LGBTQ History Needs to Come Out of the Closet

Story by: KRYSTAL FLOYD / Academy at Palumbo

TUHS Press reporter Krystal Floyd

There are homosexuals all over the world who come from every racial and religious background. For centuries, many LGBTQ people (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning) have been reprimanded for who they choose to love as part of the long history of discrimination they endure.

There have been rumors that James Buchanan, a 19th Century U.S. President, had a partner by the name of Rufus King to whom he shared his home with but a homosexual relationship between was never confirmed. Famed writer Langston Hughes was gay although his homosexuality was downplayed and often ignored in his plays. In his poems, Hughes would mention having intercourse with other men and once said ironically, “There are some things I don’t tell nobody, not even God. He might know about them, but it ain’t because I told him.”

In the early 1950’s, a 24-year-old former GI born with the name George William Jorgensen came home after being honorably discharged and decided to have sex-reassignment surgery in order to become a woman. While visiting relatives out of the country, Jorgensen met Danish Dr. Christian Hamburger who would give Jorgensen the surgery in Demark. Jorgensen gave herself the name Christine to honor Dr. Hamburger.

When Jorgensen returned to the United States, she was an instant celebrity. Unfortunately, Jorgensen didn’t have much luck with love. She was engaged twice to different men but was denied a marriage license because she was born male. On May third of 1989, Christine Jorgensen died of lung and bladder cancer at the age of 62.

Matthew Shepard was a 21-year old homosexual male and a student at the University of Wyoming. As a young man, Matthew was described as very helpful and a well-liked person. He was glad that when he came out of the closet with his sexual orientation that his parents were not outraged.

One night, on October 6 of 1998, Matthew was at a bar where he met two men telling them he was gay. The pair planned to rob Matthew, driving to the outskirts in Laramie, Wyoming, where they beat Matthew with a pistol, tortured and tied Matthew to a fence, leaving him for dead. Matthew spent 18-hours out in the cold dying later in a hospital. His killers received life sentences.

Eleven years after Shepard death, the Matthew Shepard Act was passed in October 2009 making it a federal crime to assault someone based on gender identity or sexual orientation.

LGBTQ people should never face discrimination.

Millions of LGBTQ people have been murdered, bullied and assaulted for who they are and this needs to stop.


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