THIS DAY IN GAY HISTORY NOVEMBER 20
November 20, 2012
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GAY WISDOM for Daily Living…
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THIS DAY IN GAY HISTORY
TRANSGENDER DAY OF REMEMBRANCE (since 1999) set aside to memorialize those who were killed due to anti-transgender hatred or prejudice (transphobia). The event is held on November 20, founded by Gwendolyn Ann Smith, to honor Rita Hester, whose murder in 1998 kicked off the “Remembering Our Dead” web project and a San Francisco, California candlelight vigil in 1999. Since then, the event has grown to encompass memorials in hundreds of cities around the world.
1858 – SELMA LAGERLÖF, Swedish author, Nobel laureate (d. 1940); Swedish author and the first woman writer to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. Known internationally for a story for children, The Wonderful Adventures of Nils, in 1909 Selma Lagerlöf won the Nobel ”in appreciation of the lofty idealism, vivid imagination and spiritual perception that characterize her writings.” In 1914 she also became a member of the Swedish Academy, the body that awards the Nobel Prize in literature. At the start of World War II, she sent her Nobel Prize medal and her gold medal from the Swedish Academy to the government of Finland to help them raise money to fight the Soviet Union. The Finnish government was so touched that it raised the necessary money by other means and returned her medal to her. Her first novel, The Story of Gösta Berling, was adapted into an internationally acclaimed motion picture starring Greta Garbo.
She lived in Sunne, where two hotels are named after her. Her home, Mårbacka, is now preserved as a museum. She wrote a copious amount of letters to her two partners, Sophie Elkan and Valborg Olander.
1873 – DANIEL GREGORY MASON, American composer, born (d: 1953); Mason came from a long line of notable American musicians, including his father Henry Mason. He studied under John Knowles Paine at Harvard University from 1891 to 1895, continuing his studies with George Chadwick and Goetschius. In 1894 he published his Opus 1, a set of keyboard waltzes, but soon after began writing on music for his primary career. He became a lecturer at Columbia University in 1905, where he would remain until his retirement in 1942, successively being awarded the positions of assistant professor (1910), MacDowell professor (1929) and head of the music department (1929-1940). He was the lover of composer-pianist John Powell.
1910 – The American civil rights advocate, lawyer, poet and teacher and the first ordained African-American woman ordained as a priest PAULI MURRAY was born on this date (d. 1985). The Reverend Dr. Anna Pauline (Pauli) Murray was an American civil rights advocate, feminist, lawyer, writer, poet, teacher, and ordained priest was born in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1910, to William H. and Agnes Georgiana (Fitzgerald) Murray. When Pauli Murray was three years old, her mother died, and she went to live with her aunt and maternal grandparents, the Fitzgeralds, in Durham, North Carolina. Pauli graduated from Hunter College, and in 1938 was denied admission into the University of North Carolina law school because of her race. She later entered Howard University Law School and graduated in 1944. She sought admission to Harvard University for an advanced law degree but was denied admission because she was a woman. She then studied at the University of California, Berkeley, where she received her Masters of Law degree.
A contemporary and friend of Eleanor Roosevelt, she was a professor of American studies at Brandeis University from 1968 to 1973. She was the author of the 1950 book “States’ Laws on Race and Color,” which catalogued state statutes discriminating against African Americans, Native Americans, Asians and other groups.
Murray was one of the founders of the Women’s Rights Law Reporter, the first legal periodical to focus exclusively on women’s rights.
Pauli Murray contributed to the NAACP’s litigation strategy in Brown v. Board of Education and in 1961 she was appointed to the President’s Commission on the Status of Women. While serving on the commissions and studying at Yale Law School (where she was the first African American to earn a J.S.D.) Murray authored a series of papers outlining a legal strategy for challenging sex discrimination by states. These arguments were first published in an article co-authored with Mary Eastwood after the passage of Title VII entitled “Jane Crow and the Law.” 
She testified on discrimination against women before the 91st Congress of the United States. She was the first African-American woman Episcopal priest and a co-founder of NOW, the National Organization for Women.
Pauli Murray died of cancer on July 1, 1985 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Her autobiography Song in a Weary Throat: An American Pilgrimage was published posthumously in 1987. In 1990, the Pauli Murray Human Relations Award was established in her honor to commemorate her life work.
1926 – KAYE BALLARD, American comic actress, born; an actress who has appeared on Broadway and on television. From 1967 to 1969, she co-starred in the NBC sitcom, The-Mothers-in-Law, with Eve Arden. In 2005, she appeared in a road company production of Nunsense, which was written by Dan Goggin. She has never married.
1941 – The man who saved a President’s life was born today OLIVER SIPPLE saved President Gerald Ford’s life. Sara Jane Moore attempted to assassinate U.S. President Gerald Ford outside the St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco, just seventeen days after Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme had also tried to kill the president. Moore was forty feet away from Ford when she fired a single shot at him. The bullet missed the President because bystander Oliver Sipple grabbed Moore’s arm and then pulled her to the ground, using his hand to keep the gun from firing a second time. Sipple said at the time: “I saw [her gun] pointed out there and I grabbed for it. I lunged and grabbed the woman’s arm and the gun went off.” The single shot which Moore did manage to fire from her .38-caliber revolver ricocheted off the entrance to the hotel and slightly injured a bystander.
Sipple, a decorated Marine and Vietnam War veteran, was immediately commended by the police and the Secret Service for his action at the scene. The news media portrayed Sipple as a hero but would eventually report on his outing by Harvey Milk and other San-Francisco gay activists. Though he was known to be Gay by various fellow members of the gay community, Sipple had not made this public, and his sexual orientation was a secret from his family. He asked the press to keep his sexuality off the record, making it clear that neither his mother nor his employer had knowledge of his orientation; however, his request was not complied with.
The national spotlight was on him immediately, and Milk responded. While discussing whether the truth about Sipple’s sexuality should be disclosed, Milk told a friend: “It’s too good an opportunity. For once we can show that Gays do heroic things, not just all that ca-ca about molesting children and hanging out in bathrooms.” Milk contacted the newspaper.
Several days later Herb Caen, a columnist at The San Francisco Chronicle, exposed Sipple as a Gay man and a friend of Milk. Sipple was besieged by reporters, as was his family. His mother, a staunch Baptist in Detroit, refused to speak to him. Although he had been involved with the Gay community for years, even participating in Gay Pride events, Sipple sued the Chronicle for invasion of privacy. President Ford sent Sipple a note of thanks for saving his life. Milk said that Sipple’s sexual orientation was the reason he received only a note, rather than an invitation to the White House.
Sipple filed a $15 million invasion of privacy suit against Caen, seven named newspapers, and a number of unnamed publishers, for publishing the disclosures. The Superior Court in San Francisco dismissed the suit, and Sipple continued his legal battle until May 1984, when a state court of appeals held that Sipple had indeed become news, and that his sexual orientation was part of the story.
According to a 2006 article in The Washington Post, Sipple went through a period of estrangement with his parents, but the family later reconciled with his sexual orientation. Sipple’s brother, George, told the newspaper, “(Our parents) accepted it. That was all. They didn’t like it, but they still accepted. He was welcomed. Only thing was: Don’t bring a lot of your friends.”
Sipple’s mental and physical health sharply declined over the years. He drank heavily, gained weight to 300 lb (140 kg), was fitted with a pacemaker, became paranoid and suicidal. On February 2, 1989, he was found dead in his bed, at the age of forty-seven. Earlier that day, Sipple had visited a friend and said he had been turned away by the Veterans Administration hospital where he went concerning his difficulty in breathing. His $334 per month apartment near San Francisco’s Tenderloin District was found with many newspaper clippings of his actions on the fateful September afternoon in 1975. His most prized possession was the framed letter from the White House.
Sipple held no ill will toward Milk, and remained in contact with him. The incident brought him so much attention that, later in life, while drinking, he would regret grabbing Moore’s gun. Sipple, who was wounded in the head in Vietnam, was also diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic according to the coroner’s report.
Sipple’s funeral was attended by 30 people, and he was buried in Golden Gate National Cemetery in San Bruno, California. A letter addressed to the friends of Oliver Sipple was on display for a short period after his death at one of his favorite hangouts, the New Belle Saloon:
“Mrs. Ford and I express our deepest sympathy in this time of sorrow involving your friend’s passing…” President Gerald Ford, February, 1989
In a 2001 interview with columnist Deb Price, Ford disputed the claim that Sipple was treated differently because of his sexual orientation, saying: “As far as I was concerned, I had done the right thing and the matter was ended. I didn’t learn until sometime later — I can’t remember when — he was Gay. I don’t know where anyone got the crazy idea I was prejudiced and wanted to exclude Gays.”