01-29-1954 Oprah Winfrey – Born in Kosciusko, Mississippi. She is an American media mogul, talk show host, actress, producer, and philanthropist. Winfrey is best known for her talk show, The Oprah Winfrey Show, which was the highest-rated television program of its kind in history and was nationally syndicated from 1986 t0 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. She has long been an advocate for LGBT rights. When Ellen DeGeneres came out in 1997 on her TV show, Oprah played her therapist. After the episode aired, Oprah received a lot of hate mail, as did Ellen. Neither woman gave in and the rest is “herstory.”
01-29-1927 – 04-06-2013 Don Shirley – Born in Pensacola, Florida. He was an American classical and jazz pianist, as well as a composer. Shirley recorded many albums for Cadence Record Company during the 1950s and 1960s, experimenting with jazz with a classical influence. His compositions included organ symphonies, piano and cello concertos, a one act opera, and string quartets. During the 1960s, Shirley went on tour, some venues were in Southern states. He hired New York-nightclub bouncer Tony “Lip” Vallelonga as his driver and bodyguard. Their story has been made into the 2018 film Green Book. The screenplay was written by Tony Vallelonga’s son, Nick, Peter Farrelly, and Brian Currie. Nick used letters written by his father and Shirley that were sent to “Lips” wife, Dolores. The scene in the film depicting Shirley being handcuffed to a YMCA shower by a cop that discovered him having sex with another man is factual. In the 1980s, Nick told Shirley and his father that he wanted to make a movie about their experiences together. Shirley told him to do it but to wait until after he was no longer around. “You should put in everything your father told you, and everything I told you,” Nick recalls Shirley telling him. “You tell exactly the truth, but you’re going to wait until I pass.” Nick believes that Shirley wanted him to wait because Shirley worried that telling the true story would out his sexuality. Shirley passed away from heart disease in April 2013, less that five months after “Lip” died.
01-29-1960 – 01-29-1986 Gia Marie Carangi – Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, She was an American fashion model during the late 1970s and early 1980s. Considered by some to be the first supermodel, she was featured on the cover of fashion magazines, including four international editions of Vogue and multiple issues of Cosmopolitan between 1979 and 1982. Her first major shoot, published in October 1978, was with top fashion photographer Chris von Wangenheim, who had her pose nude behind a chain-link fence with makeup artist Sandy Linter. Gia became infatuated with Linter and pursued her, though the relationship never went anywhere. Gia also appeared in advertising campaigns for Armani, Christian Dior, Versace, and Yves Saint Laurent. She became addicted to heroin and later contracted HIV and died of AIDS-related complications. One of Carangi’s friends later spoke of her “tomboy persona” describing her relaxed openness about her sexuality as reminiscent of the character Cay in the 1985 film Desert Hearts. In 1998, Gia, a biographical television film starring Angelina Jolie, debuted on HBO. Jolie won a Golden Globe Award and a SAG Award for her performance. Thing of Beauty – The Tragedy of Supermodel Gia by Stephen Fried is well worth reading
01-29-1960 Greg Louganis – Born in El Cajon, California and is of Samoan and Swedish descent. At eight months old, he was placed for adoption. He was raised by his adoptive parents, Frances and Peter Louganis, in Southern California. He is an American Olympic diver, LGBT activist, and author. During the 1984 and 1988 Summer Olympics, he won gold medals on both the springboard and platform. He is the only male and second diver in Olympic history to sweep the diving events in consecutive Olympic Games. He has been called both “the greatest American diver” and “probably the greatest diver in history.” From 1983 to 1989, Louganis was in a romantic relationship with his manager, R. James “Jim” Babbitt. Louganis said the relationship was abusive, saying at one point in 1983, Babbitt raped him at knifepoint. Babbitt also infected him with HIV. In 1995, in an interview with Barbara Walters, Louganis spoke publicly for the first time about being gay and HIV-positive. In June 2013, Louganis announced his engagement to paralegal Johnny Chaillot in People magazine. They married on October 12,2013. Louganis is a gay rights activist, as well as an HIV awareness advocate and has worked with the Human Rights Campaign to defend the civil liberties of the LGBT community and people diagnosed with HIV/AIDS. His autobiography, Breaking the Surface, spent five weeks at number one on the New York Times Best Seller list.
01-29-1949 Doris Davenport – Born in Gainesville, Florida and raised in Cornelia, Georgia. She is a writer, educator, and literary and performance poet. Davenport identifies as African American, Appalachian, Feminist, and LGBTQ, which all heavily influence her writings. Her Doctorate of Philosophy (PhD) in Literature was earned from the University of Southern California. As a self-identified lesbian, Davenport incorporates anecdotes from her life that revolve around her relationships with women. She has published eight books of poetry and gives performances at colleges. Davenport lives in Cleveland, Georgia.
01-29-1965 Jessica Lynn – Born in California, city unknown. She is an advocate for the transgender community. She has traveled over a million miles, to 28 different nations bringing her message of hope, understanding, and respect. Lynn has spoken to almost every University in England and the United States. Lynn’s presentation is an upbeat hour and a half of honest, emotional, and revealing history of her journey as a parent who turned to activism when her children were taken from her because she transitioned. A Texas Court removed her name from her son’s birth certificate because she is transgender. Sometimes funny, sometimes factual, and always sincere, she answers all questions with honesty and candor. She is a Global Ambassador for the Kinsey Institute at the University of Indiana, a Stonewall School Role Model, a speaker for the National Health Service in England, and a collaborator with colleagues from the University of Oxford on a project to help further the understanding of transgender and gender non-conforming youth. Jessica Lynn holds dual citizenship in the UK and the USA.
Contribution to LGBTDailySpotLight.com by Malinda Lodge
Malinda transitioned six years and half years ago after she retired. Her background includes private industry, Paramedic, Fire Service, Law Enforcement, Emergency Management, and Educator. She is now focused on travel, photography, and writing. When she is home, she lives on the Central Coast of California.
01-29-1975 Sara Gilbert – Born in Santa Monica, California. She is an American actress, best known for her role as Darlene Conner on the ABC sitcom Roseanne from 1988 to 1997. She was also co-host and creator of the daytime talk show The Talk, and had a recurring role as Leslie Winkle on CBS’s The Big Bang Theory. Gilbert came out as a lesbian in 2010. She began a relationship with songwriter and former 4 Non Blondes front woman Linda Perry. They married on March 30, 2014.
01-29-1982 Adam Lambert – Born in Indianapolis, Indiana. He is an American singer, songwriter, and actor. He came to prominence in 2009 when he became the runner-up on the eighth season of American Idol. Lambert has a flamboyant, theatrical, and androgynous performance style, and a powerful, technically skilled tenor voice with multi-octave range. He has received numerous awards and nominations, including a Grammy Award nomination for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance in 2011 and an Honorary GLAAD Media Award in 2013. By April 2012, his first album had sold nearly two million copies worldwide and 4.2 million singles worldwide as of January 2011. Times magazine identified Lambert as the first openly gay mainstream pop artist to launch a career on a major label (RCA) in the U.S.
01-29-1971 Clare Balding OBE – Born in Kingsclere, United Kingdom. She is an openly lesbian British television presenter, journalist, and retired amateur jockey. She works as a broadcaster and presenter for BBC Sport, Channel 4 and the show Good Morning Sunday on BBC Radio 2. Balding has close family links to horse racing. Her maternal grandmother, Priscilla Hastings, is descended from the Earls of Derby and was one of the first women elected to membership of the Jockey Club. She formalized her relationship with BBC Radio 4 announcer and newsreader Alice Arnold in September 2006 by entering into a civil partnership.