February 9th People

February 9th

02-09-1944 Alice Walker – Born in Putnam County, Georgia. She is an American writer and activist. She wrote the novel, The Color Purple (1982), which won the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. She was the youngest of eight children. Walker began writing when she was eight years old. “With my family, I had to hide things,” she said, “And I had to keep a lot in my mind.” In 1952, she was wounded in the right eye by a shot from a BB gun fired by one of her brothers. Because the family didn’t have a car, her parents couldn’t take her to the hospital. It was a week later before she saw a doctor and by that time she became permanently blind in that eye. Stared at and sometimes taunted, she felt like an outcast and turned for solace to reading and  writing poetry. The scar tissue was removed when she turned 14. She later became valedictorian and was voted most-popular girl, as well as queen of her senior class. Her injury allowed her to “really see people and things, really notice relationships, and to learn to be patient enough to care about how they turned out.” In 1965, she met Melvyn Postman Leventhal, a Jewish civil rights lawyer. They were married in 1967, in New York City. Later that year the couple relocated to Jackson, Mississippi, becoming “the first legally married interracial couple in Mississippi.” They were harassed and threatened by whites, including the KKK. The couple had a daughter, Rebecca, in 1969. Walker and her husband divorced in 1976. In the mid-1990s, she was involved in a romantic relationship with singer Tracy Chapman. “It was delicious and lovely and wonderful and I totally enjoyed it and I was completely in love with her but it was nobody’s business but ours.” Walker wrote, “At one point I learned Transcendental Meditation. This was 30-something years ago. It took me back to the way that I naturally was as a child growing up way in the country, rarely seeing people. I was in that state on oneness with creation and it was as if I didn’t exist except as a part of everything.”

 

02-09-1941 Sheila Kuehl – Born in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She is best known for her role as Zelda Gilroy on the TV show The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, which aired on CBS from 1959 to 1963. She was also in the television series The Stu Erwin Show (also known as Trouble with Father) from 1950 to 1955. Her father was Catholic and her mother was Jewish. She was a member of the California State Assembly from 1994-2000 and California State Senate from 2000-2008. She was the first out gay member of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors from District 3 and assumed office on December 1, 2014. In her fourteen years in the State Legislature, she authored 171 bills that were signed into law, including legislation to establish paid family leave, establish the rights contained in Roe vs. Wade in California statute, overhauled California’s child support services system; establish nurse to patient ratios in every hospital; further protected domestic violence victims and their children; prohibited discrimination on the basis of gender and disability in the workplace and sexual orientation in education; safeguarded the environment and drinking water; and many other bills that protected the people of California. She is an advocate of single-payer health care.

 

 

02-09-1874 – 05-12-1925 Amy Lowell – Born in Brookline, Massachusetts. She was an American poet of the imagist school. Lowell never attended college because her family considered it improper for a woman to do so. On her own, she became an avid reader and a book collector. Lowell lived as a socialite and became a world traveler. In 1902, after seeing a performance of Eleonora Duse in Europe, it inspired her to write poetry. It was known that Lowell was a lesbian, and in 1912, she began a relationship with actress Ada Dwyer Russell. Lowell’s poems about Dwyer have been called the most explicit and elegant lesbian love poetry during the time between Sappho and the poets of the 1970s. The two women lived together for over a decade until Lowell’s death in 1925. Lowell posthumously won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1926.

 

 

02-09-1938 – 12-31-2012 Jovette Marchessault – Born in Montreal, Quebec. She was a Canadian writer, artist, and an important pioneer of lesbian and feminist literature and art in Canada. In 1980, with the publication of Triptyque lesbien, she risked her developing career by becoming the first Quebec novelist to declare her lesbianism. A portrait of Marchessault, by artist Robert Laliberté, is on exhibit in the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives’ National Portrait Collection, in honor of her role as a builder of LGBT culture and history in Canada.

 

02-09-1948 Dr. Susan Love – Born in Little Silver, New Jersey. She is an American Surgeon, a prominent advocate of preventative breast cancer research, and author. She is regarded as one of the most respected women’s health specialists in the United States. In 2012, she announced that she was was diagnosed with leukemia and took a leave of absence to pursue chemotherapy treatment. After a successful treatment, she returned to work the following year. On February 22, 2004, she married her partner, Dr. Helen Sperry Cooksey in San Francisco.

 

02-09-1989 Ari-Pekka Liukkonen – Born in Pieksämäki, Finland. He is a Finnish swimmer that has competed in the 2012 and 2016 Olympics. On February 2, 2014, Liukkonen came out as gay in a Yle Finnish TV interview, becoming one of the first out gay athletes in Finland. He was one of 49 out LGBT athletes that participated in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

 

 

 

02-09-1957 Carla Trujillo – Born in Las Vegas, New Mexico. She is an American writer and teacher. She has a PhD in educational psychology from the University of Wisconsin. Her first novel, What Night Brings (2003), received the Miguel Mármol Prize for best work of fiction by a Latino. It was also a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award. Trujillo is the editor of Living Chican Theory (1998) and Chicana Lesbians: The Girls Our Mothers Warned Us About (1991), which won the Lambda Literary Award. She has taught at Lambda Literary Foundation’s Emerging Writers Retreat, U.C. Berkeley, Mills College, and San Francisco State University. She is openly lesbian.

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