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Moments in Queer History: Loreta Velazquez, Stonewall, and Lawrence v Texas

Beacon Press is celebrating Pride Month with a giveaway. Enter by tomorrow, June 30th, to win an autographed copy of A Queer History of the United States by Michael Bronski, a book The Bay Area Reporter called "A monumental achievement."

Michael Bronski's A Queer History of the United States features many people and pivotal events from U.S. History, those both well-known and lesser-known. Today we share three moments from America's queer history.


June 26, 1842: Loreta Velazquez is born in Havana, Cuba. She is one of approximately 1,000 women who assumed male identities in order to fight in the Civil War. Velazquez, who married a Texas army officer, enlisted in the Confederate army under the name Harry T. Buford without her husband’s knowledge. Velazquez continued to fight after he was killed, and reportedly served at Bull Run, Ball’s Bluff, Fort Donelson, and was a spy for the Confederacy in Washington D.C. She published her memoirs in 1876.

June 28, 1969: New York City police raid the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village causing protests and violent street altercations between the homosexual community and the police over several days. Raids on gay clubs and bars were routine at the time, and the “Stonewall riots” were among the first instances of the homosexual community fighting back against government-sponsored persecution. A larger culture of political militance followed Stonewall, with slogans like “Gay Power” and Gay Liberation Front (GLF) emerging in its wake.

June 26, 2003: The Supreme Court rules on Lawrence v. Texas, throwing out 500-year-old sodomy laws across the country. The case arose when, on an anonymous tip, Houston police entered the apartment of the plaintiff and discovered him having consensual sex with another man. Both men were arrested and convicted under a Texas law that prohibits “deviate sexual intercourse.” In a 6-3 vote, the Supreme Court decided that these laws violated the individual’s right to engage in private, consensual sex and were therefore unconstitutional."

Watch our trailer for A Queer History of the United States on YouTube

Images of Loreta Velazquez from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. They may be used freely by individuals for research, teaching and personal use as long as this statement of availability is included in the text. Link.