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Saturday, 15 December 2012

December 15th in Queer History

Born this day

Vida Dutton Scudder (1861 – 1954)  Indian / US
Educator, writer, and welfare activist in the social gospel movement, who was one of the most prominent lesbian authors of her time. Her career combined academic pursuits, social activism, and religious fervour.

In 1895 she became one of the first two American women admitted to graduate study at Oxford university, and later taught at Wellesley College, where she was a full professor from 1910.

Her religious beliefs led her to a commitment to social activism. In 1888, Scudder joined the Companions of the Holy Cross, a group of Episcopalian women dedicated to intercessionary prayer and social reconciliation. Later, she worked constantly for trade union rights and socialism. She is recognized as a saint by the Episcopal Church (USA), with a feast day on October 10.

From 1919 until her death, Scudder was in a lesbian relationship with Florence Converse.

W Dorr Legg (1904 – 1994) US
A landscape architect and one of the founders of the United States gay rights movement, then called the homophile movement. In 1958, he sued the US Post Office for the right to distribute the Mattachine's journal through the mail. In 2011 the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association announced that Legg would be inducted into its hall of fame.

Muriel Rukeyser (1913 –  1980) US
poet and political activist, best known for her poems about equality, feminism, social justice, and Judaism. Her poetry, which breaks the silence of many aspects of female experience, has been enormously important to many feminist and lesbian readers.

Details of Rukeyser's personal life remain a matter of speculation. However, in 1978, she accepted an invitation to participate in a Lesbian Poetry Reading at the annual conference of the Modern Language Association

Tom Ammiano (1941 – )  US
Politician and LGBT rights activist from San Francisco, California. Ammiano is a Democrat who has served as a member of the California State Assembly since 2008, representing the 13th district. He had previously been a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and had mounted an unsuccessful bid for mayor of San Francisco in 1999.

Ammiano was in a 16-year domestic partnership with a fellow schoolteacher, Tim Curbo, who died of complications from AIDS in 1994. He has one daughter and is now a grandfather. Aside from his teaching and political careers, Ammiano has been a stand-up comedian since 1980. Ammiano portrayed himself in the 2008 film Milk.

Alfredo Ormando (1958 –  1998) Italian
On 13 January 1998 he set himself on fire in Saint Peter's Square in Rome to protest the attitudes and policies of the Roman Catholic Church regarding homosexual Christians. After two policemen put out the flames, he was brought to Sant'Eugenio hospital in critical condition. He died there 11 days later.

Ormando was one of eight children from an impoverished family, who had been struggling to make a success of a writing career, after spending two years in a seminary. He had been suffering from serious depression, which clearly had multiple causes. After his death, the Vatican denied that this had anything to do with the Church or homosexuality. Through its spokesperson, Father Ciro Benedettini, the Church downplayed the significance of the act

Donna Brazile (1959 –  ) US
Author, professor, and political analyst affiliated with the Democratic Party. She was the first African American to direct a major presidential campaign, for Al Gore in 2000. Brazile briefly served as interim Chair of the Democratic National Committee in the spring of 2011.

David N Cicilline (1961 – )  US
Democratic Party U.S. Representative for Rhode Island's 1st congressional district. He is formerly the Mayor of Providence, Rhode Island, and was the first openly gay mayor of a U.S. state capital.

Will Wikle (1978 – ) US
Registered nurse and a reality television participant best known for his appearance in the fifth American season of Big Brother.

Died this day

Charles Laughton (1899 - 1962 ) UK/US 
English-American stage and film actor, screenwriter, producer and director. Although he married Elsa Lanchester in 1929, Laughton's homosexuality reportedly has been corroborated by several of his contemporaries and is generally accepted by Hollywood historians

Serge Lifar (1905 - 1986 ) Russian 
French ballet dancer and choreographer of Ukrainian origin, famous as one of the greatest male ballet dancers of the 20th century.

Floris Michiels van Kessenich (1957 - 1991 ) Dutch

Jack Robinson (1928 - 1997 ) US 
Photographer and stained glass designer. Robinson was freelance photographer for Vogue and The New York Times from the 1950s to the early 1970s before he left New York to return home to the American South and pursue a career as a stained glass designer.

Christopher Hitchens (1949 – 2011 ) UK
English American author, essayist and journalist,who was a staple of talk shows and lecture circuits and in 2005 was voted the world's fifth top public intellectual in a Prospect/Foreign Policy poll.Identified as a champion of the "New Atheism" movement, Hitchens described himself as an antitheist and a believer in the philosophical values of the Enlightenment.
As a student, he was known to be bisexual, and had relationships with two (unidentified) future cabinet ministers. In later life, he was married and primarily straight, but admitted to occasional "relapses".

Sodomy in history, December 15 th

1939 — A New York trial court judge says that to be convicted of sodomy, one must be "homosexually inclined" and states that "the natural sex instinct is for the opposite sex."

1971 — A California appellate court overturns the oral copulation conviction of a man for sex in a restroom. It says his arrest violated the "spirit" of a law banning two-way mirrors in restrooms.

1980 — The Massachusetts Supreme Court overturns "lewd and lascivious conduct" convictions for solicitations at a rest stop.


On this gay day

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