04-29-1933 Willie Nelson – Born in Abbott, Texas. He is a straight ally. American country, country-rock musician, songwriter, guitarist, producer, actor, and activist. He has written songs that are country standards, including Funny How Time Slips Away, Hello Walls, Pretty Paper, and Crazy. He is a supporter of the LGBT movement. In an interview regarding same-sex marriage, Nelson stated, “We’ll look back and say it was crazy that we ever argued about this.”
04-29-1933 – 01-29-2015 Rod McKuen – Born in Oakland, California. He was an American poet, singer/songwriter, and actor. In the late 1960s, he was one of the best selling poets in the U.S., earning two Academy Award nominations and one Pulitzer nomination for his music compositions. McKuen was instrumental in bringing the Belgian songwriter, Jacques Brel, to prominence. He translated Brel’s work into English, which led to the song, If You Go Away. McKuen’s songs sold over 100 million recording worldwide, and 60 million books of his poetry sold as well. McKuen refused to identify as gay, straight, or bisexual. He was active in the LGBT rights movement, and as early as the 1950s, was a key member of the San Francisco chapter of the Mattachine Society. He often gave benefit performances to help LGBT rights organizations and to fund AIDS research. McKuen lived in Beverly Hills, California with his partner Edward and four cats. He died of respiratory arrest in 2015.
04-29-1863 – 04-29-1933 Constantine P. Cavafy – Born in Alexandria, Egypt. He was a Greek poet who lived in Alexandria, Egypt and worked as a journalist and civil servant. He published 154 poems; dozens more remained incomplete or in sketch form. His most important poetry was written after his fortieth birthday. Cavafy is widely considered one of the best modern Greek poets of the twentieth century. During his lifetime Cavafy was an obscure poet, living in relative seclusion and publishing little of his work. This lack of concern for publication was due, perhaps, to the highly personal nature of many poems. Cavafy, who was gay, wrote many sexually explicit poems. W. H. Auden noted as much in his introduction to the 1961 volume The Complete Poems of C. P. Cavafy when he wrote, “Cavafy was a homosexual, and his erotic poems make no attempt to conceal the fact.” Auden added: “As a witness, Cavafy is exceptionally honest. He neither bowdlerizes nor glamorizes nor giggles. The erotic world he depicts is one of casual pickups and short-lived affairs. At the same time, he refused to pretend that his memories of moments of sensual pleasure are unhappy or spoiled by feelings of guilt.”
04-29-1897 – 02-16-1944 Mainie (Mary Harriet) Jellett – Born in Dublin, Ireland. She had her first painting lessons when she was 11 and attended classes given by Elizabeth Yeats, daughter of the artist J.B. Yeats and sister of the poet W.B. Yeats. She studied for three years under William Orpen at the Dublin Metropolitan Art School and in January 1917 went to London to study with Walter Sickert at the Westminster Art School. It was there that Jellett met Evie Hone. They became spiritual and emotional partners. In 1921, she and Jellett moved to Paris. At the end of the year, they returned to Dublin and for the next 10 years, they spent part of the year in Paris. The artists had a joint exhibition in 1924. The women worked closely together for the next two decades. Both their works were shown at the 1928 Olympic Games. In 1923, Jellett exhibited two cubist paintings at the Dublin Painters’ Exhibition, including her painting titled Decoration. Her paintings were derided by the press at the time. Decoration now holds a place of honor in the National Gallery of Ireland. Carolyn Gage (b. 01-01-1952) wrote a play about the meeting and their relationship, entitled Female Nude Seated.
Post contributed by Sandra de Helen – She currently lives and writes in San Diego County, but her heart remains in Portland, Oregon. She is the author of the Shirley Combs/Dr. Mary Watson mystery series, set in Portland; Till Darkness Comes, a thriller set in Kansas City, Missouri; and three collections of lesbian poetry published by Launch Point Press. See more of her work at www.SandradeHelen.com. de Helen is a member of the Golden Crown Literary Society, Dramatists Guild, Honor Roll! and International Centre for Women Playwrights. Follow her on Twitter @dehelen, like her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/dehelen, follow her on Instagram @dehelen.
04-29-1930 Jim Toy – Born in New York City, New York. He is a Chinese-American LGBT activist and educator. Considered a pioneer among LGBT activist in Michigan. Jim Toy identified as being gay during his speech at an anti-Vietnam-War rally in Kennedy Square, Detroit, in April 1970. At the rally Toy was representing the Detroit Gay Liberation Movement, of which he was a founding member. In 1971 Bishop Richard Emrich of the Episcopal Diocese of Michigan appointed Jim a founding member of the Diocesan Commission on Homosexuality. The group published a Report & Recommendations of the Commission on Homosexuality (1973), one of the earliest church documents in this country to support the concerns of gay and lesbian people. His archives are housed in the James Toy Collection at the University of Michigan’s Bentley Historical Library. In 2010, a LGBT research group in Ann Arbor has its center named after him.
04-29-1935 April Ashley, MBE – Born in Liverpool, United Kingdom. She is an English model and restaurant hostess. At the age of twenty-five, she went to Casablanca, Morocco to have sex reassignment surgery by Dr. Georges Burou. She is one of the earliest British people known to have had sex reassignment surgery. Upon returning to England, she started using the name April Ashley and became a successful fashion model, appearing in Vogue and other magazines. She also got a small part in the film The Road to Hong Kong, which starred Bing Crosby and Bob Hope. In 1961, a friend outed her as being a trans woman to the media. She became the center of attention and some scandal, and her film credit was instantly dropped. In the 1980s, she married Jeffrey West on the retired cruise ship, the Queen Mary in Long Beach, California. After the passage of the Gender Recognition Act 2004, Ashley was finally legally recognized as female and issued a new birth certificate. In 2012, she was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire for services to transgender equality.
04-29-1947 – 11-09-2008 Hank Wilson – Born in Sacramento, California. He was a longtime San Francisco LGBT rights activist and long term AIDS activist and survivor. The Bay Area Reporter noted that “over more than 30 years, he played a pivotal role in San Francisco’s LGBT history,” He co-founded many organizations, including the Gay Teachers Coalition; the Butterfly Brigade, which became the Castro Street Safety Patrol; and San Francisco Gay Democratic Club, which became the Harvey Milk LGBT Club. In 1977 he was a leader in defeating the Briggs Initiative that would have banned any gay person from teaching in California. Wilson died of lung cancer in 2008.
04-29-1955 Leslie Allen Jordan – Born in Chattanooga, Tennessee. He is an American actor and playwright. Autobiographical one man show, My Trip Down The Pink Carpet was produced by Jordan’s friend Lily Tomlin. Jordan is an accomplished stage actor and playwright. In one of his best-known performances onstage, he played “Brother Boy” in Sordid Lives, a role he took to the big screen in the popular cult film of the same name. He reprised the role in Sordid Lives: The Series, a televised spin-off of the movie airing on Logo. Jordan has recently starred in the pilot episode of Laugh Out, the world’s first interactive, gay-themed comedy show. In January 2015, he guest starred in the hit British sitcom Benidorm for two episodes as the character “Buck-A-Roo”. Early on in the AIDS crisis, Jordan became involved in AIDS Project Los Angeles as a buddy and as a food delivery person for Project Angel Food. He has been an out gay actor since 1982.
04-29-1966 Michael Alig – Born in South Bend, Indiana. He is an American former club promoter, musician, and writer who served almost seventeen years in prison for manslaughter. He pleaded guilty to manslaughter after killing fellow Club Kid Andre “Angel” Melendez in a confrontation over a drug debt in March 1996. Alig was a prominent member of the Club Kids, a group of young New York City club goers that became a cultural phenomenon during the late 1980s and early 1990s. He was released on parole in May 2014. In school, Alig was a straight A student and graduated in the top 8% of his class. During his teenage years, Alig was often the subject of bullying because he was gay. In October 2015 it was announced that Alig was cast in the horror film Family Possessions, which started shooting in March 2016.
04-29-1967 Rachel Williams – Born in New York City, New York. She is an American model, TV presenter, and landscape designer. She has appeared in the British and Italian issues of Vogue and advertisements for Calvin Klein and Victoria’s Secret. In March 1994, Williams’ manager publicly announced her relationship with British pop singer Alice Temple. Rachel has no problem with the fact she’s with Alice. “I never thought to hide it. I’ve had flings with women before, though my long-term relationships have always been with men. I was pleasantly surprised when I fell for Alice.”
04-29-1983 Hedvig Lendahl – Born in Katrineholm, Sweden. She is a professional football/soccer goalkeeper for Chelsea Ladies. She previously played club football in Sweden for Damallsvenskan clubs. She has kept goal for Sweden at the UEFA Women’s Championship, the FIFA Women’s World Cup, and the Olympic Games. She was the Swedish women’s goalkeeper of the year in 2004, 2005, 2009 and 2014. She is an out lesbian and married Sabine Willms in 2011.