Happy LGBT History Month UK. Here’s 20 more queer facts you may or may not know. Ideal for quiz questions at your History Month celebration.
1) The agamoi were
unmarried Spartan men over the age of 30. The Spartans claimed they showed no
interest in fathering children and spent too much time in each other’s company.
Even though Spartan men followed the cultural norm of having boy lovers as well
as wives they considered the agamoi to be perverted because they didn’t have
wives as well. Because of this the agamoi were banned from attending the
regular naked sport festivals, but were allowed to compete in their own – in
the middle of winter, also naked.
2) L. Craig Schoonmaker
(1944-2018), the person who first came up with the term “gay pride”, ran for
President of the USA in 2000 as an independent candidate.
3) “Star Trek” legend and
lgbt activist George Takei (b.1937) is also an athlete. He joined the Los
Angeles Frontrunners (an lgbt athletics club) before he came out publicly in
2005. In 2006 he won a gold medal at the Gay Games in Chicago in the 4x100
meters relay. His team was called the Trekeys.
4) Openly lesbian British
Olympic BMX cyclist Shanaze Reade (b.1988) entered the Guinness Book of World
Records live on British television on 28th March 2016. She became the fastest
person to cycle round a “Wall of Death” at a speed of 26.8 miles an hour.
5) A cinaedus was a male
dancer in the Roman Empire who twerked! The erotically-charged shaking of the
back side during the dance led to the association of that name cinaedus with
passive sexual male partners.
6) The world’s first ever
variety/light entertainment programme on television was “Looking In” on the BBC
on 23rd April 1933. It was produced by Eustace Robb (1899-1985) who went on to
produce one variety programme a week for a year. He was an openly gay ex-army
officer who lived on a country estate in Oxfordshire where the Duke and Duchess
of Sussex once rented a house until hounded out by paparazzi.
7) In the 2nd century BC
King Alexander Balas of the Seleucid Empire (modern Turkey, Syria, Iran, Iraq,
Afghanistan and bits of Pakistan) consulted an oracle who told him to “beware
of the place that bore the two-formed one”. Alexander was later assassinated in
Abrae in Greece. Abrae was the home of a male warrior called Diophantus, who
had been born female.
8) In 2011 Dr. Bryan
Lessard (b.1988), an openly gay entomologist, named a species of fly Scaptia
beyonceae after the singer Beyoncé because it has a prominent “bootylicious”
rear end. Bryan is something of a celebrity in entomology circles and is known
as “Bry the Fly Guy”. He works at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial
Organisation in Sydney, Australia, and in 2019 organised a group of colleagues
to take part in the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade.
9) Fans of the 1980s
series “Man from Atlantis” may like to know that the majority of the underwater
swimming scenes were not done by the show’s star, Patrick Duffy, but by an
openly gay, national swimming champion called Tom Reudy (b.1955). Tom has also
won over a dozen medals at the Gay Games since 1986.
10) The Byzantine Empire
created several high-ranking and influential positions at court for eunuchs.
These eunuchs could be either castrated men (called ektomiai) or naturally-born
intersex (called spadones, or thladai). There were even noble ranks created for
them. Several of them became Patriarchs, heads of the Greek Orthodox Christian
Church, equivalent to an archbishop.
11) The famous line “Me
Tarzan, you Jane” from the iconic 1932 film “Tarzan the Ape Man” starring
Johnny Weismuller didn’t appear in any of the 26 Tarzan books written by Edgar
Rice Burroughs. It was a line created by gay songwriter Ivor Novello
(1893-1951) during his short time as a scriptwriter for MGM studios.
12) Ganymede is the
biggest moon in the solar system, bigger than the planet Mercury. It is one of
over 70 known moons that orbit Jupiter. Those that have been named are named
after sexual partners and female descendants of Jupiter/Zeus – except Ganymede.
He is the only male lover of Jupiter after whom a moon is named.
13) The iconic Union Flag
(or Union Jack, its makes no difference – trust me, I’m a member of the Flag
Institute) is based on the original flag of the union of the thrones of England
and Scotland in 1601. That original was chosen by the gay “Queen” James I who
wanted a new flag to be flown from ships of the unified navy. He asked for a
design which combined the flags of England and Scotland so that neither had
precedence. Despite this, the finally accepted design gives the Scottish flag
precedence in heraldic terms (James was Scottish), being the blue base on which
the English cross is placed.
14) Figures from the
Ministry of Justice of England and Wales published in November 2019 revealed
that more than half of the prisons in England and Wales (62 out of 121) had at
least one transgender inmate. This does not include inmates who had received a
legal Gender Recognition certificate.
15) The influential queer
statesman, philosopher and scientist Sir Francis Bacon, Viscount St. Alban,
(1561-1626) was a pioneer in experimental research. His final experiment was to
see if snow would preserve a dead chicken. Conducting the experiment on a cold
and snowy Sunday in April he caught a chill and died of pneumonia three days
16) Despite popular belief
Harvey Milk was NOT the first openly lgbt person to be elected to public office
in the USA. He was, at the very least, the 4th. Nancy Wechsler and Jerry
DeGriek were elected to the Ann Arbor city council in Michigan on 3rd April
1972. They both came out as lesbian and gay respectively four months later.
They didn’t stand for re-election in 1974 but supported Kathy Kozachenko in her
successful campaign to become the first openly lesbian elected official on 2nd
April 1974. Harvey Milk wasn’t elected to public office in San Francisco until
17) Modern democracy was
founded in response to the murder of a gay couple, Harmodius and Aristogeiton.
They were lovers in ancient Athens during the tyranny of Hipparchus and
Hippias. During the ceremonial procession at the Panathenaic Games in 514 BC
they killed Hipparchus. Harmodius and Aristogeiton were then murdered by
Hippias in retaliation. Hippias was then overthrown and the new rulers created
the first modern democracy. They erected a statue in honour of the murdered gay
18) Carl Austen-Behan
(b.1972) holds an interesting combination of honours and titles. As an RAF
firefighter he won a Royal Humane Society Bronze Medal for rescuing a pilot
from a crashed military aircraft in 1992 (he was dismissed in 1997, when it was
illegal to be gay in the RAF). In 2001 he was voted Mr Gay UK. In 2016 he became Lord Mayor of Manchester
(he was host to the national service of commemoration for the Battle of the
Somme centenary). In 2020 he was awarded an OBE (Officer of the Order of the
British Empire) for services to charity, the lgbt community and Manchester. He
was also appointed a Deputy Lieutenant of Greater Manchester by the Lord
Lieutenant (the Queen’s representative).
19) Spintry is an old word
for a male prostitute and gay sex. The word was used in England during the 17th
century. It originates from a Greek work for a bracelet. The allusion is that a
hand goes through the bracelet – I’ll leave you to guess why it became used for
gay sex and prostitution.
20) Lt. Robert Jones
(c.1740-after 1780) of the Royal Artillery popularised figure skating, if not
even inventing the modern sport. He designed the first modern ice skate, which
had the blade attached to the boot (previously blades were strapped onto
ordinary walking boots). In 1772 his book “A Treatise on Skating” was published
- during his trial for sodomy. He was found guilty and sentenced to death.
However, King George III must have been a skating fan because he granted Jones
a royal pardon – on condition he left the UK for good.