07-16-1907 – 01-20-1990 Barbara Stanwyck – Born in Brooklyn, New York. She was an American actress that had a 60-year career in both film and television. She made 85 films in 38 years. Stanwyck was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress four times and won three Emmy Awards for her work in television. During the late-1920s, Stanwyck taught dance at a gay and lesbian speakeasy owned by lesbian, Texas Guinan. Tallulah Bankhead once said she slept with Stanwyck. Biographer Axel Madsen says “unearthing the truth about Stanwyck’s sexuality would remain impossible,” but also notes “people would swear she was…Hollywood’s biggest closeted lesbian.” Also, most historians agree that her marriages to Frank Fay and Robert Taylor were studio-backed “lavender marriages” created to keep the closet sealed tight. Stanwyck also refused to discuss her own sexuality. Her most consistent relationship was with publicist Helen Ferguson. Ferguson was with Stanwyck for most of her career, sometimes living with her. Stanwyck died in 1990 of congestive heart failure at the age of 82.
07-16-1956 Tony Kushner – Born in New York City, New York. He is an American playwright and screenwriter. He received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1993 for his play, Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes, and co-authored with Eric Roth the screenplay for the 2005 film, Munich. He also wrote the screenplay for the 2012 film Lincoln. Both were critically acclaimed movies. For his work, he received a National Medal of Arts from President Obama in 2013. In 2003 Kushner and his partner Mark Harris held a commitment ceremony. It was the first same-sex commitment ceremony to be featured in the Vows column of The New York Times. In the summer of 2008, they were legally married at the city hall in Provincetown, Massachusetts.
07-16-1973 Chad Griffin – Born in Hope, Arkansas. He is an American political strategist best known for his work advocating for LGBT rights in the United States. Following the 2008 passage of California’s Prop. 8, Griffin founded the American Foundation for Equal Rights to overturn the law. Perry v. Brown was ultimately successful following a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in June 2013. In 2012 Griffin was appointed the president of the Human Rights Campaign, the largest LGBT rights organization in the United States.
07-16-1943 – 12-07-1990 Reinaldo Arenas – Born in Oriente, Cuba. He was an openly gay Cuban poet, novelist, and playwright. His autobiography, Before Night Falls, was on the New York Times list of the ten best books of the year in 1993. On December 7, 1990, after battling AIDS, Arenas died of an intentional overdose of drugs and alcohol. In a suicide letter for publication, Arenas wrote: “Due to my delicate state of health and to the terrible depression that causes me not to be able to continue writing and struggling for the freedom of Cuba, I am ending my life . . . I want to encourage the Cuban people abroad as well as on the Island to continue fighting for freedom…Cuba will be free. I already am.” In 2012 Arenas was inducted into the Legacy Walk, in Chicago, Illinois, an outdoor public display which celebrates LGBT history and people.
07-16-1954 Jeanette Mott Oxford – Born in Eldorado, Illinois. She is an American activist and politician. She is currently the Executive Director of the Missouri Association for Social Welfare, after having served as a member of the Missouri House of Representatives. She was the first openly lesbian member of the Missouri Legislature.