Queer History: May Part 2


More adventures in the way back machine, readers, with a few gems from queer history.

This post appears on the very day, back in 1897, that Oscar Wilde was released from prison, a few short years before his death in exile in France. The years of hard labor for “gross indecency” with other men led the Irish poet, playwright, and social butterfly to consider somber spirituality towards the end of his life. How seriously he took it is an open question. One story has it that, upon his death bed, he commented upon his own demise by indicating the squalid French lodgings he had to live in, saying, “Well it was me or the curtains. One of us had to go.”

This same day in 1930 saw the birth of Lorraine Hansberry, who could not only boast close ties with her contemporaries Paul Robeson and James Baldwin, but was herself a poet, playwright, and novelist who did not shrink from throwing the patriarchy, racism and homophobia under the harsh light of satire.

As brave as she was, consider how it was not until this month in 1992 that the World Health Organization took homosexuality off of its “International Classification of Diseases”. Better late than never, and news worth celebrating at the time, for sure, even if it does call into question the relative strength and determination of a world wide bureaucracy versus one fierce, black lesbian.

Go ye forth and make some more history, beautiful queers all!

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