Gay History 101: October 15, 2014

PEOPLE

Mervyn "Merv" Griffin (1925 –2007) was an American television host, musician, actor, and media mogul. From 1965 to 1986 Griffin hosted his own talk show, The Merv Griffin Show. He also created the still running game shows Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune. Griffin kept many details of his personal and business life private, including his alleged bisexuality, and other claims that he died a closeted homosexual.

In 1991, he was sued by Deney Terrio, the host of “Dance Fever,” another show Griffin created, alleging sexual harassment. The same year, Brent Plott, a longtime employee who worked as a bodyguard, horse trainer and driver, filed a $200 million palimony lawsuit. Griffin consistently evaded answering questions about his sexuality with a characteristic quip. In a 2005 interview with The New York Times, he said: “I tell everybody that I’m a quarter-sexual. I will do anything with anybody for a quarter.”

Gianni Versace (1946 –1997), Italian designer and founder of the Versace International fashion house, which produces accessories, fragrances, make-up and home furnishings as well as clothes. He also designed costumes for the theatre and films. As a friend of Eric Clapton, Diana, Princess of Wales, Madonna, Elton John, Cher, Sting and many other celebrities, he was the first designer to link fashion to the music world. Openly gay, Versace and his partner Antonio D'Amico, were regulars on the international party scene. Versace was murdered outside his Miami Beach home at the age of 50 by gay spree killer Andrew Cunanan.

George Takei (April 20, 1937) is an American actor, director and author, originally known for his role as Hikaru Sulu, helmsman of the USS Enterprise in the television series Star Trek. He is a proponent of LGBT rights and active in state and local politics apart from his continued acting career. In October 2005, Takei revealed in an issue of Frontiers magazine that he is homosexual and had been in a committed relationship with his partner, Brad Altman, for 18 years; the move was prompted by then California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's veto of same-sex marriage legislation.

DATES

In 1923 Merriam Webster's referred to homosexuality as: "morbid sexual passion for one of the same sex.” In 1934 it changed it to: "eroticism for one of the same sex.” In 2011 it became: “sexual desire or behavior directed toward a person or persons of one's own sex.”

1974: Holland becomes the first country in the world to ban discrimination against gays in the military. In the U.S. the ban lasted until September 20, 2011.

1982: San Francisco holds the first Gay Games.

2003 Sodomy is finally struck down in the U.S. by the Supreme Court. In many countries around the world the death penalty for homosexual behavior is still in place.

FACTS

The first recorded mention of the performance of same-sex marriages occurred during the early Roman Empire. Cicero writes that the younger Curio was “ united in a stable and permanent marriage” to Antonius.

If you want to learn more about your gay heritage and those who paved the way, through activism, sacrifice, courage, civil disobedience to give us a better and freer life you can visit The Stonewall Museum & Archives in Wilton Manors.

We should all know who our gay heroes are and be thankful for what they did on our behalf.


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