Sunday, February 28, 2010

This Week in LGBT History: February 28 - March 6

This week marks the end of February and the beginning of March. In March of 1649, Sarah White Norman became the first woman in North America to be convicted on charges of lesbianism. 351 years later, in March of 1990, a group of activists from ACT-UP formed a new LGBT rights organization called Queer Nation.

On February 28, 1895, The Marquess of Queensbury delivered a letter to Oscar Wilde which accused him of lewd behavior and sodomy. Wilde had been romantically involved with The Marquess' son, Bosie Douglas.

On March 1, 1895, Oscar Wilde filed libel charges against The Marquess of Queensbury.

On March 2, 1942, American Rocker Lou Reed was born.

On March 3, 1975, the State of Arkansas became the first State in the American south to pass a bill decriminalizing homosexual activity (though, the State re-criminalized sodomy at a later date).

On March 4, 1948, American equal rights advocate Jean O'Leary was born. O'Leary was instrumental in helping to launch the first National Coming Out Day celebration in 1988.

On March 5, 1842, the State of Florida passed a sodomy law with a mandatory death penalty.

On March 6, 1475, Renaissance master painter Michelangelo Buonarroti was born.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

This Week in LGBT History: February 21-27

First, a correction from last week's post. In my haste, Bill Tilden was born on February 10, 1893. I incorrectly stated that he was born on February 20th.

On February 21, 1903, the New York Police Department staged the first recorded law enforcement action targeting gay bathhouses when it raided the city's Ariston Baths. Dozens of men were arrested, with some actually sentenced to jail time.

On February 22, 1892, the poet Edna St. Vincent Millay was born.

On February 23, the New York Supreme Court, in People v. Uplinger et al. ruled in favor of a gay man who had brought a case against the loitering law. The loitering and solicitation statutes were overturned by this decision.

On February 24, 1977, the State of Wyoming repeals its sodomy laws.

On February 25, 1982, Wisconsin became the first US State to ban discrimination based upon sexual orientation


On February 26, 2004: Rosie O'Donnell and Kelli Carpenter were married in a ceremony in San Francisco. When newly elected Mayor Gavin Newsom took office, he issued an order to the city clerk that required city officials to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples. O'Donnell and Carpenter, along with hundreds of other gay and lesbian couples immediately descended on San Francisco to get their marriage licenses. The marriages were all subsequently invalidate by the California Supreme Court.

On February 27, 1992, The UK Transgender Rights group Press for Change was formed in a London Coffee House.

Ten Books for Your LGBT History Collection

Today's aficionado of LGBT history and culture benefits from a wealth of literature ranging from academic histories to memoirs to journalistic investigations. While no bibliography can be truly comprehensive, what follows is a list of ten books which bring unique perspectives on important subjects relevant to the study of the history of LGBT people.

And the Band Played On: Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic. by Randy Shilts

The AIDS epidemic has had a devastating impact on many communities, but none more so than the gay male community, especially during the early years of the crisis in the 1980's. This definitive history of that era is one of two titles on this list authored by the legendary gay journalist Randy Shilts.

From the review:
"In the first major book on AIDS, San Francisco Chronicle reporter Randy Shilts examines the making of an epidemic. Shilts researched and reported the book exhaustively, chronicling almost day-by-day the first five years of AIDS. His work is critical of the medical and scientific communities' initial response and particularly harsh on the Reagan Administration, who he claims cut funding, ignored calls for action and deliberately misled Congress. Shilts doesn't stop there, wondering why more people in the gay community, the mass media and the country at large didn't stand up in anger more quickly. The AIDS pandemic is one of the most striking developments of the late 20th century and this is the definitive story of its beginnings."

The Best Little Boy in the World. by Andrew Tobias (aka John Reid)

While Andrew Tobias is now a prominent out gay rights activist and a major figure in national politics, he was not always able to be so open in his activism. When he penned this memoir, he first published it under a pseudonym to protect himself from the consequences of revealing his identity. His story helps reveal how far we have come and reminds us of how far we still have to go.

From the Review:
"When The Best Little Boy in the World was first published in 1973, Andrew Tobias could write about what it had felt like to begin to accept his homosexuality, but he couldn't bring himself to sign his own name to the book, for fear of embarrassing his parents. And so it was "John Reid" who became a hero to the thousands of gay males who found in this memoir a mirror for their own experiences."

The Celluloid Closet: Homosexuality in the Movies, by Vito Russo

The history of Hollywood and American pop culture can not be properly told without examining the role of LGBT people on the entertainment industry. This quintessential study of the history of gay Hollywood was ultimately made into an award-winning documentary by the same name.

From the Review:
"When Vito Russo published the first edition of The Celluloid Closet in 1981, there was little question that it was a groundbreaking book. Today it is still one of the most informative and provocative books written about gay people and popular culture. By examining the images of homosexuality and gender variance in Hollywood films from the 1920s to the present, Russo traced a history not only of how gay men and lesbians had been erased or demonized in movies but in all of American culture as well."

Christine Jorgensen: A Personal Autobiography, by Christine Jorgensen

While not the first person to undergo surgical gender reassignment, Christie Jorgensen was the first sex change subject to become widely known in popular culture. The revelation of her identity in 1952 ushered in a new era in the American perception of sexuality and gender. This is Jorgensen's story in her own words.

From the Review:
"When ex-G.I. George Jorgensen went to Copenhagen in the early 1950s to consult experts in sexual deviance, he was afraid they'd simply proclaim him a fairy. A full battery of hormonal and psychological tests revealed that, while he was drawn to men, he was no garden-variety homophile; he was a lady. Keeping the secret from his family, Jorgensen endured a groundbreaking series of operations, finally emerging in November 1952 as a delicately beautiful young woman. "I merely wanted to correct what I considered a misjudgment of Nature," wrote Jorgensen, who died in 1989. No one seeing the photographs included here (many of them new to this edition) can doubt the success of Jorgensen's transformation or wonder too long at the fascination she engendered back home, where a newspaper bought her story for $20,000 and she was proclaimed New York City's Woman of the Year. A stage and screen career soon followed."

Epistemology of the Closet, by Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick

This highly academic literary analysis examines the intersection of sexuality, literature, and the realities of every day life.

From the Review:
"Since the late 1980s, queer studies and theory have become vital to the intellectual life of the U.S. This has been, to no small degree, due to the popularity of Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick's critically acclaimed Epistemology of the Closet. Working from classic texts of European and American writers--including Herman Melville, Henry James, Marcel Proust, and Oscar Wilde--Sedgwick delineates a historical moment in which sexual identity became as important a demarcation of personhood as gender had been for centuries."

The Mayor of Castro Street: The Life and Times of Harvey Milk, by Randy Shilts

Harvey Milk was the first great openly gay elected official in American history, and thus will always hold an honored position as one of the Founding Fathers of the LGBT equality movement. This is an early biography, written by noted gay journalist Randy Shilts, which serves as a great companion to the 2008 biopic starring Sean Penn.

From the product description:
"Known as “The Mayor of Castro Street” even before he was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, Harvey Milk’s personal life, public career, and final assassination reflect the dramatic emergence of the gay community as a political power in America. It is a story full of personal tragedies and political intrigues, assassinations at City Hall, massive riots in the streets, the miscarriage of justice, and the consolidation of gay power and gay hope."

Pressure is a Privilege: Lessons I've Learned from Life and the Battle of the Sexes, by Billie Jean King

Billie Jean King is more than just a lesbian icon and feminist hero, she undeniably one of the greatest professional tennis players ever to walk onto a court. Her landmark victory over Bobby Riggs in the much-hyped "Battle of the Sexes" provides a great spectrum through which to look at her lifetime of breaking down barriers for lesbians, women, and underdogs of all persuasions.

From the product description:
"Billie Jean King's victory over Bobby Riggs in the "Battle of the Sexes" was a pivotal moment in gender relations for generations of American women and men. But her journey to the "Battle of the Sexes" was no accident. Now, for the first time ever, Billie Jean shares the life lessons that led to her success in that match, in sports, and in the world at large. Published in conjunction with the 35th anniversary of this monumental event, Pressure is a Privilege uses the Billie Jean King / Bobby Riggs match to illustrate what she learned in her early life that brought her to that event and the lessons that she learned from it."

The Real Trial of Oscar Wilde, by Merlin Holland

The talented playwright and satirist Oscar Wilde is the iconic martyr of the modern gay rights movement. This account of his sodomy trials and the associated scandal is written by Wilde's grandson Merlin Holland.

From the Product Information:
"Oscar Wilde had one of literary history's most explosive love affairs with Lord Alfred "Bosie" Douglas. In 1895, Bosie's father, the Marquess of Queensberry, delivered a note to the Albemarle Club addressed to "Oscar Wilde posing as sodomite." With Bosie's encouragement, Wilde sued the Marquess for libel. He not only lost but he was tried twice for "gross indecency" and sent to prison with two years' hard labor. With this publication of the uncensored trial transcripts, readers can for the first time in more than a century hear Wilde at his most articulate and brilliant. The Real Trial of Oscar Wilde documents an alarmingly swift fall from grace; it is also a supremely moving testament to the right to live, work, and love as one's heart dictates."

Transgender Warriors: Making History from Joan of Arc to Dennis Rodman, by Leslie Feinberg

Far too often, the role of transgender people to progress of LGBT rights as well as their contributions to the broader arc of queer history. This academic tome begins to lay out some of the important ways in which transgender people, variant gender expression have helped to create the world we live in today.

From the Review:
"Leslie Feinberg has been a leader in the transgender rights movement as long as such a movement has existed. This book is both deeply personal and widely researched. Feinberg examines perceptions of the body, the status of clothing, and the structures of societies that welcome or are threatened by gender variance. The portrait gallery that closes the book contains photographs and capsule biographies of contemporary transgendered people."

The Whole World Was Watching: Living in the Light of Matthew Shepard, by Romaine Patterson

Before moving to New York City and becoming the host of a nationally broadcast satellite radio show, Romaine Patterson grew up as a young lesbian in rural Wyoming. As a young woman, she was shocked when her good friend Matthew Shepard was a victim of a heinous anti-gay hate crime. In the aftermath of Shepard's death and the national attention that it received, Patterson became a dedicated activist for LGBT rights.

From the product description:
"On the evening of Thursday, October 8, 1998, 20-year-old Romaine Patterson received a phone call that her best friend, Matthew Shepard, had been beaten and left hanging on a split-rail fence outside Laramie, Wyoming. Romaine was then thrust to the center of the worldwide media frenzy that descended on Laramie, and she came face-to-face with twisted homophobia when Baptist minister Fred Phelps and his followers picketed Matthew’s funeral with signs reading, “Matt burns in hell.” Upon learning of Phelps’ plan to bring his ministry of hate to support Matt’s killers at their trial, Romaine went into action. Who can forget the image of Romaine and her friends donning seven-foot angel wings so they could encircle Phelps and his gang, leaving the picketers silent and invisible? From that moment forward, Romaine has become a spokesperson for tolerance, acceptance, and nonviolence around the globe, whether as a founder of Angel Action, as a consultant for The Laramie Project (the award-winning play that has been produced hundreds of times and became an acclaimed HBO film starring Christina Ricci as Romaine). In one of their last conversations, Matt told Romaine that he wanted to spend his life helping people realize that they as individuals could make a difference in the world. This is Romaine Patterson’s journey to realizing the truth of that statement."

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

LC--Guess who’s back? Back again?

Guess who’s back? Back again?:
"Bicoastal, bigenerational and bipartisan–and now bi-z… SHOWBIZ NIGHT! In show 58, we spoke to Hollywood Historian, Laurie Provost–previous guest John Provost’s wife. This author and comedian shared with us some of the coolest stories from Hollywood history. It was really fun!

Laurie and Ace discussed her husband John’s time on Lassie as Timmy, and Lance and I asked her about Hollywood’s Haaaaaauuunted Hiiiistory… woooooooo!

Do you know anyone who needs to be a guest on Lundon Calling? Do you know anyone who’s been affected by the Military’s Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy? Anyone who wants to come on and talk about LGBT history, or where the movement is heading in the future? Let us know–we’d really love to talk to you about having them on!

For now, check out Show 58–the RETURN OF PHIL!"

Make sure you take a listen to Show 58!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

TBP--Pressure HRC: Demand leadership from Obama

Today I'm helping out with a huge blog swarm to put pressure on the Human Rights Campaign to use its status in DC to keep the "Don't Ask Don't Tell" repeal front and center on the Hill--to prevent this momentum from being squandered. We are hearing that the lawmakers are looking to turn this into a huge, long, drawn-out multi-year process. Let's be blunt. We could lose Congress in November. We can't wait until after the election. We can't wait until its politically expedient. We need this now. Let's end this institutionalized homophobia and discrimination.

My latest Bilerico Post: "Pressure HRC: Demand leadership from Obama":
"When I blog about federal bills, I'm usually talking about ENDA - I still think this is our number one priority on the Hill - but there's another big priority that we need to move on now. We need a full repeal of the ban on gays and lesbians serving openly in the military. 4010407179_83b9a3a781.jpgMy views on our current aggressive and misguided wars aside, the ban on gays serving openly in our military is one of the most disgusting and obvious examples of institutionalized homophobia we have in America. Its a symbol of everything wrong in our society when it comes to acceptance of gays and lesbians. We must have a full repeal this year.

Any effort to repeal it is about to get swept under the rug, unless HRC, our largest organization, steps up and demands the White House to take some leadership.

Unlike many of my fellow bloggers, I don't go after HRC very often. I'll be the first to say HRC has made some dumb-ass moves in the past, but I find it quite lazy to make them out to be monsters, the way most of the gay bloggosphere tends to do.

I have a confession to make. I'm a member of HRC. Not only am I a member, I sat on the Michigan Steering Committee for nearly five years. I was Membership and Community Events chair. I signed up thousands of new HRC members during my time. I still have a box of stickers in my closet. Oh, me and HRC are like *this.* Sometimes..."

You want to find out about what you can do to help make a loud noise for "Don't Ask, Don't Tell?" Read on: "Pressure HRC: Demand leadership from Obama."

Monday, February 15, 2010

What to do about a problem like Louie?

If my member of Congress doesn't represent my views, and yet is invulnerable to electoral challenge, what, if anything, can I do as a citizen to influence public policy?

As a resident of the 1st Congressional District of Texas, I have the distinct displeasure of calling myself a constituent of Louie Gohmert, aka Screwie Louie, aka the douche-bag of the universe. Louie Gohmert isn't just kind of conservative—he is a lunatic wingnut conservative. There is no issue I am aware of, from taxes to health care, to foreign policy, on which Gohmert speaks for me in Congress. On the issue of LGBT equality, Gohmert has gone out of his way to pander to the religious right, at one point actually going to the floor of the House of Representatives to make a speech comparing gays and lesbians to pedophiles and practitioners of beastiality. If you aren't familiar with Louie Gohmert, this YouTube clip offers a nice glimpse at his absurdity.

Given what I know about Gohmert's ideology and his voting record, I have allowed myself to become lazy about using my position as a constituent to apply pressure on him. Although I have called his office on occasion to offer my opinion, my efforts have been half-hearted and intermittent at best. I have rationalized that it would be pointless to lobby Gohmert for his vote on passing ENDA, or repealing DADT or DOMA, because he will never agree with me on these issues.

Nevertheless, having spent a great deal of time over the past few weeks contemplating the lives of the great heroes and pioneers of the LGBT rights movement, I am struck by the realization that each of the leaders I admire the most—Harvey Milk, Frank Kameny, Barbara Gittings, Louise Lawrence, and others—are all ordinary people who created extraordinary change through their bravery and commitment to the cause of equality.

Reflecting on my own political involvement and activism in comparison to that of these great heroes, I ask myself an important question: is there more I should or could be doing in the struggle for equality?

It is true that the task of convincing a rabid conservative like Gohmert to take any pro-gay stance is a heavy lift. But is this a more difficult task than the ones which faced Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon when they formed the Daughter's of Bilitis, or Frank Kameny when he organized the Mattachine Society?

The truth is, I am foolish to treat my own congressman, no matter how conservative, with benign neglect. It is an abdication of my responsibility as an activist and as a citizen to fight for what I think is right, regardless of the liklihood of success. To ignore an elected official who nominally represents my interests lets him off the hook for his bigoted voting record, and lets me off the hook for my own unwillingness to fight the good fight.

I acknowledge my own folly, and I recognize the need for a new strategy in dealing with my congressman. But even as I make thisconcession, a bigger question remains unanswered: if I am to engage an uncooperative elected official, then what tactics should I employ? It is easy to make phone calls and write letters, but is it the most effective use of my time and energy? I could organize a protest of Gohmert's local office, but that would likely consist of, at most, 3 or 4 people. I am open to acts of nonviolent civil disobedience, but only if they are targeted and effective.

These uncertainties still lie in front of me. Though am not sure exactly how I should proceed, I am convinced and committed to a new spirit of activism in my personal life as a tribute to all those brave activists who faced much bigger struggles than the one that faces me today.

As I decide how to proceed, I will keep the readers here at Ameriqueer apprised of my progress. Until then, I would look forward to hearing any advice or discussion that others have to offer on this topic.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

CBS Reports: "The Homosexuals"

(h/t) Citizen Crain:

This video of Mike Wallace's 1967 special report for CBS News provides a fascinating look at how the media treated LGBT issues in pre-Stonewall America. Included in this special are viewpoints from anti-gay crusader and "reparative therapy" advocate Charles Socarides; and Mattachine Society member Warren Adkins (aka Jack Nichols).

The video is a must watch for anyone interested in the portrayal of LGBT people in the media and the history of the gay rights movement.

LGBT History: Valentine's Day Edition

Today is Valentine's Day, which is the day when lovers celebrate their romantic affection for one another. While most commercial representations of this traditional festival depict the relationships of heterosexual couples, we know that the rituals of the day are observed just as earnestly by same-sex couples. It is, therefore, serendipitous that the first weekly installment of the Ameriqueer LGBT History Project is posted on Valentine's Day.

On February 14, 1953, the trailblazing lesbian couple of Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon celebrated Valentine's Day by moving in together in an apartment in the Castro District of San Francisco. The couple shared their lives together until Martin's death in 2008. Throughout their decades-long relationship, Martin and Lyon were leaders in the fight for gay rights and women's rights. The two women were among the founders of the Daughters of Bilitis, became the first lesbian couple to join the National Organization for Women, and were instrumental in organizing the Alive B. Toklas Democratic Club.

On February 15, 1820, Susan B. Anthony was born. Although some modern conservatives have attempted to co-opt the image of Susan B. Anthony to turn her into a pro-life icon, the truth is that Susan B. Anthony is a great hero both to progressives and to feminists. While it is not specifically known that Anthony was either lesbian or bisexual, she never married, nor did she bear children. The encyclopedia entry about her at provides an excellent summary of the many close relationships she is known to have had with other women in the early abolitionist and suffrage movements.

On February 16. 1918, the controversial article “Cult of the Clitoris” is published in what could be the earliest known case of celebrity “outing.” Among the personalities consumed by the subsequent libel suit and public scandal were lesbian dancer and musician Maud Allan, anti-gay crusader and British MP Noel Pemberton Billing, and Oscar Wilde's infamous lover Lord Bosie Douglas.

On February 17, 1994, openly gay American Journalist Randy Shilts died. Among Shilts' many accomplishments were three groundbreaking tomes: a biography of Harvey Milk, an account of the early years of the AIDS epidemic, and an examination of the history of gays serving in the US military.

On February 18, 2007 pioneering lesbian activist Barbara Gittings died. Gittings worked closely with Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon in the Daughter's of Bilitis, and was also instrumental in persuading the American Psychiatric Association to remove homosexuality from its list of disorders.

On February 19, 2007, the state of New Jersey began accepting applications for same-sex civil unions. The legislature passed the civil union law after having been ordered by the state's Supreme Court to provide for equal treatment of same-sex couples under the law.

On February 20, 1893, tennis player Bill Tilden was born. Tilden, known as one of the greatest male tennis players of all time, was forced by societal homophobia to live his life as a closeted gay man. In the late 1940's, Tilden had two seperate run-ins with the police in which he was charged with “morals” crimes. The scandal resulting from his arrests caused Tilden's relationships with the professional tennis world to become strained. Eventually, unable to make a living despite his legendary athletic career, Tilden died penniless and alone.

All dates and information are based upon publicly published data (links provided where possible). If there are sources that provide contradictory data, please pass your sources along. If you have suggestions for other events that should be included in the list of important dates in LGBT history, please pass those along as well. Any suggestions and feedback are, of course, encouraged.

TBP--Creating change right where you are

My latest--"Creating change right where you are" @ The Bilerico Project:
"This past week I attended the Annual Creating Change Conference put on by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force in various locations throughout this big gay nation of ours every year. This year the all-encompassing leadership conference was held in Dallas Texas, and--let me just tell you--everything really is bigger there. Well, everything except for the cell-phone reception, but that's another story.

I have a confession to make. I was a virgin until this past Wednesday. A conference virgin, silly. I'd attended dozens of LGBT conferences in my life, but never a Creating Change. I was close to attending--and considered joining the local planning committee--when it was in Detroit, my hometown. However, I was on my way to Illinois, and didn't really want to take on a new commitment, only to be out of state when the conference occurred. So I've never been.

And now? I can't wait to attend next year in Minneapolis! I love Creating Change because it helps me get better at... well... creating change..."

Learn more about my time at Creating Change, and the hilarious first meeting I had with Matt Foreman when you read "Creating change right where you are" @ The Bilerico Project

Friday, February 12, 2010

On Joining Ameriqueer

Those of you who saw the earlier post here memorializing Lawrence King may have noticed that I am a new contributor to the Ameriqueer blog. I wanted to take this opportunity to introduce myself and fomally announce the new feature that I will be launching here: The Ameriqueer LGBT History Project.

If you are on twitter, you may already know me as @therealpatrick. I have been tweeting under that screen name for nearly a full year. My participation in this blog arose after a series of conversations on Twitter and via email with the founder of Ameriqueer about the current state of the LGBT community and the political movement to extend LGBT equality. Our conversations left me searching for some way to recommit to activism and to increase my personal participation in the movement in some useful way.

The Ameriqueer LGBT History Project is the first step toward enhancing my community involvement and one that I hope will yield long term dividends for me personally as well as for the readers of Ameriqueer.

Beginning this Sunday, and every Sunday for the next year, I will post a summary of the upcoming week's notable anniversaries, birthdays, and milestone events in the LGBT history. There is a depth of richness and diversity in the history of the queer community of which too many of us (including, I confess, myself) are ignorant. By surveying this history in a way that is light and easily digested, I hope that we can all obtain a greater appreciation for the progress that we have made and for the progress that has yet to be made.

Ultimately, it is my hope that we can all be inspired by the fact that all history is made by ordinary people doing extraordinary things. Each of us has the power to do something extraordinary in our own life that will make history and leave our community better off than it was when we began.

As we embark upon the next 52 weeks of this project, I have one small request. If there are any important dates in LGBT history that have special meaning or resonance to you, I hope you will pass them along to me, either on twitter, or in the comments section on this blog, so that I can include them in my master list. I am doing the best I can to include the most important dates I can find, but I will inevitably miss many important ones. Any help or feedback you can give me will be greatly appreciated.

O&A--When California's John Perez becomes the openly gay Speaker, he won't be the first.

Check out my latest Out & About Illinois magazine Blog--When California's John Perez becomes the openly gay Speaker, he won't be the first:
"Phil Reese, February 12, 20010 -- Two months ago, Assemblyman John Perez became the first openly gay person selected for state House Speaker in history, but when he gets sworn in on March 1, he will be the second openly gay person to assume that position.

Yesterday, The Rhode Island House of Representatives selected and swore in Majority Leader Gordon Fox as the 222nd Speaker of one of the oldest legislatures in the nation. The legislature of predominately Catholic state of Rhode Island--which is only one of two New England states without marriage equality, and the only state to never have passed a marriage equality bill--is now being led by an openly gay African American. In March, 4% of state legislatures in America will be led by out and proud gay folks.

This is real progress.

In 1989 Republican US Senator Mark Hatfield's political career was nearly ruined when he was outed by Michael Petrelis at a fundraiser as he was supporting anti-gay legislation proposed by Jesse Helms. At that time, being openly gay was a death sentence for a political career. Barbara Jordan, the first southern African American woman to serve in the United States House of Representatives, remained closeted for her entire life, despite her life-long partnership with Nancy Earl.

When Wisconsin Republican Steve Gunderson was outed in 1996 on the House Floor during the debate for the Federal Defense of Marriage Act..."

Want to read the rest? Please check out When California's John Perez becomes the openly gay Speaker, he won't be the first on

Lawrence Fobes “Larry” King. (1993-2008): Never Forget

For as long as I have been aware that there is such a thing as a “gay community” I have been fascinated by its history and its culture. I believe that learning about history has the power not just to educate and illuminate, but also to liberate. It is because of this belief that I have proposed a new feature for Ameriqueer: The Ameriqueer LGBT History Project.

Beginning this Sunday, and every Sunday for the next year, I will write weekly blog entries summarizing the noteworthy anniversaries, birthdays, and other milestones in queer history. Before the first of these weekly posts, though, I wanted to take a moment to remember one special anniversary that is at least partially responsible for inspiring me to undertake this project.

Today marks the second anniversary of the shooting and death of Lawrence Fobes “Larry” King. At the age of 15, Larry had been out of the closet for a third of his life. According to friends and classmates at E.O. Green Junior High School in Ventura County California, he was not only open about his identity as a gay person, but he was well known for his flamboyant attitude and his propensity to sometimes wear girl's clothing, accessories, and makeup.

In the days leading up to Valentine's Day, Larry asked a classmate, another boy, to “be his Valentine.” That boy was deeply angered by Larry's request, and in response he brought a handgun to school and put two bullets in Larry's head.

I have learned so many lessons from the life and death of Larry King. From the courage he displayed in embracing his identity as a gay person, I have learned to be more fearless in my acceptance of myself for who I am, in spite of what others might think or say. From the brevity of his life, I have learned to treat each day as it might be my last. From the hatred that led to his death, I have learned that it is the responsibility of each one of us to stand up and speak up for those around us who are oppressed because they are different and defend those who are powerless.

Larry King is nolonger with us on this earth, but he can, and must, live on as a part of our collective history. His story exists as one small thread woven into the rich tapestry that is the LGBT community. It is in Larry's memory that I dedicate the next year in which I will explore this history of our community and its people.

Join with me today as I remember Larry, and help me keep his spirit alive as an example for those of us still here today and the generations of young people who will come after us. Join with me for the next year, as I remember more of the heroes and villains who have brought us to the point where we are today.

Lawrence Fobes “Larry” King: rest in peace, my brother. In your memory, we carry on.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

LC--When the cat’s away…

I just posted to my Lundon Calling blog about the shenanigans that went down on that show while I was away in Dallas. How dare they lie about my age on air while I was in hostile territory! After all, my last initials are J.R!

When the cat’s away…:
"OK, so I’m a week behind on blogging, but I have a good excuse. While Ace and Lance were recording the 57th show, I was off in Dallas, TX at the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force’s annual LGBT leadership conference, Creating Change! It was an amazing conference! I met some pretty fantastic people: I met Matt Foreman, Mike Rogers and Kate Kendell all for the first time, not to mention bloggers like George Cole and Chris Bartlett! I also learned so much at the brilliant workshops, and–of course–loved seeing my blogging buddies Bil Browning, Jerame Davis, Adam Bink, Waymon Hudson and his hubby Anthony and Michael Crawford. Finally, I had two great roommates–Zack Ford and Adam Taylor. Both are great bloggers and social networkers and leaders in our movement.

Then I came back to listen to show 57. All I can say is its a doozy. And I better NEVER miss another recording because Nathan Treanor of Nathan OUTloud–show 57’s guest–actually had the NERVE to call me 40! Ana Guerriero–my fill in host, and a friend of mine going way back to 2000 when I started at Central Michigan University–had my back and suggested I’m just a youngin. Well Ace had it right–I’m actually 27… but don’t tell anybody because I tell everyone here I’m 25.

I’m loving this episode, though, because–even though Ace really gets angry off the top there–it was a lot of fun for the rest of the show. I wish I had been there!

Nathan, I can’t wait to have you on AGAIN, so I can give you what for for calling me 40! Why I oughtta… :-)"

Please make sure you listen to the show!

Gail Collins: Illinois' Political Culture Is Even Worse Than New York's

Gail Collins: Illinois' Political Culture Is Even Worse Than New York's:
"Illinois and New York both have such awful political cultures that it's tough to decide which state is the biggest loser, writes Gail Collins. Both states have governors who were forced out by scandals and whose successors are mired in controversy, although at least Eliot Spitzer isn't going to be appearing on Celebrity Apprentice, Collins writes in the New York Times..."

Oh, and it gets better!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Make an impact NOW!

The UP Center of Champaign County:
"Want to make an impact? Help the UP Center empower LGBT youth and families now! Give now.

“I’ve been trying to find a coming out support group for years in this community. I’m so glad this center is coming to Champaign so that I can finally find others to talk to with similar experiences and concerns.”

Many lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) people living in the Midwest share feelings of isolation and being scared to come out to family and friends, feeling they have nowhere to turn for assistance. In order to provide a central location for LGBTQ individuals to find support and resources, several dedicated members of the community have come together to form The Uniting Pride (UP) Center.

As with any new initiative that requires physical space, The UP Center’s biggest challenge is raising finances to open a facility large enough to meet the needs of the community. Now we need your help. We are asking you to give whatever you are able to make this initiative a success. Your tax-deductable donation will make The UP Center a reality.

We have created several meaningful donor levels for our initial campaign:

* Give $115 to represent the 115 local residents involved in our initial test survey.
* Give $82 for the 82% of residents who feel an urgent need for the Center.
* Give $40 because 40% of homeless youth identify as LGBT--something the UP Center will work to alleviate.
* Give what you can to help see the UP Center become a reality.

Your donation will help The UP Center to bring together critical programs and services for the LGBTQA community in Champaign County. We hope you will consider donating. The goal is to open The UP Center in March, 2010. Because of this, we are asking that donations be sent to The UP Center as soon as possible.

Donating is simple! You can make an online donation using our website Just click “Give” and you will be taken to a Paypal site to submit your donation.

If you have any questions or concerns please don’t hesitate to contact us. Thank you in advance for your support of and donation to The UP Center."

Want to learn more, or learn more of the statistics that inspire us in our work for the UP Center? visit

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Exclusive Pics: Lt. Dan Choi back in service? | The Bilerico Project

In case you haven't heard, Dan Choi got called back to his unit after Adml. Mullen's statement on DADT. Not sure if his Commander has actually had a change of heart or if the Government is just trying to silence the biggest voice against DADT we have. Either way, read the post bellow at and be the judge.

Exclusive Pics: Lt. Dan Choi back in service? | The Bilerico Project

PS, I need a favor from you, dear reader. Please share this widely: in email, facebook, twitter and so forth. We need to make people aware of what's going on. This is an important move here, and we all need to be very aware ahead of time if Dan Choi is suddenly forced to go quiet. Dan's answer to Jeff's questions are powerful, however. "Actions speak louder than words." By joining his unit he hopes to be a powerful force from the inside. This is the man who on CSPAN, MSNBC, CNN in October ripped the tape from his mouth on the National Equality March's stage in a grand gesture. If he's been called back in, why can't they end all discharges and call back ALL the soldiers who have been discharged? Please draw attention to this and make everyone aware.