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Gay History – April 25: King Edward II Unlucky In Love, Dan White, and the March On Washington III

April 25

April 25, 1284 – Edward II, who ruled from 1307-1327, is one of England’s less fondly remembered kings. His reign consisted of feuds with his barons, a failed invasion of Scotland in 1314, a famine, more feuding with his barons, the murders of his two male lovers and an invasion by a political rival that led to him being replaced rather gruesomely by his son, Edward III.

King Edward II is born in Caernavon Wales. Ancient Christianity had tolerated homosexuality (In the 12th century the king of France elevated his lover to high office) but by the mid 13th century life was harder on gays and Edward was made an example. His first lover Piers Gaveston ended in Gaveston’s murder by courtiers. After his death, Edward “constantly had prayers said for [Gaveston’s] soul; and spent a lot of money on Gaveston’s tomb

His second affair, with Hugh le Despenser, ended with the Barons arresting and imprisoning them both. Le Despenser had his genitals cut off and burned in front of him and was then beheaded. Edward as forced to abdicate the throne and pass it on to his son, Edward, who was crowned Edward III in February 1327. The deposed king was murdered in September of that year by having a red-hot poker inserted in his anus.

April 25th, 1978 – St. Paul, Minnesota votes to repeal its four-year old gay-rights ordinance by a margin of 2-1.  Mary Richards was not happy.

April 25th, 1979 – Jury selection begins in the trial of Dan White for the murder of S.F. Mayor George Moscone and gay activist Supervisor Harvey Milk.  In a controversial verdict that led to the coining of the legal slang “Twinkie defense,” White was convicted of manslaughter rather than murder in the deaths of Milk and Moscone. White served five years of a seven-year prison sentence. Less than two years after his release, he returned to San Francisco and committed suicide.   San Francisco Weekly has referred to White as “perhaps the most hated man in San Francisco’s history.”

April 25th, 1993 – The third March on Washington happened and has an estimated attendance one million people.  Although gays in the military was the major issue of that march it also marked the first time that same-sex marriage gained some notice, as well.  On the day before the march, the Rev. Troy Perry, founder of the Metropolitan Community Church, married 2,000 gay couples in a ceremony on the steps of the Internal Revenue Service building. Although the event was largely obscured by the march itself, for those who participated it was a transforming occasion.

I remember going down to escalators to catch the Metro to the IRS,” recalls Aleta Fenceroy of Omaha, who married her partner Jean Mayberry at that ceremony, “and the whole subway tunnel burst out with people singing ‘Going to the Chapel.’ It was one of those moments that still gives me goose bumps when I think of it.” Later that day, she and Mayberry walked around Dupont Circle with wreaths of flowers in their hair, receiving the congratulations of strangers.

April 25th, 1995 – Lawrence, Kansas passes an ordinance prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation. The law, the culmination of a 7-year struggle, is the only one of its type in the state of Kansas.

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Will Kohler

Will Kohler is one of America's best known LGBT historians, He is also a a accredited journalist and the 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 on such notable media venues as BBC News, CNN, MSNBC, The Washington Post, The Daily Wall Street Journal, Hollywood Reporter, and Raw Story. Back2Stonewall has been recently added to the Library of Congress' LGBTQ+ Studies Web Archive. Mr. Kohler is available for comment, interviews and lectures on LGBT History. Contact: Will@Back2Stonewall.com

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1 thought on “Gay History – April 25: King Edward II Unlucky In Love, Dan White, and the March On Washington III”

  1. I helped start the march on SF City Hall that turned into the White Night Riot. Me and my three roommates including the infamous, notorious Mel Wald started blocking the intersection of Castro and Market. Cleve Jones showed up with a megaphone and a banner and the march started. Interesting times.

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