Gay History 101 - June 17, 2015

Colm Tóibín is an Irish novelist, short story writer, essayist, playwright, journalist, critic and poet who focuses on homosexual identities.

Milan Rozsa, (1988 -2014), leading figure in Hungary’s LGBT equality movement made headlines in February 2014 when he climbed into the grounds of the Russian embassy in Budapest to protest Russia’s treatment of LGBTs. He died November 2014 after stepping in front of a train in an apparent suicide. In 2012 Stuart Milk of the Harvey Milk Foundation brought him to the U.S. to attend a White House reception hosted by President Obama. Rozsa’s own father also committed suicide a day after his son led the Budapest LGBT pride march in 2011 only a year after it had been banned by authorities over fears of violence against marchers.

Sir Hector MacDonald, (1853 –1903), was born in Dingwall, Scotland. Also known as Fighting Mac, was a distinguished Victorian soldier. MacDonald left school before he was 15, enlisted in the Gordon Highlanders as a private at 17, and finished his career as a major general, "one of only a few British Army generals who rose from the ranks on his own merit and professionalism."

He distinguished himself in action at Omdurman (1898), became a popular hero in Scotland and England, and was knighted for his service in the Second Boer War. Posted to Ceylon (Sri Lanka) as Commander-in-Chief of British forces, he committed suicide in 1903 following accusations of homosexual activity with local boys. He remains a national hero in Scotland. A 100 foot high memorial was erected above Dingwall in 1907.

Harrish Iyer, ( born 1979) Mumbai-based gay rights activist, was hit with a wave of criticism after his mother added a caste preference to his historic matrimonial advertisement. Iyer’s mother, Padma, placed India’s first ‘gay groom’ wanted ad on May 19 in Mid-Day newspaper after several other publications rejected her request. The ad, which sought an “animal-loving, vegetarian” groom, came under fire for stating a caste preference. Padma Iyer added "Iyer preferred," referring to an upper caste community of Brahmins. While a number of people praised the ad as a positive move for LGBT rights in India, others questioned the mention of caste.

Colm Tóibín (born 1955) is an Irish novelist, short story writer, essayist, playwright, journalist, critic and poet. Tóibín is currently Professor of the Humanities at Columbia University and succeeded Martin Amis as professor of creative writing at the University of Manchester. He was hailed as a champion of minorities as he collected the 2011 Irish PEN Award. In 2011, he was named one of Britain's Top 300 Intellectuals by The Observer.

Tóibín's work explores several main lines: the depiction of Irish society, living abroad, the process of creativity and the preservation of a personal identity, focusing especially on homosexual identities, but also on identity when confronted with loss. In 2015, ahead of the Marriage Equality referendum, Tóibín delivered a talk titled "The Embrace of Love: Being Gay in Ireland Now" in Trinity Hall , featuring Roger Casement’s diaries, the work of Oscar Wilde, John Broderick, Kate O’Brien, and Senator David Norris’s 1980s High Court battles to make homosexuality legal in Ireland.

Tim Gill (born 1953) is an American computer software entrepreneur and LGBT rights activist. After jobs at Hewlett-Packard and a consulting services firm, Gill started Quark, Inc. in 1981 with a $2,000 loan from his parents. Quark produced software for the graphics market and he became a multi-millionaire.

Gill's involvement in LGBT political action began in 1992, in response to the passage of Colorado Amendment 2 , which prevented non-discrimination ordinances in the state from protecting people based on sexual orientation.

In 1994, he created the Gill Foundation, based in Denver, Colorado. One of its projects is the Gay & Lesbian Fund for Colorado. His political endeavors, which are separate from his charitable foundation, are directed through the Gill Action Fund. Gill married his husband Scott Miller in Massachusetts in 2009.


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