This Month in Queer History: July/August 2012

Navy Secretary Josephus Daniels
Proof that gay Mormons are not a new phenomenon –— in 1886, Mormon Bishop Thomas Taylor lost his position in Salt Lake City due to his relationships with men.

In the Roaring Twenties, long before DADT or its repeal, the U.S. Senate published a report critical former Navy Secretary Josephus Daniels and Undersecretary Franklin Roosevelt’s handling of a gay sex ring at a navy base (1921). A gay Navy sex ring? Now that’s a recruitment strategy.

In 1935, U.S. lesbians find their sex lives outlawed for the first time as an Oklahoma appellate court rules that cunnilingus is a “crime against nature.”

In 1958, a Pennsylvania court ruled that drunkenness (“the vodka made me do it”) is not an acceptable defense for sodomy. Fortunately, folks wouldn’t need a defense for too much longer.

July seems to be the season for getting rid of sodomy laws. 1791 — A whole slew of states overturn their anti-gay laws this month: Connecticut (1969), Delaware (1972), Colorado (1972), North Dakota (1975), Washington (1976), Vermont (1977), and Nebraska (1978). Oregon becomes the fourth state to decriminalize sodomy in 1971, some 128 years after it is first made illegal via the adoption of the “Blue Book” (1843). But the French did it first. France became the first Western nation in the world to repeal its law against sodomy in 1971, helping the European country earn its “sexually liberated” reputation.

But as recently as 1994, Missouri expanded its sodomy laws to include additional sex acts and add penalties for sodomy for “ritual or ceremony” (so much for the honeymoon). The law also accidentally outlawed extramarital straight sex.

California requires anyone convicted of having anal or oral sex to register as a sex offender (1947). Thirty years later, the state creates an online directory including outdated consensual sodomy convictions (1997).

Norway is ahead of the July LGBTQ rights class; it established the right to change one’s legal gender in 2000. The first civil union in Argentina was performed in 2003. Same-sex couples would only have to wait seven years for an upgrade to marriage class. Canada beat Argentina to the punch by four years (2005). Stateside, Washington, D.C., inspired a wave of gay wedding registries when it legalized same-sex marriage in 2009. That same year, India repealed its law against homosexuality and the New York Blade ceased publication.

Though Pride is typically held in June, some cities have it in July. Two years ago in Helsinki, Finland, it worse than rained on the parade when three men attacked with smoke and gas bombs.

Famous LGBTQ folks with July birthdays include Macedonian warrior king Alexander the Great (356 BC), musician Rufus Wainwright, sex-positive poet and performer Annie Sprinkle, local filmmaker Gus van Sant (1952), actress Anna Paquin, and fashion consultant and TV personality Tim Gunn (1953).