February 8th People

February 8th

02-08-1931 – 09-30-1955 James Dean – Born in Marion, Indiana. He was an American actor best known for his role in Rebel Without a Cause. He had starring roles in three films before his untimely death in an automobile accident; East of Eden (1955), Rebel Without a Cause (1955), and Giant (1956). After his death, Dean became the first actor to receive a posthumous Academy Award nomination for Best Actor, and remains the only actor to have had two posthumous acting nominations. When Dean was questioned about his sexuality, he said, “No, I am not a homosexual. But I’m also not going to go through life with one hand tied behind my back.” Screenwriter William Bast was one of Dean’s closet friends and also Dean’s first biographer, James Dean: A Biography (1956). Bast was Dean’s roommate at UCLA and later in New York, they were close friends the last five years of Dean’s life. A second biography by Bast, published in 2006, Surviving James Dean, was more candid about his relationship with Dean; it featured material that Bast did not include in his first book due to personal fears and because of the social stigma of being gay or bisexual. Bast admitted that their friendship had included sexual intimacy. Dean had affairs with women and men. In 2001, Elizabeth Taylor, who was also a friend of Dean’s, referred to him as gay during a speech she made at the GLADD Media Awards in 2001. Actor and director, Mark Rydell, stated, “I don’t think he was essentially homosexual. I think that he had very big appetites, and I think he exercised them.” James Dean remains a cultural icon to this day, loved by both men and women.

02-08-1911 – 10-06-1979 Elizabeth Bishop – Born in Worcester, Massachusetts. She was an American poet and short-story writer. Bishop was the Poet Laureate of the United States from 1949 to 1950, the Pulitzer Prize winner for Poetry in 1956, the National Book Award winner in 1970, and the recipient of the Neustadt International Prize for Literature in 1976. She was a lesbian and lived in Petrópolis, Brazil with architect Lota de Macedo Soares, who was descended from a prominent and notable political family, for 15 years. Much of their relationship is documented in Bishop’s extensive correspondence with Samuel Ashley Brown. The relationship deteriorated in its later years, becoming volatile and tempestuous, marked by bouts of depression, tantrums, and alcoholism. From 1971 to 1979 she was involved with Alice Methfessel. Reaching for the Moon (2013) is a Brazilian movie about Bishop’s life when she was living in Brazil with Lota de Macedo Soares. The Portuguese title of the film is Flores Raras. Highly recommend seeing the film.

02-08-1863 — 07-04-1952 Ada Dwyer Russell – Born in Salt Lake City, Utah. She was a stage actress both on Broadway and London and became the muse to her poet lover Amy Lowell. Russell met Lowell in 1912 in Boston while on tour. She moved in with Lowell in 1914. Their relationship would last over a decade until Lowell’s death in 1925. Lowell referred to Dwyer as “the lady of the moon” and loved Dwyer’s daughter and grandchildren as her own. Lowell’s poems about Russell have been called the most explicit and elegant lesbian love poetry written between Sappho and the poets of the 1970s. Russell’s father was asked to leave the Mormon church in 1913 by its top leaders after telling other Salt Lake members that same-sex activity was not a sin.

02-08-1869 – 10-27-1941 Georgette Leblanc – Born in Le Cannet, near Cannes, France. She was a French operatic soprance, actress, and author. She had a 23-year relationship with playwright Maurice Maeterlinck. The last fifteen years of her life, she lived with lesbian Margaret Anderson (b. November 24, 1886). Leblanc appeared in a couple of French films, including L’Inhumaine (1924). The last decades of her life she wrote two commercially successful autobiographies, several children’s book, and travelogues. She is buried in the Notre Dame des Anges Cemetery beside Margaret Anderson.

02-08-1926 – 02-04-1968 Neal Cassady – Born in Salt Lake City, Utah. He was a major figure of the Beat Generation of the 1950s, and the psychedelic and counterculture movements of the 1960s. In 1941, Cassady had his first gay relationship with Justin W. Brierly, his teacher and mentor. In June 1944, he went to prison for possession of stolen goods. Upon his release in October 1945, he married LuAnne Henderson. The couple went to New York where Cassady met Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg. Cassady married several times and had an on and off sexual relationship with Ginsberg that lasted for tweny years. He died of a drug overdose just before his 42nd birthday.

02-08-1944 Harmony Hammond – Born in Chicago, Illnois. She is an American artist and writer. Hammond is openly lesbian and curated A Lesbian Show in 1978 that featured lesbian artists. She was one of the featured artists in the “Great American Lesbian Art Show” at the Woman’s Building in 1980. In 1999, she curated an exhibition in Santa Fe titled Out West, bringing together 41 lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and two-spirit artists from the Southwest. In 2000, she published Lesbian Art in America: A Contemporary History. She has had more than 30 solo exhibitions internationally. Her works are in permanent collections in the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Brooklyn Museum, the National Museum of Women in the Arts, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the New Mexico Museum of Art.

02-08-1964 Nicole LeFavour – Born in Colorado, place unknown, and was raised in Central Idaho in Custer County. She is an American politician and educator from Idaho. She served as an Idaho State Senator from 2008 to 2012. LeFavour previously served in the Idaho House of Representatives from 2004 until 2008. LeFavour’s partner of 12 years, Carol Growhoski, was eventually invited to participate in the “Legisladies,” a social organization of legislative spouses. LeFavour was the first openly gay member of the Idaho Legislature. She has made a personal “It Gets Better” video, in which she noted “When I first walked into this building (the Idaho Statehouse) fifteen years ago to talk to lawmakers about what it was like to be a gay person in Idaho, many didn’t think they had ever met anyone gay; sadly, some were cruel… Today, I serve in the Senate next to some of the same people and some have changed…” She is featured in the 2013 documentary Breaking Through and is currently writing a memoir about her time as Idaho’s first openly gay legislator.

02-08-1971 Maura Healey – Born in Hampton Falls, New Hampshire. She was elected as Attorney General in the state of Massachusetts in 2014. She is the first openly gay attorney general in the U.S. Healey’s women’s rights platform focuses on sex education, expanding access to abortion services in Massachusetts, and ensuring that every woman in Massachusetts has access to reproductive health care regardless of where she lives, her occupation, or her income. She is openly gay and lives in Charlestown, Massachusetts with her partner, Gabrielle Wololhojian.

02-08-1983 Jim Verraros – Born in Crystal Lake, Illinois , He is an American singer/entertainer. Notable for being one of the top 10 finalists in the first season of American Idol. Because he was raised by deaf parents, he is fluent in American Sign Language. On September 6, 2009, Verraros married his boyfriend Bill Brennan in a small ceremony in Illinois – despite gay marriage being illegal there at the time. (Same-sex marriage was legalized by law, signed on November 20, 2013 by Governor Par Quinn that took effect on June 1, 2014.)

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