Times are definitely bleak. Corona virus infections are still on the rise, prejudice is at levels that rival that of before the civil rights movements, unemployment is rising to record heights, and most of us are still stuck at home. There doesn’t seem to be a light at the end of the tunnel. Today I thought I would focus my blog on fighting against diversity. And also talking about what happened on this day in LGBTQ history. So, let’s get started.
First, let me start by saying that we need to change up the word “History.” For the rest of today’s blog (minus a few SEO reasons and titles) we will refer to it as “Our-story.” After all, it is our story.
July 16, 1969
This day played host to the second meeting of the Mattachine Society of New York. This event attracted 200 people but 40 people had walked out due to disagreement over how chapter president Dick Leitsch handled the post-Stonewall political energy. Five years earlier on September 19, 1964, Leitsch had led the very first gay demonstration called the Julius Sip in. This event was prompted by gay men tired of being turned away from bars due to their sexual orientation. Letisch believed that the best way to protest was to have gay men dress nicely and go to bars. Once in they would sit at the bar and tell the bartender they were gay and want to be served. The premise was that an “orderly gay man” should not be refused the right of service. He used the phrase “We are homosexuals. We are orderly we intend to remain orderly, and we are asking for service.” This simple statement urged the courts to rule that gays had a right to peaceful assembly. This was the first act, recorded, of gay civil disobedience.
While this is a huge step forward for LGBTQ rights, it came from a group that believed LGBTQ people could have rights is if we appeared to be like heterosexuals. My aversion to this come from other moments in history where the dominant culture used assimilation as a means to make other “undesirables” a part of their community. Yes, I am talking about the forced assimilation of Native Peoples. Stopping them from talking their language, cutting their hair, and to not practice their beliefs. But I digress.
July 16, 1976
It was this day that the final ruling, in a civilian court, on SGT., Leonard Matlovich was handed down. Matlovich was discharged from the United States Air Force for being a homosexual. Matlovich was a Vietnam War Veteran, race relations instructor, and recipient of both the Purple Heart and Bronze Star. Matlovich will go down in history for being the second-best known gay man from the 70s, behind Harvey Milk. He decided to out himself to the military in a protest of their ban on gays. His was the first fight to stay in the US Military after coming out. It became famous for the quote, “When I was in the military, they gave me a medal for killing two men and a discharge for loving one.” SGT Matlovich was one of the first to fight to remove the LGBTQ ban in the military.
July 15, 1962
The 1960s was a decade of change for our country, as well as our LGBTQ people. We saw a great many leaders come front this period. We also saw some of the earliest LGBTQ protests take shape. So when Randy Wicker talked ro the listener-supported radio station, WBAI, into broadcasting a taped program in which seven gay people discussed homosexuality, should come as no surprise. This program was widely publicized as the first favorable broadcast on this topic in the US. This did not prevent a host of homophobic people from filing a complaint with the FCC. They argued to have the station’s license revoked, a motion rejected by the FCC.
July 15, 1992
This goes to show how far that prejudice goes in our country and in our military. Remember that you have the right to defend your country, as long as you werent gay. Col. Margarethe Cammermeyer was infomred by the military board that she was a great American, a great asset, a superb leader, that they admired her many accomplishments through her career, that she had been of great value in your 27 years of service to the military, and that she was being discharged for being a lesbian. A simple snapshot that an institution that was designed for the protection of our country cares more for who you sleep with that the amount of distinguished serviced you have put in.
July 14, 1987
It was on this day in Williamson, West Virginia that a public swimming pool was ordered to temporarily close by mayor Sam Kapourales. Why was this a monumental day, you ask? Mayor Kapourales ordered the pool closed, drained, refilled. He ordered the diving boards, lounge chairs, and locker rooms scrubbed down. He also asked that sixteen times the normal amount of chlorine added to the pool, you read that right sixteen times the normal amount. All because he learned that a man who had AIDS had gone swimming in that pool. This was the stigma the disease caused in the late 80s, so very little was known about its transmission. Even still, this act seemed over the top, even at that time.
July 13, 1888
An article appeared in Ohio’s Springfield Daily Republic announcing the marriage of James Chesser and George Ann Holly. Now, this may seem like any other announcement a paper will carry, but in fact, it was to become a hot seat of debate. After a medical exam revealed that George Ann was actually George Burton. These two men had been living in Fort Smith, Arkansas. After the release of the medical examination, both men were charged with sodomy. This is thoguht to be the first case of two men who were duly married to one another. Way to be the first, Ohio.
July 13, 1998
In the 90s, we saw an uprise in the proclamations of ways to overcome being LGBTQ. On this day, a full page ad ran that claimed gay men and lesbians could do this by becoming Christian. This ad appeared in the New York Times. Thankfully this ad was also challenged by Dr. Dean Hamer. He was quoted as saying “ads like this fly in the face of scientific fact and are at odds with what we know from biological and psychological sciences.” Hamer is known for his role in the research of genetics in sexual orientation and human behavior.
July 13, 1999
And lastly, I bring you another scientific fact. Dr Dean Edell wrote an article that stated, “An investigation into the size of male sex organs reveals that homosexuals are generally better endowed than heterosexuals.” This study was originally conducted by the Kinsey Institute and they found there may be some relationship between innate sexual orientation tendencies and the size of genitalia. The survey data was collected after talking to over 5000 men and it was found that based on five measurement standards that the penis size on homosexuals was larger.
While times are dark it is nice to reflect back on times that seemed dark but we were able to grow from. This gives us hope that we can overcome the hardships we currently are facing. They may seem daunting but, in retrospect, they will be no more difficult than the hardships those before us had to endure. The main thing we need to remember is to pick ourselves up and keep going. We have to learn those items of civil disobedience again. To fight the fights we can and accept the things we cannot change at the moment. Today was a brief look at this week in LGBTQ History. Let me know if you have any other moments you think should be added. You can also let me know what you thought about these moments in LGBTQ our-story.