Tryna live life on the edge. 🌳
Tryna live life on the edge. 🌳
Happy birthday to actress Zoe Saldana, who you might know
from blockbusters such as Avatar, Star Trek, Guardians of the Galaxy, or (if
you’re reading this blog) from her 2013 interview with Allure Magazine in
which she came out as a member of the wlw community.
Zoe married her husband Marco Perego in 2013 and they now have three children together (x).
Zoe was born in Passaic, New Jersey where her Dominic father
and Puerto Rican mother raised Zoe and her two sisters in a bilingual household.
When her father tragically died in a car accident, the family moved to the
Dominican Republic for a time but later returned to the States when Zoe was a
sophomore in high school. She had fallen in love with dancing as a child and
followed that passion for performing when the family relocated to New York City, appearing
in a youth production of Joseph and the
Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
which led to her big break in the 2000 film Center
To date, Zoe has starred in over 40 films and 5 television
series. She caused a controversy for her role as Nina Simone in the unauthorized
biopic, Nina, and her own tone-deaf
response to the miscasting. In 2013, Allure
published an interview where Zoe talked about her “androgynous” childhood, which contains the excerpt:
“’Has she had a relationship with another woman?
The actress stares impassively across the table, silent for
the first time since the interview began. Her large brown eyes are focused,
unblinking. She is not fazed. She is simply deliberating. How much should she
Finally: ‘Promise me one thing: You’re going to ask this
question [in your article] — if you choose to, just put three dots as my
response. That’s it.
In the confusion following the release of the interview, Zoe stood by her statements and asserted that she could possibly love a woman someday. You can read a more in-depth inquiry into the gayness of Zoe’s
Allure interview over on
On June 18, 1983, the orbiter space shuttle Challenger was launched from the Kennedy Space Center in Titusville, Florida. Among its five-person crew was
Sally Ride, a physicist, astronaut, and the very first American woman in space.
Dr. Ride sits in the aft flight deck mission specialist’s seat during deorbit preparations (x).
Sally was born in Los Angeles, California on May 26, 1951.
She was an eclectic student at her private high school, Westlake School for
Girls; she excelled in both science and English and was also a
nationally-ranked tennis player. She graduated from Stanford University with a
bachelor’s degree and then stayed on to receive her master’s and PhD in
Physics. It was while she was a student at Stanford when Sally first came
upon the newspaper ad that would change her life. In 1977, NASA published an ad in the
Stanford student newspaper seeking women interested in becoming astronauts.
Over 8,000 women applied, but only six were chosen and Sally was one of them.
In 2015, Sally’s partner Tam O’Shaughnessy published a photobiography of Sally’s life which included never-before-photos of her childhood (x).
After being accepted by NASA, she worked for over two years
as a ground-based capsule communicator and specialized in developing the
program’s “Canadarm” robot arm. The greater public was only introduced to Sally Ride when it was announced that she would be joining the Challenger team. Sally was
subject to an unforgettable amount of misogyny by the media, with journalists
asking her now infamous questions like “"Will the flight affect your
reproductive organs?“ and “Do you weep when things go wrong on the
job?” but through it all, she stayed resilient and never let the frenzy of
attention affect her. On the 1983 space mission, Sally operated the crew’s
robotic arm and managed the communication satellites. She would partake in
another mission aboard Challenger in
1984 before retiring from NASA in 1987.
Ride (left) with partner O’Shaughnessy and their dog Gypsy, 1985 (x).
Despite the public clamoring for information and personal
details about this new feminist icon, Sally was notoriously silent about her
private life. It was only after her death on July 23, 2012 that it was revealed
that she was a lesbian and had been together with her partner, Tam
O’Shaughnessy, for over 27 years. For years after Sally left NASA, she and Tam
co-wrote children’s science books and operated the Board of Sally Ride Science
together, which focused on encouraging young girls in STEM fields. Today, Sally
is considered to be not only the first American woman astronaut, but also the
very first LGBT person to ever go into space.
On this day in 1853, the artist Rosa Bonheur’s greatest
masterpiece, The Horse Fair, was
first exhibited to the public at the Paris Salon. Now on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the painting symbolizes the peak of the lesbian artist’s career.
After making its debut, The Horse Fair was shown across Europe and America and was donated to the Metropolitan Museum of Art by Cornelius Vanderbilt II in 1887 (x).
Rosa Bonheur was born on March 16, 1822 in Bordeaux, France
to family of socialist artists; her father was a notable portrait painter
and, although she died when Rosa was just eleven-years-old, her mother was
a piano teacher. Growing up in a Christian-socialist church called Saint-Simonianism,
both Rosa and her younger siblings were raised under a liberal ideology that
questioned women’s place in society and put less importance on marriage in the lives of women. This influence as well as the
general Bohemian quality of Parisian society perhaps gave Rosa the foundation
she needed to later on to live freely as her artsy lesbian self.
Self Portrait by Rosa Bonheur, painted in 1857 (x).
She was sent to school in Paris at a young age and began
training to be a seamstress, but after Rosa’s teachers kept suspending her and
claiming that she was too much of a disruptive force in the classroom, her
father eventually pulled her out of school and began training her to be a painter. Rosa was
commissioned by the French government for her first professional piece in 1849;
the result was Ploughing in the Nivernais.
Her largest and most popular piece, The
Horse Fair, was completed in 1855, although the public was given a sneak preview
of the work at the Paris Salon of 1853. The painting is eight feet high by
sixteen feet wide and shows Paris’s famous horse market with the unmistakable Pitié-Salpêtrière
Hospital in the background. The Horse
Fair was the piece that put Rosa’s name on the map and allowed her to
travel across Europe to different exhibitions – one such exhibition even
garnered the audience of Queen Victoria of England.
Aside from her artistic legacy, Rosa also paved the way for
gender-nonconforming women to live freely in France when she requested and was
granted a permit from the Paris police that allowed her to wear pants in
public, which was technically illegal at the time. For this reason, she is often
dubbed one of the revolutionary “New Women” of the 19th century who began
the work of making pants an acceptable fashion choice for women. Rosa also
directly defied the mores of her time by being in what would now be
considered a polyamorous relationship with two women, Nathalie Micas and Anna
Klumpke. When she died on May 22, 1899 at the age of 77, Rosa was buried along
with Nathalie at the Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris; Anna joined them as well when she passed away in 1942.
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It doesn’t take too much digging around LGBT
history to come across the names Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon. Not only were
they the founders of the Daughters of Bilitis and the landmark lesbian magazine
The Ladder, but they were also the
very first same-sex couple to be legally married in San Francisco on this day in
Despite only being legally married for less than a year, Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon were partners for 58 years (x).
Del and Phyllis’s love story is truly one for the ages. The two
met in 1950 in the city whose history they would eventually be woven into, San
Francisco. They officially moved in together on Valentine’s Day in 1953 and it
was out of their shared apartment on Castro Street where they created some of
the most defining cultural touchstones of lesbian history in America – those touchstones
being the Daughters of Bilitis organization and its accompanying magazine The Ladder. The two worked side by side
in the movement their whole lives and were married for the first time on
February 12, 2004, but sadly that first marriage (along with thousands of other
couple’s marriages) were made defunct by the California Supreme Court in August
of that year. It was only when same-sex marriage was finally declared fully legal
in the city in 2008 that Del and Phyllis were wed once and for all and became
the very first gay couple legally married in San Francisco on June 16, 2008. Del
Martin passed away just two months later on August 27, 2008; she died a happily
married woman, twice over.
Once dubbed “the cleverest woman in all of Europe,” the
eccentric British hostess Mary Benson passed away on this day in 1918.
A 19-year-old Mary Benson is photographed in the early days of her marriage to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Edward White Benson (x).
Born in 1841 at Skipton, Yorkshire, her original name was
Mary Sidgwick. Her father was the Rev. William Sidgwick, who instilled a deep understanding
of the Church in her early on. In 1859, Mary married Edward White Benson who
would go on to become the widely popular Archbishop of Canterbury. Although
Mary had officially become Mrs. Benson and was married to one of the most
powerful men in the Anglican Church, she insisted on being called simply “Ben”
or “Minnie,” and although this scandalized many Brits of the Victorian Age, it
was the least of Mary’s eccentricities.
In spite of having six children with her husband Edward,
Mary hated having sex with him and wrote often of the “stain” of the sexual
attraction she felt for the women in her life. She had several one-off affairs
with women during the time she was married to Edward, but her main partner was
Lucy Tait. Lucy was the daughter of the previous Archbishop of Canterbury and
many speculate that her relationship with Mary began when the Tait family moved
in with the Bensons in 1889. Regardless, the two women would live together for
the rest of their lives from that moment on.
Mary is perhaps more famous for her litter of infamous
children rather than her time spent at the Archbishop’s wife, out of which consisted
an academic prodigy, two popular novelists, and an Egyptologist who would later
be convicted for “homicidal mania.” Historians also find it interesting that
the majority of Mary’s children took after their lesbian mother in terms of
favoring the same-gender. After her
husband Edward died in 1896, Mary set up a new household with Lucy, this time
in earnest and making no secret of the fact that they shared a bed together. Despite
the pubic scandals and emotional upheavals that her children would inflict on
the family throughout the years, Mary and Lucy remained intact at their home in
the Sussex Downs called Tremens until Mary’s death on June 15, 1918. You can read As Good as God, as Clever as the Devil: The Impossible Life of Mary Benson by Rodney Bolt for a more in-depth look at the reputation and the realities of the Benson family.
Picture Source: x
Destiny Frasqueri aka Wavy Spice bka Princess Nokia was born today in New York City, New York in 1992. Living in Spanish Harlem and the Lower East Side for most of her life, Frasqueri lost her mother to AIDS as a young child and was moved around in foster care with her cousin until she left the system, after dealing with abuse, as a teenager. Attending parties and go-go clubs since she was sixteen, Frasqueri recorded and released her first song under Wavy Spice on her Soundcloud and Youtube in 2010. Her second release, “Bitch, I’m Posh” gained her international acclaim and her third release, YAYA, along with her support of the LGBT community and femme sexuality got her support with QTPOC artists such as Mykki Blanco and Le1f. You can listen to her track with Mykki Blanco, “Wish You Would”, here.
She released a mixtape, “Wavy Spice Presents – The Butterfly Knife Prequel”, and two more songs underneath Wavy Spice. In 2015, she released a project named honeysuckle under Destiny in 2015. Princess Nokia, Destiny Frasqueri’s musical alter ego, came out in 2014 through the track “Nokia”, and the collective released a debut album on May 12, 2014 called Metallic Butterfly.
In 2016, she released a documentary with The Fader, called “Destiny”, which followed her as she got back into rapping and you can watch that here (with deleted scenes). She released her album, “1992”, in September 2016. A lot of her work centers around her “Brown Afro-Indigienous” heritage, sprituality, sexuality, feminism, and her life growing up in New York. In 2017, she had an altercation with an white audience member at Cambridge University, when she slapped and threw drinks at the audience member for yelling obscenities to her.
You can follow Princess Nokia on Instagram, Twitter, check out her most recent music video here, her podcast, Smart Girl Club, here, listen to her conversation at Brown University here, and download her most recent album, 1992, here.
FannyAnn Viola Eddy, pioneering lesbian activist and the
founder of one of the very first gay rights groups in Africa, would have been
“FannyAnn Eddy was a person of extraordinary bravery and integrity, who literally put her life on the line for human rights,” said Scott Long, director of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights Project at Human Rights Watch (x).
FannyAnn was born in Sierra Leone on June 14, 1974. In her
own words, she was a “woman who loves women, someone with many dreams.“
Her experience of growing up gay in Sierra Leone and witnessing the visceral
homophobia and lack of support for LGBT youth led FannyAnn to founding the Sierra
Leone Lesbian and Gay Association in 2002, which was the first of its kind. FannyAnn
rose to prominence in the international world of social activism as well and
was invited to address the United Nations on multiple occasions.
Her life was tragically cut short when she was murdered on
the night of September 29, 2004. While working late in the offices of the Sierra
Leone Lesbian and Gay Association, three men broke into the building and
savagely raped and stabbed FannyAnn. She was survived by her partner. Esther
Chikalipa and their ten-year-old son. The advancement of LGBT rights in Sierra Leone stalled after FannyAnn’s murder and the LGBT community which she loved so much continues to mourn the loss of one of its heroes.