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Today in LGBT History – January 20
1900, France – Actor Colin Clive (20 January 1900 – 25 June 1937) is born in Saint-Malo. Clive studied acting, and replaced Laurence Olivier in the stage play, Journey’s End, in 1927. James Whale (22 July 1889 – 29 May 1957) was the director. The two struck up an intimate relationship, and Clive played the lead in Journey’s End when it moved to the Savoy Theater in London in 1928. Clive was embraced by Whale’s theatrical friends, including actress Elsa Lanchester. He followed Whale to NYC and Whale facilitated the casting of Clive in the movie version of the play. Journey’s End (1930) was Clive’s first of 18 feature films. Clive appeared on Broadway in Overture (1930-31). When the play closed, he went to London and starred with Elsa Lanchester in The Stronger Sex. Clive is perhaps best known for playing the role of Dr. Henry Frankenstein in the James Whale directed Frankenstein (1931) and in the Bride of Frankenstein (1935) with his friend Elsa Lanchester. Clive was gay. He married actress Jeanne de Casalis in 1929, but the marriage was one of convenience, and they separated a short time later. Clive was a member of the Brit ex-patriot actors in Hollywood including Lanchester, Karloff and Charles Laughton, and remained close with gay director, James Whale. The actor struggled with his identity and suffered alcoholism and depression from an early age. His drinking became more and more problematic professionally. He often came to work drunk and passed out on the set. He was even fired from a starring role in a film when he suffered a breakdown. Clive’s final film was in 1937, The Woman I Love. Colin Clive died on June 25, 1937, of tuberculosis complicated by chronic alcoholism. He was 37 years old. Actress Mae Clarke, one of his leading ladies, said, “Colin was the handsomest man I ever saw and also the saddest.”
1960 – U.S. Court of Federal Claims overturns the Other Than Honorable discharge issued by the Air Force to Fannie Mae Clackum (June 10, 1929 – August 16, 2014) for her alleged homosexuality. This is the first known instance of a homosexuality-related discharge being successfully fought, although the case turned on due process issues and did not affect the military’s policy of excluding homosexuals from service. Fannie Mae Clackum and Grace Garner served as US Air Force Reservists in the late 1940s and early 1950s. When the Air Force suspected them of having a homosexual relationship, it arranged for a four-person overnight trip and motel stay. The U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations used those events as the basis of a series of interrogations in April 1951. Clackum and Garner refused to accept the dishonorable discharges the Air Force offered them and demanded a court-martial. They were demoted from corporal to private, discharged in early 1952 and lived together in Marietta, Georgia. They were demoted from corporal to private, discharged in early 1952 and lived together in Marietta, Georgia. They spent eight years fighting their discharges in the US Court of Claims claiming denial of due process when denied courts-martial and discharged administratively. They prevailed in 1960 when the court invalidated the discharges and awarded them their back military pay for the remainder of their enlistment periods.
1975 – Terrance McNally’s (born November 3, 1938) comedy The Ritz opens in New York. Cast member Rita Moreno will go on to win a Tony Award for her performance as singer Googie Gomez. McNally is an American playwright, librettist, and screenwriter. He was partnered to Thomas Kirdahy (born 1963), a Broadway producer and a former civil rights attorney for not-for-profit AIDS organizations, following a civil union ceremony in Vermont on December 20, 2003. They subsequently married in Washington, D.C. on April 6, 2010. In celebration of the Supreme Court’s decision to legalize same-sex marriage in all 50 states, they renewed their vows at New York City Hall with Mayor Bill de Blasio officiating on June 26, 2015.
1977 — The Washington State Supreme Court upholds the firing of Wilson High School [Tacoma, WA] teacher James Gaylord for being gay after he joined The Dorian Society, a Seattle support group for gay men. The court agreed with a lower court that “A teacher’s efficiency is determined by his relationship with students, their parents, fellow teachers and school administrators. In all of these areas the continued employment of appellant after he became known as a homosexual would result, had he not been discharged, in confusion, suspicion, fear, expressed parental concern and pressure upon the administration from students, parents and fellow teachers, all of which would impair appellant’s efficiency as a teacher and injure the school.” Gaylord testified, “I quite frankly find it rather galling to have sat through the school board hearing and once again through this trial and hear administrators say that I’m a good teacher, I’ve been a very good teacher, and yet to be without a job, particularly when I see other people who still hold their jobs who haven’t read a book or turned out a new lesson plan or come up with anything creative in years.” In his dissent, Judge Dolliver said, “Historically, the private lives of teachers have been controlled by the school districts in many ways. There was a time when a teacher could be fired for a marriage, a divorce, or for the use of liquor or tobacco … Although the practice of firing teachers for these reasons has ceased, there are undoubtedly those who could speculate that any of these practices would have a detrimental effect on a teacher’s classroom efficiency as well as cause adverse community reaction. I find such speculation to be an unacceptable method for justifying the dismissal of a teacher who has a flawless record of excellence in his classroom performance.”
1979 – Gloria Gaynor’s song “I Will Survive,” a gay anthem for the ages, begins its 17-week climb up Billboard’s Top 40
1993 – Melissa Etheredge (born May 29, 1961) comes out as lesbian at the Triangle Ball, an LGBT-focused celebration of President Bill Clinton’s inauguration. She is an American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and activist. In October 2004, Etheridge was diagnosed with breast cancer, and underwent surgery and chemotherapy. At the 2005 Grammy Awards, she made a return to the stage and, although bald from chemotherapy, performed a tribute to Janis Joplin with the song “Piece of My Heart.” Etheridge had a long-term partnership with filmmaker Julie Cypher (born August 24, 1964) and their relationship received coverage in The Advocate, when an interview with editor Judy Wieder done in Amsterdam, “The Great Dyke Hope,” was released in July 1994. In 2002, Etheridge began dating actress Tammy Lynn Michaels (November 26, 1974). The two had a commitment ceremony on September 20, 2003. Etheridge married actress Linda Wallem (born May 29, 1961) on May 31, 2014 in San Ysidro Ranch in Montecito, California, two days after they both turned 53.
1995 – Albania decriminalizes same sex acts.
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(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!)