Tag Archives: June Gay History Month

Celebrating LGBTQ History Month: June 25, Oscar Wilde

25 Jun

Today I would like to honor and pay tribute to Oscar Wilde. Wilde and his The Picture of Dorian Gray have been celebrated before on TSM. Wilde’s legacy is being one of the most successful playwrights of the late 19th century and being imprisoned for being gay, expressing “the love that dare not speak its name.”  What a mixture of sadness and triumph we have with Wilde. Being sent to prison for being gay, Wilde becomes a type of martyr for the LGBT community.  However, his courage, wit, and visibility have now made him a hero to gays around the world.

And where is the reputation of Lord Alfred Douglas today?  Douglas is a prime example of what happens when you are on the wrong side of history–take note all of the modern bigots against marriage equality. Douglas’ legacy is that he was the man that seduced Wilde, set him up, used him, and is now only known as a pathetic coward. While Douglas lived off his father’s wealth until he was an old man, Wilde died destitute in Paris.

Wilde’s legacy is that he remains the quintessential wit of the 19th and 20th centuries, and a man of honor and courage.  The Importance of Being Earnest remains a much-revered play.  I  am determined to play Lady Bracknell, Aunt Augusta, as soon as I find a production being mounted here in the Portland area!  Earnest is far more clever and witty than most people realize.  The word “earnest” was code at that time for being gay.

Wilde is also one of those literary figures who remains quoted by his fans.  Here are a few of my favorites:

The public have an insatiable curiosity to know everything, except what is worth knowing.
The Soul of Man Under Socialism

The world is a stage, but the play is badly cast.

To love oneself is the beginning of a life-long romance.
An Ideal Husband

I applaud Wilde for his courage, strength, and for inspiring generations of gay people who follow after him. To learn more about Oscar Wilde, click here.

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Celebrating LGBTQ History Month: June 14, Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir

14 Jun

Today I would like to honor and pay tribute to Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir.  Jóhanna claims two significant honors. She is the first female Prime Minister of Iceland, and she is the first openly gay Head of State in the world!  Wow–impressive.  Jóhanna took office on February 1, 2009.  In the 1990s, Jóhanna lost her bid to head her party, commenting, ” Minn tími mun koma!”  –My time will come! I wonder if the United States will overcome its bigotry toward the LGBT community and elect an openly gay President in my lifetime?  I think I’m quite fond of this particular post because it is a great history lesson for Americans specifically.  It is good for the United States to know that a country has an openly gay leader and for those that support Michele Bachmann, it is good for them to know there is a country called Iceland.  Thank you, Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir for being out and visible.

Celebrating LGBTQ History Month: June 6, Angela Davis

6 Jun

Today I would like to honor and pay tribute to Angela Davis.  For those that follow TSM, you may remember celebrating Davis during Women’s History Month.  While Davis is justifiably a recognized voice and activist to help eradicate racism, today I would like to focus on her efforts to also end homophobia.  Since publicly coming out in 1997, Davis has devoted much of her energy to equality for the LGBTQ community:

 …to imagine the concept of freedom fifty years from today, when people will no longer live under the influence of heterosexism and homophobia, and gender will no longer be a rigid binary.

I hope that in less than 50 years we will see the benefits of Davis’ activism and we will all celebrate her work and dedication to civil rights for all.  Click here to read an article about Davis at the Milk Club Dinner.

Celebrating LGBTQ Pride Month: June 2, Roberta Achtenberg

2 Jun

Today I would like to honor and pay tribute to Roberta Achtenberg. While many of you may recognize Achtenberg’s name as the co-founder of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, she made an amazing impact as the first openly gay person to be confirmed by the Senate for a major political post.  In 1993, Achtenberg became the Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development under President Clinton.

In 1993, her Senate confirmation was not without stress.  Remember that lovely racist bigot, Jesse Helms, from North Carolina?  Helms referred to Achtenberg as, “that damn lesbian.”  I remember being particularly happy about Achtenberg standing up to the Boy Scouts and denying them funding because of their anti-gay discrimination–something not seen in the Girl Scouts.  Unfortunately, despite Achtenberg’s censure of the Boy Scouts and Steven Spielberg’s protest of the discriminatory policies, the Boy Scouts still practice the good old “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” stay in the closet policy.  Kudos to our Achtenberg for making the world a better place for all.

A Queer Version of Howard Zinn

31 May

Thanks to my friend Brad for inspiring this story.  Here we are on the final day of May, the day before TSM will do a month long celebration of LGBT History.  June is typically LGBT History Month in commemoration of the Stonewall Riots.  In preparation of celebrating LGBT history, I would like to strongly recommend a new book by Michael Bronski

A 21st Century Howard Zinn

A QUEER HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES. I have been a great fan of Howard Zinn since the first time I read A People’s History of the United States, in the late 1980s.  Bronski, like Zinn has crafted a piece of non-fiction that reflects our history through a more accurate lens.  Bronski focuses on tracing the history of the LGBT community in the United States.  Bronski starts with the Puritans and shows the beginning of how America justified the marginalization of people:

The acceptance of slavery as a philosophical concept and political reality laid the groundwork for the justification of ‘othering’ — designating a group of people as ‘different,’ placing them outside of the legal, social, and moral framework granting full citizenship.

Bronski takes a very needed integrated approach in including the voices of the LGBT community.  Click here to see the full article. I hope that my month of celebrating LGBT people will help to hearing our voices in American history become fully integrated.

Here is a nice update thanks to a kind soul that follows TSM:

I thought you might like the video we did for Michael Bronski’s A Queer History of the United States:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mzJ7X2Uavyc

Please share if you like it!

Best,

Jessie Bennett

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