Table of Contents

CanadianGay
presents
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

September 26

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T.S. Eliot

1888 – Although T.S. Eliot (d.1965) liked to be thought of as the most impersonal of poets, looking at the world with a detached and objective eye, many personal elements in the poems deserve to be read with the poet's life in mind. Indeed, there may have been personal reasons for his "impersonality." Certainly, one of its effects was to give the impression that he had something to hide. A number of younger writers, including Hart Crane and Harold Norse, assumed he was homosexual.

At the emotional core of Eliot's poetry is his friendship with Jean Verdenal (1889-1915), a young Frenchman. All we know for certain is that the relationship took place in Paris in 1910 and 1911 while Eliot was studying at the Sorbonne and that Verdenal died in the Great War in 1915 at the age of 26. A month later, Eliot hurriedly married his first wife, Vivien.

In 1917, he dedicated Prufrock and Other Observations to Verdenal's memory, over an epigraph from Dante's Purgatorio that expresses "the measure of the love which warms me towards you." This quotation comes from one of Eliot's two favorite segments of the Divine Comedy, both of which he kept returning to throughout his career: In Inferno XV, Dante meets Brunetto Latini among the sodomites (the "violent against nature"); and in Purgatorio XXVI, he meets Arnaut Daniel among more sodomites and "hermaphrodites."

Eliot's love for Verdenal is one of the central facts of The Waste Land. In particular, it is possible to identify the so-called Hyacinth girl of the poem's opening section with the poet's sentimental memory of "a friend coming across the Luxembourg Gardens in the late afternoon, waving a branch of lilac." This figure is then subsumed into the theme of death by water, which is in turn mixed with references to the trenches of the Great War. The poem's despair is expressed as both personal and philosophical loss in the crucial line, "He who was living is now dead." The Waste Land is, in short, a funeral elegy.

When John Peter wrote an essay to this effect in 1952, Eliot instructed his solicitors to intervene, and all traceable copies of the relevant issue of Essays in Criticism (II, 242-266) were destroyed. Peter reissued the essay, with additions, after Eliot's death.

One of Ezra Pound's self-appointed tasks as editor of the manuscript of The Waste Land was to tone down the poem's homoeroticism. For instance, he recommended the cutting of the poem "Saint Narcissus," that peculiar fusion of pagan and Christian imagery that now appears at the end of the Complete Poems. A number of familiar lines in the final draft of The Waste Land are toned-down versions of what appeared in the manuscript: "My friend, blood shaking my heart" was originally "My friend, my friend, beating in my heart."

However, he had an abhorrence of sex in general, though as a boy, he masturbated guiltily and wrote a magnificently sensuous poem about it; an excerpt here:

Then he knew that he had been a fish

With slippery white belly held tight in his own fingers

Writhing in his own clutch, his ancient beauty

Caught fast in the pink rips of his new beauty.

 

1907 Anthony (Frederick) Blunt (d.1983) enjoyed a prestigious career as one of Britain's most notable art historians. His last years, however, were marked by shame and ostracism after public revelations that he had been a spy for the Soviet Union and had been the unnamed "fourth man" in the 1950s Cambridge spy scandal.

Blunt was born in Bournemouth, England, into an affluent family of Anglican clergymen. His grandfather was a bishop, and his father was eventually appointed chaplain to the British ambassador to France. He spent his childhood and adolescence in Paris, where he was introduced to the French Renaissance art that would later be the focus of his academic career. Blunt returned to England to attend Marlborough School and, subsequently, Trinity College, Cambridge, from which he graduated in 1932. He was appointed to a fellowship at Trinity upon receiving his degree, and thus he remained at Cambridge throughout the 1930s.

During this period, Blunt, despite his privileged background, became an ardent Communist. In 1934, he traveled to Moscow, where he made his first connections with the KGB, the Soviet Union's intelligence agency. Upon his return to Cambridge, he began to recruit a number of his finest students (many of whom were homosexuals) for the Communist cause. Among these were Guy Burgess (who was for a time Blunt's lover), Donald Maclean, and Harold "Kim" Philby.

With the onset of World War II, Blunt enlisted in the British army and was commissioned as an officer. In 1940, he volunteered for service with MI5, the British counterintelligence agency. His purpose was to collect military secrets and pass them on to his KGB connections. Apparently even after the end of the war in 1945, he continued to act as a double agent. Burgess, Maclean, and Philby were also strategically placed in various government positions that gave them access to secret information, and the four men worked in collaboration.

After the war, Blunt embarked on a brilliant career as an art historian and seemed to live a charmed life for the next three decades, during which he became one of the world's foremost art critics and authorities. In 1945, he was named Surveyor of the King's (later Queen's) Pictures, in which capacity he administered the Royal Family's extensive collections and had considerable access to the monarchy. He held this position until 1979. He was appointed director of the Courtauld Institute of Art in 1947, became a Fellow of the British Academy in 1950, was knighted by the queen in 1956, and became professor of art history at the University of London in 1960.

All the while he continued his contacts with the KGB. His fellow conspirators, however, were unable to avoid detection. In 1951, Blunt learned from his contacts that Maclean was about to be arrested for espionage. Accordingly, Blunt and Philby, with help from the KGB, facilitated an escape for Maclean and Burgess, who defected to the Soviet Union where they remained for the rest of their lives. Philby's involvement was subsequently discovered, and he likewise defected.

Because of the homosexual element of this scandal, British law enforcement found "justification" for increasing its surveillance and prosecution of gay men throughout the 1950s and early 1960s; and gay men in the United States and the United Kingdom were, as a rule, banned from sensitive government posts as they were assumed to be security risks.

Although British intelligence had long believed there was a fourth man involved in the spy ring, Blunt remained undetected until 1963, when an American art critic being scrutinized by the FBI revealed his connections to the Cambridge spies. The MI5 confronted Blunt with this evidence, but granted him immunity in return for his testimony.

Blunt's crimes were not made public, and he was allowed to retain all his posts and honors because the British government did not want a scandal concerning one so closely connected to the Royal Family, particularly in the wake of the Profumo sex and espionage case only months before. Thus, in spite of acts that had severely damaged his country's military security throughout the Cold War, Blunt remained unscathed until publication of Andrew Boyle's The Climate of Treason (1979), which documented Blunt's culpability, but which, because of British libel laws, did not identify him by name.

Margaret Thatcher's government was quick to act on this revelation, however, and the Prime Minister herself divulged Blunt's identity in a speech before the House of Commons. Consequently, Blunt was stripped of his knighthood, his honors, and his appointments. He retreated from public life and died in disgrace on March 26, 1983.

 

Vincenz with Davis
Vincenz (R) with Nancy Ruth Davis

1937Lilli Vincenz is a pioneering gay rights activist. In 1965, she was the only lesbian to participate in the first White House picket. From 1965 to 1969, Vincenz demonstrated each Fourth of July in front of Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell. These protests, called Annual Reminders, launched the gay and lesbian civil rights movement.

Vincenz was born in Hamburg, Germany, and grew up during World War II. Her father died when she was 2 years old. In 1949, after her mother married an American, the family moved to the United States.

In 1959, Vincenz earned bachelor's degrees in French and German from Douglas College. The following year, she received a master's degree in English from Columbia University.

After college, Vincenz enlisted in the Women's Army Corps and worked at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. After serving nine months, she was outed by her roommate and was discharged for being gay.

In 1963, Vincenz joined the Mattachine Society of Washington (MSW). She was in the MSW delegation that held the first meeting with the Civil Service Commission to discuss discriminatory policies toward gays and lesbians.


Featured in The Ladder
Jan 1968

In 1971, Vincenz helped launch the Frank Kameny for Congress campaign. This marked the first time an openly gay person ran for public office in the United States.

A documentarian, Vincenz created the short film, The Second Largest Minority, which recorded the 1968 Annual Reminder in Philadelphia, one of the earliest LGBT demonstrations in the United States. She also trained her lens on another crucial moment: the first Pride parade in New York City, which took place one year after the Stonewall Riots. Her footage has been used in several documentaries, including Before Stonewall, After Stonewall, and Gay Pioneers.

From 1971 to 1979, Vincenz hosted a monthly Gay Women's Open House in Washington to provide a safe setting for socializing and discussing common concerns.

In 1990, Vincenz earned a Ph.D. in human development from the University of Maryland. Vincenz has written for numerous publications and has appeared on television and in film.

Lilli, who recorded many of the significant events of the LGBT rights movement, donated her papers to the nation's oldest cultural institution, the Library of Congress. Her papers include personal diaries as well as photographs, pamphlets, articles, and other ephemera recording the rise of the gay rights movement in the 20th century.

She resides in Arlington, Virginia, with her partner, Nancy Ruth Davis.

 

David Clarenbach

1953David Clarenbach is a Wisconsin Democratic politician who served nine terms in the Wisconsin State Assembly. He represented the 78th Assembly District in Madison from 1975 to 1993.

He was elected to the Dane County Board of Supervisors in 1972, at age 18. In 1974, he was elected a Madison alderman, before being elected to the Wisconsin State Assembly that same year at the age of 21. He served as a mentor for fellow gay Assemblyman Tim Carpenter of Milwaukee.

In 1982, Clarenbach along with Milwaukee gay activist Leon Rouse and others were widely credited with helping push through the first law in the country which prohibited discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations on the basis of sexual orientation. It was a landmark achievement for Wisconsin and the nation. Clarenbach and Rouse were regarded as the two most important figures in that historic drive for equal rights in Wisconsin.

Clarenbach did not seek re-election in 1992 but ran for Congress in Wisconsin's 2nd congressional district, but was not elected. He was succeeded in the assembly by Tammy Baldwin, who ran as the first openly gay legislative candidate in Wisconsin history.

Clarenbach is now openly gay, although he was not open during his political career in Madison. He told a reporter in 2001,

"It was a different era. There were no openly gay elected officials... Even in the liberal stronghold of Madison, it would have done more than raise eyebrows. It would've hampered a person's electability. Yet I think it's safe to say that every member of the Legislature and every member of the Capitol press corps knew I was gay.... The general consensus was not to intrude into one's personal life."

Clarenbach served as executive director of the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund from 1996 to 1997. He now works as a political consultant and lives in Madison, Wisconsin.

 

Larry Sinclair

1961 – (Lawrence Wayne) Larry Sinclair (his name was legally changed to La-Rye A. Silvas, and La-Rye Vizcarra Avila and then back to his birth name) is a convicted felon for crimes of forgery, bad checks and theft by check. He is also a homosexual from Duluth, Minnesota who claims in a YouTube video he had consensual sex with Barack Obama while the then state senator from Illinois smoked crack cocaine. The YouTube video has been seen by 900,000 viewers but the mainstream media has largely ignored the story.

Sinclair says he flew to Chicago on November 3, 1999 to attend the graduation of his best friend's son from basic training from the Great Lakes Navy Training Center. On November 6, he hired the services of Five Star Limo and asked his driver, Jagir P. Multani, if he knew anyone who wanted to 'socialize' and show him around Chicago. The driver knew what he meant and Sinclair claims the driver made a call to his friend Barack Obama, the Illinois state senator, and arranged a meeting.

They meet at upscale Chicago area bar in Gurnee, Illinois. Sinclair recalls the bar to be named "Alibis". Sinclair asked if Obama could obtain cocaine and the state senator allegedly made a call from his cell phone to make the purchase. They left the bar and drove to a unknown location where Obama allegedly purchased cocaine for $250 paid by Larry Sinclair. Sinclair claims Obama also purchased crack cocaine for himself. Sinclair claims they engaged in sex and used cocaine in the rented limo.

Sinclair has filed a lawsuit in Minnesota District Court, claiming the Obama staff made threats and attempts of intimidation against him

In February 2008, Larry Sinclair failed a lie detector test relating to questions about Obama, drugs and sex. However, he still maintains he has told the truth about Barack Obama.

In 2009 Larry Sinclair published his book, Barack Obama & Larry Sinclair: Cocaine, Sex, Lies & Murder?

 

Patrick Bristow

1962Patrick Bristow is an American actor and comedian.

Bristow was born in Los Angeles, California. Perhaps best known for his television role as Peter, the best friend of Ellen DeGeneres' character in the series Ellen, the red-haired Patrick Bristow is one of the more recognizable character actors working today. He is a veteran of numerous high-profile TV guest-star roles that include Seinfeld's "The Wig Master", his recurring role as the machiavellian Troy on Mad About You, and Larry David's choreographer on Curb Your Enthusiasm. He has also guest starred on Malcolm in the Middle, Friends, CSI, The Minor Accomplishments of Jackie Woodman, The Larry Sanders Show, Head Case, The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, and the animated series King of the Hill and Family Guy, and many others.

A Los Angeles native, Bristow resides in L.A. with Andrew Nicastro, his partner since 1994 and the former Director of Global Production for Steven Spielberg's Shoah Foundation. He and Nicastro were married in April 2010 in a ceremony in Old Greenwich, Connecticut, attended by friends and family.

 

Scott Heim

1966Scott Heim is best known for his critically acclaimed debut novel Mysterious Skin, about the long-term effects of sexual abuse on two boys by their Little League baseball coach and the subsequent coping mechanisms employed by them as they grow into young manhood.

Shortly after the publication of his novel, Heim was named by the New York Times Magazine one of the thirty artists under thirty years old likely "to change the culture in the next thirty years." Homosexuality is integral to Heim's writing, although in interviews he has stressed that he does not want to be "tagged as a gay writer."

"Being gay is not the focal point of what I write," he explained in a 1997 profile. "There's a new attitude among writers where there doesn't have to be an apology for gayness in literature. You used to have to explain what being gay was before you introduced it in your writing. That's not the case anymore, and I hope my writing reflects that. I also hope my audience will let me go on to other things besides my sexuality."

Heim was born on September 26, 1966 in Hutchinson, Kansas, a small farming community. He earned a B.A. in English and Art History from the University of Kansas at Lawrence in 1989 and an M.A. in English Literature in 1991. Two years later he received a Master of Fine Arts Degree from Columbia University in Fiction Writing. He began writing "horror stories . . . for my friends" when he was ten or eleven years old. Later, in high school he turned to writing confessional, lyrical poetry although his work became "more and more narrative." By the time he entered college his interests had turned to fiction writing. "At that stage," Heim recalled, "the only difference between [my poetry] and my fiction was that the poems were more economical and didn't have to explain things like character and plot."

His first published work was the poetry collection Saved from Drowning (1993). In 1995, Heim published his first novel, Mysterious Skin, which he had begun writing while still a graduate student at Columbia University.

The novel, set in small-town Kansas, concerns Brian Lackey, a young man who attempts to fill a blank space in his life as he remembers "The summer I was eight years old, five hours disappeared from my life." The key to Brian's recovery of those lost hours is Neil McCormick, a fellow former member of the local Little League baseball team, who has grown up to be a teenage gay hustler. While both Brian and Neil had been sexually abused as children by their baseball coach, their reactions to the experience differ widely. Brian blocks the incident from his memory, and instead convinces himself that he had been abducted by aliens during those missing hours, while Neil feels "honored" by the coach's attention.

Heim won near-universal critical praise for his deft and sensitive handling of the complicated characters and delicate subject matter of Mysterious Skin. In 2004, Gregg Araki, one of the leading figures of the "New Queer Cinema," wrote and directed a film version of Heim's novel. It starred Brady Corbet as Brian and Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Neil. The film was nominated for a 2006 GLAAD Media Award as Outstanding Film.

Heim published his second novel, In Awe, in 1997.

 

Rich Merritt

1967Rich Merritt is an author, blogger and attorney. Merritt is a speaker at universities, law schools and other civic organizations about topics ranging from issues on gay and lesbian equality to fundamentalism. He has been a controversial figure since he was featured on the cover of the New York Times Magazine on June 28, 1998, which is Gay pride day in New York City, in an article by Jennifer Egan entitled "Uniforms In The Closet: The Shadow Life Of A Gay Marine", and soon after exposed by The Advocate as a porn star.

Rich Merritt was born in 1967 in Greenville, South Carolina. In 1973, his parents enrolled him at Bob Jones Elementary School, the educational "Fortress of Fundamentalism." Merritt finished Bob Jones Elementary and went on to Bob Jones High School and Bob Jones University but was expelled before he got his university degree.

In his memoirs, Merritt claimed that when he attended Bob Jones Junior High School, Bob Jones III, then-president of BJU, said at a White House anti-gay protest that "homosexuals should be stoned to death as the Bible commanded." The hostile environment forced Merritt to deny to himself that he was gay. Once removed from the fundamentalist world, however, he could no longer deny his same-sex attraction.

After he got a degree from Clemson University, Merritt joined the United States Marine Corps, where he rose to the rank of captain. Unbeknownst to his superiors, Captain Merritt, by this time an active gay man, supplemented his income for a while by appearing in male adult films under the name of "Danny Orlis" (which Merritt stole from the hero of a series of Christian boys' books).

In 1998, Merritt caused a sensation when he came out in a New York Times Magazine cover story about gay Marines. Even worse (for Merritt), The Advocate dug up Merritt's porn past and exposed it. Having left the Marines (with an honorable discharge), Merritt's life took a wrong turn as he descended into a tailspin of circuit parties, drugs and alcohol, only to eventually recover and begin a new career as a lawyer - and as the author of his published memoirs "Secrets of a Gay Marine Porn Star."

1973Toronto’s Club Baths opens at 231 Mutual Street. It is the first of modern gay-operated bathhouses in Canada.

 

Orville Lloyd Douglas

1976 Orville Lloyd Douglas is a Canadian poet, and writer. He was born in Toronto, Ontario to Jamaican-Canadian parents. He graduated from York University with two Bachelor of Arts degrees. He completed his first Bachelor's degree in History and the second Bachelor's degree with honours in Sexuality Studies. Douglas' work focuses on the tensions and intersections of race, gender, class, and sexuality.

He has contributed to several Canadian and international publications, including The Guardian, ColorLines, Word Magazine, The New Zealand Herald, Georgia Straight, The Toronto Star, Xtra!, NOW, Library Journal, and The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Douglas' first volume of poetry, You Don't Know Me, was published by TSAR Publications. The book explored many polemical issues such as death, drug abuse, male prostitution, suicidal idealization, suicide, depression, identity, love, homophobia in Caribbean culture, and gay racism.

In 2007, Douglas' fifteen minute radio documentary The Good Son was broadcast across Canada on the CBC Radio One program Outfront. The first section of the documentary was an interwoven quilt of Douglas reading his poetry and interviewing his father. The second part of the documentary was a monologue as Douglas talks about his frustrations. He explores issues such as homophobia in the black community, the pernicious hypocrisy and gay racism in the homosexual culture, heterosexual marriage, family discord, and racism against black men.

June 12th 2017, Douglas essay "I'm black and gay. Black Lives Matter Toronto doesn't speak for me" was published in the CBC news opinion section. The piece condemned Black Lives Matter Toronto for disrupting the gay pride parade in 2016. He also spoke out about Black Lives Matter hypocrisy and bigotry. According to Douglas, Black Lives Matter Toronto are not the spokespersons for the black community in Canada. He argues, Black Lives Matter are race baiting by silencing anyone that dares to criticize the group by crying racism. He also argued, Black Lives Matter Toronto, played the race card, by ignoring the pernicious Black homophobia in the Caribbean and African communities across Canada and at Caribana. Caribana is an anti gay, Black homophobic, heterosexist, event.

His poetry has also appeared in Seminal (2007), the first anthology of gay male Canadian poetry.

1992 – Amid a bitterly contested campaign in Oregon for and against Measure 9, an anti-gay rights initiative, a lesbian and a gay man are killed when local skinheads throw a Molotov cocktail into their apartment in Salem.

 

Doug Wilson

1992 – Died: Douglas Wilson (b.1950 - Month/Day unknown) was a Canadian gay activist, graduate student, publisher and writer born in Saskatchewan. In 1975, he gained prominence in a fight for gay rights with the University of Saskatchewan. While an Education student at the University of Saskatchewan, Wilson placed an ad in the student paper advertising the Gay Academic Union. Wilson was vice-president of the Gay Community Centre Saskatoon and had been trying to start a gay academic union at the university. The University's Dean of the College of Education took swift action, prohibiting an "avowed homosexual" from supervising student teachers in the city's high schools.

A Committee to Defend Doug Wilson was formed by local gay activists, professors, and students, in order to protest Wilson's treatment and demand his reinstatement. Wilson's case attracted significant local and national media coverage, and resulted in a Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission investigation. The University countered by applying for an injunction, claiming that the Commission had acted improperly because sexual orientation was not a specified category in the provincial human rights code. The University successfully obtained the injunction and the investigation was prohibited. However, public opinion favoured Wilson.

Wilson spent most of his life fighting for human rights issues, activism and AIDS organizations. In 1977 he founded Stubblejumper Press, a small publishing house dedicated to works by Canadian lesbians and gay men. He served as executive director of the Saskatchewan Association on Human Rights from 1978 to 1983. In 1983 Wilson moved to Toronto to work for the Toronto Board of Education as an advisor to the Race Relations and Equal Opportunity Office. In 1984 he became one of the founding publishers of Rites: for lesbian and gay liberation.

Wilson was the first openly gay candidate to be nominated by a major political party to stand for Parliament, as a candidate of the New Democratic Party in the Toronto riding of Rosedale in the 1988 election. During the campaign he was diagnosed with AIDS. He spent the rest of his life as an AIDS activist, helping to found AIDS Action Now!, and was founding chairperson of the Canadian Network of Organizations for People Living With AIDS. Wilson published his partner Peter McGehee's novels, Boys Like Us (1991) and Sweetheart (1992). One month before his death, he completed McGehee's notes of his third novel, Labour of Love (1993). Wilson died on September 24, 1992 at the age of 42.

In 1995 the University of Saskatchewan's gay organization (Gays and Lesbians at the U of S, GLUS) established the Doug Wilson Award, given annually to honour those individuals who have shown leadership and courage in advancing the rights of gays & lesbians at the University of Saskatchewan. The University of Saskatchewan Students' Union (USSU) has presented the award since 2001, after GLUS folded following the establishment of the USSU-run Pride Centre.

In March 2009, Stubblejumper, a film about Doug Wilson was screened in venues across Saskatchewan. It was directed by Saskatchewan filmmaker David Geiss.

2021 – 64% of Swiss Voters pass a referendum which will allow same sex marriage with the same rights as heterosexuals.It is set to be in effect by July 1 2021.

SEPTEMBER 27 →

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