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  • Originally published 10/12/2014

    Why LGBT History Matters

    "Living in a world that tells you that you don’t exist or have history is incredibly trying."

  • Originally published 08/05/2013

    Nixon slams "All in the Family," ancient Roman rulers for being gay in White House tape

    An audio recording of former U.S. President Richard Nixon spouting off an anti-gay rant has surfaced.CNN published an excerpt from the tape, which was apparently recorded sometime during Nixon's time in the Oval Office from 1969-1974. In the clip, Nixon accuses the popular TV series "All in the Family" (which he initially mistakes for a movie) of "glorifying homosexuality,""The point that I make is that...I do not think that you glorify, on public television, homosexuality," Nixon proclaims. And the president doesn't stop there -- claiming that homosexuality "destroyed the Greeks," he notes, "Aristotle was a homo, we all know that. So was Socrates ... Homosexuality, immorality in general...these are the enemies of strong societies."...

  • Originally published 07/22/2013

    Alan Turing to be pardoned for gay conviction

    Alan Turing, the World War Two code breaker who later killed himself after receiving a criminal conviction for his homosexuality, looks set to be pardoned.The Government said it would not stand in the way of legislation to offer a full Parliamentary pardon for Turing, who helped Britain to win the Second World War as a skilled code-breaker.Until now, the Government has resisted using the Royal Prerogative to pardon Turing for his conviction for gross indecency in 1952 because he was a homosexual.Ministers had argued that because Turing was convicted of what was at the time a criminal offence, it is not possible to hand him a full posthumous pardon....

  • Originally published 07/21/2013

    Queen's University history prof. victim of hate letters

    A woman who received two threatening letters on Wednesday for being in a same-sex relationship is revealed to be Queen’s University history professor Karen Dubinsky.Dubinsky and her partner Susan Belyea say they received two letters that claimed affiliation with a Christian group based in the “Deep South,” which told the couple to move from Kingston or be subject to “deadly serious consequences.”...

  • Originally published 07/08/2013

    Jim Downs (with Elizabeth Dias): The Horror Upstairs

    Jim Downs teaches history at Connecticut College.Francis Dufrene lived for Sunday nights. tall and lean with a pile of blond hair, the 21-year-old would take two buses from his home in the New Orleans suburbs to make it to the Upstairs Lounge by 5 p.m., when the French Quarter bar held its weekly beer bust--two hours of all-you-can-drink drafts for $1.From the outside, the Upstairs didn't look much different from the other gay bars on a particularly seedy stretch of Iberville Street. But up 13 steps on the second floor was a refuge....

  • Originally published 06/27/2013

    Gay landmarks, lost and found

    A year ago, if the old Portofino at 206 Thompson Street in Greenwich Village was remembered at all, it would have been as the restaurant where Elaine Kaufman cut her teeth in the early ’60s, before opening her own place uptown.This year, now the Malt House, it is a landmark in American history — minor, to be sure, but a landmark all the same. The case of United States v. Windsor, which culminated on Wednesday when the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, can be traced to an evening in 1963 when Edith S. Windsor met Thea Clara Spyer over dinner at Portofino. After half a lifetime together, they were married in 2007.The rediscovery of Portofino is a reminder that social landmarks don’t make their significance readily apparent. A bit of context is often needed to appreciate the triumphs, disasters and dramas that have played out in these buildings.

  • Originally published 06/20/2013

    British Museum launches gay history guide

    The British Museum has launched a guide focusing on elements of homosexuality to be found in its collection.A Little Gay History draws on objects ranging from ancient Egyptian papyri and the erotic scenes on the Roman Warren Cup to images by David Hockney.Written by curator Richard Parkinson, it explores artistic portrayals of what it means to be gay and the difficulties in finding records of same-sex desire.The guide is accompanied by an audio trail featuring Simon Russell Beale....

  • Originally published 05/09/2013

    Reporter of Niall Ferguson's Keynes remarks goes on the record

    Thomas M. Kostigen is coauthor of The Green Book: The Everyday Guide to Saving The Planet One Simple Step at a Time (Three Rivers Press).I was in the audience at the Altegris conference in Carlsbad, Calif., last week when Niall Ferguson, well-known historian, Harvard professor and author, spewed his remarks knocking economist John Maynard Keynes for being homosexual and not having children. Indeed, it was my blog post that drew worldwide attention to the comments. The following day, Ferguson issued an unqualified apology. I thought that was that. But I was wrong.Ferguson issued yesterday an open letter to the Harvard community, explaining himself and qualifying his remarks. He equivocates, and points out that Keynes had said offensive things himself. Ferguson also goes to town on his critics and detractors, and hammers the "blogosphere." Most importantly, he tries to explain how Keynes' homosexuality affected his judgment....

  • Originally published 03/29/2013

    A Murky Look Back at the 1969 Stonewall Riots and Gay History

    Hit the Wall Barrow Street Theater 27 Barrow Street New York, N.Y.On the hot, humid evening of June 27, 1969, undercover police at the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in New York City's Greenwich Village, alerted their superiors that it was ripe for a raid. Hours later, eight police officers arrived and plunged into the crowd of some two hundred men and women in the bar. The paddy wagons arrived late and those charged stood outside on the hot street. The revelers who had not been arrested came back to see what was going on as the tide of people grew. Neighbors and patrons at other bars, seeing the angry crowd, walked out on to the street, too, and joined it. Shouts and threats were yelled, the people spilled into the busy street and traffic was jammed for blocks. When the police vans finally did arrive, a full scale riot broke out. Gay men threw empty garbage cans at the cops and the police responded by clubbing dozens. Blood flowed. The riots over the Stonewall raid continued for several days. They were highly publicized and the event was said to be one of the places where the American gay rights movement started.

  • Originally published 03/18/2013

    Gay Marriage, DOMA And The Dramatic Shift In Public Opinion In One Year

    It is remarkable how fast the issue of same-sex marriage has moved the American public. Of course, some long-time proponents will argue the opposite, that it has taken far too long for it to gain acceptance. And they say that there is no shortage of efforts around the country to block or overturn the practice.But there is no question that since Vice President Biden first announced his support for the issue last May — jumping the gun on President Obama, whose position on the issue was said to still be "evolving" — things have changed rapidly. Almost immediately, and far more significant, was Obama's declaration he felt the same. After that came dramatic shifting in public opinion, where for the first time ever, polls show that more people support gay marriage than oppose it. It became a cause to be celebrated at the Democratic National Convention last summer. Voters in three states, after an unbroken string of defeats, chose to legalize gay marriage in November. And it got considerable attention at Obama's inauguration in January, where he said, "Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law, for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well."...

  • Originally published 02/06/2013

    Jonathan Zimmerman: The Silly Debate over Ed Koch's Sexuality

    Jonathan Zimmerman is a professor of history and education at New York University. He is the author of “Small Wonder: The Little Red Schoolhouse in History and Memory.”Was Ed Koch gay? I don’t know, and I don’t care. And neither should you.When the former New York mayor died last week, we heard all the old cliches about why he should have come out of the closet-or why it was necessary to “out” him. If he were openly gay, the story goes, he would have done more to fight AIDS during the early years of the epidemic. And he would have made it easier for other people to come out, too.But as Koch correctly insisted, his sexual orientation was nobody’s business but his own. And to see why, let’s imagine that Koch wasn't male and gay, but female and straight.Then let’s suppose that Ms. Koch — like 40% of American women — had undergone an abortion. Would it be OK to “out” her for that, too?...

  • Originally published 01/28/2013

    Jonathan Zimmerman: The Middle East's Nonexistant Gay Rights Movement

    Jonathan Zimmerman is a professor of history and education at New York University. He is teaching a course this January at NYU's Abu Dhabi campus.ABU DHABI -- "We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths -- that all of us are created equal -- is the star that guides us still," President Barack Obama declared at his inauguration last Monday, "just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls and Selma and Stonewall."But does it also go through Sharjah?That's where two dozen men were arrested and lashed in 2004 at an apparent "gay wedding" here in the United Arab Emirates, where homosexual relations are illegal. Since then, untold numbers of gays have reportedly received lashes, prison sentences, psychological "therapy" and hormone treatments to remedy the so-called "illness" of homosexuality.President Obama received just praise for mentioning Stonewall, site of a 1969 New York police raid and riot that touched off the modern American homosexual rights movement. And to his credit, the president and outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have instructed U.S. foreign aid agencies to support gay-rights efforts overseas. "Gay rights are human rights," Ms. Clinton said in 2011....

  • Originally published 01/22/2013

    Judging Mayor Koch’s AIDS Record, Whispers Aside

    There’s a moment toward the end of “Koch,” a soon-to-be released documentary by Neil Barsky on the extended political career of the city’s 105th mayor, in which Edward I. Koch, eternally single, is asked to address questions surrounding the longstanding interest in his sexuality. He responds as he has done for a long time now, declaring that it is no one’s business. He argues that his engagement with the issue would set a precedent for gross intrusions into the personal lives of political candidates, a bit of narcissistic posturing that seems to ignore the extent to which that field has already been trampled by mad dogs and wild horses.In the past, Mr. Koch, who is 88, handled the question by joking at the absurdity of any fascination with the sex life of an old man — presumably he has not kept up with the boundless tabloid interest in Hugh Hefner’s late-life erotic shenanigans or with Cialis ads. Certainly Mr. Koch has maintained a more vigilant security apparatus around his intimate life than most contemporary public figures one can think of.

  • Originally published 01/22/2013

    Paul Krugman: Seneca, Selma, and Stonewall

    In his speech, Obama invoked the history of struggles for equality with a remarkable triptych: Seneca (women’s rights), Selma (black rights), and Stonewall (gay rights). And there has been remarkably little blowback — a sign of how much the country has changed.What many people may not realize is how recent those changes are. Gay rights may be relatively obvious — it’s just 8 years since opposition to gay marriage arguably played a significant role in Bush’s victory. But the big changes on the racial front are also more recent than widely imagined (obligatory disclaimer — yes, there’s a lot of racism remaining, and it can be truly ugly; we’re just talking about relative changes)....

  • Originally published 01/22/2013

    Obama invokes gay rights in inaugural address

    President Obama on Monday became the first president to use the word “gay” as a reference to sexual orientation in an inaugural address, declaring the movement for equality to be part of the pantheon of America’s great civil rights struggles.“Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law,” the president said. “For if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal, as well.”Obama also made another reference in the speech to gay equality. He placed the 1969 riot protesting a police raid on a Greenwich Village gay bar, the Stonewall Inn, as a signature event in the civil rights movement — and ranked it with historical turning points in the battles for women’s and racial equality....

  • Originally published 02/25/2010

    HNN Hot Topics: Same-Sex Marriage

    Image via Shutterstock.Related LinksHNN Hot Topics: Gay History HNN Hot Topics: Was Lincoln Gay?Latest News & Commentary

  • Originally published 06/29/2009

    HNN Hot Topics: LGBT History

    All across the world LGBT people are celebrating. Here's the background you need if you want to understand what it's all about.

  • Originally published 06/28/2008

    Is Queer History, History with an Agenda? Sure.

    When I began writing Queer America: A GLBT History of the 20th Century a few years ago I did it to fulfill a need I have perceived in more than 25 years of teaching. Certainly in the last twenty years there has been an explosion of wonderful works in queer history and queer studies, but relatively few are addressed to readers not already part of the conversation. In attempting to present the variety of experiences of nonstraight Americans and their centrality to what we call "American history" I expect to be accused of having, and serving, an agenda. Guilty as charged.

  • Originally published 07/09/2007

    Even the Founding Fathers Had to Worry About Gay-Baiting

    If the Senate passes the Matthew Shepard Act -- known also as the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act -- a long and ugly history of violence and hate based on sexual orientation may finally approach an end. The legislation was stalled for years in Congress, but with Democrats now in control it passed the House of Representatives and will be voted on by the Senate this summer.What few people realize is that the culture of terror that has long affected gays and lesbians also threatens heterosexuals. Though the hate-inspired murder of Matthew Shepard in 1998 garnered national attention, too many other offenses go largely unreported in mainstream media. Some would argue that to focus on barbaric killings obscures the run-of-the-mill abuse that gays and lesbians suffer. Such a climate of hate, backed by the ever-present threat of violence, keeps gays and lesbians from holding hands in public, embracing at an airport, or from being comfortable in workplaces where heterosexual family photos are ubiquitous. Such strictures also harm heterosexuals by enforcing narrow norms of how to act in public as men and women.

  • Originally published 10/30/2006

    David K. Johnson: “Purge of the Perverts” Redux ... Scapegoating Gays

    [David K. Johnson teaches history at the University of South Florida, is the author of The Lavender Scare: The Cold War Persecution of Gays and Lesbians in the Federal Government (Chicago: 2004), and is an associate scholar at the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Policy Institute.]Conservative Republicans are scapegoating gay Americans again. Though their outrage over Rep. Mark Foley is recent, it employs tactics they honed during the McCarthy-era “purge of the perverts.”

  • Originally published 05/22/2006

    California Senate OKs teaching gay history

    Saying that more role models could help alleviate the social estrangement and high suicide rates of gay students, the California Senate voted last week to teach the historical contributions of gays in the U.S.If approved by the state Assembly and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, the measure, the first of its kind nationwide, could once again stake out California in the vanguard on gay civil rights.California's Legislature last year became the first to authorize gay marriage, but Schwarzenegger vetoed the measure. He hasn't taken a public position on the textbook bill.Books meeting the bill's requirements would be incorporated into California classes in 2012. Social science courses would include "age-appropriate study" of the "role and contributions" that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people have made to the "economic political and social development" of California and the U.S.Schools are already required to teach the historical and social roles of blacks, women, American Indians, Hispanics, Asians and other ethnic groups.

  • Originally published 01/23/2004

    A Historian Discovers that Students Today Don't Know that AIDS Originally Was Regarded as a "Gay Disease"

    [T]his past fall, while teaching an undergraduate course called"Plagues and Politics: The Impact of AIDS on US Culture" at Dartmouth College, I was shocked — profoundly shocked — by the fact that only three of the 34 students in the class had any idea that AIDS was once widely regarded as a gay-male disease. As someone who lived through the AIDS epidemic, who has lost lovers and friends too numerous to count, I was literally stunned: how could this be?

  • Originally published 07/18/2014

    Again, the Isolationist Smear

    It doesn’t take much to be smeared as an isolationist by leading Republicans. Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who appears to be running for president again, and former vice president Dick Cheney — not to mention Sen. John McCain, Gov. Chris Christie, and other members of the GOP establishment — can always be counted on to drag out that insult whenever they sense a threat from anyone not as hawkish as they are. Let’s be clear: Someone who simply doesn’t want Americans draw into foreign conflicts is not an isolationist. 

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