I’ve had the pleasure of meeting several of the young men in today’s entry. I first heard Michael Callen in the 1980s when my friend Alyn shared a Flirtations recording with me. The song Everything Possible, written by Fred Small, was about how children should be able to grow up loving whomever they wished. I had that song sung at every lavender graduation that I produced at UCLA for many years. It still makes me cry. I had the pleasure of hosting Wilson Cruz when I was at the U of Michigan. He was popular with students because of his role My So-called Life. He was as adorable then he is handsome now.
Thanks for taking this journey with me. Now go write your story!
Today in LGBT History – December 27
1708, UK – In England, Rev. Bray, the leader of the Societies for Reformation of Manners, preached a sermon in which he referred to sodomy as “an evil force invading our land.”
1901-Actress Marlene Dietrich (27 December 1901 – 6 May 1992) is born. She was a German actress and singer who held both German and American citizenship. Throughout her unusually long career, which spanned from the 1910s to the 1980s, she maintained popularity by continually reinventing herself. She was bisexual and quietly enjoyed the thriving gay scene of the time and drag balls of 1920s Berlin. She had an affair with Mercedes de Acosta (March 1, 1893 – May 9, 1968) who claimed to be Greta Garbo’s lover. Greta Garbo has been commonly regarded as Dietrich’s greatest film rival, but there is also a rumor of an affair between them.
1919 – Hart Crane (July 21, 1899 – April 27, 1932), was an American poet. Finding both inspiration and provocation in the poetry of T. S. Eliot, Crane wrote modernist poetry that was difficult, highly stylized, and ambitious in its scope. In the years following his suicide at the age of 32, Crane has been hailed by playwrights, poets, and literary critics alike (including Robert Lowell, Derek Walcott, Tennessee Williams, and Harold Bloom), as being one of the most influential poets of his generation. On this day, Crane comes out as homosexual in a letter to the critic Gorham Munson. His lover was Emil Opffer, a Danish merchant mariner. As a boy, he had a sexual relationship with a man. He associated his sexuality with his vocation as a poet. The prominent queer theorist Tim Dean (born 1966) argues, for instance, that the obscurity of Crane’s style owes itself partially to the necessities of being a semi-public homosexual – not quite closeted, but also, as legally and culturally necessary, not open.
1933-The New York Times reviews Queen Christina, a film starring Greta Garbo about Christina of Sweden (8 December, 1626 – 19 April 1689) who cross-dressed and is believed to have been bisexual.
1973 – Singer/actor Wilson Cruz (December 27, 1973) is born. Cruz grew up in a Puerto Rican family in New York. He is an American actor known for playing Rickie Vasquez on My So-Called Life, Angel in the Broadway production of Rent, and the recurring character Junito on Noah’s Arc. As an openly gay man of Puerto Rican ancestry, he has served as an advocate for gay youth, especially gay youth of color. Wilson is featured on The CBS All Access’ new Star Trek: Discovery series as a gay character in the first openly gay relationship.
1980, The Netherlands – The first international lesbian conference, called the International Lesbian Information Secretariat, is held in Amsterdam with women from 17 countries in attendance. It takes place over six days at a youth hostel. The ILIS’s purpose was to foster international lesbian organizing. It was started in 1980 within International Gay and Lesbian Association (ILGA) which is an international organization bringing together more than 750 LGBTI groups from around the world. The following year, at a separate lesbian conference arranged prior to the ILGA Turin conference, lesbian organizations decided that ILIS should be a separate organization. ILIS arranged several international conferences. The activities seem to have gradually stopped in the late 1990s.
1988 – Joe Beam (December 30, 1954– December 27, 1988) dies. He was the editor of “In the Life: A Black Gay Anthology.” He was an African-American gay rights activist and author who worked to foster greater acceptance of gay life in the Black community by relating the gay experience with the struggle for civil rights in the United States. Beam was working on a sequel to In the Life at the time of his death of HIV-related disease in 1988. This work was completed by his mother Dorothy Beam and the gay poet Essex Hemphill (April 16, 1957 – November 4, 1995), and published under the title Brother to Brother in 1991. Both books were featured in a television documentary, Tongues Untied, in 1991.
1990 – San Antonio’s AIDS Foundation files a complaint with the state consumer affairs board against four funeral homes in the area which charged $75 extra to prepare the bodies of people who died of AIDS complications.
1995 – Michael Callen (April 11, 1955 – December 27, 1993), who was a significant architect of the response to the AIDS crisis in the United States, dies. Singer, songwriter, AIDS activist and author, Michael is recognized as a co-inventor of safe(r) sex and a co-founder of the People With AIDS self-empowerment movement. He was a founding member of the gay male a cappella singing group The Flirtations. Callen died of AIDS-related complications in Los Angeles, California, at the age of 38.
Stand up, speak out, share your story!
(Historical information obtained from a variety of sources including QUIST at facebook.com/quistapp, Back2Stonewall.com, Lavender Effect, DataLounge.com, Arron’s Gay Info, All Things Queer, RS Levinson, Amara Das Wilhelm, Safe Schools Coalition, and/or Wikipedia. If you wish to edit an item or add an item, please send an email to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks!)