On This Gay Day: Walt Whitman published Leaves of Grass

In 1855 poet Walt Whitman’s best known work is published

Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass was first published on this day in 1855. The poet’s best known work is also considered the clearest indication that Whitman was same-sex attracted.

Whitman who was born in 1819 is one of the most influential American poets, considered the father of free verse.

In 1950 he began writing what would become Leaves of Grass, a collection of poems that he continually edited and revised until his death in 1892. He self-published the collection of poems that were met with a mix of acclaim and disdain on their release.

‘America the Beautifu’l is first published

In 1895 the poem America the Beautiful was first published. Written by Katherine Lee Bates the original poem was simply titled America. In 1910 an updated version of the poem was authored and put to music by church organist Samuel A Ward. Despite writing one of America’s most patriotic songs Bates and Ward never met.

Bates became a Professor of English Literature at Wellesley College in Massachusetts, here lived with close friend and companion Katherine Coman. Some of their letters suggest they were in a sexual relationship, while other scholars have suggested their relationship was a ‘Boston Marriage’ – and purely platonic.

The first Dykes on Bikes group is formed in San Francisco in 1976

The very first Dykes on Bikes was formed on this day in San Francisco. The small group of women came together to lead the San Francisco Parade Parade of 1976, unbeknownst to them they were starting a tradition that would spread around the globe.

A reporter picked up the phrase “Dykes on Bikes” from one of the women and used it in a report in the San Francisco Chronicle. Since then groups have formed all over the world and been out the front of Pride marches, including a local group here in Perth.

OIP Staff


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