The Time of Our Lives

The following time line was published in the March 2009 issue of DIVA Magazine. It was printed to mark LGBT History Month and while a lot of the information it contains is British orientated, I’d like to point out that DIVA is printed and published in the UK. I hope you enjoy this bit of LGBT history.

1870: OED’s (Oxford English Dictionary) first listing of the word ‘lesbianism’, in A J Munby’s Diary

1886: Emergence of the term ‘Boston marriage’ to refer to cohabiting, unmarried women

1890: ‘Lesbian’ first used as an adjective in Billings’ The National Medical Dictionary

1919: St Helen’s-born footballer (soccer player) Lily Parr, aged 14, scores 43 goals in her first season

1925: ‘Lesbian’ first used as a noun in Aldous Huxley’s Letters

1928: Virginia Woolf’s pseudo-biography Orlando, ‘the longest love-letter in history’, is published * Djuna Barnes’ satire of Parisian lesbian life, The Ladies’ Almanack, is published * Radclyffe Hall’s novel The Well of Lonliness is published. The lesbian content proves controversial, and a British court judges it obscene.

1933: Gertrude Stein and Alice B Toklas become famous with the mass-market publication of The Autobiography of Alice B Toklas. The pair go on an extended lecture tour of the US for much of the 1930s

1936: Lesbian nightclub The Gateways (239 King’s Road, Chelsea, London) legally becomes a members’ club. It closes in September 1985, making it one of the longest-running clubs of its type

1942: First recorded use of the word ‘dyke’, to refer to a lesbian or masculine woman, in The American Thesaurus of Slang

1952: Patricia Highsmith’s novella Carol, notable for its happy ‘girl-gets-girl’ ending, is published under a pseudonym

1963: Minoriries Research Group established, the first organization to openly advocate the interests of lesbians in the UK

1965: United Kingdom lesbian social network Kenric founded

1970: Singer Polly Perkins releases Superdyke * Lesbian feminist organization Radicalesbians states; ‘A lesbian is the rage of all women condensed to the point of explosion’

1972: Sappho magazine launched. Publication ceases in 1981

1973: Naiad Press, devoted exclusively to lesbian literature, is founded in Kansas City, Missouri, by Muriel Crawford and Anyda Marchant

1981: Tennis champion Martina Navratilova comes out

1983: The term ‘lesbian bed death’ is invented by sex researcher Pepper Schwartz to describe the diminution of sexual passion in long-term lesbian relationships

1985: Jeanette Winterson’s Oranges are not the Only Fruit published in the UK, (adapted for the screen in 1990) * Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) formed in New York

1988: Section 28 of the Local Government Act forbids ‘the promotion of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship’

1989: STONEWALL … LGB lobbying group Stonewall founded by a group of women and men who had been active opponents of Section 28

1990: The term ‘hasbian’ first used (by San Francisco Chronicle) to denote a former lesbian now in a heterosexual relationship

1992: k. d. lang comes out in The Advocate * Lesbian serial killer Aileen Wuornos is tried and sentenced to death

1993: k. d. lang wins a second Grammy for her single Constant Craving

1994: DIVA’s first issue published

1995: Controversial newspaper columnist Julie Burchill is a lesbian for six weeks

1996: The ‘original full-time Girl’s Bar’, Candy Bar, opens in Soho

1997: “Yep, I’m gay.” Ellen DeGeneres comes out to Oprah on her sitcom Ellen * UK MP Angela Eagle comes out

1998: Ellen is canceled due to a decline in ratings * Sarah Waters’ debut novel, Tipping The Velvet, is published

1999: 19-year-old French tennis pro Amélie Mauresmo comes out to the press after a surprise upset of Lindsay Davenport at the Australian Open

2000: Gingerbeer website, a lesbian guide to London, launches * Section 28 repealed in Scotland

2002: Website AfterEllen.com launches, focusing on news and commentary about lesbians and bisexuals in the media

2003: Section 28 repealed in England, Wales and Northern Ireland

2004: The L Word premieres on US TV * Charlize Theron wins an Oscar for her portrayal of Aileen Wuornos in Monster

2005: Adaptation if Julie Burchill’s lesbian novel Sugar Rush premieres on Channel 4 * The Civil Partnership Act 2004 comes into effect in the UK, allowing same-sex couples to register partnerships

2007: Jodie Foster publicly acknowledges her partner (and her sexuality) for the first time in an acceptance speech. Five months later the couple are reported to have split up

2008: Rachel Maddow becomes the first openly-gay anchor to host a prime-time news show when The Rachel Maddow Show debuts on MSNBC

2009: Sixth and final season of The L Word premieres on US TV * Openly-gay Johanna Sigurdardottir is named Iceland’s interim Prime Minister

Credit: DIVA Magazine

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