12-25-1843 – 10-10-1915 Albert D. J. Cashier – Born in Clogherhead, County Louth, Ireland as Jennie Irene Hodgers. He was an Irish-born immigrant who served in the Union Army during the American Civil War. Cashier was a transman. On Sept. 4, 1862, at the age of 19, he enlisted into the 95th Illinois Infantry using the name Albert Cashier. The regiment was part of the Army of the Tennessee under Ulysses S. Grant and fought in approximately forty battles. He was once captured but escaped back to Union lines. A transcript from a letter written by Thomas Hannah, Jr., on November 17, 1862 reads:
“…we have just discovered one of our solders belonging to this regiment is a woman and [s]he is found out and sent home…”
After the war, Cashier returned to Belvedere, Illinois. In 1869 he settled in Saunemin, Illinois, where he worked as a farmhand. His employer, Joshua Chesebro, built a one-room house for him. For over forty years, he lived in Saunemin and worked as a church janitor, cemetery worker, and street lamplighter. Because he lived as a man, he was able to vote and later claimed a veteran’s pension under his pseudonym, Albert Cashier. In November 1910, Cashier was hit by a car that broke his leg. A physician discovered his secret in the hospital, but did not disclose the information. On May 5, 1911, Cashier was moved to the Soldier and Sailors home in Quincy, Illinois. He lived there until his mind deteriorated and was moved to the Watertown State Hospital for the Insane in March 1913. Attendants at the Watertown State Hospital discovered that he was female-bodied when giving him a bath, at which point he was forced to wear a dress.
When Albert Cashier died, he was buried in the uniform he had kept intact all those years and his tombstone was inscribed ‘Albert D. J. Cashier, Co. G, 95 Ill. Inf.’. It took nine years for Cashier’s executor, W. J. Singleton, to track Cashier’s identity back to his birth name of Jennie Hodgers. In the 1970’s, a second tombstone, inscribed with both of his names, was placed beside the first.
12-25-1908 – 11-21-1999 Quentin Crisp – Born in Sutton, South London, England. He was an English writer and actor. His one-man stage show, An Evening With Quentin Crisp, was a long-running hit in Britain and America. Crisp was always out and at a time when it was not accepted and considered a crime. As a young man, he enjoyed wearing make-up and painting his nails. His 1968 autobiography, The Naked Civil Servant, was adapted into a 1975 film of the same name and was broadcasted on British and US television. It made him and actor John Hurt into stars. I recommend seeing the film, John Hurt was superb. In 1995 he was among the many people interviewed for The Celluloid Closet. He died of a heart attack in November 1999.
12-25-1972 Staceyann Chin – Born in Jamaica, she now lives in Brooklyn, New York City, New York. She is a spoken-word poet, performing artist, and LGBT rights political activist. Her work has been published in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Pittsburgh Daily, and she has been featured on 60 Minutes. She was also on The Oprah Winfrey Show, where she shared her struggles growing up as a gay person in Jamaica. She is of Chinese-Jamaican and Afro-Jamaican descent. In 2009, Chin published her autobiographical novel, The Other Side of Paradise: A Memoir.
12-25-1911 – 05-31-2010 Louise Bourgeois – She was a French-American artist and a straight ally of the LGBT community. Best known for her large-scale sculpture and installation art (three dimensional), Bourgeois was also a prolific painter and printmaker. Themes of her work included the family, sexuality, the body, as well as death, and the subconscious. She was not affiliated with an art movement but her work fits in with Surrealism and Feminist art. She was married to Robert Goldwater, an American art historian, and had two children. The couple also adopted a child from France. In 2010, Bourgeois used her art to speak up for LGBT equality. She created the piece “I Do,” depicting two flowers growing from one stem, to benefit the nonprofit organization Freedom to Marry. Bourgeois said, “Everyone should have the right to marry. To make a commitment to love someone forever is a beautiful thing.” In 1993 she had created artwork for the AIDS activist group ACT UP.
12-25-1951 Christine Kaufmann – Born in Princeton, Illinois. She is a member of the Montana State Senate since January 2007. She previously served three terms in the Montana House of Representatives. She represents the 41st senate district, based in Helena. A lesbian, she is the first ever out gay Montana State senator.
12-25-1953 Joanna Werners – Born in Paramaribo, Suriname. At the age of 18, she moved to the Netherlands. She is a Dutch writer of Surinamese orgin. Her autobiographical novel Droomhuid was published in 1987. The novel tells about a black woman that’s “tossed about between her love for a black woman and for a white woman.” Her novel Dream Skin is the first lesbian-feminist novel in Surinamese literature. Her writing focuses on black women, their psychological and social emancipation, and lesbian love. (Photo by Michiel van Kempen c.1990)
12-25-1958 Jeff Rohrer – Born in Inglewood, California. He is a former American football linebacker in the NFL for the Dallas Cowboys. He played college football at Yale University and was drafted in the second round of the 1982 NFL Draft. In 2018, Rohrer came out as gay, announcing his engagement to Joshua Ross, his partner of two years. On November 18, 2018, the couple married. His marriage made him the first former or current NFL player to become part of a same-sex marriage. Rohrer had previously been married to a woman and has two children.
12-25-1968 Christine Johnson – Born in Charleston, South Carolina. She was a member of the Utah House of Representatives from 2007 to 2010. She is a native of South Carolina and moved to Utah as a teenager. In 2010 Johnson became executive director of the LGBT civil rights group of South Carolina Equality. She served 29 months as executive director. During her tenure SC Equality acquired the second pro-equality license plate in the Nation, created a PAC, and defeated an anti-transgender health care bill. She also facilitated a working relationship between the SC NAACP and SC Equality to bring about introduction of statewide hate crime legislation. In May, 2013, Johnson became the Vice President of Development and Community Outreach for Planned Parenthood of Greater Washington and North Idaho. In early 2014, she was promoted to Vice President of External Affairs. She resigned on March 28, 2014 in order to travel internationally and consult with other NGOs (non-government organizations) abroad.