Gay History – October 6: Judy & Barbara, The MCC, Brokeback Mountain and The Castro Sweep [Rare Video]
1791: France adopts The French Penal Code of 1791, marking it as the first Western European country to decriminalize same-sex acts.
1928: The New York Times reported that George Bernard Shaw and H.G. Wells had protested the seizure of the lesbian novel “The Well of Loneliness” by English customs agents. The novel had been published in France and was being imported into England.
1963: Judy Garland sings with Barbra Streisand on Judy’s variety show. It is their one and only performance together.
1968: A group of 12 people congregated for the first meeting of the Metropolitan Community Church in Huntington Park, California. Founded by Rev. Troy Perry, who held the first meeting in his living room, the religious organization centralizes its ministry efforts around the LGBT community.
1989: In the annals of bloody misconduct by members of the San Francisco Police Department, the events of October 6, 1989, called the Castro Sweep ranks high on anyone’s list.
In reaction to a small, peaceful protest against federal neglect of people with AIDS at the San Francisco Civic Center, about 200 San Francisco police officers rioted in the Castro neighborhood, beating protesters and passersby, sweeping seven city blocks of all pedestrians, and placing thousands in homes and business under house arrest for the duration. The incident which would become known as the “Castro Sweep” and prolonged a rift between the city’s law enforcement and LGBT community that had began a decade earlier with the White Night riots sparked by a lenient sentence for the killer of the city’s first openly gay supervisor, Harvey Milk, and Mayor George Moscone.
Journalist Brett Averill wrote in the Bay Area Reporter:
“… a bland plea for more AIDS funds ended five hours later with bloodied heads, mass arrests, and the specter of fully armed riot police marching through the heart of the Castro sweeping demonstrators and confused passersby from the streets and sidewalks.”
Before the night was through, the police had shut down an entire city neighborhood and arrested 53 people and injured 10.
The next night over 1,500 people came out to the Castro to symbolically reclaim the street.
Then-Police Chief Frank Jordan, who became mayor three years later, responded to the incident by demoting his own brother, Deputy Chief Jack Jordan, for how he handled the affair. Jack Jordan suddenly resigned from the SFPD a month later.
1997: Annie Proulx’s short story Brokeback Mountain is published in this week’s issue of The New Yorker. The story, later turned into a hit movie depicts the complex romantic and sexual relationship between two men in the American West from 1963 to 1981.
Brokeback Mountain ranks 12th among the highest-grossing romance films of all time.
1998: On this night one of the brutal and vicious hate crimes in American history happened when Matthew Shepard was brutally attacked, pistol whipped, tied to a fence and left to die by Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson. It was reported that Shepard was beaten so brutally that his face was completely covered in blood, except where it had been partially washed clean by his tears. Shepard, who was still alive but in a coma, was discovered 18 hour later on the morning of October 7th. Matthew passed away a few days later on October 12, 1998.
The horrific event would become one of the most notorious anti-gay hate crimes in American history and spawned an activist movement that, more than a decade later, would result in passage of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, a federal law.
For details on the Matthew Shepard story as a whole please visit here.
2014: The Supreme Court refused to hear appeals on seven of the petitions arising from challenges to state bans on same-sex marriage. Which meant that the lower-court decisions striking down bans in Indiana, Wisconsin, Utah, Oklahoma, and Virginia should go into effect clearing the way for same-sex marriages in those states and any other state with similar bans in those circuits. Indeed, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring (who had declined to defend his state’s ban on same-sex marriage) indicated this morning on Twitter that, according to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, the mandate in the Virginia cases would issue at 1 p.m., at which point “marriages can then begin.”same-sex marriage cases”.