“Who does not understand should either learn, or be silent.”

John_Dee_Ashmolean

John Dee (13 July 1527 – 1608/9), the English and Welsh mathematician, astronomer, and astrologer was born on July 13, 1527. He was a Cambridge-educated scientist, who did postgraduate work with mapmaker Gerardus Mercator. He became an authority on navigation, and also suggested that England adopt the Gregorian calendar. Although some Tudors may have considered him a philosopher, astrologer, and even a magician, he was mostly a mathematician and chief scientific adviser to Queen Elizabeth I. Using math, Dee created horoscopes, and practiced alchemy, numerology, and astology.

His father Roland Dee was of Welsh descent and was a “gentleman sewer” in King Henry VIII’s court. When Queen Mary I came to the throne in 1553, and began persecuting Protestants, Dee’s father Roland was one those arrested, that August. Although he was released, he was deprived of all of his assets, leaving Dee without an inheritance.

The following year, he was offered a mathematics post at the University of Oxford, which would have alleviated his financial strain, but he refused the offer. On 28 May 1555, Dee was arrested on charges of “calculating” because mathematics was considered analogous to having magical powers. Despite being guilty of the charges, Dee was released after three months.

The following year, Dee presented Queen Mary with plans to build a national library. Though Queen Mary did not support the plan, Dee set off to create his own. Over the next five years, Dee collected books on astronomy, astrology, mathematics, coding, and magic, poetry, and religion. The library at his Mortlake home, which eventually grew larger than the Oxford and Cambridge libraries, had over 4,000 books.

Dee used his other skills for various purposes. He had traveled the Continent and returned to England in 1551 with many navigational instruments. Beginning in 1555, and for the next thirty years, he was a consultant to the Muscovy Company, formed that year by navigator and explorer Sebastian Cabot and many London merchants. It’s goal was to find the Northeast Passage. Some of Dee’s contributions were preparing navigational charts for the polar region and instructing the crew in geometry and cosmography before their voyage to North America in 1576.

When Elizabeth became Queen, Dee’s fortunes changed. Elizabeth asked him to use astrology to select the appropriate coronation day. In 1582, Pope Gregory issued a proclamation that the Gregorian calendar, based on the date of the Council of Nicaea in 325, would be used.

Up to that point, the church had used Roman Empire’s Julian calendar, adopted by the Council of Nicaea in 325, to ensure that Easter was observed at the same time. However, the Julian calendar added an extra ten minutes to the year, and by the 1582, an extra ten days had accumulated. The Council of Trent removed ten days from October 1582 and brought it back to the same astrological alignment as the Council of Nicaea. Roman Catholic countries accepted the new calendar, but most Protestant countries did not.

However, Queen Elizabeth did seriously consider adopting the Gregorian calendar, and chose Dee as an adviser. The following February, Dee propsed that the calendar remove elven days to align it with the astronomical year. While several of Elizabeth’s advisers approved the plan, the Archbishop of Canterbury did not. Dee’s plan failed, and England’s calendar at odds with that in the rest of Europe until 1752.

Dee continued to regain his lost income for the rest of his life. He attempted to gain an appointment as Master of St. John’s Cross, which, though approved by Elizabeth, was not approved by the Archbishop of Canterbury. In 1596, he was appointed warden of the Collegiate Chapter in Manchester. But, tragedy struck a few years later when his wife and several children died of the plague in Manchester in 1605. Dee returned to London and died a few years later.

One of the John Dee Society’s missions – like the Library of Congresses’ attempt to recreate Thomas Jefferson’s library – is to reconstruct Dee’s library, “based on his Catalog of manuscripts and books of 1583, prior to its dispersal throughout Europe.”

Dee has or has reputed to be the subject of many art forms. Christopher Marlowe’s eponymous character from his play Doctor Faustus may have been based on him, as was perhaps the magician Prospero in Shakespeare’s The Tempest. In modern times, he was a character in the Damon Albarn’s opera, Dr Dee, and even the band Iron Maiden’s song The Alchemist.

The second book of Deborah Harkness’s All Souls trilogy, Shadow of Night features John Dee and fellow alchemist Edward Kelly during the early 1590s.

Arthur Dee (13 July 1579 – September or October 1651), John Dee’s eldest son, was born on his father’s 52nd birthday.

In 1583, his family left their Mortlake home and traveled around Europe over the next few years, including in Prague where he lived in one of the houses that belonged to Emperor Rudolph’s astronomer. In 1586, the family settled in Trebon in Southern Bohemia. There John Dee and alchemist Edward Kelly performed alchemical experiments and Arthur witnessed his first alchemical tramsutation, turning base metals into gold.

In 1602, at 21, Arthur married Isabella, daughter of Edward Prestwich de Hulme, a Justice of the Peace in Manchester. There Dee practiced medicine for many years. Three years later, Arthur became a freeman of Mercer’s Company, by patrimony, and also by donating some of his father’s books. The following month, his mother died of the plague, and his father returned to Mortlake. Around that time, Arthur moved to London to set up a practice. Over the next nearly ten years, the Censors of the Royal College of Physicians of London summoned him several times for practicing medicine illegally, though nothing was done until 1614. He was asked on what authority he practiced and told them that medicine was his profession and that he could make a business of it. He was warned to refrain from practicing. At a meeting three weeks later, Dee presented his qualifications, the doctorate and letters patent from the University of Basel. The following May he was questioned again and answered that he was the Queen’s physician and practiced by royal perogative.

Tzar Mikhail and Dee’s paths would cross when went to Russia in 1621. Dee became Tzar Mikhail Romanov’s personal doctor. Earlier that year, King James I had written to him of Dee’s loyal service. Dee’s father had been offered the appointment in Russia, which Dee accepted. He stayed in Moscow for 14 years until his wife became ill due to the climate and died in 1634. In a letter to Tsar Mikhail in 1633, King Charles I called Dee a “skillful and learned Phisitian.” [sic] to Queen Anne.

He returned to England where, by 1635, he was Physician Extraordinary to King Charles I. He retired from the position some years after and went to live in Norwich. He died in October 1651.

“Bi, Poly, Switch—I’m Not Greedy, I Know What I Want”

June was chosen for LGBT Pride Month to commemorate the Stonewall riots which began on June 28, 1969. The New York Police Department staged a raid on The Stonewall Inn on Christopher Street in Greenwich Village. At 1:30 AM, contrary to most raids, which took place during the day. The riots lasted six days and involved thousands. On June 26, the Stonewall Inn, which had been included on the National Register of Historic Places in 1999, became a National Historic Landmark on June 24, 2016.

Brenda Howard

The first pride event was organized by a bisexual woman named Brenda Howard, know as “the Mother of Pride.” She coordinated events after Stonewall to make sure that the events were not forgotten. Pride began as a week-long series of events. Howard and her allies’ efforts led to events such as New York and Atlanta’s Gay Liberation Day, and San Francisco and Los Angeles’s Gay Freedom Day. New York’s Christopher Street Liberation Day Parade eventually became Gay Pride. She also helped founded the New York Area Bisexual Network.

Before becoming an LGBTQ rights activist, Howard was involved in the anti-war and feminism movements. Howard’s activism continued into the 80s and 90, as she demonstrated for national health care, racial equality and for those living with HIV and AIDS. At a time when the gay rights movement was focused on gay men and women, Howard successfully lobbied for the 1993 March on Washington to include bisexuals. Howard died on June 28, 2005, the 36th anniversary of Stonewall.

Several months later, the Queens Chapter of the Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) created the Brenda Howard Memorial Award, the “first award by a major American LGBTQ organization to be named after an openly bisexual person.” The annual award “recognizes an individual or organization whose work on behalf of the bisexual community and the greater LGBT community best exemplifies the vision, principles, and community service exemplified by Brenda Howard.”

Nearly fifty years after the Stonewall riots, on June 26, 2015, the United States Supreme Court decided in Obergefell v. Hodges that, “The Fourteenth Amendment requires a state to license a marriage between two people of the same sex and to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-state.”

Turing

June is also important in LGBTQ history for several other reasons. Alan Turing, the subject of the 2014 film The Imitation Game committed suicide on June 8, 1954. In 1936, Turing published a paper which was later recognized as “the foundation of computer science” which “analysed what it meant for a human to follow a definite method or procedure to perform a task.” His idea was to invent a “Universal Machine” that could decode and perform any set of instructions.

His best known work, however was a paper he published in 1950, which included the idea for an ‘imitation game’ now called the Turing Test, which compared human and machine outputs. It became an important contribution to the field of Artificial Intelligence.

He did not live to see how his contributions affected the field. In 1952, Turing was convicted until Britain’s anti-homosexuality laws, which were overturned in 1967. He was prosecuted for having an affair with a young man and, chose to undergo chemical castration instead of going to prison. The following year, Turing committed suicide by ingesting cyanide. Turing was granted a posthumous royal pardon in December 2013.

On June 5, 1981, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) published the first official document on the disease that later became known as AIDS. The Morbidity and Morality Weekly Report described five cases of Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia, a type of pneumonia typically caused by a suppressed immune system. All five victims were gay young men living in Los Angeles, two of whom died by the time the report was published.

A month after the report was published Dr. Paul Volberding at the University of California San Francisco saw his first case of AIDS on his first day at the San Francisco General Hospital. By the end of 1981, nine people in San Francisco had died from the disease, and by 1984, more than 800 cases were reported. In January 1983, Dr. Volberding established the first HIV outpatient clinic in the United States at San Francisco General Hospital.

On June 9, 2014, actress Laverne Cox was the first transgender person featured on the cover of Time for their “The Transgender Tipping Point” story. She became the first openly transgender person nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series for her role as Sophia Burset in the show Orange Is the New Black. The show is based on the eponymous book, Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison by Piper Kerman, a bisexual Smith College graduate.

Two years later, on June 10, 2016, an Oregon circuit court ruled that Jamie Shupe could legally change their gender to non-binary. Legal experts believe this to be the first ruling of its kind in the country, though some states and cities have removed gender from ID cards.

Twenty days later, on June 30, 2016, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter announced that the U.S. was lifting the ban on transgender people serving in the military. “Starting today, otherwise qualified service members can no longer be in voluntarily separated discharged or denied reenlistment or continuation of service just for being transgender.” This came five years after the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy which allowed LGBT people to serve in the military but banned them from revealing their sexual identity, was repealed. 

President Clinton was the first to honor Pride Month on June  11, 1999, when he declared that June “Gay & Lesbian Pride Month.” On May 31, 2016, President Obama declared June “LGBT Pride Month.”