Gay/LGBT History Month – October 10th: Newsweek Publishes “Queer People”, Gays Get Fed Up, and Romer v. Evans
1915: Albert D. J. Cashier (born Jennie Irene Hodgers, was an Irish-born immigrant who served as a male soldier in the Union Army during the American Civil War. Cashier returned to Belvidere, Illinois for a time where he lived as a man, vote in elections and later claimed a veteran’s pension. On May 5, 1911, Cashier was moved to the Soldier and Sailors home in Quincy, Illinois. He lived there as a man until his mind deteriorated and was moved to the Watertown State Hospital for the Insane in March 1913. Attendants at the Watertown State Hospital discovered that he was female-bodied when giving him a bath, at which point he was forced to wear a dress.
Albert Cashier died on October 10, 1915. He was buried in the uniform he had kept intact all those years and his tombstone was inscribed “Albert D. J. Cashier,
1949: The periodical Newsweek published a story titled “Queer People” calling gays perverts and comparing them to exhibitionists and sexual sadists. It challenged the idea that homosexuals hurt no one but themselves and are EVIL!
“The sex pervert, whether a homosexual, an exhibitionist, or even a dangerous sadist, is too often regarded merely as a ‘queer’ person who never hurts anyone but himself. Then the mangled form of one of his victims focuses public attention to the degenerate’s work. And newspaper headlines flare for days over accounts and feature articles packed with sensational details of the most dastardly and horrifying crimes.”
The editorial reviewed The Sexual Criminal, a book by J. Paul DeRiver who headed the Los Angeles Police Department’s Sex Offenses Bureau. Newsweek lauded the “factual scientific book” with 43 case histories, including “lots of very queer people” including “the sadistic pedophile,” “zoophiles, psychopaths who performed sadistic acts on animals, and the necrophiles, who …commit acts of moral degeneracy upon or in the presence of dead bodies.” Eugene D. Williams, a California “special assistant attorney general,” wrote the introduction to the book, in which he warned that “the semihysterical, foolishly sympathetic, and wholly unscientific attitude of any individual engaged in social work and criminology to regard sex perverts as poor unfortunates who are suffering from disease and cannot help themselves, has a tendency to feed their ego.” To which Newsweek added:
A sterner attitude is required, if the degenerate is to be properly treated and cured. Williams suggests that the sex pervert be treated, not as a coddled patient, but as a particularly virulent type of criminal. “To punish him,” he concludes, “he should be placed in an institution where the proper kind of rehabilitory work can be done so that, of capable of being brought to the realization of the error of his ways, he may be brought back to society prepared to live as a normal, law-abiding individual, rather than turned out as he now is from the penitentiary, confirmed in his perversion.
1964: The East Coast Homophile Organizations (ECHO) Hosts Conference Calling for Direct Action:
The Daughters of Bilities, the Janus Society of Philadelphia, and the Mattachine Societies of New York and Washington, D.C., met in the nation’s capital for the second conference of the East Coast Homophile Organizations (ECHO), a loose confederation formed in 1962. Attendance was light: only about a hundred people showed up at the Sheraton Park Hotel, thanks to ECHO’s difficulty in getting the word out about where the event would take place. The Mattachine Society of Washington (MSW), which was hosting the conference, saw three other hotels cancel their bookings and three newspapers refusing to run ads for the conference. Those who showed up were charged up and impatient with the old ways of doing things. The DoB’s newsletter, The Ladder, set the scene:
“I’m an activist,” said a handsome young man present at the ECHO conference for 1964. “I’ve read nearly 75 books in the New York Mattachine Society library, and I’m fed up with reading on the subject of homosexuality.” His statement seemed to typify the attitude pervading this serious conference.
Any disappointment over the small attendance (less than 100 persons) could be offset by the fact that this was a down-to-business meeting attended primarily by those dedicated to immediate action. It was a gathering of men and women impatient to remedy the discriminations against the homosexual citizen in our society.
We talked with a long-time friend of one of the sponsoring organizations, and his remarks confirmed our view. “A few years ago,” he said, “ours was a sweeter, clubbier, less insistent organization. Now there seems to be a militancy about the new groups and new leaders. There’s a different mood.”
Signs of that different mood were everywhere, beginning with MSW’s Robert King’s prescient keynote address , which described that growing new mood. He said that gay people were asking for “the rights, and all the rights, afforded the heterosexual. We are still in the asking stage. We will soon reach the demanding stage. (… A) dormant army is beginning to stir.” J.C. Hodges, president of the Mattachine Society of New York, challenged the prevailing timidity of previous homophile leaders to get involved with politics, declaring that “politics is everybody’s business.” He urged attendees to throw themselves into established political organizations. “Involve yourself if you are to have any voice on your own behalf.”
1987: As a sign of protest over two thousand gay and lesbian couples are “married” in a mass mock wedding in front of Washington, DC’s Internal Revenue Service building as part of the Second National March on Washington.
1990: Members of the London-based LGBT rights group OutRage held a kiss-in at Brief Encounter, a gay pub that previously banned same-sex kissing. A month prior to the kiss-in, the organization delivered a formal letter of complaint to the pub in an effort to lift the ban.
1995: Romer v. Evans went to trial and the U.S. Supreme Court began hearing oral arguments. A landmark legal battle, it was the first Supreme Court case to address issues of LGBT rights since Romer vs. Evans laid the foundation for the historic Lawrence v. Texas case years later.
1997: The Metropolitan Community Church (MCC) took part in the National March on Washington for Gay and Lesbian Rights, involving around twenty congregations. Within this same time period, MCC founder Reverend Elder Perry oversaw a massive commitment ceremony in conjunction with this event for over 2,000 gay and lesbian couples.
1998: Prominent British actor, broadcaster and lesbian activist Jackie Forster passed away. Following her coming out in 1969, she joined the Campaign for Homosexual Equality and later became a founding member of London’s Gay Liberation Front. She was immortalized by the LGBT rights group Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence as “Saint Jackie of the Eternal Mission to Lay Sisters” in 1994.
2008: In Kerrigan v. Commissioner of Public Health, the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled in a 4-3 vote that the state’s constitution protects the right to same-sex marriage. The decision made Connecticut the third state, after Massachusetts and California, to have its state supreme court declare a constitutional right to same-sex marriage.