May 10, 2012 7:44 AM Subscribe
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When the Supreme Court decision Loving v. Virginia
in 1967 declared laws against interracial marriage unconstitutional, the last affected state in which a legal interracial marriage occurred was South Carolina in January, 1969, in the city where the Civil War started. What most people don't know is the bride
was a transsexual.
In Sussex, England, 1937, Gordon Langley Hall
was born out of wedlock to two servants of Vita Sacksville-West
, lover of Virginia Woolf
and inspiration for Woolf's Orlando
. Gordon moved to Canada at age sixteen and taught on a reservation; his experiences there formed the basis of his first published book. Later he moved to New York, where he met an artist from whom he would inherit two million dollars and a historic home
in Charleston, South Carolina.
In 1968 Gordon underwent sexual reassignment surgery, changed her name to Dawn Pepita Langley Hall, and got engaged to a young black car mechanic named John-Paul Simmons. Despite the abundance of churches in Charleston, the marriage was held in her house due to threats of firebombs (which were carried out later
The marriage produced one child but did not end happily, and Dawn divorced in 1982, and passed away in 2000 in Charleston.
Dawn has been the subject of at least one book
, as well as a few autobiographies
, an episode of This American Life
, and a New York Times obituary