June 24th People

June 24th

06-24-1883 – 02-20-1942   Eleanora “Nora” Houston – Born in Richmond, Virginia. She was an American painter, women’s rights advocate, and suffragist. She began to study art under Richmond artist Lillie Logan at the age of 10. It was there that she met her “very intimate friend” and lesbian life partner Adele Goodman Clark. Houston and Clark joined the Art Club of Richmond as teenagers. Houston went on to study art in New York and Paris. In 1909, Houston and Clark began teaching at the Art Club of Richmond and opened their own studio. Both women worked with the Equal Suffrage League of Virginia to get the right to vote for women. They also worked to improve race relations in Virginia and encouraged black women to vote and helped them to register. In the 1920 election, Houston and Clark drove black women to the polls to vote. In the late 1930s, the women and others established the Craig House in Richmond as a place for African American artists to create and exhibit their work. Houston’s work is in the permanent collection at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, as well as other museums.

06-24-1906 – 01-02-1971   Willard Maas – Born in Lindsay, California. He was an American experimental filmmaker and poet. Maas graduated from State Teachers College at San Jose and in the 1930s moved to New York where he continued his education at Long Island College and Columbia University. His wife was filmmaker Marie Menken. The couple was known for their experimental films and for their salons, which brought together artists, writers, filmmakers, and intellectuals, including Andy Warhol, Kenneth Anger, and Edward Albee. Mass had extramarital gay affairs, but Menken apparently did not resent them; their shouting matches were instead a kind of “exercise.” According to Andy Warhol, “Willard and Marie were the last of the great bohemians. They wrote and filmed and drank—their friends called them ‘scholarly drunks’—and were involved with all the modern poets.” It is thought by filmmaker Kenneth Anger that Maas and Menken may have been the inspiration for the characters of George and Martha in Edward Albee’s play Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf. Maas died four days after his wife.


06-24-1963 – 08-27-1983 Robert “Bobby” Griffith – Born in Alameda County, California. Griffith was gay and faced pressure from his mother, Mary, a devout Presbyterian who believed her son’s orientation was sinful and that he would go to hell. Bobby committed suicide in 1983 by jumping off a highway overpass. After his death, his mother reexamined her religious beliefs and her thoughts about homosexuality. She became one of the nation’s most outspoken advocates for gay youths and their families. Mary has appeared on 20/20 and The Oprah Winfrey Show. In 1995, Prayers for Bobby: A Mother’s Coming to Terms with the Suicide of Her Gay Son by Leroy F. Aarons, a gay journalist, was published and in 2009 the film, starring Sigourney Weaver was released. The book contains extensive writings from Bobby’s diary, where he wrote of his fears and hopes, joy and self-loathing, convictions and confusion. A quote from his diary: “I can feel God’s eyes looking down on me with pity. He can’t help me though, because I’ve chosen sin over righteousness.”

Since 1990, the Bobby Griffith Memorial Scholarships have been awarded to Contra Costa County high school graduates who contribute to the community by improving the environment for LGBTQ youth  – https://www.equalityscholarship.org/bobby-griffith

06-24-1964   Rev. Paul Raushenbush – Place of birth unknown. He is an ordained Baptist minister. He comes from an interfaith family background and is passionate about social justice. Currently, he serves as Senior Vice President and editor of Voices at Auburn Seminary. His husband is the American author Brad Gooch. They have two children.

1900 – 12-18-1993 (DOB unknown) Betty Carstairs (Marion Barbara “Joe” Carstairs) – Born in Mayfair, London, England. She was a wealthy British power boat racer known for her speed and her eccentric lifestyle. She usually dressed as a man, had tattooed arms, and loved machines, adventure, and speed. Openly lesbian, she had numerous affairs with women, including Oscar Wilde’s niece, Dolly Wilde, Greta Garbo, Tallulah Bankhead, and Marlene Dietrich. During WWI she served in France with the American Red Cross, driving ambulances. In 1925 she inherited a fortune through her mother and grandmother from Standard Oil. She died in Naples, Florida in 1993.

1952 (DOB unknown) – Mariana Romo-Carmona – Born in Chile, emigrated to the U.S. with parents at the age of 14. She produced the first Mariana Romo-Carmonalesbian and gay bilingual radio program. She is also the author of several books, including Speaking Like an Immigrant: A Collection.

1952 (DOB unknown) – Helen Zia  – She is a Chinese-American journalist; covers Asian communities. She is a former Executive Editor of Ms. magazine. ZiaHelen Zia was profiled in Bill Moyers’ PBD documentary, Becoming American: The Chinese Experience. In 2008 she married Lia Shigemura in San Francisco.

1957 (DOB unknown) – Patria Jimenez – She is a Mexican politician and head of E! Closet de Sor Juana (Sister Juana’s Closet) First openly gay member of Mexico’s Patria Jimenezlegislature in the country’s history – the first in any legislature in Latin America. She is a major Latin American voice for LGBT rights and civil rights for all.

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