SIX FACTS IN LGBTQ+ HISTORY YOU PROBABLY DIDN'T KNOW ABOUT
Just a couple of facts about LGBTQ+ History you probably haven't heard...
The Berlin Institute of Sexology
Trans people received healthcare, jobs, accommodation and legal protection at Magnus Hirschfeld’s pioneering Institut für Sexualwissenschaft from 1919 until 1933, when the Hitler Youth burned its archives.
Its residents almost certainly were executed in the Holocaust. While the human crime and the loss of the Institute’s records are one of history’s great tragedies, it’s important for young trans people to recognise we have always existed (yes, before Caitlyn Jenner) and we still must stand politically against all forces which deny us our needs: healthcare, financial security and housing.
Early inclusivity in Japan
Japan has one of the shortest-lived sodomy laws in the world. The statute was in place from 1873 to 1883. Samurai warriors, who had a long tradition of same-sex relations, mounted strong opposition to the law and helped to get it repealed.
The origins of Pride
In 2015 UKIP’s LGBT wing lobbied to march at Pride, provoking a debate that often seemed ignorant of history. In fact, the first Pride in 1972 was not a festival or party but a radical protest, made up of anti-racist radical groups like the Brixton Fairies who would have balked at UKIP’s policies.
As Frankie Green, one of the first lesbian activists to march, wrote in an open letter: “I believe most of us in that optimistic era never dreamt of a time when a group such as UKIP would co-opt our activism…you misrepresent the notion of inclusivity and render it superficial at best if you think we could be connected in any way to the kind of narrow, xenophobic views espoused by UKIP.”
The life of Lou Sullivan
Lou Sullivan was the first transgender man to also be openly gay. Before Sullivan’s gender reassignment surgery in 1986, received medical wisdom insisted trans people should only be allowed to transition into heterosexuals.
Sullivan successfully campaigned against this, championing the idea that gender and sexuality were distinct. Misogyny provokes a lurid societal fascination with trans women while the histories and lives of trans men are forgotten. When modern debates ask if trans people should stay within the “LGBT’ bracket, Sullivan’s life crucially reminds us that some people are both trans and gay.
Riots against police raids at the Stonewall Inn in June 1969 sparked the LGBT liberation movement. The leaders of those riots were people like Marsha P Johnson, a black drag queen. Five decades on, internalised homophobia and embarrassment about “effeminate” gays is rife - forgetting how we owe it all to drag queens and femmes, who refused to be respectable.
Johnson’s race must not be overlooked. When Ivan Massow, a millionaire who last year unsuccessfully bid to be the Tory London Mayoral candidate tweeted “Hope black leaders aren't gonna bleat on about stuff said 30yrs ago. Just remember how whites/blacks alike cruelty [sic] attacked gays! (Still do)” he seemed to forget that black LGBT people exist.
A survey by FS magazine last year indicated racism is still prevalent on the gay scene. We should remember much of the LGBT movement was led by minorities who remain oppressed and let this shape our politics today.
A San Fran Stonewall
Years before Stonewall in New York City, there was a queer rebellion against police harassment in San Francisco in 1966. Trans people fought back against police outside Compton’s Cafeteria in San Francisco.