Posts Tagged "lgbtq history"
On Nov. 27, 1978, Harvey Milk was shot twice in the head by conservative and disgruntled supervisor Daniel White. Mayor George Moscone was also killed. White confessed to his crime, but was only given five years in prison plus parole. His lawyers argued that junk food caused his depression. That argument, dubbed the Twinkie defense, was later banned. <read more here>
In the Beginning, There Was a March
On Oct. 11, 1987, half a million people participated in the March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights. It was the second such demonstration in our nation’s capital and resulted in the founding of a number of LGBT organizations, including the National Latino/a Gay & Lesbian Organization (LLEGÓ) and AT&T’s LGBT employee group, LEAGUE. The momentum continued four months after this extraordinary march as more than 100 lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender activists from around the country gathered in Manassas, Va., about 25 miles outside Washington, D.C. Recognizing that the LGBT community often reacted defensively to anti-gay actions, they came up with the idea of a national day to celebrate coming out and chose the anniversary of that second march on Washington to mark it. The originators of the idea were Rob Eichberg, a founder of the personal growth workshop, The Experience, and Jean O’Leary, then head of National Gay Rights Advocates. From this idea the National Coming Out Day was born.
To this day National Coming Out Day continues to promote a safe world for LGBT individuals to live truthfully and openly.
"Scarecrow" by Melissa EtheridgeShowers of your crimson blood
Seep into a nation calling up a flood
Of narrow minds who legislate
Thinly veiled intolerance
Bigotry and hate
But they tortured and burned you
They beat you and they tied you
They left you cold and breathing
For love they crucified you
I can’t forget hard as I try
This silhouette against the sky
Waiting to die wondering why
Angels will hold carry your soul away
This was our brother
This was our son
This shepherd young and mild
This unassuming one
We all gasp this can’t happen here
We’re all much too civilized
Where can these monsters hide
But they are knocking on our front door
They’re rocking in our cradles
They’re preaching in our churches
And eating at our tables
I search my soul
My heart and in my mind
To try and find forgiveness
This is someone child
With pain unreconciled
Filled up with father’s hate
I can forgive But I will not forget
Waiting to die wondering why
Rising above all in the name of love
Kate Bornstein is a performance artist and playwright who has authored several award-winning books in the field of Women and Gender Studies, including Gender Outlaw: On Men, Women, and The Rest of Us, and My Gender Workbook, which she is currently updating for a second edition after 15 years.
Her 2006 book, Hello, Cruel World: 101 Alternatives to Suicide for Teens, Freaks, and Other Outlaws, propelled Kate into an international position of anti-bully advocacy for marginalized youth which has earned her two citations of honor from the New York City Council and garnered praise from civil rights groups around the globe.
Kate’s books are taught in five languages in over 200 colleges and universities around the world. She lives in New York City with her girlfriend, three cats, two dogs, and one turtle, in whose company she wrote her new memoir, A Queer and Pleasant Danger: the true story of a nice Jewish boy who joins the Church of Scientology, and leaves twelve years later to become the lovely lady she is today.” The book was released on May 1st, 2012, which is also Kate’s 26th girl birthday.
P.S., my “brush with greatness”. I’m not in this picture but I TOOK it! Kate came to our university to speak and we had a lot of opportunity to hang out with her that weekend. This was taken the first time we saw her during a drag show (Drag King Rebellion).
Baldwin comes Out
By James S. Tinney
For the first time in his career, novelist James Baldwin openly identified with the Gay community by addressing more than 200 persons at a forum sponsored by The New York Chapter of Black and White Men Together (BWMT-NY). The forum was held June 5 in the Gay synagogue known as Simchat Torah on the West side of Greenwich Village. Speaking with candor and openness about his own homosexuality, Baldwin claimed that his life-long sexual orientation had never been a secret, but he had not always felt it was necessary, “or anybody’s business,” to openly affirm it. “Before I was seven years old,” he said, “there were so many labels on my back beginning with ‘nigger.’ By the time I was 14, I went through a kind of nervous breakdown, which happened when I, was a preacher, and by the time I was 17, 1 had survived all the labels, including the label of ‘faggot.’ It wasn’t and it isn’t, easy.” Baldwin briefly mentioned his becoming a Pentecostal minister in Harlem as a youth, and then declared, “I still consider myself a Christian,” although he was careful to point out that he did not necessarily identify with institutionalized Christianity. Similarly, he explained that, while he is Gay, he does not necessarily identify with all of the institutionalized and “ghettoized” Gay community.
On the morning of April 27, 1953, President Dwight D. Eisenhower declared war on homosexuals.
In one of his first official acts after taking office, Eisenhower issued Executive Order 10450, which banned gay men and lesbians from working for any agency of the federal government.
But that wasn’t all. The president ordered all private contractors doing business with the government to fire their gay employees, as well. And he urged our allies overseas to conduct similar purges in their countries.
The rational was that “perverts” — the word The New York Times freely used as a synonym for homosexuals — were a threat to the security of the country because their immoral lifestyle left them susceptible to blackmail by foreign agents, who would presumably induce them to reveal sensitive government information in exchange for avoiding exposure.
The McCarthy era is widely known as the time of the Red Scare, the search for Communists who had supposedly infiltrated American society. But in fact it was homosexuals who were the primary victims of the witch hunts. In what has become known as the Lavender Scare, thousands and thousands of people were fired from their jobs simply because of their sexual orientation.
The anti-gay frenzy ignited by the government did far more than just deprive these men and women of jobs; it drove many to suicide and cemented homophobic stereotypes that persisted for decades in the American consciousness.
Unfamiliar with this story? It’s not surprising. It’s a classic example of how LGBT history is so often marginalized and not included in the telling of mainstream American history. The extent to which gay men and lesbians were victimized by the U.S. government was first brought to light in a terrific book called The Lavender Scare, by historian David K. Johnson. I’m now working on a film documentarybased on the book.
Sadly, the ghost of the Lavender Scare continues to haunt us today. A recent study by UCLA’s Williams Institute found that 27 percent of LGBT people said that they had been harassed at work or lost a job over the course of the past five years because of their sexual orientation. In 29 states LGBT Americans still have no legal protection against employment discrimination.
With the stroke of a pen, President Obama can take a big step toward changing this by issuing an executive order that would require private firms doing business with the government to prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in their companies — in effect, the exact opposite of what President Eisenhower did on this date 59 years ago.
But rather than taking this decisive action, President Obama has chosen instead to do nothing. On April 12 the administration said that the president wasn’t ready to move forward with the executive order. It’s odd. He has already endorsed federal legislation (which has been stalled in Congress for years) that would outlaw LGBT employment discrimination. And since last fall he has signed executive orders on a number of issues, arguing that “we can’t wait” for legislation that the Republican-controlled Congress refuses to pass. So why is it that he apparentlycan wait when it comes to protecting the rights of LGBT Americans?
Today, a great percentage of government work is outsourced to private companies. Those businesses are required by an existing executive order to prohibit discrimination based on race, national origin, or religion, but not sexual orientation or gender identity.
In 1995 (not that long ago!) the last vestiges of President Eisenhower’s Executive Order of 1953 were finally done away with. But its destructive effects linger on. By taking action now to extending workplace protection to LGBT Americans, President Obama has an opportunity to make clear that the dark days of our government’s officially sanctioned homophobia are finally behind us.
So many good stories about LGBTQ history that I couldn’t pick just one so read them all- from change.org.