Posts Tagged "lgbtq history"

Remembering Harvey Milk

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>

The History of National Coming Out Day

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.

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Source: hrc.org

I can’t forget hard as I try/This silhouette against the sky.

"Scarecrow" by Melissa Etheridge

Showers 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 

Scarecrow crying 
Waiting to die wondering why 
Scarecrow trying 
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
Mother’s neglect
I can forgive But I will not forget 

Scarecrow crying 
Waiting to die wondering why 
Scarecrow trying 
Rising above all in the name of love
Source: angelfire.com

LGBTQ History Month: focus on Kate Bornstein (Auntie Kate)

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).

Source: speakoutnow.org

LGBTQ History Month: “Go Tell it on the Mountain”

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.

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Source: blacklightonline.com

April 27, 1953: For LGBT Americans, a Day That Lives in Infamy

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.

For more about the film, check out our website, thelavenderscare.com. Here’s a trailer:

Source: The Huffington Post


Master strategist Bayard Rustin was Martin Luther King Jr.‘s organizer for the 1963 March on Washington, but because he was gay, he has been hidden from history. Activist Stuart Wilber explains.

In 1956, Bayard Rustin was hidden in the trunk of a car and snuck out of Montgomery during the Montgomery Bus Boycott because it was feared that having an openly-​gay man as an advisor would discredit the efforts of Dr. Martin Luther King and the other leaders of the African-​American Civil Rights Movement.

In ‎1983, Congressman Walter Fauntroy, one the organizers of a Washington March marking the 20th anniversary of the iconic March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, (where Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his historic “I Have a Dream” speech,) attempted to prevent representatives from gay and lesbian rights groups from speaking, thereby insulting the memory of the openly-​gay Bayard Rustin, the architect of the original 1963 civil rights march.

(See below for some interesting additional history on this event.)

It’s time we bring Bayard’s legacy out of the closet and into the national spotlight.

Walter Naegle, Rustin’s partner until death, wrote,

A master strategist and tireless activist, Bayard Rustin is best remembered as the organizer of the 1963 March on Washington, one of the largest nonviolent protests ever held in the U.S. He brought Gandhi’s protest techniques to the American civil rights movement and helped mold Martin Luther King, Jr. into an international symbol of peace and nonviolence.

Despite these achievements, Rustin was silenced, threatened, arrested, beaten, imprisoned, and fired from important leadership positions, largely because he was an openly gay man in a fiercely homophobic era.

Today, the United States is still struggling with many of the issues Bayard Rustin sought to change during his long, illustrious career. His focus on civil and economic rights and his belief in peace, human rights, and the dignity of all people remain as relevant today as they were in the 1950s and 60s.

Rustin’s biography is particularly important for LGBT Americans, highlighting the major contributions of a gay man to ending oficial segregation in America. Rustin stands at the confluence of the great struggles for civil, legal, and human rights by African Americans and lesbian and gay Americans. In a nation still torn by racial hatred and violence, bigotry against homosexuals, and extraordinary divides between rich and poor, his eloquent voice is needed today.

In February 1956, when Bayard Rustin arrived in Montgomery to assist with the nascent bus boycott, Martin Luther King, Jr. had not fully embraced nonviolence. In fact, there were guns inside King’s house and armed guards posted at his doors. Rustin persuaded boycott leaders to adopt complete nonviolence, teaching them Gandhian nonviolent direct protest techniques.”

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Source: thenewcivilrightsmovement.com