These dates in Gay History AUGUST 11, AUGUST 12, AUGUST 13, and AUGUST 14 « MasterAdrian’s Weblog
These dates in Gay History AUGUST 11, AUGUST 12, AUGUST 13, and AUGUST 14
October 11, 2012
Gay Wisdom for Daily Living…
from White Crane Institute
Exploring Gay Wisdom
& Culture for over 20 Years!
AN ANNOUNCEMENT — Please bear with us today. You’ll see that we’re including not only today’s Gay Wisdom entry but this weekend’s too.
This is one of those rare occasions when both of us are completely out of pocket the next few days. Family business calls for both of us this weekend and it’s callin’ early. So we didn’t want to leave you without your Gay Wisdom these next few days. We’ll see you on the other side of the weekend. Have a great one!
This Weekend In Gay History
THURSDAY, AUGUST 11, 2012
National Coming Out Day
Today is National Coming Out Day!
If you’re not very out, try to come out to one person today that you haven’t already.
Already “came out” you say? Well perhaps today could be seen as a day to tell the story.
Try to find someone and share the story of how you came to discover, claim, and or celebrate who you really are. Those stories are important and we need to offer a space for folks to share them. Perhaps see if you can ask a Gay friend to tell you their story. Today’s just the day for telling our stories.
This week is also ALLY WEEK.
It’s the time to take a moment to thank our straight allies in the struggle for full equality.
1884 - on this date ELEANOR ROOSEVELT, iconic First Lady of the United States, was born (d. 1952).
One of the most influential non-elected American political leaders of the twentieth century who used her influence as an active First Lady from 1933 to 1945 to promote the New Deal policies of her husband, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, as well as taking a prominent role as an advocate for civil rights and international cooperation. After FDR’s death in 1945, she continued to be an internationally prominent author and speaker for the New Deal coalition. She was a suffragist who worked to enhance the status of working women, although she opposed the Equal Rights Amendment because she believed it would adversely affect women. During the 1932 Presidential Campaign, Lorena Hickok of the Associated Press was assigned to cover Mrs. Roosevelt. At first the business relationship was rocky. Hickok didn’t believe it was worth the paper’s time and money to report on Mrs. Roosevelt, and Mrs. Roosevelt wasn’t happy about the intrusion on her privacy. Besides that, Mrs. Roosevelt came from a high class, aristocratic background, and Hickok came from a brash and rustic one. She was at home playing poker with the guys, smoking, and drinking. In time, their friendship became very close and intimate. Franklin D. Roosevelt didn’t seem to mind, as he was busy with his own romantic affairs.
Due to the public nature of Mrs. Roosevelt’s life, she and Hickok were often separated. Even so, they wrote daily letters to each other. Roosevelt wrote ten to fifteen page letters daily to Hick for a time. In one Hickok writes: “Good night, dear one, I want to put my arms around you, and kiss you at the corner of your mouth. And in a little more than a week – I shall!” and Mrs. Roosevelt writes
“Hick darling, All day I’ve thought about you & another birthday I will be with you & yet tonight you sounded so far away & formal. Oh! I want to put my arms around you. I ache to hold you close. Your ring is a great comfort. I look at it and think she does love me, or I wouldn’t be wearing it.”
In 1941, Hickok moved into the White House with the Roosevelts when she took a post in Washington. Some of the passion between the two seems to have died by this point. Mrs. Roosevelt was not able to give Hickok as much from their relationship as she wanted, yet Hickok remained because at least they had something. They remained friends until Mrs. Roosevelt’s death in 1962. Hickok destroyed many of the letters Mrs. Roosevelt sent to her and edit personal references out of many others. Those that remain still hint at an intimate love between the two women.
1918 - the American choreographer, JEROME ROBBINS, was born on this date (d. 1998). Among the numerous stage productions he worked on were On The Town, High Button Shoes, The King and I, The Pajama Game, Bells Are Ringing, West Side Story, Gypsy: A Musical Fable and Fiddler on the Roof. For much of his life, Robbins pursued a career in both ballet and Broadway theater. He lived in a world of like-minded collaborators, most of whom were his age, Jewish, New Yorkers, leftist and — among the men Gay.
1926 - today’s the birthday of American stage, television, and film actor EARLE HYMAN.
Born in Rocky Mount, North Carolina Hyman is best known for his recurring role on The Cosby Show as Cliff’s father, Russell Huxtable.
He made his Broadway stage debut as a teenager in 1943 in Run, Little Chillun, and later joined the American Negro Theater. The following year, Hyman began a two year run playing the role of Rudolf on Broadway in Anna Lucasta. He was a member of the American Shakespeare Theatre beginning with its first season in 1955, and played the role of Othello in the 1957 season.
In 1959 he appeared in the West End in the first London production of A Raisin In the Sun alongside Kim Hamilton. The show ran at the Adelphi Theatre and was directed again by Lloyd Richards.
Throughout his career, Hyman has appeared in productions in both the United States and Norway (he is fluent in Norwegian) where he also owns a home on Norway’s west coast and an apartment in Oslo. In 1965, won a Theatre World Award and in 1988, he was awarded the St Olav’s medal for his work in Norwegian theater.
In addition to his stage work, Hyman has appeared in various television and film roles including adaptions of Macbeth (1968),Julius Caesar (1979), and Coriolanus (1979), and voiced Panthro on the animated television series ThunderCats (1985-1990). One of his most well known roles, that of Russell Huxtable in The Cosby Show, earned him an Emmy Award nomination in 1986 where he played the father of lead character Cliff Huxtable, played by actor Bill Cosby despite only being 11 years senior to Cosby.
1947 - today’s the birthday of SHERIFF LUPE VALDEZ. Valdez is an Latino-American law enforcement official and the Sheriff of Dallas County, Texas. She is Texas’s only elected female sheriff, as well as being the only openly Lesbian holder of that office. Her election in 2004, combined with the fact that Valdez is female, Hispanic and a lesbian, made national headlines and was even reported overseas. She immediately faced opposition by the “good old boys” in the department who resented her election and her commitments to reforming the department.
In 2008, Valdez was re-elected Sheriff of Dallas County with 388,327 votes to her opponent’s 322,808 votes, a margin of roughly 65,500. Valdez received over 99,000 more votes than the “Straight Democratic” option as many described it during the race. She won in precincts across Dallas County, including formerly-Republican areas including Irving and Mesquite. Her opponent won most precincts in far North Dallas, Richardson, Coppell, and the southern part of Irving. She began her second four-year term in 2009.
1963 - on this date the French writer and artists JEAN COCTEAU died (b. 1889). He was many things: poet, novelist, dramatist, designer, boxing manager and filmmaker. His versatile, unconventional approach and enormous output brought him international acclaim. In his early twenties, Cocteau became associated with Marcel Proust, Andre Gide, and Maurice Barr s. The Russian ballet-master Sergei Diaghilev challenged Cocteau to write for the ballet – “Astonish me,” he urged. This resulted in Parade which was produced by Diaghilev, designed by Pablo Picasso, and composed by Erik Satie in 1917.
Cocteau is best known for Les enfants terrible the 1929 play, Les parent terribles the 1948 film, and the 1946 film, Beauty and the Beast.
Cocteau died of a heart attack at his chateau in Milly-la-Foret, only hours after hearing of the death of his friend, the French singer Edith Piaf. He is buried in the garden of his home in Milly La Foret, Essonne, France. The epitaph reads: “I stay among you.”
1987 - The Second National March on Washington For Lesbian and Gay Rights. More than a half million people (between 500,000 and 650,000, according to organizers) descended on the capital to participate in the second national March on Washington. Many of the marchers were angry over the government’s slow and inadequate response to the AIDS crisis, as well as the Supreme Court’s 1986 decision to uphold sodomy laws in Bowers v. Hardwick.
With the first display of the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt, the 1987 march succeeded in bringing national attention to the impact of AIDS on Gay communities. In the shadow of the U.S. Capitol, a tapestry of nearly two thousand fabric panels offered a powerful tribute to the lives of some of those who had been lost in the pandemic. It was the first time the quilts were displayed on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. It covered a space larger than a football field and included 1,920 panels. Half a million people visited the Quilt that weekend.
The overwhelming response to the Quilt’s inaugural display led to a four-month, 20-city, national tour for the Quilt in the spring of 1988. The tour raised nearly $500,000 for hundreds of AIDS service organizations. More than 9,000 volunteers across the country helped the seven-person traveling crew move and display the Quilt. Local panels were added in each city, tripling the Quilt’s size to more than 6,000 panels by the end of the tour.
The march also called attention to anti-Gay discrimination, as approximately 800 people were arrested in front of the Supreme Court two days later in the largest civil disobedience action ever held in support of the rights of Lesbians, Gay men, Bisexuals, and Transgender people.
The 1987 March on Washington also sparked the creation of what became known as BiNet U.S.A. and the National Latina/o Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Organization (LLEGO), the first national groups for Bisexuals and GLBTQ Latinas and Latinos, respectively. Prior to the march, Bisexual activists circulated a flyer entitled “Are You Ready for a National Bisexual Network?” that encouraged members of the community to be part of the first Bisexual contingent in a national demonstration. Approximately 75 Bisexuals from across the U. S. participated and began laying the groundwork for an organization that could speak to the needs of bi-identified people and counter the animus against Bisexuals that was commonplace in both Lesbian and Gay communities and the dominant society.
By 1987, Latino GLBTQ activists from Los Angeles, Houston, Austin, and elsewhere had been meeting for two years, discussing ways to work together to further the basic rights and visibility of GLBTQ Latinas and Latinos. But with AIDS having a disproportionate impact on Latino GLBTQ communities throughout the United States, the activists recognized the need for a national organization and met at the March on Washington to form what was then called NLLGA, National Latina/o Lesbian and Gay Activists. Renaming themselves LLEGO the following year, the group has since expanded to address issues of concern to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Latinas and Latinos in other countries.
Along with the formation of new national groups, the most lasting effects of the weekend’s events were felt on the local level. Energized and inspired by the march, many activists returned home and established social and political groups in their own communities, providing even greater visibility and strength to the struggle for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender rights. The date of the march, October 11th, has been celebrated internationally ever since as National Coming Out Day to inspire members of the GLBTQ community to continue to show, as one of the common march slogans proclaimed, “we are everywhere.”
Speakers at the rally included former National Organization for Women president Eleanor Smeal, union president and Latino civil rights figure Cesar Chavez, actor and comedian Whoopi Goldberg, and activist Jesse Jackson.
FRIDAY, AUGUST 12, 2012
Today is NATIONAL COMING OUT DAY in the United Kingdom.
Today’s also FREETHOUGHT DAY, the annual observance by freethinkers and secularists of the anniversary of the effective end of the Salem Witch Trials. The seminal event connected to Freethought Day is a letter written by then Massachusetts Governor William Phips in which he wrote to the Privy Council of the British monarchs, William and Mary, on this day in 1692. In this correspondence he outlined the quagmire that the trials had degenerated into, in part by a reliance on “evidence” of a non-objective nature and especially “spectral evidence” in which the accusers claimed to see devils and other phantasms consorting with the accused.
1875 – on this date the English occultist and author ALEISTER CROWLEY was born (d. 1947).
Crowley is best known today for his occult writings, especially The Book of The Law, the central sacred text of “Thelema,” an initially fictional philosophy of life first described by Francois Rabelais (16th century) in his famous books, Gargantua andPantagruel. Other interests and accomplishments were wide-ranging — he was a chess player, mountain climber, poet, painter, astrologer, hedonist, drug experimenter, and social critic. Crowley was a highly prolific writer, not only on the topic of Thelema and magick, but on philosophy, politics, and culture. He left behind a countless number of personal letters and daily journal entries. He self-published many of his books, expending the majority of his inheritance to disseminate his views.
Within the subject of occultism Crowley wrote widely, penning commentaries on magick, the Tarot, Yoga, Qabalah, astrology, and numerous other subjects. He also wrote a Thelemic interpolation of the Tao Te Ching, based on earlier English translations since he knew little or no Chinese. Like the Golden Dawn mystics before him, Crowley evidently sought to comprehend the entire human religious and mystical experience in a single philosophy.
Crowley gained wide notoriety during his lifetime, and was infamously dubbed “The Wickedest Man In the World.” There is little wiggle room with Crowley. Either you consider him to be nuts, bonkers, loony, albeit brilliant, fascinating and perhaps a touch of con-man – or you are completely in his thrall. Much depends on how you feel about his central thesis: Do whatever you wish. No wonder he was so popular in the 1960s. Crowley also wrote fiction, including plays and later novels, most of which have not received significant notice outside of occult circles. In his The Book of Lies, the title to chapter 69 is given as “The Way to Succeed – and the Way to Suck Eggs!” a pun, as the chapter concerns the 69 sex position as a mystical act.
Largely despicable, and larger than life, the hashish-smoking, yoga-practicing, occult-preaching, self-described religious prophet probably would do even better today. The man knew how to cause a stir. To say he slept around is to practice understatement that borders on the naive. He was an outspoken racist an anti-Semite and sexist. To give the reader a sense of his contradictory and maddening character, Crowley, according to his biographer, Lawrence Sutin, used racial epithets and brutal verbal attacks to bully his Jewish lover Victor Neuburg. And while he slept with men, women, and virtually anything that moved, his background was distinctly pederastic. His writings reveal this nature with, for example, a poem beginning “I was bumming a boy in the black-out…” Known his whole life for a cutting wit, once, when a woman asked him which American college would be most suitable for her daughter he replied, “Radclyffe Hall.”
1942 - the gay rights advocate and author ARTHUR EVANS was born on this date (d. 2011). Born in York, Pennsylvania, Evans was most well known for his book Witchcraft and the Gay Counterculture (1978).
When Evans graduated from public high school in 1960, he received a four-year scholarship from the Glatfelter Paper Company in York to study chemistry at Brown University. While at Brown, Evans and several friends founded the Brown Freethinkers Society, describing themselves as ‘militant atheists’ seeking to combat the harmful effects of organized religion.
The society picketed the weekly chapel services at Brown, then required of all students, and urged students to stand in silent protest against compulsory prayer. National news services picked up the story, which appeared in a local York newspaper.
As a result, the paper company informed Evans that his scholarship was cancelled. Evans contacted Joseph Lewis, the elderly millionaire who headed the national Freethinkers Society. Lewis threatened the paper company with a highly publicized lawsuit if the scholarship were revoked. The company relented, the scholarship continued, and Evans changed his major from chemistry to political science.
Evans withdrew from Brown and moved to Greenwich Village, which he later described it as the best move he ever made in his life. In 1963, Evans discovered gay life in Greenwich Village, and in 1964 became lovers with Arthur Bell who later became a columnist for The Village Voice. In 1966, Evans was admitted to City College of New York, which accepted all his credits from Brown University.
Evans participated in his first sit-in in 1966, when students occupied the administration building of City College in protest against the college’s involvement in Selective Service. A picture of the students, including Evans, appeared on the front page of The New York Times. In 1967, after graduating with a BA degree from City College, Evans was admitted into the doctoral program in philosophy at Columbia University, specializing in ancient Greek philosophy. His doctoral advisor was Paul Oskar Kristeller, one of the world’s leading authority on Renaissance humanist philosophy. Kristeller had studied under Karl Jaspers and Martin Heidegger in Germany but fled to the US after his parents were killed in the Holocaust.
Evans participated in many anti-war protests during these years, including the celebrated upheaval at Columbia in the spring of 1968. He also participated in the protests at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago. While at Columbia, Evans joined the Student Homophile League, founded by Nino Romano and Stephen Donaldson, although Evans himself was still closeted. On December 21, 1969, Evans, Marty Robinson, and several others met to found the early gay rights group Gay Activists Alliance.
In November 1970, Robinson and Evans, along with Dick Leitsch of the Mattachine Society, appeared on The Dick Cavett Show, making them among the first openly gay activists to be prominently featured on a national TV program. In 1971, Evans and Bell separated. Bell died from complications of diabetes in 1984.
By the end of 1971, Evans had become alienated from urban life and the academic world. With a second lover, Jacob Schraeter, he left New York in April 1972 to seek a new, countercultural existence in the countryside.
Evans, Schraeter, and a third gay man formed a group called the ‘Weird Sisters Partnership’. They bought a 40-acre spread of land on a mountain in Washington State, which they named New Sodom. Evans and Schraeter lived there in tents during summers. During winter months in Seattle, Evans continued research that he had begun in New York on the underlying historical origins of the counterculture, particularly in regard to sex. In 1973, he began publishing some of his findings in the gay journal Outand later in Fag Rag. He also wrote a column on the political strategy of zapping for The Advocate, the gay newspaper.
In 1974, Evans and Schraeter moved into an apartment at the corner of Haight and Ashbury Streets in San Francisco, in which Evans remained until he died. Schraeter returned to New York in 1981 and died from AIDS in 1989.
In the fall of the 1975, Evans formed a new pagan-inspired spiritual group in San Francisco, the Faery Circle. The Circle combined countercultural consciousness, gay sensibility, and ceremonial playfulness. In early 1976, he gave a series of public lectures at 32 Page Street, an early San Francisco gay community center, entitled ‘Faeries’, on his research on the historical origins of the gay counterculture. In 1978 he published this material in his ground-breaking book Witchcraft and the Gay Counterculture. It demonstrated that many of the people accused of ‘witchcraft’ and ‘heresy’ in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance were actually persecuted because of their sexuality and ancient pagan practices.
Evans also was active in Bay Area Gay Liberation (BAGL) and the San Francisco Gay Democratic Club, which later became the vehicle through which Harvey Milk rose to political prominence.
In the late 1970s, Evans became upset at the pattern of butch conformity that was then overtaking gay men in the Castro. Adopting the nom de plume ‘The Red Queen’, he distributed a series of controversial satirical leaflets on the subject. In a leaflet entitled Afraid You’re Not Butch Enough? (1978) he facetiously referred to the new, butch-conforming men of the Castro as clones, initiating use of the now widely used term ‘Castro clones’.
In 1984 Evans directed a production at the Valencia Rose Cabaret in San Francisco of his own new translation, from ancient Greek, of the Euripides play The Bacchae. The hero of Euripides’ play is the Greek god Dionysos, the patron of homosexuality. In 1988, this translation, with Evans’ commentary on the historical significance of the play, was published by St. Martin’s Press in under the name of The God of Ecstasy.
As AIDS began to spread in 1980s, Evans became active in several groups that later became ACT UP/SF. Evans was HIV-negative. With his close friend, the late Hank Wilson, Evans was arrested while demonstrating against pharmaceutical companies making AIDS drugs, accusing the companies of price-gouging.
In 1988, Evans began work on a nine-year project on philosophy. Thanks to a grant from the San Francisco Arts Commission, it was published in 1997 as Critique of Patriarchal Reason and included artwork by San Francisco artist Frank Pietronigro. The book was an overview of Western philosophy from ancient times to the present, showing how misogyny and homophobia have influenced the supposedly objective fields of formal logic, higher mathematics, and physical science. Evans’ former advisor at Columbia University, Dr. Kristeller, called the work ‘a major contribution to the study of philosophy and its history’.
Diagnosed in October 2010 with an aortic aneurysm, Evans died in his Haight-Ashbury apartment of a massive heart attack on 11 September 2011.
1946 - today’s the birthday of U.S. educator, activist, and award-winning poet, essayist, and theorist MINNIE BRUCE PRATT.
Pratt was born in Selma, Alabama, grew up in Centreville, Alabama and graduated with honors from the University of Alabama and received a Ph.D. in English literature from the University of North Carolina. She is a Professor of Writing and Women’s Studies at Syracuse University where she was invited to help develop the university’s first Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transgender Study Program. She emerged out of the women’s liberation movement in the 1970s and 1980s and has written extensively about race, class, gender and sexual theory. Pratt, along with Lesbian writers Chrystos and Audre Lorde, received a Lillian Hellman-Dashiell Hammett award from the Fund for Free Expression, an award given to writers “who have been victimized by political persecution.” Pratt, Chrystos and Lorde were chosen because their experience as “a target of right-wing and fundamentalist forces during the recent attacks on the National Endowment for the Arts.” Her political affiliations include the International Action Center, the National Women’s Fightback Network, and the National Writers Union. She is a contributing editor to Workers World newspaper. Pratt’s partner is author and activist Leslie Feinberg.
Her latest book, Inside the Money Machine is one of the best new books of poetry to come out this year.
1971 - the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs recommends the repeal of a city law banning homosexuals from working in or going to bars.
1998 - MATTHEW SHEPARD died on this date (b. 1976). Shepard was an openly Gay American student at the University of Wyoming who as we noted last weekend, was attacked near Laramie, on the night of October 6th in what was widely reported by international news media as a savage beating because of his sexuality. Shepard died from severe head injuries at Poudre Valley Hospital in Fort Collins, Colorado, on October 12, 1998. His murder brought national attention to the issue of hate crime legislation at the state and federal levels. His two assailants were convicted of the crime and imprisoned. One is currently serving two consecutive life sentences and the other is serving the same but without the possibility of parole. After his death, Shepard’s parents became full-time advocates for the passage of hate crime legislation that would include sexual orientation.
The Matthew Shepard Act (officially the “Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act”), was a bill in the United States Congress that expanded the 1969 United States federal hate-crime law to include crimes motivated by a victim’s actual or perceived gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability. After years of attempting to pass the act, on October 22, 2009, the act was passed by the Senate by a largely party line vote with Republicans opposing the Act and Democrats supporting it. During debate in the House of Representatives, Republican Representative Virginia Foxx of North Carolina called the “hate crime” labeling of Shepard’s murder a “hoax.” Shepard’s mother was said to be in the House gallery when the congresswoman made this comment. President Obama signed the measure into law on October 28, 2009. Proving once again that elections do matter.
SATURDAY, AUGUST 13, 2012
1307 - on this date – Friday, October 13, 1307 (a date sometimes linked with the origin of the Friday the 13th superstition) the French king Philip IV ordered all French TEMPLARS to be arrested. The Templars were charged with numerous heresies and tortured to extract false confessions of blasphemy. The trials were based on these confessions, despite having been obtained under duress, caused a scandal in Paris. After more bullying from Philip, Pope Clement then issued the bill Pastoralis Praeeminentiae on November 22, 1307, which instructed all Christian monarchs in Europe to arrest all Templars and seize their assets.
Brian Lacey, in his wonderful book Terrible Queer Creatures: Homosexuality In Irish History writes about the use of same sex male relations in the purging of the Order of the Knights Templar.
The respect for same-sex male relationships, which Lacey paints as characteristic of the pre-Christian era in Ireland and which carried over well into the Christian epoch, began to wane as the power of the Catholic Church grew. The first known homosexual purge in Ireland concerned the Order of Knights Templar, established in Ireland in the 1170s under the auspices of the English King Henry II.
The purge had its origins in the desire of the impoverished 14th century French King Philip le Bel (the Fair) to get his hands on the Templars’ wealth. Philip engineered the election of the bishop of Bordeaux to become Pope Clement V on condition that he put an end to the Templars, and Clement duly set up an inquisition in which allegations of homosexuality against the knights were in the foreground. “They were said to have included homosexual acts in their private rituals and to have insisted on sexual intercourse with new recruits,” Lacey wrote. “It is an indication of the negative feelings against homosexuality in that period that this could be made as one of the principal charges against such a powerful institution.”
The homosexual English King Edward II was ordered by Pope Clement and pressured by the French monarch to seize the Templars’ extensive holdings in Ireland, and the Irish Knights Templar were arrested en masse in February 1308. The inquisition opened its trial of the Irish Templars in January 1310 at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin. While only a few of the Knights confessed to the charges of sodomy, the order was abolished and much of its property expropriated.
1929 - today’s the birthday of distinguished American poet, literary critic, essayist, teacher, and translator RICHARD HOWARD.
He was born in Cleveland, Ohio and is a graduate of Columbia University, where he now teaches. He lives in New York City. Howard had a brief early career as a lexicographer. He soon turned his attention to poetry and poetic criticism. He has won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry, the PEN Translation Prize, and the American Book Award. Howard was a long-time poetry editor of The Paris Review and is currently poetry editor of The Western Humanities Review. A former Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets, he is Professor of Practice in the writing program at Columbia’s School of the Arts.
In 1982, Howard was named a Chevalier of L’Ordre National du Mérite by the government of France
1966 - the American actor, dancer and singer CLIFTON WEBB died on this date (b. 1889). He was best known for his Oscar-nominated roles in such films as Laura, The Razor’s Edge, and Sitting Pretty. In the theatrical world he was known for his appearances in the plays of Noël Coward, notably Blithe Spirit.
The never married Webb lived with his mother until her death at age ninety-one in 1960, leading Coward to remark, apropos Webb’s grieving, “It must be terrible to be orphaned at 71.”
Actor Robert Wagner, who co-starred with Webb in the movies Stars and Stripes Forever and Titanic and considered the actor one of his mentors, stated in his memoirs, Pieces of My Heart: A Life, that “Clifton Webb was gay, of course, but he never made a pass at me, not that he would have.”
1967 - today’s the birthday of ARTURO BRACHETTI, the Italian transformation artist and director, born in Turin. In theGuinness Book of Records 2006 and 2007, he is described as the fastest quick change artist in the world. Quick-change is a performance style in which a performer or magician changes quickly within seconds from one costume into another costume in front of the audience.
1856 – the French Victorian writer VERNON LEE was born on this date. Also known as Violet Paget, she was responsible for introducing the concept of “empathy” (Einfühling) into the English language. Empathy was a key concept in Lee’s psychological aesthetics which she developed on the basis of prior work by Theodor Lipps. Her response to aesthetics interpreted art as a mental and corporeal experience. This was a significant contribution to the philosophy of art which has been largely neglected. She fell in love with three women in succession, and fully expected, being the Victorian she was, to live out her life with each of them, falling swooning into her fainting bed each time the friendship ended. She kept a faded portrait of her first love over her bed. Her second love announced her marriage to (horrors!) a Jew, which required liberal application of smelling salts and her third simply drifted away.
1888 – the New Zealand born author KATHERINE MANSFIELD was born on this date.
Considered to be the British Chekhov and her quiet stories are painful commentaries on the inadequacy of human relationships. Although she had many affairs with men and was married to John Middleton Murry, her diaries and letters reveal her to have been a Lesbian, and a troubled one at that, with a “slave” by the name of Ida Baker.
1959 - the swashbuckling acting legend ERROL FLYNN died on this date (b. 1909).
1977 - on this date Minneapolis Gay rights activist THOM HIGGINS threw a banana cream a pie into the face of Anita Bryant during a news conference in Des Moines, Iowa. The former beauty queen (Bryant) was in the middle of a nationwide campaign to criminalize Gay behavior and overturn the few Gay rights ordinances in the country.
1979 - The First Gay Rights March On Washington D.C. was held on this date and called for “an end to all social, economic, judicial, and legal oppression of Lesbian and Gay people.” Marking the tenth anniversary of the Stonewall riots and coming in the wake of the lenient jail sentence given to Dan White for the assassination of openly Gay San Francisco city supervisor Harvey Milk, the First National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights on October 14, 1979 was an historic event that drew more than 200,000 people from across the United States and ten other countries.
In the wake of the Milk/Moscone assassinations, the Anita Bryant campaign to roll back protections extended to sexual orientation, and years of community building around the nation, the support for a massive demonstration in the nation’s capital grew. There were strong reservations on the part of those who worried that anything less than massive numbers would negate the demonstration and undermine political activism. However, by the late summer of 1979 it was clear that the March would be a large media event. Locally, the National Coalition of Black Gays and the DC Coalition of Black Gays supported the March from the beginning.
Both groups were also involved in planning and holding the first Third World Conference, held at Harambee House on Georgia Avenue. The Third World Conference concluded with a march by persons of color down Georgia Avenue to the Mall where they joined the March on Washington. This walk down Georgia Avenue was the first public demonstration by Lesbians and Gays in the heart of the African-American areas of the city.
The plans for the 1979 March were determinedly more inclusive of persons of color and the Transgendered. The souvenir booklet for the March includes an article by Jim Kepner summarizing GLBT activism leading to the March and an article by Brandy Moore detailing the preparations for the March. Speakers included Richard Ashworth and Adele Starr (PFLAG) Marion Berry (then D.C. mayor), S.F. Councilman Harry Britt, Lesbian feminist theorist, Charlotte Bunch, poet Alan Ginsberg, activists Flo Kennedy, Morris Kight, poet and activist Audre Lorde, musicians, Robin Tyler and Tom Robinson, Leonard Matlovich, Arthur McCombs (Gay Atheist League), feminist theorist Kate Millett, Rev. Troy Perry (listed as a “cameo” appearance”!), Juanita Ramos (Comite Homosexual Latinamericano), Betty Santoro (NY Spokeswoman for Lesbian Feminist Liberation), Eleanor Smeal (N.O.W.) and labor activist, Howard Wallace. Recordings of speeches, including Audre Lorde’s keynote address to the masses on the Washington Mall, and Alan Ginsberg reading his poetry and warning Congress can be heard here:▻http://www.rainbowhistory.org/mow79.htm And a wonderful collection of photos from the events can be seen here:▻http://www.queermusicheritage.us/march79.html
1990 – LEONARD BERNSTEIN, the American composer and conductor, died on this date (b. 1918)
2006 – on this date the Democratic Congressman from Massachusetts GERRY STUDDS died on this date (b. 1937).
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