On This Queer Day – December 2020

Written by Adriaan van den Berg

It is festive season (for most of us), December. And this year’s is perhaps fraught with sadness and pain for some who have lost someone in the Covid Pandemic. It is a year most probably just would like to get over with anyhow, but we should try finish it with grace and kindness, with generosity and an unbroken spirit. LGBTG history has many incidences of incredible adversity that were overcome, many inspirational events, though it has its fair share of tragedies too, I admit. But even the bad indicates how far we have come. We have also just celebrated the Sacred Nights of Antinous and Christmas is just up ahead – these are two examples of periods of potential spiritual renewal from which strength and endurance can also be derived. So, don’t give up, don’t give in! Take this month and the time of December to renew yourselves, to find courage and inspiration. Above all, be kind to one another. And with that said, let’s turn to the month of December in LGBTG history…

December 1st, 1901 – El Universal, a Mexican newspaper reports that police raided a party attended by single women, implying the women were all lesbians.

December 1st, 1897 – Activist Magnus Hirschfeld petitioned the Reichstag to abolish Paragraph 175, the anti-LGBTG clause in Germany’s legislation. It was to be the first salvo in a lifelong campaign for LGBTG rights.

December 2nd, 1976 – Willard Allen was released from a mental hospital after 26 years confined for having sex with another man. His doctor had recommended his release for twenty years.

December 2nd, 1988 – The first of December is designated to become World Aids Day by the World Health organisation.

December 2nd, 1974 – The Greek letter lambda was officially declared the international symbol for gay and lesbian rights by the International Gay Rights Congress in Edinburgh, Scotland.

December 3rd, 1892 – The Michigan Supreme Court descrees that “emission” is required to complete an act of sodomy.

December 4th, 1976 – Canadian University Press approves of a boycott of the Canadian Broadcast Corporation for refusing to broadcast public service announcements for a gay group in Halifax.

December 4th, 1998 – A vigil held for slain African American transgender woman, Rita Hester, turns into the Transgender Day of Remembrance. The remembrance of dead LGBTG people has since become a project of a number of organisations including the Temple of Antinous at whose Sacred Nights ceremonies at the end of October the names of the LGBTG slain and dead were read out. (See www.antinopolis.org for lists of Martyrs and Saints of Antinous).

December 4th, 2013 – Openly gay lawyer and politician Xavier Bettel is sworn in as Luxembourg’s Prime Minister.

December 5th, 1640 – Anglican Bishop of Waterford and Lismore, John Atherton, becomes the second man executed in Ireland for the vice of buggery. His steward and tithe proctor and partner, John Childe was also executed for the same transgression that same year.

December 5th, 1932 – Richard Wayne Penniman, also known as rock star Little Richard, was born on this day.

December 6th, 1994 – The American Medical Association’s delegates declare their opposition to medical treatments that supposedly “cured” gays and lesbians and urged “Non-judgemental recognition of sexual orientation.”   

December 6th, 1995 – President Bill Clinton hosts the first White House Conference on Aids fourteen years after the epidemic began. Clinton’s support for HIV and Aid programs replaced the negligent attitudes of Ronald Reagan and his administration towards the disease.

December 6th, 2011 – Elio Di Rupo becomes the second openly gay person to head the government of Belgium.

December 7th, 1916 – The manager of a New York City Turkish bathhouse commits suicide after his establishment was raided by police and 37 men were arrested on the premises for vice-related charges.

December 7th, 1946 – Supposedly the oldest organisation advocating for LGBTG rights, Netherland’s Centre for Culture and Leisure was established on this day.

December 7th, 1989 – Turkish journalist Ibrehim Eren is imprisoned for protesting harassment of gays by police. He was held for four months.

December 8th, 1981 – The New York City Gay Men’s Chorus becomes the first openly gay musical group to perform at Carnegie Hall with their Christmas Concert.

December 8th, 1987 – In its time Clause 28 introduced by Conservative members of Parliament in the UK would stir up quite a bit of trouble: It made it illegal for local authorities to “promote homosexuality or promote the teaching in any maintained school of the acceptability of homosexuality.” It was introduced on this date and triggered a whole anti-Clause 28 movement in the UK.

December 9th, 1978 – Metro Toronto police raid the Barracks steam bath and arrest twenty eight men for vice related transgressions.

December 9th, 2005 – “Brokeback Mountain” is released to limited audiences in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco. The neo-American western featured a love story between two cowboys that endures for decades.

December 9th, 2014 – The Gambian government sponsors an anti-gay march from the National Assembly to the State House attended by the President, Ahaji Yahya Jammeh.

December 10th, 1792 – The Commonwealth of Virginia criminalises buggery including female same-sex intercourse with the death penalty.

December 10th, 1924 – Henry Gerber founded the Society for Human Rights on this date in Chicago – it would become one of the earliest gay advocacy groups in the United States but ran into trouble when Gerber was arrested for creating an “immoral organisation.” Gerber also published “Friendship and Freedom,” the first American gay publication. Geber continued agitating for LGBTG rights despite being prosecuted and persecuted.

December 10th, 1948 – On this day the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

December 10th, 1990 – Ireland’s Prime Minister announces plans to legalise same-sex acts between consenting adults.

December 10th, 1998 – Zackie Achmat founded the Treatment Action Campaign or TAC for the getting anti-retroviral access to HIV+ South Africans. Achmat is an activist and a film director. He becomes known the world over for his advocacy and activism for people with HIV and Aids, He also served as Board member of Ndifuna Ukwazi (Dare to Know), an organisation that supports social justice organisations and is Chairperson of Equal Education.

December 11th, 1973 – CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite is interrupted by activist Mark Segal protesting CBS’ bias in reporting stories about homosexuals. He walked in front of the cameras carrying a sign which read “GAY PROTEST CBS BIGOTRY.”

December 11th, 1998 – The American Psychiatric Association rejects reparative therapies and state that trying to change a person’s sexual orientation can cause depression, anxiety and self-destructive behaviour.

December 12th, 1969 – Police raid the Continental Baths and arrest employees and patrons. The baths were advertised as reminiscent of “the glory of ancient Rome\” and would be repeatedly raided over the following weeks.

December 13th, 1973 – Title 34 is instituted on this day that makes discrimination in Washington, D.C. illegal

December 13th, 1999 – US Defence Secretary William Cohen orders a full review of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy whereby gay and lesbian members of the US military were urged to conceal their sexual orientations.

December 15th, 1928 – Radclyffe Hall’s book of lesbian fiction “The Well of Loneliness,” having been successfully published in Europe, is published in the USA on this date and sells 20 000 copies.

December 16th, 1899 – Noel Coward (d. 26 March, 1973), writer and composer, was born on this day. Coward was homosexual but never fully came out publicly.

December 17th, 1963 – The New York Times runs a story titled “Growth of Overt Homosexuality in the City Provokes Wide Concern” telling of a series of police raids on bars and arrests.

December 17th, 1970 – Nine leaders of the feminist movement, including Gloria Steinham and Susan Brownmiller, holds a press conference to express solidarity with homosexuals’ struggle for liberation in a sexist society.

December 18th, 1900 – Marion Barbara ‘Joe’ Carstairs (d. 18 December, 1993) was born on this day. Carstairs was a wealthy British powerboat racer who usually dressed as man, had tattooed arms and famously dated a series of women including Oscar Wilde’s niece Dolly Wilde and Greta Garbo.

December 18th, 1974 – The first international Gay Rights Conference begins. It would result in the formation of the International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA) bringing together more than 750 LGBTG groups from around the world. ILGA is represented in more than 110 countries around the world and is accredited by the United Nations

December 18th, 1980 – The state sodomy laws are abolished by the New York State Court of Appeals.

December 18th, 2009 – Austria’s Bundesrat approve of same-sex marriage.

December 20th, 1973 – The New York City Council rejects a gay rights ordinance for the second time in two years.

December 20th, 2013 – District Judge Robert Shelby strikes down Utah’s gay marriage ban. More than a 1000 same-sex couples marry over the following two weeks.

December 21st, 1888 – The Governor of California commutes the twelve-year prison sentence of Lucilius Miller, a man convicted of sodomy.

December 21st, 1981 – Time and Newsweek run their first major stories about Hiv – Aids.

December 21st, 1990 – An MTV poll finds that 92% of teenagers said it won’t make any difference to them if their favourite Rockstar came out as being gay or lesbian.

December 21st, 2007 – Nepal repeals anti-LGBTG laws and creates new laws to safeguard the rights of LGBTG people.

December 22nd, 2010 – President Obama signs the repeal of the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy in the military.

December 24th, 1307 – 500 Knights Templars rescind their former confessions admitting to homosexual activities. Philip IV burned 50 of them after they had committed confessions. Their leader, Grand Master Jacques de Molay, is burned on an island in the Sein river opposite Notre Damme Cathedral.

December 24th, 2012– The Serbian Parliament approves changes to its Penal Code to include sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes.

December 25th, 1950 – Time runs its first article on homosexuality saying homosexuals are a security risk if they work in government.

December 26th, 1977 – Anti-gay crusader Anita Bryant is named one of Twenty Five ”most intriguing people” by People magazine.

December 27th, 1990 – Women from seventeen countries attend the first international lesbian conference in the Netherlands called the International Lesbian Information Secretariat held in a youth hostel over six days.

December 28th, 1994 – Seventy men attend the first regional conference on gay rights in South Asia.  They come from India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri-Lanka. The event was organised by Ashok Row Kawi, an Indian journalist.

December 28th, 1998 – Pope John Paul II speaks out against non-traditional families saying it threatened traditional family structures.

December 29th, 1971 – Boys in the Sand, Wakefield Poole’s influential porn film premieres. The film slickly produced film makes a break with low budget pornography- it includes credits, was reviewed by Variety and achieved crossover success.

December 30th, 1965 – The New York Post runs an article on the police’s use of unlawful tactics to harass gay men.

December 30th, 1977 – Toronto police seizes materials and charges the country’s leading gay and lesbian newspaper, The Body Politic, with “using the mails to distribute immoral, indecent and scurrilous material.” The paper would be acquitted after six years.

December 31st, 1971 – Life magazine publishes an 11-page spread titled “Homosexuals in Revolt” which discusses the post-Stonewall LGBTG movement generally in a positive light.

*

Religious Holidays in December 2020 –

Buddhist:

  • Bodhi Day, 8 December – Buddha’s attaining of enlightenment.   

Christian:

  • Feast of the Immaculate Conception, 8 December (Catholic) – Belief that Mary, Jesus’ mother, conceived without original sin.
  • Christmas Day, 25 December – The birth of Christ.
  • St. Stephen’s Day, 26 December

Jewish:

  • Hanukkah, 10 December – Commemorates the Jewish victory over the Syrian Greeks ending three years of religious persecution.

Pagan and Wiccan:

  • Yule, 12 December, the Sabbat celebrated on the winter’s Solstice as the rebirth of the great horned hunter god and the new-born solstice sun.

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