Category: events

DECEMBER 30: Amanda Nunes defends her title as…

On July 10, 2016, Amanda Nunes became
the very first openly gay UFC fighter to win a major title. She made history once again on December 30, 2016 when she defeated the legendary Ronda Rousey and became the very first openly gay returning champion in UFC history. 

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Amanda Nunes celebrates her historic win over Ronda Rousey on December 30, 2016. Despite Rousey’s bombastic reputation, she was defeated by Nunes in a devastating 48-second loss (x).

Amanda Nunes
was born on May 30, 1988 in the small town of Salvado, Bahia, Brazil. She began karate lessons at only age 4 and when
she as 16, she advanced to boxing and Brazilian jiu-jitsu. After travelling to
America to pursue a professional mixed martial arts career, Amanda made her
debut at Prime MMA Championship on March 8, 2008.

On July 10, 2016, Amanda became the first openly gay UFC fighter to ever win a major title when she defeated Miesha Thomas. On December 30,
2016, she competed in a second career-defining match against the famous fighter Ronda Rousey. By winning the match, she secured her place in history as the first
openly gay or lesbian UFC fighter to not only win but also defend her major title. 

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Amanda shares a kiss with her girlfriend after her big win (x).

She attributes
her success in the ring to her girlfriend, fellow UFC fighter and training
partner, Nina Ansaroff. Amanda is quoted as saying, “She is going to be the
next UFC champion, I mean it…She is going to show everybody. She helps me every
day … and I love her.”

-LC

DECEMBER 26: Queen Christina is released (1933…

Based on the
real life lesbian queen of Sweden and starring lesbian starlet Greta Garbo, the
film Queen Christina was first released on this day in 1933.

Despite the
actual documented history of Queen Christina’s life, the story of the Queen
Christina
film follows the queen as she falls in love with a fictional male
Spanish envoy. Stressed out by the demands of the throne and the continued insistence
that she marry her cousin, Karl Gustav, this fictionalized version of Christina
disguises herself in men’s clothing and sneaks out of her castle to enjoy life
as an everyday commoner. When an unexpected snow storm leaves her stranded at
an inn, she is forced to share a bed with an occupant of the inn, a diplomat
sent from Spain named Antonio. Christina eventually reveals herself to be a
woman and the two fall in love.

Despite the
erasure of Christina’s lesbianism, the 1933 film became a touchstone for
lesbian culture for its depiction of a masculine woman protagonist and the
iconic scene where Christina shares a “friendly kiss” with her lady in waiting
and real life lover, Ebba Sparre. The film The Girl King that was released in 2015 recently restored the lesbian aspects of Queen Christina’s true story.

-LC

DECEMBER 25: Donna Burkett and Manonia Evans a…

Merry Christmas to all of those who celebrate! Today we are going to cover the story of two women named Donna Burkett and Manonia Evans who were married on December 25, 1971. Their unofficial wedding ceremony came at the end of one of the very first legal battles to fight for marriage equality in American history.

In a 1971 interview with GPU News, the news magazine of Milwaukee’s gay and lesbian community, Donna Burkett said, “

The law should protect us and help us the way it does any two straight people who love each other and want to live together…That’s our civil rights; that’s what this is all about” (x).

It all began on
October 1, 1971. Donna and Manonia simply walked into the Office of the Milwaukee
Country Clerk and attempted to apply for a marriage license. The county clerk
at the time, Thomas Zablocki, told the two women that he could not accept their
application on account of the fact that the state defined marriage as being
between a man and woman. Although Donna and Manonia were fully aware of this
fact when they walked into his office, it was that verbal rejection which
allowed them to formally file a lawsuit stating that the state’s
refusal to grant them a marriage license violated their civil rights.

America had
never seen a story such as this before. Magazines such as Jet and The Advocate
picked up Donna and Manonia’s story and followed the lawsuit until it was
dismissed by District Judge Myron L. Gordon on January 19, 1972. Before they
could wait to hear the verdict from the judge, however, Donna and Manonia held
a wedding on Christmas Day 1971. Rev. Joseph Feldhausen officiated and over 250
of their friends and family were in attendance; the two women recall Donna
having worn a black tuxedo with Manonia wearing a traditional white lace dress.

Although Donna
and Manonia’s legal case was ultimately a failure, it was cases such as theirs
which helped kick start the American marriage equality movement that would first
gain traction in the 1990s. Their story serves as a reminder that gay and
lesbian couples have always lived happy and successful lives with each other, regardless of if the government was willing to issue some piece of paper sanctioning that happiness.

-LC

DECEMBER 2: “You Don’t Own Me” by Lesley Gore …

On this day in 1963, the song “You
Don’t Own Me” by Lesley Gore was first released. Although at the height of her
success, Lesley was just another successful pop artist making music about boys,
she would later come out as a lesbian in 2005.

An 18 year old Lesley Gore belts it out in 1963 (x).

Lesley Sue Goldstein was born on
May 2, 1946 into a Jewish family living in Brooklyn, New York. Her father was
the owner of an apparel manufacturing company while her mother was a housewife.
Lesley would be raised in the town of Tenafly, New Jersey and attend Dwight
School for Girls. She was only a junior in high school when she saw her first
major commercial success in the music industry; with the release of her cover
of the song Quincy Jones song “It’s My Party” in April of 1963, Lesley Gore
became a household name.

“You Don’t Own Me” was just one of
many hit singles that Lesley released in 1963, including “Judy’s Turn to Cry”
and “She’s a Fool.” However, what set “You Don’t Own Me” apart from the pack
was its protofeminist message. Many have cited the song as an anthem for
the second wave feminist movement that would begin to take off in the 1970s.
Lesley herself once said, “My take on the song was: I’m 17, what
a wonderful thing, to stand up on a stage and shake your finger at people and
sing you don’t own me.”

Lesley (left) photographed with her partner, Lois Sasson, in 2010 (x).

Although Lesley career as a pop
princess was relatively short lived, she would work in the music world as a
composer for the rest of her life. She and her brother Michael were even
awarded an Academy Award in 1980 for their work on the soundtrack for the film Fame. In 2004, she started her coming
out process by becoming the host of In
The Life
, a documentary television series that focused on the
everyday life of LGBT people in America. Lesley officially came out to the
public in 2005 during an interview with AfterEllen. 

In the interview, she
stated that she had known she was a lesbian ever since she as 20 years old and
that although the music industry was and is “totally homophobic,” she “just kind of lived my life naturally and did what I wanted to do.” Tragically, Lesley passed away before
her memoir and the Broadway show based on her life could be released. She passed
away on February 16, 2015 at 68 due to lung cancer and was survived by her
partner of 33 years, Lois Sasson.

-LC

NOVEMBER 14: Australia votes “yes” for same-sex marriage (2017)

On November 14, 2017, the people
of Australia voted yes to legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the nation.

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A crowd celebrates in Melbourne, Australia, as the same-sex marriage survey results are announced. Despite the Yes victory, the outcome is not binding, and the process to change current laws will move to the Australian Parliament in Canberra. (Scott Barbour/Getty Images) (x).

The national poll survey to see if the
Australian legislature should legalize same-sex marriage began in September of
this year. After two months of relentless campaigning by LGBT activists, it has
been reported that a 61% of the population has voted to legalize same-sex marriage.
Over 12.7 million people took part in the poll, roughly 79.5% of the country,
and every state and territory returned a majority “yes” vote.

The Australian Prime Minister, Malcolm
Turnbull, has called for Parliament to approve the legalization of same-sex
marriage by Christmas 2017. In response to the poll results, Turnbull said, “They
voted ‘yes’ for fairness, they voted ‘yes’ for commitment, they voted ‘yes’ for
love. And now it is up to us here in the Parliament of Australia to get on with
it” (x). 

-LC

NOVEMBER 12: LGBT activists protest Time Magazine (1969)

On this day in 1969, members of
the Gay Liberation Front and the lesbian organization The Daughters of Bilitis picketed at the Time-Life
Building in New York City. The protest came about in response to a story run in
Time Magazine
on October 31, 1969 titled “The Homosexual in America.”

TIME Magazine Cover: The Homosexual in America,” Oct. 31, 1969 (x).

When the October 1969 issue of
Time Magazine hit stands and the article “The Homosexual in America” was
finally able to be read, many members of The Gay Liberation Front and The
Daughters of Bilitis felt betrayed. Although taking a slightly more empathetic
angle than articles and essays that preceded it, “The Homosexual in America”
had used interviews with gay and lesbian members of both organizations to ultimately
come to the conclusion that “homosexuality is a serious and sometimes crippling
maladjustment.”

In response to this sense of
betrayal, gay and lesbian activists crowded the Time-Life building on the
morning of November 12, 1969 with picket signs. They also handed out leaflets to
passersby that read “In characteristic tight-assed fashion, ‘Time’ has
attempted to dictate sexual boundaries for the American public and to define
what is healthy, moral, fun, and good on the basis of its narrow, out-dated,
warped, perverted, and repressed sexual bias.”  

-LC

NOVEMBER 6: LGBT activists attend the Demonstration Against the Vietnam War (1971)

On this day in 1971, a small group of
LGBT activists marched in the Demonstration Against the Vietnam War in Toronto,
Ontario in Canada. Although not leading the parade, multiple activists
associated with the LGBT newspaper The
Body Politic
were present at the demonstration.

Art Whitaker and other gay and lesbian contingent members hold picket signs reading “War Is Not Gay” & “Better Blatent Than Latent” at the Demonstration Against the Vietnam War, Toronto, Ontario, November 6, 1971. Photo by Jearld Moldenhauer (x).

The
very first “gay liberation” newspaper in Canadian history, The Body Politic, was founded in 1971. It was spearheaded by Jearld Moldenhauer and the first issue was
published on November 1, 1971. It was that momentum from the paper’s big coming out party which resulted in the
writers and staff of The Body Politic
protesting alongside anti-war activists in Toronto’s Demonstration Against the
Vietnam War on November 6, 1971. 

The headline to the October 1981 issue of Body Politic includes the headline “In search of the perfect any lesbian bar: A thirsty Chris Bearchell scouts the (few) options for gay women in Toronto” (x).

The Body
Politic
 ran for 16 years before ceasing publication in 1987 and
became a central tenet of Toronto’s LGBT and activist community. One of the
newspaper’s most active contributors was Sue Golding, one of the leaders of
Canada’s lesbian activist scene.

-LC

NOVEMBER 4: Maura Healey becomes the first LGBT attorney general in U.S. history (2014)

On this day in 2014, Maura Healey
became the very first openly gay state attorney general to be elected in
America. She has been making headlines throughout 2017 for openly opposing the
presidency of Donald Trump and joining lawsuit challenges against his executive orders.

Most recently, Maura Healey led a group of 15 attorneys general in filing a court brief opposing President Donald Trump’s ban on transgender people serving openly in the U.S. military (x).

Maura Healey was born on February
8, 1971 in Hampton Falls, New Hampshire. She grew up in a midde-class
household; her mother was a nurse, her father an engineer, and her step-father
taught history at Winnacunnet High School, which she and her 4 brothers and
sisters also attended. She would go on to graduate from Harvard College in 1992
and then Northeastern University School of Law in 1998. Between finishing her
undergraduate and receiving her J.D., Maura lived in Austria and played for a
professional basketball team in Salzburg.

She began her legal career as a
clerk and had worked her way up to Chief of the Public Protection &
Advocacy Bureau by 2012. It was in October of 2013 when Maura announced her
campaign for state attorney general of Massachusetts. During the campaign, she
was endorsed by many notable Democrats and in September of 2014 it was declared
that she had officially defeated the Republican nominee John Miller. On
November 4, 2014, Maura was sworn in as the new attorney general of Massachusetts and became the first attorney general in American history to be a member of the LGBT community. She remains in
office today and resides in Charlestown, Massachusetts with her partner Gabrielle
Wolohojian.

-LC

OCTOBER 22: Fun Home premieres (2013)

On this day in 2013, the musical Fun Home made its Broadway debut.
Adapted by Lisa Kron and Jeanine Tesori from Alison Bechdel’s autobiographical
graphic novel, Fun Home became a
nationwide sensation for its bold depiction of a young butch lesbian coming to
terms with her childhood and the fact that her deceased father was a deeply
closeted gay man.

Fun Home: A True Story Becomes a Tony-Winning Best Musical” (x).

Fun Home first premiered in
September of 2013 at The Public Theater, but it officially made the jump to
Broadway on October 22, 2013. Starring Beth Malone, Emily Skeggs, and Sydney
Lucas all as Alison Bechdel at different ages throughout her life, the musical
follows the same structure as the graphic novel; the story begins with the
adult cartoonist living out and proud in the modern day and follows adult Alison’s narration as she tells the story of her relationship with her father
from the time she was a 10-year-old child, a questioning teenager, and as a college student writing a coming out letter to her parents.

The main cast of Fun Home poses for a publicity shot (x).

Although gay identity is not
foreign territory to the theater world, it could be argued that lesbian identity had never been so
thoroughly studied and cherished before Fun Home broke onto the scene. Invigorating the original work with 22
songs, when the official cast album
was released in 2014, it debuted at #2 on the Billboard Top Cast Album Chart.
Fun Home’s phenomenon status was reached when it was nominated for the 2014
Pulitzer Prize for Drama and then nominated for over 12 Tony Awards – winning 5
of them including the culminating honor of Best Musical.

-LC

OCTOBER 17: The Toronto Lesbian Pride March (1981)

1981 was a Prideful year for the
city of Toronto – it saw one of the largest Pride parades in the city’s
history, waves of protests in response to the police department’s unlawful raids
of the city’s bathhouses, and the second Lesbian Pride March to ever take place
in North America!

A flyer for Lesbians Against the Right, the organization which founded the Toronto Lesbian Pride March, advertises for a meeting on May 9th (x).

In October of 1981, an
organization called Lesbians Against the Right organized Toronto’s first and
North America’s second Lesbian Pride March. The first had been held in May of
1981 in Vancouver as a part of the Bi-National Lesbian Conference and was
attended by over 200 people. Both of these marches were predecessors of the
more well-known Dyke Marches, which are still treasured traditions of Pride Parades around the world.    

-LC