April 21 in LGBTQ History

1966: Members of the Mattachine Society stage a “sip-in” at the Julius Bar in Greenwich Village, where the New York Liquor Authority prohibits serving gay patrons in bars on the basis that homosexuals are “disorderly.” Society president Dick Leitsch and other members announce their homosexuality and are immediately refused service.  Following the sip-in, the Mattachine Society will sue the New York Liquor Authority. Although no laws are overturned, the New York City Commission on Human Rights declares that homosexuals have the right to be served.

1980: Illinois Congressman John Anderson, who will shortly be running for President of the United States as an Independent, publicly announces his support for federal gay rights legislation. “If freedom under our constitution is to have a real meaning,” says Anderson, “this legislation is a natural extension of one’s individual rights.”

1980: The first wave of the so-called “Mariel Boatlift” brings a group of ragtag boats and other craft bearing hundreds of refugees from Cuba to the United States.  By the time it’s all over, over of 101,000 Cubans – among them several thousand homosexuals – have arrived in the U.S.

1981: Two gay men are arrested when a policeman spots them giving each other a brief good-bye kiss at the Fort Lauderdale airport. They are later convicted of creating a public nuisance and given probation.

1985: Fashion celebrity Rudi Gernreich, desiger of the first topless swimsuit, the “monokini”, and early founder of the Mattachine Society, dies of cancer at the age of sixty-two.  Despite a New York Times obituary claiming that he lived alone and that “there are no survivors,” Gernreich in fact had a lover of thirty-one years, Dr. Oreste Pucciani.

1990: Nearly two hundred students hold an anti-homosexual “Straight Pride” rally at the University of Massachusetts. A short time later, ten of the demonstrators raid and disrupt an anthropology class watching The Times of Harvey Milk.

2005: In its home state of Washington, the Microsoft corporation withdraws support for H.B. 1515, after pressure from local clergyman Ken Hutcherson. The bill would have made it illegal to fire an employee based on sexual orientation. Hutcherson threatened the company with a nationwide boycott.

2011: Montana District Judge Jeffrey Sherlock rules against same-sex couples seeking to force the state to extend the benefits of marriage to them, finding that the state’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage and the separation of powers between the courts and the legislature prevents it.

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