Out of the Ashes

I want a better August for us than the past month of July had been, when Covid infection numbers were rising again and the country was burning even as I was writing this – there was rioting in protest against the incarceration of Jacob Zuma and unrest motivated by unemployment, by poor or absent service delivery and in anger at the failure of government… I’m afraid that fault lines and divisions are forming which will be difficult to reconcile, the conflict convulses our society, and we can be hostage to it for a considerable period of time. It is hard for me to not react and to not have hopes for something better than this, to not direct myself at our LGBTG people and to not convey my thoughts on a possible way out, even in the broadest terms possible and to not think of the interests of LGBTG people in all this. 

   I think we have to all commit ourselves to reform, of ourselves first of all. It would be good if we can reconcile and if we can recommit ourselves to the project of rebuilding, to pursuing our common good and to fostering the welfare of the nation, of all our people. The next step is to require suggestions and plans from everyone for practical and systemic solutions to the problems vexing us. Then we meet, maybe at a national problem-solving convention and perhaps form an inclusive task force and consider what we have and what is possible, and we don’t disperse until we have found ways forward. And in trying to find solutions and in facing and answering our challenges, we retain a conviction in our abilities as a people, faith in ourselves as a nation and we allow ourselves hope no matter what had happened and to be perpetually animated and driven by it to act and to seek something better for ourselves. 

   LGBTG people can help bring this about – at any level and in any situation and context, and not just by engaging in political, social and economic processes, by propagating reform by all our people and by all parties and groups and by calling for re-envisioning of our society and our country and ourselves as a people and a nation. And as we do so, we encourage belief in our abilities as a people and a nation, in our families and communities, at work or in whatever institutions and organizations we are involved with, even in everyday contact with people.

   This is asking a lot, I know, but in the process of reconciliation and reform, we can keep an eye on and protect and promote our interests as LGBTG PEOPLE, something we should always be committed to and should diligently pursue… Being free to be who we are as LGBTG people will always require this “work.” Be observant of anyone abusing our struggles as South Africans to promote anti-LGBTG sentiments, look after your own immediate safety and report incidents involving discrimination and violence against LGBTG people to LGBTG organizations and the media. May we become a happier nation and people than we are at the moment, may August become a month in which we grant ourselves a reprieve from strife and allow ourselves to reunite and make common cause again and to recommit ourselves to our country and people. And may you find inspiration in the following events from LGBTG history that occurred in the month of August, the good and the bad.

The Month of August in LGBTG History

August the 1stAs unrest occurs throughout South Africa, LGBTG people can’t wholly stand critical of other disaffected people resorting to rioting since our own struggles have included such actions and events – in August 1966, there was still fall-out from a riot by transgender people and drag queens at Compton’s Cafeteria in San Francisco in response to police harassment which provided seed for similar action elsewhere. Compton’s Cafeteria occurred three years before the seminal and much lauded Stonewall riots, but in 1967 such protest also happened at the Black Cat Tavern in L.A. In fact, the first such resistance in America seemed to date back as far as 1888 when William Dorsey Swan who was first to ever identify himself as ”a queen of drag” as well as to lead a queer resistance group, fought back against police at a drag ball that was raided in Washington D.C. Perhaps something we can consider in a local context during August is that such action is seemingly taken when people do have severe grievances which require systemic change and institutional reforms.   

August the 2ndAs late as this date in 1987, political leaders in the U.S.A. such as Arizona governor Evan Meecham were still saying students had no right to form gay and lesbian organizations on campuses since it “caused” homosexuality. 

August the 3rdSir Roger Casement was hanged for treason by Britain on this day in 1916 for an alleged Irish-German plot to cause an uprising in Dublin during World War 1. From across the world people pleaded for his life, until the British government revealed that Casement was gay according to his own diary and most of the pleas for Casement’s pardon ended abruptly and he was hanged. When Casement’s remains were returned to Dublin in 1965, he was afforded a state funeral.   

August the 4thOf the Chippeway tribe in America, Thomas A. McKenny wrote on this date in 1826 that the men-women of the tribe can emulate women so well that you can’t even distinguish they are men by their voices.

August the 5thAnd in Italy, Valentinian, Arcadius and Theodosius wrote to the Roman city vicar in the year 390 to inform him that they cannot tolerate any longer that Rome is being stained by “the contamination of male effeminacy…” This proves the scope of Theodosius’ biases and intolerance since he would also become the one who would try to finally suppress the ancient pagan religions of Rome five years later. 

August the 6thIran banned a leading newspaper for the second time on this day in 2007 for publishing an interview with an alleged lesbian activist. 

August the 7thIn 1992 on this day the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Indianapolis evicted an Aids prevention organization from their offices in a church-run facility because they distributed condoms. Singapore organized its first large LGBTG event at Sentosa’s Fantasy Island on this day in 2001. 

August the 8th New York police revealed on this day in 2005 that there had been almost 100 attacks on gays in the city in that summer. 

August the 9thThe Ottoman Empire allegedly decriminalized consensual homosexuality on this day in 1858. 

August the 10thThe Czech Republic had its first gay pride festival and thousands marched on this day in 2011.

August the 11thColumbia issued a protest at display of a painting in London which depicted South American revolutionary hero Simon Bolivar as a transgender person.

August the 12thUganda’s First Pride parade was held on this day in 2012, but police raid the event and detained participants but releases them later. Uganda has proved to be a flashpoint for the struggle for LGBTG rights till this day.  

August the 13thAustralia agrees to give refugee status to people who were persecuted for their sexual orientation in other countries in 1981.

August the 14th – Germany had some of the earliest initiatives and organizations for gay and lesbian rights and on this day in 1920 a publication of a group called the Community of the Special called for “Uranians” of the world to unite – “Uranians” having been an early twentieth century term for homosexuals. 

August the 15thSweden issued the first family-based visa for a same-sex partner’s spouse on this day in 2013. 

August the 16thIn New South Wales, Australia authorities announced that they will review the “homosexual panic” defense in murder trials to determine its effect on jury prejudice.

August the 17thA rainbow flag was launched into the upper stratosphere on this day in 2016 by a U.S. charity organization using a balloon to “make space LGBTQ-friendly.”

August the 18thFred Phelps’ anti-gay website godhatesfags.com is hacked and its name is changed to godlovesfags.com on this day in 1999.

August the 19thOn this day in 2005, a controversy erupted over the sexual orientation of Batman and Robin when DC Comics ordered a New York gallery to remove some watercolors which showed Batman and Robin in as variety of romantic poses. DC has never indicated that Batman and Robin are gay in their publications and films, but their alleged gayness was first reported in the book Seduction of the Innocent by Fredric Wertham in 1954 who claimed Batman stories are psychologically homosexual.  

August the 20thIn Iran, a private party is raided on this day in 1992 and 90 gay men were arrested. Homosexuality could be punished with death if testimony by four men could confirm it. 

August the 21st Co-founder of the Black Panthers, Huey Newton announced his support for gay rights on this day in 1970. Newton also said that homosexuals might be the original revolutionaries.

August the 22ndIn Mexico, the local leader of the Inquisition complained in a letter to his supervisors in Spain on this day in 1662 that the severe punishment of sodomy has been ineffective. 

August the 23rdThe Australian government acted to overturn Tasmania’s anti-sodomy law on this day in 1994. Tasmania was the last Australi8an state to penalize same sex relations.

August the 24th – On this day Mount Vesuvius erupted on this day in the year 79 and as it buried Pompeii, it also preserved the homoerotic frescos in its houses and gay graffiti on the walls, protecting them from Christian fanatics who would surely have destroyed it. When the frescoes were uncovered, they were thought to be so scandalous that they were hidden for a century in the National Museum in Naples, but they were finally made available for viewing by the public although minors viewing it had to be accompanied by an adult. 

August the 25thIran proscribed all same-sex acts according to Sharia law which it re-instituted on this day in 1982. Offenders could receive 100 lashes with a whip, or could be beheaded or stoned to death.

August the 26thWilliam Burroughs wrote to his friend Allen Ginsberg on this day in 1954 that he had fallen in love with a boy called Kiki, but Kiki was murdered by a jealous former boyfriend three years later. Burroughs’ writing is mostly homosexual insofar as its characters often indulge in graphic same-sex acts in books such as Naked Lunch and Place of Dead Roads in which a group of homosexual gunslingers plan to take over the United States and eventually the world.

August the 27thIn 1998 non this day at the 16th Annual Gay and Lesbian Medical Association Symposium in Chicago, attorney Aaron Greenberg argued that parents should have the right to abort fetuses or to have its genetic makeup altered if a gay gene is ever isolated. The writer of this collumn believes that such actions would remove one of humanity’s most productive populations and a crucial source of contributions and inputs to almost every aspect of human civilization and society as well as eliminate a source of diversity amongst us. A law should be passed to prevent alteration of fetuses’ genetic makeup which determines sexual orientation if such genes are ever identified. 

August the 28thSaint Augustine of Hippo died on thi8s day in the year 430. His writing in his work Confessions revealed his same-sex attraction. 

August the 29thOn this day in 1997, Jim McKnight discussed his research into the gay gene with the BBC – his research amongst family members of homosexuals indicated that homosexuality was an inherent trait. 

August the 30thEvelyn Hooker, an American psychologist revealed in a paper on this day in 1954 that research reveals that homosexuality is not a clinical entity and that homosexuals and homosexuals are the same. And OutRage staged a zap against Amnesty International on this day in 1991 on London for the latter’s failure to adopt gay and lesbian persons as prisoners of conscience. 

August the 31st – In Canada, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ruled in favor of prisons respecting sex reassignment on this day in 2001. And finally, this is the birthday of Roman Emperor Caligula who was born in the year 12 and who was bisexual. One version of how he died alleges he was kicked to death by a soldier with whom he had sex. 

Interfaith Calendar for August, 2021

August the 1st Lughnasadh (Harvest Moon) – Pagan and Wiccan.

Lammas – Christian.

August the 3rd Janmashtami (Birth of Lord Krishna) – Hindu.

Transfiguration of the Lord – Orthodox Christian.

August the 10th Hijra/Hijiri (New Year) – Islamic.

August the 15th Feast of the Assumption – Roman Catholic.

Dormition of the Theotokos – Orthodox Christian. 

August the 17th – 18th Shavout – Jewish. 

August the 18th Ashura – Islamic.

August the 22nd Raksha Bandhan – Hindu.

August the 29th Beheading of John the Baptist – Christian.

Mother of Antinous Matinoë’s Day – Religion of the Gay God Antinous.


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