Adriaan van den Berg
Give LGBTG history recognition and a place in your life by joining and following the example of LGBTG people and their supporters who already designate special days of remembrance of LGBTG history once every month throughout the year. There are no prescribed people, events, subjects or causes you are obliged commemorate, choose what is relevant to yourself, it must just be LGBTG related.
Here in South Africa, murdered lesbian activists Noxolo Nogwaza and Eude Simelane are remembered and memorialized for their lives and deaths and the cause of lesbians facing and fighting discrimination and corrective rape are commemorated in April (both Nogwaza and Simelane were murdered in April) and others like them like Ncumisa Mzamelo are honored along with them. There are people like the more than 900 gay boys who were forced into compulsory military service in the former Apartheid SADF who were tortured, chemically castrated and subjected to gender reassignment procedures which were left incomplete, left on their own to fend for themselves, some had committed suicide – it was the biggest medical human rights abuse since the Nazi atrocities of WWII. There are pioneer gay activists like Simon Nkoli and the Delmas treason trial to remember.
But you are not confined to South Africa in finding subjects and reasons to celebrate or commemorate. This month many LGBTG groups and people will commemorate Alexander the Great on the occasion of his death on the 10th of June, or Alan Turing on the 7th – LGBTG people will remember and venerate the Macedonian conqueror of antiquity for his love of his male friend Hephaestion and for the eunuch Bagoas and the latter-day Englishman Turing for having been homosexual and for having been hounded and punished for it till he took his own life despite having been instrumental in development of humanity’s primary tool of the computer and having played a key role in keeping the world free in World War II by cracking Nazi encryption. At Oxford and Cambridge as well as at some South African universities, LGBTG art students have celebrated Johann Winckelmann, an influential gay art historian known as the “Father of Archaeology” in June.
People who designate a handful days of the year this way as occasions for commemorating something from LGBTG history say they feel it enriches their lives, that their awareness has increased and that their self-esteem and pride have been raised by it. They say it also spices up the annual calendar and gives them dates to look forward to and one day every month to make something unusual and special of throughout the year. Of the people, events and causes they celebrate, they also say it has come to help them get know and understand LGBTG history better. If you decide and also wish to celebrate LGBTG history during the month ahead, this column and Exit can provide you with ideas and options since it offers memorable entries from LGBTG history for every day of the month. And with that, here are the entries and the Interfaith Calendar for the month of June.
The Month of June in LGBTG History
June 1st – On this day in 2014, President Barack Obama declared June LGBT Pride Month and called upon the American people to eliminate prejudice wherever it exists. Dedicating days to LGBTG people do not explicitly recognize the past and the role governments and authorities have played in persecuting LGBTG people, it is a nominal tribute and does not commemorate and memorialize those LGBTG people who had suffered and who had paid the highest price for who they were, for being LGBTG. We remember those who had been persecuted for being gay and they are indeed many – on this same date, the 1st of June in 1880, the US Census found no less than 63 men incarcerated in 22 states in the USA for “crimes against nature” which meant they had been jailed for homosexual acts. There are virtually no monuments and memorials to such LGBTG people – in this column for June, you will specifically encounter entries of pogroms, persecutions, putsches and purges in which homosexuals and lesbians were subject to cruelty and abuse and murdered in mass numbers who remain unacknowledged. Present day governments should take responsibility for their predecessors and should fund LGBTG memorials and monuments – we have the camps like Auschwitz which are museums and memorials, but we need to have local LGBTG historic monuments and memorials, sacred spaces and places of mourning.
June 2nd – Leo Varadkar who is the gay son of an Indian immigrant, becomes the Prime Minister of Ireland on this day in 2017. And on this day in 2006, Danish parliament allowed lesbians to access artificial insemination which had been prohibited since 1997.
June 3rd – This is a good day to remember and pay tribute to the Sacred Band of Thebes, the 300 homosexual lovers who formed an army in the 4th century BC and who remained undefeated until they were slaughtered by a much larger and more numerous force under Phillip of Macedon and his son Alexander. The 3rd of June is suitable since on this day in 1818, the stone Lion of Chaeronea which was erected over the grave of the Sacred Band in tribute to them was rediscovered by British architect George Ledwell Taylor. Plutarch’s Life of Pelopidas contains the best account of the Sacred Band and since its discovery the Lion of Chaeronea has become a site of tourism and of pilgrimage for LGTG people.
June 4th – Angelina Jolie was born on this day in 1979 and became a bisexual role model. A cause associated with this date: LGBTG self-defense: On June the 4th in Toronto Canada in 1979, the Gay Liberation Union established what might have been the very first gay self-defense course.
June 5th – In 1981 on this date, HIV/AIDS was first mentioned in print by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in one of its reports. And actor Rock Hudson also became the first celebrity to be diagnosed with HIV on this day in 1984, but he would only publicly announce it a year later.
June 6th – Britain, Jeremy Bentham died on this day. He was an English philosopher, jurist and social reformer who wrote the first known argument for homosexual law reform.
June 7th – We both celebrate the birth and lament the tragic passing of Alan Turing in June. The father of theoretical computer science and artificial intelligence was a gay man and was also crucial in defeating the Nazis by cracking their encryption codes in WWII. This, the 7th of June 1954 was the occasion of Turing’s suicide, 18 months after being sentenced to either two years in prison or chemical castration for a year for his homosexuality. In 2009, the British Prime Minister made an apology for “the appalling way Turing was treated” and the British Queen also woke up to this particular case of injustice and granted him a posthumous pardon in 2013.
June 8th – The quest for same sex marriages to be legally recognized has a distinct place in our history. It has been a long and painful struggle at the center of which was the love of the couples who were trying to get their unions recognized. The case of Marcela Gracia Ibeas and Elisa Sanchez Loriga was tragic and exemplary of the plight same-sex couples once had to endure. The Spanish couple was wed by a parish priest with Elisa using a male identity, but newspapers exposed them resulting in both losing their jobs, being excommunicated and having a warrant for their arrest issued against them. The priest requested a doctor to examine Mario and the doctor issued his verdict and Mario consequently tried to pass as a hermaphrodite. The marriage was not voided, but the couple fled to Portugal where they were tried, imprisoned and later released. They were then said to have fled to Argentina after the Spanish government sought their extradition from Portugal. What became of them is unknown. Same-sex marriages became legal in Spain in 2005.
June 9th – So much of our struggle for LGBTG rights have been centered in America and that country has also been an arena for the quest for transgender rights. A milestone in the transgender struggle in America was the appearance of Time magazine on this day in 2014 with a feature article titled “The Transgender Tipping Point: America’s Next Civil Rights Frontier” by Katy Steinmetz and with Laverne Cox on the cover – the first transgender person to be featured on the cover. Cox is an actress who got recognized for her role as Sophia Burset in the Netflix television series Orange is the New Black for which she was nominated for a Prime Time Emmy Award in the acting category.
June 10th – Spain again and on this day in 1979 a policeman shot and killed a gay man in a bar in Renteria in the Basque country in the city of San Sebastian. A Basque Gay Liberation organization, EHGAM allies itself with Basque nationalists and orchestrates a general strike and protest rallies and a march through San Sebastian by EHGAM lesbian and gay supporters. Today was also the death of Alexander the Great.
June 11th – Iceland approved same sex marriages on this day in 2010, the ninth country to approve of same-sex marriages. South Africa was the fifth country to do so and the first in Africa.
June 12th – In 1730 there occurred a purge of homosexuals in the Netherlands, five men were hanged for sodomy and their bodies were thrown into the seas at Scheveningen. It was a true pogrom as the Jews had experienced when a concerted assault is made upon a community and its members are driven out and persecuted. Dutch homosexuals fled to England and the English press reported these purges in which hundreds were banished or killed. The 12th of June is also the commemoration of the attack by an ISIS sympathizer on the Pulse Night Club, a gay club in Orlando, Florida in 2016 in which 49 people were killed and 53 were wounded.
June 13th – The German Reichstag considered a petition on this day in 1898 by Magnus Hirschfeld supported by various influential figures calling for Paragraph 175 which proscribes homosexual acts to be revoked, but only one party supports it. The Reichstag opposes any reform and criminalizes homosexuality.
June 14th – Purges and pogroms of homosexual and lesbian and transgender people are perhaps the most terrifying and horrific forms of abuse and persecutions of our people – this is the second historical instance of a purge reported in this month’s column: It occurred in Spain in 1519 when Friar Luis Castelloli sermonized on this day that the Plague was God’s wrath for sodomy – of course mobs started hunting gay men and burning them.
June 15th – Finland’s Parliament votes with a large majority to lower the age of consent for homosexual acts from 18 to 16 years in step with the law on heterosexual acts on this day in 1998. And the revolution in LGBTG law reform across the world reaches Denmark on this day in 2012 which makes it the eleventh country to legalize same-sex marriages. Some people think we missed the bus on our opportunity to have homosexual unions recognized as unique, to have designated a special term for such unions between two men and could have had our own ceremonies in which we would rather say “I will fight for you” than “I do.”
Is this hypocrisy? The United Methodist Church reaffirmed its stance against “homosexual practice” while affirming the “sacred worth” of all individuals – that was on this day, June 15th in 2006. When I visited their website this month, things were still pending and there was just an admission that homosexuality is still a contentious affair for the Church.
June 16th – Youth Day in South Africa and recalling the Soweto uprisings of 1976 which was led by young people and heralded a new phase of struggle against Apartheid.
June 17th – Two former big closet cases of show business are associated with this date: Barry Manilow who married his lover and waited till it was exposed in 2017 before admitting to being homosexual was born on 17 June in 1943. And on the 17th of June, 1959, a London court awarded damages to Liberace against the London Daily Mirror for the newspaper’s suggestion that the pianist was a homosexual. Liberace made a career and a farce out of denying his sexual orientation despite a flamboyantly gay stage personality and gay private life, but also denying his HIV status till the end.
June 18th – Raymond Radiquet, a gay French author whose lover and mentor was Jean Cocteau was born on this day in 1903. He lived only till he was twenty years old when he died of typhoid fever, but he wrote the classic novel “The Devil in the Flesh” at age fifteen and “Count Orgel’s Ball” when he was nineteen.
June 19th – King James 1 was born today in 1566 and gave his name to an version of the Bible. But why the King deserves mention here is the contention of some of his biographers that the Duke of Lennox, the Earl of Somerset and the Duke of Buckingham were the King’s lovers – a fact seemingly born out by the discovery of a hidden passage that connected the King and Buckingham’s bedchambers during restorations at Apethorpe Hall in 2004.
And called “the orator of mankind”, “citoyen de l’humanité” and “a personal enemy of god”, Anarcharsis Cloots, a Prussian nobleman who participated in the French Revolution, led 36 men to pledge allegiance to the Declaration of the Rights of Man on this day in 1790. It was his belief that there should be no sexual offences other than rape, adultery, seduction and abduction.
June 20th – Former US President George Bush might recently have seemed sensible in his criticizing Donald Trump, but the ex-President declined an invitation on this day in 1990 to attend the 6th International Conference on AIDS and sponsored a good old fundraiser for the famously homophobic Jesse Helms instead. Let the remembrance of a date not be despoiled by such odious connivance with bigots by the former leader of America, June the 20th may rather be remembered as the day and date on which the world’s largest archive of material by and about lesbians were founded in 1974: The Lesbian Herstory Archives located at Park Slope, Brooklyn, New York.
June 21st – In a working-class suburb of Havana in 2001, the first gay wedding in Cuba was held on this day in 2001. People in San Miguel del Padrón climbed on the roofs to see the wedding of two couples held at a local recreation center.
June 22nd – This date holds a cautionary reminder of the power garnered by high-profile homophobes and the kind of events they can inspire: In the USA Anita Bryant conducted a hate campaign against homosexuality in concert with politicians like Senator John Briggs, or more specifically “a campaign of hate, bigotry, ignorance, fear, intimidation and prejudice” – that was according to the parents of Robert Hillsborough who were stabbed to death by homophobes shouting tributes to Anita Bryant on this day in 1977.
The 22nd of June should also be a good day to celebrate enlightened Judaism which does not promote and endorse homophobia. Ultra-Orthodox zealots stand in opposition to it and are serious opponents of LGBTG rights in Israel – like the ultra-Orthodox Haredi sect who mobilize in opposition to Gay Pride events as they did at the Jerusalem Pride Parade of the 22nd of June, 2007 when they armed themselves with eggs and bags of excrement to hurl at paradegoers.
Did mourning of gay icon and American actress Judy Garland after her overdose of barbiturates on this day in 1969 contribute towards the seminal Stonewall Riots? Some believe so.
June 23rd – Alan Turing’s birthday in 1912 near London. On this day in 1948, Denmark’s first gay society, F-48 was formed. Alex Axgil who founded F-48 was also the partner of Eigil Axgil and they became the first gay couple to enter into a registered partnership in the world after Denmark legalized same-sex partnership registration in 1989 which Alex and Eigil helped bring about.
June 24th – Australia is seen as a country with liberal attitudes a large LGBTG community, but the tradition of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras had its roots in a gay rights march on this date in 1978 in which two thousand people participated whose right to march was revoked by the police who also arrested some marchers while some were also outed in the newspapers. The first Gay Pride march in Asia took place in the Philippines on the 24th of June, 1994.
June 25th – June’s LGBTG history dates have so far included other events also pertaining to religion or to same-sex unions or gay marriages, but certainly one of the most lamentably memorable historical events both religious of nature as well as concerning homosexual unions was the Vatican’s statement issued on this date in 1970 in which it confirmed it remained dedicated to the view that homosexual unions were a “moral aberration that cannot be approved by human conscience.”
June 26th – On this day in 1892, US newspapers reported the murder of 17-year old Freda Ward by her lesbian lover, 19-year old Alice Mitchell, who had vowed to never separate from one another, but when Ward’s family refused to allow Mitchell to have contact with her, Mitchell slashed Ward’s throat on a train. It became some of the first instances in which lesbianism was featured in the US media, but the case was considered proof of the risk and dark passion typically associated with same-sex love. The case inspired depictions in the popular literature of the era of lesbians as manly and as killers.
June 27t – Russia and the pioneer anarchist, activist and early critic of discrimination against homosexuals and lesbians, Emma Goldman was born there on this day in 1869 and later became the only woman to agitate for gay and lesbian rights in America during the first half of the 20th century.
Iceland’s Parliament approved parenting equality on this day in 2006. Four years later, in 2010, Iceland legalized same-sex marriages while a year later, on this day in Brazil, a Sao Paolo State Judge converted the first same-sex union into a same-sex marriage.
June 28th – Another purge in this month’s review of the month of June in LGBTG history is the so-called Night of the Long Knives on this day in 1934 when Adolf Hitler moved against the SA or Brown Shirts faction amongst the Nazis and persecuted its leader Ernst Rohm who was accused of having formed a subversive “homosexual clique.” Rohm paid with his life along with almost 300 other Nazi Party members who were arrested and murdered. It was a complete betrayal by Hitler of the SA Brown Shirts and Rohm after he and the SA had played a major role in the ascendency of the Nazis. It has to be said that Hitler’s own apprehension at his perceived peculiarities and inadequacies and his dread that he might be associated with and suspected of being homosexual himself probably motivated him to initiate the Long Knives purge. Finally, on that same day of the purge the law mentioned earlier called Paragraph 175 was also expanded to include various punishments of same sex-acts, after which arrests for homosexual offences peaked.
On June 28th, 1982, Columbia’s first Pride parade took place. Thirty two people marched and were attended by a hundred police officers.
June 29th – Same-sex relations for consenting adults were decriminalized in Ireland on this day in 1993 and the age of consent for all sexual activities was made 17. In Croatia, the first Pride parade took place in Zagreb on this day in 2002.
Thomas Beatie, a transman gave birth on this day in 2008. Beatie became known as “The Pregnant Man” after undergoing gender reassignment surgery and who was then artificially inseminated because his wife Nancy was infertile. It became the first recorded case in which a documented legal male gave birth within a traditional marriage to a woman and it also became the first case in which a court challenged a marriage in which the husband gave birth.
June 30th – In 1990 a wreath was laid on this day at the London Cenotaph in memory of gays killed during the Holocaust, which are estimated at 250 000 gay men and an unknown number of lesbians. Some of the Nazi concentration camps have been preserved and serve as memorials and museums to the memory of these gay and lesbian victims of the Holocaust, but there are not monuments and memorials specifically dedicated to the memory of these gay and lesbian people who paid the highest price.
June 3rd – Corpus Christi – Catholic Christian.
– Rediscovery of the Stone Lion of Chaeronea and the Sacred Band’s Remains –
Antinoan / Faith of Antinous.
June 9th – St. Columba of Iona – Celtic Christian.
June 10th and 11th – Alexander the Great (Death of) – Antinoan.
June 11th – Sacred Heart of Jesus – Catholic Christian.
J7une 15th – Saint Vladimir Day – Christian.
June 16th – Guru Arjan Martyrdom – Sikh.
June 19th – New Church Day – Swedenborgian Christian.
June 20th – Pentecost – Orthodox Christian.
June 21st – World Humanist Day – Materialism.
June 22nd – First Nations Day – Canadian Native People.
` Litha – Yule – Wicca / Neo-Pagan Northern and Southern Hemispheres.
June 24th – Saint John the Baptist – Christian.
June 29th – Feast Day of St. Peter and St. Paul – Christian