Thursday, March 31, 2011

Nikolai Gogol

Nikolai Gogol born 1 April 1801 (d. 1852)

Born in the Ukraine to small-time nobility, Gogol moved to St Petersburg in 1828. There he taught and wrote a number of short stories set in St Petersburg and Ukrainian folk-tales, and began to enjoy sporadic success as a writer. In 1836 he produced the satirical farce The Inspector General in 1836, which caused much controversy and he fled to Rome.

He spent the next 5 years in Germany and Italy and produced the first volume of his best known work, Dead Souls. Seeking a spiritual regeneration to match that of his main character and continue the novel, he subjected himself to a strict regime of prayer and fasting, but only succeeded in nervous collapse and burnt his work. He spent the next seven years attempting to continue the novel, but became even more influenced by Orthodox Christianity, fell under the influence of a priest named Father Matthew Konstantinovski, who viewed his literary work - and his confessed homosexuality - as an abomination and prescribed abstinence from food and sleep to cleanse his 'inner filth'. Gogol again burnt his work and, despite the efforts of his friends, died of starvation... He was 43.

His work was a major influence on Dostoevsky and later, 20th Century Russian authors. Complex and original, his work, which uses elements of the fantastic and grotesque, social realism and humour, is permeated by his repressed homosexuality, especially in the fear of marriage that is a constant theme throughout.

F O Mathiessen

F O Mathiessen born 1 April 1902 (d. 1950)

Francis Otto Matthiessen was a historian and literary critic influential in the creation of the field of American studies.

He wrote and edited landmark works of scholarship on T S  Eliot, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Sarah Orne Jewett, Sinclair Lewis, Herman Melville, Henry David Thoreau, and Walt Whitman.

Matthiessen's best-known book, American Renaissance: Art and Expression in the Age of Emerson and Whitman (1941), discussed the flowering of literary culture in the middle of the American 19th century, with Emerson, Thoreau, Melville, Whitman and Nathaniel Hawthorne. Its focus was the period roughly from 1850 to 1855 in which all these writers but Emerson published what would, by Matthiessen's time, come to be thought of as their masterpieces: Melville's Moby-Dick, multiple editions of Whitman's Leaves of Grass, Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter and The House of the Seven Gables, and Thoreau's Walden. The mid-19th century in American literature is commonly called the American Renaissance because of the influence of this work on later literary history and criticism.

Matthiessen, as a gay man in the 1930s and 1940s, chose to remain in the closet throughout his professional career, if not in his personal life – although traces of homoerotic concern are apparent in his writings. His longtime lover and life partner, the painter Russell Cheney, shared a cottage with him in Kittery, Maine for decades.

He was hospitalised once for a nervous breakdown in 1938-39. After Cheney's death, Matthiessen was increasingly distraught; he committed suicide by jumping from a window in 1950. Inquiries by the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) into his politics may also have been a factor in his suicide.

Matthiessen's politics were left-wing, socialist, though not dogmatically Marxist, as he felt his Christianity was incompatible with Marxist atheism. Matthiessen, who was already financially secure, donated an inheritance he received in the late 1940s to his friend, Marxist economist Paul Sweezy; Sweezy used the money, totalling almost $15,000, to found a new journal, which became the Monthly Review.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Richard Chamberlain

Richard Chamberlain born 31 March 1935

Born in Los Angeles, Richard Chamberlain originally intended to study art, but an interest in drama took over and on graduation, decided to pursue acting as a career. However, he was drafted into the army for two years, but enrolled in acting classes on his release, where he met his first love - but fearing the attitudes of the time, the late 1950s, the pair kept their year-long affair secret.

He appeared in his first film in 1960, and the following year won the title role in TV drama Dr Kildare, which ran for five successful years and made Chamberlain a household name and a romantic idol.

When Dr Kildare ended, he declined other TV offers and chose to work in theatre and film. He moved to England, which broadened his career and he made a number of successful and critically acclaimed movies in the 1970s - Ken Russell's The Music Lovers (1971), proto disaster epic The Towering Inferno (1974), The Swarm (1974) and The Three Musketeers (1974). In the late-70s and 1980s Chamberlain returned to TV and his career thrived in the then-new mini-series genre - Centennial (1978), Shogun (1980) and his best known role as Father Ralph de Bricassart in Colleen McCullough's The Thorn Birds (1983) - a TV phenonemon at the time. When the mini-series fell out of favour, he returned to the theatre where he continues to work.

Although it was an open secret that he was gay, Richard Chamberlain never publicly acknowledged the fact until his autobiography Shattered Love in 2003. In it he acknowledged his lack of self-acceptance for many years and his fear that the truth would destroy his career - still something of an issue for actors today.

He has been in a relationship with producer-director Martin Rabbett since the mid 1970s. They live in Rabbett's home state of Hawaii, and often work together on theatre projects.

Since his coming out Chamberlain has made occasional guest appearances on TV shows such as Will & Grace, Nip/Tuck and Desperate Housewives, usually bringing a new knowingness or just playing gay as he was unable to do for so many years.

In an interview with The Advocate in 2010 promoting his role in ABC’s Brothers & Sisters Chamberlain controversially said he 'wouldn’t advise a gay leading man-type actor to come out'.

'For an actor to be working [at all] is a kind of miracle, because most actors aren’t, so it’s just silly for a working actor to say, "Oh, I don’t care if anybody knows I’m gay" – especially if you’re a leading man.

'Personally, I wouldn’t advise a gay leading man-type actor to come out.'

Alan Duncan

Alan Duncan born 31 March 1957

Alan James Carter Duncan MP is a British Conservative politician, and Member of Parliament for Rutland and Melton. He was educated at Merchant Taylors' School and St John's College, Oxford, where he coxed the college's first eight crew and was elected President of the Oxford Union. He went on to win a Kennedy Scholarship to study at Harvard.

Alan Duncan was born in Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire, and before beginning his political career he worked as a trader of oil and refined products, first with Shell and latterly working as a self employed broker and consultant for Marc Rich, but he remained involved in politics as an active member of Battersea Conservative Association, except from 1984 to 1986 when he lived in Singapore.

Duncan first stood for Parliament as a Conservative candidate in the 1987 general election, unsuccessfully contesting the safe Labour seat of Barnsley West and Penistone. For the 1992 general election he was selected as the Conservative candidate for Rutland and Melton, a safe Conservative seat in rural Leicestershire.

From 1993 to 1995 Duncan sat on the Social Security Select Committee. His first governmental position was as Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Minister of Health, a position he obtained in December 1993 and resigned from in January 1994.

In July 1995 he was appointed Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Chairman of the Conservative Party, Dr Brian Mawhinney. In November 1995 Mr Duncan performed a citizen's arrest on an Asylum Bill protester who threw paint and flour at Brian Mawhinney on College Green.

In June 1997 Duncan was entrusted with the positions of Vice Chairman of the Conservative Party and Parliamentary Political Secretary to the Party Leader. Subsequently he has held various shadow cabinet posts, including health, constitutional affairs, international development and transport. After David Cameron won the party leadership in December 2005 he appointed Duncan Shadow Secretary of State for Trade and Industry. In July 2007 he was appointed Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform, as new prime minister Gordon Brown had abolished the Department for Trade and Industry the previous week, replacing it with the aforementioned new department. In January 2009 he became Shadow Leader of the House of Commons.

Duncan was the first sitting Conservative MP voluntarily to acknowledge that he is gay; he did this in an interview with The Times on 29 July 2002, although he was open about the matter in private for several years before this.

Duncan was voted third most eligible bachelor and best looking male politician by the gay news website Pink News in a 2005 poll of their readers.

On 3 March 2008 it was announced in The Daily Telegraph that Duncan would be entering into a civil partnership with his partner James Dunseath. The ceremony took place in July 2008, making Duncan the first member of either the Cabinet or the Shadow Cabinet to be civilly partnered.

Duncan is currently a Minister of State in the Department for Intrenational Development, a post he has held sicen the General Election in May 2010.

Edward FitzGerald

Edward FitzGgerald born 31 March 1809 (d. 1883)

Edward Marlborough FitzGerald was an English writer, best known as the poet of the first and most famous English translation of Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám.

Edward FitzGerald was born near Woodbridge, Suffolk. He was one of eight children and his parents owned a number of estates in England and Ireland. He was educated at the King Edward VI Grammar School and Trinity College, Cambridge.

He spent most of his life in Suffolk where he lived the life of a country gentleman rarely travelling, except to London. He lived for sixteen years on his family estate at Boulge and spent the remainder of his life in Woodbridge.

In 1850 he married the daughter of the poet Bernard Barton whose biography he had penned previously. The marriage appears to have been an 'unhappy' one and they separated after only a few months. After learning Spanish privately he produced blank-verse translations of six poems by Calderon (1853). His developing fascination with Persian poetry led him to translate a series of works. Salaman and Absal, an allegory by Kami was published anonymously in 1856 followed in 1859 by his most celebrated work, translations from the Rubaiyat.

His warm personality and sophisticated wit earned him the friendship of many great writers including William Thackery, Alfred Tennyson and Thomas Carlyle. Tennyson was to dedicate his poem Tiresias to Fitzgerald. He left a legacy of delightful letters, bursting with anecdotes concerning his literary acquaintances, which were edited and published after his death.

FitzGerald's homosexuality has been well-known since at least 1970, when H Montgomery Hyde published The Love That Dared Not Speak Its Name. An entire book documenting FitzGerald's passionate affair with a fisherman named Joseph Fletcher was published in 1908 (James Blyth, Edward FitzGerald and Posh). He was previously enamored, at 23, of a teenage youth named Kenworthy Browne, whose tragic early death while riding left Fitzgerald heartbroken. FitzGerald became a dedicated sailor, and his later years were passed among various fishermen and friends along the coast. It has to be admitted however that there remains some doubt as to whether FitzGerald's intense love for his various male friends ever found physical expression.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Paul Verlaine

Paul Verlaine born 30 March 1844 (d. 1896)

One of the greatest and most popular French poets, bisexual Paul Verlaine was born in Metz, but educated in Paris where he started writing poetry early. He published his first volume in 1867 aged 23 and was soon recognised as a poet of promise and orginality.

His private life and his work are inextricably linked, beginning with his love for Mathilde Maute, who became his wife. He eventually lost interest in her after he paired up with a young poet who hero-worshipped him and became his drinking buddy and lover - Arthur Rimbaud.

Together they travelled widely throughout Europe but Verlaine brought their volatile affair to an abrupt halt in 1873 when he shot Rimbaud in a drunken jealous rage. Rimbaud survived but Verlaine was eventually arrested, subjected to a brutal internal examination to identify the nature of their relationship and sentenced to two years imprisonment at Mons. There, he underwent a religious conversion and his ensuing work took on a mystical spiritual bent.

On his release, Verlaine travelled to England where he continued to write and teach. On returning to France in 1877 to teach English, he became infatuated with a pupil named Lucien Letinois, but was devastated when the boy died of typhoid.

Verlaine's final years saw a decline into poverty and alcoholism - although his enthusiam for younger men remained with him. He continued to be recognised as a ground-breaking poet and did much to preserve the poetic reputation of his former lover, Rimbaud, who died aged 37 in 1891.

His best known poem is probably Chanson d`automne, largely thanks to its use as a code message for the Allies during WW2. His poetry has also proved popular with composers - Gabriel Faure set several to music. A heavy drinker and plagued with poor health in later years, he remained a prolific writer passionately dedicated to sensuality and poetry.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Richard Rodney Bennett

Richard Rodney Bennett born 29 March 1936

Sir Richard Rodney Bennett, CBE is a British composer renowned for his film scores and his jazz performance as much as for his challenging concert works. He has lived in New York City since 1979.

Richard Rodney Bennett was a pupil at Leighton Park School, the Quaker school in Reading, studied at the Royal Academy of Music with Howard Ferguson and Lennox Berkeley. During this time, he attended some of the Darmstadt summer courses, where he was exposed to serialism. He later spent two years in Paris as a student of the arch-serialist Pierre Boulez.

Bennett taught at the Royal Academy of Music between 1963 and 1965, and the Peabody Institute in Baltimore, United States from 1970 to 1971, and was later International Chair of Composition at the Royal Academy of Music between 1994 and the year 2000. He received a CBE in 1977, and was knighted in 1998.

As one of Britain’s most respected and versatile musicians, Bennett has produced over two hundred works for the concert hall, and fifty scores for film and television, as well as having been a writer and performer of jazz songs for fifty years. Studies with Boulez in the 1950s immersed him in the techniques of the European avant-garde, though he subsequently developed his own distinctive dramato-abstract style. In recent years, he has adopted an increasingly tonal idiom.

Despite his early studies in modernist techniques, Bennett's tastes are catholic, and he has written in a wide range of styles, being particularly fond of jazz. Early on, he found success by writing music for feature films, although he considered this to be subordinate to his concert music. Nevertheless, he has continued to write music for films and television; among his best-known scores are the Doctor Who story The Aztecs (1964), Far from the Madding Crowd (1967), Nicholas and Alexandra (1971, for which he was nominated for an Academy Award), Murder on the Orient Express (1974), Enchanted April (1992) and Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994). He is also a prolific composer of orchestral works, piano solos, choral works and operas. Despite this eclecticism, Bennett's music rarely involves crossover of styles.

In 1995, to celebrate its 200th issue, Gay Times magazine published list of people regarded as important to the British lesbian and gay community. Bennett was named as one of the key musical figures on the list.

Bruce Weber

Bruce Weber born 29 March 1946

Bruce Weber is an American photographer and occasional filmmaker.

If you have ever gazed longingly at the models in an ad for Calvin Klein underwear or Abercrombie & Fitch, you have probably been looking at the work of photographer, Bruce Weber.

Born in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, Weber became one of the most influential and successful fashion photographers of the 1980s and continues to be one of the world`s most successful commercial photographers.

Weber's fashion photography first appeared in the late 1970s in GQ magazine, where he had frequent cover photos. Soon known as a pioneer of modern male fashion and art photography, he came to the attention of the general public in the late 1980s and early 1990s with his advertising images for Calvin Klein. His straightforward black and white shots, featuring an unclothed heterosexual couple on a swing facing each other, two clothed men in bed, and model Marcus Schenkenberg barely holding jeans in front of himself in a shower, catapulted him into the international spotlight. His photograph of Calvin Klein of Olympic athlete Tom Hintnaus in white briefs is an iconic image.

His nostalgic, usually black and white photography, which manages to be boldly erotic and yet somehow innnocent,  played a major role in the resurgence of the male body in advertising - his influence is everywhere. He has changed the way we look at male beauty.

In addition to his commercial work, Bruce Weber has produced several books of his photographs, often photographic essays, notably The Andy Book (1987) and Bear Pond (1991); made several films incl. Broken Noses (1987), a documentary about jazz trumpeter Chet Baker, Let's Get Lost (1989) which was nominated for an Academy Award, and Chop Suey (2001). His work has also been widely exhibited in museums and galleries. He has additionally directed several music videos for the Pet Shop Boys.

His work, and advertising for Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren and Abercrombie & Fitch and others, somehow manages to balance an intense homoeroticism with an imagined ideal of all-American platonic male cameraderie. Women and gay men everywhere owe him a great deal.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

James Bidgood

James Bidgood born 28 March 1933

James Bidgood (born in Madison, Wisconsin) is a US photographer and filmmaker. His photography work, at its best in the 1950s, featured young men in fantastical scenes. His work was an inspiration for photographer/artists Pierre et Gilles, whose style is very similar - heightened colour; elaborate backdrops, sets and props; a painterly, unreal sense of artifice with a strong erotic undertone.

As a filmmaker he produced the film Pink Narcissus (1971).

Pink Narcissus rocked the underground film world with its dreamlike homoerotic images. A technicolor fantasia, it is the story of a beautiful, brooding hustler (Bobby Kendal), who creates a dream world inside his apartment where he acts out his fantasies, from harem boy to roman slave to matador. Pink Narcissus' writer and director was credited as 'Anonymous', and rumours flew that the film had been made by a big name in Hollywood who feared exposure. For a time the film was erroneously credited to Andy Warhol and Kenneth Anger.

It was later revealed that the director was James Bidgood, who had taken his name off the film because he did not like what the distributor had done with his work.

2005 interview with James Bidgood in Bright Lights Film Journal

Dirk Bogarde

Dirk Bogarde born 28 March 1921 (d. 1999)

Born Derek Jules Gaspard Ulric van den Bogaerde - his father was Dutch, his mother English - Dirk Bogarde was one of Britain's greatest film stars.

He made one film in 1939 before serving in the Second World War, during which he was decorated for valour and achieved the rank of major in the Queen's Royal Regiment. He returned to acting, and was encouraged to pursue a career on the stage by Noel Coward, but his matinee-idol looks soon saw him being offered film roles and he signed a long-term contract with Rank studios.

Bogarde was a popular and successful star throughout the 1950s, staring in romantic comedies, crime thrillers and war films. As he grew older, he sought more challenging roles and he successfully matured as an actor throughought the 1960s, winning two best actor British Academy Awards for The Servant (1963) and Darling (1965).

His most significant film of the 60s and from a gay historical persepective, was Victim (1961), in which he played a married man who is blackmailed for his homosexuality. This film was brave for the time, and a brave choice for a closeted gay actor and is probably the first sympathetic gay character in British film. His courageous and moving portrayal of an 'ordinary' homosexual probably helped change public perceptions of homosexuality in the years leading up to decriminalisation.

By the 1970s, Bogarde had moved to France with his manager and partner, Tony Forwood, and mostly worked in European films. His most notable appearances were in Death In Venice (1971), The Damned (1969), & The Night Porter (1974). These darker, European films allowed him to develop further as an actor, and play further gay characters, although he remained taciturn about his own private life.

In the 1980s, he returned to England with Tony Forwood, whom he cared for through a long terminal illness, and turned from acting to writing. In the 80s and 90s, he published sixteen volumes of fiction and autobiography. Knighted in 1992, he was badly affected by a stroke in 1996, and died of a heart attack in 1999.

Always very guarded in revealing his sexuality, even in his autobiography, Dirk Bogarde was widely known to be gay, and his courage in being the first actor and star to portray a positive image of a gay man in British cinema should not be underestimated.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Frank O'Hara

Frank O'Hara born 27 March 1926 (d. 1966)

Francis Russell O'Hara was an American poet who, along with John Ashbery and James Schuyler was a key member of what was known as the New York School of poetry.

Frank O'Hara was born at Maryland General Hospital, Baltimore and grew up in Grafton, Massachusetts. He attended St John's High School in Worcester. He studied piano at the New England Conservatory in Boston from 1941 to 1944. O'Hara served in the South Pacific and Japan as a sonarman on the destroyer USS Nicholas during World War II.

With the funding made available to veterans he attended Harvard University. Although he majored in music and did some composing, his attendance was irregular and his interests disparate. He regularly attended classes in philosophy and theology, while writing impulsively in his spare time. O'Hara was heavily influenced by visual art, and by contemporary music, which was his first love (he remained a fine piano player all his life and would often shock new partners by suddenly playing swathes of Rachmaninoff when visiting them).

While at Harvard, O'Hara met John Ashbery and began publishing poems in the Harvard Advocate. Despite his love for music, O'Hara changed his major and graduated from Harvard in 1950 with a degree in English.

He then attended graduate school at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. While at Michigan, he won a Hopwood Award and received his MA in English literature 1951. That autumn O'Hara moved into an apartment in New York City with Joe LeSueur, who would be his roommate and sometimes his lover for the next 11 years. Known throughout his life for his extreme sociability, passion, and warmth, O'Hara had hundreds of friends and lovers throughout his life, many from the New York art and poetry worlds. Soon after arriving in New York, he was employed at the front desk of the Museum of Modern Art and began to write seriously.

O'Hara was active in the art world, working as a reviewer for Art News, and in 1960 was made Assistant Curator of Painting and Sculpture Exhibitions for the Museum of Modern Art. He was also friends with artists like Willem de Kooning, Norman Bluhm, Larry Rivers and Joan Mitchell.

O'Hara died in an accident on Fire Island in which he was struck and seriously injured by a man speeding in a beach buggy during the early morning hours of July 24, 1966. He died the next day of a ruptured liver at the age of 40 and was buried in the Green River Cemetery on Long Island.

Denton Welch

Denton Welch born 27 March 1915 (d. 1948)

Maurice Denton Welch was an English writer and painter, admired for his vivid prose and precise descriptions.

Welch was born in Shanghai and spent his childhood in China — he recorded this in his fictionalised autobiography of his early years, Maiden Voyage (1935). With the help and patronage of Edith Sitwell and John Lehmann this became a small but lasting success and made for him a distinct and individual reputation. It was followed by the novel In Youth is Pleasure (1943), a study of adolescence, and by Brave and Cruel (1949). An unfinished autobiographical novel A Voice through a Cloud was published posthumously in 1950.

Welch did not set out to be a writer. He originally studied art in London with the intention of becoming a painter. At the age of 20, he was hit by a car while cycling in Surrey and suffered a fractured spine. Although he was not paralysed, he suffered severe pain and complications, including spinal tuberculosis that ultimately led to his early death. He met his companion, Eric Oliver, in November 1943 while he was convalescing. Oliver was a farm-worker living in Maidstone, and was a regular visitor. He acted as nurse for Welch, then his secretary, and finally as his literary executor when Welch died at the age of 33.

His literary work, intense and introverted, includes insightful portraits of his friends, and minutely observed portraits of the English countryside during World War II. A close attention to aesthetics, be it in human behaviour, physical appearance, clothing, art, architecture, jewelry, or antiques, is also a recurring concern in his writings. Shorter works include the essay on the painter Walter Sickert which, published originally in The London Magazine brought him to the notice of Sitwell. He continued occasionally to paint; there is a fine self-portrait (in the National Portrait Gallery), and some line illustrations in the first editions of his books.

What is clear from Welch's writing is that his chief limitation is also his chief virtue: his focus on himself. For his time and place, Welch's novels are surprisingly suffused with homosexuality. His examination of the people around him, very thinly disguised in the novels, and his exploration of his own homosexual feelings and responses to the world show Welch to be a writer of consequence, if an over-looked one.

William S Burroughs cited Denton Welch as the writer who most influenced his own work, and dedicated his novel The Place of Dead Roads to Welch.

It may be that his most lasting work will be his posthumously published Journals, in which he is frank about his homosexuality.

Painting of Denton Welch by Gerald McKenzie Leet, 1935

Perry Deane Young

Perry Deane Young born 27 March 1941

American author, playwright, autobiographer, historian, genealogist, screenwriter & columnist.

Perry Deane Young is the author of eight non-fiction books, two plays and one screenplay.

Perry Young’s first book was the widely praised Two of the Missing, a Vietnam memoir published in 1975. The David Kopay Story, which Young wrote with the gay pro football player, was published in 1977. The David Kopay Story was on the New York Times Bestseller list for nine weeks.

In January, 1968, he went to Vietnam on assignment for UPI, arriving in Saigon the night the Tet Offensive began. In 1970, he worked for the New York Post in New York and in Beirut and Cairo. Since 1970, Young has published articles in numerous national magazines and newspapers. These include The New York Times, The Washington Post, Newsday, Harper’s, Rolling Stone, Penthouse, Cosmopolitan, and The Advocate.

In 2005, Perry Deane Young presented all of his personal and professional papers from his long career as an author and journalist to the Southern Historical Collection of Manuscripts at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Perry Deane Young's Blog
Perry Deane Young Official Website

Friday, March 25, 2011

T R Knight

T R Knight born 26 March 1976

Theodore Raymond 'TR' Knight is an American actor, best known for his appearances as Dr George O'Malley in TV medical drama Grey's Anatomy, although he is also a successful theatre actor.

Knight was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where he became involved with the Guthrie Theater at the age of five. After finishing high school at the Academy of Holy Angels in Richfield, Knight enrolled at the University of Minnesota for a brief period of time. He dropped out and soon landed leading roles at the Guthrie Theater.

Knight moved to New York City and has appeared on Broadway; his most notable role was playing opposite Patti LuPone in the 2001 revival of Noises Off. Knight's most recent stage appearance was in the 2004 drama, Boy. He also gained notice performing in 2003 as Damis in Tartuffe and received a Drama Desk Award nomination in 2003 for his role in the off-Broadway production of Scattergood.

On television, Knight was a regular cast member of the short-lived Nathan Lane series, Charlie Lawrence. In 2005, he was cast as the sweet, bumbling intern George O'Malley on the ABC medical drama Grey's Anatomy. The role earned him a Primetime Emmy nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Drama Series in 2007.

Rumours over Knight's sexuality gained momentum when news reports surfaced in October 2006 that Grey's Anatomy co-stars Patrick Dempsey and Isaiah Washington were involved in an argument during which, Knight and others allege, Washington used an anti-gay slur directed at an unnamed co-star. Washington later apologised, stating 'I sincerely regret my actions and the unfortunate use of words during the recent incident on-set.'

Knight, who is gay, did not disclose his sexuality to the public until October 19, 2006 — after the scuffle — when he released a statement through People magazine.

The controversy over the verbal exchange gained additional momentum in January 2007 immediately following the Golden Globe Awards. When asked by E! Online reporter Ted Casablanca about the incident, Washington said, 'I never called TR a faggot. It never happened.'

Knight appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show later the same month and stated that Washington in fact had referred to him as a faggot on the Grey's Anatomy set on October 9, 2006.

In June 2007, Knight's role was secured for an additional season of Grey's Anatomy, while Isaiah Washington's contract was not renewed. Knight was written out of Grey's Anatomy in 2008 and George O'Malley was killed off in a dramatic severe trauma storyline. Producers claim that Knight asked to be released from his contract but he has maintained that he left because of 'trust issues' with the show's creator, Shonda Rimes.

Since Grey's Anatomy, Knight's career has mostly been in theatre.

A E Housman

A E Housman born 26 March 1859 (d. 1936)

To mainstream readers of poetry, A E Housman was the much admired of author of two best-selling collections, A Shropshire Lad (1896) and Last Poems (1922), whose texts were taken as universal statements. But for all its universality, Housman's poetry is deeply rooted in homosexual experience and consciousness, and even reflects gay history.

Those 'in the know' were always aware of this, for despite being forced to write in code Housman was reasonably bold, and it would appear from some of his poems and from the work of his brother Laurence, his literary executor and also gay, that Housman wrote the bulk of his work for a secret and oppressed homosexual readership. Housman is unusual in that he not only wrote a large amount of private work of a more open nature, but it was not destroyed. In fact, Laurence assembled two further volumes from his brother's surviving manuscripts - More Poems (1936) and Additional Poems (1937). Laurence also wrote an essay circa 1940 about his brother's life and work in which he spoke openly about his homosexuality. This work, along with diaries and other surviving documents were left in the care of the British Museum in 1942 on the understanding that they would not be made public for twenty-five years. 1967 was an appropriate year to blow open the truth about one of the best loved English poets of his generation.

The inspiration for Housman's poetry comes from two sources - the unrequited love (and lifelong friendship) he had for a fellow student named Moses Jackson; he also had a brief affair and long friendship with Moses' brother, Adalbert. The second driving force behind his work was his anger at the treatment of homosexuals, particularly the public hostility generated by the Wilde trial, and the ensuing need for secrecy that followed for decades. Housman wrote as openly as he could.

So if you read all those poems in A Shropshire Lad that talk of 'lads', 'fellows' and 'comrades' , don't be under any illusions what he was really talking about...

The street sounds to the soldiers' tread,
And out we troop to see:
A single redcoat turns his head,
He turns and looks at me.

My man, from sky to sky's so far,
We never crossed before;
Such leagues apart the world's ends are,
We're like to meet no more;

What thoughts at heart have you and I
We cannot stop to tell;
But dead or living, drunk or dry,
Soldier, I wish you well.

from A Shropshire Lad

Leigh Bowery

Leigh Bowery born 26 March 1961 (d. 1994)

Leigh Bowery born in Sunshine, a suburb of Melbourne, Australia was a performance artist, club creature, and clothing designer.

After attending Melbourne High School, and having abandoned his home in Australia and a fashion course there he had a colourful exhibitionist career following his arrival in London in 1980, making a name for himself by dramatic performances of dance, music and simple exhibitionism, while wearing bizarre and very original outfits of his own design. He was frequently seen performing in Taboo, a fashionable night club he operated, (after years brightening the doorways of other people's events) near Leicester Square and is frequently identified as a key influence on the style of the New Romantic music movement that was popular in Britain during the early 1980s. Though perhaps he is more properly placed within the context of 'The Cult With No Name' as the activities of the pansexual set of young Londoners had already been dubbed.

A large man, he used his costumes to exaggerate his size and the effects were frequently overpowering and unforgettable for those who encountered him, the more so because of his confrontational style. A wallflower he was not.

In the late 1980s, Bowery collaborated as a dancer with the post-Punk ballet dancer Michael Clark, after having been his costume-designer for a number of years. He also participated in multi-media events like I Am Kurious Oranj and the play Hey, Luciani, with Mark E. Smith and The Fall.

In 1988 he had a week-long show in Anthony d'Offay's prestigious Dering Street Gallery in London's West End, in which he lolled on a chaise longue behind a two-way mirror, primping and preening in a variety of outfits while visitors to the gallery looked on. The insouciance and audacity of this overt queer narcissism captivated gallery goers, critics and other artists. Bowery's exquisite appearance, silence and intense self-absorption was further accentuated by his own recordings of random and abrasive traffic noises which were played for the show's duration. The very intimate and private was flung in the face of the public complete with a 'Street Life' sound track, hinting perhaps at something still darker. In some outfits he appears like some strange roadside creature, like a cat that finally got the cream (of art world attention), in others he is the 'Satan's Son' that he would whisper, years later, on his deathbed.

The difficulty of engaging in such an hedonistic and wilfully original life and artistic practice without independent financial means has long been the curse of the both the innovator and bohemian. For all his art world exposure and contacts it seems peculiar now that no-one suggested to Bowery that he might adopt the very viable strategy of Gilbert and George - an earlier generation's living sculpture - and derive an income from selling images of himself rather than rely on occasional commissions, modelling work for Lucian Freud, or design consultancy for Rifat Ozbek. In the later years of his life the advantages of having an independent income started to become more obvious and Bowery looked to music, in the form of art rock/pop group Minty, to possibly provide this independent income stream. 'I have a profile,' he confided to flatmate and fellow Australian Anne Holt, 'But I have no money.' Minty he hoped would provide a solution to this crux.

He outraged the London gay scene with a performance at SMact, a short lived SM Night at Bar Industria. Using Nazi costumes with a lesbian friend named Barbara, they turned concentration camp experimentation into SMart. The readers of Capital Gay, the London weekly newspaper, turned on fellow performer Berkley, who had played the victim, and Barbara and Leigh weathered the storm. He was after all, 'the punk of the eighties' and longtime darling of the international avant garde.

In 1993 Leigh formed Raw Sewage with Sheila Tequila and Stella Stein. They performed in 18" platforms at the Love Ball in Amsterdam, but the collaboration ended in dramas. Leigh went on to appear as 'Madame Garbo' in The Homosexual (or the difficulty of sexpressing oneself) by Copi at Bagleys Warehouse in London's King's Cross.

During 1994 Leigh performed the Fete worse than death in Hoxton Square, Leigh and Nicola Bateman (later, Nicola Bowery) showed their classic 'Birth Show' in which Leigh gives birth to Nicola, using a specially designed harness which holds her upside down to his belly under his costume.

In November 1994 Minty began a two week show at London's Freedom Cafe, watched by the young Alexander McQueen but it was too much for Westminster City Council who closed the show down after only one night.

He married his long-term female companion Nicola Bateman on May 13, 1994, only months before his death from AIDS-related illness at UC Hospital London on New Year's Eve 1994, after a five week battle that only a handful of friends were informed about. 'Tell them I've gone pig farming in Bolivia' is one reported death bed pronouncement which is illustrative of the gallows humour and dark irony that can be traced in much of his work.

Glimmers of the influences of film maker John Waters and artist Andy Warhol can be seen in his keen appreciation of bad taste, truly outlandish self presentation and a deep desire to shock and confuse. 'I want to be the Andy Warhol of London' he once said. 'Dressed-up' he was obviously 'Modern Art on legs' (as Boy George commented), but in daytime attire the badly-fitting, obvious, disturbing wigs are a nod to Warhol's self-presentation strategies that has thus far seemed invisible to both critics and friends alike.

He became known to a wider audience by appearing in a Post-Modernist/Surrealist series of television and cinema and commercials for the Pepe jeans company, MTV London and other commissions such as stage work for rock band U2. He also appeared regularly in articles, vox pops and as cover star in London's i-D magazine. Tired brands in need of fresh ideas tended to covet his dazzling originality.

Bowery was painted in a series of nude portraits by Lucian Freud [above and left], and travelled internationally to the opening events of his exhibitions. This modelling work provided him with an income of sorts for a period and he certainly relished Freud's connections to the British establishment, though it seems strange now that such an explosively original and inventive artist like Bowery would subordinate himself to the likes of Freud.

Bowery received posthumous exposure in the form of the West End and Broadway musical, Taboo starring Boy George, which transferred to Broadway after running for 16 months in London - Bowery was played by Boy George [pictured as Bowery] and subsequently Matt Lucas. Bowery's career is described more straightforwardly in a 2002 documentary The Legend of Leigh Bowery, directed by Charles Atlas.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Andrew Goldstein

Andrew Goldstein born 25 March 1983

Andrew Goldstein is the first American male team-sport professional athlete to be openly gay during his playing career.

He had been a professional lacrosse goalkeeper for the Long Island Lizards of Major League Lacrosse. He was originally drafted by his hometown team, the Boston Cannons. As of 2007, he is in graduate school in Los Angeles.

A two-time All-American at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, Goldstein made headlines off the field in 2005 when he was dubbed by ESPN to be 'the most accomplished male, team-sport athlete in North America to be openly gay during his playing career.'

He is also noted to be the only goalie to have scored a goal in an NCAA tournament game in the last three decades of the tournament.

In 2006, Goldstein was honored by being named to the OUT 100. He also received a prestigious 2006 GLAAD Media Award for the feature entitled 'Andrew Goldstein' which aired on ESPN 's Sportscenter.

Goldstein hails from a family of talented athletes as his father, Irwin Goldstein, an internationally renowned physician who was the lead author of the first paper on Viagra as it applied to erectile dysfunction, and sister played hockey for Brown University while his brother played lacrosse for Amherst.

A biochemistry and molecular biology major at Dartmouth, Goldstein will be pursuing a Ph.D in biology at UCLA with a specific focus on cancer.

Elton John

Elton John born 25 March 1947

Sir Elton Hercules John, CBE (born Reginald Kenneth Dwight) is an English pop/rock singer, composer and pianist.

In a career spanning five decades, Elton John has sold more than 250 million records, making him one of the most successful musicians of all time. Elton was one of the dominant commercial forces in the rock world during the 1970s.

His success had a profound impact on popular music, and contributed to the continued popularity of the piano in rock and roll. Key musical elements in Elton's success included his melodic gifts matched with the contributions of his most significant lyricist partner Bernie Taupin, his rich tenor and gospel-chorded piano, aggressive string arrangements, and his flamboyant fashion sense and on-stage showmanship. He has also successfully diversified his talents into co-writing a number of Broadway and West End musical theatre productions including The Lion King, Aida and Billy Elliot, as well as the less successful Lestat.

He continues to be a major public figure, and has been heavily involved in the fight against AIDS since the late 1980s. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994 and was knighted in 1998, and has remained an enduringly successful artist. Elton continues to be a champion for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender social movements.

Elton has had a complicated personal history in both his sexual orientation, as well as personal battles with drugs, depression, bulimia and spending.

In a 1976 Rolling Stone interview he announced that he was bisexual. He stated his belief that everyone is bisexual to a degree.

Elton married German recording engineer Renate Blauel on Valentine's Day, 1984, but they divorced four years later. He later renounced his bisexuality and came out as a homosexual instead.

He met his partner David Furnish, a former advertising executive and now film maker, in 1993. Furnish helped John overcome his drug addiction. On 21 December 2005, they entered into a civil partnership. A low-key ceremony with only their parents in attendance was held at the Guildhall, Windsor, followed by a lavish party at their Berkshire mansion.

Their son Zachary Jackson Levon Furnish-John was born 25 December 2010 in California via a surrogate. Ingrid Sischy (and her partner Sandy Brant) and Lady Gaga were named Zachary's godmothers respectively. Elton himself has many godchildren. These include Sean Ono Lennon, Elizabeth Hurley's son Damian Charles and David and Victoria Beckham's son Brooklyn.

Within the music industry, Elton is sometimes known as 'Sharon', a nickname originally given to him by good friend Rod Stewart. In return, Elton calls Rod 'Phyllis'.

In 2008, Billboard magazine ranked him as the most successful male solo artist on 'The Billboard Hot 100 Top All-Time Artists' (Third overall, behind only The Beatles and Madonna).

Richard O'Brien

Richard O'Brien born 25 March 1942

Richard O'Brien (born Richard Timothy Smith in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, England) is a writer, actor, television presenter and theatre performer. He is perhaps best know known for writing the cult musical The Rocky Horror Show and for his role in presenting the popular TV show The Crystal Maze.

In addition to writing The Rocky Horror Show O'Brien also starred in its 1975 film adaptation The Rocky Horror Picture Show as the character Riff Raff. The stage show has been in almost continuous production since, and the cinematic version is one of the best known and most ardently followed cult films of all time.

O'Brien's personality is also very well known in the UK for presenting the classic 1990s TV game-show The Crystal Maze. As the eccentric and energetic maze-keeper he earned the respect of contenstants and audiences alike and dazzled them all week after week with his quirky wardrobe, sharp-wit and melodic interludes on the harmonica.

In 1952, he emigrated with his family to Tauranga, New Zealand where his father had purchased a sheep farm. After learning how to ride horses, a skill which provided him with his break into the film industry as a stuntman in Carry On Cowboy, and developing a keen interest in comic books and horror films, he returned to England in 1964. Upon launching his acting career he changed his name to O'Brien — his mother's maiden name — as there was already an actor named Richard Smith.

He joined several stage productions as an actor without ever excelling or receiving critical acclaim, but that was not his primary objective. In 1972, he met director Jim Sharman who would help make his draft of a gothic-themed, schlock-horror comic-book fantasy romp into a reality. The script took O'Brien 6 months to write, Sharman suggested changing the working title They Came from Denton High to The Rocky Horror Show and the show opened in June 1973.

O'Brien tried to repeat the success and cult status that The Rocky Horror Picture Show gained, with a continuation, 1981's Shock Treatment. Four other members of the original film-cast appeared with O'Brien in the new film, which continued the story of Brad and Janet. Over the years it has achieved minor cult status, mostly thanks to the Rocky Horror phenomenon. Fans of Rocky Horror were disappointed by the absence of both the Frank N. Furter character, and Tim Curry, who played him. Curry had been offered the role of Farley Flavors, but turned it down over concerns about the required American accent. O'Brien wrote new songs for the film, which also features a rare film appearance by Australian actor Barry Humphries (famous for his character Dame Edna Everage).

He became a serial bit-part actor in cult films and has appeared in notable movies such as Flash Gordon (1980), Dark City (1998) and Dungeons & Dragons (2000).

In other roles O'Brien has conceptualised and played the role of the Child Catcher in the West End theatre production of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. He also occasionally does cabaret-style music and comedy performances on stages around the world, singing songs from Rocky Horror among others.

In the summer of 2006 he played the Child Catcher in the Queen's 80th birthday celebrations at Buckingham Palace.

O'Brien has married twice and fathered three children. In a 2009 interview he spoke about an ongoing struggle to reconcile cultural gender roles and described himself as being transgender or possible third sex. O'Brien stated, 'There is a continuum between male and female. Some are hard-wired one way or another, I’m in between.'

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Bob Mackie

Bob Mackie born 24 March 1940

Robert Gordon Mackie was born in Monterey Park California. He is a costume and fashion designer best known for his outrageous costumes for Cher [pictured below] cunningly constructed from little more than net, feathers and sequins.

He has won seven Emmys for his costumes for Cher, Carol Burnett and Mitzi Gaynor. He has been nominated for an Academy Award three times.

He has dressed a veritable who's who of fabulous divas old and new - Diana Ross, Judy Garland, Marlene Dietrich, Madonna, Barbra Streisand, Lucille Ball, Bette Midler, Tina Turner, Ann Margret, Liza Minnelli, Elton John, RuPaul, Eva Longoria Parker, Katy Perry, Pink & Barbie have all sparkled in his fabulous and imaginative creations.

Mackie also designed the memorable reation worn by Cher at the March 1986 Academy Awards [pictured]. Introduced by Jane Fonda with the words, 'Wait'll you see what's gonna come out here,' Cher was appearing as a presenter after what many considered an Oscar snub (Cher was not nominated for her performance in Mask). 'As you can see,' said Cher, 'I did receive my Academy booklet on how to dress like a serious actress.'

In the 1980s he launched his first ready to wear collections which have expanded to include knitwear, eveningwear, suits, eyewear, fragrances, bags, shoes, scarves, watches, jewellery & stationery. He also designs outfits for highly collectible (and camp) couture Barbie dolls.

More recently an American furniture company have produced a range of Mackie designs.