Germany’s President apologises



3 June 2018 | Frank-Walter Steinmeier at the ceremony | R. Hirschburger | Alliance/DPA | 18317

On 3 June 2018, Germany’s President, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, asked forgiveness for the suffering inflicted on homosexual men by the German state under Nazi rule and after 1945.

He was speaking at a ceremony in Berlin which marked the 10th anniversary of a monument to commemorate homosexuals who were persecuted by the Nazis.

Steinmeier admitted that mistreatment of gays had continued after the war in both East and West Germany. “The German state has inflicted heavy suffering on all these people, particularly under the Nazis, but also after that, in East Germany and also under the Basic Law.”

The ceremony was for “the many tens of thousands of people whose private spheres, lives, love and dignity were infringed upon, denied and violated.” More than 50,000 men were persecuted by the Nazis, and were “tortured, sent to prisons and to concentration camps.”

Paragraph 175 was abolished in 1994.


The British Library’s gay secrets



A scene from “My beautiful laundrette” | Oliver Stapleton | 17102

A new exhibition at the British Library, London, “Gay UK: Love, Law and Liberty” explores Britain’s evolving attitudes towards homosexuality. Original literary manuscripts and rare prints of newspapers and novels document the “transformation in society’s attitudes towards gay love and expression”.

A memo from the lord chamberlain’s office, dated October 1958, proposed marginally greater freedom for gay playwrights. “For some time the subject of homosexuality has been so widely debated, written about and talked about, that it is no longer justifiable to continue the strict exclusion of this subject from the stage. … I therefore propose to allow plays which make a serious and sincere attempt to deal with the subject.”

The exhibition includes a manifesto from the Gay Liberation Front, notebooks and journals from writers including Sarah Waters, Kenneth Williams and WH Auden, a never-before-seen annotated script by Hanif Kureishi for the Oscar-nominated film “My Beautiful Laundrette”, and the first edition of Virginia Woolf’s “Orlando”.


Remembering the Black Cat



February 1967 | Black Cat/USC Digital Archive | tc17031

Two years before the Stonewall riots in New York City, Silver Lake in Los Angeles was the epicenter of a gay rights protest movement of its own. In February 1967, demonstrators at the Black Cat Tavern,, 3909 W Sunset Blvd., took a stand and pushed back against anti-LGBT forces, and a rally was held there yesterday to commemorate the events of 1967 and continue the movement today.

The Black Cat Tavern had been open for only two months when a party on New Year’s Eve, 1966 was raided by undercover officers who infiltrated the party and, when they saw same-sex couples kissing at midnight, police began a flurry of arrests. 14 patrons of the bar were arrested for “assault and public lewdness” and the police physically beat several of the individuals. A riot broke out and spilled into the street and neighboring bars.

After the raid, organizers met to begin planning a large demonstration to be held at the Black Cat. The then-new PRIDE organization began publishing a newsletter called The Advocate where they disseminated details of the gathering; the Advocate has published ever since.

On February 11, 1967, an estimated 300 to 600 protestors surrounded the Black Cat in what would be remembered as a tense but ultimately peaceful protest against homophobic laws and police brutality. The event marked a turning point for the local gay rights movement and part of a growing trend of LGBT resistance.


Islington gets a gay archive



Highbury Fields, 1971. Picture: Islington Local History Centre | 17191gh

A new LGBT archive is being created in Islington, London, a borough steeped with LGBT history. Today Islington council launched an appeal for people to scour their homes for LGBT memorabilia – photos, posters, flyers etc – to build the archive, which is likely to be housed at Islington Museum in St John Street.

150 brave campaigners held Britain’s first ever gay rights protest in November 1970 in Highbury Fields. A torchlight rally was organised by the Gay Liberation Front in response to the arrest of Louis Eakes in the Fields. Mr Eakes, of the Young Liberals, was detained for cruising several men in a police entrapment operation. Mr Eakes claimed he was asking them for a light.


The Orlando shooting


On June 12, 2016, at around 2 am, security guard Omar Mateen walked into the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, and killed 49 people, taking hostages, and injuring 53 others. He was shot dead by Police when a SWAT team ended the incident at around 5.00 am.


Phelan M Ebenhackz, Associated Press/CNN | 16236 gh

Three of the injured casualties were Police.

Steve Sesius/Reuters | 16237gh

Vigils were held by the gay community around the world in response to the outrage, including in London’s Old Compton Street.


Yui Mok/Press Association | 16231ga

The LGBT Community Center of Central Florida provided grief counselling for the survivors. A victims’ assistance center was opened at Camping World Stadium.
Facebook activated its “Safety Check” feature in the Orlando area following the attack, allowing users to mark themselves as “safe” to notify family and friends—the first use of the feature in the United States.

Following the shooting, gay pride festival organizers made plans to mark the outrage in their Pride Marches, and increase the security of Pride events.


Vienna | C Bruna/Picture Alliance/DPA | 16234viega

In Vienna around 130,000 people turned out for the Rainbow Parade. A minute’s silence was held before the festivities got underway. The march was led by a black-clad group called “Victims of Hate Crimes – Marching for those who can’t,” holding a rope around a space where normally a float full of dancers would be, representing “those lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender and inter-sex people who lost their lives in Orlando and who can’t be marching with us”.


Omar Mateen | 16238gh

More information will be added to this article when available.


Gay history sort of rubs off on you…



Christian Gooden | St Louis Metro | 15360

Steven Reigns, pictured, has created a display of rubbings taken at gay landmarks around the world. 150 rubbings have been taken from landmarks, signs, tombstones, plaques and other monuments. They represent what Reigns says are integral pieces of “queer” history.

The idea for the exhibit began more than five years ago, when Reigns walked past a plaque in a small park in his neighborhood. It was placed there in November 2009 as a “Transgender Day of Remembrance Memorial.”

Included in the exhibit is Leonard Matlovich, an Air Force sergeant and veteran of the Vietnam War who challenged the ban on gays serving in the military, and Ivy Bottini, who helped found the New York chapter of the National Organization for Women, but was expelled because she was a lesbian.


Christian Gooden | St Louis Metro | 15361

“I began to wonder: ‘Are there others? What do they look like?’” Reigns said. He found that there was no comprehensive listing of markers noting places, people or events that help document gay history. He created a website listing markers and encouraged others to participate.

Many of the pieces in the collection by Reigns are done by friends or supporters of the project who were traveling to or lived in a place where a marker is situated. In turn, Reigns would send them a piece of fabric and a black crayon to do the rubbing.

Reigns is a poet and has taught writing workshops around the country to LGBT youths and people living with HIV.


The Marchioness



Jonathan Phang | BBC | 14346

On the 20th August 1989 Jonathan Phang organised a birthday celebration for his friend Antonio on London’s River Thames on a Thames Pleasure Cruiser, The Marchioness. The evening turned to tragedy when a sand dredger, The Bowbelle, ploughed into the Marchioness, which sank in just 30 seconds, near Cannon Street railway bridge. There were 131 people on board when the dredger hit. Fifty-one people died, including Antonio. Of the eight friends who met that night, only two survived. One of them was Jonathan Phang. Jonathan lost almost all his friends in the accident.


The Marchioness | BBC | 14347

The Marchioness was built in 1923 and, in 1940, was one of the “little ships” of the Dunkirk emergency evacuation. After it was hit the Marchioness rolled over and quickly filled with water. At the same time it was being pushed under the water by the Bowbelle. As the Marchioness capsized, her entire superstructure became detached.

The formal investigation put the time elapsed, from the instant of collision at 1.46 a.m. to complete immersion, at close to 30 seconds. Witnesses quoted in that investigation described the Bowbelle as “hitting the Marchioness in about its centre then mounting it, pushing it under the water like a toy boat.” Of the deceased, 24 bodies were recovered from the sunken hull. The majority of the survivors had been on the upper decks at the time of the collision.

The inquests of the victims also became controversial when parts of their bodies, which had been removed to assist with their identification, were not returned in time for their funerals. Liberal Democrat MP Simon Hughes called for the removal of limbs to be outlawed.

In 1991, the skipper of the Bowbelle, Douglas Henderson, was tried for failing to keep a proper look-out but, after two juries were deadlocked, he was formally acquitted. A Coroner’s inquest on 7 April 1995 found the victims had been unlawfully killed.

Lord Justice Clarke was instructed to investigate and his official report blamed poor lookouts on both vessels for the collision and criticised the owners and managers of both vessels for failing to instruct and monitor their crews in proper fashion.

English law provides no compensation for fatal accidents unless financial dependence at the time of death can be proven. In most cases, the victims’ families received little more than the cost of the funeral.

There is a memorial to the victims of the Marchioness disaster in nearby Southwark Cathedral. In 2001 the Royal Humane Society made 19 bravery awards to people involved in rescues at the tragedy.


The memorial in Southwark Cathedral | Alamy | 14913