Amazon Kindle, UK

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Rainer Fassbinder, Film Director

b. May 31, 1945
d. June 10, 1982

“I’d like to be for cinema what Shakespeare was for theatre, Marx for politics and Freud for psychology: someone after whom nothing is as it used to be.”

Actor, director and screenwriter Rainer Fassbinder made over 40 films in his 15-year career.  He is among the most important figures in New German Cinema.
Born in the small Bavarian town of Bad Wörishofen, Fassbinder was raised by his mother. Her long hours at work left Fassbinder to occupy himself, which he did by going to the cinema. “The cinema was the family life I never had at home,” he said.
Leaving school before taking his final exams, Fassbinder immersed himself in film.  He made his first short films at age 20, persuading an older lover to finance and act in them.
In 1967, Fassbinder joined a radical theater troupe in Munich. He directed and acted in productions with Peer Raben, Kurt Raab, Hanna Schygulla and Irm Hermann, who became regulars in Fassbinder productions. The next year, Fassbinder directed “Katzelmacher,” his first play.
Fassbinder’s most prolific years as a director, writer and actor in film, theater, television and radio began in 1969. On average, he released one film every hundred days. 
A major theme of his work focuses on the individual’s tragic longing for love. Among his popular films are “Love Is Colder Than Death” (1969), “Ali: Fear Eats the Soul” (1973) and “I Only Want You to Love Me” (1976).  Often considered his best work, “Berlin Alexanderplatz” (1980) was a 15-hour television drama.
Several Fassbinder films deal with homosexuality, a taboo subject for major directors of the time. Films such as “Querelle” (1982) and “The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant” (1971) focus on gays and lesbians as societal outsiders.
Fassbinder’s radical behavior, drug and alcohol addiction, frequent public appearances in the New York City leather scene, and violent relationships with lovers, both male and female, were followed in tabloids and gossip columns.
At age 37, Fassbinder died from an overdose of drugs and alcohol. His death marked the end of New German Cinema.


Video Interviews

Books By Rainer Fassbinder

Enhanced by Zemanta

Walt Whitman

b. May 31, 1819
d. March 26, 1892

Walt Whitman is considered by many to be America's greatest poet. He liberated poetry from the constrictions of European models and created a genuinely American style of verse.

"I celebrate myself, and sing myself . . . "

Walt Whitman is best known for Leaves of Grass, his groundbreaking volume of twelve untitled poems first published in 1855, which heralded a new, uniquely American style of poetry. Whitman continued to revise and expand Leaves of Grass for the rest of his life. The first few editions were poorly received. Leaves of Grass was censured by some prominent American intellectuals because of its innovative, unstructured verse and its celebration of sexuality, which they found obscene.

Whitman was born in Long Island, New York, into a Quaker family. Largely self-educated, Whitman supported himself as a printer, teacher, and journalist while he pursued his vision of a new form of literature that would express America's destiny as liberator of the human spirit. Leaves of Grass reflects Whitman's belief that poetry should be simple, with the natural rhythm of spoken language and without orthodox meter or rhyme.

During the Civil War, the poet served as an unofficial nurse in an army hospital, caring for his brother and other wounded Union soldiers at his own expense. When the war ended, Whitman, who was already internationally famous, remained in Washington, DC, working as a clerk in the Department of the Interior. However, when the Secretary of the Interior, James Harlan, discovered that Whitman was the author of Leaves of Grass, Harlan fired the poet.

Whitman is widely considered to be the father of modern American literature, but during his lifetime he remained more highly regarded in Europe than in the United States. In 1882 Oscar Wilde, who was on a lecture tour of America, visited Whitman's at the poet's home in Camden, NJ. Afterward he said of Whitman, "He is the grandest man I have ever seen, the simplest, most natural, and strongest character I have ever met in my life."


Selected works by Walt Whitman:

Sunday, 29 May 2011

John Amaechi, Professional basketball player

b. May 29, 1947
Professional basketball player
“I am gay, black, British …
and I am now asserting my activism.”

“It was absolutely my ultimate goal to play in the NBA,” says Amaechi. In 1995, his dream became reality.

John Amaechi is the first NBA player to speak publicly about being gay. In 2007, three years after retiring from pro basketball, he became one of only six male professional athletes in the four major U.S. sports to come out.
Esera Tuaolo, an NFL player who came out in 2002, said of Amaechi, “What John did is amazing. He does not know how many lives he’s saved by speaking the truth.”
Amaechi, the son of a Nigerian father and a white British mother, grew up in England. When he started playing basketball at 16, his right hand was nearly severed in an accident. As a result, Amaechi became ambidextrous, which helped him become a better basketball player. Amaechi played basketball at Penn State University, where he was twice selected a First Team Academic All-American.
“It was absolutely my ultimate goal to play in the NBA,” says Amaechi. In 1995, Amaechi’s dream became reality. He played for the Cleveland Cavaliers, followed by the Orlando Magic and the Utah Jazz. In 2000, Amaechi made headlines when he turned down a $17 million offer from the Los Angeles Lakers. Opting to stay in Orlando earning $600,000 a year, Amaechi remained loyal to the Magic, who hired him when no other team would.
Amaechi’s memoir, “Man in the Middle” (2007), explores the challenges he faced as a closeted professional athlete.
After the NBA, Amaechi returned to Britain, where he turned to television sportscasting and covered the 2008 Beijing Olympics for the BBC. In Beijing, Amaechi also served as a human rights ambassador for Amnesty International. He appeared on several episodes of “Shirts & Skins,” a Logo reality series, where he mentored a gay basketball team and shared his experiences as an out athlete.
Amaechi owns Amaechi Performance Systems. He is a psychologist with a management consulting company specializing in workplace diversity and workplace climate and culture challenges.
Amaechi established the ABC Foundation, which builds sports centers in Britain and encourages children’s involvement in sports and their communities.
Enhanced by Zemanta

Saturday, 28 May 2011

May Swenson ( 1919 - 1989) U.S.A. Poet

b.  May 28, 1919
d.  December 4, 1989)

Born and reared in Utah of Swedish parents who were Mormons. Her poems are oracular, imagistic, and marked by experimentalism in technique and typography of shaped forms. She also wrote riddles for children and translated Sweedish poetry. May was a co-winner of the Bollingen Prize (1979-80).

She continually questions existence and writes much on the topic of love. Her love poems concerned "human nature, the natural world, geography, and invention. They are poems of intense love between women, written at a time when that genre was rare in poetry" (Schulman). Although she did not go out of her way to make known her lesbian sexual identity, she also did not hide it. In her career she has turned down publication offers to use her poetry in a compilation of lesbian writing, yet she did agree in one case, which she explained as a tasteful collection she did not mind contributing to. Her poetry collection "The Complete Love Poems of May Swenson" focused mostly on poems in which sexual imagery is especially abundant.
Nature and sexuality are not separate categories in her work; to be a part of Nature, as we all are, joins us to a common sexual energy. Her strongest love poems, such as "Fireflies," "Dark Wild Honey," and "Wednesday at The Waldorf," rely on Nature imagery for much of their vitality and beauty.

The couple in "Wednesday at The Waldorf," for example, sits in the hotel restaurant under whales that cavort overhead. When the couple goes to their hotel room, the whales are still playing. The poem ends with a hush, a descending peace. The erotic transforms even a busy and anonymous place into one of joy and desire.

Windows and Stones, her translations of Transtromer's poetry, helped introduce English-speaking audiences to his work. Transtromer is a psychologist as well as a poet; his interest in human perception and in our relationship with the landscape and place suggests Swenson's own interest in these areas.


Another Animal (1954)
A Cage of Spines (1958)
To Mix with Time (1963)
Poems to Solve (1966)
Half Sun Half Sleep (1967)
Iconographs (1970)
More Poems to Solve (1971)
Windows and Stones (1972)
New and Selecte Things Taking Place (1979)
Enhanced by Zemanta

Friday, 27 May 2011

27th May: Rachel Carson, Environmental activist and writer

b. May 27, 1907
d. April 14, 1964

“If facts are the seeds that later produce knowledge and wisdom, then the emotions and the impressions of the senses are the fertile soil in which the seeds must grow.”

Rachel Carson was a writer and research biologist credited with establishing the environmental movement. Carson brought public attention to the need to regulate industry and protect the environment.

She was raised in rural Springdale, Pennsylvania, where she and her mother explored woods and springs, and enjoyed bird watching. She claimed her most enduring childhood memory was a desire to become a writer.

In 1929, Carson graduated from the Pennsylvania College for Women (now known as Chatham College) with a degree in zoology. She earned a master’s degree in zoology from Johns Hopkins University in 1932.

Carson is best known for her book “Silent Spring” (1962), a meticulously researched work about the dangers of the indiscriminate use of pesticides. Though the book sparked fierce opposition from the chemical industry, it succeeded at raising public awareness. President Kennedy ordered an investigation. As a result, the pesticide DDT was banned.

While battling cancer, Carson continued her efforts to bring attention to environmental issues. She spoke out on the need for an independent government regulatory agency to monitor environmental degradation and its effects on human health. Her activism led to the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Chatham College established the Rachel Carson Institute to promote “awareness and understanding of significant and current environmental issues.” In 1980, she was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor.

Lear, Linda. “The Life and Legacy of Rachel Carson.” May 30, 2008
Lear, Linda. “Rachel Carson and the Awakening of Environmental Consciousness.”  National Humanities Center.
Matthiessen, Peter.  “Rachel Carson.” Time. March 29, 1999
“The Story of Silent Spring.”  Natural Resources Defense Council. April 16, 1997
Leonard, Jonathan Norton. “Rachel Carson Dies of Cancer; ‘Silent Spring’ Author Was 56.” The New York Times. April 15, 1964
Other Resources
American Experience: Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring (1993)
Rachel Carson Institute
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Sunday, 22 May 2011

May 22nd, Mark Bingham: 9/11 Hero of Flight 93

d. September 11, 2001 

“We have the chance to be role models for other gay folks who wanted to play sports but never felt good enough or strong enough.”

Mark Bingham was a shining light on one of the darkest days in American history. On September 11, 2001, passengers aboard United Flight 93 stormed the terrorists who had hijacked their plane. The 9/11 Commission concluded this heroism diverted the plane from its intended target, which was either the White House or the Capitol in Washington, and caused it to crash in an empty field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. 

Bingham led the counterattack. He prevented the destruction of a national monument and saved lives. Standing 6-foot-4 and weighing 220 pounds, Bingham was a star athlete, a savvy entrepreneur, a fearless competitor and a man devoted to his family and friends. Bingham was the CEO of The Bingham Group, a successful public relations firm with offices in San Francisco and New York.

Bingham grew up in California, the son of Alice Hoglan, a single mom who struggled to make ends meet. He graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, where he helped the rugby team earn national championships in 1991 and 1993. He played on the San Francisco Fog, the city’s first gay rugby team.
Bingham hated losing and never backed down. He once protected his boyfriend from an attack by wrestling a gun from the mugger’s hand. After being gored at the running of the bulls in Pamplona, Spain, Bingham showed off the scar as a badge of honor.

About 20 minutes before Flight 93 went down, Bingham called his mother. “This is Mark Bingham,” were his first words.  She immediately sensed something was wrong. “I love you” were the last words she heard from her son. Alice knew if there was any way to turn tragedy into triumph, Mark would lead the charge. 

The Advocate named Bingham its 2001 Person of the Year. He was posthumously awarded the Arthur Ashe Courage Award in 2002. The Mark Kendall Bingham Memorial Tournament, an international rugby competition predominantly for gay and bisexual men, was established in his memory. 

“A Great and Wonderful Man.”  Mark Bingham Website.  July 2, 2008
Barrett, Jon. “This is Mark Bingham.” The Advocate.  January 22, 2002
“Mark Bingham.”  The Bingham Cup.  July 2, 2008,en
Breslau, Karen and Mark Hosenball. “The Final Moments of United Flight 93.” Newsweek. September, 2001;col1
Nieves, Evelyn. “Passenger on Jet: Gay Hero or Hero Who Was Gay?” The New York Times. January 16, 2002
“September 11: Mark Bingham 31.” The Independent.  September 8, 2002;col1
Other Resources
Barrett, Jon. “Hero of Flight 93: Mark Bingham.”  2002
The Bingham Cup Website
United 93 (2006)
WebsitesMark Bingham Website

Harvey Milk, Secular Gay Saint and Modern Martyr

In California, today is officially recognised as "Harvey Milk Day". The reasons for this secular honour are well-known, and recorded in several books and notable movies.  In 1977, he became the first openly gay man elected to public office as a gay man, but served for only a short term before he was assassinated on  Nov. 27, 1978. Even in that brief term of office, he made his mark with his contribution to San Francisco's landmark Gay Rights Ordinance, and to the defeat of the Briggs initiative, which would have required California school districts to fire openly gay and lesbian teachers, but was defeated in the November election shortly before Milk's assassination. Rather than rehashing the bare facts of Harvey Milk's life and career, which can be read elsewhere, I want to reflect a little on the symbolism and lessons that these have acquired, three decades later.

Harvey Milk

b. May 22, 1930
d. November 27, 1978

Harvey Milk became the first openly gay person to be elected to a significant public office when he was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1977. He served eleven months before he was assassinated.

"The important thing is not that we can live on hope alone, but that life is not worth living without it."

Harvey Milk was a New Yorker who migrated to San Francisco in the 1970's, when an influx of gay immigrants from across the country was changing the Castro neighborhood into the city's gay village. Milk opened a camera store and founded the Castro Valley Association of local merchants. His willingness to represent the interests of local merchants with city government earned him the unofficial title of "the Mayor of Castro Street." Milk discovered that he had a natural flair for politics.

Milk was a political outsider and a populist who made his own rules. From his shop in the Castro, he ran grassroots campaigns based on relentless meetings, door-to-door canvassing, and media interviews. His supporters formed "human billboards" by standing along major thoroughfares holding placards. Milk's first three tries for office were unsuccessful, but they gave him increasing credibility with the electorate.

When Milk was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1977, a lesbian wrote, "I thank God I have lived long enough to see my kind emerge from the shadows and join the human race."

Milk was shot to death in his City Hall office on Nov. 27, 1978, by Dan White, a conservative anti-gay former supervisor who also murdered Mayor George Moscone. White was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to five years imprisonment. City-wide violence erupted in San Francisco when White's sentence was announced.

Harvey Milk had forebodings of his assassination. He left a tape-recorded "political will" naming his preferred successor on the Board of Supervisors. On that tape he said: "If a bullet should enter my brain, let that bullet destroy every closet door."



Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Basil I Byzantine emperor (867-886), founder of the Macedonian dynasty.


Born in Macedonia to a peasant family, Basil worked during his youth as a groom in the imperial stables in Constantinople (now Istanbul), but ended up emperor of Byzantum. 

Basil is a notable example of an emperor who "married"  a man in the liturgical rite of adelphopoeisin- twice! Indeed, he owed his extraordinary ascent from an obscure birth to the emperor's throne by skilful seduction. 
"A few centuries later Basil I (867-886), the founder of the Macedonian dynasty that ruled the Byzantine Empire from 867 to 1156, was reported to have been twice involved in ceremonial unions with other men. Although the most important sources for his life -- composed under the rule of his descendants within a century of the events in question -- are contradictory on some points and occasionally unreliable, their take on this matter is largely consistent. His biographers (including Western sources: see below) all agreed that when Basil arrived in Constantinople with nothing but a staff and a knapsack -- a young man from the provinces with no connections in the capital -- he was befriended by a certain Nicholas of the church of St. Diomede, who rescued him from sleeping in the streets, brought him into the church, bathed and clothed him, and supported him for some time until the ambitious Basil was able to attract the attention of a well-placed courtier related to the imperial family.
"In most accounts of their relationship Nicholas and Basil are united in a church ceremony. According to one tradition, on the morning after finding him Nicholas 'bathed and dressed Basil and was ceremonially united to him, and kept him as his housemate and companion. (Chronicle of George in Istrin 2:5). Another version is more explicit about the ceremony 'and on the next day he went with him to the baths and changed [his clothes] and going into the church established a formal union with him, and they rejoiced in each other.' (George in Moravcsik p 120) The odd final phrase would probably recall to a Christian Greek reader the biblical "Rejoice with the wife of thy youth." (Prov 5:18)
"Given the wording in the chronicles (one uses adelphiopioinois, another adelphiopiointos) and the fact that the union is accomplished in a church, there can be little doubt that the writers have in mind some form of the ceremony published and translated in this text."

Boswell, Same Sex Unions in Pre-Modern Europe 
Later, he also had a well-documented relationship with Emperor Michael III, who made him his lover and chamberlain. In 866 he murdered Michael's uncle (with Michael's permission) and became co-ruler of the Byzantine Empire with Michael... and a year later had Michael assassinated.

As sole ruler of the empire, Basil began the reform of the legal code completed by his son Leo VI, introduced other administrative reforms, and restored the scholar Photius to the Patriarchate.

Related Posts:

Count Lâszlò Ede Almâsy de Zsadány - Törökszentmiklós, (Hungary), Spy

b. August 22, 1895
d. March 22, 1951

Almásy was born in Borostyánkô, Austria-Hungary (today Bernstein im Burgenland, Austria), into a comital Hungarian noble family, and was educated by a private tutor in Eastbourne, United Kingdom. From 1911 to 1914, he lodged at Berrow, 17 Carew Road in Eastbourne.

Highly decorated pilot for the Hungarian Royal Air Force; desert explorer and researcher who discovered the prehistoric rock art sites in the Uweinat (Sudan) and Gilf Kebir (Egypt) regions. He was also a spy-for-hire, awarded an Iron Cross by Field Marshal Erwin Rommel for his work for German military intelligence in World War II.

His life, highly fictionalized, was the inspiration for the title character in Canadian Michael Ondaatje's Booker Prize-winning 1993 novel The English Patient; Ondaatje's novel was adapted for the screen in the 1996 movie The English Patient starring Ralph Fiennes (the film won nine Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director).

In reality, Almásy was gay, and researchers have discovered about 80 of his passionate letters to a young German army officer, whom he tried to help avoid going to the Russian war front.

Almásy fell ill in 1951 during a visit in Austria. He died of dysentery in a hospital in Salzburg, where he was then buried. The epitaph on his grave, erected by Hungarian patriots in 1995, honors him as a "Pilot, Sahara Explorer, and Discoverer of the Zerzura Oasis".

Monday, 16 May 2011

Wladziu Valentino Liberace U.S.A., Pianist, showman

b. May 16, 1919
d. February 4, 1987

Born of Italian and Polish ancestry in West Allis, Wisconsin, Wladziu Valentino Liberace (called also Lee, or Walter Valentino) became one of the most popular and controversial entertainers of the 1950s and 1960s. With the advent of television, his career skyrocketed; and during the early 1950s, The Liberace Show was watched by more than 35 million people each week. His television exposure led to one of the most lucrative concert, nightclub, and recording careers in history.

For 3 years he had a relationship with his chauffeur/assistant, Scott Thorson. Despite ongoing rumors and accusations, and a palimony suit brought against him by Scott in 1982, Liberace continued to deny that he was homosexual. In 1978 The Liberace Museum in Las Vegas, Nevada, was opened. His last performance was at Radio City Music Hall, New York, on November 2, 1986. Liberace died in Palm Springs, California, for Aids-related complications.

Ronnie Tober (left) with Liberace (right)

The Liberace show (1952-)
South Sea Sinner (1950)
Sincerely Yours (1955)



Liberace (1972, autobiography)
The Things I Love (1976)
Darden Asbury Pyron, Liberace: An American Boy


Matt & Andrej Koymasky Living Room, LGBT

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Gay Popes: John XII (r. 955-964)

 b. c. 937  
d. May 14, 964
John XII (938-964) was the son of Alberic 11, the civil ruler of the eternal city, and connected to other patrician families. On being elected pope at the age of eighteen, he modeled himself on the scandalous  Roman emperor Heliogabalus, holding homosexual orgies in the papal palace. To counter opposition to his rule, he invited the German ruler Otto the Great to Rome, where he was crowned emperor in 962. John was thus instrumental in establishing the Holy Roman Empire, an institution that lasted in a formal sense until 1806

John's activities may have helped to incite the reaction of the puritanical theologian Peter Damian (1 007-1072), whose Liber Gomorrhianus is an attack against all kinds of sexual
irregularities among the clergy. Under his associate Pope Gregory VII (ca. 1021-1085) reform ideas triumphed, and clerical celibacy was made obligatory for the Catholic
priesthood, an injunction that remains in force to this day. 

Related Posts:

Enhanced by Zemanta

Thursday, 12 May 2011

May 12: Florence Nightingale, Nurse

Health Care Advocate
b. May 12, 1820
August 13, 1910

I think one's feelings waste themselves in words; they ought all to be distilled into actions which bring results.

Florence Nightingale exploded into public consciousness during the Crimean War (1853-1856). Serving as the superintendent at the Institute for the Care of Sick Gentlewomen in London from 1853-1854, she learned of the horrible conditions soldiers faced during Britain's Crimean War with Russia. Using her friendship with politician Sidney Herbert to gain official approval, Nightingale trained 38 nurses and traveled to Turkey, arriving at a hospital in Scutari (modern day Istanbul) in November of 1854.

The Scutari hospitals had the highest mortality levels in the region. Overcrowding, defective sewage systems and poor ventilation contributed to soldiers' illnesses and death. Yet while a sanitary commission sent by the British government took over six months to arrive, Nightingale and her nursing crew cleaned up the hospital and delivered an unprecedented level of nursing care. By the time she left, Nightingale had earned the military's admiration. She returned to Britain as a hero in 1857.

Confined to bed by fever upon her return, Nightingale refused to let her illness diminish her work. She helped establish the Royal Commission on the Health of the Army and wrote its first report, a document that facilitated an overhaul of army medical care and record-keeping. "Notes on Nursing: What It Is and What It Is Not," her instructional guide published in 1860, continues to influence nursing schools across the globe. Nightingale founded The Nightingale Fund and the Nightingale Training School. Nurses she mentored and trained spread throughout England and Australia and conducted pioneering work in America and Japan.

A brilliant mathematician and writer, Nightingale used a unique ability to simplify complex statistics to communicate her findings to government officials. Historians consider her book "Cassandra" (1928) a major feminist work.

Queen Victoria awarded Nightingale the Royal Red Cross in 1883. In 1907, Nightingale became the first woman to receive the Order of Merit.

Hospitals, foundations, and other organizations in her name continue to advocate for improved health care. 
The Florence Nightingale Museum in London commemorates the life of the modern world's first great health care provider


Selected Works

Enhanced by Zemanta

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Rev. Thom Savage, Jesuit priest (1947 - 1999) U.S.A.

d. May 10, 1999

Rev. Thom Savage was an American Catholic priest and president of Rockhurst University and a board member for both the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation and the Kansas City Board of Trade who died of AIDS in 1999.

His brother James, also a priest, recalls that when he had his 25th anniversary in the priesthood in 1995, which was also the year of their mother's 90th birthday, they were celebrating together. And he almost didn't make it, because he was so sick.

At the time, James Savage said, family members assumed Thom Savage was having asthma-related problems. He had struggled with asthma all his life.

"And then, from 1995 until he died, those four years, he never said anything to anybody," James Savage said.

As with his illness, Thom Savage also had hidden his homosexuality,forced on him by the necessity of the Catholic clerical closet, and the CDF denunciation of any sexual expression for homosexuals.

"He certainly wasn't open about it," James Savage said. "Otherwise, we could have suspected what he might have. So there was no intimation of that."

After his death, he was widely applauded for the quality of his work as a priest. Bishop Raymond J. Boland of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph said "He did a lot of wonderful priestly work while he was living."

During a memorial service for Savage, the Rev. Patrick Rush, vicar general of the Kansas City-St. Joseph diocese, asked those attending to thank Savage for his performance as a community leader and Rockhurst president. Three hundred people stood and applauded.

"Thom Savage was -- let's face it -- a showman," Rush said. "His life was a virtuoso performance of humanity, of Catholic Christian spirituality, of Jesuit mission.

The Rev. Tom Lequin, a priest in Presque Isle, Maine, attended seminary with Thom Savage in the Jesuits' New England Province.

"He was my classmate and a good friend," Lequin said. "He was a creative genius. And gifted? Oh, my God. He was just an exceptional person."

Rockhurst President Edward Kinerk, who was Savage's provincial in St. Louis, noted that Savage had entered the seminary in 1967.

"As a Jesuit, I cannot feel anything but pride and gratitude for a meteor that burned itself out in the service of others," Kinerk said. "On May 10, 1999, God took the gift back.

"Thom is with God. As Jesuits, we rejoice. He has done what God sent him to do."

Monday, 9 May 2011

Kiyoshi Kuromiya , Author/AIDS Activist

"I really believe that activism is therapeutic."

b. May 9, 1943
May 10, 2000

Kiyoshi Kuromiya was a Gay Pioneer and an early HIV/AIDS expert.

May 9: Kiyoshi Kuromiya , Author/AIDS Activist

"I really believe that activism is therapeutic."

b. May 9, 1943
May 10, 2000

Kiyoshi Kuromiya was a Gay Pioneer and an early HIV/AIDS expert.

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Pavel Sergeevich Aleksandrov (May 7, 1896 - November 16, 1982) Russia Mathematician

Born in Bogorodsk, his name is also spelled Pavel Sergeyevich Aleksándrov or Alexandroff is a mathematician who made important contributions to topology.

Pavel Sergeevich Aleksandrov's father Aleksandr Aleksandrovich Aleksandrov was a medical graduate from Moscow University who had decided not to follow an academic career but instead had chosen to use his skills in helping people and so he worked as a general practitioner in Yaroslavskii. Later he worked in more senior positions in a hospital in Bogorodsk.

He excelled at the grammar school in Smolensk which he attended and his mathematics teacher soon realised that his pupil had a remarkable talent for the subject. In 1913 Aleksandrov graduated from the grammar school being dux of the school and winning the gold medal. Certainly at this time he had already decided on a career in mathematics, but he had not set his sights as high as a university teacher, rather he was aiming to become a secondary school teacher of mathematics.

Aleksandrov entered Moscow University in 1913 and immediately he was helped by Stepanov. Stepanov, who was working at Moscow University, was seven years older than Aleksandrov but his home was also in Smolensk and he often visited the Aleksandrov home there. Stepanov was an important influence on Aleksandrov at this time.

Aleksandrov proved his first important result in 1915, namely that every non-denumerable Borel set contains a perfect subset. It was not only the result which was important for set theory, but also the methods which Aleksandrov used which turned out to be one of the most useful methods in descriptive set theory.

Aleksandrov went to Novgorod-Severskii and became a theatre producer. He then went to Chernikov where, in addition to theatrical work, he lectured on Russian and foreign languages, becoming friends with poets, artists and musicians. After a short term in jail in 1919 at the time of the Russian revolution, Aleksandrov returned to Moscow in 1920.

Luzin and Egorov had built up an impressive research group at the University of Moscow which the students called 'Luzitania' and they, together with Privalov and Stepanov, were very welcoming to Aleksandrov on his return. At around this time Aleksandrov became friendly with Urysohn, who was a member of 'Luzitania', and the friendship would soon develop into a major mathematical collaboration.

In 1921, Aleksandrov was appointed as a lecturer at Moscow university. In July 1922 Aleksandrov and Urysohn went to spend the summer at Bolshev, near to Moscow, where they began to study concepts in topology.

In the summers of 1923 and 1924 Aleksandrov and Urysohn visited Göttingen, where the mathematicians were particularly impressed with their results on when a topological space is metrisable. Every day Aleksandrov and Urysohn swam across the Rhine - a feat that was far from being safe.

Aleksandrov and Urysohn then visited Brouwer in Holland and Paris in August 1924 before having a holiday in the fishing village of Bourg de Batz in Brittany. On August 17, Urysohn tragically he drowned while swimming in the Atlantic later that day. Aleksandrov determined that no ideas of his great friend and collaborator should be lost and he spent part of 1925 and 1926 in Holland working with Brouwer on preparing Urysohn's paper for publication.

The atmosphere in Göttingen had proved very helpful to Aleksandrov, particularly after the death of Urysohn, and he went there every summer from 1925 until 1932. He became close friends with Hopf and the two held a topological seminar in Göttingen. Of course Aleksandrov also taught in Moscow University and from 1924 he organised a topology seminar there.

From 1926 Aleksandrov and Hopf were close friends working together. They spent some time in 1926 in the south of France with Neugebauer. Then Aleksandrov and Hopf spent the academic year 1927-28 at Princeton in the United States. During their year in Princeton, Aleksandrov and Hopf planned a joint multi-volume work on Topology the first volume of which did not appear until 1935.

This was the only one of the three intended volumes to appear since World War II prevented further collaboration on the remaining two volumes. In fact before the joint work with Hopf appeared in print, Aleksandrov had begun yet another important friendship and collaboration.

In 1929 Aleksandrov's friendship with Kolmogorov began and they journeyed a lot along the Volga, the Dnieper, and other rivers, and in the Caucuses, the Crimea, and the south of France. The year 1929 marks also the appointment of Aleksandrov as Professor of Mathematics at Moscow University.

In 1935 Aleksandrov went to Yalta with Kolmogorov, then finished the work on his Topology book in the nearby Crimea and the book was published in that year. Aleksandrov and Kolmogorov bought a house in Komarovka, a small village outside Moscow. Kolmogorov in 1982 said:

"for me these 53 years of close and indissoluble friendship were the reason why all my life was on the whole full of happiness, and the basis of that happiness was the unceasing thoughtfulness on the part of Aleksandrov.''
They a remarkable example of a couple of almost openly gay mathematicians who lived together in the recent past in the Soviet Union to the extent it was possible in the society where being gay was a criminal offense, and people convicted of it often never came back.
Aleksandrov wrote about 300 scientific works in his long career. In 1954 he organised a seminar aimed at first year students at Moscow University and in this he showed one of the aspects of his career which was of major importance to him, namely the education of students.

Many honours were given to Aleksandrov for his outstanding contribution to mathematics. He was president of the Moscow Mathematical Society from 1932 to 64, vice president of the International Congress of Mathematicians from 1958 to 62, a corresponding member of the USSR Academy of Sciences from 1929 and a full member from 1953.

Canon Derrick Sherwin Bailey, Pioneering gay theologian ((1910-1984)

Bailey was the first Christian scholar to re-evaluate the traditional understanding of the Biblical prohibitions regarding homosexuality. He was an Anglican clergyman and Canon Residentiary of Wells Cathedral. Although not a full-time academic theologian or biblical scholar, after World War II he led a small group of Anglican clergymen and physicians to study homosexuality. Their findings were published in a 1954 Report entitled The Problem of Homosexuality produced for the Church of England, and were influential in moderating the church's subsequent stance on the moral issues raised by homosexuality. The work of Bailey and his colleagues also paved the way for the progressive Wolfenden Report (1957), which was followed a decade later by the decriminalization of homo­sexual conduct between consenting adults in England and Wales.

As a separate project arising from this work, he undertook a separate historical study, which led to the publication of his groundbreaking book, Homosexuality and the Western Christian Tradition. Although this monograph has been criti­cized, it was a landmark in the history of the subject, combining scrutiny of the Biblical evidence with a survey of subsequent history. Bailey's book drew attention to a number of neglected subjects, including the intertestamental literature, the legislation of the Christian emperors, the penitentials, and the link between heresy and sodomy. Since then, his work has been overtaken by more extensive analyses by specialist biblical scholars, but it was an important influence on the early work that followed by historians (for example, John Boswell's "Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality", and Mark D Jordan's "The Invention of Sodomy in Christian Theology ") and by biblical scholars (William Countryman's "Dirt, Greed, and Sex").

It was also important for influencing the findings of the British Wolfenden Report, which led to the decriminalisation of homosexuality in the UK, and on the later deliberations of the Anglican Church on the subject.

Bailey died in Wells in Somerset.

May 7: Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Composer

b. May 7, 1840
November 6, 1893

"Music’s triumphant power lies in the fact that it reveals to us beauties we find in no other sphere."

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky is one of the most popular composers in history. His best-known works include the ballets "Swan Lake," "The Sleeping Beauty," and "The Nutcracker";  the operas "The Queen of Spades" and "Eugene Onegin"; and the widely recognized Fantasy Overture “Romeo and Juliet" and "1812 Overture."
Tchaikovsky was born in Votinsk, Russia, a small industrial town. His father was a mine inspector. His mother, who was of French and Russian heritage, strongly influenced his education and cultural upbringing.
At age 5, Tchaikovsky began piano lessons. His parents nurtured his musical talents, but had a different career path in mind for their son. In 1850, the family enrolled him at the Imperial School of Jurisprudence in St. Petersburg, where he prepared for a job in civil service.
After working in government for a few years, Tchaikovsky pursued his passion at the St. Petersburg Conservatory. After graduation, he taught music theory at the Moscow Conservatory and worked on new compositions. Tchaikovsky created concertos, symphonies, ballets, chamber music, and concert and theatrical pieces. His passionate, emotional compositions represented a departure from traditional Russian music, and his work became popular with Western audiences.
Despite his career success, Tchaikovsky’s personal life was filled with crises and bouts of depression. After receiving letters of admiration from a former student, Tchaikovsky married her. Historians speculate the marriage took place to dispel rumors that Tchaikovsky was gay. The marriage was a disaster and Tchaikovsky left his wife after nine days.
Tchaikovsky began an unconventional relationship with a wealthy widow, Nadezhda von Mek, who agreed to be his benefactor on one condition: they were never to meet face to face. The couple exchanged more than 1,000 letters, until von Mek abruptly ended their 13-year liaison.
The famed composer died suddenly at age 53. The cause of his death, believed by some to be suicide, remains a mystery.

“Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: Biography.” 9 June 2010.
"Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky.” Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 9 June 2010.
“Tchaikovsky, Pyotr Ilyich." 9 June 2010.

Videos of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Swan Lake by Kirove Ballet
The Nutcracker Ballet
Sleeping Beauty Ballet

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: Classical Composers Database
Classical Net: Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Naxos Classical Music: Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky 
Enhanced by Zemanta