The hottest of the hot in 1903? Those butch “bifurcated girls” (bifurcated by the two-legged trousers, natch) having a roll! Public Domain Review collects some of the earliest print exploits of butch women having fun.
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Jason Collins, a Northridge native and former Stanford basketball player who now plays for the Washington Wizards, came out on Monday. He’s the first gay player in one of the “Big 4″ leagues (MLB, NBA, NFL, NHL) to leave the closet, and he announced his decision in a thoughtful essay for Sports Illustrated. He’s single-handedly knocked Alan Alan Gendreau off the front page of OutSports.
There is a lot to celebrate about César Chávez, the noted labor and civil rights leader whose birthday we celebrate Saturday. But what many don’t know is that Chávez was also an ardent advocate for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality.
Marc Grossman, the Chavez Foundation’s communication director and César Chávez’s longtime spokesman and personal aide, says that for Chávez, support for the LGBT community started early. A long-time friend of the Chávezes from the ’40s on, who was a lesbian, baptized the Chávezes eldest son, Fernando.
“By the late ’70s, he would go to gay rights parades,” Grossman said. “I was with him when he met Harvey Milk.”
And Milk, in turn, was an early supporter of the United Farm Workers grape boycott.
“This was not a position that was popular,” said Grossman, referring to Chávez’s support for LGBT equality. “But César didn’t care about what was unpopular. He came out strong against the Vietnam War, something most other labor organizations wouldn’t do. He believed you couldn’t lead by following the crowd.”
Grossman shares the anecdote of a young aide who had left Chávez to move to San Francisco, and who later came out. Chávez came to San Francisco for a labor rally and went to a gay pride parade. The aide recognized him and said, “I’m surprised to see you here,” and Chávez replied, baffled, “Why would you be surprised?” Read the rest of this entry »
On November 11, 1950, five men met for the first meeting of the Mattachine Society, the most influential pre-Stonewall organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. They were Harry Hay, Rudi Gernreich, Dale Jennings, Chuck Rowland and Bob Hull, and James Gruber and his boyfriend Konrad Stevens joined within a year.
More history, including rarely-seen documents, after the jump. Read the rest of this entry »
By Meghann Crusinberry, EQCA Intern
The pink triangle shows up on posters and placards, forms the logo of many lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender organizations, and is an instantly recognizable symbol of pride and solidarity. But it wasn’t always like that. Here’s how an emblem of discrimination became a symbol of defiance.
The pink triangle came from the Holocaust when between 5,000 and 15,000 LGBT people were put into Nazi Concentration camps, and although the pink triangle was specifically used for the male prisoners, it now symbolizes both gay and lesbian Holocaust victims. Most were sent to concentration camps where they were forced to do hard labor, but the unlucky few were sent to the death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau, or to Buchenwald, where they had to endure anti-gay medical experiments by Dr. Carl Vaernet, which included castration and attempts to inject testosterone capsules in hopes of finding a cure for homosexuality.
Within all camps there was a filing system on the prisoners clothing. For gay victims, it was a pink triangle that was larger than any of the other prisoners’ triangles so that fellow prisoners and guards alike would be able to identify gays even from a distance. This symbol meant that other prisoners shunned them due to the fear of the extra punishment for associating with gays. For the unlucky individuals who happened to also be Jewish, they were forced to wear both a yellow and pink triangle, which showed that they were the lowest of the low.
Although the pink triangle has a dark past, that past helped the pink triangle become a symbol for liberation. In 1972, “Heinz Heger” (pen name for Josef Kohout) wrote “The Men With the Pink Triangle,” about his experiences as a gay Holocause survivor. “The Men With The Pink Triangles” is credited by a lot of LGBT scholars as reintroducing the pink triangle to common knowledge, especially among LGBT folks. The memoir wasn’t just another survivor’s story — it was the first big survivor’s story that dealt with being gay during the Holocaust. Up until 1969, being gay was still illegal in Germany, and Heger’s memoir was instrumental in reclaiming the history of gay Holocaust victims.
Then, in 1987, AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power, or ACT UP, chose an inverted pink triangle as their logo — an explicit reference not just to the intolerance that surrounded them, but also to the effects of the AIDS crisis, which ACT UP founder Larry Kramer explicitly labeled a holocaust, in line with ACT UP’s slogan, “Silence = DEATH.”
Although LGBT victims were liberated from the camps, anti-sodomy laws in Europe kept most silent for years on their experiences, and the community still faces intolerance today. With the voices of the survivors of the Holocaust fading, it is up to the present and future generations to keep the meaning of the pink triangle alive, and to never forget.
We got a new executive director this week. We’re excited to have John O’Connor join us officially on December 3.
It’s LGBT history month, and the New Yorker has a great story on Merle Miller coming out in the New York Times, crediting it with helping spawn Dan Savage’s “It Gets Better” campaign.
You’re all voting, right? Frying Pan News on why Prop 32 is bad for the LGBT community.
Orange Coast magazine on how small indignities mean progress is still too slow in Orange County.
One of the Wachowski sibs is a trans woman, and she talks about what it means to be visible and trans.
It’s Claude Cahun‘s birthday! Cahun was a gender-bending lesbian surrealist writer and photographer who fought against the Nazis. Her work dealt with fluid sexuality with playful verve and political punch, especially in images like “Don’t Kiss Me, I am in Training,” where she appropriates macho boxing myths for a cartoonish revision, presaging “identity artists” like Cindy Sherman.
Finally, philosopher and author John Corvino makes witty, smart videos about what marriage and other rights mean.
Big huge couple weeks for Equality California. We got all six EQCA-sponsored bills passed and signed!
The one that’s been getting the most attention is SB 1172, a bill to end dangerous psychological abuse of minors. Already, anti-equality groups have filed lawsuits; here’s EQCA pro boon counsel David Codell on KPCC discussing the lawsuit and where things stand.
The field team is transitioning into PAC work — making sure that pro-equality candidates are elected throughout the state. Volunteer here to help out!
Next Thursday, at the CAA Screening Room in LA, we’re proud to present a screening of Wish Me Away, a documentary about country star Chely Wright’s coming out. Here she is talking about the movie and her journey with Kentucky Public Radio. She’ll be at the screening, answering questions. For more information and tickets, click here.
Two days later, we’ll be out in Palm Springs, honoring Speaker of the Assembly John A. Pérez, Senator Barbara Boxer, and many more. For tickets and more information, the Palm Springs awards page.
It’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender History Month, and we’ll be delving into that further later in the month. For the moment, get your whistle wet with Queer Music Heritage, a 12-year archive of radio shows about queer music, as well as a wealth of information about Stonewall protest songs, camp records and gay folk music.
For a more modern queer music, Macklemore, Ryan Lewis and Mary Lambert have a video for “Same Love”, which was made in response to Maryland’s current struggle for the freedom to marry.
“It was done as what we called the Annual Reminder Day, on Independence Day, July 4th, to remind the public that there is still a significant minority of Americans who do not benefit from the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” Barbara Gittings, founding member of the Daughters of Bilitis.
From 1965 to 1969, the East Coast Homophile Organizations, or ECHO, bussed activists from the Mattachine Society and Daughters of Bilitis in to politely protest in front of Philadelphia’s Independence Hall in favor of equality, opportunity and dignity. The 37 who marched the first day included Frank Kameny, Barbara Gittings, Kay Tobin, Jack Nichols and Craig Rodwell — all important forces in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality movement.
An ad in the Village Voice on July 3, 1969, read in part: “The demonstration — a lawful, orderly, dignified one — is intended to remind the American public that in its 16,000,000 homosexual citizens, male and female, there is still one large minority of our people who are not benefiting by the high ideals so solemnly proclaimed for all on July 4, 1776.”
Round trip fare was $5.
The Annual Reminder Day was transformed in 1970 — the Eastern Regional Conference of Homophile Organizations (ERCHO) voted to make the annual celebration more relevant in order to reach more people by moving the time and location to commemorate the Stonewall Riots as Christopher Street Liberation Day. In 2005, Philadelphia commemorated the first march with their first LGBT historical marker.
But let today be our annual reminder that despite the amazing advances we have made, there are still millions of Americans, and Californians, who do not enjoy the full dignity, opportunity and equality that we as a nation aspire to.
Forty-three years ago today, at 1:20 a.m., the New York Police Department raided the Stonewall Inn, the most important gay club in New York. Led by drag queens and egged on by bystanders, the patrons rebelled and turned Stonewall into the iconic movement of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender resistance.
But just over two years earlier, a police raid on the Los Angeles club, the Black Cat, also turned into riots and days of protests. Likewise, Los Angeles had featured the first ever gay rights march and the first ever organization to apply the word PRIDE (here standing for Personal Rights in Defense and Education) to LGBT rights. Why was Stonewall a catalyst that the Black Cat never was? The answers are instructive for anyone wanting to organize for change.
First and foremost, the aftermath of the Stonewall rebellion was accompanied by organizations with the explicit goal of organizing anniversaries for the riots. Christopher Street Liberation Day was celebrated on June 28, 1970, with a 51 block parade from Christopher Street to Central Park. The rebellion itself sparked organization of the Gay Liberation Front, who used the explicit rhetoric of leftist militantism to carry forward the defiant spirit of those who fought back on June 28 and the following nights where the Greenwich Village community took to the streets. While PRIDE organized protests for a week after the Black Cat raids, and passed out over 3,000 flyers, the riot failed to become the catalyzing moment that Stonewall had been in New York.
Part of that may have also been the feeling of victory — the Stonewall Rebellion was unquestionably more successful in fighting back the repressive police presence than the Black Cat riots had been, where 16 were arrested and the police brutally beat anyone who resisted. While the conduct was outrageous, it’s always easier to celebrate a moment of victorious rebellion than painful martyrdom. Where Stonewall could be used to represent the righteousness of fighting back, the Black Cat was closer to the reality for most raids on gay bars at the time, and didn’t have the same narrative of transcendent justice through popular resistance. Read the rest of this entry »
Juneteenth is a holiday commonly celebrated by the Black community. June 19th, 1865, is when the city of Galveston, Texas, found out the war had ended and all slaves had been emancipated becoming the last state to free their slaves. This message arrived two and a half years after the proclamation. The importance of this day is clear. Not only are we celebrating the end of a time of enslavement but also a time when a people overcame injustice.
I didn’t learn about Juneteenth in school, for whatever reason this was skipped over. I, instead, learned of this holiday from my community. There were always celebrations, small in numbers but still you could feel the pride. To have pride in myself I needed to have pride in my ancestors, those who came before me. The word Sankofa is used within the Black community, originating in Africa, which roughly translates to go back and reclaim our past.
We’re making history now, every day, each and everyone one of us. There are groundbreaking events happening and ALL of this should be included in the history books. Sankofa might have originated in Africa but can be used across cultures. The LGBT community has to go back and reclaim its past as well. All of the people who have played a significant role in helping achieve freedom, putting their lives on the line should be remembered for their efforts.