Queer History: January

Queer History: January

So how have those New Year’s resolutions held up? If you’re forced to admit you’ve faltered or slipped, take inspiration from more figures and facts from our shared queer history, and resolve anew.

Like Representative Elaine Noble!

As the link above records, born in 1944, Noble,

“became the first openly gay or lesbian person elected to public office, when she won election to the Massasuchetts House of Representatives in November 1974, serving two terms from 1975 – 1978. In March 1977, she was part of the first delegation of gay men and lesbians invited to the White House under President Jimmy Carter to discuss issues important to the LGBT community.”

Talk about living bravely up to her name, especially when it comes to wading deep into an environment long hostile to queer rights and people.
Sometimes though, amid that hostility, law makers and courts have developed unintentionally hilarious responses to the various ways people love and have sex with each other.

PQMonthly explains that in January 1919,

The California Supreme Court strikes down a law against fellatio and cunnilingus because it is concerned people don’t know what the Latin words mean. This stands for five years until (in January 1924) an appellate court rules that the English-language euphemistic expression “an assault to commit the crime against nature” works because everyone totally knows what that means.

“In related news, in 1941 the Rhode Island Supreme Court rules that being called a “cocksucker” in anger is not slander … without actually using the word “cocksucker” in the opinion. Instead, it calls the word “a filthy term meaning coition by one man with another per os.”

Thankfully, any glance at a decently curated timeline, shows that neither ignorance nor malice would prevent LGBTQ folk from hiding forever, and that ours is an inevitable march forward, however slow at times. And history still has surprises for those who think nothing for us to be proud of ever happened, or that no one took action, until Stonewall or later.

As the above timeline shows, we also celebrate “the first lesbian to appear on the cover of the lesbian magazine The Ladder with her face showing was Lilli Vincenz in January 1966″. Below is that image.


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Check out all of these links for hundreds of proud moments, and explore them for the rich stories behind each!

Former professor of argument and rhetoric, current sex worker, performance artist, and novelist. I enjoy queering up the fantasy genre, learning and growing fitter, and exploring topics like language and epistemology.
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