The history of the homosexual community in North America is a very interesting one. It dates back to the colonial days. This web page will reveal some of the major events that have shaped gay culture over the years.

1528-36- Spanish explorer Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca writes about finding effeminate Indians in what is now Florida.

1566- Guillermo, a French interpreter, is murdered by the Spanish in Florida for being a "great Sodomite".

1610- The Virginia colony passes the earliest American sodomy law, making the practice punishable by death, usually by hanging. However, women are excluded from the law.

1613- Francisco de Pareja, Spanish missionary in Florida, records in his Confessionario the likelihood of sodomy amond native American Indians. Apparently, homosexuality was rampant in the culture and probably helped fuel the opinion that Indians were savages and less human than the European invaders.

1624- With very little evidence, Richard Cornish, the master of the Ambrose, is hanged in Virginia for "buggery" of one of his indentured servants, the ship's steward, William Cowse.

1629- The first record of gender ambiguity by Thomas/Thomasine Hall in Virginia.
- On the Talbot, Reverend Francis Higginson records "5 beastly Sodomiticall boys" who confess to their alleged misdoings. Massachusetts supposedly hanged them, as any male over the age of 14 years could be hanged if caught or even suspected of committing sodomy.

1636- Reverend John Cotton of Massachusetts proposes the death penalty for 16 crimes, including sodomy. Massachusetts rejects the code.
- Codification of laws in Plymouth colony include eight death penalty offenses - treason, murder, witchcraft, etc.

1641- Massachusetts makes sodomy a capital crime, but excuses lesbianism as a crime. They cite Lev. 20:13, which condemns "man lying with mankind as he lies with a woman."

1642- Connecticut includes sodomy in its 12 capital crimes.
- Salem, Massachusetts: Elizabeth Johnson recieves a whipping for lesbianism.

1646- Jan Creoli, a negro, is choked to death in New Netherland for supposedly sodomizing a ten year old boy named Manuel Congo. Congo recieves a flogging for his participation in the crime.
- William Plaine, one of the original settlers of Guilford, Connecticut is accused of committing sodomy twice in England and of corrupting "a great part of the youth of Guilford by masturbations". He is executed in New Haven.

1647- Rhode Island makes sodomy amongst men a capital offense, but excuses lesbianism.

1648- A young soldier in Montreal is charged with "the worst of crimes" (sodomy). The Jesuit Church intervene on his behalf and his sentence to hard labor is commuted on condition that he become New France's first executioner.

1649- Plymouth: 2 married women, Sara Norman and Mary Hammon, are charged with lewd behavior. The 15-year-old Hammon is cleared; Norman (who was older) acknowledged publicly her behavior as punishment, ala The Scarlet Letter.

1656- New Haven: A law is passed that makes the death penalty applicable to both men and women.

1660- New Netherland: Jan Quisthout vander Linde is drowned on suspicion of sodomy. Hendrick Harmensen, the boy supposedly sodomized, is whipped.

1665- New Netherland becomes New York after the British takeover, and imposes the death penalty for anyone over the age of 14 who breaks a capital offense law.

1668- New Jersey passes a capital crimes law. Plymouth and Connecticut later amend theirs to match that of New Jersey.

1673-77- Father Jacques Marquettes, on his first voyage down the Mississippi River, observes cross dressers in the tribes of the Nadouessi and Illinois indians.

1680- New Hampshire passes its first capital crimes laws.

1682- Pennsylvania: A Quaker colony, Pennsylvania is the first state to make sodomy a non-capital offense, limiting punishment to whipping, forfeiture of 1/3 of one's estate, and six months of hard labor. The law was amended in 1700 to life imprisonment or castration.

1712- Mingo, a slave of Wait Winthrop, the chief justice of Massachusetts, is executed in Charlestown for "forcible buggery", ie. male rape.
- South Carolina implements the English buggery law.

1718- Pennsylvania revises its laws, making sodomy a capital offense.

1719- Delaware adopts a sodomy law.

1721- Jesuit explorer Pierre Francois Xavier de Charlevoix records effeminacy and widespread homosexuality and lesbianism among the indian tribes in what is now Louisiana. The most prominent tribes in the area at the time were the Iroquois and Illinois indians.

1776- Fleury Mesplet, Ben Franklin's good friend, publishes the play Jonathas et David, or Le Triomphe de l'amitie, the first book ever published in the city of Montreal. It is a three-act tragedy describing the thinly veiled homoerotic relationship of the Biblical characters, David and Jonathan.
- The Thirteen Colonies issue the Declaration of Independence from England.

1778- In the newly formed Continental Army, Lieutenant Frederick Gotthold Enslin is court martialed for a sodomy attempt.

1782- Deborah Sampson, descendent of Governor William Bradford, is excommunicated from the First Baptist Church of Middleborough, Massachusetts for lesbianism.

1792- Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Moreau de St. Mery, a French lawyer and politician, writes about widespread lesbianism among the women of the city.

1804-10- Nicholas Biddle of the Lewis & Clark expedition notes that among the Minitaree Indians the effeminate boys are raised as females. Upon reaching puberty, the boys are then married to older men. The French call them Birdashes.

1811- Fort Astoria, Oregon: Gabriel Franchere finds the first known Kutenai lesbian amongst the Kutenai indian tribe.

1824-26- Louis Dwight writes the first documented report on homosexual acts in U.S. prisons.

1839- Montreal: Thomas Clotworthy, 17, and Henry Cole, 11, are found sharing a bed. The two boys are prosecuted in a court of law.

1846- New York City: Edward McCosker is dismissed from the New York Police Department for sexually harrassing other male officers on duty.

1848- Seneca Falls, New York: The First Women's Rights Convention officially begins the feminist movement, and jettisons several probable lesbian and bisexual women into the spotlight, including Susan B. Anthony.

1857- Washington, DC: James Buchanan becomes president of the United States - the only bachelor president and likely homosexual.

1860- Gay poet Walt Whitman publishes the homoerotic Leaves of Grass.

1866- Brewster, Massachusetts: Horatio Alger, the author of several popular boys' books, including the popular "rags to riches" novels, is accused by the Unitarian Church of Brewster, Massachusetts of practicing "deeds too revolting to relate" on young boys. Alger leaves town to avoid the scandal.

1870- Bayard Taylor's Joseph and His Friend is the first U.S. novel to touch on homosexuality.

1886- Montreal's La Presse reports on the gay nightlife in the city, including the Champs-da-Mars, and the arrest of Clovis Villenevue through police entrapment.

1892- Tennessee: Alice Mitchell found insane after murdering her lover and fiancee Freda Ward. The story goes that Freda's sister found out about the relationship and broke them up. Alice retaliated by slashing Freda's throat.

1896- For the first time on an American stage, two women kiss in a scene in A Florida Enchantment. At the intermission, ushers were sent up and down the aisles to offer ice water to people who felt faint.

1897- Havelock Ellis writes in Sexual Inversion about the great numbers of homosexuals living in U.S. cities.

1901- Influential New York politician Murray Hall dies, and then is revealed to actually be a woman!

1912- At Polly Halliday's restaurant in New York, Herterodoxy, becomes a feminist luncheon club for lesbians. Helen Hull, Katharine Anthony, Dr. Sara Josephine Baker, Elisabeth Irwin, and Mabel Dodge Luhan all eat there.

1914- Portland, Oregon: A dictionary of criminal slang is published. The first recorded use of the word "faggot" to describe homosexual men is defined in the dictionary.

1916- New York City: Provincetown Playhouse in Greenwich Village is the first major off-Broadway theater. One of its first plays was Charles Busch's Vampire Lesbians of Sodom.

1917- Montreal: 19-year-old Elsa Gidlow starts an artists salon in her parents home. Roswell George Mills becomes her mentor.

1919- Newport, Rhode Island: The US Navy uses a squad of young enlisted decoys under the command of Franklin Delano Roosevelt to initiate a search for "perverts" at the Newport Naval Training Station. 20 sailors and 16 civilians are arrested.

1920-1935- New York City: The Harlem Renaissance included gay works by Countee Cullen, Claude McKay, Langston Hughes, Bessie Smith, Ma Rainey, Alain Locke, Bruce Nugent, and Ethel Waters.

1924- Illinois: Henry Gerber helps found the Society for Human Rights in Illinois, the first homosexual rights organization. They publish Friendship & Freedom.

1926- Humphrey Bogart's wife Helen Menken stars in the lesbian play, The Captive. William Randolph Hearst, the newspaper magnate, uses the play to promote intolerance. The Captive is raided and shut down.

1927- Wade "Padlock" Law enacted to prevent homosexual depictions on Broadway, one of its first victims is The Captive.
- Mae West writes the play The Drag, the first gay male play that debuts in Connecticut.

1929- New York City: Publisher Covici-Friede convicted of obscenity for publishing Radclyffe Hall's lesbian novel The Well of Loneliness. Conviction is appealed and then overturned.

1930- Hollywood's Motion Picture Production Code prohibits homosexual references in any of its motion pictures. This code is supported by the Catholic-led Legion for Decency.


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