07-02-1951 – 02-19-2002 Sylvia Rae Rivera – Born in New York City. She was an American drag queen and a transgender activist. Rivera is considered to be the one that put the “T” in LGBT. She was a veteran of the 1969 Stonewall uprising. Rivera was a founding member of the Gay Liberation Front and the Gay Activists Alliance. With her close friend, Marsha P. Johnson, Rivera co-founded Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR), a group dedicated to helping homeless young drag queens and trans women of color. She was of Puerto Rican and Venezuelan descent. Rivera was abandoned by her father early in life and became an orphan after her mother committed suicide when she was three years old. She was raised by her Venezuelan grandmother, who disapproved of her effeminate behavior, especially when Rivera started to wear makeup in the fourth grade. As a result, Rivera began living on the streets at the age of eleven and worked as a prostitute. She was taken in by the local community of drag queens where she stayed until she was 18. In the 1980s and 1990s, Rivera refused to have drag queens and drag culture erased from the newly prominent assimilationist gay rights agenda led by gay leaders that were seeking to make the gay community look more attractive to the heterosexual majority. In 2015, Rivera became the first trans-American added to the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery. She died of complications from liver cancer in 2002.
07-02-1869 – 12-16-1950 Liane de Pougy (born Anne Marie Chassaigne) – Born in La Flèche, Sarthe, France. She was a Folies Bergère dancer, novelist, and one of Paris’s most beautiful and notorious courtesans. She married at the age of 16 because she was pregnant. Her husband, a naval officer, was abusive. She left him and her son and went to Paris where she supported herself with acting and prostitution. It later became known that she was a heavy user of both cocaine and opium. The Countess Valtesse de la Bigne taught her how to be a courtesan. Her lesbian affair with writer Natalie Clifford Barney is recorded in her novel, Idylle Saphique, published around 1901. The two were said to have had deep feelings for each other for the remainder of their lives.
07-02-1906 – o5-27-1987 Bruce Nugent (Richard Bruce Nugent) – Born in Washington, D.C. He was a Harlem Renaissance writer and painter, and one of the few that came out as gay publicly. During his career in Harlem, Nugent lived with writer Wallace Thurman from 1926 – 1928, which led to the publishing of Smoke, Lilies, and Jade in Thurman’s publication Fire!!!. The short story subject matter was bisexuality and more specifically interracial male desire. Many of his illustrations were featured in publications, such as Fire!!!. Four of his painting were included in the Harmon Foundation’s exhibition of Negro artists, which was one of the few venues available for black artists in 1931. His work was aggressive and honest in his approach to homoerotic and interracial desire.
07-02-1968 Eric Fanning – Born in Kalamazoo, Michigan. He is the first openly gay person to be the Secretary of the Army. He was appointed by President Obama on November 3, 2015, and confirmed by the US Senate on May 17, 2016. Fanning is the highest-ranking openly gay member of the Department of Defense. He has spent most of the preceding 25 years in government service.
07-02-1984 Johnny Weir – Born in Coatesville, Pennsylvania. He is an American figure skater. Weir is the 2008 World bronze medalist, a two-time Grand Prix Final bronze medalist, the 2001 World Junior Champion, and a three-time U.S. national champion (2004-2006). In his memoir, Welcome to My World, published in 2011, Weir officially came out as gay, citing a string of gay youth suicides as one reason for his decision.