Mark Segal

Uncovering America's LGBT History

Filed By Mark Segal | September 29, 2011 6:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Gay Icons and History, Media
Tags: Gay History Month, LGBT history, Mark Segal, Philadelphia Gay News

Next week's Philadelphia Gay News, along with 30 newspapers across the country and The Bilerico Project, will begin to Thumbnail image for LGBTEncyclopedias.jpgcelebrate October as Gay History Month. This is the largest LGBT history project of any type, anywhere ever.

Our combined print run alone is over 650,000. The 30 newspapers and magazines are in every major city in America and, combined with our web traffic, the numbers are staggering. My newspaper has been involved with this project since the beginning and, each year, I sometimes feel that the community doesn't really care. All of a sudden this year, there is enthusiasm like I've never seen before and that is borne out with those numbers and with what the writers discovered. We clearly make the case that historians have hidden - closeted - the LGBT community's contributions to building and preserving this country.

This year, there are no living celebrities involved with the project. In past years, we've had exclusive interviews with Sir Elton John, Congressman Barney Frank, tennis greats Martina Navratilova and Billy Jean King, along with a guy by the name of Barack Obama.

This years theme is "We are America" - how the LGBT community and its allies founded a nation. That's the U.S.A. we're talking about. You can bet Rick Perry a three-dollar bill that, after reading this series, you'll never allow a conservative to say "Our Founding Fathers did not have gay people in mind when they formed this country." The Founding Fathers very much knew of - even recruited - those who pushed the boundaries of sexual orientation and gender identity/expression.

Here are some humorous examples from the series - all true.

You'll discover, starting next week:

  • Benjamin Franklin was the first U.S. military recruiter who enlisted a gay man into the Revolutionary Army.
  • George Washington, in all probability, was the first American to offer domestic-partner rights. He gave housing to a known homosexual couple when housing was a premium at Valley Forge. And when faced with a homosexual scandal at Valley Forge, he took the least harmful course of action and embarrassed the officer accused of sodomy rather than giving him the death sentence as Thomas Jefferson demanded.
  • How about the African-American gay man who led a troop of black men in the Revolution?
  • Or the women who dressed as men to enlist in the Colonial Army? After the war, when they could have taken off the drag, some chose to live out their lives as men.
  • Do you know the lesbian who wrote one of the country's most patriotic songs, America the Beautiful?
  • You'll also read about the ongoing debate of whether President Lincoln preferred men over women. Many historians have clearly held a biased view of Lincoln, dismissing habits that suggest his true orientation.
  • We showcase another gay president - and his partner.
  • There's the gay man wrote the drill book and maneuvers that brought order to a rag tag Revolutionary Army and led us to victory.

This project has been a labor of love and our writers from across the country deserve our gratitude. So, next week and all through October, read our salute to our community's history and take pride that your community was among those who founded and kept this country together.


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Awesome! I will repost it on my blog and facebook.People need to know how we played our part. Knowledge is power. Education is the key.
Thank you.

Sounds great! I look forward to following this. By chance, are any of those 30 other newspapers general interest publications (that is, not LGBT oriented)? I hope so. Everyone needs a dose of this.

This is utterly delectable. But it should be just the first step. This kind of info needs to be put on TV and video and the silver screen. That's where the masses get their information.

There were over 400 women who serve as men during the Civil War, several were known to remain living as men afterwards. Cathy Williams, a former slave, joined up with the Army in 1866 and served as a Buffalo Solider for two years, under the name of William Cathey. I did a video on many of them in April of 2010, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wqbe-TbEjaE

This coming Gay History Month, Washington, DC will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Mattachine Society of Washington by the late Jack Nichols and Dr. Franklin E Kameny. A 50th birthday celebration and panel discussion is slated for October 13th at the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The Kameny house and office is now being reviewed by the National Park Service for listing as the second gay national landmark (after the Stonewall Inn).

Isn't it still Hispanic Heritage Month?

I see LGBT history as nothing more than fraud. How can any of you seriously claim that you know for a fact that any historical figure would be okay with being tied to the LGBT? The simple fact is the LGBT is the minority group within the larger same sex attraction category. The same thing goes for the Transgender crowd that is fictiously claiming all Transsexuals crossdressers etc. Look at the numbers those who claim a Transgender identity represent less than 1% of all the people falsely being labelled Transgender and drug into the LGBT against their will. It's all about you guys claiming to represent much larger numbers than you actually do. Politically speaking the LGBT is far stronger than it should be because of this false inflation of actual group members. I would be hard pressed to believe that NCTE has more than 5000 actual members and most likely they have less than 2500. If you also only went by those who qualify as having gender identity disorder by the DSM standards they would have even less numbers.Drag Queens, Butch Lesbians only serve to queer up the Grouping and to try to give legitimacy to gay community control of those with gender identity disorder. The day is fast approaching that the LGBT will find out just how bad they screwed up by thinking they could get away with dragging straight people in against their will.

Wow, has it been three months already? Looks like you are getting a good start toward our next vacation, though.