(your response may be used in the very near future)
LGBTQ* History You May Have Missed:
How California Got Its Name
"The Spaniards had observed primarily male behavior. Typical of European men of the era, female same-sex relations, and even gender inversion, was the stuff of fantasy for them. They were enamored of Garci Rodriguez de Montalvo’s protolesbian-tale about a mythical island called ‘California’ where Queen Califia lived with her beloved subjects, all of whom were masculine women. ‘And there were no males among them at all,’ Montalvo wrote. He described the women as having “energetic bodies and courageous ardent hearts.’ Like the Amazons of Greek myth, they waged bloody war on other lands, killing most of the males but carrying away a few so that they might copulate with them for the sake of procreation. Female babies were kept among them; male babies were slaughtered. In 1535, Hernan Cortes, sharing his era’s enchantment with the story of these fierce, manless women, wrote the name ‘California’ on a map of a strip of land on the west coast of North America. It has remained the name ever since—though the protolesbian source is long forgotten.”
From Gay L.A.: A History of Sexual Outlaws, Power Politics, and Lipstick Lesbians, edited by Lillian Faderman and Stuart Timmons.
(The first photo is the first map to print the toponym [place name] “California.” 1562, Diego Gutierrez.)
(The second photo is of Las Sergas de Esplandian [The Adventures of Esplandian], the romance novel by Garci Rodrigues de Montalvo that mentions the legend of California. 1510.)
KNOWhomo Throw Back Thursday
On todays date, in 1953, Christine Jorgensen returned to New York following the first internationally recognized sex reassignment surgery, performed by Dr. Christian Hamburger
LGBTQ* People You Should Know
Christine Jorgensen (May 30, 1926 – May 3, 1989)
- Jorgensen was the first transgender individual to gain wide press and conduct interviews following sexual reassignment surgery (SRS)
***Note, Jorgensen’s SRS was not the first. It was the first to gain international attention.***
- While serving in the army in 1945, Jorgensen found supportive surgeons and endocrinologists while in Copenhagen
- During this time, sexual reassignment surgery was illegal in many countries
- America had no known surgery available
- Jorgensen’s surgery was front page news in 1952 (making the headline of New York Daily News reading “Ex-GI Becomes Blonde Beauty.”)
- Jorgensen, after returning to America, became close to Dr. Harry Benjamin, who would go on to oversee much of her physical transition later in life
- During the course of her life, Jorgensen became an advocate and voice for the transgender community.
LGBTQ* Off-Topic History
Anti-cross-dressing laws were passed heavily in the United States during the mid-nineteenth century.
Following text from: Transgender History by Susan Stryker
San Francisco’s 1863 Ordinance:
If any person shall appear in a public place in a state of nudity, or in a dress not belonging to his or her sex, or in an indecent or lewd dress, or shall make any indecent exposure of his or her person, or be found guilty of any lewd or indecent act or behavior, or shall exhibit or perform any indecent, immoral or lewd play, or other representation, he should be guilty of a misdemeanor, and on conviction, shall pay a fine not exceeding five hundred dollars.
$500.00 (1863) = $8805 (2010 - estimated)
Conversion based on $1.00 (2010) = $17.61 (1863)
portrait: Francis Martin Drexel (1792-1863) Double Portrait 1822
LGBTQ* History You Should Know
(And Probably Never Heard Of)
Homo History and the Prisoner of Alcatraz
Alcatraz, San Francisco Bay’s “Rock,” opened as a prison in the 1934. The prison, considered the most intense maximum-security facility in the United States, housed the most “dangerous and incorrigible” criminals in the country. Murderers, mob bosses, serial murderers and enemies of the state were sent to Alcatraz. Also incarcerated at the mighty prison where men who committed the punishable crime of sodomy.
Frank Bolt (pictured above) was Alcatraz’s first inmate, processed on July 1, 1934. Bolt was convicted and imprisoned on the charge of being caught in a homosexual act and received a five-year sentence for acts of sodomy. He would later die at Alcatraz.
-Nine of the first twenty-five prisoners processed and housed at Alcatraz were jailed on charges of sodomy.
Source: The Portable Queer: Homo History p.25-26
LGBTQ* Slang and Etymology You Should Know:
“Faggot” or “Fag”
In a cringe-worthy moment at my family reunion last week, a well-meaning but poorly-informed relative used a word she shouldn’t have. Her actions were not intended to be malicious—she simply made an observation about the etymology of the word without considering its historical or social context. My feelings were hurt, an uncomfortable situation ensued, and we both realized we had a lot of learning to do before a dialogue was going to be possible.
After all, her point was valid: A faggot has been defined as a bundle of sticks. However, historically, it means a lot of other things as well, and we owe it to ourselves to know our history:
1. A “faggot” was an archaic English measuring unit for wood or kindling synonymous with bundle, usually 3 feet in length and two feet in circumference. (As defined by A Dictionary of Weights and Measures for the British Isles: The Middle Ages to the Twentieth Century, Vol. 168, edited by Ronald Edward Zupko)
2. The ashen faggot (sometimes called ashton fagot) is an old English Christmas tradition from Devon and Somerset, similar to that of the Yule log and related to the wassail tradition. A faggot is a large log or a bundle of ash sticks bound with nine green lengths of ash bands or ‘beams’, preferably all from the same tree. At the appropriate moment during Christmas Eve, the faggot must be burnt in a hearth while people who are watching sing Dunster Carols. (taken from the Oxford Dictionary of English Folklore)
3. Faggot cell is a term used for cells normally found in the hypergranular form of acute promyelocytic leukemia (FAB - M3). This term is applied to these Promyelocytes (not blast cells) because of the presence of numerous Auer rods in the cytoplasm. The accumulation of these Auer rods gives the appearance of a bundle of sticks, from which the cells are given their name. (information from Clinical Laboratory Medicine by Kenneth D. McClatchey  and Lichtman’s Atlas of Hematology )
4. A Faggot-vote was defined by the New English Dictionary as “a vote manufactured for party purposes, by the transfer to persons, not otherwise legally qualified, of sufficient property to qualify them as electors.” (Henry Bradley, “Faggot-Vote,” Oxford English Dictionary )
5. First recorded in 1914, the American slang term was shortened to fag shortly after, in 1921. The origin of the word as a derogatory term for LGBTQ* people (originally gay men) is unclear, but some historians think it equated homosexuality with femininity as the word was also used as a derogatory term for women in the 16th century. (from p.781 in Studies in Etymology and Etiology edited by David L. Gold, Antonio Lillo Buades, Félix Rodríguez González )
6. The Nelson Contemporary English Dictionary acknowledges the use of the word “fag” on the record by 1977 as British and Australian slang for a cigarette (p. 187).
There is an unsubstantiated urban legend I’m sure we’ve all heard by now that says the slang term “faggot” evolved from the bundles of sticks used for kindling in the fires where queers and witches were burnt at the stake in multiple historical periods, implying that “faggots” (the people) were no better than “faggots” (the objects they were burned upon)—Dan Harper says this is NOT TRUE (or at least, can’t be proven) in the Online Etymological Dictionary.
Based on my research, he’s right. I can’t find a single, definitive link that will tell me when the term flipped, and why it has gained the oppressive force it has today. But here’s what I CAN tell you:
A vast majority of the definitions of “faggot” define it as an object to be burned or destroyed. In political and military usage, it delineates a false vote because the voter is not real or less than a person. For me, the perjorative intent and history of the word is pretty clear, and I’d rather it not be used unless it’s by a member of the community reclaiming it in a situation of empowerment. What do y’all think?
Want to KNOW more?
The 1995 documentary The Celluloid Closet notes the use of the derogatory term in the Hollywood film industry throughout the 20th and 21st centuries, and Larry Kramer’s 1978 novel Faggots discusses the use of the word both within and used against the male gay community.
LGBTQ* Novels/Books To Keep On Your Radar
Novels featuring Wom(y/e)n of Color Queer* Themes or Characters (1920s-1970s)
- Home To Harlem by Claude McKay (1928) - two scenes set in black lesbian bars, glimpses of early Harlem
- Young Man with a Horn by Dorothy Baker (1938) - Josephine Jordan, a singer, has a relationship with Amy North, a wealthy woman
- The Wasteland by Jo Sinclair (1946) - novel depicting the oppression of women of color and opposition to women of color in lesbian circles
- The Big Money by John Dos Passos (1960) - Harlem 1920s
- Loving Her by Ann Allen Shockley (1974) - one of the first novels to explore interracial relationships between lesbians
- Strange Brothers by Blair Niles (1975) - Book takes liberties and draws from Harlem lesbian culture of the 1920s
- Ruby by Rosa Guy (1976) - West Indian girl finds friendship after relocating
- In Her Day by Rita Mae Brown (1976) - longtime friendship of Adele, a wealthy lesbian woman of color, and Carole, a working-class white lesbian woman
- Ed Dean is Queer by N.A. Diaman (1978) - San Francisco elects their new mayor (a queer woman of color)
Richards, Dell. Lesbian Lists: A Look at Lesbian Culture, History, and Personalities. Boston: Alyson Publications, 1990. p.34
KNOWhomo Nonfiction (a Moderator is currently reading)
(your response may be used in the very near future)
LGBTQ* Terms You Should Know
"TWO-SPIRIT" — an umbrella term (sometimes) used as a noun by indigenous people of North America to describe those who express their truths and self outside of the gender binary
Also recorded as: twospirit; two spirit
* Please note the above photo which describes We’Wa as Berdache. This term has been used by anthropologists in the past to describe trans* and Two-Spirit indigenous persons. It is now considered to be an archaic term and is often considered offensive.
IMPORTANT: The only individuals who identify as Two-Spirit are those who are individuals of specific cultures and ethnicity. Two-Spirit takes on more than just gender identity. It is a cultural and spiritual term.
Known Indigenous Tribes Who Openly Recognize(d) and Support(ed) Two-Spirit Members
Above Photograph All of We’Wa.
LGBTQ* Posters and Propaganda You May Have Missed
1988 National Coming Out Day Poster
* (Left to Right, Top)James Baldwin, Willa Cather, Errol Flynn, Michelangelo, Edna St. Vincent Millay
* (Left to Right, Bottom) Cole Porter, Elanor Roosevelt, Bessie Smith, Walt Witman, Virginia Woolf
KNOWhomo Repost to Remember an Amazing Leader
LGBTQ* People You Should Know
Bayard Rustin (March 17, 1912 – August 24, 1987)
* Civil Rights and Activism Leader
* Practiced Nonviolence (Member of Fellowship for Reconciliation)
* Organized the 1963 March on Washington (the LARGEST nonviolent protest in the United States)
* Strategist and Adviser to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr
* Worked to strengthen labor unions and promote equal working enviroments
* Rustin was arrested more times for being homosexual than for participating in civil rights protests as a man of color (in the 1960s, homosexuality was still criminalized)
* In the 1970s-1980s, Rustin worked with Freedom House.
— From Rustin’s Speech “The New Niggers Are Gays”
Today, blacks are no longer the litmus paper or the barometer of social change. Blacks are in every segment of society and there are laws that help to protect them from racial discrimination. The new “niggers” are gays… . It is in this sense that gay people are the new barometer for social change… . The question of social change should be framed with the most vulnerable group in mind: gay people.
Bayard Rustin’s life is briefly mentioned in the film BEFORE STONEWALL, discussed in COMING OUT OF THE PAST and featured in the documentary Brother Outsider.
**PLFAG MOM also posted about Bayard Rustin earlier today. Her blog includes a video of Rustin speaking. You should check it out for more information.
LGBTQ* Naval History And People (You Might Want To Know About)
"Our country! In her intercourse with foreign nations may she always be in the right, but our country, right or wrong."
Stephen Decatur was one of the United States’ first naval heroes. During the War of 1812, Decatur commanded a battleship which was victorious over the British ship Macedonian and later assisted with the victory over the ship Endymion. Decatur was also one of the driving forces in obtaining a peace treaty with Algeria in 1815.
Decatur worked closely with Richard Somers. The friendship between the two men was often questioned and met some ridicule (Decatur was married and Somers was seeing someone). One story claims that five young officers questioned Somers behavior and challenged him to a duel. Somers wounded three of the men before receiving his first wound, to his arm. Legend claims following Somer’s wound, Decatur stepped in and the following men fled.
Like most stories of deep respect and affection, this one ends sadly. Somers was killed after volunteering to blow up a pirate stronghold after the plan went terribly wrong. Decatur watched from his own vessel as Somers life was lost and his body eventually washed ashore.
Before his death, Somers gave Decatur a gold ring. Decatur wore the token until his own death, in a duel with naval officer James Barron, at age forty-one.
LGBTQ* iPhone and Android Apps (We’re) Obsessed With:
(Following text and photograph from website)
Quist is a mobile app that displays events from this day in LGBTQ history.
Historical events in the app paint a picture of how far the LGBTQ community has come over time — how we have been treated, how we have reacted, how our allies have supported us, and how others have worked vehemently to stop the progress. LGBTQ individuals’ contributions to society and events in HIV/AIDS history are also included.
The app was released on July 24, 2013 for iOS and Android.