ON THIS QUEER DAY – LGBTQI HISTORY CALENDAR FOR FEBRUARY 2023

Written by Adriaan van den Berg

 

February 1st – I don’t want to start the month’s entries off on a bad note, but the Paris Prefect of Police issued a decree on this first day of February in 1949 which was so ludicrous and far-fetched, that it hardly seems to belong in a civilized European society in the post-war era: The decree forbids men from dancing together in public. If we celebrate our special companionship and the joy inherent in our LGBTQIA+ relationships this month, nothing can potentially signify it as much as two guys or two women or any LGBTQIA+ person dancing with their lover. There were, in other words, once also laws against expressions of our companionship and joy in places where we deem ourselves free today.  

February 2ndThe first medical textbook on homosexuality was co-authored by Havelock Ellis and was published in 1887. Ellis was a British physician, writer and progressive intellectual who was born in Croydon on this day in 1869 and who died on 8 July 1939. He also wrote on transgender psychology and he is credited with introducing the concepts of narcissism and autoeroticism later adopted by psychoanalysis. Ellis was also one of the pioneering investigators of psychedelic drugs and was the author of one of the first public reports on the mescaline experience which he conducted as an experiment on himself in 1896. His seven volume Studies in the Psychology of Sex (1897-1928) is said to have changed Western attitudes to sex in the Victorian era.  

February 3rdIn the USA on this day in 2011, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force published a report on transgenderism which would have a lasting influence and repercussions around the world. It was titled “Injustice at Every Turn: Report on the National Transgender Survey.” The report is still available online and its influence can still be seen and is felt till this day…

February 4thMaria Schneider, the actress and star of The Last Tango in Paris, died on this day in 1973. Maria admitted to The New York Times that she was bisexual, saying “I’ve had quite a few lovers for my age. More men than women… women I love more for beauty than sex. Men I love for grace and intelligence.” Early in 1976, she booked herself into a mental hospital in Rome for several days, abandoning the set of her next film Caligula to be with her lover, photographer Joan Townsend.   

February 5thOn this day, 5 February in 2005, the Integrated Regional Networks based in Kenya stated in a report titled “Iraq: Male homosexuality still a taboo,” that “honor killings” by Iraqis against gay family members were still common. Overall, nobody is prepared to say or even prepared to speculate how many homosexuals, lesbians, transgender, queer and intersex people had been killed from and since say the second world war till today worldwide, but I will venture to say close to over a million. Of course, I have no statistics to base this on, only the history I have been reporting faithfully here and my impressions of the rate of murders and persecution of LGBTQI people worldwide…

February 6thIn 1993, on this day in February, the Netherlands voted to ban discrimination against gays. It is a country which harbored some of the earliest gay and lesbian activist and research organisations in Europe.  

 February 7th – In 1991 on this date, in an interview with the popular press, the president of the USSR’s Academy of Medical Sciences stated that “homosexuality was a disease that must be fought by all means…” Well now, typically the words of a bastard who had caught the contagion and who was desperately fighting our beloved disease – may it have killed him with love.  

February 8thShooting of the film “Kanojo no Michi” began in Japan. It was based on the novel by this same title by Nobuko Yoshiya (12 Han. 1896 – 11 July 1973), a novelist active during the Taisho and Showa periods in the country and one of its commercially most successful having specialized in serialized  romance novels and adolescent girls’ fiction as well as being a pioneer in Japanese lesbian literature, including in the Class S genre. Several of her stories had been made into films. In January 1923, she met Monma Chiyo, a maths teacher at a girls’ school in Tokyo and they remained together for 50 years.   

February 9thFuck me, Jerry! Because that old imp of homophobia, the right Reverend Jerry Falwell, claimed on this day in 1999 that the purple Teletubby named Tinky-Winky was gay! Jerry is also the founder of the hate bastion as Ronni Sanlo calls it, of Liberty University. Ja, you know, Jerry, you were right, Tinky was absolutely gay, but what you don’t know is that perhaps up to 30% of your male students at your “university” (if that’s what you call it) are probably too and we know the thought is just too much for you to bear!

February 10thIn 1981, another former bastion of homophobia, the Moral Majority alliance (wishful thinking that name), announced on this day and date that it would spend three million dollars in anti-gay advertising in the USA. I know it is supposed to be the land of the free, but if it had been South Africa, we would have shut them down! Screw organised hate groups, kids! 

February 11thI love Simeon Solomon’s sublime subtly homoerotic paintings – do Google him and take a look… He was an English pre-Raphaelite painter also known for his depictions of Jewish life and same-sex desire as a poet. Solomon and a stableman known as George Roberts were arrested at a public urinal in London and both were charged with the crime of buggery on this day in 1873.  

February 12thListen to what Harry Hamlin, the star of the film Making Love said on this day in 1982 in response to complaints about the film’s depiction of gay love: “The more radical elements in gay culture are going to be disappointed by all these films coming out now sponsored by major studios. A lot of these people feel they are way beyond where these films take us. But the more intelligent know there has to be a groundbreaking ceremony, which is what this is.” Fine, I say, as long as a groundbreaking ceremony isn’t required perpetually, every year, which is what it sometimes feels like to me. 

February 13thLondon’s first Bi-Fest march and festival is held on this day in February 1999. 

February 14thOn this day in 1988, Oprah Winfrey struck another low note in her perpetual sensationalist coverage of gay stories during that era when she featured three lesbians whom she introduced as “women who hate men.” They were actually lesbian separatists whose philosophical and ideological outlook had nothing to do with “hating men” but everything with lesbians becoming self-reliant, resourceful and empowered separate and away from the dominant paternalistic order and binary oriented status quo. It is Valentine’s Day today.

February 15thStephen Brady and his partner Peter Stephens became the world’s first openly gay ambassadorial couple when Brady presented his credentials as Australian Ambassador to Denmark to Queen Margrethe II on this day of February 1999. 

February 16thIn 1997 on this day an episode of The Simpsons aired titled “Homer’s Phobia” which explored gay themes… Telle Tubbies, the Simpsons. Sponge Bob – all these animations have become part of the public discussion and consideration and exploration of LGBTQIA+ subjects. Animations have also thus become indications of public thought and attitudes in the politics of sexuality in certain countries and societies.  

February 17thFacebook on this day in 2011 expanded it and its users’ use of relationship language to include “civil unions” and “domestic partners.” Just as yesterday’s entry noted the fact that popular and even children’s animations have started reflecting societal discourse and attitudes regarding sexual and gender politics, so the same can also be said of social media (almost from the start).  

February 18thThe word “gay” was first used with regards to homosexuality on this day in 1938 in the film “Bringing Up Baby” starring Carry Grant. I have given this one a lot of thought and it reminds me of the term “moffie” here in South Africa which I had once vehemently rejected and argued against in another article in Exit about two years ago. “Gay” may not be as heavily laden with unpleasant insinuations and connotations as “moffie’ is (which essentially means as gay people we are “as dumb as sheep for not being able to figure out the right hole to have intercourse with”), but I have NEVER been comfortable with the term and label of or as being “gay” either since it in turn implies that we are an eternally happy people as homosexuals despite our awful history of persecutions and discrimination and despite the ongoing basis on which these unfortunate experiences and treatment are still meted out and visited upon us till this day. My editors are going to shoot me for this potty mouthed reference to a popular LGBTQI online poster which states: “Gay. As in happy? No, gay as in F*ck you!” The poster is not an attempt to alienate people who are agreeable, accepting and respectful towards us, but it is rather an expression of rejection of a popular stereotype attributed to us via the common and injudicious and random and perpetual use of the term “gay” to denote us, namely of the eternally joking, funny, self-deprecating harmless homosexual who won’t upset the apple cart, rock the boat or start making demands for rights and respect… So, I detest the label as or of us being “gay” and personally rather welcome the far sturdier and heftier label and designation of us as being “homosexuals.” 

February 19thOn this day of February 2002, a great spirit in the transgender movement in the USA and an international hero and role model to transgender people and activists, Sylvia Rivera (b. July 2 1951), died at age 50 in New York. Doctor Ronni Sanlo in her books on LGBTQI history states that Sylvia was like “the Rosa Parks of the modern transgender movement” for having been amongst those who had originally resisted the police at the famous riots, but after that she had also become a figurehead and an activist who opened shelters for drug addicted transgender and homeless people and who helped in passing LGBTQIA-inclusive non-discriminatory legislation. Sylvia died of liver cancer.   

February 20thCambodia’s King Norodom Sihanouk, its constitutional monarch, stated on this date in 2004 that he thought that Cambodia should legalize same-sex marriage after he had watched same-sex couples getting married in San Francisco on television. He also declared that transvestites should be well-treated in Cambodia. 

February 21stI try my best to include uplifting entries here in this calendar, but sometimes there is place for the absurd also since it too can be instructive (even if it is just on the foolishness of people)… Who was the most ridiculous, the claimant or the jury in the case in which the claimant was awarded $200 000 in damages in Detroit for claiming he was turned into a homosexual in 1975 by an automobile accident in which his car was rear-ended by another vehicle?   

February 22ndThe ritzy, glitzy disco Studio 54 in New York threw a party on this date in 1979 for closeted gay attorney and former McCarthyist, Roy Cohn and Donald Trump and Barbara Walters were amongst those who showed up. Also, actor Sean Penn won the Oscar for his portrayal in the film Milk of ill-fated San Francisco activist and politician Harvey Milk on this date in 2009. And in the Netherlands, also on this day in 2007, Gerda Verbug (b. 19 Aug. 1957) became the first open lesbian to be elected to government as the minister of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality.    

February 23rdThe first ever lesbian organisation for Chinese-speaking women in Asia was formed on this day in 1990 in Taiwan. It was called Women zhi jizn (Between Us).

February 24thAnd on this day in 1954 William Churchill’s cabinet discussed the question “Could we not limit publicity for homosexuality, as was done for divorce?” David Maxwell Fyfe said of the growing population of homosexuals in the UK: “… homosexuals make a nuisance of themselves. But I can’t account for the increase…” 

February 25thIn Canada’s first gay rights case in 1993 on this day in February, its Supreme Court ruled that a gay man who was denied bereavement to attend the funeral of his companion’s father could not claim discrimination. All these wrongs from the past, which never were set right again…  

February 26thKnow the famous sculpture of Perseus with the Head of Medusa whose sculptor was Benvenuto Cellini (b. 3 Nov. 1500, d. 13 Feb. 1571), one of the most important artists of the school of Mannerism? On this day in 1556, he was accused of sodomy with his apprentice, Fernando di Giovanni de Montepulciano. It was not the first time Cellini was accused of this crime. He was fined 5 golden scudi and four years in prison which was remitted to four years of house arrest after the intercession of the Medicis.    

February 27thThe poet Sappho was born on the Isle of Lesbos on this day in 630BC (d. 570BC). Though most of her work is now lost except for one complete poem titled “Ode to Aphrodite, she has been called the greatest lyric poet of early Greece.” She is also regarded as the original poetess of lesbian love by some though not all may agree. 

February 28thReturn to February the 20th’s entry: You’ll find the wishes of Cambodia’s king regarding the treatment of same-sex marriages and treatment of transgender people in his country expressed in 2004. On this day in February 2018, half his wishes expressed came true: Same-sex marriages became legal in Cambodia on this day in 2018.

   Thank you for joining me and for visiting and for passing the month of February 2023 in LGBTGQI history with me, day by day. As ever, it is my hope you will have found food for thought and at least some inspiration in and from the entries for this month. Do join me again here in On This Queer Day for another visit to our illustrious past in March 2023.    

Interfaith Calendar for February 2023

February 1st Opening of the Mouth – Antinoan Religion of the Queer God Antinous: Commemoration the opening of Antinous’ mummy’s mouth so as to offer prayers to him.*

February 2nd Candlemas – Christian: Presentation of Christ in the Temple.

Saint Brigid of Kildare – Christian: Feast Day of the Saint.

Imbolc – Wicca/Neo Pagan: Candlemas.  

February 3rd St. Blaze Day – Christian: Feast Day of the Saint. 

February 14th St. Valentine’s Day – Christian: Feast Day of the Saint and worldwide a celebration of romantic coupled  love.

February 15th Nirvana Day – Buddhist: Day of enlightenment celebrating the mental transcendence of the Buddha.

Lupercalia – Antinoan Religion of the Queer God Antinous: Commemoration of the famous Roman feast day from classical times in which young men would run a course through the city flailing people they come across as a ritual of purification and regeneration.*

February 24th Saint Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist – Christian: Feast Day of the Saint.

February 28th The Adoption of Antoninus Pius – Antinoan Religion of the Queer God Antinous: Commemoration of the adoption of the successor to the founder of the Antinoan faith, Antoninus Pius by the emperor Hadrian.*

* Note: LGBTQIA+ and other people who would like to attend Zoom ceremonies of the Temple of Antinous on special celebration and feast days can find scheduled ceremonies on the Facebook page of the Companions of Antinous where a Zoom link to the ceremonies will also be provided on the date and at the time of ceremonies which wannabe participants can click on to join whereupon they can then just wait to be admitted. Ceremonies are attended by LGBTQIA+ people from across the world and people who merely wish to be observers are welcome. LGBTQIA+ people needing spiritual sustenance and participation in a non-discriminatory religion are welcome to visit www.antinopolis.org to learn more about the Antinoan religion of the Queer God Antinous founded by his lover and beloved, the emperor Hadrian in the year 130. 

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On This Queer Day, the introductory article or column, the LGBTQI History Calendar and the Interfaith Calendar, are all composed by Adriaan van den Berg. You can contact him with corrections, criticism and contributions at adriaanvandenberg2@gmail.com. He flies the Rainbow Flag with Skull and Crossbones

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