Today In Gay History – June 8th: The First Gay Clergy Activist, The Lambda Rising Bookstore, and Much More!
1860 – Gay american author and art collector Edward Perry Warren was born on this date. Under the pseudonym Arthur Lyon Raile, he wrote a three-volume 60,000-word “Defence of Uranian Love.” He also wrote poetry and novels on the same subject, notably “Itamos: A Volume of Poems,” and “A Tale of Pausanian Love,” about homosexuality at Oxford.
Warren purchased the Roman silver drinking vessel known as the Warren Cup, now in the British Museum, which he did not attempt to sell during his lifetime because of its explicit depiction of homoerotic scenes. He also commissioned a version of The Kiss from Auguste Rodin, which he offered as a gift to the local council in Lewes. The council displayed it for two years before returning it as unsuitable for public display. It is now in the Tate Gallery.
1903 – Birth date of bisexual French author Marguerite Yourcenar Her first novel, “Alexis”, was published in 1929. Translator Grace Frick, invited her to America, where she lectured in comparative literature in New York City. She and Frick became lovers in 1937, and remained together until Frick’s death in 1979. In 1951 Yourcenar published the French-language novel “Memoires d’Hadrien” (Memoirs of Hadrian), which was an immediate success and met with great critical acclaim.
In 1939 Yourcenar’s intimate companion at the time, the literary scholar and Kansas City native Grace Frick, invited the writer to the United States to escape the outbreak of World War II in Europe. Yourcenar lectured in comparative literature in New York City and Sarah Lawrence College. Yourcenar was bisexual; she and Frick became lovers in 1937 and remained together until Frick’s death in 1979. After ten years spent in Hartford, Connecticut, they bought a house in Northeast Harbor on Mount Desert Island, Maine, where they lived for decades.
1923 – Malcolm Boyd (pictured above), was the first openly gay clergyman in a mainstream U.S. church, was born in Manhattan on this date. After a few years in the film business, Boyd entered the Episcopal seminary in 1951 and was ordained an Episcopal priest in 1955. He traced his difficulties in his autobiography, “Take Off the Masks” (1978).
In the 1940s Boyd moved to California and eventually became a Hollywood junior producer. He began moving up in the Hollywood world, eventually founding PRB, a production company, with Mary Pickford. At the same time, amidst all the abundance, he found himself looking for meaning in different places — including churches.
In 1951 Boyd began studying to become a priest at the Church Divinity School of the Pacific in Berkeley, California. He graduated in 1954 and was ordained a deacon. Boyd studied further at Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York and the 1960s, Boyd became known as “the Espresso Priest” for his religiously-themed poetry-reading sessions at the Hungry i nightclub in San Francisco,
Boyd went on to become a prominent white clergyman in the American Civil Rights Movement. He participated as one of the Freedom riders in 1961.
Boyd was also active in the anti-Vietnam War movement, marching with Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1968.
In 1977 Boyd came out of the closet, becoming the most prominent homosexual clergy person to come out. In the 1980s Boyd met gay activist and author Mark Thompson, who would become his long-time partner
1956 – The case of Clackum vs. United States was brought to court. The plaintiff had been a reservist in the US Air Force and was given an other-than-honorable discharge after she refused to resign following accusations of homosexual activity. The court ruled that there was no reason to change the type of discharge. She was deprived of the rights and benefits of an honorably discharged service member.
1972 – Camille Mitchell of San Jose, California became the first openly lesbian mother to be granted custody of her children in a divorce proceeding. The judge ordered her not to live with her lover and only see her lover during times when her children were at school or visiting their father.
1974 – Lambda Rising bookstore opened in Washington, DC. Founded by Deacon Maccubbin in 1974 with 250 titles, it was known for its wide selection of books, ranging from queer theory and religion to erotica, as well as DVDs, music CDs and gifts.
To support LGBT literature, Lambda Rising created the Lambda Book Report in 1987 and the annual Lambda Literary Award, also known as “the Lammys,” in 1989. In 1996, Lambda Rising turned those projects over to the new non-profit Lambda Literary Foundation.
In December 2009, Maccubbin announced that Lambda Rising’s two stores would close by January 2010. In his statement, Maccubbin said:
“The phrase ‘mission accomplished’ has gotten a bad rap in recent years, but in this case, it certainly applies.”
“When we set out to establish Lambda Rising in 1974, it was intended as a demonstration of the demand for gay and lesbian literature. We thought… we could encourage the writing and publishing of LGBT books, and sooner or later other bookstores would put those books on their own shelves and there would be less need for a specifically gay and lesbian bookstore. Today, 35 years later, nearly every general bookstore carries LGBT books.”
“We said when we opened it: Our goal is to show there’s a market for LGBT literature, to show authors they should be writing this literature, to show publishers they should be publishing it, and bookstores they should be carrying it. And if we’re successful, there will no longer be a need for a specialty gay and lesbian book store because every bookstore will be carrying them. And 35 years later, that’s what happened. We call that mission accomplished.”
Facing competition with online book stores the store closed its doors on December 31, 2010
1975 – Members of the gay rights group GATE appeared before a Parliamentary Committee in Toronto on Immigration and called for dropping all references to homosexuality in Immigration Act.
1977 – 10,000 demonstrators marched in NYC to protest the repeal of the gay rights ordinance in Miami the day before. Composer Paul Williams and his wife took out a full-page ad in Variety supporting a boycott of Florida orange juice, the product for which hate-monger Anita Bryant did commercials.
1977 – Florida’s homophobic governor, Reubin Askew, signed into law a bill forbidding same-sex marriage and the adoption of children by homosexuals. It took more than three decades to overturn the adoption ban.
Florida’s gay community took a triple whammy today. On the very day after Miami voters overwhelmingly sided with Anita Bryant to rescind that county’s anti-discrimination ordinance, Florida governor Reubin Askew signed into law two anti-gay measures. The first one banned same-sex marriage and the second one banned gay adults from adopting. State Sen. Curtis Peterson, (D-Eaton Park) sponsored the measures, and said that the new laws tell homosexuals “We are tired of you and wish you would go back in the closet.” He continued, “The problem in Florida is that homosexuals are surfacing to such an extent that they are infringing on average, normal people who have a few rights, too.” The bills sailed through the legislature with little opposition and became effective immediately upon Askew’s signing.
1984 – Homosexuality was declared legal in the state of New South Wales, Australia.
1988 – Dennis Shere was fired from the “Dayton Daily News” in Ohio for refusing to accept an ad by a gay organization for a health seminar and legal services.
1989 – Composer Louis Weingarden dies of complications from AIDS at age 45.
In 1968, Mr. Weingarden won the Prix de Rome and studied at the American Academy in Rome for two years. In 1972, he won a composer’s grant from the estate of the composer Charles Ives, an award administered by the National Institute of Arts and Letters. Among his works is ”Evening Liturgy of Consolation,” which was commissioned by another AIDS patient.
2000 – Outspoken Irish-born singer Sinead O’Connor, 33, said in a letter to the UK’s “Hot Press” recording industry magazine, “I am a lesbian. I love men but I prefer sex with women and I prefer romantic relationships with women.”
2003 – New Hampshire Episcopalians elected Gene Robinson to be their bishop, making him the first openly gay bishop in the worldwide Anglican Church and sparking a controversy that continues today.
2005 – Colorful rainbow flags, symbols of gay pride, began flying over the historic Bridge of Lions in St. Augustine, Fla. after a federal judge ruled against city leaders who had turned down several requests by a local LGBT group to fly the flags.
2007 – The Department of Defense announced that the homophobic chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine Corps Gen. Peter Pace, would be replaced in September. Pace had stirred controversy by saying that homosexuality is immoral and the military should not condone it by allowing gays to serve openly.
2007 – In an essay in the New York Times magazine, ex-Navy petty officer Stephen Baldwin wrote about the pain of the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy of discharging gays from the military: “As the friends I once served with head off to 15-month deployments, I regret I’m not there to lessen their burden and to serve my country. I’m trained to fight, I speak Arabic and I’m willing to serve. No recruiter needs to make a persuasive argument to sign me up. I’m ready, and I’m waiting.”