04-16-1939 – 03-02-1999 Dusty Springfield – (born Mary Isobel Catherine Bernadette O’Brien) Born in West Hampstead, London, England. She was an English pop singer and record producer whose career extended from the late 1950s to the 1990s. With her distinctive sensual sound, she was an important blue-eyed soul singer and at the peak of her career was one of the most successful British performers, with six top 20 singles on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and sixteen on the U.K. Singles Chart from 1963 to 1989. She is a member of both the US Rock and Roll and UK Music Halls of Fame. International polls have name Springfield among the best female rock artists of all time. In the biography, Dancing With Demons, “…the confidence Springfield exuded on vinyl was a facade masking severe insecurities, addictions to drink and drugs, bouts of self-harm, and fear of losing her career if exposed as a lesbian.” From mid-1966 to the early 1970s she lived in a domestic partnership with fellow singer Norma Tanega. In the 1970s and 1980s, she became involved in several romantic relationships with women in Canada and the US that were not kept secret from the gay and lesbian community. From late 1972 to 1978, Springfield had an “off and on” domestic relationship with Faye Harris, a US photojournalist. In 1981, she had a six-month love affair with singer-musician Carole Pope of the rock band Rough Trade. In 1982 she met an American actress and singer, Teda Bracci, at an AA meeting. In April 1983 the pair moved in together and seven months later they exchanged vows at a wedding ceremony which was not legally recognized under California law. They had a “tempestuous” relationship and separated within two years. In January 1994 while recording her final album, A Very Fine Love, in Nashville, Dusty Springfield felt ill. When she returned to the United Kingdom, her physicians diagnosed breast cancer. In spite of vigorous treatments, she died on March 2, 1999. Her induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame had been scheduled two weeks after her death. Her friend Elton John inducted her into the Hall of Fame, declaring, “I’m biased but I just think she was the greatest white singer there ever has been… Every song she sang, she claimed as her own.”
04-16-1919 – 07-26-2009 Mercier “Merce” Cunningham – Born in Centralia, Washington. He was an American dancer and choreographer who was on the leading edge of American modern dance for more than 50 years. For more than six years he danced as a soloist in the Martha Graham Dance Company. He formed his own company in 1953 and choreographed almost 200 works for his dancers. His works have been performed by the Paris Opéra Ballet, New York City Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, White Oak Dance Project, and London’s Rambert Dance Company. His life partner was American composer and music theorist, John Cage (Sept. 5, 1912). Photo is of Merce Cunningham in 1948 by photographer Philippe Halsman.
04-16-1940 Joan Synder – Born in Highland Park, New Jersey. She is an American painter that has been awarded fellowships by Guggenheim, MacArtur and the National Endowment for the Arts. In 2011 Snyder married her partner of 28 years, Margaret Cammer. Cammer is a retired New York State Acting Supreme Court Judge.
04-16-1957 – 11-04-1995 Essex Hemphill – Born in Chicago, Illinois. He was an American poet and LGBT activist. He was a 1993 Pew Fellowships in the Arts recipient. His poetry has been published widely in journals, and his essays have appeared in High Performance, Gay Community News, The Advocate, Pyramid Periodical, Essence and others. In 1993, he was a visiting scholar at the Getty Center. The poems and essays in Ceremonies address the sexual objectification of black men in white culture, relationships among gay black men and non-gay black men, HIV/AIDS in the black community and the meaning of family. He died of AIDS-related complications on November 4, 1995.
04-16-1969 Charles Pierre Chauvel – Born in Gisborne, New Zealand. He is a New Zealand lawyer and former politician who served in Parliament from 2006 until March 2013. He was the first New Zealand MP of Tahitian ancestry. He now serves with the United Nations Development Programme. Chauvel was a board member of the New Zealand Aids Foundation from 1990 to 1994, serving as chair in 1996. He is openly gay.
04-16-1975 Sean Maher – Born in Pleasantville, New York. American actor. He is best known for his role as Simon Tam in the science fiction television series Firefly and the follow-up movie Serenity. Maher and his partner Paul have two adopted children. Following the birth of their daughter, Maher took two years off from acting to be a stay-at-home dad. He publicly came out in 2011.
04-16-1984 Amelia Atwater-Rhodes – Born in Silver Spring, Maryland. She is an American author of fantasy and young adult literature. She has been featured in Seventeen, JUMP* Magazine, Entertainment Weekly, USA Today, The New Yorker, The Rosie O’Donnell Show and CBS This Morning. Several of her novels have been ALA Quick Picks for Young Adults; Hawksong was The School Library Journal Best Book of the Year, and Voice of Youth Advocates Best Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Selection. On July 4, 2010 she married her partner, Mandi McCresky.
04-16-1987 Carlien Dirkse van den Heuvel – Born in Hertogenbosch, Netherlands. She was a Dutch field hockey player. At the 2012 Summer Olympics, she competed for the Netherlands women’s national field hockey team in the women’s event. The team won the Gold medal at the 2012 London games. In 2014 the team won gold at the World Cup. She was one of ten openly LGBT Olympians to medal in London and one of 49 open LGBT athletes to participate in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.