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You Are Here: Home » Featured, LGBT History » Today In Gay History October 6: Matthew Shepard, The NAMES Quilt, The Castro Sweep and More.

Matthew Shepard


October 6th.

1791: France adopts The French Penal Code of 1791, marking it as the first Western European country to decriminalize same-sex acts.

1928: The New York Times reported that George Bernard Shaw and H.G. Wells had protested the seizure of the lesbian novel “The Well of Loneliness” by English customs agents. The novel had been published in France and was being imported into England.

1963: Judy Garland sings with Barbra Streisand on Judy’s variety show, their only performance together.

1968: A group of 12 people congregated for the first meeting of the Metropolitan Community Church in Huntington Park, California. Founded by Rev. Troy Perry, who held the first meeting in his living room, the religious organization centralizes its ministry efforts around the LGBT community.

1989: The NAMES Project Memorial Quilt was displayed in Washington DC, with 10,848 panels.

The idea for the NAMES Project Memorial Quilt was conceived in 1985 by AIDS activist Cleve Jones during the candlelight march, in remembrance of the 1978 assassinations of San Francisco of his good friend Supervisor Harvey Milk and Mayor George Moscone. For the march, Jones had people write the names of loved ones that were lost to AIDS-related causes on signs that would be taped to the San Francisco Federal Building. All the signs taped to the building looked like an enormous patchwork quilt to Jones, and he was inspired.  The NAMES Project officially started in 1987 in San Francisco by Jones, Mike Smith, and volunteers Joseph Durant, Jack Caster, Gert McMullin, Ron Cordova, Larkin Mayo and Gary Yuschalk. At that time many people who died of AIDS-related causes did not receive funerals, due to both the social stigma of AIDS felt by surviving family members and the outright refusal by many funeral homes and cemeteries to handle the deceased’s remains and were creamated.  Lacking a memorial service or grave site, The Quilt was often the only opportunity survivors had to remember and celebrate their loved ones’ lives.

1989: In reaction to a small, peaceful protest against federal neglect of people with AIDS at the San Francisco Civic Center, about 200 San Francisco police officers rioted in the Castro neighborhood, beating protesters and passersby, sweeping seven city blocks of all pedestrians, and placing thousands in homes and business under house arrest for the duration.  The incident which would become known as the “Castro Sweep” prolonged a rift between the city’s law enforcement and LGBT community that had began a decade earlier with the White Night riots sparked by a lenient sentence for the killer of the city’s first openly gay supervisor, Harvey Milk, and Mayor George Moscone.

fBeore the night was through, the police had shut down an entire city neighborhood and arrested 53 people and injured 10.

1997:  Annie Proulx’s short story Brokeback Mountain is published in this week’s issue of The New Yorker. The story, later turned into a hit movie depicts the complex romantic and sexual relationship between two men in the American West from 1963 to 1981.

Brokeback Mountain ranks 12th among the highest-grossing romance films of all time.

1998: Matthew Shepard was tragically attacked, pistol whipped, tied to a fence and left to die by Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson.  Shepard, who was still alive but in a coma, was discovered 18 hour later  Matthew passed away a few days later on October 12, 1998.

Matthews murder brought national and international attention to hate crime legislation at the state and federal levels. For details on the Matthew Shepard story as a whole visit here.

1999:  Donna Brazile, an out lesbian, became Al Gore’s campaign manager. She was also the first African-American woman to manage a presidential run.

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