Today in Gay History


May 24

Supreme Court Justice Benjamin Cardozo
1870 -

On this date the legal legend and Supreme Court justice BENJAMIN CARDOZO was born (d. 1938). Cardozo is remembered for his significant influence on the development of American common law in the 20th century, in addition to his modesty, philosophy, and vivid prose style. Although Cardozo only served on the Supreme Court from 1932 until his death six years later, the majority of his landmark decisions were delivered during his eighteen-year tenure on the New York Court of Appeals, the highest court of that state.

Was Cardozo Gay?

As far as is known, Benjamin Cardozo led a celibate life. The fact that Cardozo was unmarried and was personally tutored by the writer Horatio Alger (who is included in Daily GayWisdom for his own interesting sexual background) has led some of Cardozo's biographers to believe that Cardozo was homosexual, but no direct evidence exists to corroborate this possibility. He never married and rumors abounded about him.

The story that was told was he was "too devoted" to his ailing sister to ever get married. One of Cardozo's biographers talks of how his friends, when describing Cardozo, used words like "beautiful, exquisite, sensitive or delicate." But he certainly didn't allow anyone much evidence to find out. Like many other men in history (Henry James anyone?) Cardozo made sure to have all of his correspondence burned after his death (much to the shock and outrage of scholars).

In truth, most of what was interesting about him went unreported, either because the personal details were not known or because the press tacitly agreed not to print them in deference to Cardozo's sensibilities. Throughout his career Cardozo had politely but finely discouraged aspiring biographers.

The Supreme Court Justice Learned Hand commented that Cardozo "never quite wanted anybody to penetrate into his inner life," Irving Lehman, Cardozo's closest friend and colleague on the Court of Appeals since 1923, phrased it somewhat differently. Shortly after Cardozo's death in July 1938 Lehman eulogized him as follows: "A man of fastidious reticence, he guarded jealously his personal privacy ... Always he selected the field to which he would admit even his chosen friends, when he would disclose to them his thoughts and feelings; always he would reserve for himself fields from which he would gently exclude even his friends. He would be distressed if what he reserved for a friend were exhibited to the world."

Lehman was the man who took care to destroy all of the Supreme Court justice's private letters in a way so thorough one biographer compared the treatment of Cardozo's papers to the treatment Jeanne d'Arc received.

Robbie Rogers and Greg Berlanti
1972 -

GREG BERLANTI is an American film and television writer, producer and director born on this date. He is well known for his work on the television series Dawson’s Creek, Everwood, Arrow and The Flash. He is from Rye, New York and was married to L.A. Galaxy soccer player Robbie Rogers in 2017.

Poet Amado Nervo
1919 -

AMADO NERVO died on this date. (b: 1870) Also known as Juan Crisóstomo Ruiz de Nervo he was the Mexican Ambassador to Argentina and Uruguay, a journalist, poet, and educator. His poetry was known for its use of metaphor and reference to mystoicism, presenting both love and religion, as well as Christianity and Hinduism. Nervo is noted as one of the most important Mexican poets of the 19th century.

In 1898, Nervo founded, along with Jesús Valenzuela, La Revista Moderna (The Modern Magazine). The magazine was the successor to Blue. He was the cousin of the renowned artist, Roberto Montenegro Nervo. His cousin's first illustrations were produced for La Revista Moderna magazine. In 1902, Nervo wrote "La Raza de Bronce (The Bronze Race)" in honor of Benito Juarez, former president of Mexico. In 1919, Bolivian writer Alcides Arguedas used the term in his novel, Raza de Bronce. In 1925, the term was used by Mexican luminary, Jose Vasconcelos in his essay, La Raza Cosmica.

Nervo spent the first years of the 20th century in Europe, particularly in Paris. While there, he was an academic correspondent of the Academia Mexicana de la Lengua. While in Paris, Nervo befriended Enrique Gomez Carrillo and Aurora Caceres for whom he wrote a prologue for the book La rosa muerta.

In November, 2012, the University of Arizona acquired a privately-held collection of manuscripts and letters created by Nicaraguan poet, Ruben Dario. This distinctive collection of archival material contained documents pertaining to Darío’s life and work as a poet, journalist and diplomat.Several of the manuscripts are signed transcripts, written in Darío’s hand, of some of his most important works including “Coloquio de los Centauros,” two versions of “Los motivos del lobo” and “Canto épico a las glorias de Chile,” a manuscript of 76 pages, which was one of Darío’s first long poems.

The documents altered the scholarship on Darío and Nervo. The peer-reviewed “Bulletin of Spanish Studies,” a prestigious academic journal from the United Kingdom, published an article by Professor Acereda in its August 2012 issue based on letters found in ASU’s collection. The article, “‘Nuestro más profundo y sublime secreto’: Los amores transgresores entre Rubén Darío y Amado Nervo,” ("Our Most Profound and Sublime Secret: the Transgressive Love of Ruben Dario and Amado Nervo") reveals for the first time a secret romantic relationship between Darío and Nervo.

1976 -

ARMISTEAD MAUPIN'S serialized epic Tales of the City makes its debut in The San Francisco Chronicle. That first appearance became a series of seven novels that were originally serialized in the San Francisco Chronicle and the San Francisco Examiner. It has since been transformed into a movie and a musical.

1988 -

In the United Kingdom, the Conservative government passes Section 28, a clause that bans the "promotion of homosexuality" by local government.

David Cameron subsequently issued an extraordinary apology on behalf of the Conservative Party for legislation banning the promotion of homosexuality in schools. He said the party had 'got it wrong' when it introduced Section 28 in the late 1980s. Yeah...that's one way of looking at it.

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