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On This Gay Day | In 1965 The White House was picketed by homosexual protesters

So often the story of LGBTIQA+ rights is described as beginning with the Stonewall Riot in 1969, and while this is certainly a moment where a political movement picked up steam, LGBTIQA+ people had been making themselves known in the USA for many years before this.

In 1965 a silent picket was held at The White House in Washington D.C, the following day another was staged at the United Nations headquarters in New York city.

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Protesters held a silent vigil at both the locations to draw attention to news that Cuba was imprisoning gay people in forced labor camps.

The protests were staged by Mattachine Society of Washington, and its founding member Frank Kameny.

Kameny, an astronomer with a PhD from Harvard, had been fired from the Army Map Service in 1957 because he was gay. Kameny took his case to court, and in 1961 became the first person to petition the Supreme Court with a discrimination claim based on sexual orientation. 

The day after the Supreme Court declined to hear his petition, Frank Kameny contacted the Mattachine Society of New York, one of the earliest gay rights groups in the U.S., and asked for advice on starting a Washington chapter.

The protesters were reportedly surprised that none of them were arrested, so they quickly organised a repeat performance, staging several similar protests in the months that followed.


In 2013 New Zealand achieved marriage equality

New Zealand celebrated in this day in 2013 as their parliament voted to change the marriage laws and allow same-sex couples to wed.

The legislation was passed 77 votes to 44 and was given royal ascent two days later. The new legislation came into effect on 19th August that year.

When the laws passed New Zealand became the first country in the Oceana region to achieve marriage equality, and only the fourth in the southern hemisphere.

The private members bill that changed the laws was put forward by Labour MP Louisa Wall. When the laws were passed the galleries in the parliament erupted in celebration and people sang the traditional Maori love song Pokarekare Ana.

The New Zealand decision immediately put pressure on Australia’s federal Opposition Leader Tony Abbott, who was staunchly opposed to allowing same-sex marriage.

In the wake of the News from New Zealand NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell voiced his support for marriage equality, while Western Australian Premier Colin Barnett said he was in favour of Civil Unions. Abbott was undeterred and remained firmly opposed.


In 1897 Thornton Wilder was born

Thornton Wilder is the only person to win the Pulitzer Prize for both literature and drama.

He’s best known for his eternally popular play Our Town, but also found success with another theatrical work The Skin of Our Teeth.

The Bridges of San Luis Rey, The Cabala, Ides of March, The Eighth Day and Theophilus North are some of the novels he wrote.

Wilder never married and six years after his 1975 death Samuel Steward, a noted tattoo artist and pornographer, claimed in his autobiography that he’d had a sexual relationship with Wilder in 1937.

Historians have argued over whether the author was gay or not, and there is a variety of opinions.


In 1725 Leendert Hasenbosch was found guilty of sodomy

Leendert Hasenbosch was an employee of the Dutch East India Company who was marooned on an uninhabited island in the South Atlantic Ocean after his shipmates found him guilty of the crime of sodomy.

Hasenbosch was born in Holland, probably around 1695. When he was a teenage his father, who was a widower, moved to Batavia in the Dutch East Indies with his daughters leaving his teenage son in Holland. What was known as Batavia is now part of Indonesia.

In 1714 he joined the Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie (VOC), known in English as the Dutch East India Company. Hasenbosch served as a soldier and was travelled to Batavia where he served for a year. Later he spent time working for the company in India. In 1720 he returned to Batavia and was promoted to the rank of corporal.

On 17th April 1725 he was convicted of sodomy following his ship making a stop in Cape Town, South Africa. As punishment he was marooned on Ascencion Island on 15th May 1725. The volcanic island is 1,600 kilometres from Africa, and 2,300 kilometres from South America.

He was left with a month’s worth of water, some seeds, prayer books, writing materials and some clothes and a tent. It is presumed that he died about six months after he was left on the island.

In January of the following year British sailors discovered his tent and his diary. The original diary was lost long ago but copies of the translation that was published in Britain give us some idea of what happened after he was abandoned on the island.

Unable to find a constant supply of water Hasenbosch reported took to drinking his own urine, and also tried drinking the blood of turtles and sea birds. It is believed that he eventually died of thirst, but his body was never found.

Over the centuries various versions of his diary were published, often attributed to an unknown sailor. Their accuracy becoming less reliable with each passing iteration.

In 2002 Dutch historian Michiel Koolbergen confirmed the identity of the marooned man was Leendert Hasenbosch. His book A Dutch Castaway on Ascension Island in 1725 was published posthumously in 2006.

Two years after Hasenbosch was marooned the crew of the Dutch East India Company’s ship The Zeewijk became shipwrecked on the Abrolhos Islands in June 1727. The crew survived on the islands as there was fresh water and plentiful food sources, long boats from the wreckage also were recovered.

In December 1727 two boys who were part of the ship’s crew were found guilty of sodomy and transported to separate islands where they were left to die.

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