Gay History Month – October 20: ACT-UP, Dr. Evelyn Hooker, Jesse Helms and the First Gay Wedding on Television

Act Up 1987 Protest

Did you know that on October 20th………..

1958:  Truman Capote’s novella Breakfast at Tiffany’s is published in the November issue of Esquire Magazine. Gay men everywhere begin to name their cat “Cat”.

1969: The National Institutes of Mental Health released a report based on a study led by psychologist Dr. Evelyn Hooker stating that sodomy laws should be repealed.

1953:  Evelyn Hooker who applied for a National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) grant to conduct research on “normal homosexuals.” presented the results of her research at the APA’s 1956 Annual Convention in Chicago.  After the NIMH’s report,  Dr. Hooker’s work on the homosexual subculture led to Hooker receiving an award in 1992 for Distinguished Contribution to Psychology in the Public Interest from APA.  In her response to this honor, she shared the award with the gay and lesbian community and expressed pleasure that her research and her “long advocacy of a scientific view of homosexuality” could make their lives and the lives of their families better. She closed her address by reading from a letter she had received from a gay man thanking her for her work and saying, “I think you did it because you knew what love was when you saw it, and you knew that gay love was like all other love.”

1987 : Over fifty ACT-UP members are arrested during an act of civil disobedience protesting President Reagan’s lack of action to the AIDS epidemic.  In another demonstration a few days earlier about 150 people protested across the street from the United Nations building during the UN General Assembly’s first debate on AIDS. The General Assembly resolved to mobilize the entire UN system in the worldwide struggle against AIDS, under the leadership of the World Health Organization. (And I was there. W.K.)

1987: The US House of Representatives voted 368-47 to approve an amendment to withhold federal funding from any AIDS education organization which encourages homosexual activity. The senate approved a similar amendment the previous week by a vote of 94-2. It was introduced by Sen. Jesse Helms. / The US House Judiciary Committee voted 21-13 to approve a bill requiring the justice department to collect statistics on hate crimes, including anti-gay violence.

1991:  The first prime-time same-sex wedding on U.S. television – network TV, at that – aired on the Fox sitcom Roc .

The Season One episode “Can’t Help Loving That Man,” focuses on Roc’s uncle (Shaft’s Richard Roundtree) revealing he’s gay, and the family’s subsequent struggle to accept his lifestyle, ultimately culminating with Roc (Charles S. Dutton) hosting the ceremony in his home. The episode took home a GLAAD award that year for the positive portrayal.

1992: The San Diego Police Department announced that it was severing its ties with the Boy Scouts of America due to a local chapter’s dismissal of a gay police officer who was involved with the Explorer program.

1993: Roman Catholic priest Rev Andre Guindon died of a heart attack at age 60. In his book “The Sexual Creators” he wrote that heterosexuals should look to same-sex couples to learn about tenderness and sharing.  After the release of his book the Vatican demanded that Guindon apologize and bring his teaching more in line with the Catholic Church.   Rev Andre Guindon  never apologized and never changed his progressive teachings.

 

 

Will Kohler

Will Kohler is a noted LGBT historian, writer, blogger 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 Advocate, The Daily Beast, Hollywood Reporter, Raw Story, and The Huffington Post

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