Queer History: August


It’s said the critical thing is to run the race, not to win it. If I twist that around a bit, I can perhaps make an excuse for falling behind on the updates, but thankfully, we’ve plenty history makers to remember who busted through barriers at top speed far more imposing than a ribbon!

The very first major gathering of queer athletes to literally run these races (and other delightful sports) came together in the first Gay Games in August 1982. There in San Francisco, the opening ceremonies featured a performance by no less than Tina Turner, but the entire enterprise might have fallen through when the organizer, a former olympian, was sued by the International Olympic Committee to demand they not call the event the Gay Olympics as he had wished.

On August 2nd, 1924, James Baldwin was born in Harlem, a date I will likely never let pass in these updates without honoring. The list of his accomplishments as an author and activist are simply too numerous to catalog here. Follow that link towards information that can help you scratch the surface of his amazing life. If you know, educate, and if you don’t, don’t waste time on shame when you’ve got an adventure ahead.

It’s no doubt due in large part to the great work of figures like Baldwin that on August 21st, 1970, Huey Newton, leader of the Black Panthers openly declared solidarity with the “Gay Power” movement.

As ever, even as we may celebrate lives that struggled for and won greatness after long trial, we must also recognize those lives cut short too soon, those who aspired simply to live and let live. On August 7th, 1995, around the same time Bill Clinton’s administration would lift several barriers to federal employment for LGB folk, Tyra Hunter would die slowly in Washington DC, her serious but treatable injuries ignored while EMTs and medical staff mocked her for being a trans woman. 2000 people attended her funeral, but neither this nor a major judgment against the institutions that let her die could give her or her family another life to live.

Let us keep them all in our memories.

Featured image is of James Baldwin, from wikipedia

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