Gay/LGBT History Month – October 9th: Johnny Mathis, Billy Graham Apologizes, and Aileen Wournos and The Lesbian Avengers
1957: 22-year-old Johnny Mathis sings Chances Are on American Bandstand. To this date the openly gay Mathis has sold over 350 Million records worldwide.
1993: Following his retirement in 1993, Episcopal Bishop E. Otis Charles became the first Christian bishop to come out of the closet at the age of 67. He served as a bishop of Utah from 1971-1986. He went on to marry Dr. Felipe Sanchez-Paris and become a prominent gay rights activist.
1993: Rev. Billy Graham apologized for calling the AIDS epidemic an act of divine judgement during a sermon in Columbus, Ohio. He reportedly recanted the statements by saying, “I don’t believe that, and I don’t know why I said it.”
1998: South Africa officially repealed its sodomy law, residual legislation from former Colonial British rule. Originally ruled unconstitutional in May of that year, South Africa’s highest court confirmed the ruling on this date. South Africa is the continents only gay friendly destination and was the fifth country in the world, to legalize same-sex marriage.
1998: The Netherlands sanctions adoption by same-sex couples as long as they meet the same criteria required of heterosexual couples.
1998: South Africa Strikes Down Sodomy Law: South Africa’s penal code defined sodomy as a Schedule 1 offense, like murder or rape, and was punishable by life imprisonment. The ruling, written by Judge Lori Ackerman with a concurring ruling by Judge Albie Sachs, held that the current law violated South Africa’s new post-Apartheid 1996 constitution and made South Africa one of the first countries in the world to outlaw discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation
1999: Lesbian politician Ulrike Lunacek becomes the first openly gay member of Austrian Parliament, serving with the Austrian Green party. She now serves as a co-President of the Intergroup on LGBT Rights, an organization that works for the rights of LGBT people within the European Parliament..
2002: Lesbian serial killer Aileen Wournos (7 murders in one year) is executed in Florida. During her trail The Lesbian Avengers “a direct action group focused on issues vital to lesbian survival and visibility” in NYC runs a “Free Aileen Wournos” campaign not because Wournos is innocent, but just because she is a woman and a lesbian. The Lesbian Avengers never recover fully from their loss of credibility over this action.