Tag Archives: Gay History

Gay History – March 30, 1973: Jill Johnston’s “Lesbian Nation” Calls For Intersectionality in the Gay Community

Did you ever wondered how LGBT acronym began?   Well here is your answer.

March 30th, 1973:  Jill Johnston’s book of essays Lesbian Nation is published which calls for a lesbian movement separate from the gay rights movement.

A writer for The Village Voice Johnston is one of  the first leaders of the lesbian separatist movement of the 1970s.

Johnston was a member of a 1971 New York City panel produced by Shirley Broughton as part of the “Theater for Ideas” series. The event was a vigorous debate on feminism with Norman Mailer, author; Germaine Greer, author; Diana Trilling, literary critic; and Jacqueline Ceballos, National Organization for Women president. The event was a showdown of intellect and personality. While Johnston read a poem culminating in on-stage lesbian sex (fully dressed) followed by a quick exit, Greer and Mailer continued to exchange verbal blows with each other and the audience for the rest of the 3½ hour event.

In 1973, she predicted “an end to the catastrophic brotherhood and a return to the former glory and wise equanimity of the matriarchies.” As recorded in Lesbian Nation, Johnston often was at the center of controversies within the feminist movement of the 1960’s and 1970.

In Lesbian Nation, Johnston discusses lesbian invisibility and advocated a political lesbianism that would bring women together to support one another and have power as a group, while becoming independent of men which she said helped fractured the “gay  rights” movement at that time by separating the two group powers.

 Johnston believed that all males were the same, even gay males.

“Gay men, however discriminated against, are still patriarchs.” Johnston is quoted as saying.

Still Lesbian Nation is an amazing look back at the feminist and gay rights movement of the late 60’s and early 70.  The book itself in a historical aspect should be appreciated as a classic lesbian text, and even with the time difference it offers an  insight of the beginning of today’s compartmentalization within the community and echo’s the argument against the “privilege gay males” today.

Now 50 years later, some members of the community, mostly the TQIA2+ communities  now want us to de-identify and return to the use of one  word to describe the now bloated LGBTQIA2+ community acronym. And the ill -advised word they chose? “Queer.”. But that’s another story.

So.  If you ever wondered how and when LGBT intersectionality in our community began. Here is your answer.

Gay History – March 1656: Puritan Boys Gone Wild!

March 1:
1642: Boys Will Be Boys

In March of 1642 a Plymouth Colony Court heard a case brought against Edward Michell and Edward Preston for “lewd & sodomitical practices tending to sodomy.” The precise wording was important: sodomy itself was punishable by death, but practices which fell short of sodomy itself (which required proof of penetration and emission), were deemed merely “sodomitical” or sodomy-like. According to surviving records:

Edward Michell, for his lewd & sodomitical practices tending to sodomy with Edward Preston, and other lewd carriages with Lydia Hatch, is censured to be presently whipped at Plymouth, at the public place, and once more at Bamestable, in convenient time, in the presence of Mr. Freeman and the committees of the said town.
Edward Preston, for his lewd practices tending to sodomy with Edward Michell, and pressing John Keene thereunto (if he would have yielded), is also censured [sentenced] to be forthwith whipped at Plymouth, and once more at Bamestable (when Edward Michell is whipped), in the presence of Mr. Freeman & the committees of the same town.
John Keene, because he resisted the temptation, & used means to discover it, is appointed to stand by whilst Michell and Preston are whipped, though in some thing he was faulty.

1656: Onan You Don’t. Not In New Haven

New Haven Colony legislation was unique in the English-speaking world for mandating the death penalty for women as well as men for acts “against nature,” as well as for masturbation and anal sex among heterosexual couples. The act read as follows:

If any man lyeth with mankinde, as a man lyeth with a woman, both of them have Committed abomination, they both shall surely be put to death. Levit. 20. 13. And if any woman change the naturall use, into that which is against nature, as Rom. 1. 26. she shall be liable to the same Sentence, and punishment, or If any person, or persons, shall Commit any other kinde of unnaturall and shamefull filthines, called in Scripture the going after strange flesh, or other flesh then God alloweth, by canall knowledge of another vessel then God in nature hath appointed to becomp one flesh, whether it be by abusing the contrary part of a grown woman, or Child of either sex, or unripe vessel of a Girle, wherein the naturall use of the woman is left, which God hath ordained for the propagation of posterity, and Sodomiticall filthinesse (tending to the destruction of the race of mankind) is committed by a kind of Rape, nature being forced, though the will were inticed, every such person shall be put to death. Or if any man shall act upon himself, and in the sight of others spill his owne seed, by example, or counsel, or both, corrupting or tempting others to doe the like, which tends to the sin of Sodomy, if it be not one kind of it; or shall defile, or corrupt himself and others, by any kind of sinfull filthinesse, he shall be punished according to the nature of the offence; or if the case considered with the aggravating circumstances, shall according to the mind of God revealed in his word require it, he shall be put to death, as the Court of Magistrates shall determine.

New Haven Colony also applied the death penalty for adultery. This law remained in effect for the next ten years, until 1665 when New Haven Colony joined Connecticut and came under Connecticut law, which specified the death penalty for “man lying with man” only.

Gay History - March 28, 1921: #BOTD Actor Dirk Bogarde

Gay History – March 28, 1921: #BOTD Actor Dirk Bogarde

Actor Dirk Bogarde (March 28, 1921- May 8, 1999) was born Derek Jules Gaspard Ulric Niven van den Bogaerde, but his friends and fans just called him Dirk. Throughout his career, Bogarde appeared in more than 60 films and was known for his captivating performances and charming and sometimes intense screen presence.

Bogarde who became one of Britain’s top matinee idols in the 1950s. In the 1960s decided to do away with his heart-throb image with more challenging and greatest roles, including that of the closeted Melville Farr in 1961’s Victim, who resolves to break up an extortion racket that targets gay men. Time magazine, in its review of Victim, called it “a plea for perversion.” “Everybody in the picture who disapproves of homosexuals proves to be an ass, a dolt or a sadist,” Time fumed. “Nowhere does the film suggest that homosexuality is a serious (but often curable) neurosis that attacks the biological basis of life itself.”

But it was Bogarde’s work with director Joseph Losey that really cemented his reputation as a serious actor. In 1961, Bogarde starred in Losey’s film “The Servant,” which was a critical success and received several award nominations. The film explored themes of class, power, and sexuality and Bogarde’s portrayal of the manipulative manservant was both subtle and mesmerizing.  Bogarde also took on the gay lead in the 1971 art house film Death in Venice. Warner Brothers tried to drop the distribution of Death in Venice because they feared it would be banned for obscenity, but relented after Queen Elizabeth II and Princess Anne attended the London premiere.

It was brave for a popular actor to take on gay roles, especially in the 1960s and 1970s and it was doubly brave for Bogarde because he never officially came out although his sexuality was often the subject of rumors. He became an advocate for gay rights and was outspoken about his support for decriminalizing homosexuality. He remained dedicated to his lifelong partner, Anthony Forwood, whose 1988 death after a long struggle with Parkinson’s disease and liver cancer led Bogarde to become an advocate for assisted suicide. Bogarde, by then had quit acting and turned to writing, publishing seven memiors and several novels. Bogarde didn’t come out in any of his memoirs, although he did talk about caring for Forwood. 

Dirk Bogarde was knighted in 1992, suffered a debilitating stroke in 1996, and died of a heart attack in 1999. It wasn’t until 2004, upon the publication of an authorized biography, that his brother, Gareth van den Bogarde, finally acknowledged publicly that Dirk was gay.

Dirk Bogarde was a talented and brave actor who left an indelible mark on the film industry. He was known for his nuanced performances and his ability to convey complex emotions on screen. His portrayal of characters who were both flawed and compelling. Bogarde’s legacy continues to be celebrated by fans of classic cinema, and his influence can be seen in the work of many contemporary actors

Read more about the movie “Victim” and watch the FULL MOVIE HERE

Gay History - March 27: Happy Birthday Bob Mizer Publisher and Photographer of the Athletic Model Guild (AMG)

Gay History – March 27: Happy Birthday Bob Mizer! Publisher and Photographer of the Athletic Model Guild aka. AMG

Once upon a time long ago before there was the internet gay porn or what was considered obscene was extremely illegal and expensive.  8mm and 16mm celluloid loops called “blue movies” were available  but the majority of them were marketed to to a straight male audience.  But then “physique” magazines began to spring up after World War II to every gay man’s (and closeted ones) delight.

Bob Mizer (1922-1992) was the mild-mannered publisher and photographer for Physique Pictorial, one of many such magazines that published “beefcake” photographs under the guise of bodybuilding and health. His photography studio, the Athletic Model Guild (AMG), specialized in men (gay and straight) doing bodybuilding poses or wrestling in pairs. With assistance from his mother, Delia (who created the posing straps), and his brother, Joe, he photographed thousands of men, building a collection that includes nearly one million different images and thousands of films and videotapes.

Thanks to the Guild, Mizer was not only a subversive force in the art world, but also one of the first to push for an openly gay community

But that thin guise — almost as thin as the posing pouch that his models wore — wasn’t enough to keep him from being convicted in 1947 of unlawful distribution of obscene materials and serving a nine month sentence at a work camp in Saugus, California.

Physique Pictorial, Summer 1958.

That setback barely put a dent into Mizer’s career. In addition the Physique Pictorial, Mizer added Young Adonis in 1963 and Grecian Guild Studio Quarterly in 1966. When obscenity laws were relaxed in 1968 allowing full male frontal nudity, Mizer quickly adapted with the times. Through it all, AMG was very much a family affair, with Mizer’s mother (her skills as a seamstress was put to use in creating a line of skimpy briefs and posing pouches) and brother (an accountant) playing important roles in the business. Mizer would photograph thousands of men and take nearly a million different images, influencing artists like Robert Mapplethorpe and David Hockney along the way. He also produced over 3000 film titles from the 1950s to the 1980’s, which mostly consisted of film (and later, videotape) of his photo sessions.

Bob Mizer died in 1992, and AMG went dormant for a while. But under new ownership, Mizer’s archives are being cataloged and digitally remastered. Mizer never thought of himself as an artists, but his work has garnered a significant re-appraisal. The Los Angeles Times wrote in 2004 that “Mizer’s pictures are historically important because they capture a time, place and attitude so vividly that it still seems to be with us. His photographs are inspiring because they were not made to fill a market niche that already existed. Instead, they created the niche and then filled it with aplomb.”

Ed Wood's "Glen or Glenda" (1953) How It Holds Up Today.

Ed Wood’s “Glen or Glenda” (1953) How It Holds Up Today. [FULL MOVIE]

Ed Wood’s 1953 film “Glen or Glenda” is a highly unconventional movie that explores themes of gender identity and sexual orientation before many knew they even existed. The film features Wood himself as the titular character, a straight man struggling with his desire to crossdress and live as a woman named Glenda. Despite its flaws, “Glen or Glenda” remains a fascinating cultural artifact that resonates today due to its sincere and empathetic portrayal of individuals who do not conform to traditional gender roles.

At the time of its release, “Glen or Glenda” was met with mixed reviews and was largely dismissed as a low-budget exploitation film. However, in recent years, the film has gained a cult following among audiences who appreciate its campy charm and progressive themes. Despite its flaws, “Glen or Glenda” is a genuinely heartfelt and compassionate film that shows a deep understanding of the challenges faced by those who identify as transgender or non-binary.

One of the most striking aspects of “Glen or Glenda” is its willingness to tackle taboo subjects head-on. The film features several scenes in which characters discuss the psychology of crossdressing and the societal stigma associated with non-traditional gender identities. Wood himself delivers a powerful monologue in which he confesses his desire to wear women’s clothing, stating that “I have always felt more feminine than masculine.” This moment of vulnerability and self-reflection is incredibly powerful and showcases Wood’s empathy towards those struggling with gender dysphoria.

Another way in which “Glen or Glenda” resonates today is in its depiction of the medical establishment’s attitude towards gender non-conformity. In the film, a doctor tells Glen that he is “sick” and prescribes a series of treatments intended to suppress his desire to crossdress. This scene is a clear critique of the medical establishment’s history of pathologizing non-normative gender identities and trying to force individuals to conform to societal norms. Today, we are more aware of the harm caused by conversion therapy and other forms of so-called “treatment” for gender dysphoria, and “Glen or Glenda” serves as a reminder of the progress we have made in this area.

Ultimately, “Glen or Glenda” is a flawed but deeply sincere film that resonates today due to its compassionate portrayal of non-traditional gender identities. Despite its campy dialogue and low-budget production values, the film is a powerful statement on the importance of accepting oneself for who they are, regardless of societal expectations.

You can watch the full movie below

Under section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976, allowance is made for “fair use” for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, education and research.

Gay History - March 24, 1987: ACT UP Stages Its First Major Protest In NYC, 17 Arrested - Video

Gay History – NYC March 24, 1987: ACT UP Stages Its First Major Protest on Wall Street, 17 Arrested – [VIDEOS]

On March 24, 1987, the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP) staged a massive protest on Wall Street, New York City, to draw attention to the ongoing HIV/AIDS crisis and to demand more action from the US government and pharmaceutical companies.

Outraged by the government’s mismanagement of the AIDS Crisis LGBT’s and straight allies unite to form the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power. ACT UP.

The demonstration began with a rally in the morning, where thousands of protestors gathered outside the New York Stock Exchange. Activists dressed in white lab coats and carried signs that read “AIDS Is Wall Street’s Business” and “Money for AIDS, Not for War.” The protestors then marched through Lower Manhattan, blocking traffic and chanting slogans such as “Healthcare is a right, not a privilege!” and “ACT UP, Fight Back, Fight AIDS!

The protest aimed to highlight the financial interests ((especially Burroughs Wellcome, manufacturer of AZT) that were hindering progress in finding a cure for HIV/AIDS. ACT UP accused pharmaceutical companies of prioritizing profits over saving lives and called on the government to increase funding for AIDS research and access to affordable healthcare for those living with HIV.

The demonstration received national attention and helped to bring the issue of HIV/AIDS into the mainstream media. It also led to increased funding for AIDS research and improved access to medication for those living with HIV/AIDS.

In the end 17 protestors were arrested.

Overall, the Wall Street protest was a pivotal moment in the fight against HIV/AIDS and demonstrated the power of grassroots activism to effect change

ACT UP’s flyer for the event listed its demands:


Come to Wall Street in front of Trinity Church at 7AM Tuesday March 24 for a


To demand the following

1. Immediate release by the Federal Food & Drug Administration of drugs that might help save our lives.

These drugs include: Ribavirin (ICN Pharmaceuticals); Ampligen (HMR Research Co.); Glucan (Tulane University School of Medicine); DTC (Merieux); DDC (Hoffman-LaRoche); AS 101 (National Patent Development Corp.); MTP-PE (Ciba-Geigy); AL 721 (Praxis Pharmaceuticals).

2. Immediate abolishment of cruel double-blind studies wherein some get the new drugs and some don’t.

3. Immediate release of these drugs to everyone with AIDS or ARC.

4. Immediate availability of these drugs at affordable prices. Curb your greed!

5. Immediate massive public education to stop the spread of AIDS.

6. Immediate policy to prohibit discrimination in AIDS treatment, insurance, employment, housing.

7. Immediate establishment of a coordinated, comprehensive, and compassionate national policy on AIDS.

President Reagan, nobody is in charge!



The first few minutes of the clip below from Fight Back Fight AIDS: 15 Years of ACT UP and the tweet from ACT UP below is the only remaining footage of the first protest.

Fight Back Fight AIDS: 15 Years of ACT UP clip from Frameline on Vimeo.


Gay History – March 23, 1874: The Father of Modern Magazine Design J. C. Leyendecker Born

J.C. Leyendecker

March 23, 1874 – J. C. Leyendecker perhaps the most successful commercial artist of the 20th century was born in Montabour, Germany. He is best known for his poster, book and advertising illustrations, the trade character known as The Arrow Collar Man, and his numerous covers for The Saturday Evening Post.  

Between 1896 and 1950, Leyendecker painted more than 400 magazine covers. 

Leyendecker virtually invented the whole idea of modern magazine design.  His work on the Arrow Shirt Man, is still sexy today. When the ads first appeared in magazines carloads of letters from female fans would arrive daily. But, the model he used was not available. He was Leyendecker’s lover Charles Beach.

Arrow Collar Man Charles Beach

Charles beach 2

GAY 101 - The History of the Lambda as a Gay Rights Symbol.

GAY 101 – The History of the Lambda as a Gay Rights Symbol.

Now in he twenty-first century there are a plethora of flags and symbols to represent all aspects of the LGBT community. But in the beginning there was just one. The Lambda symbol.

The lambda symbol has a long and complex history within the “community”. The symbol is derived from the Greek alphabet, where it represents the letter “L”. It was first adopted by the Gay Activists Alliance (GAA) in the early 1970s as a symbol of resistance and solidarity. Additionally, the lambda symbol was chosen because it was not a well-known symbol, which made it more effective as a secret code among gay activists. The logo was designed by a graphic designer named Tom Doerr, who was a member of the organization.

The GAA was one of the most prominent gay rights organizations in the United States. The group was founded in December 1969, just six months after the Stonewall riots in New York City. The GAA was known for its aggressive tactics, including direct action protests and demonstrations, and its members were committed to fighting for the rights of LGBT+ people everywhere.

The Lambda was officially declared the international symbol for gay and lesbian rights in 1974.

Over time, the lambda symbol became more widely recognized as a symbol of the community. It was often used on buttons, t-shirts, and other merchandise, and was a common sight at gay pride events for decades. That is until some members of the community criticized it as being too closely associated with white, middle-class gay men (GASP THE HORROR), and not inclusive enough of other groups within the LGBTQ+ community.

Today it is rarely seen and many younger gay men have no idea of it’s meaning or deep history and is all but forgotten.

Despite this criticism, the lambda symbol remains an important and recognizable symbol of the gay community and it’s history. And this should be “reclaimed” by gay male activists again to show their power and pride.

GAY 101: A Quick Gay History Lesson on the GLORYHOLE

GAY 101: A Quick Gay History Lesson on the GLORYHOLE

The gloryhole, a hole in a bathroom stall or partition used for anonymous sexual encounters, has a long and controversial history in men’s rooms. The origins of the gloryhole are unclear, but it is believed to have first appeared in the 1700s in public bathhouses in Europe.

The first documented instance of a glory hole was in a 1707 court case known as the “Tryals of Thomas Vaughan and Thomas Davis” in London, England, which involved the extortion of a man known in the documents only as Mr Guillam.

In these bathhouses, men would use the gloryhole to engage in anonymous sexual encounters with other men. The practice quickly spread to other public spaces, including public toilets and restrooms. By the 1800s, the gloryhole had become a popular fixture in men’s rooms around the world.

Some men in the Victorian era resorted to using the alleys and side streets of cities to sexually relieve themselves. In these dark and dingy areas, men would often carve holes into the wooden panels of buildings or use existing holes to engage in anonymous sexual encounters.

The popularity of the gloryhole continued to grow in the 20th century, with the advent of more private and secluded restrooms. These restrooms provided more opportunities for anonymous sexual encounters, and the gloryhole became a fixture in many of them.

However, as the public became more aware of the dangers of sexually transmitted diseases in the latter part of the 20th century, along with rabid homophobia the use of gloryholes began to decline. Many public restrooms began to remove or cover up the holes in an effort to discourage anonymous sexual encounters.

Despite these efforts, the gloryhole has remained a fixture in men’s rooms around the world. Some argue that the use of the gloryhole is a victimless crime, while others argue that it contributes to the spread of sexually transmitted diseases and is a danger to public health.

In recent years, the rise of online dating and hookup apps has made it easier for men to find sexual partners without the use of gloryholes. However, the practice remains popular among some groups of men, particularly those who seek out anonymous sexual encounters or who are part of the BDSM community for the thrill of it all..

The legality of the gloryhole varies by country and jurisdiction. In some places, the use of gloryholes is considered a form of public indecency and can result in criminal charges. In other places, the use of gloryholes is legal as long as it is done in a private setting.

Ironically in In June 2020, a New York Health Department COVID-19 advisory suggested sex through “physical barriers, like walls,” but did not specifically reference glory holes, as part of broader measures on dating and sex during the pandemic.

The history of the gloryhole in men’s rooms is a complex and multifaceted one that spans several centuries. While the use of gloryholes has faced opposition from conservative groups and law enforcement, they remain a popular way for men to engage in anonymous sexual encounters today. That is if you can find one.

March 21: World Puppetry Day – Remembering Wayland Flowers and Madam (VIDEOS)

The thing about puppets is that they get to say and do things that ordinary people aren’t allowed to do. Maybe that’s why Georgia-native Wayland Flowers took up puppetry and created “Madame,” which Hofstra University’s Patricia Jukliana Smith aptly described as “a grotesquely ugly and flamboyantly ribald old crone festooned in outrageous evening gowns, tiaras, and rhinestones.”  Madam was said to be based on movie star Gloria Swanson’s Sunset Boulevard  character Norma Desmond and also is rumored to be based on a Washington, DC waitress and restaurant hostess Margo MacGregor

In other words Madam was an outrageously campy drag queen in wood and wire, a hideous hag who thought herself glamorous and who spoke in double entendres and bitchy take-downs.  Sounds familiar.  No wonder she was a hit with gay audiences.

Madame was created by Flowers in the mid-1960s in night clubs and gay bars throughout the 1960s before landing frequent appearances on Laugh-In.

Flowers’ first big break was an appearance on the The Andy Williams Show.

The act then appeared as a recurring comedy skit on Solid Gold before eventually replacing Paul Lynde as Center Square on Hollywood Squares. In 1982, Madame was star of her own sitcom, Madame’s Place, a half-hour syndicated program that ran five days a week for one season. Madame’s talk show within the series drew Debbie Reynolds, Foster Brooks and William Shatner as guests. 

Flowers died on October 11, 1988, five weeks after collapsing during a performance at Harrah’s resort in Lake Tahoe. The family attributed his death to cancer, and asked that no other details about his AIDS-related death be released to the public.

Be sure to watch the last video, Wayland and Madam UNCENSORED from 1977.  

It’s a hoot!