ON THIS QUEER DAY – MARCH 2021

By Adriaan van den Berg

 

Greetings and salutations! We are well into the new year and we are forging ahead. Exit brings you On This Queer Day, events and people from LGBTG history to inspire you. And without further ado, let’s turn to and look at the month of March in LGBTG history.

March 1st There were convictions for both male-to-male sodomy as well as for lesbian activity in the Plymouth colony on this date during the decade of the 1640s: On this day in 1642 a case of sodomy was heard against Edward Michell and Edward Preston, while on this day in 1649, the earliest conviction for lesbian activity was made against Sarah White Norman and Mary Vincent Hammon. A neighbour, Richard Berry accused the two women and a man but later withdrew the accusation of sodomy against the man, Teage Jones, though his charge against Sarah White Norman remained. Berry himself would later be prosecuted for homosexuality. And on this day in 2011, the President of Portugal signed the most progressive gender identity law in the world which simplified the process of sex and name changes. 

March 2ndWisconsin became the first US state to outlaw discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation on this day in 1982.

March 3rdDon Kilfener was born on this day in 1928. He founded multiple gay organisations including Radical Faeries, the LA Community Services Centre (now the Los Angeles LGBTG Centre) and the Van Ness Recovery House.

March 4th The word “lesbian” is heard for the first time in the Hollywood movie The Group released on this day in 1966. It is an ensemble film directed by Sidney Lumet was based on the novel of the same name by Mary McCarthy and the film is about eight females at a Vassar-like college from 1933 till 1940. 

March 5th On this day in 2006, Ang Lee wins the academy award for Best Director for the film Brokeback Mountain. The film chronicles the relationship between two cowboys over several decades. The film was adopted from the 1997 short story by the same title by Annie Proulx.

March 6th Michelangelo Buonaroti was born on this day in 1475 (d. 18 February, 1564) in Caprese. He would come to sculpt the David statue and paint the Sistine Chapel’s ceiling.      

March 7th Police once again attempted to evict gay youths from the sewers of New Kingston, Jamaica on this day in 2014, but a judge ruled that the sewers were a public place and since the youths had nowhere to go, they could stay. 

March 8th Pat Califa was born on this day in 1954. Califa is a bisexual trans man and the author of non-fiction essays about sexuality and erotic fiction and poetry. Prior to transitioning, Califa was identified as a lesbian. His writing explores sexual and gender identity and have included lesbian erotica and works about BDSM subculture.

March 9th Gay artist Robert Mapplethorpe (b. November 4, 1946) died on this day in 1989 of Aids in Boston. Mapplethorpe was well known as a photographer of the BDSM subculture. He was also famous for photographs of celebrities, male and female nudes and flowers. His work late became the centre of a controversy about arts funding in the USA.

March 10th International Women’s Day in Toronto, Canada includes a call for the end of harassment of lesbians on this day in 1979, the first time lesbian rights become an upfront issue.

March 11th The first transgender person, Reuben Zellman, is accepted into the Reform Judaism  Seminary in Cincinnati, Ohio on this day in 2003. Rabbi Zellman is now the assistant rabbi and music director of Congregation Beth-El in Berkley, California. 

March 12th Vaslav Nijinski (d. 8 April, 1950) was born on this day in 1890 in Kiev. He was a ballet dancer and choreographer and is regarded as the greatest dancer of the early twentieth century. Nijinski’s relationship with choreographer Diaghilev, his marriage and eventual madness made him an icon of the arts. 

March 13th Susan B. Anthony (b. February 15, 1820) died on this day in 1906. Anthony was an abolitionist, a teacher and education reformer, a labour activist, a temperance worker, a feminist and a suffragette. She never married and was believed to have had three relationships with women in her life.

March 14th Almost 2000 people march on the New York state capitol to p0rotest anti-gay and anti-lesbian laws and policies. 

March 15th “Men-corruptors” are blamed for the earthquake and plague in Constantinople by the Emperor of the Byzantine Empire on this day in the year 559.

March 16th On this day in 1680, legislators in New Hampshire pass the colony’s first capital laws copied almost word by word from the Plymouth laws of 1671 – these laws dictate the death penalty for any man who shall lie with another unless he had been forced or was less than fourteen years of age.

March 17th The White House reveals that President Reagan had undergone Aids testing on this day in 1987 to allay fears that he may have contracted the virus from blood transfusions after the assassination attempt on him by John Hinckley.

March 18th Idaho decriminalises gay sex acts on this day in 1971. However, the laws are repealed before they can take effect due to pressure from conservative political groups. 

March 19th The American FDA approves AZT as the first drug approved for the treatment of HIV/Aids on this day in 1987. 

March 20th The Arkansas Sate House of Representatives passed a resolution in praise of Anita Bryant and her anti-gay and anti-lesbian rights campaign on this day in 1977.

March 21st South African activist and film director Abdurrazack “Zackie” Achmat was born on this day in 1962. He was the co-founder of the Treatment Action Campaign and is known worldwide for his activism on behalf of people with HIV/Aids in South Africa. He is currently a Board member and Co-director of Ndifuna Ukwazi (Dare to Know), an organisation that aims to build and support social justice organisations and leaders, and is the Chairperson of Equal Education. Achmat also co-founded the National Coalition for Gay and Lesbian Equity in 1994 and ensured protection for gay and lesbian rights in the South African Constitution.

March 22nd – The New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that transsexual people may marry based on their reassigned sex on this day in 1976. 

March 23rd On this day in 1988, Israel decriminalised same-sex acts between consenting adults. 

March 24thA military coup in Argentina on this day in 1976 leads to seven years of brutal military dictatorship during which gay gathering places are frequently raided and more than 400 gay men are “disappeared.”

March 25th1985 was a pivotal year for the Oscars: On this day in 1985 Vanessa Redgrave became the first woman to be nominated for Best Actress playing a lesbian role in The Bostonians, The Times of Harvey Milk won Best Documentary and became the first documentary on a gay subject to do so – nearly a billion viewers hear director Richard Schmeichen express thanks to his partner in life, John Wright. 

March 26th The first official meeting of people brought together to discuss gay and lesbian issues is held in the White House on this day in 1997 – under the Bill Clinton presidency.

March 27thA group of resistance activists led by a gay man, Willem Arondeus (b. 22 August 1894 – d. 1 July 1843), dress up as German soldiers and infiltrate a citizen registration centre and destroy it on this day in 1943, hindering the German-Nazi effort to identify Dutch Jews. The attack inspires others in the Netherlands. Arondeurs was captured and was executed soon after his arrest. 

March 28th Toronto’s police chief and police association president both issue statements on this day in 1979 apologising for an anti-gay article that appeared in the police association newspaper. 

March 29th The Los Angeles Times comes out in favour of gay rights and urges the U.S. Supreme Court to take a stand on more gay-related issues on this day in 1985. 

March 30th The first performance of the Alvin Ailey American Dance theatre occurred on this day in 1958 – founded by gay activist Alvin Ailey (b. January 5, 1931 – d. December 1, 1989) credited with popularising modern dance. 

March 31stThe Teletubbies premiered on this day in 1997 – some claimed Tinky was a gay role model with his triangle icon. Southern Baptist televangelist Jerry Falwell denounced Tinky in 1999. 

Interfaith Calendar for March, 2021:

March 1st – St. David of Wales – Christian

March 2nd till 20th – Nineteen Day Fast – Baha’i

March 7th – Meatfare Sunday – Orthodox Christian

March 10th – Lailat al Miraj – Islam

March 12th – Orthodox Sunday – Orthodox Christian

March 12th – Maha Shivaratri – Hindu

March 14th _ Cheesefare Sunday – Orthodox Christian

March 15th – Clean Monday (Great Lent Begins) – Orthodox Christian

March 17th – St. Patrick’s Day – Christian

March 18 – Waqf al Arafa – Islam

March 21 – Norooz – Persian / Zoroastrian

March 21st – Naw-Ruz (New Year) – Baha’i

March 21st – Ostara – Mabon – Wicca / Neo Pagan 

March 21st – Orthodox Sunday – Orthodox Christian

March 25th – Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin – Catholic Christian 

March 25th – MahavirJayanti – Jain

March 26 – Khordad Sal (Zoroastrian)

March 28th – Lailat al Bara’ah – Islam

March 28th – Lord’s Evening Meal – Jehova’s Witnesses

March 28th – Magha Puja Day – Buddhist

March 28th – Pesach – Jewish

March 28th – Palm Sunday – Christian 

March 29th – Holi – Hindu

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