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Today In Gay History – January 21: Caligula, Winston Churchill and SpongeBob Squarepants

January 21st.

41 A.D. – Roman Emperor Caligula was assassinated at the Palatine Games by his own officers after a reign of only four years, noted for his madness and cruelty including arbitrary murder. His taste in men was far reaching. In fact, his taste for anything sexual, male, female, relative or animal seems far reaching. One of his playmates was a priest who he enjoyed screwing in public at religious events. He forced his officers into regular sex bouts. He is reported to have made them kiss his middle finger in public.

 76 AD – Roman Emperor Hadrian was born near Seville Spain. Hadrian built the famous wall on the Northern fringe of the empire, in Britain, and put down the last serious uprising by the Jews. When his lover Antinous mysteriously drowned in the Nile Hadrian went into a deep despair then put all of his wealth into building memorials to his lover, even building a city in his name. It said that the beautiful Antinous copmmitted suicide before old age destroyed his looks. He was 21.

1712  –  Frederick the Great was born in Berlin. Perhaps in another life he would have been a poet or an architect, but his father wanted him to be a warrior. Frederick fled with his lover Hans von Katte, but the pair was captured and Frederick was forced to watch von Katte’s execution. On his father’s death, when Frederick became emperor, he went to the palace of Sans-Soucci at Potsdam and came into his own. He excluded women and surrounded himself with sexual young men. On hearing that a particularly well endowed soldier had been arrested for “Beastiality with his horse,” the emperor said “Fool don’t put him in irons, put him in the infantry.”

1965  – Winston Churchill (1874-1965) died. He had been Britain’s wartime prime minister whose courageous leadership and defiant rhetoric had fortified the English during their long struggle against Hitler’s Germany. “I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears, and sweat,” he stated upon becoming prime minister at the beginning of the war. He called Hitler’s Reich a “monstrous tyranny, never surpassed in the dark, lamentable catalogue of human crime.” Following the war, he coined the term “Iron Curtain” to describe the barrier between areas in Eastern Europe under Soviet control and the free West. In his biography of W. Somerset Maugham, Ted Morgan writes that Maugham once asked Churchill if it were true as Churchill’s mother had claimed, that the statesman had affairs with men in his youth. “Not ture!” Churchill replied. “But, I once went to bed with a man to see what it was like.” (The man turned out to be British musical-comedy star Ivor Novello) “And, what was it like?” Maugham asked. “Musical,” Churchill replied.

1975  – The first international Lesbian Conference is held in Montreal. It was attended by more than 200 delegates from Canada and the US.

1978  – 25-year-old French songwriter/record producer Cerrone’s Eurodisco hit Supernature tops Billboard’s Dance chart.

2005 – The anti-gay group Focus on the Family alleges that popular cartoon character Spongebob Square Pants promotes homosexuality and becomes a laughingstock.

In 2005, a promotional video which showed SpongeBob along with other characters from children’s shows singing together to promote diversity and tolerance was criticized by a Christian evangelical group in the United States because they saw the character SpongeBob being used as an advocate for homosexuality though the video contained “no reference to sex, sexual lifestyle or sexual identity.” James Dobson of Focus on the Family accused the makers of the video of promoting homosexuality due to a gay rights group sponsoring the video.

The incident led to questions as to whether or not SpongeBob is a gay character.  In 2002, when SpongeBob’s popularity with gay men grew,

Dobson later stated that his comments were taken out of context and that his original complaints were not with SpongeBob or any of the characters in the video but with the organization that sponsored the video, the We Are Family Foundation. Dobson noted that the We Are Family Foundation had posted pro-homosexual material on its website, but later removed it. After the laughable controversy, John H. Thomas, the United Church of Christ’s general minister and president, said they would welcome SpongeBob into their ministry. He said “Jesus didn’t turn people away. Neither do we”.

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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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