LGBTQ* Photographic History
Exhibit Carryin’ On
Photographs documenting LGBTQ* individuals of color
Photographers: Samuel Fosso and Charles ‘Teenie’ Harris
LGBTQ* People In History (of Great Importance)
The “Einstein of Sex”: Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld
14 May 1868 – 14 May 1935
Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld was a scholar, physician, sexologist, and arguably the first outspoken gay and transgender activist in modern history.
Why he rocks?
1. Jewish gay identified doctor, fought to end Paragraph 175 in Germany ( a law that made homosexuality punishable by law)
2. Founding member of Wissenschaftlich-humanitäres Komitee(WhK) *English: The Scientific-Humanitarian Committee*, which acted as an advocacy group to many underrepresented individuals (including the LGBTQ population).
3. Led the FIRST congress for sexual reform
5. Created a way of cataloging identities, 64 of them, outside of “gay/lesbian,” including many ways to identify oneself outside of cisgender identification. Hirschfeld is one of the earliest scholars and advocates for the transgender community in Western culture.
6. Created the Institute for Sexual Research, which became a safe haven for LGBTQ individuals in Berlin.
7. Joined the Bund für Mutterschutz (League for the Protection of Mothers), fighting for women’s equality and the decriminalization of abortions
8. Lost his entire library and most of his life work to the Nazi party but was able to flee and save his life (and rumored to have saved a few others). Nazi soldiers burned the entire institution’s contents on May 6, 1933.
Imagine what the world might be if we still had all of his notes and the stories of hundreds of queer* identified and trans* identified individuals.
LGBTQ* History You May Not Know
Lisa Ben & Vice Versa
LGBTQ* Deviant Artist You Should Know
creator of The Traveling Twinks! and (one panel of) Leaping Lesbians! - Your Illustrated Gay/Lesbian Homo Historians
LGBTQ* News You May Have Missed
Friday, May 30, 2014, the National Park Service announced that they would start marking LGBT historic landmarks.
You can watch more from the Associated Press video above (source).
LGBTQ* Art, Graphics and Advertising History
How the (Zebra) Got Its Spots
Mattachine Society Inc, of New York 1966
Poster reads: Homosexuals are different…. but… we believe they have the right to be. We believe that the civil rights and human dignity of homosexuals are as precious as those of any other citizen… we believe that the homosexual has the right to live, work and participate in a free society.
Mattachine defends the rights of homosexuals and tries to create a climate of understanding and acceptance.
(note: The Mattachine Society was one of the first public support/ally/equality resource groups in the United States. )
Alan L. Hart
Podcasts You May Have Missed:
Alan L. Hart from Stuff You Missed In History Class
Following from Missed In History:
“Alan L. Hart was a novelist and a doctor who did groundbreaking work in the world of public health and tuberculosis detection. He was also one of the first people in the United States to undergo surgery as part of transitioning to a different gender than the one to which he had been born. His gender and sexual orientation influenced both his writing and his career. After his transition, he faced extensive discrimination and harassment: For much of his life, he had to move from place to place after colleagues discovered that he had been born female.”
NOTE: Some of the language may cause triggers. I highly recommend listening to Tracy and Holly speak at the end of the podcast. Missed in History works diligently on their research. Language is incredibly complicated and it is quite clear in their discussion that their intention is to be P.C. and inclusive. This may be a bit problematic to some listeners at times, due to language/phrasing used. Please remember we are all learning together and the Stuff You Missed team is very receptive to insightful, polite responses.
LGBTQ* Military/Service History
"Undesirable" == "Homosexual"
During WWII the United States Military starting issuing “Blue Discharges.”
A Blue Discharge/Blue Slip was named because of the color paper it was printed on. These slips were used exclusively for dishonorably discharging soldiers accused of being homosexual. Once discharged, a serviceman could NOT receive any government benefits for his service in the armed forces and could be REFUSED employment by anyone.
The government hired psychologists to find “the homosexual” recruits. When soldiers signed up for the service, they would be asked a series of questions with (code) words that were thought to highlight homosexual behavior. It is projected that for every one LGBTQ* individual who was detained, ten passed. By the third year of World War II, the United States Government told psychologists to stop screening. Every physical body was needed for deployment.
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)