August 12 in LGBTQ History

1833: In London, Captain Nicholas Nicholls, 50, is sentenced to death on a charge of Sodomy. His sentence is protested by the anonymous poet who is writing Don Leon, purportedly an autobiographical poem by Lord Byron but actually by some contemporary who is remarkably familiar with the late poet’s love life. Don Leon is not only one of the earliest works of protest against the persecution of same-sex love; it is also cited as evidence of an emerging identity constructed around the “inborn passions” of men whose “predilection is for males”:

Whence spring these inclinations, rank and strong?
And harming no one, wherefore call them wrong?

1968: The North American Conference of Homophile Organizations, nicknamed NACHO, made up of delegates from 26 groups, convenes in Chicago to discuss goals and strategy for the next five days. Although delegates fail to form a unified national organization, they pass a five-point “Homosexual Bill of Rights” and resolve to make “Gay Is Good” the slogan of the movement.

2004: In a 5–2 vote, the Supreme Court of California voids the almost 4,000 same-sex marriages performed in San Francisco between February 12 and March 11 after another, unanimous decision that the city’s officials overstepped their legal rights in ignoring state laws in issuing marriages licenses to same-sex couples.

2004: New Jersey governor James McGreevey becomes the first openly gay chief executive of a U.S. state when he discloses an extramarital affair with another man and announces his resignation effective November 12, 2004.

2009: President Obama posthumously awards Harvey Milk the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

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