Today in Gay History


May 20

Cher and her son Chaz
1946 -

Singer, actress, living mannequin for Bob Mackie costumes CHER, was born on this date as Cherilyn Sarkisian. She has the rare distinction of having won an Academy Award, a Grammy Award, an Emmy Award and three Golden Globe Awards. Cher has been imitated by drag queens across the world for decades. Her transition to dance music and social activism in recent years has further contributed to her iconic popularity within the Gay community. The NBC sitcom Will & Grace acknowledged her status by making her the idol of Gay character Jack McFarland. Cher guest-starred as herself twice on the sitcom. In 2000 Cher made a cameo on the show, in which Jack believed her to be a drag queen, and said he could "do" a better Cher himself. Cher has become one of the Gay community's most vocal advocates.

At several of her live concert appearances, Cher acknowledged the audience by declaring, "good evening, ladies and gentlemen... and flamboyant gentlemen!" In 2003 Cher staged a huge “farewell” tour that saw the smoldering diva play to more than 1.5 million fans in North America alone. She is now, perhaps, as famous for being the struggling-to-understand mother of FTM-transgender son, CHAZ BONO.

Dr. Sally Floyd
1950 -

SALLY FLOYD (d: 2019) A computer scientist whose work on the early 1990s on controlling congestion on the internet that continues to play a vital role in its stability was born on this date.

Dr. Floyd was best known as one of the inventors of Random Early Detection (RED), an algorithm widely used in the internet. Although it is not readily visible to the average internet user, it helps traffic on the internet to flow smoothly during periods of overload.

The internet consists of a series of linked routers. When computers communicate with one another through the internet, they divide the information into packets of data, which are sent out to the routers in sequence/ A router examines each packet and sends it to its intended destination. But when routers receive more that they can handle immediately, they queue those packets in a holding area called a buffer, which can increase the delay in transmitting data.

We've all been there, right?

The buffer has a limited capacity, so if the router continues to receive traffic at a higher rate than it can forward, it will discard incoming traffic. For all the ingenuity of the internet its creators did not anticipate some of the difficulties that arose as it grew.

Well into the 1980s the internet frequently experienced a period of huge degradation in performance known as "congestion collapse". The network's capacity was consumed by computers repeatedly transmitting packets which routers were forced to discard due to overload. 

Dr. Floyd's Random Early Detection was an enhancement of the work done by Van Jacobson who was credited with saving the internet from collapse.  He and Dr. Floyd developed RED together.  

With RED, a router would generate a signal saying "I've got enough backlog that I'm going to tell senders I'm backed up." This meant that by occasionally discarding the occasional data packet earlier, routers could avoid getting completely clogged. The work required a great deal of careful mathematics and the development of simulations.

One of the by-products of Dr. Floyd's work, reflected her passion for keeping things fair to all intenet users. The work on congestion control was about keeping the internet working for everyone.

Dr. Floyd was born in Charlottesville, Virginia and attended the University of Michigan. One of her first professional positions was working for the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system in San Francisco. She went on to study computer science at UC Berkeley for her M.A. and PhD. In addition to her seminal work in applied computer science, Dr. Floyd was well known for her mentoring of graduate students.

Dr. Floyd died in August, 2019 of gall bladder cancer and is survived by her wife, Carole Leita.


1952 -

TRAVIS JOHN KLUNE, born today, is an American author  who writes under the name TJ Klune. He writes fantasy and romantic fiction featuring gay and LGBTQ+ characters. His fantasy novel The House in the Cerulean Sea is a New York Times best seller and winner of the 2021 Alex and Mythopoeic Awards. Klune has spoken about how his asexuality influences his writing. His novel Into This River I Drown won the Lambda Literary Award for Best Gay Romance in 2014.

Klune was born in Roseburg, Oregon. He was eight years old when he first began to write fiction. His young work in poetry and short stories were the first to be published. Klune's writing influences include Stephen King, Wilson Rawls, Patricia Nell Warren, Robert McCammon, and Terry Pratchett.

Klune has been open about his lived experiences with asexuality, queerness and neurodiversity, and how they influence his writing. The historical absence of these communities in fiction has motivated choices in Klune's character development.

In 2013, Klune proposed to author Eric Arvin at the GayRomLit Conference in Atlanta, Georgia. The two had met for the first time in person one year earlier at the 2012 GayRomLit Conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Arvin endured many years of health struggles and passed away in December 2016.

Klune's Young Adult debut, The Extraordinaries, is praised by Kirkus for its use of superhero and fan fiction tropes, while Publishers Weekly compliments Klune on writing a teenaged character with ADHD in a positive and supportive light.

His stand-alone fantasy novel, The House in the Cerulean Sea, is a New York Times Best Seller and has been named by The Washington Post as one of “2020’s Best Feel-Good Reads”. Publishers Weekly calls it a “thought-provoking Orwellian fantasy” in its starred review. It was named one of Amazon's Best science fiction and fantasy books of 2020.

Klune was nominated as an all-time favorite M/M author on the book review website Goodreads in 2017. He is also an advocate for better LGBTQ2+ representation in novel, wishing to see more asexual characters like himself reflected in books.

Top Chef host Ted Allen
1965 -

TED ALLEN was born on this date. He was the "food and wine connoisseur" on the American Emmy-winning television program "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy." He is a frequent host and guest on TV cooking shows like "Top Chef" “The Iron Chef” and author of magazine articles and books.

1970 -

SAUL ARMENDARIZ, is an American-born Mexican luchador, or professional wrestler, born on this date;  He works under the ring name CASSANDRO, an exótico for several independent promotions all over the world. He is a former NWA World Welterweight and UWA World Lightweight Champion. In 2009, Armendáriz signed a contract with American promotion Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA), but was released before making his official debut.

He officially began his professional wrestling career in 1988, working under a mask as Mister Romano. The character, made up by well known luchador Rey Misterio, was a gladiator themed rudo (villain). Less than a year later, Armendáriz was encouraged to abandon the character and take on a new exótico character by Babe Sharon. Exóticos are male wrestlers dressed in drag portraying gay caricatures. While most exóticos were straight, both Sharon and Armendáriz were gay. Armendáriz wrestled his first match as an exótico in Juárez, working unmasked and under the new ring name Rosa Salvaje ("Wild Rose").

Through his regular tours of the United Kingdom and his fluency in English, Cassandro has gained some mainstream attention in the country, including being interviewed on BBC Breakfast. In February 2017, Cassandro appeared in a skit on Conan, training Conan O'Brien and Andy Richter to become luchadores. He was featured in a 2016 New Yorker article entitled "How the Drag Queen Cassandro Became a Star of Mexican Wrestling."

He is the subject of the 2018 documentary film Cassandro the Exotico!, by Marie Losier. In 2023, the film Cassandro was made based on his life. He is portrayed by Gabriel Garcia Bernal.

Sonnet 20 by William Shakespeare
1609 -

WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE's Sonnets were first published on this date in London, perhaps illicitly, by the publisher Thomas Thorpe who was known to steal manuscripts. Even so, if it weren’t for him we would not have this priceless work by the master. Among the greatest and well known and loved poems in the English language, most people do not realize that Shakespeare wrote these sonnets to "a fair youth." The 'Fair Youth' is an unnamed young man to whom sonnets 1-126 are addressed. Shakespeare clearly writes of the young man in romantic and loving language, a fact which serves to confirm a homosexual relationship between them.

The more prudish and near-sighted prefer to call it "platonic." But it is quite clear that he addresses a man and once read, "platonic" seems a ridiculous attempt at denying the obvious. Do you remember Shakespeare's famous Sonnet 18? ("Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?"). That poem, taught to us as a poem of heterosexual love, is in fact written between men, and is from Shakespeare to another man in a tone of clear romantic intimacy. While Sonnet 20 explicitly laments that the young man is not a woman.

Through the years there have been many attempts to identify “the Fair Youth.” Shakespeare's one-time patron, the Henry Wriothesley, 3rd Earl of Southampton is the most commonly suggested candidate, although Shakespeare's later patron, William Herbert, 3rd Earl of Pembroke, has recently become a popular candidate. Both claims have much to do with the dedication of the sonnets to 'Mr. W.H.', "the only begetter of these ensuing sonnets": the initials could apply to either Earl. However, while Shakespeare's language often seems to imply that the 'friend' is of higher social status than himself, this may not be the case.

The apparent references to the poet's inferiority may simply be part of the rhetoric of romantic submission. An alternative theory, most famously espoused by Oscar Wilde's short story "The Portrait of Mr. W.H." notes a series of puns that may suggest the sonnets are written to a boy actor called William Hughes; however, Wilde's story acknowledges that there is no evidence for such a person's existence. Samuel Butler believed that the friend was a seaman, and recently Joseph Pequigney in "Such Is My love" argued for the idea that "Mr. W.H." was an unknown commoner.

1996 -

On this date the Supreme Court of the United States ruled 6-3 that Colorado's Amendment 2 was unconstitutional. In the case of "ROMER V. EVANS," the court ruled that "Amendment 2," that would have prevented any city, town or county in the state of Colorado from taking any legislative, executive, or judicial action to protect the rights of gays and Lesbians, was unconstitutional.

It was a significant step forward for Gay Rights. A few interesting points in the story: The legal case was named for Richard Evans, a Gay man who was challenging the law, and Roy Romer, who was governor of the state of Colorado at the time of its passage by statewide ballot initiative. By legal custom, the governor's name is attached to a case like this. Which was ironic because Governor Romer had not only opposed passage of the anti-Gay initiative, he had publicly spoken out for Gay Rights and was one of the first governors in the country to address a state-wide Pride rally.

The passage of Amendment 2 caused a boycott of Colorado tourism and products by many Gay Rights groups. This was ironic as the very existence of the law was proof that many municipalities in Colorado had actually passed protections for Gay people. The most populous areas of Colorado (Denver, Boulder and Aspen) had passed protections. The boycott of the skiing industry had the effect of punishing the very cities that had protected Gays in housing, and employment.

An added irony was the boycott by Gay groups and newspapers in cities and regions of the country with far less *no* protections for Gay people (Dallas, Charlotte and Nashville for example). These communities located in much more Gay hostile areas of the country were boycotting municipalities that did actually have protections on the book.

Amendment 2 had been passed by the more rural and conservative parts of the state but the boycott had the effect of punishing the more liberal and Gay-affirming areas that had made Amendment 2 necessary (in the minds of anti-Gay activists). Given the complexity of the case, the entire process brought the effectiveness of boycotts under greater scrutiny in the Gay press. In any case there was much rejoicing of the Supreme Court's decision. It would factor in heavily in the eventual overturning of Sodomy laws across the land in the Lawrence v. Texas case.

Mayor Sam Adams
2008 -

On this date Portland, Oregon voters elect openly Gay Commissioner SAM ADAMS as their new mayor, making Portland the largest American city ever to be helmed by an out Gay person... until 2009 when Houston, (which ranks at #4) elected its new mayor.

Today's Gay Wisdom
2018 -


Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? (Sonnet 18)
William Shakespeare, 1564 - 1616

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate.
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date.
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimmed;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance, or nature’s changing course, untrimmed;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st,
Nor shall death brag thou wand’rest in his shade,
When in eternal lines to Time thou grow’st.
So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

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