Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Roger Casement

Roger Casement born 1 September 1864 (d. 1916)

Sir Roger David Casement was an Irish patriot, poet, revolutionary and nationalist by inclination. He was a British diplomat by profession and is famous for his activities against abuses of the colonial system in Africa and Peru, but more well known for his dealings with Germany prior to Ireland's Easter Rising in 1916.

Casement resigned from colonial service in 1912. The following year, he joined the Irish Volunteers. When WWI broke out in 1914, he attempted to secure German aid for Irish independence, sailing for Germany via America. He viewed himself as a self-appointed ambassador of the Irish nation. While the journey was his idea, he managed to persuade the exiled Irish nationalists in the Clan na Gael to finance the expedition. Many members of the Clan na Gael never trusted him completely, as he was not a member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood, and held views considered by many to be too moderate.

Casement drafted a 'treaty' with Germany, which stated that country's support for an independent Ireland. Most of his time in Germany, however, was spent in an attempt to recruit an 'Irish Brigade' consisting of Irish prisoners-of-war in the prison camp of Limburg an der Lahn, who would be trained to fight against England. The effort proved unsuccessful, as all Irishmen fighting in the British army did so voluntarily, and was abandoned after much time and money was wasted. The Germans, who were sceptical of Casement but nonetheless aware of the military advantage they could gain from an uprising in Ireland, offered the Irish 20,000 guns, 10 machine guns and accompanying ammunition, a fraction of the amount of weaponry Casement had hoped for.

Casement did not learn about the Easter Rising until after the plan was fully developed. The IRB purposely kept him in the dark, and even tried to replace him. Casement may never have learned that it was not the Volunteers who were planning the rising, but IRB members such as Patrick Pearse and Tom Clarke who were pulling the strings behind the scenes.

The German weapons never reached Ireland. The ship in which they were travelling, a German cargo vessel, the Libau, was intercepted, even though it had been thoroughly disguised as a Norwegian vessel, the Aud Norge. All the crew were German sailors, but their clothes and effects, even the charts and books on the bridge, were all Norwegian. The British, however, had intercepted German communications and knew the true identity and exact destination of the Aud. After it was intercepted, the ship's captain scuttled the ship.

Casement left Germany in a submarine, the U-19, shortly after the Aud sailed. Believing that the Germans were toying with him from the start, and purposely providing inadequate aid that would doom a rising to failure, he decided he had to reach Ireland before the shipment of arms, and convince his friend Eoin MacNeill (who he believed was still in control) to cancel the rising.

In the early hours of 21 April 1916, two days before the rising was scheduled to begin, Casement was put ashore at Banna Strand in County Kerry. Too weak to travel (he was ill), he was discovered and subsequently arrested on charges of treason, sabotage and espionage against the Crown.

Following a highly publicised trial, he was stripped of his knighthood. To the authorities' embarrassment it had been found difficult to find a law to prosecute Casement under since his activities against the crown had been carried out in Germany and the Treason Act seemed to imply that activities carried out away from British soil were not within its purview. However closer reading of the medieval document allowed for a more flexible interpretation leading to the accusation that Casement was 'hanged by a comma' as the court followed the letter of the unpunctuated document rather than its obvious sense. After an unsuccessful appeal against the death sentence, he was hanged at Pentonville Prison in London on 3 August 1916, at the age of 51.

Prior to his execution, pages of a diary which the Crown claimed belonged to Casement were circulated to those urging the commuting of his death sentence. These pages, supplied to King George V, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and others in Britain, Ireland and the United States, suggested that Casement had engaged in homosexual activity, which was a crime in most countries at the time. The effect of what became known as the 'Black Diary' killed off much support for Casement's case.

Most Irish people believed that the diaries were forgeries, much as Charles Stewart Parnell had been the target of the Pigott forgeries implicating him in the Phoenix Park Murders. However a recent study comparing his 'White Diaries' (ordinary diaries of the time) with the 'Black Diaries', which allegedly date from the same time-span, judged, on the basis of detailed handwriting analysis, that the Black Diaries were genuine and had been written by Casement. This study remains controversial.

It has also been claimed that the Black Diaries describe an extremely active homosexual sex life which is unlikely to be genuine, but it has been argued that this does not refute the authenticity of the diaries, as they may have been sexual fantasies. Whilst there are some minor inconsistencies between the Diaries and external records of Casement's life, overall they do appear overwhelmingly congruent with his known movements.

Source: Wikipedia

Babydaddy

Babydaddy born 1 September 1976

Scott Hoffman, known by his stage name Babydaddy, is the bearded multi-instrumentalist and lyricist for the American band, Scissor Sisters.

He was born in Houston, Texas to a Jewish family. Hoffman attended Columbia University, where he studied writing and music production, and subsequently worked in the field of dance music. He had previously met Jake Shears - then still known as Jason Sellards - through a childhood friend, and Hoffman asked Shears to provide vocals for his tracks. When Scott moved to New York to study writing at Columbia, the duo officially joined forces and took stage names to become the first two members of Scissor Sisters in 2001. At the time, the band was just a combination of Babydaddy’s music and Jake’s vocal and visual performances.

The band logo was designed by Babydaddy, who has since said that 'it was sort of the first couple of days, and we decided to record music, and Jake had the name on the tip of his tongue. He told it to me, and I made the logo the next day. It was sort of done and made sense. And then we performed.'

Since then, the band has grown and recruited further members, in the process expanding its original musical style to cover rock, disco and dance music and becoming hugely successful in the UK and Europe - and much less so in their native US.

Babydaddy plays a number of instruments including keyboards, guitar, bass and the banjo, and is, along with Shears, the main lyricist for the band. He also wrote the hit single I Believe In You for Kylie Minogue with Jake Shears.

Babydaddy is considered a bear or cub by many members of the gay community due to his husky frame, beard and friendly demeanor. He became a sex-symbol for other bear admirers after the launch of the Scissor Sisters' first album Scissor Sisters. He has even acknowledged this status by stating 'Jake gets a lot of attention just by virtue of being the lead singer, but when the boys want a little beef, they come to me.'

Monday, August 30, 2010

Del Marquis

Del Marquis born 31 August 1979

Del Marquis (born Derek Gruen in New York) is the lead guitarist for the group Scissor Sisters - and one of three gay band members.

He was introduced to the band at the insistence his best friend, David Russell, who was dating lead singer Jake Shears at the time. He originally hated the band when he first saw them perform in a gay bar named 'The Cock'. His current membership of the band is due to his reappraisal of their music when he next came across them some months later, and subsequent reply to an advertisement the band had placed in a newspaper for a guitarist. According to his own account on the band DVD, he has stalked several renowned guitarists, sometimes sleeping outside the hotels they were sleeping in. One of these was Robert Smith of The Cure.

Unlike the outrageously flamboyant stage image of Jake Shears and Ana Matronic, his fellow band members, Del possesses a slightly more subdued image on stage, although still has a recognisable style of his own. He has a keen interest in graphic design and film, is known as an advocate for civil rights and 'liberation concepts', and possesses an unofficial fan group who call themselves the Deltoids, with whom he has a relatively good relationship.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Ben Bradshaw

Ben Bradshaw born 30 August 1960

Benjamin Peter James Bradshaw is a British politician and is the Labour Member of Parliament for Exeter

Under Tony Blair he was the Minister for Local Environment, Marine and Animal Welfare with the rank of Minister of State at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. In June 2007 he was moved to the Department of Health, and was also Minister for the South West. He ended his Cabinet run as Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport.

When first elected in 1997, Ben Bradshaw was one of the first gay MPs to be out at the time he was initially elected, along with Stephen Twigg.

In 2009 he won 'Politician of the Year' at the annual Stonewall Awards.

He lives with his partner, Neal Dalgleish, who is a BBC producer. On 24 June 2006, Bradshaw and his partner undertook a civil partnership ceremony, the first MP to do so.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Richard 'Mr Blackwell' Blackwell

Richard Blackwell born 29 August 1922 (d. 2008)

Richard Blackwell, born Richard Sylvan Selzer, in Brooklyn, New York was a fashion critic, journalist, television personality, artist, and former fashion designer known internationally as Mr Blackwell. He was the creator of the Ten Worst Dressed Women list, an annual awards presentation he unveiled in January of each year. He also published the 'Fabulous Fashion Independents' list and an annual Academy Awards fashion review, both of which received somewhat less media attention. His longtime companion, former Beverly Hills hairdresser, Robert Spencer, managed him. He wrote two books, Mr. Blackwell: 30 Years of Fashion Fiascos and an autobiography, From Rags to Bitches.

After a troubled and poverty-stricken childhood he began acting in theatre in his teens. After relocating to the West Coast in the 1930s he adopted the name 'Dick Ellis' and was signed by the studios to play small parts in movies. Howard Hughes changed his name to Richard Blackwell when he signed him to RKO. He went back to Broadway in 1944 but eventually left acting for a short stint as a Hollywood agent. He discovered a talent for design while making his client’s stage costumes.

The name, 'Mr. Blackwell' came in the late-1950s when he launched his clothing line. He was an important designer and during the 1960s he became the first in history to present his line on a television broadcast; and the first to make his line available for plus-size women. During the nearly two decade existence of the 'House of Blackwell', he was designer to Yvonne DeCarlo, Jayne Mansfield, Dorothy Lamour, Jane Russell and California first lady Nancy Reagan. During the 1980s the emerging drift toward casual wear brought an end to The House of Blackwell.

The first 'Ten Worst Dressed Women' list premiered in 1960, to moderate media success, but as the House of Blackwell became more successful, the list took off. By its third year every television and radio network and virtually all news services worldwide began to cover it. For more than forty years after first released, Blackwell annually spent a week after its publication on telephone interviews to fashion magazines, radio programmes and news networks. No star, celebrity or royal was immune to his scathing critique of their wardrobe. He on occasion included men in his lists. His lists have inspired many imitators and today's often cruel and judgemental view of celebrity fashion owes a debt to Mr Blackwell.

He was a pioneer in American television fashion and was a fixture in the medium throughout his career as a designer and critic.

In 2001, Blackwell was diagnosed with Bell’s Palsy which causes limited to severe paralysis of facial muscles and effects the use of the extremities and can effect eyesight as well. Although it is treatable it is incurable, however often it tends to clear up on it own. He was unable to unveil the 2000 list at a live news conference for the first time in its 40-year history and remained out of the public eye for six months. He came back for the 2001 Worst Dressed and continued his great work, awarding 2006's No 1 spot jointly to Britney Spears and Paris Hilton.

Blackwell died in Los Angeles in October 2008 of complications from an intestinal infection. He was 86.

Edward Carpenter

Edward Carpenter born 29 August 1844 (d. 1929)

Born in Brighton, Carpenter was educated like all his brothers at Brighton College where his father was a governor. He then attended Trinity Hall, Cambridge before joining the Church of England as a curate.

Carpenter left the church in 1874 and became a lecturer in astronomy. During this period, he moved to Sheffield to live in a same sex relationship with George Merrill, a working class man he had met on a train. Two men of different classes living together fairly openly as a couple was almost unheard of in England in the 1890s, but they would remain partners for the rest of their lives. E M Forster was close friends with the couple, and he claimed that George Merrill was the inspiration for his novel Maurice. Carpenter was also a significant influence on the author D H Lawrence, whose Lady Chatterley's Lover can be seen as a heterosexualised Maurice.

In 1883, Carpenter joined the Social Democratic Federation, and in 1885 he left with William Morris to join the Socialist League. Never committing to any narrow doctrine, he dabbled in the Labour Church movement, and studied Eastern Religion, travelling to Ceylon and India in 1890. On his return he developed a kind of 'mystic socialism' which produced campaigns against air pollution and vivisection, promoted vegetarianism and 'rational dress', a reaction to Victorian clothing which included the making and wearing of sandals. These ideas were considered crackpot by many in the Left.

Later he became a founder member of the Independent Labour Party in 1893. His pacifism led him to become a vocal opponent of first the Second Boer War and then the First World War.

In the 1890s, Carpenter began to campaign against discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation. He strongly believed that homosexuality was a natural orientation for people of a 'third sex'. His 1908 book on the subject, The Intermediate Sex, would become a foundational text of the LGBT movements of the 20th century. Carpenter also both supported and drew inspiration from the Women's movement.

He died in 1929, thirteen months after suffering a stroke, and was buried in Mount Cemetery at Guildford in Surrey.

Edmund Carpenter was the first gay activist of the modern age. A true pioneer.

Thom Gunn

Thom Gunn born 29 August 1929 (d. 2004)

Born Thomson William Gunn in Gravesend, Kent. In his youth, he attended University College School in Hampstead, London. Later, he read English literature at Trinity College, Cambridge, graduated in 1953, and published his first collection of verse, Fighting Terms, the following year.

As a young British poet, his work was associated with The Movement. Also in 1954, he emigrated to the United States to teach writing at Stanford University and to remain close to his partner, Mike Kitay, whom he had met while at college. During the 1960s and 1970s, his verse explored society's increasingly liberal views of drugs, homosexuality, and poetic form.

He died in his sleep in San Francisco, where he had lived since 1960.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Karl Heinrich Ulrichs

Karl Heinrich Ulrichs born 28 August 1825 (d. 1895)

Karl Heinrich Ulrichs - the first modern theorist of homosexuality - is seen today as a pioneer of modern lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender movements.

Ulrichs was born in Aurich (Kingdom of Hannover), Germany in 1825. His father, an architect in the civil service of Hannover, died when Ulrichs was ten years old. Ulrichs and his mother then lived with her father, a Lutheran superintendent.

His first homosexual experience was in 1839 at the age of fourteen, in the course of a brief affair with his riding instructor. After studying law in Göttingen and Berlin, Ulrichs joined the civil service of Hannover in 1848. In 1854, however, his homosexual activity came to the attention of his superiors. He resigned in order to avoid being disciplined, for although homosexual acts were not then illegal in Hannover, as a civil servant he could be dismissed.

Ulrichs then earned his living as a reporter for the important Allgemeine Zeitung (Augsburg) and as secretary to one of the representatives to the German Confederation in Frankfurt. He also received a small inheritance from his mother on her death in 1856.

Using the pseudonym Numa Numantius he published in 1864-1865 five booklets under the collective title Forschungen über das Rathsel der mannmännlichen Liebe (Researches on the Riddle of Male-Male Love). They set forth a biological theory of homosexuality, the so-called third sex theory, which he summed up in the Latin phrase anima muliebris virili corpore inclusa (a female psyche confined in a male body).

Ulrichs coined the term Urning for the male subject of this condition; he variously called the female counterpart Urningin, Uranierin, Urnin, and Urnigin. (The term "homosexual," coined by Karl Maria Kertbeny, first appeared in 1869.)

Using his real name in his next booklet, Ulrichs described his appearance at a Congress of German Jurists in Munich, where on August 29, 1867, he urged repealing the anti-homosexual laws. He was shouted down and not allowed to finish, but this was the first time that a self-acknowledged Urning/homosexual spoke out publicly for his cause. Thus Ulrichs was not only the first theorist of homosexuality, but also the first homosexual to 'come out' publicly.

Ulrichs's series of twelve booklets continued until 1879. His goal was to free people like himself from the legal, religious, and social condemnation of homosexual acts as unnatural, and for this he invented a new terminology that would refer to the nature of the individual and not to the acts performed.

Ulrichs's impact on sexology was more significant for directing medical researchers' attention to the subject of homosexuality than for changing their view of it. Richard von Krafft-Ebing, for example, whose book Psychopathia sexualis (1886) established the medical view of homosexuality, was first interested in the subject by Ulrichs's writings.

Twice imprisoned for his public protests against the invasion and annexation of Hannover by Prussia in 1866, Ulrichs fought not only for the equal rights of homosexuals, but also for the rights of ethnic and religious minorities, as well as for the rights of women, including unwed mothers and their children.

But his one-man campaign against the legal oppression of homosexuals was unsuccessful. Indeed, the harsh Prussian anti-homosexual law was extended to the unified Germany in 1872.

Ulrichs left Germany in 1880 for voluntary exile in Italy, where he devoted the last years of his life to promoting Latin as an international language through the publication of a little Latin journal (Alaudae) written entirely by himself. He died on July 14, 1895 in Aquila, Italy.

Ulrichs's original biological theory of homosexuality has since been abandoned, but for more than a century some form of biological determinism has prevailed, both in the popular mind and in scientific circles; it has been adopted by both homosexual liberationists and their enemies.

Ulrichs will be best remembered for his courageous stand for the equal rights of all and, as Magnus Hirschfeld wrote, 'as one of the first and noblest of those who have striven with courage and strength in this field to help truth and charity gain their rightful place'.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Tom Ford

Tom Ford born 27 August 1961

Tom Ford is an American fashion designer. He is well known within the fashion industry for his legendary turnaround of Gucci, one of the most influential fashion houses in the world.

Ford was born in Austin, Texas. After graduating from the Parsons School of Design in 1986, initially having studied architecture, he took design jobs with Cathy Hardwick and Perry Ellis. In 1990, he was recruited by Gucci to design women's ready-to-wear, and Ford later moved on to become the chief director for Gucci. Ford called french editor Carine Roitfeld and photgrapher Mario Testino and asked them to help him revamp the old fashioned house. His own film star looks probably helped re-invest Gucci with its lost glamour.

By 1999, Ford had helped propel Gucci into a fashion powerhouse. When Gucci acquired the house of Yves Saint Laurent, Ford was named the creative director of that label as well.

In 2004, Ford stepped down or was asked to step down from both of his positions, amid rumours he wished to direct films.

Following his departure from Gucci (and YSL), Ford opened the fashion house, Tom Ford. Ford began with accessories; his line of eyewear was the first to become successful. The Tom Ford line now covers menswear, beauty, eyewear, and both men and women's accessories. In 2006, he also established a fragrance line called Tom Ford Beauty.

In 2009, Ford made his film directorial debut with A Single Man, which was based on the novel of the same name by Christopher Isherwood. The film stars Colin Firth, Julianne Moore, Nicholas Hoult and Matthew Goode. The screenplay was adapted by Ford and David Scearce. Ford also produced the film, which premiered on September 11, 2009 at the 66th Venice International Film Festival and was nominated for a Golden Lion. Colin Firth, who plays the protagonist George, was awarded the Volpi Cup as Best Actor for his performance and was also nominated for an Academy Award, Golden Globe, Independent Spirit Award and Screen Actor's Guild award. He won the BAFTA for Best-Actor in a Leading role. Julianne Moore was nominated for Best Supporting actress at the Globes. Tom Ford was nominated for two Independent Spirit Awards in 2009 including Best First Feature and Best First Screenplay.

Ford's partner of nearly two decades, Richard Buckley, is a fashion and style journalist.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Christopher Isherwood

Christopher Isherwood born 26 August 1904 (d. 1986)

Christopher Isherwood (born Christopher William Bradshaw-Isherwood) was an Anglo-American novelist. The son of landed gentry, he was born in the ancestral seat of his family, Wybersley Hall, High Lane, near Stockport in the north-west of England. His army officer father was killed in the First World War.

At school he met W. H. Auden, who became his lifelong friend. He later studied at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, where he met Stephen Spender, who was at Oxford University with Auden. Rejecting his upper-class background and attracted to men, he moved to Berlin, the capital of the young Weimar Republic, drawn by its deserved reputation for sexual freedom. He worked as a private tutor while writing the novel Mr. Norris Changes Trains and a series of short stories collected under the title Goodbye to Berlin. These provided the inspiration for the play I Am a Camera and the subsequent musical Cabaret. A memorial plaque to Isherwood has been erected on the house in Schöneberg, Berlin where he lived.

Auden and Isherwood travelled first to China in 1938 and then emigrated to the United States in 1939. (The convenient timing of this move, coming just as Britain was about to be engulfed in the Second World War, placed them under a cloud and their reputations suffered for a time.) Isherwood settled in California, where he embraced Hinduism. Together with Swami Prabhavananda he produced several Hindu scriptural translations, Vedanta essays, the biography Ramakrishna and his Followers, novels, plays and screenplays, all imbued with themes and characters of Vedanta, karma, reincarnation and the Upanishadic quest.

Arriving in Hollywood in 1939, he first met Gerald Heard, the mystic-historian who founded his own monastery at Trabuco Canyon that was eventually gifted to the Vedanta Society. Through Heard, who was the first to discover Swami Prabhavananda and Vedanta, Isherwood joined an extraordinary band of mystic explorers that included Aldous Huxley, Bertrand Russell, Chris Wood, John Yale and J. Krishnamurti. Through Huxley, Isherwood befriended the Russian composer Igor Stravinsky.

Isherwood became a naturalised citizen of the United States in 1946.

From 1953 until his death, Isherwood lived with his life partner, the portrait artist Don Bachardy. Isherwood died in Santa Monica, California. [Portrait of Christopher Isherwood and Don Bachardy above by David Hockney]
Source: Wikipedia

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Leonard Bernstein

Leonard Bernstein born 25 August 1918 (d. 1990)

Leonard Bernstein was an American conductor, composer, and pianist. He was the first conductor born in the US to receive world-wide acclaim, and is known for both his conducting of the New York and Berlin Philharmonics, including the acclaimed Young People's Concerts series, and his multiple compositions, including West Side Story, Candide and On The Town.

Bernstein was very highly regarded as a conductor, composer, and educator, and probably best known to the public as longtime music director of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, for conducting concerts by many of the world's leading orchestras, and for writing the music for West Side Story. He may well be more famous among the general public than any other conductor before or since. All told, he wrote three symphonies, two operas, five musicals, and numerous other pieces.

Throughout the 1960s, Leonard Bernstein was undoubtedly the most visible proponent of classical music in American culture. Through his outgoing personality and resourceful uses of the media, particularly television, Bernstein introduced 'highbrow' culture into the homes of middle America, while also defending rock and roll as 'real' music and espousing radical causes.

Given his overwhelming celebrity and acclaim as a composer, conductor, pianist, and lecturer, the meteoric career of this son of Russian Jewish immigrants would seem to exemplify the all-American success story; yet, for most of his life, the spectre of the closet lurked threateningly behind the glamorous and often brash public image of Leonard Bernstein.

In spite of Bernstein's public avowal of unpopular causes - he was outspoken on civil rights and Vietnam - he was, for much of his career, unwilling to risk exposure of his homosexuality. Indeed, the social mores of the 1950s and 1960s were such that a revelation of homosexuality would undoubtedly have destroyed the celebrity and influence he had attained.

In 1951, Bernstein married the Chilean actress Felicia Montealegre, with whom he had three children. Bernstein nonetheless engaged in a number of homosexual relationships over the years. In the mid-1970s, the couple separated, and Bernstein attempted to live an openly gay life with Tom Cochran, who had been his lover since 1971. A year later, he returned to his wife, who was by this time terminally ill.

After Montealegre's death in 1978, Bernstein became increasingly open about his gayness.

Bernstein's final major composition, the opera A Quiet Place (1983), positions a bisexual male character, who functions as the mediator between the other, more conflicted characters, at the centre of the action. The opera's message is one of reconciliation and acceptance among all people.

Although increasingly in ill health in his final years, Bernstein continued to perform and record until his death from a heart attack on October 14, 1990.

As a conductor, he had a vast repertoire and recorded frequently, often in collaboration with the greatest singers and solo musicians of the postwar era. As a result, he has left an extensive and remarkable legacy of recordings and video performances that will ensure his reputation as an intelligent and enthusiastic conductor, composer, and musician for generations to come.

Rob Halford

Rob Halford born 25 August 1951

Robert John Arthur Halford is an English singer and songwriter, best known as the lead vocalist for the heavy metal band Judas Priest. Halford is known for his multi-octave range, high-pitched screams, leather-clad image and showing up on stage on a motorcycle (usually a Harley-Davidson). His stud-leather style has been widely adopted by heavy metal performers and fans around the world, most of whom little knew the look's origins in gay leather culture.

Halford was born in Sutton Coldfield in Warwickshire, England. He sang for numerous bands including Athens Wood, Lord Lucifer, Abraxas, Thark and Hiroshima. In May 1973, he joined Judas Priest after being suggested to them by his sister Sue, who was dating bass player Ian Hill.

Between 1974 and 1990, Rob Halford recorded 14 albums with Judas Priest, along the way becoming the archetypal heavy metal singer. Around 1977 he began to cultivate his now famous leather-clad and sunglasses-wearing persona and began riding a Harley-Davidson motorcycle on stage during live performances. The stunt caused a memorable accident during the '91 Toronto date of the Painkiller tour when he hit a half-engaged drum-riser obscured by clouds of dry ice. He broke his nose and fell off the motorcycle, tumbling off-stage. After regaining consciousness, Halford returned and performed the whole concert. In the band's Behind the Music episode, Rob named the accident as one of the events that caused the rift between him and the rest of the band that would eventually force them apart. While Halford is certainly the best known figure in rock for the leather outfits and on-stage motorbike, this aspect of his act had actually been pioneered some years earlier by Eric Bloom of Blue Öyster Cult.

After a 20-year career with Judas Priest that saw the band achieve international fame, Halford left the band in 1991. He first formed the band Fight with Judas Priest drummer Scott Travis, recording two albums between 1993 and 1995. After Fight, he collaborated with guitarist John Lowery in an industrial-influenced project called 2wo which was produced by Trent Reznor and released on his Nothing Records label.

In 1998, Halford revealed he was homosexual in an interview on MTV. His sexual orientation had always been known to the rest of Judas Priest and came as little surprise to fans as his sexual orientation was somewhat of an open secret among fans and among the Heavy Metal press. The response from the heavy metal community has been widely accepting.

Halford returned to his metal roots in 2000 with his band Halford and the widely acclaimed album Resurrection (2000), produced by Roy Z. A live album in 2001 was followed up by 2002's Crucible. That same year, Halford had a small role in the film Spun in which he played a gay sex store clerk.

A reunion with Judas Priest had been speculated on for some time, at least since the release of the Resurrection album which some critics claimed sounded more like Judas Priest than that band's previous album Jugulator (1997). Halford himself had never ruled it out, claiming in 2002 that 'Gut instinct tells me that at some point it will happen'. In July of 2003, the singer returned to his former band and they released Angel of Retribution in 2005. The world tour that accompanied the release marked the band's 30th anniversary.

Rob Halford has also performed as the vocalist for Black Sabbath at three shows. He replaced Ronnie James Dio for two nights in November 1992, when Dio elected not to open a show for Ozzy Osbourne. Halford stepped in, having first spoken to Dio, with whom he has a good relationship. He also replaced Osbourne in Black Sabbath on August 25, 2004, his 53rd birthday at an Ozzfest show in Camden, New Jersey, since Ozzy could not perform due to bronchitis.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Stephen Fry

Stephen Fry born 24 August 1957

Stephen Fry is an English comedian, author, actor and filmmaker, who initially came to prominence in collaboration with fellow comic and actor, Hugh Laurie.

He is also successful as a voiceover artist, narrator, TV quiz show presenter and contestant, and is the hilarious and erudite host of more upmarket awards shows such as the BAFTAs, where his blend of intelligent and old-fashioned witticism combined with modern rudeness consistently amuses - and bewilders - especially the American attendees.

In a 2005 poll to find the Comedian's Comedian he was voted amongst the top 50 comedy acts ever by fellow comedians and comedy insiders.

In recent years, Fry has more or less assumed the role of a national treasure in the UK.

Fry struggled to keep his homosexuality secret during his teenage years at public school, and practised a celibate lifestyle for 16 years. Fry currently lives in London with his long-time partner, Daniel Cohen. Fry met Cohen after piecing his life together following a rather public breakdown in 1995, when he had a crisis of confidence following bad reviews for his performance in the play Cell Mates, walking out and fleeing to France - almost ending his career.

Fry has since spoken publicly about his experiences living with bipolar disorder, and has made a documentary about other people's experiences of the condition. Fry has been involved in making further documentaries for the BBC.

Official website

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Newton Arvin

Newton Arvin born 23 August 1900 (d. 1963)

Frederick Newton Arvin was a literary critic, historian, and academic.

Frederick Newton Arvin studied English Literature at Harvard and was inspired by American literary critic Van Wyck Brooks. Leaving Harvard in 1922, Arvin taught at several high schools before finding tenure at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts.

A homosexual, Newton Arvin endured a brief and unhappy marriage and is said to have had an affair with Truman Capote during the 1940s.

Arvin often wrote about political issues, until he came to national attention with the publication in 1950 of Herman Melville, a critical biography of Herman Melville, the writer today most famous as the author of Moby-Dick. Herman Melville won the second annual National Book Award for non-fiction.

Other works by Arvin included a similar analysis of Nathaniel Hawthorne, the author of The Scarlet Letter. Another book on the same pattern, about poet and writer Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and entitled Longfellow, His Life and Work, was finished shortly before Arvin's death.

In 1960, officers of the Massachusetts State Police arrested Arvin on pornography-related charges after investigations by the office of the United States Postmaster General into soft-core homosexually-themed pictures sent to Arvin by mail. The resulting scandal destroyed his career and resulted in the firing of two colleagues, Edward Spofford and Joel Dorius, whom he gave up in exchange for leniency in sentencing.

In 2001, Barry Werth's book The Scarlet Professor: Newton Arvin: a literary life shattered by scandal, was published, detailing the affair.

In 2002, Smith acknowledged the wrongful termination of the three professors by creating a lecture series and a small scholarship, the $100,000 Dorius/Spofford Fund for the Study of Civil Liberties and Freedom of Expression, and the Newton Arvin Prize in American Studies, a $500 annual stipend.

Herbert Pollitt

Herbert Pollitt born 23 August 1871 (d. 1942)

Collector and connoisseur Herbert Pollitt, known as Jerome Pollitt, was an amateur female impersonator of late 19th-century England, who performed under the stage name Diane de Rougy, in tribute to the actress Liane de Pougy. He was a close friend of the British illustrator and writer Aubrey Beardsley - who created this ex-libris (book plate) for his friend.

He is known to have had an affair with the young Aleister Crowley - Crowley was 23 and in his final year at Cambridge. Pollitt was ten years his senior. Later he immortalised Pollitt in The Scented Garden of Abdullah the Satirist - a collection of poems which are a blend of Persian mysticism and the glorification of homosexual love, written in the style of ghazals by an imaginary seventeenth-century poet. They are supposedly translated into English by an Anglo-Indian, Major Lutiy, helped by an anonymous 'editor', and are then discussed by an equally fictitious clergyman. The collection, however, is typically Crowley-esque: both spoof and serious.

Keith Vaughan

Keith Vaughan born 23 August 1912 (d. 1977)

John Keith Vaughan was an English painter.

After attending Christ's Hospital school, he worked in an advertising agency until the war, when as a conscientious objector he joined the St John's Ambulance. In 1941 he was conscripted into the Pioneer Corps. Vaughan was self-taught as an artist. His first exhibitions took place during the war.

Also during the war Vaughan formed friendships with the painters Graham Sutherland and John Minton, with whom after demobilisation in 1946 he shared premises. Through these contacts he formed part of the Neo-Romantic circle of the immediate post-war period. However, Vaughan rapidly developed an idiosyncratic style which moved him away from the Neo-Romantics. Concentrating on studies of male figures, his works became increasingly more abstract with time.

From 1946 to 1948 he taught at Camberwell School of Arts and Crafts. During this time a penniless painting student, Ramsey McClure, turned up at his doorstep, and they became partners and lived together for 30 years.

Keith Vaughan met many other gay figures from art and literature including Christopher Isherwood, (see diaries for 1947 and 1948), and E M Forster.

Keith Vaughan taught at the Central School of Arts and Crafts from 1948 to 1957. He painted the Theseus mural decoration in the Festival of Britain Dome of Discovery in 1951.

From 1954 he taught at the Slade School of Fine Art, where he taught David Hockney. He also travelled extensively and was visiting resident artist at Iowa State University during 1959. In 1962 a retrospective of his work was held at Whitechapel Art Gallery with an Arts Council tour. In 1964 he received an Honorary Fellowship from the Royal College of Art. In 1965 he was awarded the CBE.

Vaughan is also known for his journals, selections from which were published in 1966 and more extensively in 1989, after his death. A gay man troubled by his sexuality, and much of what is known about him is through those journals. He was diagnosed with cancer in 1975 and committed suicide in 1977, recording his last moments in his diary as the drugs overdose took effect.


Keith Vaughan at GLBTQ Encyclopedia

Peter Wyngarde

Peter Wyngarde born 23 August 1933

Peter Paul Wyngarde is a British actor best known for playing the character Jason King in two television series in the late 1960s early 1970s: Department S (1969–70) and Jason King (1971–72).

He was born in Marseille, France, the son of an English father and a French mother. His father worked for the British Diplomatic Service, and as a result his childhood was spent in a number of different countries. In 1941, while his parents were away in India, he went to stay with a Swiss family in Shanghai. When the Imperial Japanese Army invaded the city, they were captured and placed in the Lung-hai concentration camp. Conditions in the camp were sometimes harsh. On one occasion Peter had both his feet broken and spent two weeks in solitary confinement after being caught taking messages between camp huts.

As a young man he went into acting and from the mid 1950s had various roles acting in feature films, television plays and television series guest appearances. In the late 1960s he was a regular guest star on many of the popular UK series of the day—many of which were espionage adventure series—including The Avengers, The Saint, The Baron, and The Champions. He also played the rotating guest-star role of the villainous Number Two in the episode 'Checkmate' of the cult series The Prisoner, which took place in a community of spies who had retired... or been retired.

Wyngarde became a British household name through his starring role in the espionage series Department S (1969). After that series ended, his character, the suave womaniser Jason King, was spun-off into a new action espionage series entitled Jason King (1971), which ran for one season (26 one-hour episodes).

In 1975 however, he was arrested and convicted for an act of 'gross indecency' with a truck driver in the toilets of Gloucester bus station. His career never recovered.

After losing his TV celebrity status, Wyngarde worked in Austria, acting and directing at the English Theatre in Vienna, and in South Africa and Germany. He also landed the role of General Klytus in the film version of Flash Gordon, although it is perhaps significant that the part required him to wear a metal mask throughout.

During the 1980s and 1990s he made a number of TV appearances, including the Doctor Who serial Planet of Fire (1984), Hammer House Of Horror & Suspense (1986), The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes (1994) and the film Tank Malling (1989).

In recent years he has been a regular, warmly welcomed guest at Memorabilia, a cult, science fiction and sporting memorabilia fayre at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham, UK.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Anthony 'ANT' Kalloniatis

Anthony 'ANT' Kalloniatis born 22 August 1967

Anthony Steven Kalloniatis, known professionally as ANT, is an American stand-up comedian and actor.

A native of Londonderry, New Hampshire, ANT performed at comedy clubs across the US. For four years starting in 1995, he was a semi regular cast member on the WB series Unhappily Ever After.

With the end of that show and looking for ways to supplement his income, ANT recruited several men to become internet models. His involvement in the internet sex trade is documented in the 2001 film WebCam Boys, which he also co-produced.

Having gained nationwide attention in 2004 as a contestant on the second season of Last Comic Standing, ANT is the only comedian to appear in three of that show's four seasons. The same year, he released a comedy album, Follow My Ass.

He is the host of VH1 reality series Celebrity Fit Club and a regular judge of talent on Steve Harvey's Big Time. His television series, U.S. of ANT, premiered on MTV Network's gay-targeted Logo cable channel in the summer of 2006. ANT also frequently appears as a commentator on such shows as VH1's Best Week Ever and CNBC's Dennis Miller, and is a regular guest on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and the Tyra Banks Show.

James Kirkwood

James Kirkwood born 22 August 1924 (d. 1989)

James Kirkwood was an American playwright, actor and author born in Los Angeles. His novels include P.S. Your Cat Is Dead (1972), Good Times, Bad Times (1968)
and Some Kind of Hero (1975); he was a capable author of popular fiction and most have gay elements, and a number were adapted for the stage or screen.

He is however probably best known for writing the book for the hugely successful musical A Chorus Line, for which he won a Tony in 1976, as well as a New York Drama Critic's Circle Award and the Pulitzer Prize for best drama. A Chorus Line is credited with being the first Broadway musical to deal with homosexuality in a matter-of-fact way - the concept for the show came from gay choreographer Michael Bennett.

A Chorus Line was still playing when James Kirkwood died from AIDS-related cancer at his home in New York in April 1989.

Hugh Paddick

Hugh Paddick born 22 August 1915 (d. 2000)

Hertfordshire-born Hugh Paddick was a comedy actor with a successful career on radio, television, stage and in films - mostly from the late-1950s to the early-70s.

He holds a special place in gay culture because as a cast member of the hugely popular BBC radio show Round the Horne (1965-8) he was Julian to Kenneth Williams' Sandy. Togther, they were mainly responsible for bringing the secret gay language polari to a wider audience.

Hugh Paddick lived for over fifty years with his partner, Francis, who he met at a party in London. He was also apparently distantly related to gay former-police commander and London mayoral candidate Brian Paddick.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Aubrey Beardsley

Aubrey Beardsley born 21 August 1872 (d 1898)

Born in Brighton to a genteel but nearly destitute family, Aubrey Beardsley was a musical and artistic prodigy as a child who went on in his short life to become a highly original and influential illustrator, one of the greatest of the Symbolists.

He was educated at the Bristol Grammar School and later, with the encouragement of Pre-Raphaelite painter Sir Edward Burne-Jones, attended night classes at the Westminster School of Art. Although he absorbed a number of influences, including that of the Pre-Raphaelites, Beardsley was largely self-taught.

In 1892, the young artist received his first commission, an invitation to illustrate an edition of Thomas Malory's Morte D'arthur for the publisher J M Dent. The assignment entailed over 300 illustrations and chapter heads, which the artist executed in a mock-medieval, Pre-Raphaelite style.

In 1893, as he was working on the Dent commission, he met Oscar Wilde, with whom he would be associated for the rest of his life, at least in the public's imagination. Beardsley was invited by Wilde's publisher to illustrate the English edition of Salome. When it was published in 1894, both the play and the witty, provocative - blatantly erotic - illustrations created a sensation.

That same year Beardsley became famous as the art editor of The Yellow Book, a new arts and letters periodical. Although Wilde never actually contributed to the magazine, it was widely assumed to be an organ for the aesthetic ideas that the playwright espoused. Beardsley's stunning black-and-white drawings, title-pages, and covers helped make the new quarterly a great success. But The Yellow Book also quickly became a site of the fin de siècle culture wars, a target of moralists concerned about the influence of the decadent movement on English society and art. One detractor described Beardsley's designs for the periodical as 'Diseased, weird, macabre, and sinister.'

In the context of the growing notoriety of Wilde and his circle, this may be seen as an attack on the newly visible homosexual subculture that emerged at the end of the nineteenth century. The culture wars culminated in Wilde's prosecution and conviction for gross indecency in 1895. One casualty of the reaction triggered by the Wilde trials of 1895 was Beardsley himself. He was summarily fired from his job as art editor of The Yellow Book. He had been too closely associated with Wilde for the publisher's comfort and his art too erotic and perverse for the new mood of conformity prompted by Wilde's conviction.

Beardsley however continued to find work as an illustrator and created many more beautiful illustrations. Unfortunately, Beardsley had been plagued by ill-health and bouts of tuberculosis since childhood and he died in the South of France, where he had gone in search of a better climate for his increasingly frail health. He was just 25.

Considering the brevity of his life, Beardsley's achievement is astonishing. A highly original creator, he transformed the art of illustration and profoundly influenced artists of his own and subsequent generations.

Mart Crowley

Mart Crowley born 21 August 1935

Mart Crowley is an American playwright.

Crowley was born in Vicksburg, Mississippi. After graduating from The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. in 1967, Crowley headed west to Hollywood, where he worked for a number of television production companies before meeting Natalie Wood on the set of her film Inside Daisy Clover. Wood hired him as her assistant, primarily to give him ample free time to work on his gay-themed play The Boys in the Band, which opened off-Broadway to ecstatic reviews on April 14, 1968 and enjoyed a run of 1002 performances.

Crowley's second work, Remote Asylum, was mounted with great expectations at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles in 1970, but it failed to garner the raves his debut had. In that same year, he enjoyed greater success with the motion picture adaptation of Boys in the Band. With his next play, the autobiographical A Breeze from the Gulf, he regained cachet with the critics and earned a Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle nomination for Best Play.

In 1979 and 1980, Crowley served first as the executive script editor and then producer of the ABC series Hart to Hart, starring Wood's husband Robert Wagner and Stephanie Powers. Other credits include the teleplays for There Must Be a Pony (1986), Bluegrass (1988), People Like Us (1990), and a Hart to Hart reunion special in 1996.

Crowley appeared in The Celluloid Closet, a documentary about homosexuality and its depiction on screen throughout the years, in 1995.

The Boys in the Band was a ground-breaking work that used both humour and melodrama to offer a look at the lives of a group of openly gay men. Gay audiences welcomed it when it appeared, but over the years it became controversial. Objections centered on traits of various characters that critics felt perpetuated negative stereotypes - self-loathing, flamboyance, and promiscuity. Rather than offering an upbeat, positive look at the gay subculture, it presented a depressing snapshot of individuals tormented by internalised homophobia. The post-AIDS perspective is not kind either; however, the play, and the film, should be taken as snapshots of the era that produced them. And the play is still revived, even if time has not been kind.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Malcolm Forbes

Malcolm Forbes born 19 August 1919 (d. 1990)

Malcolm Stevenson Forbes was publisher of Forbes magazine, founded by his father B C Forbes and today run by his son, Steve Forbes.

He is a graduate of the Lawrenceville School and Princeton University, where he donated the money for Forbes College, one of the five residential colleges at the University.

After dabbling in politics, including a term in the state legislature and candidacy for Governor of New Jersey, he committed to the magazine full time by 1957, three years after his father's death, and after the death of his brother in 1964 acquired sole control of the company.

The magazine grew steadily under his leadership, and he diversified into property and other ventures. One of his last projects was the magazine Egg, which chronicled New York's nightlife. (The title had nothing to do with Forbes's famous Fabergé egg collection.)

Malcolm Forbes was legendary for his lavish lifestyle, his private jet, ever larger Highlander yachts, huge art collection, substantial collection of Harley-Davidson motorbikes, his French Chateau (in Balleroy, Normandy), his collections of special shape hot air balloons and historical documents, as well as his opulent birthday parties.

He chose the Palais du Mendoub (which he had acquired from the Moroccan government in 1970) in the north-western city of Tangier, Morocco to host his 70th birthday party. Spending an estimated $2.5 million, he chartered a Boeing 747, a DC-8 and a Concorde to fly in eight hundred of the world's rich and famous from New York and London. The guests included his friend Elizabeth Taylor (who acted as a co-host), Gianni Agnelli, Robert Maxwell, Barbara Walters, Henry Kissinger, half a dozen US state governors, the CEOs of scores of multinational corporations likely to advertise in his magazine. The party entertainment was on a grand scale, including 600 drummers, acrobats and dancers and a fantasia - a cavalry charge which ends with the firing of muskets into the air - by 300 Berber horsemen.

He died suddenly in 1990 following a heart attack.

In March 1990, soon after his death, OutWeek magazine published a cover story, 'The Secret Life of Malcolm Forbes', by Michelangelo Signorile, which outed Forbes as a gay man. Forbes was known to many in his social circles as gay, but his homosexuality was never reported on in the media. When Forbes died, he was held up by many conservatives as a great American capitalist. Signorile felt that the historical record also needed to show that he was homosexual; he interviewed many people who knew Forbes as gay, some of them men who’d been intimately involved with Forbes.

Highlighting just how controversial it was at that time to report on the undeclared homosexuality of even a public figure who was dead - let alone living - many newspapers viewed Signorile's Forbes story as shocking and scandalous, and it took months for some papers to report on it. The New York Times reported on it four months after the fact in a story about outing, and still would not name Forbes, only saying that a 'recently deceased businessman' had been 'outed'. (Years later, the paper would finally report that Forbes was 'gay', in a story about his son Steve Forbes’ run for the presidency).