Category: lgbt

FEBRUARY 20: Rihanna (1988-)

365daysoflesbians:

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Rihanna was born Robyn Rihanna Fenty today in 1988 in Saint Michael, Barbados and grew up in Bridgetown. She recorded under producer, Evan Rogers, in 2003 and signed with Def Jam Records after impressing their then-president, Jay-Z, after auditioning. She started to come across the air waves in 2005 with her deubt album, Music in the Sun, and followed this with her 2006 album, Girl Like Me which brought us popular singles such as ‘Pon De Replay’ and ‘SOS’. She took over creative control after her third album, Good Girl Gone Bad, which came with a change in her public image, or rather, the way she presented herself. She won her first Grammy with her famous single ‘Umbrella’ which she collaboarted on with Jay-Z. She released four more platinum albums, one of which was a Grammy winner, 2012’s Unapologetic. A lot of her singles are some of the best-selling singles of all time, including: ‘Take a bow’, ‘We Found Love’, and ‘Stay’ among others. She is the youngest artist to have fourteen #1 Hit Singles on Billboard 100 and has won eight Grammys, twelve American Music Awards, two Brit Awards, and won the inaugural Icon Award at the 2013 American Music Awards.     

As a fashion icon, Rihanna released a line in 2011 with Armani. In 2014 she was the face of the French house of fashion, Balmain. June that same year, at the Council of Fashion Designers of America, Rihanna won the Fashion Icon Award, saying: “Fashion has always been my defense mechanism.” In December, she announced that she was now the creative director of sportswear fashion brand, Puma. In 2015, Rihanna became the face of Dior, the first black woman to do so. In 2016, she worked with Manolo Blahnik to create an all denim fashion shoe line and collaborated with Label Dior to create her own line of sunglasses, Rihanna which you can find on Instagram.  

She played in Battleship as Petty Officer Cora Raikes, Home as lead character, Tip Tucci (which is on Netflix!), and you can catch her on the final season of Bates Motel, as Marion Crane, starting this Monday. And keep a lookout for her in Ocean Eight as Nine Ball to be released next year!

More Reasons To Love Ri:

When a man professed his love for her while presenting her an award, she dabbed in response.

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This year, she was nominated for eight Grammy’s and walked away with none of the awards but definitely had a better time than anyone else:

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And this wonderful video that, I’m not gonna lie, took me ten tries to even understand the lyrics. 

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(Source: x)// Can’t Remember To Forget You

She is a wonderful bisexual black woman who cares about her fans, for some reason cannot wink but won’t let that stop her from trying, and uses art to encourage love even when others refuse to give you what you deserve.

If you’re not in love with her already, maybe these links will help:

Follow Rihanna on her website, Instagram, Twitter, and Youtube.

~lex lee.

FEBRUARY 19: Carson McCullers (1917-1967)

365daysoflesbians:

Today: the Queen of Southern Gothic, Carson McCullers herself.

Her first and most famous novel, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, set the stage for the kind of things that Carson explores in her fiction: isolation, the experience of social misfits and outcasts, forces of oppression and their consequences on a personal level.

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Carson McCullers photographed by Carl Van Vechten, 1959.

She was born Lula Carson Smith in Georgia. She learned piano when she was a child, and started getting into writing around 15, when her father gave her a typewriter. After graduating high school, she took off for NY. Her plan was to study piano at Juilliard there, but this was cut short by a bout of rheumatic fever. After returning from Columbus, GA, where she’d gone to recuperate, she worked a series of menial jobs while in parallel actively pursuing a writing career and attending night classes at Columbia. Her first story, an autobiographical piece, was published when she was just 19. She married Reeves McCullers, another aspiring writer, the following year, and they moved to Georgia but they divorced in 1941, at which point she headed back to NY and formed close friendships with many of the writers there. After WW2, she lived mostly in Paris, and in 1945, she remarried Reeves.

The later part of her life was overshadowed by chronic illness, alcoholism, and depression. In 1948, she attempted suicide; in 1953, Reeves tried to
convince her to commit a double suicide with him. She fled but he did go through it. By her early thirties, she had complete paralysis on her left side, a consequence of the strokes she endured in her youth. She ultimately died of a brain hemorrhage in 1967.

Carson may have been married to Reeves, but she certainly performed a lesbian persona in her public life. She wore men’s clothes, and aggressively pursued women, though it appears that none of her attempts to seduce women were successful. Her most famous love was the Swiss writer Annemarie Schwarzenbach. In an article for The Nation, Sarah Schulman writes about McCullers’s complicated relationship with women, gender, and sexuality:

In the absence of reciprocated lesbian love and the inability to
consummate lesbian sex, McCullers still wore a lesbian persona in
literature and in life. She clearly wrote against the grain of
heterosexual convention, wore men’s clothes, was outrageously aggressive
in her consistently failed search for sex and love with another woman,
and formed primary friendships with other gay people.

Schulman actually develops her exploration of McCullers’s identity and modes of identification in a New Yorker article, noting that

I started to realize that McCullers’s gender trouble was not of the
homosexual kind, and it slowly dawned on me that, had she been alive
today, not only would McCullers (and Williams and Capote) have probably
been in A.A. and on antidepressants, she might have been living as a
transgender man. She did once tell Capote, “I think I was born a boy,”
which doesn’t, in and of itself, mean much—but how many of us, as little
girls, have never had that thought? Most.

McCullers’s memory is notably honored through the McCullers Center for Writers and Musicians. Suzanne Vega even devoted an entire album to her. Read her works online at the Open Library.

– AK

FEBRUARY 18: Audre Lorde (1934-1992)

365daysoflesbians:

Here at 365 Days of Lesbians, we never get tired of “praise the Lorde” puns, and it’s only appropriate that we should honor her legacy today, on her birthday.

Audre Lorde is one of the major names when it comes to reading about Black/female/queer identities. As a Black writer (essayist and poet), Womanist, lesbian, and civil rights activist, she has brought major contributions to the intellectual and literary landscape of the 20th- and 21st- centuries.

Recording of Audre Lorde live at UCLA in the early 1990s
 

She was born in NYC, the youngest of three daughters, to parents who were Caribbean immigrants from Barbados and Carriacou. As a child, she was nearsighted to the point of being legally blind. She learned very early on how to talk, read, and write, and everything in her life points to how precocious a writer & wordsmith she was – and she eventually attended Hunter College High School, a school for intellectually gifted students. In her autobiographical writings, she also described her relationship with her parents as difficult – they worked long hours and were emotionally distant. All of this may have encouraged her to turn to poetry as a potent form of expression.

She worked for many years as a librarian, in parallel to her writing, notably earning a master’s degree in Library Science from Columbia University in 1961. In 1966, she became head librarian at Town School
Library (NYC).
In 1980, 
she co-founded Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press, the first U.S. publisher for women of color, along with with Barbara Smith and Cherríe Moraga (this is the press that notably published This Bridge Called My Back). Lorde notably helped women – and especially Black women – rethink feminism on their own terms, to escape the toxicity of white feminism

In 1984, Lorde headed to Berlin to start a visiting professorship. Once there, her influence was a source of inspiration for many black women in there; her impact on the Afro-German movement was chronicled in a documentary by Dagmar Schultz. Watch the trailer here:

Throughout the last years of Audre Lorde’s life, her recognition never ceased growing, but she was weighed down by a battle with cancer – first breast cancer, for which she underwent a mastectomy, then liver cancer. In her Cancer Journals, she explores her experience with breast cancer, and how it intersects with her identities. In 1992, Audre Lorde passed away from liver cancer; before her death, she participated in

a naming ceremony

and took on the name Gambda Adisa,
meaning Warrior: She Who Makes Her Meaning Known.

We couldn’t think of a more fitting name for our Lorde and Savior.

– AK

FEBRUARY 17: Claudia Schoppmann (1958-)

365daysoflesbians:

It’s all good to be talking about lesbian history, but lesbian historians also do exist and it’s always great to have people from one’s community actively researching that community’s history and doing their utmost to bring it to light. Today, we bring you one such person: German historian Claudia Schoppmann.

Born in Stuttgart, in 1958, Claudia Schoppmann started out her studies in the fields of history, communication, and the German language; she now lives in Berlin. Her studies and books mainly focus on LGBT themes, and her main work, Days of Masquerade, was the product of extensive research on the lives and culture of lesbians under the Third Reich/in Nazi Germany. It explains how lesbian identities were perceived in different ways than male homosexuality, and more often completely dismissed or forgotten. The blatant lack of documents to work with then adds to the uncertainty of historiographic work within this time period.

If you speak German, you’ll surely be interested in this interview with Claudia.

– AK

FEBRUARY 16: Katharine Cornell (1893-1974)

365daysoflesbians:

What’s up with early 20th-century Broadway and all the lesbians? We don’t have a straightforward answer to that but we’ll do our best to clarify just how queer the theater milieu really was (still is?) by casting the spotlight (see what we did there?) on Katharine Cornell.

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Cornell was a stage actress, writer, theater owner and producer whose legacy in the US theater world is undeniable. Her parents were from the US, but she was actually born in Berlin, Germany, where her father was teaching at the time. Her parents traveled back with her six months later to the US, and settled down in Buffalo, NY. She displayed early on a disposition for performance, and when she moved to New York City after her mother’s death in 1915 and joined the Washington Square Players, her talent was quickly recognized and praised. Even when she appeared in less critically successful plays, her performance still garnered tremendous praise, as when she played Jo in a stage adaptation of Little Women in London.

When she returned to New York, she met Guthrie McClintic, a young male theater director whom she married in 1921. This is generally acknowledged as a lavender marriage, though, since both spouses were known to be gay. Cornell was part of what was called “sewing circles” in NY – a phrase coined by actress Alla Nazimova to
describe the underground/closeted lesbian & bi actresses in early 20th-century Hollywood (though this was definitely extended to the NY Broadway milieu). Cornell notably had relationships with Nancy Hamilton, Tallulah Bankhead (remember her?), and Mercedes de Acosta, among others.

Cornell was the first actress to win a Drama League Award and, along with her friend Helen Hayes, was often called the “First Lady of the Theatre.” She formed a production company with her husband, which helped them have complete freedom in & control over the choice and production of plays. Cornell remained in the theater milieu even when the film industry started getting more prosperous and quickly enough pushed famous stage actresses to the side, as she was determined to help the theater remain a vibrant world. You can find a more complete description of all her roles and the evolution of her career in her Wikipedia entry, as well as in the obituary that The New York Times wrote for her, and this article on the archives focused on her life and work, hosted at the University of Buffalo. And enjoy this footage of her, in what is alleged to be her sole performance on screen, in the 1943 movie Stage Door Canteen:

– AK

FEBRUARY 15: Susan B. Anthony (1820-1906)

365daysoflesbians:

Susan B. Anthony is famous in the US for her involvement in the (white) women’s suffrage movement – back in November 2016, many flocked to her grave to leave their “I Voted” stickers there.

Anthony photographed by Napoleon Sarony, date unknown. 

She was born in 1820 in Massachusetts, in a Quaker family – which explains her lifelong involvement in activism. She was first active in temperance-focused circles, which led her soon after to women’s rights, and particularly suffrage for women. She endured a lot of opposition and abuse for her positions, but this didn’t deter from traveling and lecturing all around the country.

What is perhaps less well-known is her personal penchant for women. Of course, this was at a time when such words as “lesbian” had not entered mainstream vocabulary and historians are still divided on whether we can apply a modern label to 19th-century relationships, or whether there’s even enough to substantiate the hypothesis that Anthony was a lesbian – but still! It’s quite obvious that her most important relationships were with women, and she also never married. She was rumored to have been been the “third person” in the marriage of Elizabeth Cady
Stanton, her longtime companion with whom she traveled giving speeches
. She was also rumored to be involved with a few other ladies.

Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, circa 1870. 

Is she nonetheless a lesbian icon? No – at least not to us. Her passionate defense of the women’s right to vote was mainly focused on the white women’s right to vote. She made several statements that made her priorities clear, and at this point, our lesbianism is like feminism: if it excludes people, then it’s not for us. We thank her for her contributions, and move on to find other heroines.

– AK

They got married 😍

They got married 😍

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FEBRUARY 14: Angela Robinson (1971-)

365daysoflesbians:

As luck would have it, our lesbian of the day for Valentine’s Day is the one and only Angela Robinson, the fantastic writer, director, and producer who brought us the iconic D.E.B.S., The L Word, and Girltrash! among other things.

REMEMBER THIS?

LGBT themes are central to Angela’s projects. In addition to D.E.B.S., she has created the online series Girltrash!, which is related to The L Word. She has also worked as a writer, director, & producer for Herbie: Fully Loaded, Hung, True Blood, and Charlies’ Angels. In a 2006 article for AfterEllen.com, she explained how we need to take back power and start making the lesbian content we want to see featured:

My panel epiphany is: We have the power now.
We have the tools of creation and the means to distribute our work. We
don’t have to beg for scraps and try to cross over. We can make our own
stuff and let them come over here if they want. In fact, let’s break
down this here and there crap and just make great, fun, moving,
hilarious, intense, bold work. It’ll work if we support each other and
talk to each other, say on sites like this, right now. The gatekeepers
are dying, slowly but surely, and now is the time for the artist to talk
directly to the audience, without the middleman. And everybody can be
an artist, not just the people on the panel, but each and every one of
the people in the audience.

I would love to see Dykeback Mountain,
if it happens. Hell, I would like to make it myself. But my hope (and
prediction) is that it will be just one of many lezzie movies, TV shows,
shorts, books, songs, blogs, whatever. It will happen if we make it,
sell it, buy it or give it away. It’s in our hands. Get to work.

photo credit: Alessandro Abbonizio / Angela Robinson at the 2005 premiere of Herbie

In a 2014 radio interview, she explains what it is like to be a black, female, lesbian director in Hollywood, how diversity plays out in this milieu, and the neecessity of having diversity:

What different perspectives do women and other ethnicities bring?
“This specific example happened on True Blood last year where there was
this episode I was writing and there was a character who was being
created, a white guy who was really eccentric and I guess went back and
wrote it as a black woman. I just changed the character because it had
to be a white guy. I was just like, “Why not just make this a black
woman?” And I try to do that whenever I can. Just change it.“

She has a son with her partner, Alex Kondracke, and they live in California. Happy birthday, and happy Valentine’s, Angela!

– AK

Find someone who looks at you the way Ana look…

Find someone who looks at you the way Ana looks at Mimi 😍