On This Gay Day: John Caleo from ‘Holding the Man’ died

John Caleo died on this day in 1992  

The story of Timothy Conigrave and his partner John Caleo has captivated Australian audiences since Tim’s posthumous autobiography Holding the Man was released in 1995.

The true story of two young guys who fell in love while they were students at a Catholic High School, has gone on to be a bestselling book, a successful play, an award winning film and a documentary.

The couple met at school in the 1970’s but their lives were cut short when they were both diagnosed with HIV in 1985, a time before their were successful treatments were available. John Caleo died on January 26th in 1992 aged 31, his partner Tim died on the 18th October 1994 aged 34.

Tim, who was an actor, finished his autobiography just weeks before he passed away. Holding the Man became a best-seller, and was adapted into a play in 2006. The production played in most Australian capital cities and had a season in London’s West End.

In 2015 it was turned into a film with Ryan Corr portraying Tim and Craig Stott playing John. The cat also included Anthony LaPaglia, Guy Pearce, Sarah Snook, Kerry Fox and Geoffrey Rush.

The same year a feature length documentary Remembering the Man was released. It won the audience prize for Best Documentary at the Adelaide Film Festival.

Ellen DeGeneres was born on this day in 1958

The comedian made history in 1997 when she came out as gay on the cover of Time Magazine, while simultaneously coming out in character on her self titled sitcom Ellen. 

The show was soon cancelled but DeGeneres has a second wind her career when she launched her popular talk show. The show has recently made some changes after crew members complained about bullying amongst the team, and a few months later Ellen announced the show would be coming to an end.

DeGeneres is married to Australian actor Portia de Rossi.

Rent opens on Broadway

The musical Rent opened on this day in 1996. The off-Broadway production ran for six-weeks at the New York Theater Workshop. Based loosely on Giancarlo Puccini’s famous opera La Bohème it tells the story of a group of young people struggling to survive in New York’s East Village under the shadow of HIV/AIDS.

Tragically the show’s creator Jonathan Larson died on January 25th, 1996, the day before the production opened. Rent was adapted as a film in 2005.

Uganda teacher and gay rights activist David Kato is killed

David Kato Kisule was a Ugandan teacher and LGBT rights activist, who is considered the father of the gay rights movement in Uganda. He served as an advocacy officer for Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) of which he was a founding member.

In 2010 a Ugandan tabloid newspaper called Rolling Stone published the names and photographs of 100 people who they identified as homosexuals and called for their execution. The newspaper has no connection the the US music magazine of the same name.  The newspaper published photographs and addresses of poeple under the headline that read “Hang Them”.

At the time the Ugandan government was proposing to introduce the death penalty for people who were found to be homosexual. Giles Mukame, the newspaper’s Managing Editor said there needed to be a war against gays, “We have to protect our children from this dirty homosexual affront.” he said. While the country’s minister for Ethics and Integrity proclaimed that “Homosexuals can forget about human rights.”

Kato and some of his colleagues sued the newspaper and won their case. The newspaper was order to pay 1.5 million Ugandan shillings in compensation, which at the time was the equivalent of US$600 dollars.

On 26th January 2011, just a few weeks after winning the court case, David Kato was attacked in a home by a man wielding a hammer. He died on his way to hospital, aged 47.

At first police declared the death was a robbery gone wrong. Later they arrested a man named Nsubuga Enoch for the murder. He was found guilty and sentenced to 30 years hard labour.

During the court hearings it was alleged that Enoch had planned to rob Kato. Government officials later claimed the death was due to a personal dispute between the men, and Enoch was a sex worker.

On 16 June 2021, the University of York announced that Kato would be the namesake of the new David Kato College, the first college on York’s campus to be named after a person of African descent.

OIP Staff

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