Happy birthday to Nemir
Matos-Cintrón! The Puerto Rican author and poet is known for centering her
lesbian identity in her work.
Nemir Matos-Cintrón speaks at Bilingual Poetry Night at Ana G. Méndez University System, Metro Orlando Campus (x).
Nemir Matos-Cintrón was born on
November 19, 1949 in Santurce, Puerto Rico. She received her B.A. from the
University of Puerto Rico and then later her Master’s from Syracuse University
in New York. She has worked for a time as a television producer and a lecturer,
but Nemir is most famous for her literary work.
Her first two poetry
collections, Las mujeres no hablan así
and A través del aire y del fuego pero no
del cristal, were both published in 1981. Las mujeres no hablan así is one the first known works of Puerto
Rican poetry to deal explicity with lesbian themes.
Her first novel, El amordio
de Amanda, was published in 2007 and tells the semi-autobiographical story of a
young girl growing up in Santurce in the 1960s. Her second novel, Aliens in NYC, deals with the concept of
Puerto Rican migration. Nemir’s latest work was a 2014 short story titled “El
arte de morir” that was a homage to a friend who passed away from AIDS.
Lauren was born on June 27, 1996
in Miami, Florida. After being featured on
The X-Factor as a member of the girl group Fifth Harmony and becoming a
household name, she entered the realm of social activism and began speaking on
her experiences as a Cuban-American and as the daughter of immigrants. Since the
2016 election of Donald Trump, Lauren has written many open letters calling out
his perpetuation of xenophobia and white supremacy. The first of her open
letters was published on November 18, 2016 and was also the first instance
of Lauren commenting on her sexuality; she writes that she is a “bisexual
Cuban-American woman and I am so proud of it.” Read the letter here!
Since coming out, Lauren has been
awarded “Celebrity of the Year” at the 2017 British LGBT Awards. She was also
featured on the Halsey track “Strangers” and was chosen for the feature
specifically for her bisexual identity. Billboard heralded the song as “a
long-overdue bisexual milestone in mainstream music” and Halsey herself said, “I just love that Lauren and I are just two women who have a mainstream
pop presence doing a love song for the LGBTQ community.”
Happy birthday to Rebecca Walker! The bisexual activist and feminist writer is most well-known for being the first person to coin the term “third wave feminism” in the late 1990s.
Rebecca’s latest book is Enduring Violence: Everyday Life and Conflict in Eastern Sri Lanka, which was published in 2016 (x).
Rebecca Leventhal was born on
November 17, 1969 in Jackson, Mississippi. Her mother is none other than the
iconic Pulitzer Prize winning novelist Alice Walker and her father, Mel
Leventhal, is a Jewish American civil rights lawyer. When Rebecca was only 6-years-old,
her parents divorced. She would spend a majority of her childhood alternating
between living with her mother in San Francisco and her father in the Bronx in
New York City. At 15, she legally changed her last name to that of her mother –
Walker. She attended high school at The Urban School of San Francisco and
eventually graduated from Yale University in 1992.
1992 is also the year Rebecca
broke onto the mainstream’s radar with her article “Becoming the Third Wave” in Ms. Magazine. In the article, she tackles the judicial system and the media’s
treatment of Anita Hill and declares that it is in fact time for a “third wave”
feminist movement. Rebecca writes, “To be a feminist is to integrate an
ideology of equality and female empowerment into the very fiber of life. It is
to search for personal clarity in the midst of systemic destruction, to join in
sisterhood with women when often we are divided, to understand power structures
with the intention of challenging them.” To date, she has written over 10
novels. Her 2001 autobiography was titled Black, White, and Jewish: Autobiography of a
Rebecca publicly identifies as
bisexual. She had a relationship with the fellow bisexual musician Meshell Ndegeocello,
whose son she also helped raise. In 2007, she had a son of her own with her
partner Choyin Rangdrol. Today, Rebecca travels around the country as a public
speaker and operates the non-profit organization the Third Wave Fund, which
encourages young women’s involvement in political and social activism.
The collection of essays Queering India: Same-Sex Love and Eroticism in Indian Culture and Society by Ruth Vanita first hit shelves on this day in 2001. Focusing on LGBT subculture in both pre-colonial and post-colonial India, Queering India provides a comprehensive look at real everyday life for LGBT people in India and put Ruth Vanita’s name on the map as a force to be reckoned with in the field of lesbian and gay studies.
Ruth Vanita was born in Rangoon, Burma in 1955, but her family moved to New Delhi when she was only 2-years-old. Although she has been a practicing Hindu ever since her late 20s, her North Indian mother and Tamilian father originally raised her in a Christian household. Ruth suffered from acute myopia as a child and as a result her 8th grade teacher encouraged her mother to simply take her out of school. Thankfully, both of her parents were teachers themselves and were able to home school Ruth through high school and allowed her to enroll in Miranda House College at Delhi University.
She eventually received her PhD in the late 1990s, her thesis serving as the foundation of her book Sappho and the Virgin Mary: Same-Sex Love and the English Literary Imagination. She was the co-founder of the influential activist magazine Manushi: A Journal about Women and Society and has written over 50 academic articles and 8 books in the field of English literature, Indian literature, and LGBT studies. She is currently a professor at the University of Montana and serves as the director of the university’s Global Humanities and Religions Program. You can find Queering India here!
On this day in 2016, the film Baka Bukas was first released in the Philippines
at the Cinema One Originals Film Festival. Baka
Bukas was the directorial debut of lesbian filmmaker Samantha Lee, who says
that the film is “the story of what happens when you fall in love with your
For its English-language distribution, the title of the film was changed to Maybe Tomorrow (x).
Inspired by the director’s own
life experiences, Baka Bukas follows
two girls named Alex and Jess. Alex, played by Jasmine Curtis-Smith, is a semi-out
lesbian with a successful career as a social media manager. Despite having a
family who embraces her sexuality, the one person she has yet to come out
to is her best friend Jess – played by Louise delos Reyes. Things become
complicated when Jess learns that not only is she the only person who Alex is
not out of the closet to, but that Alex is also secretly in love with her.
Unlike other films which deal with friendships between lesbians and straight
girls, such as Almost Adults, Baka Bukas follows Jess on her own journey
of sexual self-discovery as she realizes that she too may have been in love
with Alex this whole time.
The film became a finalist at the
Cinema One Originals Film Festival and won the overall awards for Audience
Choice, Best Actress for Jasmine Curtis-Smith, and Best Sound. It eventually
got a wide release in March on 2017. In an interview with CNN Philippines, director
Samantha Lee said, “I conceptualized the film because I wanted to see a
representation of the LGBT community that went beyond the portrayals that are
shown in mainstream media. The characters in this film are fully flawed
functional human beings. They are more than just an accessory to the plot, they
are the plot.”
On November 14, 2017, the people
of Australia voted yes to legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the nation.
A crowd celebrates in Melbourne, Australia, as the same-sex marriage survey results are announced. Despite the Yes victory, the outcome is not binding, and the process to change current laws will move to the Australian Parliament in Canberra. (Scott Barbour/Getty Images) (x).
The national poll survey to see if the
Australian legislature should legalize same-sex marriage began in September of
this year. After two months of relentless campaigning by LGBT activists, it has
been reported that a 61% of the population has voted to legalize same-sex marriage.
Over 12.7 million people took part in the poll, roughly 79.5% of the country,
and every state and territory returned a majority “yes” vote.
The Australian Prime Minister, Malcolm
Turnbull, has called for Parliament to approve the legalization of same-sex
marriage by Christmas 2017. In response to the poll results, Turnbull said, “They
voted ‘yes’ for fairness, they voted ‘yes’ for commitment, they voted ‘yes’ for
love. And now it is up to us here in the Parliament of Australia to get on with
Happy birthday to Gina Parody! The
current Minister of Education of Colombia recently came out as a lesbian
and made her relationship with the Secretary of
Tourism, Industry and Commerce, Cecilia Álvarez-Correa Glen, public.
Gina Parody gives a speech during her 2011 campaign to be the Mayor of Bogotá. She was eventually defeated by Gustavo Petro (x).
Gina María Parody d’Echeona was
born on November 13, 1973 in the city of Bogotá in Colombia. After graduating
high school, she went on to study law at Pontifical Xavierian University in Bogotá,
criminology at the Universidad de Salamanca in Spain, and political theory at
Columbia University in America. After finishing her education and returning to
Colombia, Gina worked on the 2002 presidential campaign of Álvaro Uribe,
running as an independent candidate for the Chamber of Representatives herself
that same year. In 2014, she was appointed as Colombia’s Minister of Education
by President Juan Manuel Santos.
A photo of Gina Parody with her partner Cecilia Álvarez-Correa Glen published by Jet-Set Magazine following their coming out (x).
Gina came out in a letter from her
partner Cecilia following the tragedy of the 2016 Orlando Nightclub shooting. Spurred
on by homophobic tweets, Cecilia Álvarez-Correa Glen, who also works for the
Colombian legislature as the Secretary of Tourism, Industry and Commerce,
tweeted out a photo of she and Gina with an engagement ring on Gina’s hand and
a message calling for peace and empathy.
On this day in 1969, members of
the Gay Liberation Front and the lesbian organization The Daughters of Bilitis picketed at the Time-Life
Building in New York City. The protest came about in response to a story run in
Time Magazine on October 31, 1969 titled “The Homosexual in America.”
TIME Magazine Cover: The Homosexual in America,” Oct. 31, 1969 (x).
When the October 1969 issue of Time Magazine hit stands and the article “The Homosexual in America” was
finally able to be read, many members of The Gay Liberation Front and The
Daughters of Bilitis felt betrayed. Although taking a slightly more empathetic
angle than articles and essays that preceded it, “The Homosexual in America”
had used interviews with gay and lesbian members of both organizations to ultimately
come to the conclusion that “homosexuality is a serious and sometimes crippling
In response to this sense of
betrayal, gay and lesbian activists crowded the Time-Life building on the
morning of November 12, 1969 with picket signs. They also handed out leaflets to
passersby that read “In characteristic tight-assed fashion, ‘Time’ has
attempted to dictate sexual boundaries for the American public and to define
what is healthy, moral, fun, and good on the basis of its narrow, out-dated,
warped, perverted, and repressed sexual bias.”
Actress and Broadway star, Maude Adams,
was born on this day in 1872. During her run as Broadway’s Peter Pan; or, The Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up,
Maude was the highest paid performer in the country and raked in an annual
income of one million dollars.
Maude Adams photographed by an unnamed photographer in 1900 (x).
Maude Ewing Adams Kiskadden was
born on November 11, 1872 in Salt Lake City, Utah. She was raised in a
hardworking Mormon family; her father worked two jobs for a bank and
for a local mine before passing away when Maude was a child. Her very first
stage appearance happened when she was only 2 months old, starring in The Lost Baby at Brigham Young Theatre. Her mother Annie
Kiskadden had a penchant for the theater and would star in several productions
with her infant daughter on her hip as well. This paved the way for Maude’s
theater career to start in earnest when she joined a traveling theater troupe
as a small child.
Her life became consumed by
performing and she would work steadily as an actress for many years. Maude’s
big break came, however, when her path crossed with that of English writer J.M.
Barrie. Barrie had been being pressured to make his novel The Little Minister
into a play, but he had resisted for fear that no actress could accurately
capture the role of Lady Babbie. After attending a performance of Rosemary in
which Maude starred, Barrie decided immediately that she was the perfect choice
for Lady Babbie. The two’s working relationship would culminate in Maude receiving
the role of a lifetime – Peter Pan in the very first Broadway adaptation of the
iconic novel in 1905.
Maude Adams: Fashion icon and America’s first Peter Pan (x).
The public’s reception of Maude
was as eternally-virginal and virtuous, but the truth of the matter was that
Maude avoided relationships with men not because she was childlike, but because
she was a lesbian. She had two serious relationships throughout her lifetime. Her
first partner was a woman named Lillie Florence, whom she was with from the
1890s to the early 1900s. She met a woman named Louise Boynton in 1905 and the
two stayed together until Louise’s death in 1951. In her later years, Maude became
known as a renowned drama teacher and served as the head of the drama
department at Stephens College. She would pass away at the age of 80 on July
17, 1953. She is buried next to Louise in New York.
Marion Cahill was born on January
4, 1881 in Paterson, New Jersey. Little is known about her early years aside
from the fact that her father was an attorney and she was raised in an upper-middle-class household. In 1900, Marion married a man named Matthew A. Morgan and
became Marion Morgan. The two had ason named Roderick before separating in
1905. In 1910, Marion left New Jersey to have a fresh start with her son in Long
Island, California. She was able to find a job as a P.E. teacher at Manual Arts
High School in Los Angeles, which eventually evolved into a position as a
choreographer for the Orpheum Circuit, a popular chain of Vaudeville theaters, and then a studio of her own.
Marion first discovered her
passion for choreography when she was offered the position as a dance
instructor for a summer program at the University of California, Berkeley. From
there, she was hired by the Orpheum Circuit as a full-time choreographer and spearheaded
a troupe of 25 dancers. Marion traveled back and forth between Los Angeles and
New York City with her troupe performing interpretive dance routines that were
often based on Egyptian or classical Greek and Roman themes. She cultivated a reputation
for being very strict with her dancers; she required all of her dancers to be vegetarian
and would often require them to study classic literature so that they could
understand the source material for their routines.
Marion (right) photographed with her partner Dorothy Arzner in 1927 (x).
Marion first met Dorothy Arzner in
1921 on the set for the film Man-Woman-Marriage,
which the Marion Morgan dancers were featured in. Dorothy was one of the few
powerful women directors in Hollywood and she and Marion worked together often
on such films as Fashions for Women, Get Your Man, and Manhattan Cocktail. Her breakout film was 1929′s The Wild Party. Their business relationship eventually
blossomed into a romance and they became known around Hollywood as dedicated
partners. In her later years, Marion became involved in other areas of the
theater; she graduated from the Yale School of Drama in 1934 and wrote several
short stories and screenplays throughout her lifetime.
In the 1950s, Marion and Dorothy
retired and moved to Palm Springs and lived there together until Marion’s death
on November 10, 1971. Today, all of her dance archives are preserved at the
Jerome Robbins Dance Division of the New York Public Library for the Performing