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Sunday, 16 December 2012

December 16th in Queer History

Born this day

Sir Noel Coward (1899 –  1973) UK 
Playwright, composer, director, actor and singer, known for his wit, flamboyance, and what Time magazine called "a sense of personal style, a combination of cheek and chic, pose and poise".
Coward was knighted in 1969 and was elected a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. He received a Tony Award for lifetime achievement. The Noël Coward Theatre in St Martin's Lane, originally opened in 1903 as the New Theatre and later called the Albery, was renamed in his honour.
Coward was homosexual but, following the convention of his times, this was never publicly mentioned. Coward firmly believed his private business was not for public discussion, considering "any sexual activities when over-advertised" to be tasteless.[104] Even in the 1960s, Coward refused to acknowledge his sexual orientation publicly, wryly observing, "There are still a few old ladies in Worthing who don't know."

Margaret Mead (1901 –  1978) US 
Margaret Mead was an innovative cultural anthropologist who brought public attention to the field by making her work understandable and relevant. Famous for her trademark cape and walking stick, Mead shaped anthropology with her nontraditional research methods.
Mead rocked the American public and the anthropology world with her first book, “Coming of Age In Samoa” (1928), about the sexual behavior of young Samoan women. This book and her subsequent reports on the sexual attitudes of other cultures influenced the sexual revolution of the 1960's.

Hazel Barnes (1915 –  2008) US 
American philosopher, author, and translator. Best known for her popularization of existentialism in America, Barnes translated the works of Jean-Paul Sartre as well as writing original works on the subject.

Arthur C Clarke (1917 –  2008) UK 
Science fiction author, inventor,and futurist, famous for his short stories and novels, among them "2001: A Space Odyssey", and as a host and commentator in the British television series ""Mysterious World". For many years, Robert A. Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, and Arthur C. Clarke were known as the "Big Three" of science fiction.

Gerald Glaskin (1923 – 2000) Australian
Western Australian author. Although he won the Commonwealth Prize for Literature in 1955, his works were received more favourably in Europe than in Australia where he had virtually no public profile, and he lived mostly in Asia and later the Netherlands, until returning to Perth in 1968.
Glaskin's extensive time overseas may have been because of the oppressive Australian moral climate of the period against homosexuality. In 1961 he had been charged with indecent exposure (presumably while sexually cruising) on a Perth beach.

Barbara and Beverly Smith (1946 –  ) US 
Barbara Smith is a lesbian feminist who has played a significant role in building and sustaining Black Feminism in the United States. Since the early 1970s she has been active as an innovative critic, teacher, lecturer, author, independent scholar, and publisher of Black feminist thought. She has also taught at numerous colleges and universities over the last twenty five years. Smith's essays, reviews, articles, short stories and literary criticism have appeared in a range of publications, including The New York Times Book Review, The Black Scholar, Ms., Gay Community News, The Guardian, The Village Voice, Conditions (magazine) and The Nation. Barbara has a twin sister, Beverly Smith, who is also a lesbian feminist activist and writer.

Christopher Biggins (1948 – ) UK 
Actor and media personality,best known as a comedy actor, appearing as the regular character Lukewarm in the popular situation comedy Porridge (1974–77).
Biggins was married to Australian actress Beatrice Norbury from 1971 to 1974, but is now openly gay and formed a civil partnership with his partner, flight attendant Neil Sinclair, on 30 December 2006.

Bonnie Dumanis (1951 – ) US 
Republican District Attorney of San Diego County since 2003, when she defeated incumbent Paul Pfingst. She then became the first openly gay or lesbian DA in the USA.

Edward Barnes (1958 – ) US 
Composer and nusic Producer

Ron Athey (1961 – ) US 
performance artist associated with body art and with extreme performance art. He has performed in the U.S. and internationally (especially in the UK and Europe). Athey's work explores challenging subjects like the relationships between desire, sexuality, and traumatic experience. Many of his works include aspects of S&M in order to confront pre-conceived ideas about the body in relation to masculinity and religious iconography.

Kanako Otsuji (1974 – )
LGBT rights activist and former member of the Osaka Prefectural Assembly (April 2003–April 2007). One of only seven women in the 110-member Osaka Assembly, Otsuji represented the Sakai-ku, Sakai City constituency.

Died this day

Charles Camille Saint-Seans
Late-Romantic composer, organist, conductor, and pianist. He is known especially for The Carnival of the Animals, Danse macabre, Samson and Delilah, Piano Concerto No. 2, Cello Concerto No. 1, Havanaise, Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso, and his Symphony No. 3 (Organ Symphony).
He is widely reported that he was, or may have been, gay. He did not marry until he was nearly 40, to a woman aged only 19. The marriage lasted before six years, before they separated, and he and resumed living alone.

Denham Fouts (1914 - 1948 ) US 
Male prostitute, socialite and literary muse, who served as the inspiration for characters by Truman Capote, Gore Vidal, Christopher Isherwood and Gavin Lambert.

W Somerset Maugham (1874 - 1965 ) UK 
Playwright, novelist and short story writer. He was among the most popular writers of his era and, reputedly, the highest paid author during the 1930s.
When World War I broke out, Maugham served in France as a member of the British Red Cross's so-called "Literary Ambulance Drivers", a group of some 23 well-known writers, including the Americans John Dos Passos and E. E. Cummings. During this time, he met Frederick Gerald Haxton, a young San Franciscan, who became his companion and lover until Haxton's death in 1944.
Although Maugham's first and many other sexual relationships were with men, he also had sexual relationships with a number of women, marrying Syrie Wellcome in 1917, after fathering a child with her.

Sylvester James (1947 - 1988) US 
American disco and soul singer, and a drag performer. Sylvester was sometimes known as the "Queen of Disco," although this moniker has also been bestowed on some of the women of the disco era (i.e. Gloria Gaynor, Donna Summer). His most significant works are the songs "You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)", "Dance (Disco Heat)" (both 1978) and "Do You Wanna Funk" (1982).

Pier Vittorio Tondelli (1955 - 1991 ) Italian
Italian writer who wrote a small but influential body of work. Tondelli enjoyed modest success as a writer but often encountered trouble with censors for his use of homosexual themes in his works.

John Spencer (1946 - 2005) US 
Film and television actor, most widely known for his role in "The West Wing".
In 1990 Spencer joined the cast of the television series "L.A. Law", playing rumpled, pugnacious associate attorney Tommy Mullaney. Spencer's work also extended to video games, portraying the role of Captain Hugh Paulsen in the 1995 video game Wing Commander IV: The Price of Freedom.
From 1999 until his death in 2005, Spencer was cast in the role of White House Chief of Staff Leo McGarry on the NBC political drama series "The West Wing". Both Spencer and his character were recovering alcoholics.

Sodomy in history, December 16 th

1890 — The Virginia Supreme Court rules that an accusation of sodomy is the only threat not requiring fear of danger for purposes of being accused of robbery by making a threat.

 — The Utah Supreme Court rules that fellatio does not violate the state’s "crime against nature" law.

1933 — A Pennsylvania appellate court upholds the sodomy conviction of a man after he was denied his request to strip naked in court to show the jury that he was not physically abnormal.

1955 — Wisconsin amends its sodomy law to cover cunnilingus.

On this gay day

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