Gay History 101: April 15, 2015

David Geffen, who is openly gay, was one of three founders of Dream Workds SKG in 1994. He has an estimated net worth of $6 billion, making him one of the richest in the entertainment industry.

Roy Cohn (1927 – 1986) was an American attorney who became famous during Senator Joseph McCarthy’s investigations into Communist activity in the U.S. during the Second Red Scare. He was also a member of the U.S. Department of Justice's prosecution team at the espionage trial of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg.

Cohn would play a major role in assisting Senator McCarthy's crusade against Communism. During the Lavender Scare, Cohn and McCarthy attempted to enhance anti-Communist fervor in the country by claiming that Communists overseas had convinced several closeted homosexuals employed by the U.S. federal government to pass on important government secrets in exchange for keeping the identity of their sexuality a secret. Convinced that the employment of homosexuals was now a threat to national security, U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower signed an executive order on April 29, 1953, that banned homosexuals from obtaining jobs in the federal government.

Cohn and McCarthy targeted many government officials and cultural figures not only for suspected Communist sympathies, but also for alleged homosexuality. McCarthy and Cohn were responsible for the firing of scores of gay men from government employment, and strong-armed many opponents into silence using rumors of their homosexuality. Former U.S. Senator Alan K. Simpson has written: “The so-called 'Red Scare’ has been the main focus of most historians of that period of time. A lesser-known element ... and one that harmed far more people was the witch-hunt McCarthy and others conducted against homosexuals.”

In 1984, Cohn was diagnosed with AIDS and attempted to keep his condition secret while receiving experimental drug treatment. He participated in clinical trials of AZT; a drug initially synthesized to treat cancer, but later developed as the first anti-HIV agent for AIDS patients. He insisted until the end that his disease was liver cancer. He died on August 2, 1986, in Bethesda, Maryland, of complications from AIDS at the age of 59.

David Geffen (born February 21, 1943) is an American business magnate, producer, film studio executive, and philanthropist. Geffen founded Asylum Records in 1970, Geffen Records in 1980, and DGC Records in 1990. He was one of the three founders of DreamWorks SKG in 1994. His donations to the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and other educational and research donations have widened his fame beyond the entertainment industry. Geffen has an estimated net worth of $6 billion, making him one of the richest people in the entertainment industry. He is openly gay. In May 2007, Out magazine ranked Geffen first in its list of the fifty "Most Powerful Gay Men and Women in America.” Along with other celebrities including Steven Spielberg and Brad Pitt, Geffen donated money trying to prevent Proposition 8 from becoming law in California.

1860: Horatio Alger, the author of numerous popular books for boys, is accused by the Unitarian Church of Brewster, Mass, of “practicing” on boys.

1886: A news’ story in Montreal’s La Presse features the earliest available documentation of gay nightlife in the city. It describes the activity in a nocturnal cruising spot, the Champs-Mars, and the arrest of a gay man by police entrapment.

1892: In Tennessee, Alice Mitchell is tried for murder of her lover, Freda Ward, and judged insane. The two girls were ‘engaged’ and planned to marry, with Alice intending to pass as a man. When the affair was discovered and broken up by Freda’s older sister, Alice could not bear the thought of losing her and slit Freda’s throat in a mad fit of passion and rage.

2015: The UK Government wrote to the authorities of more than 70 countries and foreign jurisdictions in an attempt to clarify the rights of gay people working or travelling abroad. The equality minister, Jo Swinson, asked national and regional governments including Australia, Chile, Israel, South Africa and all 50 US states to confirm whether they recognize British civil partnerships and marriages between same-sex couples, and what rights gay people can expect when they travel.

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