Sunday, March 7, 2010

This week in LGBT history: March 7th-13th

"I've grown up with a lot of people and I'm good friends with a lot of people who are gay and I think they should have the rights all people should, and I'm not going to swear that they do," ~10 year old Arkansas 5th grader Will Phillips, who refused to recite the Pledge of Allegiance in solidarity with the LGBT community's fight for equality.

"I believe that whatever history I'm a part of, I'm responsible for. If I feel something is unjust or unequal, I feel a responsibility to do something about i
t." ~ 23 year old Hudson Taylor, a straight college wrestler who, confidently calls himself a feminist and allies himself with the cause of LGBT equality.

When a 23 year old straight college student and a 5th grader from Arkansas can stand up and take responsibility for advancing the cause of equality, it is time for all of us to look in the mirror and think hard about what we are individually doing to, in the words of Hudson Taylor, take responsibility for the history we are a part of.

When studying LGBT history, it is important to remember that it is more than just dates of marches, court decisions, legislative votes, and birthdays of people we've never met. The history we study tells us where we came from and points us in the direction we need to go. It is the history that we live and we make that will tell future generations of LGBT people whether we had the courage of our forefathers and foremothers to leave the world a better place for those who come after us.

Sunday, March 7th: on this day in 1811 Ensign John Hepburn and drummer Thomas White were executed in England on charges of sodomy stemming from the investigation of the Vere Street Coterie.


Monday, March 8th: on this date in 1929, gay American Poet Jonathan Williams was born. His prolific publications included a collection of poems, essays, and photographs entitled Blackbird Dust.


Tuesday, March 9th: on this date in 1989, the controversial American photographer Robert Mapplethorpe died. Mapplethorpe's treatment of extreme subjects became an easy target for conservative politicians who wanted to eliminate public funding for the arts and exploit anti-gay prejudices and stereotypes in the process.



Wednesday, March 10th: on this date in 1867, feminist, social reformer, and public health nurse Lillian Wald was born.

Thursday, March 11th: on this date in 1976, West Virginia decriminalized Sodomy.

Friday, March 12th: on this date in 1922, bisexual "Beat Generation" poet Jack Kerouac was born. Kerouac was known for many works, including the masterpiece, "On the Road."



Saturday, March 13th: on this date in 1906, American feminist, abolitionist, and suffragist Susan B. Anthony died. Anthony's encyclopedia entry on GLBTQ.com has an excellent discussion the speculation about her many intimate relationships with fellow female social reform activists.

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