||60AD-1260AD||1600 || 1700 ||1800 || 1900 ||1920 || 1930 ||
|| 1940 || 1950 || 1960 || 1970 || 1980 || 1990 || 1997 || 1998
Bibliography || Related Links
|Sappho's famed girls' school flourishes on the Isle of Lesbos
Sappho of Mytilene (b 612 B.C. - date of death unknown), daughter of Scamandronymus and Cleia, belongs among the greatest poets of the ancient world. She was called "the Tenth Muse" and was hailed as an unsurpassed master of melic poetry (from the word 'melos', the same root as in 'melody').
Sappho's work was originally collected in nine books of which only two relatively full poems and a considerable number of fragments survived. They suffice, however, to appreciate the poet's formal excellence (she invented the so-called Sapphic stanza, used, among others, by Catullus and Horace) as well as the depth and complexity of her inner life.
On the island of Lesbos Sappho presided over a circle (thiasos) of young girls whom she taught poetry, arts, music, and good manners (a sui generis predecessor of Plato's Academy) and with whom she entered emotionally powerful relationships as it comes clear from her writings. Much of her biography, as preserved in our sources, seems largely fictional, including her rejection of marriage to another great poet Alcaeus and her alleged suicide (by plunging into sea) from an unrequitted love for a beautiful young man Phaon.
|Boudicca (or, Boadiciea,) Chieftess of the Iceni of the East Anglia, leads Celtic rebellion against Roman invaders, destroying cities of Colchester, St. Albans and capturing London. She was finally defeated after the Romans brought in reinforcements, and rather than be humiliated by them, she poisoned herself. Many feel her name (pronounced BOO-DEE-KA) is the origin of "bulldyke."
|Gregory of Nazianzus orders first burning of Sappho's poetry.
|Judith, Queen of Falasha, captures capital of Ethiopia. She rules for 40 years until her death in 977.
|Ecclesiastical authorities of Constantinople and Rome order all remaining copies of Sappho's poetry destroyed
|The Orleans Legal School orders women found guilty of lesbian acts have their clitoris removed for their first offense. Second offenders further mutilated and third offenders burned at the stake
|Nzingh(a), southwestern African Queen of Matamba negotiates a treaty with Portugese to thwart colonial threats during her brother's reign. Rising to the throne, she negates the treaty, allies with Dutch and fights invading Portugal. Although eventually defeated, she retreats to the jungles and continues an 18 year guerilla war. Not until her death does Angola fall to colonial rule
|Mary Hammon and Goodwife Norman charged with "lude behavior upon a bed" in Plymouth, Massachusetts. Charges against 16 yr old Hammon are dropped and Norman is forced to make a public confession. Norman is believed to be the first woman in America convicted of lesbianism
|New Haven expands its definition of sodomy, a capital offense, to include sexual relations between women
|Venus in the Clositer, a novel about lesbian nuns causes a scandal in France
|Christina, Swedish Queen, abdicates instead of marrying. Raised as a boy, Christina loved Ebba Saprre, who left her after the abdication of the throne. Christina was also in love with Opera diva Angelica Georgini
|Deborah Sampson, decendent of Governor William Bradford, excommunicated from First Baptist Church, Middleborough, Massachussetts for dressing in men's clothes and very loose and unchristian-like behavior
|Lesbian James Miranda Berry earns England's first medical degree given to a woman (while still in her teens.) She lives as a man the duration of her life
|Schoolgirl's mother accuses Marianne Woods and Jane Pirie, mistresses of a boarding school for girls, of "improper and criminal conduct." Lillian Hellman uses this as the plot for her "The Children's Hour" 120 years later
|France decriminalizes homosexual acts between consenting adults
|Gabriel Frechere reports of a Ketenai Female Berdache, Qunqon, who assumed the dress of a man, took three wives and was a courier, guide, prophet, warrior and peace mediator
|Florence Nightingale is born. Called Lady of the Lamp, Nightingale, served in Turkey during the Crimean war, and upon returning to her native England, reformed military hospital conditions and founded the trained nursing prfession.
Unfortunately, even though Nightingale wrote: I have lived and slept in the same bed with English countesses and Prussian farm women ... no woman has excited passions among women more than I have, she lived by Victorian mores. So, even if she were Lesbian, more than likely she was extremely homophobic and closeted.
|Last British execution for homosexuality, although the law remained on the books until 1861
|Elizabeth Cady Stanton organizes the first Women's Rights Convention and publishes a "Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions," the forerunner of the modern feminist movement
|Article about cross-dressing Lucy Ann Lobdell in Alienist and Neurologist medical journal is first time Lesbian is used to denote woman- loving-woman as opposed to inhabitant of Isle of Lesbos
|The Labouchere Amendment, criminalising all same-sex activity, was introduced in 1885. Althought widely believed, Queen Victoria' refusal to believe lesbianism existed resulting in lesbianism's omission from the Act is probably false. It is believed those presenting the amendment removed it (as the House of Lords did nearly 40 years later) fearing criminalizing lesbianism would alert women to its possibility. The story was useful, however, when her statue was made the focus of a demonstration in 1977 promoting lesbian visibility on International Women's Day.
|Ma Rainey, openly lesbian Mother of the Blues and writer of Prove It on Me Blues is born
|June 6, 1886:
Annie Hindle and Annie Ryan marry in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The event took place on the evening of Sunday, June 6, 1886, in Room 19 of the Barnard House, a hotel in Grand Rapids. It was widely reported that Rev. E. H. Brooks of the 2nd Baptist officiated but the marriage record, available from the Kent County Clerk's Office, states Rev. K. B. Tupper (of the 1st Baptist) performed the ceremony. The witnesses were Gilbert Sarony, who was a female impersonator but who did not appear to have worn a dress on this occasion, and Loran D. Osborn, a clerk at the Grand Rapids National Bank. On this occasion, Annie Hindle wore men's clothing and gave her name as Charles E. Hindle. She gave her age as 31 (she was probably more like 39 or 40) and Annie Ryan was 22.
Annie Hindle was not a resident of Grand Rapids even though she got married there. She was an extremely well known male impersonator in American variety, most probably the first woman to perform in that style in this country. She had arrived in the US in 1868 and almost immediately married the ballad and comic singer Charles Vivian. The marriage did not last long (proably less than a month if my records are right). She was reported as having married W. W. Long, a minstrel performer, in 1878 but as yet I have found no official record of this marriage. She divorced neither of her husbands as far as I can tell.
Annie Ryan had acted as Hindle's theatrical dresser for a number of years prior to the marriage. There is evidence that Hindle had been very close and probably romantically involved with a number of her prior dressers. No more is known about Ryan at this moment.
This detailed account has been provided by who has made the study of Male Impersonators a passion!
|Jiu Jin, Chinese revolutionary, also calling herself Qinxiong (which means "compete with men") wears men's clothes, writes feminist poetry and fights restraints against women. She is tried for treason and beheaded in 1907 by the Manchu government
|Two actresses kiss on the American stage. Ushers stand ready with ice water for those patrons feeling faint
|Archeological discovery unearths remnants of Sappho's poetry. The find represents an estimated 1/20 of her total output
|The death of Murray Hall reveals the well liked and greatly respected New York politician of over thrity years, who had married two women, was in fact, one Mary Anderson, a woman who "passed" as a man."
|Renee Vivien (born 1878 as Pauline Tarn in Philadephia) publishes in Paris "A Woman Appeared to Me" a biographical account of her tormented relationship with Natalie Clifford Barney. Vivien is best known for her poetry, written in French, which was widely acclaimed by critics as the epitome of the French romantic style. Her poetry and prose were all openly lesbian
|Edward Carpenter publishes THE INTERMEDIATE SEX in England idealizing friendship, comraderie and homosexuality
|Holland passes law prohibiting sexual contact between members of the same sex who were under 21
|Heterodoxy, a feminist luncheon club "for unorthodox women" begins meeting bimonthly. Prominent lesbian members include Helen Hull, Katharine Anthony, Dr. Sara Josephine Baker, and Elisabeth Irwin
|Natalie Barney's Pensees d'une amazone published
|The God of Vengence, a play featuring a lesbian relationship produced in Provincetown
|Emma Goldman labeled the "most dangerous woman in America" by the FBI because of her open support of gay rights and equality
|The Captive a Lesbian themed play opens on Broadway sparking such controversy that the "Padlock" law is enacted prohibiting Broadway plays from depicting "sex perversion."
|Radclyffe Hall's The Well of Lonliness published
|1920's - 1930's:
|The German magazine Die Freudin (Girlfriend) openly discusses lesbian topics
|Swiss woman Mammina founds Swiss Friendship Bond and publishes monthly magazine of stories, art and photography
|The Hitler regime bans gay press in Germany and raids the Institute for Sexology burning 12,000 books, periodicals and documents
|On June 28, the anti-gay holocaust begins with the rounding up and execution of 200 "homosexual pigs who besmirch the honor of the party" (Hitler.)
Throughout the year, Nazis rounded up gays and lesbians from Germany and German occupied countries and incarcerated them in concentration camps
|Mona's, one of the first Lesbian bars in the U.S. opens in San Francisco
|Bessie Smith, the (imho) greatest blues diva, who combined songs of the rural south with a natural theatrical talent, and, who had many women lovers, dies
|Nazis begin using Pink Triangles to identify gay men and Black Triangles to identify women of "socially unacceptable" stance believed now to have included Lesbians
|The U.S. enters WWII and the U.S. Surgeon General declares that homosexual and lesbian relationships in the armed forces should be tolerated as long as they are kept private
|Sweden repeals anti-gay laws
|Lisa Ben (Edythe Eyde's pseudonym for "lesbian") begins publishing Vice Versa, the first U.S. lesbian magazine
|U.S. Congress enacts law banning Lesbians and Gays from entering the country. (This law repealed in 1990.)
|ONE publishes USA' first openly gay magazine and US Postal Service tries to prevent delivery. Supreme Court rules in ONE' favor
|Kinsey releases his report on women, the follow-up study to the male sexuality study of 1948. His research showed 2% of women exclusively lesbian and 13% had had lesbian activity
|One of Eisenhower's first acts as president of the U.S. is an executive order prohibiting employment of gays and lesbians in federal jobs. This filtered down to state and local levels and by the mid 50's over 20% of the workforce faced loyalty-security investigations
|American Law Institute publishes Model Penal Code recommending decriminalization of private sexual acts between consenting adults
|Daughters of Bilitis, first lesbian membership organization, forms in San Francisco
|Daughters of Bilitis begins publishing The Ladder
|U.S. Department of Defense sponsors The Crittenden Report which concludes that security concerns about homosexuals in the military are exaggerated. The report is ignored by the Pentagon
|Daughters of Bilitis forms New York chapter; Barbara Gittings elected president
|Daughters of Bilitis hold first national Lesbian conference in San Francisco
|Illinois is first state in U.S. to decriminalize homosexual acts
|Czechoslovakia repeals anti-gay laws
|Jane Rule publishes her first lesbian novel Desert of the Heart which becomes an instant classic and is made into Desert Hearts in 1985
|Except for Military and Law Enforcement members, Britain legalizes homoerotic acts between consenting adults
|Mary Young and Dawn DeBlanc are charged and convicted for "unnatural carnal copulation" in Orleans Parish, Louisiana. They both served thirty months
|Metropolitan Community Church begins in LA
|The famed Stonewall Rebellion occurs in June in NYC. Plainclothes police attempt to "raid" this Greenwich Villiage pub and are met with violent resistance from Gay patrons and Gays and Lesbians on the street. The riots continued throughout the weekend and are considered the start of modern Gay and Lesbian Liberation Movement
|July 9, 1969:
|First Gay Power meeting held in Greenwich VIllage
|Atlanta police, under the pretense of it being a illicit and predominately homosexual, raid local art theater's showing of Warhol's Lonesome Cowboys, taking flash-photographs of members of the audience. One member of the audience, a minister, files a $500,000 suit against the police!
|First legislative hearings on Gay Rights by three members of the New York Assembly
|NOW ( Organization for Women) kicks out Rita Mae Brown and other lesbians
|Amazon Bookstore, the first American Lesbian-Feminist bookstore, opens in Minneapolis
|Lesbian-Feminist Seperatist collective The Furies founded by dissatisfied ex-members of NOW Joan Biren, Charlotte Bunch, Rita Mae Brown and Helaine Harris
|One year after expelling lesbians, NOW acknowledges lesbian oppression
|East Lansing, Michigan is first city to ban sexual-orientation discrimination in city hiring
|Camille Mitchell, an open lesbian, is first to win custody of children in disputed divorce case. Judge restricts Mitchell from co-habitating with lover
|Supreme Court rules in the Roe vs. Wade case in favor of a woman's right to first tri-mester abortion
|Naiad Press, Lesbian book publishers, started by Barbara Grier and Donna McBride
|Two Army WACs, Gail Bates and Valerie Randolph, married by publicity hound Reverand Ray Broshears in San Francisco. As a result, both discharged from military
|Olivia Records founded by Lesbian collective and releases first single featuring Meg Christian and Cris Williamson
|The first bill to prohibit discrimination against Gays and Lesbians, HR-14752, introduced to House of Representatives by Bella Abzug and Ed Koch
|Kathy Kozachenko is the first openly gay candidate elected. (To the Ann Arbor, Micigan City Council.)
|Elaine Noble becomes first openly gay candidate elected to state (Massachusetts) legislature
|Homosexuality removed from list of mental disorders by American Psychiatric Association
|Reverand Ellen Barrett is first out Lesbian to be ordained priest (Episcopal.)
|Jimmy Carter presidential administration receives first Lesbian and Gay delegation
|Fundamentalist Anita Bryant leads campaign to (successfully) repeal Gay Rights law in Dade County, Florida
|Gilbert Baker designs the Rainbow Flag to fly in the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Parade
|The first National March on Washington for Gay and Lesbian Rights draws between 100,000 200,000 marchers. (and Swade was there!)
|First reports of Kaposi's Sarcoma affecting 41 Gay men
|Kinsey releases study reporting neither parental or societal influences in individual sexual orientation
|California Governor Jerry Brown appoints first openly gay judge, Mary Morgan, to San Francisco Municipal Court
|The Gay Games first held in San Francisco with 1300 participants from twelve countries
|Coretta Scott King and other black leaders announce support of gay civil rights
|Karen Thompson fights parents of her lover, Sharon Kowalski, who is paralyzed from auto accident, for right to care for her
|Unitarian Church votes to recognize Gay and Lesbian unions.
|Berkeley becomes first city in US to institute Domestic Partner policy for city employees
|US Supreme Court upholds the constitutionality of Georgia's sodomy law in the finding from the 1982 appeal filed by Michael Hardwick
|Dramatizing the lack of rights for same-sex couples, During the October 600,000 member March on Washington D.C., approximately 2,000 same-sex couples marry in a mass wedding on the steps of the IRS building
|The first country to do so, Sweden legislates protection for gays and lesbians regarding taxes, inheritances and social services
|Lambda Delta Lambda, a lesbian UCLA sorority, makes national news.  Its constitution states goals to promote awareness of women', minorities' and gay issues
|Two separate studies by US Department of Defense conclude no reason to ban gays and lesbians from military service
|Denmark first country to legalize gay marriage
|Sergeant Miriam ben-Shalom wins decade-long battle challenging her discharge from US Army on grounds of lesbianism. Becomes first open lesbian ever re-enlisted. ( overturned by Supreme Court when military appealed)
|Lesbian filmmaker, Debra Chasnoff, receives Academy Award for Best Documentary, Short Subject, for her film, DEADLY DECEPTION: GENERAL ELECTRIC, NUCLEAR WEAPONS AND OUR ENVIRONMENT, and makes additional history when she thanks her lesbian life partner from the podium
|June 11, 1992:
|Margarethe Cammermeyer, former Colonel of the Washington State National Guard, discharged dishonorably based solely on her admission that she is a lesbian.
|Lesbian Avengers founded in New York
|Aileen Wuornos, the first U.S. Lesbian serial killer sentenced to death
|Poet and writer Audre Lorde, who's works included The Cancer Journals; A Burst of Light; Zami, a New Spelling of My Name; The Marvelous Arithmetic of Distance and co-founder of Kitchen Table Women of Color Press, dies of cancer
|Lesbian Norma McCorvey is revealed to be the famed Roe of the landmark 1973 Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court case
|NYC Lesbian Avengers' Valentine Day Action erects paper mache sculpture of Alice B. Toklas beside the statue of Gertrude Stein in Bryant Park
|First Dyke March in Washington, DC
|The third National March on Washington for Gay, Lesbian and Bi Equal Rights draws between 750,00 and 1.5 million marchers. The marching contingent was so large that the route into DC's Mall had to be detoured after only the sixth contingent! (Swade was there, too!)
|Cherry Jones, an "out" lesbian, won the Leading Actress Tony award for her role in "The Heiress."
|Medford, Oregon community leaders Roxanne Ellis and Michelle Abdill murdered by Robert Acremant in botched robbery attempt. Gay community initially fear reprisal for Abdill, Ellis' efforts to defeat a statewide measure to limit the rights of homosexuals.
|South Africa' new constitution became the first in the world to have specific protection of lesbians and gays included. thanks to Liz for this submission!
|December 3, 1996
|In landmark case, Baehr v. Lewin, Judge Chang rules that state of Hawaii failed to show compelling state interest necessary to uphold unconstitutional provisions banning same sex marriage.
thanks to Rayna for this history fact!
|April 30, 1997
|Federal Appeals Court Strikes Down Alabama Law Barring Gay Student Groups from Campus
|April 30, 1997
|Ellen" becomes the first prime-time television program to have its main character come out as a lesbian.
|July 3, 1997
|Texas appeals court rules lesbian is entitled to sue for visitation rights to her ex-lover's child, providing gay partners a legal standing denied in some other states.
|August 31, 1997
|Diana Spencer, ex-Princess of Wales, dies in Paris car crash.
note: Although not lesbian, Diana was an amazing woman and should be included in any history dealing with women!
|September 5, 1997
|Mother Teresa, the Saint of the Gutters, dies in Calcutta, at age 87.
note: Although not lesbian, Mother Teresa was an amazing woman and should be included in any history dealing with women!
|September 5, 1997
|Walt Whitman Community School, the nation' first private school for Gays and Lesbians, opens in Dallas.
|October 21, 1997
|Lesbian grrls" Volleyball coach Wendy Weaver, teacher of 18 years, fired from Spanish Fork, Utah school after divorcing husband and moving in with lover, files suit against Nebo School District, principal for firing, gag order.
|October 22, 1997
|New Jersey state court judge grants gay couple right to adopt foster child they had been caring for for nearly two years.
|October 23, 1997
|Federal appeals court upholds Cincinnati voter initiative forbiding city government extending anti-discrimination measures to gays and lesbians.
|October 28, 1997
|Medford, Oregon jury sentences Robert Acremant to death for botched-robbery murders of Michelle Abdill and Roxanne Ellis.
|November 14, 1997
|Atlanta, GA Emory University, affiliated with Methodist church, announces it will allow same-sex couples to say marriage vows in its chapels, but only if officiated by leader of one of 24 recognized religious groups.
|December 17, 1997
|Newark, NJ court settles class-action suit decides Gay and lesbian couples now able to jointly adopt children under state custody.
|December 30, 1997
|Johnnie Phelps, Decorated WWII Veteran, Feminist and Gay Rights Activist, widely remembered for her conversation with Gen. Eisenhower in the filmdocumentary "Before Stonewall", dies at the Veterans Home in Barstow, CA at the age of 75.
Joining the first WAAC battalion during WWII, she first served in the South Pacific and later under the occupation forces in Germany under Eisenhower. Wounded in action, she received the Purple Heart. other milestones: Appeared in the first gay production to go to Carnegie Hall; 33 years clean and sober in the "AA" program; Certified Addictions Counselor on Skid Row, Mary Lind Foundation; Counselor/Board President , Alcoholism Center for Women; Lesbian Rights Task Force Chair, Los Angeles NOW & California NOW.
thanks to for this entry.
|January 12, 1998
|Lesbian lawyer Robin Shahar, unlawfully denied job by Georgia attorney general because of her impending marriage to another woman, loses Supreme Court appeal
|January 23, 1998
|lesbian police officer Jolande Langemaat to she seek order to overturn employers' refusal to register partner medical rights under SA's LesbiGay anti-discrimination
|February 6, 1998
|Washington the 27th state in the United States to ban same-sex marriages when legislature overrides governor's veto.
|February 28, 1998
|Anchorage Superior Court Judge Peter Michalski rules against Alaska's same-sex marriage ban saying choosing a partner is a fundamental right that could result in a "nontraditional" choice.
|March 13, 1998
|Jimmy Creech, Kearney, Nebraska United Methodist minister on trial for performing lesbian commitment ceremony acquitted after a jury of ministers unable to convict on charges actions violated church discipline.
|March 31, 1998
|Singer k.d. lang, one of the first nationally known musicians to come out as lesbian, honored with Special Achievement award by GLAAD -Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation
- Lavender Lists, Fletcher/Saks, Alyson Publications, (1990) ISBN
- Gay American History, Katz, Meridian / Penguin Books, (1976) ISBN
- The Gay Book of Lists, Rutledge, Alyson Publications, (1987) ISBN
- Hidden From History, Duberman / Vicinus / Chauncey, Meridian / Penguin Books, (1989) ISBN
- Alyson Almanac, Alyson Publications (1989) ISBN
- The Gay Decades, Rutledge, Plume Books, (1992) ISBN
- The Lesbian Almanac, National Museum and Archive of Lesbian and Gay History, Berkley Books, (1996) ISBN
- Lesbian Lists, Richards, Alyson Publications, (1990) ISBN
- The Women's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets, Walker, Harper and Row, (1983) ISBN
- Wild Women: Crusaders, Curmudgeons and Completely Corsetless Ladies in the Otherwise Virtuous Victorian Era, Stephens, Autumn, Berkeley, CA: Conari Press, p. 193.
If you have a substantiated Lesbian History fact you would like to see added, and tell me about it!
With Thanks to Swade for the majority of this information