February 12th People

February 12th

02-12-1902 – 07-16-1967   Bet van Beeren – Born in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. She was a flamboyant bar owner in Amsterdam. She named the bar Café ’t Mandje (The Basket Café) because her mother brought the food in every day in a basket. Van Beeren was openly lesbian and her bar catered to lesbians and gays, as long as there was no kissing, which would have violated the vice laws and caused her to lose her liquor license. Her clientele included artists, intellectuals, pimps, prostitutes, and sailors. She often dressed in a sailor suit or leathers, and entertained her customers with singing and dancing. Making a lot of money from the pub, she became known for her charity works, helping the poor, children, and the elderly. During WWII, she allowed the bar to be used as an arms depot for the Dutch resistance. Her bar was off limits to Nazi troops because it was considered a red-light establishment. She hung neckties and souvenirs from patrons from the ceiling and held dances on Queen’s Day, where same-sex couples could dance together. Van Beeren died of liver disease (it was told that she drank up to 40 bottles of beer a day) in July 1967. She was laid in state on the billiard table of the bar for several days before being buried. Greet, van Beeren’s younger sister continued to run the pub until 1982. Shortly before Greet died, she sold it to her niece, Diana van Laar. Van Laar completed a renovation of the pub and reopened it on April 2, 2008. In 2017, a bridge was renamed on the pub’s 90th anniversary to honor van Beeren, representing her building of bridges between diverse groups. (Top photo shows van Beeren in sailor suit; Bottom photo is Café ‘t Mandje by FaceMePLS)

02-12-1923 Franco Zeffirelli – Born in Florence, Italy. He was an Italian director and producer of films and television. Known principally for his 1968 version of Romeo and Juliet, for which he was nominated for an Academy Award. His 1967 version of The Taming of the Shrew remains the best-known film adaptation of the play. He was also a director and designer of operas and a former senator (1994-2001) for the Italian centre-right “Froza Italia” party. In 1996 he came out as gay. He considered himself “homosexual” rather than gay, he felt the term “gay” was less elegant.

02-12-1963 Jacqueline Amanda Woodson – Born in Columbus, Ohio. She is an African-American writer of books for children and adolescents. Best known for Miracle’s Boys, which won the Coretta Scott King Award in 2001. She was named one of six Hans Christian Andersen Award finalists on March 17, 2014. She is openly lesbian with a lifelong partner and two children.

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