Judith Baca, The Origins of Gay Rights (section of the Great Wall, Los Angeles) (1983)
The Origin of Gay Rights section of the mural depicts the secrecy and paranoia of the McCarthy era and the emergence of homosexual community organization. Women forming the first lesbian rights organization, the Daughters of Bilitis, meet in a kitchen and mimeograph copies of their newsletter, The Ladder, which float out of a closet above the heads of raiding police. In a gay bar, solitary men sit in front of mirrors, cautiously glancing at one another. Each wears a mask on the back of his head, representing the false front that gays had to assume to avoid persecution. In the mirror they seem themselves as they wish they could be - warm, affectionate, caring.
Harmony Hammond, Lesbian Art in America (New York: Rizzoli, 2000), 69.
Sadly, we have learned that Stormé Delarverié, a long-time Chelsea Hotel resident and icon of the LGBT community passed away yesterday. Stormé had been living at the CABS Nursing Home in Brooklyn since October 2010.
#RIP #Storme But Stormé’s real claim to fame is that she’s the person who threw the first punch at Stonewall, the rebellion (named for the bar) on Christopher Street that gave birth to the gay rights movement. Prior to Stonewall, gay people were subject to arrest, pretty much arbitrarily, for such offenses as kissing or holding hands in public, or for dressing in the clothes of the opposite sex. The police staged raids on gay bars at unpredictable times, arresting whoever they pleased. The night of June 27, 1969, was seemingly like any other, with one exception: earlier that evening the city had mourned the passing of gay icon Judy Garland in a funeral attended by twenty-two thousand people. Whether this had anything to do with what happened next is open to speculation, but this time, when the police raided the Stonewall Bar in the early hours of June 28th, they soon found that the gay people had had enough and were ready to fight back—in particular one formidable drag king.
Happy Birthday to Lorraine Hansberry! Writer, activist, and Daughter of Bilitis, Hansberry found success as a playwright for her work A Raisin in the Sun, but died of pancreatic cancer at the tender age of 34, leaving behind an unfinished novel and several other plays.
Images above are taken from the book To Be Young, Gifted and Black: Lorraine Hansberry in Her Own Words, adapted by ex-husband Robert Nemiroff.
In 1978, Governor Jerry Brown of California fired adviser Dr. Josette Mondanaro, allegedly for writing an “obscene” letter on government stationary, but he was more likely worried about the way her openly gay lifestyle would reflect on his prospective Presidential bid. This article tells the tale, one that seems to have been totally forgotten.
Grace Miller, Joyce van de Veer, Jeannie Sullivan and Tommy Vasu opened Tommy’s Place in San Francisco in 1952. As owners of Tommy’s Place, they were the first known lesbians to have an legal ownership stake of a bar in San Francisco. Vasu and Sullivan also operated another bar, 12 Adler Place, around the corner.
With McCarthy’s Lavender Scare in full swing in 1954, the bars were raided. Tommy’s Place & 12 Alder Place were forced to close after having their liquor license revoked.
U.S. District Judge Michael McShane has ruled that the voter-approved ban on gay marriage was unconstitutional.
and they’ve already denied the homophobes’ request for a stay. oh oregon, i’m so happy for you!
Ten years ago today, on May 17, 2004, Massachusetts became the first U.S. state to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, after the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled that the state’s denial of marriage licenses to same-sex couples was unconstitutional under the Massachusetts constitution.
I still remember that day, and my joy and disbelief that it was actually happening. Everyone I knew then believed that it would be temporary, that it couldn’t stick—Massachusetts conservatives were already moving to amend the constitution. But here we are now.
It’s easy to say that same-sex marriage is a silly thing to care about now that it seems inevitable. But back then it seemed almost impossible to sixteen-year-old me that any relationship I’d ever have with a woman would be seen as legitimate, much less that I could get legally married. Massachusetts gave me and my friends hope for a future in which we might live with dignity, as full people, and that was new to us. And I think that means something.
Happy 10th wedding anniversary, Massachusetts.
Hey queer ladies of Chicago! HBHC is doing a thing next Monday and they want to hear from us!
In the months of May and June, Howard Brown Health Center (HBHC) will host five Community Town Hall meetings focused on the health needs and lives of Chicago’s diverse LGBTQ community. On Monday, May 19th, from 6:00 – 7:30pm, we invite lesbian, bisexual and queer (LBQ) women to gather at the Brown Elephant Resale Store at 3651 N. Halsted Street to participate in the second of these five sessions. This Community Town Hall meeting will provide an opportunity for lesbian, bisexual and queer women community members to discuss these issues, as well as their other health needs, barriers, and areas of resiliency. We want to hear from you, so that we can better serve you.
More info here.
I did notice that the “T” was absent in the title but nothing in the description states that this is only for cis queer women. However, there is a separate town hall meeting specifically for individuals in the Chicago transgender community on Monday, June 9. When I see additional info about that one, I’ll post it. HBHC fucks up a lot but as of late they do seem to be really trying to make amends. This seems like a good opportunity to let them know what they need to fix and what needs aren’t being met.