Category: wlw history

NOVEMBER 20: Marianne Breslauer (1909-2001)

365daysoflesbians:

The famous photographer Marianne Breslauer was born on this day in 1909. Today, Marianne is most well-known for her contributions to the artistic richness of Germany’s Wiemar Era as well as her relationship with the Swiss journalist and photographer Annemarie Schwarzenbach.

A self-portrait by Marianne Breslauer (x).

Marianne Breslauer was born on November 20, 1909 in Berlin, Germany. She inherited an artistic legacy from her parents, her father being the architect Alfred Breslauer and her mother being Doris Lessing, the daughter of the famed art historian Julius Lessing. She began taking photography lessons at age 18 and began to plan for a career as a photographic journalist. Her main inspirations were the well-known German portrait photographer Frieda Riess and the Hungarian photographer André Kertész. Although she had lived and studied in Berlin for all her life, Marianne moved to Paris in 1929 to study under Man Ray. She only stayed briefly, however, and was back in Berlin a year later. Throughout the 1930s, her work was published in esteemed German magazines such as Frankfurter Illustrierten, Der Querschnitt, Die Dame, Zürcher Illustrierten, and Das Magazin

Despite being married to a man named Walter Feilchenfeldt, the center of Marianne’s life was a fellow woman photographer named Annemarie Schwarzenbach. Many historians refer to the two women as simple being “lifelong friends,” but the truth of their relationship was probably something closer to that of lovers. Marianne traveled extensively throughout Europe during her life and created a network of kindred spirits, which is to say, fellow wlw artists. She even became known for her photographs of butch women/”tom boys” throughout the 1930s. It was through one of these lesbian artist friends, Ruth Landshoff, that Marianne and Annemarie were first introduced. The two photographed each other frequently and even traveled to the Pyrenees together in 1933. Annemarie would tragically die in a biking accident in 1942, but Marianne’s legacy would continue to be intertwined with the person she once described as “Neither a woman nor a man, but an angel, an archangel.”

One of Marianne’s multiple photographs of Annemarie Schwarzenbach. In this shot from 1934, Annemarie (left) lies on beach towels with a friend in Potsdam (x).

With the increasing antisemitic climate of Germany in the 1930s and 1940s, Marianne’s publishers began pressuring her to publish her photographs under a pseudonym so as to conceal her Jewish identity. When she refused, she, her husband, and children were forced to leave German and emigrate to Amsterdam and then later Zurich. In her later years, Marianne and her husband opened up their own art gallery specializing in French paintings and 19th century art. She took over the business on the occasion of her husband’s death in 1953 and would eventually pass away herself on February 7, 2001.

-LC

NOVEMBER 17: Rebecca Walker (1969-)

365daysoflesbians:

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
Shifting Self
.

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.

-LC

NOVEMBER 13: Gina Parody (1973-)

365daysoflesbians:

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.

-LC

NOVEMBER 11: Maude Adams (1872-1953)

365daysoflesbians:

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.

-LC

NOVEMBER 10: Marion Morgan (1881-1971)

365daysoflesbians:

Famed screenwriter and
choreographer, Marion Morgan, passed away on this day in 1971. She is most
well-known for being the longtime partner of the out lesbian director Dorothy
Arzner.

An undated portrait of Marion Morgan (x).

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
Arts.

-LC

NOVEMBER 9: Erika Mann (1905-1969)

365daysoflesbians:

The German actress and writer Erika
Mann was born on this day in 1905. She is most well-known for her fearless
anti-fascist artistic and journalistic work during World War II and for starting the cabaret Die Pfeffermühle,
which was a safe haven for Munich’s LGBT community during the 1930s.

During her lifetime, Erika Mann wrote three different novels and multiple plays (x).

Erika Mann was born on November 9,
1905 in Munich, Germany. She was the first child born to Thomas Mann and his wife
Katia. Although she was Jewish on her mother’s side and named after her
maternal uncle Erik, she was baptized Protestant. Her father was a Nobel-prize
winning author and afforded Erika a comfortable and privileged upbringing, but he
confessed to his brother in several letters his disappointment at having a
daughter as his first-born. A son named Klaus would follow soon, however. Klaus and Erika would have an incredibly close relationship for
their whole lives and were bonded by their shared experiences of same-gender attraction. Although not a strong student, Erika was interested
in theater and the arts from a very early age and even started a theater troupe
at her high school. After graduating by the skin of her teeth, she moved to
Berlin and began to further her studies in theater.

“Klaus und Erika Mann, Berlin,” 1930 by

Lotte Jacobi. Often nicknamed “the twins” by family members, Erika (right) and her younger brother Klaus (left) were kindred spirits in a multitude of ways. Klaus was a gay man and Erika was a lesbian and their shared experiences bonded the two for life (x).

Throughout the 1920s, Erika moved
between Berlin and Bremen working with two different theater troupes. She was
married twice in her lifetime; first to the famous German actor Gustaf
Gründgens and then later to the iconic poet W.H. Auden, but they were both lavender marriages – marriages between a gay man and a lesbian that
allowed them to conveniently move about the world of the early 20th century. One of her first lovers was an
actress named Pamela Wedekind who she met while performing in her brother Klaus’s
play Anja und Esther. While Klaus, Pamela,
Erika, and Erika’s first husband Gustaf worked on Anja und Esther, Klaus was engaged to Pamela and Erika was engaged
to Gustaf. These engagements were cover-ups for the real relationships: Klaus
and Gustav and Erika and Pamela. The foursome eventually parted ways in
1929. 

Erika Mann, Klaus Mann, and Pamela Wedekind photographed in the 1920s. Although Pamela was briefly married to Klaus, it was a cover-up for her relationship with Erika (x).

Erika’s other notable affairs would include Therese Giehse, Annemarie
Schwarzenbach and Betty Knox. Erika was in the landmark lesbian
film Mädchen in Uniform in 1931
and
founded the iconic cabaret establishment Die
Pfeffermühle
with her lover Therese Giehse in 1933. Most of the material performed
at the cabaret was penned by Erika herself and was staunchly anti-Fascist. It
only lasted two months before being shut down by the Nazi Party, but during its
short lifespan, Die Pfeffermühle
became a hub for the underground resistance fighters and LGBT community in
Munich.

Erika (far right) poses with other female war corespondents in 1944. One of Erika’s lovers who was also a popular war corespondent, Betty Knox, is pictured fourth from the left (x).

Erika eventually fled Germany and
worked as a journalist and war corespondent for the majority of World War II. After the
war, she, her parents, and Klaus moved to America. Tragically, Erika and Klaus
would soon come under FBI investigation for their illegal “homosexual
activities” and socialist political leanings, the stress of which would result in
Klaus committing suicide. The grief of losing her brother and closest confidant
would never leave Erika. For the rest of her life, she was dedicated to
preserving the work and memory of both her brother and father. Erika herself
passed away on August 27, 1969 from a brain tumor.

-LC

NOVEMBER 8: Blue is the Warmest Colour is rele…

365daysoflesbians:

The film Blue is the Warmest Colour was first released in the United Kingdom
on this day in 2013. After becoming the breakout film of the 2013 Cannes Film
Festival, lesbians everywhere waited with baited breath for the roll out of Blue is the Warmest Colour into theaters.

image

Blue is the Warmest Colour was first released in its home country of France on October 9, 2013 (x).

Based on Julie Maroh’s 2010
graphic novel of the same name, Blue is the Warmest Colour tells the story of a
15-year-old girl named Adèle whose life gets turned upside down when she meets
and falls in love with a blue-haired girl named Emma. After bumping into Emma
on the street one day, Adèle becomes fixated on her and daydreams of her at school, home, and even during sex with her boyfriend. While partying at a gay club with her friends, Adèle
wanders off and finds herself at a lesbian bar and in the presence of the
mysterious blue-haired girl once again. The two enter
into an exciting new relationship, but one that eventually becomes a rocky adult
relationship as Adèle and Emma struggle with keeping the spark between them throughout
the years.

image

In May of 2013, Blue is the Warmest Colour unanimously
won the Palme d’Or and the FIPRESCI
Prize at the Cannes Film Festival. It also made history by its two lead
actresses – Léa Seydoux and Adèle Exarchopoulos – being just the second and
third actresses to ever be awarded the Palme
d’Or
. Although the film came into great controversy for its use of the
straight male gaze and the sexually exploitative working conditions established
by director Abdellatif Kechiche, it still placed at the top of many
publications “Best of 2013” lists and was even nominated for a BAFTA and Golden
Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film. In spite of its flaws both in front
of and behind the camera, the success of Blue
is the Warmest Colour
has afforded it a place in lesbian culture and film
history.  

-LC

NOVEMBER 5: Fire is released (1998)

365daysoflesbians:

On this day in 1998, the movie Fire was first released in India. The
first of Deepa Mehta’s Elements
trilogy and loosely based on Ismat Chughtai’s 1942 story, The Quilt, it was one of the very first mainstream Bollywood movies
to feature a same-gender love story.

Although it first premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in September of 1996, Fire was not shown in India until November 5, 1998 (x).

Starring Nandita Das and Shabana
Azmi, the movie features two young women named Radha and Sita who fall into a
relationship with each other after becoming dissatisfied with their husbands.
The two women are sisters-in-laws who live together in a traditional joint-living
situation. Sita’s husband feels no love for her and constantly leaves her alone while he is out with his younger girlfriend, while Radha’s husband
has come under the influence of a local preacher who has convinced him that
sexual desire should be suppressed. Continually abandoned sexually and
emotionally by their husbands, Radha and Sita begin an affair. The titular
scene of the film is shown in the climax of the story when Radha announces to
her husband that she plans to move out and start a home with Sita and her sari
catches fire.

Fire became a controversial film upon its release. Although it
passed India’s censorship laws, more than 200 people stormed a theater in
suburban Mumbai in a December 2nd  riot and burned Fire movie posters. Multiple
protests of the film rippled out from that and other theaters were forced to
cancel their showing of the film. However, despite the riots and protests, many
Indian film critics and gay activists praised the film for its “gutsy”
portrayal of love between two women. Today in 2017, Fire is seen as one of the tenets of lesbian culture in India and
remains a mainstay in the hearts of Indian women who love women.

-LC

NOVEMBER 2: K.D Lang (1961-)

365daysoflesbians:

Happy birthday to K.D. Lang! The
incredibly influential musician and iconic lesbian cultural icon turns
56-years-old today.

As an out and vocal butch lesbian, K.D. Lang has stood out in the world of country music for over two decades (x).

Kathryn Dawn Lang was born on
November 2, 1961 in in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. When she was still a baby,
the family moved to the rural town of Consort, Alberta. It was there where she
and her siblings were raised by a single mother after their father left the
family when they were young. While attending Red Deer College, K.D. became
fascinated with the life and work of country singer Patsy Cline and became
determined to pursue music herself. After graduating, she moved to Edmonton and
started a Patsy Cline cover band called The Reclines. Travelling around Canada,
K.D. began to make a name and an image for herself as a “cowboy punk”

She first became an international
star after performing as “The Alberta Rose” at the 1988 Winter Olympics. Her
career received another boost after she was chosen to record a duet with Roy
Orbison on a re-record of his hit song “Crying,” which won a Grammy Award
for Best Country Collaboration with Vocals in 1989. As of 2017, she has won 4
Grammy’s in total and has even starred in over 13 films and television shows.
K.D. became a lesbian icon after coming out in an interview with the magazine
The Advocate in 1992. Ever since coming out, she has become a huge activist for
the LGBT community as well as animal rights.

-LC  

NOVEMBER 1: Hannah Höch (1889-1978)

365daysoflesbians:

The German Dada artist and one of
the pioneers of the photomontage, Hannah Höch, was born on this day in 1889.

A 1926 self-portrait by artist Hannah Höch (x).

Hannah was born as Anna Therese
Johanne Höch in Gotha, Germany on November 1, 1889. Her family was of
working-class status and although Hannah received a short education at the
Gotha Höhere Töchterschule, she was eventually taken out of school in order to
help her mother care for her younger siblings. When her youngest sibling, a
sister named Marianne, was finally old enough to care for herself, Hannah was
able to return to school. This time she chose to attend the School of Applied
Arts in Berlin. Her main passion was painting and fine arts, but she studied
the more “practical” crafts of glassmaking and graphic design in order to
appease her father.

With the outbreak of World War I,
Hannah returned home from school and joined the Red Cross; however, not a year
later she moved back to Berlin and found herself in the midst of the wartime
Dada movement. She continued her studies at the School of Applied Arts and
created embroidery patterns for ladies’ magazines so that she could have a
steady income, but her real life was lived in the bars and nightclubs of the
city where she bounced ideas off the likes of iconic artists such as Kurt
Schwitters and Piet Mondrian. One of her most well-known contributions was that
of the photomontage, which is exemplified in her 1919 piece Cut with the Kitchen Knife Dada through the
Last Weimar Beer-Belly Cultural Epoch in Germany
.

One of her most well-known pieces; Cut with the Kitchen Knife Dada through the Beer-Belly of the Weimar Republic, 1919, collage of pasted papers, 90 x 144 cm, Staatliche Museen, Berlin (x).

Hannah was known to have relationships with both men and women. She was only married once, to a man
named Kurt Matthies, but one of her longest-lasting relationships was with the
famous Dutch writer and linguist Mathilda Brugman. Although the relationship
lasted 9 years and the two women openly lived together in the city of Hague,
Hannah never spoke publicly about her sexuality or sexual identity. When the Nazis
rose to power in Germany, much of her art was censored or destroyed after being
labeled “degenerate art.” Despite the danger it put her in, Hannah continued to
create photomontages throughout World War II and until her death on May 31, 1978.

-LC