Take a Wilde RIDE

Article excerpt

FROM OSCAR WILDE TO THE REV. JIMMY CREECH, A SELECTIVE HISTORY OF GAY AND LESBIAN ACTIVISM

1895 As a result of a public feud with the father of his lover, Lord Alfred "Bosie" Douglas, Oscar Wilde is prosecuted and convicted for "gross indecency between males," Once the most celebrated writer in England, Wilde, who described his love for Douglas as the noblest form of affection," is sentenced to two years' hard labor.

1897 Magnus Hirschfeld, a gay German physician, founds the Scientific Humanitarian Committee, the first gay rights group ever, to lobby for the repeal of Germany's sodomy law, Although he fails in that effort, Hirschfeld publishes some of the earliest research on homosexuality and influences public opinion with his education efforts.

1907 Gertrude Stein meets Alice B. Toklas, In Paris the two women set up a salon that fosters some of the greatest writers of the century, including Hemingway and Fitzgerald, as well as gay artists, Stein declares her love for Toklas in print in The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, published in 1933,

1915 In speech the country, birth-control advocate Emma Goldman tells audiences that homosexuality is not abnormal, Her willingness to tackle the unpopular topic leads gays and lesbians to contact her to tell her about the toll the public stigma has taken on their lives.

1920 Roger Baldwin founds the ACLU, Despite criticism from board members, Baldwin includes among the group's goals the repeal of sodomy laws,

1924 Jim Gerber forms the Society tot Human Rights, the first gay group in the U,S, The group is quickly shut down when the wife of a member complains to police, who arrest Gerber for obscenity.

1928 Radclyffe Hall publishes her novel The Well of Loneliness, which quickly becomes the definitive statement on lesbianism, despite its downbeat ending.

1942 Jim Kepner moves to San Francisco, where he begins collecting gay-themed books that will become the basis of the International Gay and Lesbian Archives, Considered one of the pioneers of gay historical scholarship, Kepner becomes a major figure in the fledgling Mattachine Society and One Inc.

1947 Tennessee Williams writes A Streetcar Named Desire, which establishes a gay sensibility on Broadway and solidifies his reputation as a playwright. Williams later signs the initial fundraising letter for the Human Rights Campaign Fund.

1948 Sexual Behavior in the Human Male. by Alfred Kinsey, is published, in which the researcher concludes that 37% or American males have had at least one gay sexual experience to the point of orgasm, Five years later Kinsey publishes his report on women which puts the comparable figure at 13%.

1950 Harry Hay founds the Mattachine Society, one of the earliest gay groups in the United States, Although Hay eventually breaks with the group because of criticism about his Communist past, he remains active in gay causes even today, helping to form the Radical Faeries and participating in protests and marches.

1953 With a grant from the National Institute of Mental Health, psychologist Evelyn Hooker begins to study the psychological adjustment of gay men, A straight woman, Hooker is helped in her research by a gay friend. Her research concludes that there is no psychological difference between heterosexual and homosexual men.

1955 Del Martin and her partner, Phyllis Lyon, along with six other women, form the Daughters of Bilitis, the first national lesbian group in the U,S, Two of the most important leaders for lesbian rights this century, Martin arid Lyon have been involved in a range of organizations and have written two books together: Lesbian/Woman and Lesbian Love and Liberation.

Poet Allen Ginsberg recites Howl at public readings in San Francisco, An early advocate of gay rights, Ginsberg appears on the second night of the Stonewall Inn riots in 1969 to tell the crowd, "Gay is good. …