Sunday, 29 July 2012

July 29th: Tim Gunn: 1953, Fashion / Design Professor

b. July 29th, 1953

" He was on the faculty of Parson The New School for Design, and he served as the fashion design chair until 2007 before moving to Liz Claiborne to work as their chief creative officer. But you know him from the Bravo reality series Project Runway, which just started its ninth season this past week. He is an animal rights spokesperson, having opposed the use of fur in fashion. He also made an “It Gets Better” video, motivated by his own suicide attempt when he was seventeen. Those good works aside, he really stepped in it this past week when he criticized Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s fashion sense. “Why must she dress that way?” he asked. “I think she’s confused about her gender. All these big, baggy menswear-tailored pantsuits. No, I’m really serious. She wears pantsuits that are really unflattering.” Really? I don’t remember anyone slamming Lawrence Eagleberger’s baggy suits."

Saturday, 28 July 2012

John Ashbery, Poet

b. July 28, 1927

“My poetry is disjunct, but then so is life.”

John Ashbery is one of the most successful 20th century poets. He has won almost every major American literary award, including the 1975 Pulitzer Prize for poetry.

Ashbery graduated from Harvard University, where he studied English and served on the editorial board of the Harvard Advocate. He received his master’s degree from Columbia University. After graduating, Ashbery spent three years in publishing before moving to Paris on a Fulbright scholarship.

Returning to the U.S. in 1957, Ashbery attended graduate classes at New York University. Thereafter, he returned to Paris, where he supported himself as an editor. He eventually moved back to the U.S. to become the executive editor of ARTNews magazine.

Ashbery’s success began with frequent publication of his poems in magazines such as Furioso and Poetry New York. While in France, his book “Some Trees” won the Yale Younger Poet’s Prize. He has won many awards, including the Bollingen Prize and the McArthur Foundation’s “Genius Award.”

His Pulitzer Prize-winning poem “Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror,” which also won the National Book Award and the National Critics Circle Award, is unique for its triple prize status. The poem pulls together his favored themes: creating poetry and the influence of visual arts on his work.

Ashbery’s career has been marked by controversy. Response to his poetry ranges from praise for his brilliant expressionism and use of language to condemnation for his work’s nonsensical and elusive nature.

A prolific writer, he has published over 20 books of poetry, beginning with “Tourandot and Other Poems.” His work has been compared to modernist painters such as Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning. Critics assert that he is trying to translate visual modern art into written language.

Since 1974, he has supported himself through teaching positions, the last of which was as the Charles P. Stevens, Jr. Professor of Language and Literature at Bard College. He lives in upstate New York, where he continues to write poetry.

“Ashbery, John (b. 1929).” GLBTQ.8 June 2011.
“John Ashbery Biography.” Famous Poets and Poems.8 June 2011.
“John Ashbery.” Poets. 8 June 2011.
“John Ashbery.” Poetry Foundation. 8 June 2011.
“John Ashbery Quotes.” Brainy Quotes. 8 June 2011.
Liukkonen, Petri.“John Ashbery (1927-).” Kirjasto. 8 June 2011.
Some Trees (1956)
As We Know (1979)
Apparitions (1981)
A Wave (1984)
Ice Storm (1987)
Three Poems (1989)
Flow Chart (1991)
Pistils (1996)
Wakefulness (1998)
Planisphere (2009)
Illuminations (2011)
Books about John Ashbery
John Ashbery and You: His Later Books by John Emil Vincent (2007)

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Friday, 27 July 2012

Troy Perry , Pastor and founder of MCC

b. July 27, 1940
"God did not create gays and lesbians so He could have something to hate."

Troy Perry is the founder of the United Fellowship of the Metropolitan Community Churches (UFMCC), a Protestant denomination ministering to the gay community. UFMCC reflects Perry’s commitment to provide a safe space for gays and lesbians to celebrate their faith.

Perry was born in Tallahassee, Florida. He was drawn to the church at an early age and delivered his first sermon when he was 13. At the age of 15, he was licensed as a Baptist minister. In 1959, Perry married a woman and had two sons. The couple separated in 1964 and later divorced.

Perry overcame hardships on his journey to becoming the founder of the UFMCC. He was stripped of a religious position because of his homosexuality, became estranged from his two sons and attempted suicide. He lost hope that he could reconcile his homosexuality with his faith. The seemingly homophobic arrest of a friend convinced Perry to start a church providing spiritual support to the gay community.

In October 1968, Perry launched UFMCC with a service for 12 people in his living room. UFMCC has grown to include more than 40,000 members with churches around the world. In 1969, he performed the first same-sex wedding. In the next year, he filed the first lawsuit seeking legal recognition of same-sex marriages.

Perry and his partner, Philip Ray DeBlieck, have been together since 1985. In 2003, they married at a UFMCC church in Toronto, Canada. The newlyweds sued the state of California for legal recognition of their marriage. They were among the plaintiffs in the May 2008 California Supreme Court decision that legalized same-sex marriage.

Perry has been awarded honorary doctorates from Episcopal Divinity School, Samaritan College and Sierra University. He received Humanitarian Awards from the American Civil Liberties Union and the Gay Press Association.


Rapp, Linda.  “Perry, Troy.” GLBTQ: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender & Queer Culture. August 17, 2005

Rev. Troy Perry.” The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Religious Archives Network. March 1, 2004

“Rev. Troy D. Perry Biography.” June 9, 2008


The Lord Is My Shepherd and He Knows I'm Gay: The Autobiography of the Reverend Troy D. Perry

Don't Be Afraid Anymore: The Story of Reverend Troy Perry and the Metropolitan Community Churches

Profiles in Gay and Lesbian Courage (Stonewall Inn Editions)

10 Spiritual Truths for Gays and Lesbians* (*and everyone else!) (2003)

Other Resources

Call Me Troy (2007)

Metropolitan Community Churches


Official Rev. Elder Troy D. Perry Website

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Mel White, Minister of Religion

b. July 26, 1940

"I'm perfectly happy going on TV now and saying I'm a gay man. I'm happy and proud to say that."

Mel White is an ordained minister who left his career as an adviser to prominent Christian evangelists when he came out during the mid 1990’s. White has dedicated his life to gaining acceptance for GLBT Christians.

In 1962, White graduated from Warner Pacific College. He received a master's degree in communications from the University of Portland and a Doctorate of Ministry from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California, where he was also a professor.

Early in his career, White served as a speechwriter for evangelical leaders Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson. He married a woman with whom he had one son. When he realized he was attracted to men, he tried to “cure” his homosexuality with therapy and exorcism.  Acknowledging that nothing could alter his sexual orientation, White attempted suicide.

White ultimately accepted his sexuality and amicably divorced his wife. In 1993, he publicly acknowledged that he was gay when he was named dean of the Dallas Cathedral of Hope of the Universal Fellowship at Metropolitan Community Churches. Two years later, he published “Stranger at the Gate,” a book that chronicles his struggles as a gay Christian.

In the early 1990’s, White shifted his focus to GLBT advocacy, both within and outside of the church. In 1996, White led a two-week fast on the steps of Congress as the Senate considered and ultimately passed the Defense of Marriage Act. He moved the fast to the White House, where he was arrested. "How can we stand by in silent acceptance while the president and the Congress sacrifice lesbian and gay Americans for some ‘greater political good’?” he asked.

In 1998, White and his partner of more than 25 years, Gary Nixon, founded Soulforce, an organization whose mission is to "seek freedom from religious and political oppression" for GLBT people. Its name comes from "satyagraha," a term meaning "soul force" used by Gandhi in to describe his civil rights struggle.

White is the author of nearly 20 books, including "Religion Gone Bad: Hidden Dangers from the Christian Right" (2009). His story is featured in "Friends of God" (2007), a documentary film about evangelical Christians.

In 2008, White and Nixon were legally married in California. In 2009, White and his son, Mike, were a team on the 14th season of "The Amazing Race."


  • Alston, Joshua. "The Amazing Race's Mike and Mel White." Newsweek. 7 Feb. 2009.
  • Avery, Dan. "Grace Under Pressure." Advocate. 10 Feb. 2009.
  • McDowell, Wendy. "White makes case for gay marriage." Harvard Gazette. 22 Apr. 2004.
  • "Mel's Bio." Mel White. 28 May 2010.
  • Parsons, Dana. "Mel's Miracle: a Falwell Who Tolerates Gays." The Los Angeles Times. 10 Nov. 1999.
  • Schwartz, Deb. "The Odd Couple." Oct. 1999.

Books by Mel White


Films by Mel White

Videos of Mel White


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The Male Nudes of Photographer Greg Gorman

Photographer Greg Gorman built his career, and is best known as, a photographer of celebrities, but in 2000 he published a book of male nudes, "for his own pleasure".

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Nancy Mahon, Philanthropy Advocate

b. July 25, 1964

In public health, sometimes the farthest distance is the one that is most important to travel.

After graduating magna cum laude from Yale University in 1986, Nancy Mahon attended New York University's School of Law, where she served as editor of the Law Review. She developed an interest in criminal law and became a leading criminal justice expert.

Gareth Thomas, UK. Rugby Player

b. 25 July 1974

Retired Welsh professional rugby footballer who played rugby league for the Crusaders RL in the Super League. He also previously played rugby union for the Cardiff Blues and Wales as a fullback, wing or centre. On 26 May 2007, Thomas surpassed Gareth Llewellyn as the most-capped Wales rugby union player with his 93rd appearance. During the 2007 Rugby World Cup, Thomas scored a try in what was his final game for Wales, and in the process created sporting history when he become the first Welshman to win 100 international caps in rugby union.

When Thomas came out as gay, he was notable as the world's only openly gay man currently playing in a professional team sport. (Cricketer Steven Davies, volleyball player Michael Dos Santos and footballer Anton Hysén have since also come out).

In December 2009 Thomas was voted top of the Pink List in 2010 of the 101 most influential gay people in the UK, and he received Stonewall’s Hero of the Year award in October 2010. In 2011, he declined to be included in the IoS Pink List, but was was named at number 2 on the DS "50 Most Influential Gays", 2011:

With 100 caps to his name – more than any other player in Welsh history – Gareth has one of the fiercest reputations on the field, and a row of missing front teeth to prove it. So it came as a shock to everyone – even his wife – when Gareth admitted he was gay. But in what we’d assume to be a traditionally heterosexual sport, Gareth has been supported both on and off the pitch by both his teammates and fans.
“I don’t want to be known as a gay rugby player,” he says. “I am a rugby player, first and foremost I am a man.”
He is such a legend in his own lifetime that even Mickey Rourke is planning to play him in a biopic movie. But it’s Gareth’s determination to help other young people wrestling with their sexuality that has made him a hero.
“I don’t know if my life is going to be easier because I’m out,” he explains, “but if it helps someone else, if it makes one young lad pick up the phone to ChildLine, then it will have been worth it.”

(Number 2. on the DS list of the "50 Most Influential Gays", 2011)
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