Table of Contents
THIS DAY IN GAY HISTORY
based on: The White Crane Institute's 'Gay Wisdom', Gay Birthdays, Gay For Today, Famous GLBT, glbt-Gay Encylopedia, Today in Gay History, Wikipedia, and more …
Collected by Ted
c.303 – Today is the Feast Day of Saints Sergius and Bacchus, third century Roman soldiers who are commemorated as martyrs by the Catholic, Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox churches.
Republicans and other opponents of gay marriage often speak of marriage as being a 2,000 year old tradition (or even older). Quite apart from the fact that the definition of marriage has changed from when it was a business transaction, usually between men, there is ample evidence that within just Christian tradition, it has changed from the point where same-sex relationships were not just tolerated but celebrated.
In the famous St. Catherine's monastery on Mount Sinai, there is an icon which shows two robed Christian saints getting married. Their 'pronubus' (official witness, or "best man") is none other than Jesus Christ. The happy couple are 4th Century Christian martyrs, Saint Serge and Saint Bacchus both men.
According to tradition, they were Roman citizens and high-ranking officers of the Roman Army, but their covert Christianity was discovered when they attempted to avoid accompanying a Roman official into a pagan temple with the rest of his bodyguard. After they persisted in refusing to sacrifice to Jupiter in the company of the emperor Galerius, they were publicly humiliated by being chained and dressed in female attire and paraded around town.
Galerius then sent them to Barbalissos in Mesopotamia to be tried by Antiochus, the military commander there and an old friend of Sergius. Antiochus could not convince them to give up their faith, however, and Bacchus was beaten to death. The next day Bacchus' spirit appeared to Sergius and encouraged him to remain strong so they could be together forever. Over the next days, Sergius was also brutally tortured and finally executed at Resafa, where his death was marked by miraculous happenings.
Severus of Antioch in the sixth century explained that "we should not separate in speech [Serge and Bacchus] who were joined in life." More bluntly, in the definitive 10th century Greek account of their lives, Saint Serge is described as the "sweet companion and lover (erastai)" of St. Bacchus.
Yale historian John Richard Boswell discovered this early Christian history and wrote about it nearly 20 years ago in "Same Sex Unions In Pre-Modern Europe" (1994).
In ancient church liturgical documents, he found the existence of an "Office of Same Sex Union" (10th and 11th century Greek) and the "Order for Uniting Two Men" (11th and 12th century Slavonic).
A 14th century Serbian Slavonic "Office of the Same Sex Union," uniting two men or two women, had the couple having their right hands laid on the Gospel while having a cross placed in their left hands. Having kissed the Gospel, the couple were then required to kiss each other, after which the priest, having raised up the Eucharist, would give them both communion. Boswell documented such sanctified unions up until the 18th century.
In late medieval France, a contract of "enbrotherment" (affrèrement) existed for men who pledged to live together sharing 'un pain, un vin, et une bourse' - one bread, one wine, and one purse.
Other religions, such as Hinduism and some native American religions, have respect for same-sex couples woven into their history.
When right-wing evangelical Christians talk about "traditional marriage," there is no such thing.
1728 – On this date Chevalier d'Éon, (full name Charles Gemeviéve Louis Auguste André Timothee d'Éon de Beaumont) was born (d.1810). A French diplomat, spy, soldier and Freemason who lived the first half of her life as a man and the second half as a woman. If you look up eonism in your dictionary, you may or may not find it. It's a pseudo-scientific word for transvestism that has the quaint ring of Stekel or other Herr-Doktors who were writing in turn-of-the-century Vienna when people seem to have been having love affairs with their piccolos or putting clown hats on their penises.
The Chevalier d'Éon, a century before, loved to dress in drag. Supposedly, the French adventurer originally had been sent on various spying missions disguised as a woman and so liked the feel of silk and satin that he decided to stay dressed in costume the rest of his life. Not that he had much choice. When word got out that he really liked taking four hours to dress each morning, King Louis XV decreed that the chevalier had to wear women's clothes forever after. For years people laid bets on d'Éon's sex, but a post mortem examination of his body conclusively established the fact that he was very much a man.
1849 – The American poet James Whitcomb Riley was born on this date (d.1916). In the days when schoolmarms were intent on seeing to it that schoolboys would grow up hating poetry, they force-fed liberal doses of James Whitcomb Riley, who had gained immense popularity with his series of poems in the Hoosier dialect written under the pseudonym "Benjamin F. Johnson of Boone." His verses were collected under the title "The Old Swimmin' Hole" and "'Leven More Poems." Well, shucks, land's sakes alive, whaddaya know! It turns out that Old Jimmy Riley acchi'lly liked lovin' boys `bout `lebenty-`leben times more than writin' poetry. Or, that's at least what the writer Charles Warren Stoddard, who knew him, claims in his letters and journals.
Riley certainly had strong same-sex relationships. Although his biographers have chosen to ignore the deep evidence ("It was the 19th century and men hugging, kissing, sleeping together doesn't mean anything blah blah blah"), his letters seem obvious. In 1887 he wrote to his friend the doctor and poet James Newton Matthews: "It is our natural law that men shall love women, but I love you, and 'no knife shall cut our love in two."
1888 – On this date Henry A. Wallace, former Vice President of the United States, was born (d.1965). No ... the 33rd Vice President of the United States, under Franklin Roosevelt, was not a Gay man. But his candidacy for President in 1948 marks a momentous turning point in Gay rights in the United States. On Aug. 10, 1948, Gay rights pioneer Harry Hay first formulated the organizational and political call for what would become in just a few short years the Mattachine Society for "homosexual emancipation." That was the night that Ray Glazer invited Hay to be one of 90 people at a public signing of presidential hopeful Henry Wallace's candidacy petition in California.
That night of Aug. 10, still exhilarated by the signing event, Hay went to a party in which the two dozen guests were all men who he later said seemed to be "of the persuasion." A French seminary student at the party asked if Hay had heard about the recently published "Kinsey Report." Hay himself had been interviewed and become part of that study eight years earlier.
It was a bit of a code for a male stranger to open up with talk about the Kinsey Report. Timmons points out,
"Its first volume, "Sexual Behavior in the Human Male", was the season's most talked-about book, especially among homosexuals, with its claim that 37% of adult men had experienced homosexual relations. To Harry, that newly revealed number suggested the dimensions of an organizable minority. He voiced the idea. When his friend protested that organizing homosexuals was impossible, Harry rebutted him. There could be millions of people who might fall into a group that would find great benefit in organizing. Certainly it would be difficult, but it was not impossible."
Others at the party were drawn to this debate. They reportedly disagreed with Hay:
"There was too much hatred of homosexuals. Any individual who went public could be entrapped and discredited. There were too many different kinds of homosexuals; they'd never get along. And anyway, people belonging to such an organization would lose their jobs."
As Hay batted away at each argument, he reportedly became more convinced himself that it was possible to organize homosexuals. He raised the idea of creating a "fast bail" fund and seeking out progressive attorneys for victims of anti-Gay police entrapment. This was an important concept, since getting caught in a sting operation by cops meant shelling out lots of money to shady lawyers and crooked officials.
Hay also suggested incorporating education about homosexuality in high school hygiene classes. Soon Hay was leading a discussion about building a Gay male organization to support Wallace's presidential bid, which in turn might win a sexual privacy plank in the Progressive Party platform. By then, Hay was winning over some of his audience. They suggested some defiantly campy names, but Hay put forward a more subtle one: "Bachelors for Wallace."
While still at the party, Hay wrote out all the ideas that had been discussed that night about homosexual organizing on a sheet of butcher block paper. Biographer Stuart Timmons offers the following detailed account of what Hay thought about and did that night after the party:
"As he drove home, Hay thought about how the reactionary post-war period "was already of concern to many of us progressives. I knew the government was going to look for a new enemy, a new scapegoat. It was predictable." African Americans were galvanizing a movement for civil rights, buttressed by world horror at the mass extermination of Jews by German fascism. But those he called "the Queers" would be a natural scapegoat.
"They were the one group of disenfranchised people who did not even know they were a group because they had never formed as a group. Theywehad to get started. It was high time."
That night he sat up in his study writing two papers. The first was a proposed plank for the Progressive Party platform. The second was a proposal for an organization of Gay men that could continue after the party convention was over.
Timmons described the document concerning homosexual organizing in some detail. "This second, much more elaborate paper, based in a Marxist perspective, forged a principle that Hay had struggled years to formulate: that homosexuals were a minority, which he temporarily dubbed `the Androgynous Minority.'" Hay referred to the shared characteristics of what constitutes a nation to argue that homosexuals were a cultural minority. Hay wrote, "I felt we had two of the four, the language and the culture, so clearly we were a social minority."
These thoughts, and more, were to eventually become the basis of the Mattachine Society.
1903 – Herbert List (d.1975) was a German photographer, who worked for magazines, including Vogue, Harper's Bazaar, and Life, and was associated with Magnum Photos. His austere, classically-posed black-and-white compositions, particularly of male nudes, taken in Italy and Greece have been highly formative for modern photography, with contemporary fashion photographers like Herb Ritts being clearly influenced by List's style. He is also noted for his erotic street photography.
(Click for larger)
Born and raised in Hamburg, Germany, part Jewish and all gay, Herbert List fled his family's Hamburg coffee brokerage business in 1936 and traveled through free Europe taking many of his best known photographs. He was in Greece shooting pictures when Germany invaded the country in 1941. List was forced to return home and later was conscripted into the German army, even though he was part Jewish and homosexual..
He spent 1944-45 in Norway making military maps. After the war he joined Magnum but for whatever reason he didn't take many photos. He published three major books of earlier work and eventually gave up photography altogether to concentrate on his drawings, which are currently on view at the gay museum in Berlin.
In 1988, Stephen Spender finally published his novel The Temple, a roman a clef of his pre-War years in Germany, which includes a List-inspired character named Joachim. List died in 1975 but his style lives on in the work of Herb Ritts and Bruce Weber, among others.
1916 – John Horne Burns (d.1953) was a United States author. He is best known as the author of the 1947 story-cycle The Gallery, which depicts life in Allied-occupied Naples, Italy, in 1944 from the perspective of several different characters. In this work he explores the themes of material and class inequality, alcoholism, relations between the sexes, and sexuality in general, including homosexuality, with the encounter between American and Neapolitan culture as a general thematic backdrop. The "Gallery" referred to is the Galleria Umberto I in down-town Naples.
Entering the US Army as a private in 1942, he served in military intelligence in Casablanca and Algiers until Pentagon officials sent him to the Adjutant General's School in Washington, D.C. Subsequently commissioned a second lieutenant, he spent the remainder of the war censoring prison-of-war mail in Africa and Italy.
A gay man could do worse than to be stationed in Casablanca, Algiers, and Italy, and a budding novelist could hardly do better than to spend a violent war reading the mail written by enemy prisoners to censor the compromising lines. He used his experiences, including international cross-class pickups in gay bars in Naples, in his first and best known novel The Gallery, a panoramic story-cycleTwo years later, in 1949, Burns suffered a typical second novel comedown in Lucifer with a Book, and retaliated by moving permanently to Italy. He published his third novel, mawkishly titled A Cry of Children, in 1952, again greeted by bad reviews or critical silence. He suffered a cerebral hemorrhage in 1953 and died at 36. According to Gore Vidal, Burns said "To be a good writer, one must be homosexual."
1931 – Desmond Tutu (d.2021) was a South African social rights activist and retired Anglican bishop who rose to worldwide fame during the 1980s as an opponent of apartheid. He was the first black South African Archbishop of Cape Town and primate of the Church of the Province of Southern Africa (now the Anglican Church of Southern Africa).
Tutu was active in the defence of human rights and used his high profile to campaign for the oppressed. He campaigned to fight AIDS, tuberculosis, poverty, racism, sexism, the imprisonment of Bradley Manning, homophobia and transphobia. He received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984; the Albert Schweitzer Prize for Humanitarianism in 1986; the Pacem in Terris Award in 1987; the Sydney Peace Prize in 1999; the Gandhi Peace Prize in 2007 and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009. He has also compiled several books of his speeches and sayings.
1940 - The Michigan Supreme Court overturns a trial court's sentence of a Gay man to be held in confinement in a mental institution, after his imprisonment on a sodomy charge ends, "until this court shall judge you cease to be a menace to public safety." The Supreme Court points out that the judge was without authority to so act.
1964 – On this date the pioneering Campaign For Homosexual Equality was founded in England.
1964 – Today's the birthday of Dan Savage. The openly Gay American sex advice columnist, author, media pundit, journalist and newspaper editor is best known for penning the internationally syndicated relationship and sex advice column "Savage Love." Its tone is humorous, profane, and often hostile to social conservatives.
Savage has often been the subject of controversy regarding his opinions that pointedly clash with both traditional conservative moral values and those put forth by what Savage has been known to call the "Gay establishment".
He has also worked as a theater director, both under his real name and under the name Keenan Hollahan, using his middle name and his grandmother's maiden name. His books include: Savage Love: Straight Answers from America's Most Popular Sex Columnist (1998), Skipping Towards Gomorrah: The Seven Deadly Sins and the Pursuit of Happiness in America (2002), The Commitment: Love, Sex, Marriage, and My Family (2005), and an essay in Things I've Learned from Women Who've Dumped Me (February 2008).
Dan Savge (R) with husband Terry Miller
Savage and his husband, Terry Miller, have one adopted son, D.J., and were married in Vancouver, BC, in 2005.
In one of his more famous campaigns Savage helped to coin a new term. "Santorum" is a sexual neologism proposed by Savage in 2003 to "memorialize" then US Republican Senator Rick Santorum from Pennsylvania for his horrible statements on homosexuality. [In an interview with the Associated Press in April 2003, Santorum infamously grouped Gay sex together with incest, polygamy, and zoophilia as deviant sexual behavior threatening society and the family. Santorum further stated that he believed consenting adults do not have a constitutional right to privacy with respect to sexual acts.] Savage asked his readers to submit new definitions for the term 'Santorum'; after weeks of entries and judging by his readers, the winning definition was "that frothy mixture of lube and fecal matter that is sometimes the byproduct of anal sex." The word became a successful Google bomb when Savage created a website for it, which unseated the Senator's official website as the top search result for his surname on the Google search engine. To this date, if one enters the name of the former Senator (and 2010 presidential candidate) into Google, the first response is this definition. Santorum, the former senator, made an unsucessful run for presidental candidate in 2012. Every commentator has mentioned his "Google problem" as a serious handicap to the raving fundamentalist's chances at success.
In response to the spate of suicides by bullied gay teens, Savage and his husband Terry Miller began the It Gets Better Project in 2010 to help prevent suicide among LGBT youth. The campaign has collected video testimonials by adult LGBT people directed to their younger selves. It's an attempt to help young Gay kids understand that whatever they're experiencing now, be it rejection, bullying or harassment in their family, school, church, or even thoughts of suicide, it gets better.
Dan Savage on "This American Life"
1964 – American political figure and Presidential aide Walter Jenkins (b.1918 - d.1985) was arrested on this date for "cottaging."
Jenkins began working for Lyndon B. Johnson in 1939 when Johnson was member for Texas in the U.S. House of Representatives. For most of the next 25 years, Jenkins served as Johnson's top administrative assistant, following Johnson as he rose to become a Senator, Vice President under John F. Kennedy, and President.
In 1975, journalist Bill Moyers, a former Johnson aide and press secretary, wrote in Newsweek: " If Lyndon Johnson owed everything to one human being other than Lady Bird, he owed it to Walter Jenkins."
Jenkins' career ended after a sex scandal was reported just weeks before the 1964 presidential election, when Jenkins was arrested and charged with "disorderly conduct with another man" in a public restroom in Washington, D. C., an incident described as "perhaps the most famous tearoom arrest in America." He paid a $50 fine.
Rumors of the incident circulated for several days and Republican Party operatives helped to promote it to the press. Some newspapers, including the Chicago Tribune and the Cincinnati Enquirer, refused to run the story. Journalists quickly learned that Jenkins had been arrested on a similar charge in 1959, which made it much harder to explain away as the result of overwork or, as one journalist wrote, "combat fatigue."
Finally, on October 14, a Washington Star editor called the White House for Jenkins' comment on a story it was preparing. Jenkins turned to White House lawyers Abe Fortas, the President's personal lawyer, and Clark Clifford. They lobbied the editors of Washington's 3 newspapers not to run the story, which only confirmed its significance. Within hours Clifford informed the President, and the story was confirned to reporters. Forewarned, Johnson told Fortas that Jenkins needed to resign.
Anticipating the possibility that Jenkins might have been blackmailed, Johnson immediately ordered an FBI investigation. He knew that J. Edgar Hoover would have to clear the administration of any security problem because the FBI itself would otherwise be at fault for failing to investigate Jenkins properly years before. Hoover reported on October 22 that security had not been compromised. Johnson later said: "I couldn't have been more shocked about Walter Jenkins if I'd heard that Lady Bird had tried to kill the Pope."
The President announced that only he would contact the press about the incident, but his wife, Lady Bird Johnson, issued her own statement of support for Jenkins.
1975 – The Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals rejects a challenge to a sodomy conviction based on the fact that women had been excluded systematically from the jury pool.
1976 – The Delaware Supreme Court rules that a man convicted of sodomy 27 years earlier and pardoned is not eligible to run for public office in the state.
1981 – In Toronto, a Dykes in the Street march, sponsored by Lesbians Against the Right, becomes the first lesbian pride march in the city.
1984 – Zachary Wyatt is an American politician from the state of Missouri. A Republican, Wyatt was a one-term member of the Missouri House of Representatives from the 2nd District, encompassing Adair county, Putnam county, and a part of Sullivan county. In May 2012, Representative Wyatt became, at that time, the nation's only openly gay Republican legislator. He "came out" during a press conference in the Missouri Capitol, while opposing the "Don't Say Gay" bill.
In April and May 2012 Representative Wyatt expressed deep opposition to Missouri House Bill 2051, commonly known as the "Don't Say Gay" bill. The bill would put strict limits on the discussion of sexual orientation in Missouri schools, limiting it only to classes on health and sexual reproduction. The bill gained nationwide attention from various news outlets and The Colbert Report. On May 2, 2012 Wyatt held a press conference at the Missouri State Capitol outlining his opposition. During the course of the event he read a statement announcing that he was gay. The revelation meant that Wyatt is the only currently-serving gay Republican legislator in the United States, something addressed in a May 3, 2012 interview on the MSNBC program The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell. Asked by O'Donnell why he was a Republican, considering the party's stance on LGBT issues Wyatt replied "I'm not a one-issue person" and that he is a firm believer in a balanced budget and small government.
1987 – A US Justice Department report declared the most frequent victims of hate crimes are gays, lesbians, and bisexuals
1993 – In the United States, the AFL-CIO labor union passes a resolution to oppose the repeal of gay rights laws.
1993 – A protest, complete with a book burning, was held to object to a donation of two gay-themed books, Annie on My Mind and All-American Boys to 42 Kansas City, Missouri high schools.
1998 – On this date Matthew Shepard was attacked. Shortly after midnight on October 7, 1998, 21-year-old Shepard met Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson in a bar. McKinney and Henderson offered Shepard a ride in their car. Subsequently, Shepard was robbed, pistol whipped, tortured, tied to a fence in a remote, rural area, and left to die. McKinney and Henderson also found out his address and intended to rob his home. Still tied to the fence, Shepard was discovered 18 hours later by Aaron Kreifels, who at first thought that Shepard was a scarecrow. At the time of discovery, Shepard was still alive, but in a coma.
Shepard suffered a fracture from the back of his head to the front of his right ear. He had severe brain stem damage, which affected his body's ability to regulate heart rate, body temperature and other vital functions. There were also about a dozen small lacerations around his head, face and neck. His injuries were deemed too severe for doctors to operate. Shepard never regained consciousness and remained on full life support. As he lay in intensive care, candlelight vigils were held by the people of Laramie and across the nation.
He was pronounced dead at 12:53 A.M. on October 12, 1998, at Poudre Valley Hospital in Fort Collins.
TODAY'S GAY WISDOM :
"We struggled against apartheid in South Africa, supported by people the world over, because black people were being blamed and made to suffer for something we could do nothing about; our very skins. It is the same with sexual orientation. It is a given. And I am proud that in South Africa, when we won the chance to build our own new constitution, the human rights of all have been explicitly enshrined in our laws. Yet, all over the world, Lesbian, Gay, bisexual and transgender people are persecuted. We treat them as pariahs and push them outside our communities. We make them doubt that they too are children of God - and this must be nearly the ultimate blasphemy. We blame them for what they are. Churches say that the expression of love in a heterosexual monogamous relationship includes the physical, the touching, embracing, kissing, the genital act - the totality of our love makes each of us grow to become increasingly godlike and compassionate. If this is so for the heterosexual, what earthly reason have we to say that it is not the case with the homosexual?"