LGBT History: June 16th – King Gustav, Nureyev, Queer Nation and Mike Signorile

Queer Nation 1990

June 16th

1858 – King Gustav V of Sweden was born on this date. Reigning from the death of his father Oscar II in 1907 until his own death 43 years later, he holds the record of being the oldest monarch of Sweden and the second-longest reigning after Magnus IV. He was a devoted tennis player, appearing under the pseudonym Mr G. The king was said to have taken up the game to be near the willowy blonds who specialized in knowing how to serve. Kurt Haijby claimed that he was the lover of the king in the years between 1936 and 1947 who attempted to blackmail Gustav and was thrown in prison for 8 years.

1949 – Colombian-American author, poet, and journalist Jaime Manrique was born on this date. His first poetry volume won Colombia’s National Poetry Award.

1961 – On this date the ballet dancer Rudolf Nureyev defected from the Soviet Union at Le Bourget airport in Paris.

Nureyev’s defection became possible when the Kirov’s leading male dancer, Konstantin Sergeyev, was injured, and Nureyev was chosen to replace him on the Kirov’s European tour.  In Paris, his performances electrified audiences and critics, but he broke the rules about mingling with foreigners, which alarmed the Kirov’s management. The KGB wanted to send him back to the Soviet Union immediately. As a subterfuge, they told him that he would not travel with the company to London to continue the tour because he was needed to dance at a special performance in the Kremlin.   Nureyev believed that if he returned to the U.S.S.R., he would likely be imprisoned, because KGB agents had been investigating him.  He defected and within a week, he was signed up by the Grand Ballet du Marquis de Cuevas and was performing “The Sleeping Beauty” with Nina Vyroubova.  On a tour of Denmark he met Erik Bruhn, a dancer who became his lover, his closest friend, and his protector for many years.

1971 – Florida revised its crimes against nature law, reducing the maximum prison time from 20 to 15 years and establishing a fine of up to $10,000.

1974 – Gay activists interrupted a speech by Dr. David Ruben to protest his opinions on male homosexuals in his book “Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Sex.”

1975 – In Houston, Texas on this date a protest demonstration of 6,000 gays and supporters marched through downtown when hate-mongering homophobe, former beauty queen, Anita Bryant arrived to entertain at a banquet.

1979 – In Montreal, the city’s first major gay celebration, Gairilla Week, took place.

1981 – Toronto Police raided two bathhouses, arresting twenty-one men on bawdyhouse charges. Raided were the Back Door Gym and Sauna; and the International Steam Baths.

1988 – Delegates at the annual convention of Southern Baptists passed a resolution blaming gays for AIDS and condemning homosexuals as perverts and abominations who have depraved natures.  –  Are we shocked?

1990 – Queer Nation holds a Take Back the Night march in New York, protesting hate crimes against gays. Over 1,000 people attend.

From NY Times on June 18, 1990:

What began as a peaceful march through Greenwich Village late Saturday night to protest violence against homosexuals broke up into clashes, chases and threats early yesterday morning when hecklers taunted demonstrators as the march drew toward its conclusion.

 In one incident, about 1,000 advocates of gay rights were walking along Broadway about 1 A.M., carrying a black and white banner that read “Queers Take Back the Night”‘ when some spectators yelled anti-gay remarks at the crowd.  More than 50 marchers chased the men down Astor Place and around the corner to Ninth Street.  Police officers on foot and officers riding motor scooters on sidewalks also pursued the hecklers. Demonstrators said that three men ran away and that two or three other men sought refuge in an apartment building on Ninth Street. The police guarded the building, the Randall House, as an angry crowd taunted them and demanded that the men be arrested.

“This shows graphically the type of problems we face,” said Gary Konecky, a 33-year-old accountant from Bellerose, L.I., who was one of those chasing the men. “I have no idea what would have happened if we caught them.” “They exacerbated the situation by charging at the person when someone called them names,” said Deputy Inspector Charles Campisi, commander of the Sixth Precinct, who walked in front of the crowd during the four-hour march. “It was a long, tough night.”

The crowd resumed marching when the police, who apparently used another exit to leave with the men, stopped guarding the building. When the Randall House doorman was asked where the police took the men, he pointed toward the basement. The police said no charges were brought as a result of the incident.

The march was organized by Queer Nation, a group formed in March to protest anti-gay violence against homosexuals and to draw more attention to the rights of homosexuals and lesbians.

At 11:20 P.M., about 20 demonstrators rushed at former Mayor Edward I. Koch, shouting “Shame! Shame!” after he walked past the march near Eighth Street with two bodyguards on his way back from seeing the movie “Dick Tracy.” A dozen police officers encircled him and rushed him safely into his apartment. “I would say I was startled, certainly not frightened,” Mr. Koch said later in a telephone interview. “I haven’t been subject to this kind of demonstration or action or invective since I left the mayoralty.”

 A spokesman for the sponsoring group, Scott Gorenstein, said: “For years we’ve been trying to get that man’s attention. Tonight we did.” 

 Inspector Campisi said there were six arrests during the march. Three men were arrested and charged with menacing, aggravated harassment and illegal weapon possession after the police said they were brandishing weapons and taunting homosexuals on Bleecker Street between Grove and Christopher Streets at 2:25 A.M. after the march broke up.  Arrested were Alija Dokovic, 21 years old, of 1050 39th Street, Brooklyn, who the police said had a golf club; Jose Cruz, 16 years old, of 3207 Eighth Avenue of Brooklyn, who was said to have had a baseball bat, and Steven Mendez, 18 years old, of 926 47th Street, Brooklyn, who the police said had a folding knife. All three are from the Borough Park section.

Inspector Campisi said three marchers were arrested on disorderly-conduct charges, issued summonses and released. Mr. Gorenstein, the spokesman for the group, said he only knew of two marchers being arrested: Michaelangelo Signorile, 29, a writer, and Lori Cohen, a lawyer, whose age was not available. Mr. Gorenstein said they argued with police officers after the clash on Broadway

I’m damn proud of you Mike!

1992 – Singer K.D. Lang came out in an interview with “The Advocate”.

1992 -, Australian singer Peter Allen dies from complications due to AIDS.

1998 – James Dobson, anti-gay founder of anti-gay hate group Focus on the Family suffered a stroke, but survived.

1999 – The Southern Baptist Convention passed resolutions demanding the recall of openly gay James Hormel from his new post as Ambassador to Luxembourg and denouncing President Bill Clinton for issuing the nation’s first official proclamation of Gay and Lesbian Pride Month. Ironically, as the hate-mongers convention meeting got underway in Atlanta, Georgia, 600 rainbow flags hung on the lightposts for the city’s Pride celebration.  –  Are we shocked Part Duex?

2008 – Dozens of gay couples were married after a landmark ruling making California the second state to allow same-sex nuptials went into effect. In San Francisco, Mayor Gavin Newsom, who helped launch the series of lawsuits that led the court to strike down California’s one-man-one-woman marriage laws, presided at the wedding of Del Martin, 87, and Phyllis Lyon, 84. Newsom picked the couple for the only ceremony in City Hall Monday evening in recognition of their long relationship and their status as pioneers of the gay rights movement.


Will Kohler

Will Kohler is a noted LGBT historian, writer, blogger and owner of A longtime gay activist, Will fought on the front lines of the AIDS epidemic with ACT-UP and continues fighting today for LGBT acceptance and full equality. Will’s work has been referenced in notable media venues as MSNBC and BBC News, The Washington Post, The Advocate, The Daily Beast, Hollywood Reporter, Raw Story, and The Huffington Post

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