Saturday, October 31, 2009

LGBT History Month: This Is Us


I remember reading this Letter to The Editor in the Sacramento Bee when I lived in California, and it always stuck with me. The writer was writing in response to another Letter in which homosexuality was called a 'soul-deadening' perversion.

This is that writer's response:

Is homosexuality a ‘soul-deadening’ perversion? Let’s try an experiment:
I’m going to rip out the Sistine Chapel’s ceiling; burn Handel’s Messiah; slash the Mona Lisa; bury Walt Whitman’s ‘Leaves of Grass’; incinerate every Tchaikovsky score; torch every Greta Garbo film; ban every Bessie Smith song; and grind every Marlene Dietrich performance to dust.
Then we can evaluate what kind of ‘soul-deadening’ world we would live in without gay people.

So, here we are, the last day of LGBT History Month and I thought I'd put up a snapshot or two of who we are as a community. And when you hear or read that being gay is an awful thing, that we are all going to hell because of who we love, when we don't deserve the same rights and privileges as every other American, remember where we came from, who we were, who we are, and who will will be.....

This is us:






















Larry Kramer, Suze Orman, Jared Polis, George Takei; Ian McKellan, Cole Porter, Alan Turing, Dan Solmonese; Paul Monette, Andy Warhol, Peter Paige, Alice B. Toklas; Tracy Chapman, Matthew Shepard, Esera Tuaolo, Neil Patrick Harris; Marc Shaiman, Wanda Sykes, Rudy Galindo, Dave Koz; Martina Navritilova, Bob Paris, Rosie O'Donnell, Greg Louganis; T.R. Knight, James Whale, Dale Peck, Gregory Maguire; Dan Matthews, Rufus Wainwright, Bishop Gene Robinson, David Hyde Pierce; Margaret Mead, RuPaul, Randy Shilts, David Sedaris; Ethan Morrden, Mark Pocan, Vito Russo, Ned Rorem; Charles Perez, Gertrude Stein, Gore Vidal, Jimmy Somerville; Bill T. Jones, Christopher Isherwood, Andrew Holleran, Rock Hudson; Chaz Bono, Thomas Mann, Barney Frank, Cleve Jones; Kelly McGillia, Stephen McCauley, Bruce Vilanch, Tab Hunter; James Dale, Thom Gunn, David Cicciline, Walt Whitman; Judy Gold, Tom Ford, Frida Kahlo, Ellen DeGeneres; Alberta Hunter, Lily Tomlin, Noel Coward, Sam Harris; Nathan Lane, Janis Joplin, Bessie Smith, George Michael; Alan Cumming, Harvey Fierstein, Sara Gilbert, Ma Rainey; Harry Hay, Anthony Perkins, George Nader, Sheila Kuehl; Dan Choi, Oscar Wilde, David Hockney, Candace Gingrich; Lea DeLaria, Armistead Maupin, Joe Orton, B.D. Wong; William Haines, k.d. lang, Ramon Navarro, Pedro Zamora; Quentin Crisp, Caesar Romero, Felice Picano, Cherry Jones; Tom Ammiano, John Barrowman, Bryan Batt, Kate Clinton; Mario Cantone, Michael Callan, Robert Gant, Willa Cather; Harvey Milk, Tallulah Bankhead, Edward Albee, Angela Davis; Rudolph Nureyev, Cynthia Nixon, Edmund White, Liberace; Montgomery Clift, Ian Roberts, Stephen Fry, Jodie Foster.....

........and the march goes on....


On This Day In LGBT History

October 31, 1968 – Silent film star Ramon Novarro was found murdered. A bathroom mirror had the words “US GIRLS ARE BETTER THAN FAGGITS” smeared with blood. Hustler Paul Ferguson and his brother Tom Ferguson were convicted of the murder and both received life sentences. During the trial, Novarro’s sexual orientation was called into question with more vigor than the guilt or innocence of the defendants.
October 31, 1969 – Time magazine ran a cover story on “The Homosexual in America” that included a report on the Stonewall Riots. It was protested by the Gay Liberation Front because the writer said homosexuals are mentally ill and immoral.
October 31, 1977 – Halloween brings thousands of queer-bashers to Toronto’s Yonge Street looking for the annual drag parade. Gay representatives meet with police beforehand to try to prevent crowd from gathering. Operation Jack-o’-Lantern, a gay street patrol is organized to monitor situation but police do little to control crowd.
October 31, 1980 – For the first time, Toronto police do not allow queer-bashers and spectators to congregate outside St Charles Tavern to wait for drag queens. Traffic and pedestrians are kept moving with help of large numbers of police officers. Not a single egg thrown.
October 31, 1987 – The Associated Press reported that several nursing homes in King County Washington were under investigation for refusing to accept AIDS patients or those suspected of being likely to have been exposed to HIV.
October 31, 1992 – The coalition for Lesbian and Gay Rights held a march in London.

15 comments:

Eric Arvin said...

Great piece! I've always liked that letter too.

lacochran said...

Great post! Thanks for putting all this together!

Ultra Dave said...

What a great summation for your month long series on gay history! Thank you so very much!

Bucko (a.k.a., Ken) said...

Great way to end the month, that letter experiment is powerful.

Kyle said...

Terrific post Bob! A fitting end to GLBT history month.

I have always though that the most compelling(though a little dramatic) way to dampen a detractors argument or hatred toward us was to detail the catastrophic loss humanity would feel if we(GLBT folk) were all simply erased from history.

Lou said...

You've put lots of time and effort into these posts Bob - great job. I for one have learned heaps I didn't know. Thanks.

truthspew said...

I note you got Providence, RI mayor David Cicilline in there but you missed Majority Leader Rep. Gordon Fox. Or more importantly Rep. Frank Ferri.

Both openly gay men serving in the RI House.

mistress maddie said...

Boy- thats one powerful post to end a very informative GLBT month series. Thank you so very much for spending the time to put this together Bob!

Stan in NH said...

Great post and good info. Happy Halloween.

jadedj said...

Dynamite post, and believe it or not, I actually knew some of this...SOME of it, but not enough. Great job!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this. I am honored to be among those listed. As a married gay man and father, I am overwhelmed with humility and gratitude for how far we have come. And as a man who is still fighting for equal rights, I am flabbergasted by how far we have to go.
But we are doing it. The trick is not to stop. Not to take anything for granted. Not to rest on the laurels of our progress. I do not understand hate. I do not understand it. And I have to believe that love wins. Not in leaps and bounds like violence and destruction. It is much harder and takes much longer to construct from love than to destroy from hate.
Keep constructing.
Sam Harris

Beth said...

Excellent, Bob. The collage speaks a thousand words!

Joy said...

I learn so much from your blog and love the way you ended an excellent month of informative, instructive, and inspiring lessons. The letter and collage provide an amazing picture! Thanks for all the time and effort you put into this.

Fred in VT said...

Just a mild correction.

Not all of us who organized and participated in this demo on 11.12.69 were members of GLF. There were people from a number of disparate groups quite unlike GLF (nascent Lavender Menace members, HYMN, etc), who shared a common outrage over the Time piece.

I like to think we had an impact since Time's coverage seven months later on the first Pride march *(Christopher Street Liberation Day) had a much improved tone.

You can see Diana Davies' photos of the demo from the NYPL digital archive that are mistakenly labeled as GLF here: http://images.nypl.org/index.php?id=1581957&t=w

Anonymous said...

You can add Abraham Lincoln to the list above... who slept with two young men on a nightly basis while in the White House.

One wonders if the gunshot at the Ford's Theater is rightly called an assignation or was it more a hate crime?

The religious right loves to use Abraham Lincoln as a mantra to cover their apparent racism but we all know the republican party has been hijacked by fundamentalist Christophobes.