Thursday, 25 October 2012

David McReynolds (1929 - ). Political activist, and first gay presidential candidate.

b. October 25, 1929

American democratic socialist and pacifist activist who described himself as "a peace movement bureaucrat" during his 40-year career with Liberation magazine and the War Resisters League. He was the first openly gay man to run for President of the United States.

Born in Los Angeles, in 1951 he joined the Socialist Party of America (SPA) and in 1953 he graduated from UCLA with a degree in political science. Between 1957 and 1960, McReynolds worked for the editorial board of the left-wing magazine Liberation. McReynolds is openly gay and wrote his first article about living as a gay man in 1969.

He was staunchly anti-war and a draft resister, and in 1960 joined the staff of the War Resisters League (WRL), where he remained until his retirement in 1999. On November 6, 1965, he was one of five men who publicly burned their draft cards at an anti-war demonstration at Union Square in New York.

In his political career, McReynolds ran for Congress from Lower Manhattan twice and for President twice. In 1958 he ran as a write-in SPA candidate and then in 1968 as a Peace and Freedom Party candidate for Congress in the 19th district.  In 1980, he ran for President of the United States as the SPUSA candidate, and again for President as the SPUSA candidate in 2000. In both 1980 and 2000, McReynolds received the endorsement and ballot line of the Liberty Union Party in Vermont. In 2004, he ran on the Green Party ticket for the New York Senate, running an anti-war campaign against Democratic incumbent Chuck Schumer. 
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Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Neal Blewett (1933 – ) Australian Politician

b. 24 October 1933

Australian politician, was an Australian Labor Party member of the Australian House of Representatives representing the Division of Bonython, South Australia from 1977 to 1994.

Under Bob Hawke's governernment, he served as Minister for Health, and later as Minister for Trade and Overseas Development. When Paul Keating became Prime Minister, he became Minister for Social Security until he retired from politics in 1994. In 1994, Neal Blewett was appointed Australian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, as which he served until 1998. At the same time, he was on the Executive Council of the World Health Organization.

Although married, Blewett was definitely gay. He was married for 26 years to Jill Blewett, a renowned Australian playwright, with whom he had two children. Jill died when she was accidentally electrocuted in their home in October 1988. The following year, he moved in with his long-term partner Robert Brain, whom he had met as a university student 50 years previously. When a radio station claimed that he was gay, he successfully sued for defamation. But in 2000, he revealed he was homosexual in a May 2000 issue of The Age's Good Weekend magazine, which profiled his relationship Brain.
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Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Kye Allums, Transgender Athlete

b. October 23, 1989
“I had to come out because it was too hard not being myself.”

Kye Allums is the first openly transgender athlete to play NCAA Division I college basketball. Allums was a star shooting guard on the George Washington University (GWU) women’s basketball team.

Born Kyler Kelcian Allums in Daytona Beach, Florida, he was the oldest of four children. Nicknamed Kay-Kay, Allums was a self-described tomboy, who identifed as male from childhood. “I’ve always felt most comfortable dressing like a boy, but my mom would take all of my clothes and force me to wear girl clothes,” he says. Allums would put boys’ clothes in his backpack and change before going to school, then change back before he got home. He says it was the only way he could go to school.

Allums received a basketball scholarship to GWU. In his freshman year, he played in 11 games for the Colonials and missed the final 20 due to injury. As a sophomore, he started 20 of 26 games.

That same year, Allums began to distance himself from Kay-Kay and opened up to some of his teammates. “I do not like being called a girl. I’m a guy in a girl’s body,” he said. Thereafter, he told his head coach Mike Bozeman. Allums says his teammates, coach and family have all been supportive. 

Allums was advised not to begin taking male hormones or undergo gender reassignment surgery while remaining on the women’s team. If he did, he would risk losing his scholarship and ending his college basketball career. Allums says he’s undecided about when he will continue his transition.

After suffering a total of eight concussions and not starting any games his junior year, Allums announced he would not be returning to the Colonials for his senior season. “I alone came to this decision and I thank the athletic department for respecting my wishes,” he said.                        

In 2011, Allums began telling his story at speaking engagements and other forums. “It meant a lot to me to help and affect others in a positive way,” he says about sharing his experience with young people struggling with similar issues.

As for his future, Allums says, “I’ll just be trying to make some kind of difference in the world and look forward to my life.”

LGBT History month

  • "Allums to leave women's team - Sports." The GW Hatchet. 27 May 2011.
  •  Associated Press. "YouTube - GW Transgender Player Deals With Wave of Publicity."  YouTube. 17 May 2011.
  • Beiser, H. Darr, "Transgender Male Kye Allums on the Women's Team at GW” 17 May 2011.
  • "Kye Allums, Transgender George Washington University Basketball Player, Takes The Court." The Huffington Post. 17 May 2011.
  • "Kye Allums: First Transgender Man Playing NCAA Women's Basketball." 17 May 2011.
  • "Kye Allums, Division I Athlete, Tells Us How Being Transgender Feels” 17 May 2011.
  • "Player Bio: Kye Allums" GEORGE WASHINGTON OFFICIAL ATHLETIC SITE.  27 May 2011.
  • "Transgender Player Leaving George Washington University Women's Basketball Team - by John Atchison." 27 May 2011.
  • "Transgender Women's Basketball Player Kye Allums of George Washington Discusses Concussion-marred Season.”  ESPN. 17 May 2011.


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Sunday, 21 October 2012

Fred Hersch, jazz pianist

b. October 21, 1955, Cincinnati, Ohio.

Fred Hersch is a contemporary American jazz pianist who has become a consistent and highly sought after performer on the international jazz scene.

Hersch began playing piano at a very young age, growing up in the North Avondale neighborhood of Cincinnati, Ohio, attending Walnut Hills High School. He also had an early interest in mandolin. By age 12, Fred had written his first symphony. He studied at Grinnell College in the mid 1970s and began playing in jazz clubs in Cincinnati. He later graduated from New England Conservatory of Music in Boston. His teachers included Sophia Rosoff. He moved to New York City in the late 1970s where he soon found a place playing with artists including Stan Getz, Joe Henderson, Lee Konitz, Art Farmer, and Charlie Haden.

Hersch soon began recording his own records and composing music. Like a number of jazz pianists who have come of age over the past 20 years, he is strongly influenced by the work of Bill Evans, though Hersch has also been at pains to distance himself from Evans' influence. Although Hersch has played in a number of different instrumental combinations, he also plays as a solo performer, and many of his albums—such as Live at the Bimhuis (2005)--are solo recitals. In 2006 he was invited by club owner Lorraine Gordon to perform the first-ever solo piano booking at the legendary Village Vanguard jazz club in New York City.

Hersch's also works as a vocal accompanist and has recently recorded duo work with Jay Clayton, Nancy King, and Karin Oberlin.

In 1986 he was diagnosed with HIV. Since then, Hersch has campaigned and performed for several AIDS-related charities and causes. Along with Gary Burton and Andy Bey, Hersch is one of the few openly gay jazz musicians.

He is also a music educator, having taught at the New School University, Manhattan School of Music, Western Michigan University, and his alma mater, the New England Conservatory.