community.
1972 – Antonio Molina (c. 1939–1991) and William “Billie” Ert (c. 1942–1976) marry in Houston. Ert, a drag queen, and Molina, a shipping clerk, received the license through having Ert dress in drag; the county clerk’s office did not ask for their genders and issued them a marriage license, which they used to marry one day later. At that time, homosexuality was illegal in Texas. Although it was later declared null and void by the Texas Attorney General after a long legal battle, the union made international headlines and became a media sensation. The failed lawsuit sparked Texas legislation that specifically defined marriage as between a man and a woman, which it had not yet done, and was seen as a large setback for LGBT rights in the United States. After the wedding, Ert was fired from his job as a wig salesman, but continued to perform full-time as Mr. Vikki Carr in local nightclubs. The media storm prompted the real Vikki Carr to meet Ert and Molina on CBS in Houston in November 1972, with Ert in drag.
1973, Canada – In Quebec City the first pan-Canadian conference of gay organizations is hosted by Centre humanitaire d’aide de libération
1989 – Just two years after its first public showing, the AIDS Quilt returns to Washington, D.C. with 10,848 panels. At its premiere it had only 1,920 panels.
1989, Mexico – The Permanent Revolution Circle ZYANYA of Lesbian Feminists organizes this first three-day forum at the School of Economics at the National Autonomous University of Mexico.
1989 – In reaction to a small, peaceful protest against federal neglect of people with AIDS, 200 San Francisco police officers rioted in the Castro neighborhood, beating protesters and passersby, sweeping seven city blocks of all pedestrians, and placing thousands in homes and business under house arrest for the duration.
1997 – Annie Proulx’s short story Brokeback Mountain is published in this week’s issue of The New Yorker. The story, later turned into a hit movie, depicts the complex romantic and sexual relationship between two men in the American West from 1963 to 1981. In 2007, the composer Charles Wuorinen approached Proulx with the idea of turning her short story “Brokeback Mountain” into an opera. The opera of the same name with a libretto by Proulx herself premiered January 28, 2014 at the Teatro Real in Madrid, to mixed reviews.
1997 – The US Supreme Court refused to hear a case filed by Sandy Nelson, a reporter who was demoted because she refused to stop her off-duty campaigning in support of a gay rights initiative in Washington. The Washington Supreme Court had ruled that a law barring discrimination in employment for political views did not apply to newspapers.
1998 – On this day, twenty-one year old gay college student Matthew Shepard (December 1, 1976 – October 12, 1998) of Wyoming was beaten, pistol whipped and tied to a fence in a field near Laramie. He would die of his injuries at a hospital in Ft Collins, Colorado on Oct. 12th. Perpetrators Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson were arrested shortly after the attack and charged with first degree murder following Shepard’s death. Significant media coverage was given to the killing and what role Shepard’s sexual orientation might have played as a motive in the commission of the crime. The prosecutor argued that McKinney’s murder of Shepard was premeditated and driven by greed. McKinney’s defense counsel countered that he had only intended to rob Shepard, but had killed him in a rage when Shepard made a sexual advance towards him. McKinney’s girlfriend told police that he had been motivated by anti-gay sentiment, but later recanted her statement, saying that she had lied because she thought it would help him. Both McKinney and Henderson were convicted of the murder and each sentenced to two consecutive life sentences.
1998 – The Ford Foundation gave a $100,000 grant to the United Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches for its programs targeting at-risk gay and lesbian youth.
1999 – Donna Brazile (born December 15, 1959), an out lesbian, becomes Al Gore’s campaign manager. She is an American author and political analyst. She is a member of the Democratic Party, briefly serving as the interim chairperson for the Democratic National Committee in spring 2011, and assumed that role again in July 2016, until February 2017. She was the first African American to direct a major presidential campaign, acting as campaign manager for Al Gore in 2000. She has also worked on several presidential campaigns for Democratic candidates, including Jesse Jackson and Walter Mondale–Geraldine Ferraro in 1984, and for Dick Gephardt in the 1988 Democratic primary. In 1999, The New York Times Magazine described Brazile as an LGBT activist who served on the board of the Millennium March on Washington. The magazine said she is “highly protective of her privacy” and called her “openly ambiguous” about her sexual orientation. Brazile is described as “openly lesbian” in the 2002 book Gay and Lesbian Americans and Political Participation: A Reference Handbook.
2014: The Supreme Court refuses to hear appeals on seven of the petitions arising from challenges to state bans on same-sex marriage. That meant that the lower-court decisions striking down bans in Indiana, Wisconsin, Utah, Oklahoma, and Virginia should go into effect, clearing the way for same-sex marriages in those states and any other state with similar bans in those circuits.
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!)