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
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.
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.
Check out her summer tour dates here! 1992 Deluxe with six new songs will be released this summer!
Yesterday we covered the lesbian magazine Frauenlibe/Garçonne
and hinted at the LGBT scene of Weimar-era Germany and today we’re diving
right back into Berlin’s gay nightlife of yesteryear to cover a figure who was
at the heart of the scene – the cabaret dancer Anita Berber.
A topless Anita poses for the camera while sporting a short bob haircut, heavy dark makeup, and a collection of pearls which was the popular fashion of the day (x).
Anita Berber was born on June 10, 1899 in Leipzig to an
artistic German family; her father was First Violinist for the Municipal
Orchestra and her mother was a travelling actress and singer. Her parents
divorced when Anita was young and left her to be mostly raised by her
grandmother in Dresden, but despite their lack of physical presence in their
daughter’s life they still passed on a love of performing. At the age
of 16, Anita enrolled in acting classes and made her stage debut a year later
with Rita Sacchetto’s Avant-garde dance
troupe. This was the first step on a career path that would lead her into a
world of scandal, drugs, and historical infamy.
When Anita became involved with Susi Wanowski who was a popular lesbian photographer (pictured right with Anita), she also became involved with Berlin’s Weimar-era lesbian scene. Her performance in the film
Bitte Zahlen (pictured left) reflects her penchant for androgyny and cross-dressing (x), staples of the lesbian subculture.
By 1918, Anita had a robust career. She had toured all over
Germany and Austria with Sacchetto’s dance troupe, had acted in her first
feature film, and had been featured in the popular women’s magazine Die Dame. She was famous for her androgynous appearance
and eye-catching heavy makeup; her trademark was the black lipstick which she
would not be seen in public without. She danced naked for the first time at an
after-show party in Vienna and this too would quickly become one of Anita’s trademarks. She
revolutionized the cabaret scene in Berlin by dancing naked publicly night
after night in various clubs, not wearing much more than a loincloth and two small corsages over
Anita’s career was at its peak when she became a double act with her then-husband Sebastian Droste. The photographer Atelier D’ora took many promotional photos that served as advertisements for the various shows Anita and Sebastian performed (x).
Anita was openly bisexual and had multiple affairs
with men and women. It was even rumored in the streets of Berlin that she had
had an affair with the actress Marlene Dietrich, but there is little evidence
to back that up. Her two most notable partners were Susi Wanowski, who she made her manager and secretary. After meeting the
dancer and poet Sebastian Droste in a Berlin casino, Anita left Susi and
partnered up with him both personally and professionally. Together, Anita and
Sebastian’s careers reached heights they had never seen before, but so did their
drug use. In 1923, after hitting a particularly low point, Sebastian stole all
of Anita’s belongings from their shared apartment and fled to New York City.
The tumultuous break did not halt Anita’s debaucherous love life or dancing
career, but for the next five years she would become increasingly dependent on
cocaine and alcohol. On July 13, 1928, Anita collapsed on stage during a
performance in Beirut and was later diagnose with pulmonary tuberculosis. Her
dying wish was to return home to Berlin, which was fulfilled by the time of her
death on November 10, 1928. You can read more about Anita’s life in The Seven Addictions and Five Professions of
Anita Berber by Mel Gordon.
Yona Wallach was a bisexual poet and rock star who was a crucial
member of the wild, Bohemian group of Tel Aviv poets that sought to make sense
of life, love, and art in Israel in the 1960s and 1970s. Today, on what would
have been her 73rd birthday we celebrate Yona’s life and work!
Yona’s name in Hebrew is יונה וולך and she has been characterized as one of the “divas” of Hebrew poetry (x).
Born on June 10, 1944, Yona grew up in Kiryat Ono, Israel. Her
father was one of the founding members of the town of Kiryat Ono and although
his position offered their family a level of prestige in the community, tragedy
struck when her father was killed in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. Introduced
to grief and death early on in life, her writing would later tackle such dark
themes while also combining them with lively themes of love and sexuality.
In 2015, the film Yona was shown at the Chicago Festival of Israeli Cinema and translated Yona’s life story to the screen in what the writer and director called a “psychological portrait” (x).
Her hometown stood just on the outskirts of Tel Aviv, and so
it’s no wonder that when Yona grew older, the artist was attracted to the
sensibilities of the city and left home to be with her fellow artists. By frequently
contributing to the literary journals Akhshav
and Siman Qri’a, Yona found a
community and fell in with the group of poets who had founded the journals. In
1978, she won the Israeli Prime Minister’s Literary Prize for poetry. She was
also known for having local rock bands accompany her during her poetry
readings, for which she wrote most of their lyrics. A recording of
several of these bands, which features Yona performing with them, was created
in 1982. Although her work was celebrated, it also pushed many of the general
public’s buttons. Yona did not censor the realities of her life within her
poetry and often wrote explicitly about drug use and sex with both men and women;
this resulted in her being blacklisted from many literary publications and even
the vice-minister of the Israeli Department of Education called her “an animal
Tragically, Yona died on September 29, 1985 from breast cancer.
She was only 41 years old. In the time she was on the earth, Yona revolutionized Hebrew poetry and was unashamed in the face of a public that had never
before seen the likes of her bisexual, Jewish, mentally ill, artist self.
On this day in 1899, the famous novelist and master of the
short-story form, Elizabeth Bowen, was born in Dublin, Ireland.
Photographed circa the late 1940s, Elizabeth lies on a chair with her face turned away from the camera (x).
Although she was born in Dublin, Elizabeth and her family soon
moved to Bowen’s Court – the family’s ancestral home at Farahy, County Cork. The
Bowens were an old, prestigious family who were known to have lived in Ireland
for generations, but even then, the glint of her last name could not shield
Elizabeth from a sorrowful childhood; her father became mentally ill when she
was only eight years old, causing him to be hospitalized and Elizabeth and her
mother to move to England. Just five years after the move, Elizabeth’s
mother grew ill and died. Despite the back-to-back family tragedies, Elizabeth remained in England with her aunts and attended Downe House
School. She eventually moved to London to pursue art school, but dropped out after she discovered that her true passion was for literature.
Elizabeth stands in a field with her horse. Her ancestral home of Bowen’s Court can be seen in the background (x).
After quitting art school, Elizabeth fell in with the
Bloomsbury Group – a loose group of writers, artists, and philosophers that
ruled London in the 1920s. The Bloomsbury Group included people such as
Virginia Woolf, E.M. Forster, Lytton Strachey, and Rose Macaulay and was known
for critiquing societal conventions in the way of sexuality, gender, and
economics. In 1923, Elizabeth’s first book, Encounters,
was published and she was also married to her friend Alan Cameron. Elizabeth
and Alan had a happy but sexless marriage; it was well-known that they were
simply friends who had married for convenience and both had many extramarital
affairs. Elizabeth had affairs with both men and women; the most notable of who
were the American poet May Sarton and a Canadian diplomat named Charles
Ritchie, whose relationships with Elizabeth spanned the course of over thirty years.
Sitting on the far left with a cigarette in hand, Elizabeth entertains a group of young women writers in the parlor of Bowen’s Court (x).
In 1930, Elizabeth became the first ever woman to inherit
Bowen’s Court, but rather than move back to Ireland she chose to stay in
London. It was in this period when Elizabeth produced some of her best-known
stories; To The North, The House in Paris, and The Death of the Heart were all
published between the years 1932 and 1938. In 1937, Elizabeth was inducted into
the Irish Academy of Letters. After World War II, she came into the spotlight
once again for her novels The Demon Lover
and Other Stories and The Heat of the
Day, which have been praised as particularly touched accounts of life in
wartime London. Elizabeth and her husband Alan eventually did move back to
Bowen’s Court in their later years and the home became somewhat of a salon/safe
haven for what remained of the Bloomsbury Group, such as Carson McCullers,
Sylvia Plath, and Patrick Hennessy. Elizabeth passed away from lung cancer on
February 22, 1973 at the age of 73.
as the ‘Black Pearl,’ the ‘Bronze Venus,’ or the ‘Creole Goddess,’ Josephine
Baker was a dancer, jazz singer, and actress. She was the first Black woman to star
in a major motion picture, and the first to be celebrated as a major star and headliner in
Europe. Indeed she
was on so many fronts, both as an entertainer and an activist – she
is often remembered for her iconic performance of the Danse Sauvage, but also for fighting in the
French resistance, or for her involvement in the Black Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s.
born Freda Josephine McDonald on June 3, 1906, in Saint Louis, Missouri, to a
single mother, with whom she developed a strained relationship. Poverty and
lack of formal education led Baker to have to fend for herself on the street
most of the time in her childhood and teenage years. She was married and
divorced twice before she was even 19.
Her career started in vaudeville in her teenage years, and following her
troupe she moved to New York during the Harlem Renaissance, where she performed at the Plantation Club and in the chorus of successful Broadway shows, where
she became known for her mimicks and funny faces.
She then travelled with the show to Paris where she performed at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in
“La Revue Nègre.” She was an instant success and decided to break her
contract to stay in France and perform at the Folies Bergères. Her most famous
performance was the “Danse Sauvage,” in which she only wore jewels and a girdle
of artificial bananas; she also used to appear on stage with her pet cheetah,
terrorizing the musicians. She also starred in the films Sirens of the Tropics (1927), Zouzou
(1934) and Princesse Tam Tam (1935).
While she tried to go back to the US, she never got the welcome she hoped for
and the critics were just cruel to her and her voice. She came back to Paris
heartbroken and famously revisited the lyrics to her famous song “J’ai deux
amours,” (as the lyrics previously stated her love for both her native country
and Paris, the alteration claimed her country as being Paris). This is partly
why she renounced her American citizenship and became a French citizen in 1937
by marrying French industrialist Jean Lion.
Baker performing “J’ai deux amours” on the frontline, at the Théâtre aux Armées.
World War II, Baker was recruited by the French military intelligence, to
perform as an informer, gathering information, providing shelter and visas to
resistance fighters. As she travelled to the French colonies in North Africa in
1941 she suffered a miscarriage (not the first one), followed by a severe
infection that led to a hysterectomy.
After the war she was awarded the Croix de Guerre, the Rosette de la Résistance and was made a Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur by Charles de Gaulle. The recognition of her wartime exploits as she returned to the Folies Bergères in 1949 gave her a renewed self-confidence, a new gravitas.
As she was invited back to the US, Baker started to play an influential role in the Black
Civil Rights Movement. In the early 1950s, she refused to perform
for segregated audiences, helping break down the colour barrier in the entertainment industry.
Josephine Baker adopted twelve children with her last husband Jo Bouillon, raising a family at Chateau des Milandes in Dordogne, France – a family she liked to call “The Rainbow Tribe” proving that “children of different ethnicities and religions could still be brothers.”
Beside her four marriages, Baker had several affairs with women like star blues singer Clara Smith, French writer Colette, and Frida Kahlo. However she was quite secretive and never out about her affairs with women, to the point of homophobia towards her gay fan base, or even her own children (she caught one of her sons having sex with another young man, and sent him at his father’s so he would not “contaminate” his siblings). So while Baker would now be considered bisexual, she did not embrace this sexual identity.
She died in Paris on April 10, 1975, of a cerebral hemorrhage.
dancer Isadora Duncan was born on this day in 1877. She is remembered as “The
Mother of Dance” as well as for causing scandal wherever she went by being an
openly bisexual communist and atheist.
Isadora Duncan photographed in London some time between 1906 and 1912 (x).
Duncan was born on May 26, 1877 in San Francisco, California. She was the
youngest of four children born to Joseph and Mary Duncan. Her father worked as
a successful banker for most of his life, but it was not long after Isadora’s
birth that he was exposed for corruption and the family was thrown into
poverty. Her parents would eventually divorce and her mother would move
she and the children to Oakland, California and take up work as a seamstress
and piano teacher. It was the family’s financial troubles that would ultimately
introduce Isadora to dance; she and her siblings dropped out of school early on
and taught dance to local children in order to make money.
She began to
pursue dance as a serious career in 1896 when she joined the Augustin Daly
theater company and moved to New York City. Isadora’s approach to dance was very
nontraditional, though, and she quickly became disillusioned with the New York
dance circuit’s strict reliance on the traditional pantomime style. She moved
to London in 1898 and became a freelance performer, dancing and traveling
around Europe for wealthy patrons. She would soon become a staple of
European art society and a muse to several celebrities such as occultist
Aleister Crowley, fashion designer Paul Poiret, and photographer Eadweard
relationships with men and women throughout her life. She had three children
all out of wedlock and with different men, but all three would tragically die
before reaching adulthood. Her lovers included the famous actress Eleonora
Duse, early feminist activist Lina Poletti, and the writer Mercedes de Acosta.
The letters between her and Mercedes are the most well-preserved out of all her romantic correspondences. In one, Isadora wrote, “Mercedes, lead me with your little strong
hands and I will follow you – to the top of a mountain. To the end of the
world. Wherever you wish.”
Once her dance
career began to wind down in her later years, it was Isadora’s scandalous love
life for which she became most famous for. She would pass away in a tragic
accent on September 14, 1927 in Nice, France. While riding in an Amilcar
automobile of a friend, her long scarf became trapped in its open-spoked
wheels; she was pulled out of the car and broke her neck. She was cremated and
her ashes placed next to those of her late children.
The bisexual painter, Tamara
Łempicka, was born on this day in 1898. Today, she is most well-known for her
revolutionary contributions to the Art Deco style and her stylized nude portraits.
Tamara’s most famous self-portraits,Self Portrait in the Green Bugatti, circa 1925(x).
Her birth name was Maria Górska and
she was born on May 16, 1898 in Warsaw, Poland. Her family lived a high class
life, her father being a Russian-Jewish attorney and her mother being a Polish
socialite. Tamara created her very first portrait at just the young age of ten;
her mother had commissioned a local artist to create a portrait of Tamara, but
Tamara was dissatisfied with the finished project and picked up the pastels to
create what she considered a more worthy portrait of her younger sister.
She spent much of her life
travelling around Europe painting and studying art and her first big breakthrough
did not come until 1925 when her work was exhibited at the prestigious International
Exposition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts. Spotted by journalists
from the American magazine Harper’s Baazar, Tamara’s polished Art Deco pieces
suddenly became all the rage with fashion magazines. Her highlight in Harper’s
Baazar led to even greater success, including expositions in both Milan and
Bordeaux. She would win her first major award in 1927, the first prize at the
Exposition Internationale des Beaux Arts for her portrait, Kizette on the Balcony.
A 1933 nude portrait of one of Tamara’s female lovers, Suzy Solidor (x).
Throughout her life, Tamara was known
for her promiscuity and had open affairs with both men and women. She was
married to a prominent Polish lawyer, Tadeusz Łempicki, in 1916 and had a
daughter by him soon after, but she would have multiple affairs during the
course of their marriage. In the 1920s, Tamara started a long term affair with
the popular Parisian nightclub singer Suzy Solidor, and as a result, found
herself at the center of Paris’s lesbian circle. Through Suzy, she became
friends with such figures as Violet Trefusis, Vita Sackville-West, and Colette.
Tamara passed away on March 18, 1980. Today,
her work is still considered to be high art and imbued with a sense of wealth. Much of her artwork has been featured in Madonna music videos
and multiple A-List celebrities consider themselves Lempicka collectors, such
as Jack Nicholson and Barbra Streisand.
On the morning of April 25, 1993, somewhere between 800,000
and 1,000,000 protesters with the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force descended
upon Washington D.C., culminating in one of the largest protests in United
Demonstrators call for lesbian, gay and bisexual equal rights in Washington, D.C., on April 25, 1993 (PAUL RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images) (x).
LGBT rights activist and member of the National Gay and
Lesbian Task Force, Urvashi Vaid, began planning and laying the groundwork for
1993 March on Washington as far as two years in advance. In 1991, she began
sending out letters to various LGBT groups across the country to ask for their
support in the March and to see who would like to send delegates. After various
meetings throughout the summer of 1991 and 1992, a date for the March on
Washington for Lesbian, Gay and Bi Equal Rights and Liberation was set: April
A group of lesbian protesters, topless and with rainbow flags in hand, cheer on the crowd at the 1993 March on Washington (x)
The March came about in response to Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,
the policy which barred gay men and women from serving openly in the military,
a growing number of LGBT-targeted hate crimes, and the growing feelings of
homophobia that were taking root in the United States at the time. On the Eve
of the March, Urvashi and the other organizers released a list of demands for
which they were marching for. The list included the demand for a lesbian, gay,
bisexual, and transgender civil rights bill, the repeal of all sodomy laws, the
demand for an increase in AIDS education, research, and patient care, and so
much more. When the day of the actual March came, the issue of same-sex
marriage rose to the forefront; around 1,500 same-sex couples gathered outside
the National Museum of Natural History to protest their exclusion from
marriage, and symbolic wedding ceremonies for same-sex couples were performed
outside of the Internal Revenue Service building in D.C.
With such a historically large turnout and with the support
of celebrity speakers and performers such as Eartha Kitt, Madonna, Melissa
Ethridge, RuPaul, and Ian McKellen, the 1993 March on Washington for Lesbian,
Gay and Bi Equal Rights and Liberation successfully brought LGBT issues to the attention
of mainstream America.
Hey everyone, today is Amber Heard’s birthday and I’m just gonna go ahead and let you all know, after doing this little article and the research, I am absolutely, unequivocally in love with her. So let me help you get there too:
Amber Heard was born today in 1986 in Austin, Texas. Heard dropped out of high school and later got her diploma through a home-study program. Raised Catholic, after her best friend was killed in a car crash, Heard became an atheist, citing her boyfriend’s introduction to Ayn Rand is where most of her beliefs stem.
Though Heard hasn’t had many big-name parts (she wasn’t really recognized in mainstream until 2008, after Pineapple Express and winning the 2008 Breakthrough Of the Year Award from young Hollywood Awards), she has been recognized as “very smart, very driven, and very talented” (John Carpenter), “amazing” by “annilhilating that character, in a good way” (Max Berry) and “doing everything that can possibly be done” with her characters (Roger Ebert) (x).
Known for her roles in Friday Night Lights, Pineapple Express, and Zombieland, most of Heard’s roles are of the horror, thriller, and supernatural variety. In 2006, Heard starred in All the Boys Love Mandy Lane, a horror film that follows a group of high school boys who invite a pretty outcast (Heard) to spend the weekend with them at a beach house, where they are all terrorized by a murderer. Other films Heard has had a role in include: The Stepfather, Paranoia, 3 Days to Kill, Machete Kills, Drive Angry, and The Adderall Diaries.
Heard came out in 2010 at GLADD’s 25th anniversary event stating:
“I don’t label myself one way or another–I have had successful relationships with men and now a woman. I love who I love; it’s the person that matters.”
Heard decided to come out publicly when she thought of her role in media and asked herself, “Am I part of the problem?” and answered with, “I think that when millions and millions of hard=working, taxpaying Americans are denied their rights and denied their equality, you ahve to ask yourself what are that factors that are an epidemic problem and that’s what this is.”
You can watch Autostraddle interview Heard, which has the above quotes, here.
Heard dated photographer, Tasya van Ree, from 2008 to 2012. In 2011, she met Johnny Depp on the set of The Rum Diary and moved in with him the next year. Both were charged with breaching biosecurity laws when they failed to report their two Yorkshire Terriers when entering Queensland for a movie Depp was in. Heard plead guilty to falsifying quarantine documents and the two charges of biosecurity were dropped, she paid a thousand dollar fine for falsifying the document, and was placed on one-month good behavior bond. Depp and Heard released a video apologizing for their crime and urging others to learn from them. The Guardian called it the “highest profile criminal quarantine case” in Australian history.
Heard filed for divorce May 23, 2016 and later filed for a restraining order against Depp. A victim of domestic verbal and physical abuse, Heard was treated like shit by the media, where many (including Depp’s lawyers) claimed Heard was making up the abuse in an attempt to get money out of Depp. Her friend, IO Tillet Wright, wrote about calling 911 after the latest incident on May 21 and neighbor, Raquel Pennington also served as a witness.
A settlement was reached August 16, 2016. Heard dropped the file for a restraining order, and dropped the charges against Depp’s friend, Doug Stanhope, for defamation and received 7 million dollars which she donated to American Civil Liberty Union and Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. January 2017, their divorce was finalized.
In November 2016, along with Gabourey Sidibe and Freida Pinto, Heard read a speech by rape survivor, Emily Doe, who won Glamour’s Woman of the Year award. Heard also made a public service announcement for #GirlGaze project where she talked about domestic abuse. In December, she wrote an open letter about her experiences in Porter magazine.
Heard will play Mera, Aquaman’s wife, in DC’s Justice League and Aquaman.