October, spring, summer and Halloween, all upon us as October dawns… And October is Mental Awareness Month and Breast Cancer Awareness Month as well as Social Development Month amongst other things in South Africa. And what follows is what happened during Octobers past in and from our LGBTGQ history…
October 1st – Cardinal Ratzinger’s “Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on The Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons” was issued on this first day of October 1986 and it stated that the Catholic Church’s doctrinal views of the “homosexual inclination” was that it was a “tendency towards an intrinsic moral evil” and that it was an “objective disorder.” The letter also reserved judgement for those Catholics who it saw as having been guilty of “an overly benign interpretation of the homosexual condition.” Let this date not be marked by infamy alone since also on the first of October, although just in 1989, after having been together for forty years, Axil and Eigil Axgil became the first gay couple to be legally married in Denmark.
October 2nd – On this second day of October, in 1849, explorer Fredrick Forbes arrived in the Kingdom of Dahomey in Benin, Africa, where he observed Amazon warriors, female soldiers of which there had existed some at different times on various continents. The Dahomean state was likewise famed for its corps of female soldiers who may have originally been formed by female hunting teams at court, but their ranks were also made up of criminals who had chosen the army over death sentences handed down to them.
October 3rd – This was the day on which bisexual singer Janis Joplan had died in 1970. It was also the day in 1997 on which the murderer of gay scientist Dr. Keith Runcorn was sentenced to from twenty-five years till life in prison. His murderer, Paul Bradfort Cain, had claimed he had been the victim because Runcorn had made a pass at him, but the judge disagreed and found him to have been someone “callous and cruel” and sent him down for it.
October 4th – Germany elected its first gay member of parliament, Herbert Rusche, a member of the Green Party, on this day 1985. And Puerto Rican boxer Orlando Cruz came out as gay on this day in 2012.
October 5th – The Spanish conquistador Vasco Nunez de Balboa discovered a community of cross-dressing males in present-day Panama on this day in October in 1513 and fed at least 40 of them to his dogs! Since then, we have come to learn that not even 40 Balboas is worth one crossdressing man, true or what darlings? The Chevalier de’ Eon, a spy and a soldier who was born on this day in 1726, lived his first 49 years as a man and her last 33 years as a woman… And something tells me Balboa would not have survived an encounter with the like of the Chevalier de’ Eon.
October 6th – On this day in 1791, France became the first country to decriminalize homosexual acts. And the well-known Metropolitan Community Church was founded on this day in 1968 by Rev. Troy Perry in the lounge of his home in LA. Decades later, his church had become known for outreach to the LGBTG community and for serving as the model for other LGBTG oriented churches even in South Africa.
October 7th – Dykes in the Street sponsored by Lesbians Against the Right and held on this day in 1981, became the first lesbian pride parade in the history of Toronto, Canada. And on this date in 1987, a US Justice Department report declared that gays, lesbians and bisexuals were most frequently the victims of hate crimes.
October 8th – The Daughters of Bilits, a low-profile lesbian organization, experienced harassment by two policemen who had invaded a Daughters meeting on this day in 1970s resulting in the group becoming a lot more convinced of the need for action. The Daughters were the first lesbian civil and lesbian political rights organization in the United States.
October 9th – On this day in 1998, South Africa repealed its sodomy laws. It is also Partnership Against HIV/AIDS Anniversary Day in South Africa.
October 10th – Today is World Mental Health Day. Looking at LGBTGQ history, Newsweek Magazine published a really defamatory story about gay people on this day in 1949: Titled “Queer People,” it called gays “perverts” and compared them to exhibitionists and sexual sadists – challenging the already abhorrent idea that homosexuals harm nobody but themselves. In Serbia a thousand people marched in the Second Belgrade Pride Parade drawing 6000 violent anti-gay protestors on this day in 2010 in Serbia.
October 11th – Important in the history of the Aids epidemic, the more than 1000 demonstrators led by Act Up activists who invaded the grounds at a Federal Food and Drug Administration facility on this day in 1988 to focus attention on the Aids epidemic and to protest the Administration’s slow roll-out of drug approval for Aids. It is International Day of the Girl Child today.
October 12th – Adolph Jans van Oldehberkoop, a customs officer of Frisia, Netherlands was banished for two years for sodomy on this day in 1774. And The Huffington Post launched the first LGBTG-focused section of a mainstream news organization titled Gay Voices with Noah Michelson as the section’s first editor on this day in 2011- its name was later changed to Queer Voices.
October 13th – The first ever Pride parade in Africa took place in Johannesburg, South Africa on this day in 1990.
October 14th – Anita Bryant was hit in the face with a pie by a supposed gay activist at a conference on this day in 1977. Many believed that her own husband Bob Green had orchestrated the attack on this notorious homophobe as a publicity stunt. And the first conference of Latin American and Caribbean Feminist Lesbians was held on this day in Mexico on this day in 1987.
October 15th – On this day in 1973, the Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatry Federal Council declared homosexuality to not be an illness. And the New York Gay Activist Alliance’s “Firehouse” was destroyed on this day in 1974 in a fiery blaze set by an arsonist – the organization’s president claimed that the fire was part of a concerted effort to harass gays. Today is International Day of Rural Women.
October 16th – Oscar Wilde was born on this day in 1854. Where would we be without the Great Wit? Remember his trial and tribulations as well as his writing on this day.
October 17th – On this day in 976AD became Caliph of Cordoba, Spain, the openly homosexual son of the openly homosexual Al_Hakam II (both kept male harems). It is International Day for the Eradication of Poverty.
October 18th – Sanieri Basammula-Ekkere Mwanga II Mukasa ascended to the throne in Buganda as the 31st king of Buganda (Today’s Uganda) on this day of October 1884. (He kept a harem of young boys along with his 16 wives.)
October 19th – The US chief of naval operations announced on this day 1991 that the explosion of the USS Iowa gun turret #2 that had killed forty-seven men had been proven no to have been caused by an intentional act of wrongdoing and apologized to the family of one Clayton Hartwig who had been accused of causing the blast as an act of suicide following the break-up of a homosexual affair.
October 20th – We began this month’s column with an entry announcing that Cardinal Ratzinger’s letter to the Catholic faithful on homosexuality issued on this first day of October in 1986, had denounced homosexuality and homosexuals as well as other believers who were sympathetic towards them. But on the 20th of October 1993, Catholic priest Rev. André Guidon, who died of a heart attack on this date (age 60), represented a very different counter-approach by a Catholic towards homosexuals since he recommended in his book “The Sexual Creators” that heterosexuals should look to same-sex couples to learn about tenderness and sharing.
October 21st– In 1939 on the night of this date in October, the New York police arrested 99 men who had all attended a masked drag ball – they were all charged with masquerading as females.
October 22nd – Lord Alfred Douglas, who became known as “Bosie,” the boy-lover of Oscar Wilde, was born on this day in 1860 in England. But Bosie wasn’t just all about decadence and a vacillating little sensualist, he was quite conscious of promoting gay rights on Cambridge’s campus and amongst its student and academic community.
October 23rd – A gay Brazillian, Albrto Santos-Dumot made the first public European flight of an airplane on this day 23rd day of October in 1906. He beat the Wright-brothers to it when he became the first person to fly more than 80 feet under official observation three years prior to the epic Wright-brothers flight. Said to have been seriously ill and depressed about the use of aircraft in warfare, Santos-Dumot hanged himself in July 1932.
October 24th – In 1679, on this day of October, Lisbeth Olsdotter was charged with abandoning her husband and children, with crossdressing, with marrying a woman, with bigamy and with homosexuality as well as with theft and fraud relating to her taking a job as a soldier. For all of this, she was convicted and sentenced to death.
October 25th – Titus, the Emperor who was called the “Hammer of the Jews” for his total defeat of the Jewish rebels and for taking Jerusalem, was also the first man recorded to have left his wife for another man. Titus, who was born on this day in October 51AD, left his wife for a mime named Paris. After a public outcry however, Titus killed Paris and went back to his wife, but continued having affairs with young men for which his wife then had him assassinated. IN the USA, today is Intersex Day.
October 26th – Harking back to the rather recent “bad old days…” One wonders how much has changed since Portland Oregon police Chief Tom Potter testified before a senate committee on this day of October 1992 that many victims of anti-gay assaults did not report crimes because of fear that their identities would be made public.
October 27th – This was a dark day back in October 1992 when a gay American sailor was beaten to death in a public toilet in Sasebo, Nagasaki, Japan by his own shipmates for being gay. Allen Schindler’s death opened questions about the then policy at the time regarding gays in the US military of “Don’t ask, don’t tell.”
October 28th – About 70 women are arrested at a lesbian bar during a police raid on this day in 1986 in Lima, Peru. Television crews were there and many of the women were exposed and it resulted in many losing their jobs, others being beaten by their families and two were raped on their way home from the police station.
October 29th – “Fags Must Die” spelled the graffiti left on the Memorial Steps of Tufts University in Boston on the 29th of October 1980, outraging the community but the graffiti is only removed after a huge outcry.
October 30th – Mwanga II, King of Buganda resisted Christianity while hoping to keep sodomy legal and to maintain his harem of boys. On this day in 1885, the King had James Hammington, the first bishop of Africa killed when he came to Uganda.
October 31st – Take care! On this Halloween, remember that of 1977 in Toronto, Canada when thousands of queer bashers congregated in Toronto’s Yonge Street waiting for the annual drag parade. It took some careful coordination between gay representatives and the police stage managing the scene and not allowing crowds to congregate – and the whole tense little event happened without bloodshed.