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This Week In LGBT History May 5 – 11: Ancient Egypt, Nazis, Tyrone Power, Freud, DOMA, and Mark Bingham

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ANCIENT HISTORY

 2400 BCE

In 1964 in the ancient necropolis of Saqqara, Egyptian archaeologist Ahmed Moussa discovered a series of  tombs with rock-cut passages in the escarpment facing the causeway that lead to the pyramid of Unas.  Chief Inspector Mounir Basta reported crawling on his hands and knees through the passages, entering one of the Old Kingdom tombs discovered burial chambers of Khnumhotepand Niankhkhnum servants and royal confidants at the Palace of King Niuserre during the Fifth Dynasty of Egyptian pharaohs and are believed to be the first recorded same-sex couple in recorded history

The main portrait of the ‘boys’ in the tomb show them nose to nose in a close embrace, a clone of the portrait style used in other Egyptian tomb art of the era to showcase male-female married couples and the hieroglyphs in the tomb have their names are strung together in a blessings that translates as “joined in life and joined in death.”

May 5

May 5, 1913 – Actor Tyrone Power was born in Cincinnati, Ohio. Power led a busy bisexual life in Hollywood and was involved with several men during his career, among them composer Lorenz Hart (lyricist of the Rodgers & Hart song writing team) and fellow actor Cesar Romero.  Power was liked and admired by men and women alike.  Powell’s group of gay friends included director George Cukor and actors Clifton Webb, Lon McCallister (and his lover William Eythe), Cary Grant, Reginald Gardner, Van Johnson and bi-sexual billionaire Howard Hughes. Books and articles written about Power relate that the great gay love of Power’s life was a lowly technician at 20th Century Fox

May 6

May 6, 1856 – Sigmund Freud the founder of psychoanalysis and the discoverer of the
unconscious is born is in the North Moravian city of Freiberg (present-day PYíbor, in the Czech Republic).  In his lifetime, Freud published 24 books and 123 articles containing some 90 specifically Freudian concepts that form the core of his theory. According to Freud, bisexuality is the actual psychical basis of heterosexuality and homosexuality, for both constitute compromise formations based on the narrowing of sexual choice

May 6, 1933 – Nazis ransacked the Institute for Sexual Science in Berlin and thousands of books pertaining to homosexuality were deemed “un-German” and were removed from the Institute’s library and thrown into a huge bonfire as part of a public ceremony. Hitler had condemned homosexuals shortly after taking power and viewed gay people as being “socially aberrant”.

During 1933-1945 over 50,000 men were sentenced for the crime of homosexuality in Nazi Germany. Most of the men served their time in regular prisons, but an estimated 5,000 to 15,000 were sent to concentration camps. All prisoners within the camps wore marks of various colors and shapes on their uniforms to allow the guards to identify them by category. Homosexual prisoners.  Over 75% of those interned “Pink Triangle” homosexuals died in the concentration camps.

May 7

May 7, 1840 – Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky is born in Votinsk, Russia. Assailed by many modern critics as better suited to writing for film than creating serious music,  A popular conspiracy theory is that Tchaikovsky he was forced to commit suicide by Russian authorities rather than be exposed in a sex scandal involving a member of the Imperial family. The biographical works by Alexander Poznansky have attempted to rescue Tchaikovsky from such sensational scandal. The facts are that  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky died in 1893, a victim of a cholera epidemic that swept the city.

May 7, 1996The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) authored by Georgia Representative Bob Barr, is introduced to Congress . The bill prompted by the Hawaii Supreme Court’s ruling in the 1993 case Baehr v. Lewin that the state must show a compelling interest in prohibiting same-sex marriage. The fear was that Hawaii or another state legalize same-sex marriage would force the  federal government  recognize marriages that take place in those jurisdictions.

All Republicans in the House, except for Representative Steven Gunderson of Wisconsin, who had been outed on the floor of the House of Representatives by homophobic Congressman Bob Dornan of California in 1994, either voted for passage of DOMA  or abstained. All 67 representatives who opposed the bill were Democrats except for Representative Bernie Sanders of Vermont, an Independent.

President Bill Clinton signed DOMA into law at midnight on September 20, 1996 and to this day has never apologized to the LGBT community for signing it or using it as a platform for his re-election the next term.

May 8

May 8, 1920Iconic artist Tom of Finland (Touko Laaksonen) who created some of the most indelible (and erotic) images of twentieth-century gay life that has fueled the fantasies of generations of gay men is born in the village of Kaarina, Finland.

Laaksonen who worked in advertising,  became a member of the Helsinki bohemian set, but avoided the small gay subculture because it was dominated by flamboyantly effeminate homosexuals.  In 1956 Laaksonen submitted his drawings to the American bodybuilding magazine Physique Pictorial. The editor was delighted with the work and featured Laaksonen’s drawing of a lumberjack on the cover of the magazine’s Spring 1957 issue.

At a time when an action as simple as going to a gay bar could mean a night in jail for homosexuals, the openness and visibility of Tom’s depictions were especially shocking.

Placed in parks, forests, locker rooms, bars, and prison cells, Tom’s men seem to wander an array of secluded public spaces but usually not far from small groups of interested onlookers. Their denim bound erections, bursting buttons, and turned up short-sleeves can barely conceal the irrepressible optimism of a gay liberation that was yet to come.

Although innocently posed in the early years, Tom’s drawings became more explicit later and they came to take on a more aggressive edge.  His work parallels the gay liberation movement (and the relaxation of censorship in the face of the sexual revolution of the 1960s and 1970s) in that it progresses to depict nudity, the fully erect penis, leather accoutrements, and eventually S&M scenes.

In 1979, with his friend and business manager Durk Dehner, Laaksonen founded the Tom of Finland Company, which led in 1986 to the creation of the Tom of Finland Foundation, which is the official archive of Tom’s work and a collection of gay male erotic art.

Tom of Findland passed away in 1991 but his art lives on.

May 9

May 9, 1970 Mark Bingham, San Francisco businessman and rugby enthusiast is born,  Bingham helps lead and participates in the attempt to retake control of United Airlines Flight 93 on September 11, 2001 which crashes in a field in Pennsylvania before reaching a terrorists target on a day that changed America forever is born

On September 11, 2001 Bingham was the last passenger to board his flight in Newark. What we know about subsequent events comes from cockpit recordings and passengers’ calls to loved ones.

Bingham leaves this life as a true american gay hero.

May 10

May 10, 320 BC – Theocritus is born in Syracuse. In the heritage of homosexual literature, ancient Greece holds a unique place. Here was a society relatively hospitable to the love of boys and youths, and, on occasion, to love between older men, in which poetry and prose that celebrated
such affections formed a significant part of its culture.  Theocritusdeveloped the verse form known as the pastoral, a stylized and artful form usually about shepherds or cowherds who sing of love and friendship and were  highly homoerotic.

May 11

May 11, 1739 and 1755 –  The Ladies of Llangollen – Eleanor Butler and Sarah Ponsonby celebrate joint birthdays and shared their lives for a half century. Both Irish aristocrats, they rain from their native Ireland to live in Wales together. The subject of several excellent books, they seem to have impressed their neighbors as well as London high society.”

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Will Kohler

Will Kohler is a noted LGBT historian, journalist and owner of Back2Stonewall.com. 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 Daily Beast, Hollywood Reporter, and Raw Story,

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2 thoughts on “This Week In LGBT History May 5 – 11: Ancient Egypt, Nazis, Tyrone Power, Freud, DOMA, and Mark Bingham”

  1. I’m curious about the designation: “May 7, 1979 – The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) authored by Georgia Representative Bob Barr, is introduced to Congress on May 7, 1996.”

    I appreciate the information about the Egyptian couple. It’s interesting once you realize how much history has been censored, and you open your mind to it, there’s a lot of depictions of same-sex couples in ancient works.

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