The Queer Issue
As years go, 1998 was an auspicious one for homosexual sodomy.
In the particulars, it might not sound that way: On September 17, 1998, a Houston man called the police to say that a man with a gun was "going crazy" in his apartment building, but, as it turned out, there was nothing all that crazy going on—just a little gay sodomy between a 55-year-old white man, John Lawrence, and a 31-year-old black man, Tyron Garner, inside an eighth-floor apartment with an unlocked door.
This was still a crime in Texas—the sodomy part, not the miscegenation part, although that probably didn't help—and thus the police, when they entered the apartment, arrested the pair for having "deviant sexual intercourse." It was an auspicious moment, legally speaking. The men were tried and convicted for the crime for having consensual sex in the privacy of a home. Gay rights group sued, and five years later (see 2003), the convictions of Lawrence and Garner were overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court—along with the last remaining antisodomy laws in the country. Gay sex was now legal in all 50 states.
Talk about a memorable fuck.
John Lawrence is still alive and, presumably, enjoying the fruits of his long legal battle. But Tyron Garner, who had never done anything gay-rights related until his arrest for sodomy, died last year. When the national gay rights group Lambda Legal tried to raise money for Garner's funeral, the appeal generated only a couple hundred dollars. "A whole lotta people shoulda contributed," his brother told NPR. "If it wasn't for him, that 125-year-old law never would have been [repealed] here in the state of Texas." With the gay public apparently not caring much about the black man who helped win them the right to sodomize freely, the employees of Lambda Legal kicked in the money for the funeral themselves