My friends in the USA are celebrating LGBT History Month from today. To celebrate here are 23 lgbt+ facts and trivia. Some of these facts are explained in more detail in earlier posts.
1) Gay detective novelist Christopher Fowler (1953-2023) came up with the famous tagline “In space no-one can hear you scream” for the 1979 film “Alien”.
2) The swimming trunks worn by the 16-year-old Greg Louganis when he won a silver medal in diving at the 1976 Montréal Olympics were bought at an auction in January 2023 for $6,604.
3) The much-troubled Nottingham Castle (which went downhill very quickly after I left!) has had three queer Constables (a sort of site manager). They were Sir Piers Gaveston (c.1284-1312) from 1310-1312; Sir William Neville (c.1341-1391) from 1381-1391; and Sir George Villiers, 1st Duke of Buckingham (1592-1628), from c.1621-1628.
4) Douglas Byng (1893-1987) is believed to be the first drag performer in the world to have been given his own series on television. The BBC gave him his own 2-episode sketch show called “Byng-Ho!” in 1938. They were broadcast live and no recordings exist (I wish I could say the same about “Ru Paul’s Drag Race!”).
5) “Ingles” or “ningles” was a slang name for gay male prostitutes in late 16th and early 17th century London, England. Its origin is unknown, though it may be connected to an old medieval word meaning “to fondle”.
6) Facebook is synonymous with Mark Zuckerburg, but Facebook was actually co-founded in 2002 by Zuckerburg and four friends at Harvard University, USA, including the openly gay Chris Hughes (b.1983).
7) On a related online note – the world’s first internet search engine, ARCHIE, was created in 1989 by Bahamian/Canadian Alan Emtage (b.1964). He is credited with being the first openly gay black person to create and entirely new category of technology.
8) The habergeiss is a goat-like creature or cryptid from German folklore that is often represented in Christmas parades. It is said to be of male-female composite gender. You can read more here.
9) Ghosts can be queer too. In 2017 the Stonewall Columbus Queer Ghost Hunters recorded two series of their quest to track down queer and lgbt+ ghosts on You Tube. You can watch those videos here.
10) The first Olympic medals won by an lgbt+ athletes were won by George Coleman Poage (1880-1962) at the 1904 St. Louis Olympic Games. He won two bronze medals in the hurdles. He is also the first known lgbt+ black American in compete. You can read more about him here.
11) The first glossary of lgbt+ slang, as far as is known, was compiled by Isidore Leo Pavia (1875-1945), an Anglo-Italian composer and pianist. In 1910 he published a series of six articles on male homosexuality in London and England. Presumably, he was well acquainted with London’s gay underworld.
12) The world’s shortest official Pride march took place on 21 November 2017 as part of the first Paekākāriki Pride in Paekākāriki, New Zealand. The full route was 10 meters (35 feet) across a pedestrian road crossing in the town centre. There were around 200 people in the march who, lined up before hand, stretched further than the entire length of the march.
13) When the American biker group Dykes on Bikes tried to have their name registered as a trademark in the USA they were denied three times because the courts objected to the use of the word “Dykes”, saying it was an offensive and derogatory term. In September 2006 the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board dismissed the court’s objections and granted the trademark name.
14) In 2021 a new all-lgbt+ choir called Seaweed in the Fruit Locker was formed specifically to highlight queer interpretations to traditional sea shanties. The choir’s name uses two terms from polari, the slang used by gay men from the mid-1920s in England. “Seaweed” means “sailor”, and “fruit locker” means “a gay sailor’s berth on ship”.
15) Erin Honeycutt, a queer woman from Michigan, USA, earned a Guinness World Record in August 2023 by possessing the world’s longest naturally grown beard by a living female. It measures 30 centimetres. Ms. Honeycutt has a medical condition called polycystic ovarian syndrome which causes a hormonal imbalance. It has taken her three year to grow, after her wife suggested that she stopped shaving during the covid lockdown.
16) The Raelians are a religious community (many call it a cult) founded in 1974. Worshippers believe that when we die our bodies are “reclaimed” by aliens called the Elohim. They also believe that sexual and gender diversity was given to humanity by the Elohim.
17) The Father of Computer Science Alan Turing (1912-1954) almost became an Olympian. A keen runner, Alan was due to take part in the British marathon trials in 1948 for the London Olympics, having qualified with a time of 2 hours 46 minutes (which would have been the world record time in 1909) but had to withdraw because he had the flu. It is widely believed that he would have had a good chance of being selected for the Olympics.
18) A gynomorph is a term used to describe gods and deities who show both male and female sexual characteristics. Gynomorphic deities are often represented in ancient statues as being androgynous with breasts and penis.
19) Married couple, and members of England’s national women’s cricket team, Nat and Katherine Sciver-Brunt, were the first same-sex couple to read the “CBeebies Bedtime Story” on 9th June 2023. CBeebies is the BBC’s channel dedicated to the under-6-year-olds. “CBeebies Bedtime Story”, which began in 2006, is broadcast every night and read by a different celebrity. Many other lgbt+ personalities have also read a Bedtime Story.
20) Breaking (or breakdancing) is set to make its first “adult” Olympic appearance (it has already appeared in the Youth Olympics). In the breaking community the sport is also called b-boying and b-girling. Many dancers use the prefix B-boy or B-girl before their professional name. B-boy is also an American slang term for a gay man, meaning “bottom boy”. By the way, open gay Peruvian B-boy Dosu is currently competing for Olympic ranking, though he still has a long way to go to reach the qualifying rankings (as of 25 August 2023 he’s ranked 201st).
21) Matilda Simon, 3rd Baroness Simon of Wythenshawe (b.1955), became the first transgender peer in the UK in 2022 when she transitioned and was formally recognised by the Lord Chancellor. She succeeded her father to the title in 2002 when she became known as the 3rd Baron Simon of Wythenshawe (the title can only pass to male heirs, as it will when the baroness dies). To become the first transgender member of the House of Lords, however, she must win a by-election to fill a vacant seat.
22) Vakasalewalewa is a third-gender identity in which Fijians who are biologically male from birth express themselves as female.
23) The gay King James VI of Scotland, who was also King James I of England (1566-1625), was the only child of Mary, Queen of Scots and the bisexual Lord Darnley. Darnley’s father was the Earl of Lennox who claimed to be the next in line to the throne. When James became king (with Lord Darnley being dead at the time), this meant that King James’s own grandfather Lennox was his heir, and James himself was 2nd in line to his own throne. A family tree in on of the “Gay Thrones” posts here may make it clearer.