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Tuesday, 21 July 2015


Claudius, the fourth emperor of the Roman Empire was the only one of the first 15 emperors to not like men or boys. He only took women as his lovers.

Several Emperors were in same-sex unions, with Nero the first to have married a man. He wore a veil to wed former slave Pythagoras, and acted as husband to Sporus, a male lookalike of his dead wife Poppaea Sabrina.

Same-sex marriage was outlawed by Roman Emperor Constantius II in AD 342.

Oddly, no term existed for "homosexuality" in ancient Greece - there were only a variety of expressions referring to specific homosexual roles. Experts find this baffling, as the old Greek culture regarded male love in the highest regard.

The first documented same-sex marriage was between two men. The Catholic Church allowed its first same-sex marriage when Pedro Díaz and Muño Vandilaz wed in the Galician municipality of Rairiz de Veiga in Spain on April 16, 1061. They were married by a priest at a small chapel.

Canada's first-ever criminal trial for the crime of homosexuality took place in September 1648, when a military drummer stationed at the French garrison in Ville-Marie, New France was sentenced to the galleys for sodomy by the local Sulpician priests. After an intervention by the Jesuits in Quebec City, the drummer's sentence was commuted on the condition that he accept the position of New France's first permanent executioner.

James Pratt (1805–1835), also known as John Pratt, and John Smith (1795-1835) were two Londoners who were the last two people to be executed for sodomy in England. Pratt and Smith had been arrested in August 1835 after being observed having sex in the room of another man, William Bonill.

Pratt and Smith were hanged in front of Newgate Prison on the morning of November 27, 1835. The crowd of spectators was described in a newspaper report as larger than usual, as it was the first execution to have taken place at Newgate in nearly two years.

In the 19th Century 'gay' still mainly meant what it has always meant, so they used the word 'Uranian' for homosexuals.

According to several linguists, the word "homosexual" was not coined until 1869 by the Hungarian physician Karoly Maria Benkert.

The world's first gay magazine, Der Eigene, was launched in 1896 in Germany by Adolf Brand.

The Scientific Humanitarian Committee,  the first Gay organization in world history, was established in Berlin in 1897 by Magnus Hirschfeld.

Theodora "Theo" Anna Sprüngli better known under the pseudonym Anna Rüling, was a German journalist. One of the first modern European women to come out as homosexual, she has been described as "the first known lesbian activist". Rüling's speech on October 8, 1904, "What Interest does the Women's Movement have in Solving the Homosexual Problem?" was the first political speech to address the problems faced by lesbians. She gave the talk at the annual meeting of the Scientific Humanitarian Committee at the Prinz Albrecht Hotel in Berlin.

Anna Ruling 1910 photograph Wikipedia Commons

In 1922, under Vladimir Lenin the Soviet became one of the first countries in Europe to decriminalize homosexuality.

Friendship and Freedom, first published in 1924, was the first gay-interest periodical in the United States.

In 1933 Stalin criminalized male homosexuality in the Soviet Union but left lesbianism untouched.

By 1967, homosexuals were hi-jacking the word "gay", which has been used in some quarters since the 1930s to describe them. The Gay Liberation Front used such slogans as "Say it loud, we're gay and we're proud."

On the evening of October 20. 1953, the famous Shakespearean actor John Gielgud was arrested in Chelsea, London for cruising in a public lavatory. The New Statesman and The Observer, two periodicals with a left-wing slant, urged the legalization of private homosexual acts between consenting adults within a few days of Gielgud's bust. Thus, the arrest of John Gielgud could be seen as the start of a gradual thaw in attitudes in the UK that led to the 1967 overturn of laws criminalizing homosexuality during Harold Wilson 's prime-ministry.

Gielgud as Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing, 1959

The American Psychiatric Association reversed a long standing position and voted 13–0 on December 15, 1973 to remove homosexuality from its official list of psychiatric disorders, the DSM-II.

On September 8, 1975 US Tech Sergeant Leonard Matlovich, a decorated veteran of the Vietnam War, appeared in his Air Force uniform on the cover of Time magazine with the headline "I Am A Homosexual". He was given a general discharge, which was later upgraded to honorable. Matlovich was the first gay service member to purposely out himself to the military to fight their ban on gays, and perhaps the best-known gay man in America in the 1970s next to Harvey Milk.

Wikipedia Commons

The rainbow flag, a symbol of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) pride and LGBT social movements was first flown in the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Parade on June 25, 1978.

The first Gay Rights March on Washington, D.C., the National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights took place on October 14, 1979. It demanded "an end to all social, economic, judicial, and legal oppression of lesbian and gay people", and drew approx 100,000 gay men, lesbians, bisexuals, transgender people, and straight allies.

Homosexuality was still classified as an illness in Sweden in 1979. Swedes protested by calling in sick to work, claiming they felt gay,

Denmark was the first country to legalize civil unions between same-sex couples. Introduced by the Danes on October 1, 1989, the world's first legal modern same-sex civil union was called "registered partnership".

More than 100 homosexual couples were married in America's first mass civil ceremony for same-sex partners, held in San Francisco in 1996.

In 1998, voters in Maine repealed a gay rights law passed the previous year, becoming the first US state to abandon such a law.

Same-sex marriage became legal in the Netherlands in 2001, the first country to allow it.

Massachusetts became the first U.S. state to legalize same-sex marriage in 2004.

The first cabinet of Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir was formed in Iceland on February 1, 2009, making her the country's first female prime minister and the world's first openly gay head of government of the modern era. Sigurðardóttir joined in a civil union with Jónína Leósdóttir (born 1954), an author and playwright, in 2002. In 2010, when same-sex marriage was legalised in Iceland, Jóhanna and Jónína changed their civil union into a marriage.

Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir in 2009. By Johannes Jansson/, CC BY 2.5 dk, $3

The repeal of the Don't Ask Don't Tell policy, the policy banning homosexuals serving openly in the United States military, was signed into law by President Barack Obama on December 22, 2010.

NBA player Jason Collins became the first active player of the four major men's professional sports leagues in North America to publicly come out as gay in 2014.

The first same-sex marriages in England and Wales were performed on March 29, 2014.

A same-sex marriage in Islington, London on 29 March 2014, By Tom Morris - Wikipedia Commons

Ireland became the first country to legalize same-sex marriage by constitutional referendum on May 22, 2015.

The Domestic Partnerships Act 2018 made Bermuda the first national territory in the world to recriminalise same-sex marriage.

Homosexual men have significantly higher testosterone levels than heterosexuals.

In the United States, 3.6% of adults consider themselves gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender.

The modern use of gay comes from "gaycat," a slang term among hobos meaning a boy who accompanies an older, more experienced tramp, with the implication of sexual favors being exchanged for protection.

Only two of the Village People were gay (cowboy Dave Forrest and native indian Felipe Rose). The rest of the group pretended because they were marketed towards the LGBT community.

Source Dictionary of Phrase & Fable by Nigel Rees 

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