Sunday, 29 April 2012

Phill Wilson

b. April 29, 1956
Phill Wilson founded the Black AIDS Institute. He is one of the most articulate spokespersons addressing HIV and AIDS issues in the African-American community.
"The price of the ticket for life is to leave the world in a different place than you found it, to leave the world a better place than you found it."
"AIDS has always been personal from the very, very beginning," says Wilson. "In 1980 I discovered that I was gay. It just kind of happened, and I began to figure out what that meant. In that process I met Chris Brownlie, and we fell in love . . . and began a relationship that lasted until he died. In 1981 we moved to Los Angeles, and by that time we guessed that he had been infected along the way, and consequently we guessed that I was also infected, but we didn't know."
Wilson didn't know for certain that he was HIV-positive until he was 27. At that time, in the 1980's, a positive test was assumed to be a death sentence. Wilson watched countless friends become ill and die. After Brownlie's death, he channeled his anger into work for HIV/AIDS prevention. Wilson developed AIDS in 1990, and nearly died in 1995, but the development of the new antiretroviral drugs enabled him to recover.
By 1999, when he was well enough to return to the frontlines of activism, Phill Wilson founded the Black AIDS Institute. He has participated in the founding of several other HIV/AIDS advocacy organizations and has worked on HIV/AIDS policy and treatment internationally. He is credited with being the primary force in mobilizing the Black community against HIV/AIDS.
On celebrating his 50th birthday in 2006, Wilson said, "I didn't think 30 was an option, so to be 50 is amazing."
"I have lived an unbelievably blessed life. Now people may think that's a bizarre thing to say for someone who's lived almost his entire adult life with either HIV or AIDS. The truth of the matter is that I've lived a life where I've had the privilege of pretending that I can make a difference, and if I can hold onto that illusion, it doesn't get much better than that."

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Bishop Otis Charles, Out Gay Bishop

b. April 24, 1926

Bishop Charles was the first openly gay bishop in any Christian denomination.

From LGBT Religious Archives:
Since 1979 he has been among a growing number of bishops who have spoken out for full and complete inclusion of gay and lesbian people in the church without restriction, recognizing their calling to ministry and rejecting the notion that a baptized homosexual must live a celibate life. In 1980, he was the recipient of the national Integrity Award. He is represented in Out in the Workplace: Gay and Lesbian Professionals Tell Their Stories.
Upon his retirement in 1993, Charles publicly announced his homosexuality, becoming the first openly gay bishop of any Christian denomination. That September he sent an epistle to his colleagues in the House of Bishops that said, in part: "I have promised myself that I will not remain silent, invisible, unknown. After all is said and done, the choice for me is not whether or not I am a gay, but whether or not I am honest about who I am with myself and others. It is a choice to take down the wall of silence I have built around an important and vital part of my life, to end the separation and isolation I have imposed on myself all these years."
John McNeil, former Jesuit and author of Freedom, Glorious Freedom speaks of Bishop Charles' coming out as "an extraordinary example (of the) public exposure... required... to... provide an image... of what it is to be mature as Christian and as gay" (pp.82-83). In Last Watch of the Night, Paul Monette wrote of Bishop Charles' coming out as "an important moment in gay and lesbian history, and a ringing challenge to the status quo of invisibility" (p. 304).
The Sunday edition of the New York Times (October 10, 1993) as well as both gay and straight press around the country reported the bishop's action. Boston's Bay Windows editorialized: "the news of a 67 year old bishop coming out of the closet is something at which to marvel. Charles puts it less grandly, however, saying simply that it was a matter of integrity."
After making his public witness Bishop Charles, who appreciates being addressed by his baptismal name, Otis, has welcomed the opportunity to share his story. Whether in an informal gathering or the pulpit, he characteristically begins, "I am a gay man, an Episcopal (Anglican) bishop, a queer who only just mustered the courage to publicly acknowledge the truth of my life."
Charles has continued as an active and voting member of the Episcopal House of Bishops taking many stands on behalf of his community. In 1995, Charles co-founded Oasis/California, the Bay Area Episcopal Lesbian and Gay ministry. In 1998, Charles was appointed Interim Dean of the School for Deacons serving northern California. During this time he also served as  Bishop-in-residence at the Church of St. John-the-Evangelist in San Francisco and a founding editor of Millennium3, an on-line and print publication distributed to all 13,600 Episcopal clergy. He was an Assisting Bishop in the Diocese of California until 2004.
Charles is currently working on his memoirs and editing a collection of personal reflections on the contribution of entheogens as an opening to mystical experience. Since 1993 he has been a resident of San Francisco where he lives with his partner, Felipe Sanchez Paris.
(This biographical statement provided by Otis Charles.)

Sunday, 22 April 2012

John Waters, Actor and filmmaker

b. April 22, 1946

“To me, bad taste is what entertainment is all about.”

John Waters is an award-winning screenwriter and director known for his obsession with the seedy side of life. Affectionately dubbed by critics “The Pope of Trash” and “The King of Sleaze,” Waters’s work includes a string of independent cult classics, blockbuster movies and Broadway shows.

Waters grew up in the 1950’s in Lutherville, Maryland, a suburb of Baltimore. During the 1970’s and early 1980’s, he began making films with local actors and a production team called the Dreamlanders. With the Dreamlanders, Waters created the Trash Trilogy: “Pink Flamingos,” “Female Trouble” and “Desperate Living.” Many of his movies are set in the 50’s and 60’s in Baltimore.

Waters introduced “Odorama” in his film “Polyester” (1981), which costarred Divine and Tab Hunter. Scratch and sniff cards with numbered spots were distributed with each ticket. When a number flashed on the screen, viewers were prompted to scratch the appropriate spot and smell the aroma.

While his earlier projects defined his style, it was “Hairspray” (1988) that brought Waters mainstream success. The film was adapted into a Broadway musical (2002), grossing over $200 million and winning eight Tony Awards, including Best Musical in 2003. His film “Cry-Baby” (1990) became a hit Broadway show, receiving four Tony Award nominations in 2008.

A remake of “Hairspray” (2007) was a box office bonanza. The movie, featuring John Travolta, Michelle Pfeiffer and Queen Latifah, was the third highest grossing musical film in American cinema history.
Waters is an advocate of GLBT civil rights. In 2004, he received the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) Stephen F. Kolzak Award for his work combating homophobia. In 2008, he received a New York Leadership Award from the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.

“John Waters.”  Dreamland News. May 29, 2008
“John Waters Stays True to His Roots.” CBS News. July 22, 2007
Lewis, John. “John Waters Inc.” Baltimore Magazine. June 2007
McCauley, Mary Creole. “Jumping for Joy as ‘Cry-Baby’ Gets Four Tony Awards.” May 14, 2008,1,7010402.story
“New York Leadership Awards 2008.”  National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. May 27, 2008

Pink Flamingos (1972)
Female Trouble (1974)
Desperate Living (1977)
Polyester (1981)
Cry Baby (Director's Cut) (1990)
Serial Mom (1994)
A Dirty Shame (2004)
John Waters: This Filthy World (2006)
Hairspray  (2007)

Hairspray  (2002)

Cry-Baby (2008)

Saturday, 21 April 2012

March 21st: Rosie O’Donnell, Comedian, Actress, Activist

b. March 21, 1962

"I don't think America knows what a gay parent looks like: I am a gay parent."

An award-winning comedian, television host, author and media mogul, Rosie O’Donnell used her celebrity as a platform for activism and philanthropic causes.

Born in Queens, New York, O’Donnell got her big break when she auditioned for “Star Search” and won five times. With her $14,000 winnings, she relocated to Los Angeles and landed a role on the sitcom “Gimme a Break.”

After film roles in “A League of Their Own,” “Sleepless in Seattle” and “The Flintstones,” she was offered her own daytime television talk show. During her six years as host of “The Rosie O’Donnell Show,” she started Rosie’s For All Kids Foundation, which awarded more than $27 million in grants to 1,400 child-related nonprofit organizations.

In 2002, O’Donnell outed herself and became an outspoken advocate for gay parenting. She worked with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in an attempt to overturn Florida’s ban on gay and lesbian adoption.
O’Donnell and Kelli Carpenter married in 2004. They are parents of four children. The couple launched R Family Vacations, the first-ever cruise for gay families.

O’Donnell became the moderator of ABC’s all-women daytime talk show, “The View.” She starred on Broadway in “Grease,” “Seussical” and “Fiddler on the Roof,” and founded Rosie’s Broadway Kids, which provides a free theater experience.

Among O’Donnell’s many honors, she has received 13 Emmy Awards, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) Vito Russo Award, an induction into the Kid’s Choice Awards Hall of Fame and a Women in Film Lucy Award.

Lee, Felicia R. “On HBO, Rosie O’Donnell’s Cruise for Gay Families.” The New York Times. April 3, 2006
Leff, Lisa. “Rosie O’Donnell Weds Longtime Girlfriend.” The Washington Post. February 26, 2004
Kuczynski, Alex. “She’s Out of the Closet. Now What?” The New York Times. March 3, 2002
Nordlinger, Jay. “Rosie O’Donnell, Political Activist – A Celebrity and her Platform.” National Review. June 19, 2000
Parker, Ray. “Fighting to keep a family.” The Advocate. April 30, 2002;col1
“Rosie Comes Out as ACLU Launches” GLAAD. March 13, 2002
“Rosie O’Donnell.” People. July 2, 2008
“Rosie O’Donnell Marries Girlfriend in San Francisco.” CNN. February 27, 2004
Other Resources
All Aboard! Rosie’s Family Cruise
R Family Vacations
Rosie Chat
Rosie’s Broadway Kids
Rosie’s For All Kids Foundation
Official Rosie O’Donnell Website

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Lowell Selvin

b. April 15, 1959
Lowell Selvin created PlanetOut Inc., the leading global media and entertainment company serving the GLBT community.
" What I always believed growing up is that I was going to be a builder, and I was going to build something that might in a small little way change the world. Never in my dreams did I believe that one of those things that I might have a hand in building would be a legacy in the gay community."
Lowell Selvin raised the largest amount of capital ever assembled for a GLBT-identified business when, in 2001, he led the merger of PlanetOut Corp. and Online Partners into PlanetOut Inc., one of the largest online services in the world. In October 2004, PlanetOut Inc. became the first company serving the gay and lesbian community to be publicly traded on a major stock exchange (Nasdaq: LGBT). Selvin also presided over PlanetOut's acquisition of LPI Media, which includes the publications The Advocate and Out, and travel company RSVP.
PlanetOut's mission is "to connect, enrich and illuminate the lives of gay and lesbian people everywhere." PlanetOut Partners offers online portals in five languages and maintains offices in the U.S., Europe and Latin America.
Selvin began his career with a high technology business serving Fortune 500 companies. He served in executive positions with direct sales company Arbonne International and Arthur Andersen Business Consulting. He co-founded and served as executive vice president and board director for Degree Baby Products, which was acquired by Johnson & Johnson.
Selvin holds a bachelor's degree in psychology and aeronautical and astronautical engineering from the University of Illinois. He is involved in numerous charitable causes, including being a founding member and chair of the Gay & Lesbian Network of the Young Presidents' Organization and serving as advisory board chair for the Hebrew Union College's Institute for Judaism and Sexual Orientation.
PlanetOut Inc., Selvin believes, communicates an important message to the GLBT community: "The company we've created says: 'You belong, it's OK, and by the way, you can have a great and wonderful experience and we can build a valuable company.'"

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Catherine Opie, Photographer

b. April 14, 1961

"Let’s push the boundaries a little bit here about what you guys think normal is."

For over a decade, photographer Catherine Opie has used the power of her lens to create visibility for queer subcultures existing on society's fringes. Her raw and honest photographs challenge viewers to reevaluate notions of sexuality and societal norms. Her groundbreaking work has adorned gallery walls worldwide, including The Guggenheim in New York and The Photographer's Gallery in London. 

At the age of 9, Opie decided to become a social documentary photographer after studying the work of Lewis Hine. Inspired by Hine's use of photography as a means to effect social change around child labor, Opie pursued her  passion for documenting the world with her camera. At 18, she left her home in Sandusky, Ohio, to study at the San Francisco Art Institute where she received a BFA in 1985. She earned an MFA from California Institute of the Arts three years later.

In 1995, Opie's career gained momentum after her provocative portraits of gay fringe groups appeared at the Whitney Biennial, one of the world’s leading art shows. Images of pierced, tattooed and leather-clad members of Opie's inner circle were presented to the public in a bold and unapologetic fashion. "Looking at her pictures can be uncomfortable," observed The New York Times, "not because of their confrontational content but because they reveal as much about the beholder as the beheld."

In addition to documenting sexual minority communities, Opie photographs landscapes and architecture. In her exhibit "Freeways" (1994-95) she explores the intricacies of Los Angeles's highway system. In "Mini-malls" (1997-98), she reveals the rich ethnic diversity of Southern California's shopping centers. Combining both landscape and portraiture in her series "Domestic," Opie traveled nationwide photographing lesbian couples living together.

Opie is a professor of photography at UCLA. She has received various awards, including the Washington University Freud Fellowship in 1999 and the Larry Aldrich Award in 2004. In 2006, she was awarded the prestigious United States Artist Fellowship.

In an exhibit catalog interview, Opie reflects, "I have represented this country and this culture. And I’m glad that there is a queer, out, dyke artist that’s being called an American photographer."


Books of Catherine Opie’s Photography

Catherine Opie’s Social Network

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Monday, 9 April 2012

Cynthia Nixon, Actress

b. April 9, 1966 
"I never felt like there was an unconscious part of me that woke up or came out of the closet. I met this woman and I fell in love with her."

Actor Cynthia Nixon at the Garden State Equali...

Cynthia Nixon is a television, film and Broadway actress best known for her role as Miranda on "Sex and the City." She is one of only 15 performers to receive a Tony, an Emmy and a Grammy Award.

Nixon is a native New Yorker, the only child of Walter Nixon, a radio journalist, and Anne Kroll, an actress and a researcher on the television series "To Tell the Truth." Cynthia’s first television appearance was at age 9 as an imposter on the show.

At age 12, Nixon began her acting career with a role in an ABC Afterschool Special. Her feature film debut came soon after in "Little Darlings" (1980), followed by her first role on Broadway in "The Philadelphia Story."

Nixon graduated from Hunter College High School and attended Barnard College. As a freshman, she made theatrical history acting in two Broadway plays at the same time, "The Real Thing" and "Hurlyburly."

A working actress since the 1980’s, Nixon received a Best Supporting Actress Emmy Award in 2004 for "Sex and the City." In 2006, she was honored with a Tony Award for Best Leading Actress in "The Rabbit Hole." In 2008, Nixon received a second Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress on "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit."

In 2008, "Sex and the City" became a movie franchise. Nixon and her television co-stars reprised their roles in the film and a 2010 sequel, "Sex and the City 2." The original film grossed over $415 million worldwide, making it one of the most successful R-rated comedies.

Nixon is engaged to Christine Marinoni. The couple plans to tie the knot in Manhattan when  same-sex marriage becomes legal in New York State. "We want to get married right here in New York City, where we live, where our kids live," Nixon says. She and Marinoni share parenting responsibilities for Nixon’s two children from a previous relationship.

In 2009, Nixon shared a Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album for reading Al Gore’s "An Inconvenient Truth." In 2010, Nixon received the Vito Russo GLAAD Media Award for promoting equal rights for the gay community.

Nixon is a breast cancer survivor and a spokeswoman for Susan G. Komen for the Cure.




Cynthia Nixon’s Social Network
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Sunday, 8 April 2012

Evan Davis – Broadcaster

b. 8 April 1962

British economist, journalist and presenter for the BBC. In October 2001, Davis took over from Peter Jay as the BBC's economics editor. He left this post in April 2008 to become a presenter on BBC Radio 4's Today programme. Evan Davis is also the presenter for the BBC venture-capitalist programme Dragons' Den, as well as The Bottom Line, a business conversation show, also on BBC Radio 4.

He studied Philosophy, Politics and Economics at St John's College, Oxford from 1981 to 1984, before obtaining an MPA at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. After working for a time as an economist, he joined the BBC in 1993, as an economics correspondent. He worked as economics editor on BBC Two's Newsnight programme from 1997 to 2001. In the mid-1990s he was a member of the Social Market Foundation's Advisory Council;he is a member of the British-American Project for a Successor Generation.

Davis is a keen motorcyclist, and was seen riding a Yamaha R6 motorcycle in BBC2's The City Uncovered with Evan Davis. He lives with his partner Guillaume Baltz, a French landscape architect.

He was listed at number 4 on the IOS Pink List for 2010, and at number 38 on the DS list of "50 Most Influential Gays", 2011:
The gently spoken – but highly influential presenter – joined the BBC in 1993 as an economics correspondent and went on to present the Today Programme. But most TV fans know him as the presenter (and only kindly face) in the Dragon’s Den. Away from work, Evan is a keen biker and has been nicknamed Tinsel Tits because of his apparent love of body piercings. 

“Working (in a traditionally macho news environment) has never been a problem for me,” says Evan. “And it would be really good for young gay people to hear that, apart from the depressions and obstacles that are put in their way, there’s actually large swathes of life where you can go and it isn’t an issue.”

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Graham Norton – Presenter/ Comedian

b. 4 April 1963

Graham William Walker is an Irish actor, comedian, television presenter and columnist, known by his stage name Graham Norton. He is the host of the comedy chat show The Graham Norton Show and the BBC commentator of the Eurovision Song Contest.

In 1992 his stand-up comedy drag act in the Edinburgh Festival Fringe as a tea-towel clad Mother Teresa of Calcutta made the press when Scottish Television's religious affairs department mistakenly thought he represented the real Mother Teresa.

His rise to fame began as one of the early successes of Channel 5, when he won an award for his performance as the stand-in host of a late-night TV talk show usually presented by Jack Docherty. This was followed by a comic quiz show on Channel 5 called Bring Me the Head of Light Entertainment. In 1996, Norton co-hosted the late-night quiz show Carnal Knowledge on ITV with Maria McErlane. Norton also played the part of Father Noel Furlong in 3 episodes of the popular Channel 4 series Father Ted in 1996; where he was often seen taking charge of a small youth folk-group.

After this early success, Norton moved to Channel 4 to host his own chat shows including So Graham Norton and V Graham Norton. As a performer who is naturally camp and flamboyant, it was here that Norton's act was fully honed as a cheeky, innuendo-laden joker.

He was named at number 34 on the DS list of the "50 Most Influential Gays", 2011:
It was TV shows like So Graham Norton and V Graham Norton that made the irreverent Irishman a household name. Following in the footsteps of near-to-the-knuckle comedian Julian Clary, Graham was part of a new breed of comics who were openly gay and fused their sexuality with both innuendo and blatantly funny filth to get a laugh. But Graham’s never been one to remain pigeonholed and appeals to a wide demographic. Family audiences accept him in Strictly Dance Fever and Eurovision. And he slipped comfortably into Jonathan Ross’s adult shoes for his Friday night chat show. Fifteen years into his career, and he’s top of his game.
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