March 16th People

March 16th

03-16-1885 – 11-04-1959 I. A. R. Wylie (Ida Alexa Ross) – Born in Melbourne, Australia. She was an Australian-British-American novelist, screenwriter, short story writer, and poet. She was recognized world-wide by journalistic and literary establishments of her time. Between 1915 and 1953, more than thirty of her works were adapted into films, including Keeper of the Flame (1942), which was directed by George Cukor and starred Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn. Phone Call From A Stranger (1952) with Bette Davis, Shelley Winters, and Gary Merrill, was another film based on her work. In the 1920s, Wylie lived with Dr. Sara Josephine Baker (b. November 15, 1873), and in the 1934, the couple and another pioneering woman physician, Dr. Louise Pearce, moved to a property called Trevenna Farm, near Skillman, New Jersey. In Wylie’s autobiography, My Life with George (the “George” in the title is her subconscious ego), she stated: “I have always liked women better than men. I am more at ease with them and more amused by them. I too am rather bored by a conventional relationship which seems to involve either my playing up to someone or playing down to someone. Here and there, and especially in my later years, when there should be no further danger of my trying to ensnare one of them, I have established some real friendships with men in which we meet and like each other on equal terms as human beings. But fortunately, I have never wanted to marry any of them, nor with the exception of that one misguided German Grenadier, have any of them wanted to marry me.” Many of her women friends referred to her as “Uncle.”

03-16-1822 – 05-25-1899 Rosa Bonheur – Born in Bordeaux, France. She was a French animalière, realist artist, and sculptor. Bonheur is widely considered to have been the most famous female painter of the nineteenth century. She was known for wearing men’s clothing, her choice of companions, and her penchant for smoking cigarettes. She lived for over forty years with her childhood friend, Nathalie Micas. In the final year of her life she became involved with Anna Klumpke, the author of her “autobiography,” so named because Klumpke had used Bonheur’s first person voice.

03-16-1911 – 02-27-2006 Sybille Bedford (born Sybille von Schoenebeck) – Born in Charlottenburg, Germany. She was a German-born English writer. Bedford was a lesbian that wrote non-fiction and semi-autographical fiction books. In the early 1920s, she travelled between England and Italy. With the rise of fascism in Italy, she settled in the south of France. While there, she became friends with Aldous Huxley. She also socialized with Thomas Mann and Bertoit Brecht, who also lived in the area. In 1933, Bedford published an article critical of the Nazi regime in Die Sammlung, the literary magazine of Klaus Mann, the son of Thomas Mann. When the Nazi’s found out about her Jewish ancestry, her bank accounts were frozen. Thanks to Aldous Huxley’s wife, Marie, Sybille married a gay English Army officer, Walter Bedford (He was an ex-boyfriend of a former manservant of W.H. Auden) and obtained a British passport. After WWII, she spent the remainder of the 1940s living in France and Italy. She had a love affair with an American woman, Evelyn W. Gendel, who left her husband. Between the 1950s and the 1970s, Bedford had a tweny-year relationship with the American novelist Eda Lord. In 1981 she received the Order of the British Empire. Her final work was Quicksands, a memoir published in 2005.

03-16-1938 – 05-02-2005 Jack Nichols (born John Richard Nichols) – Born in Washington, D.C. He was an American gay rights activist. He co-founded the Washington D.C. branch of the Mattachine Society in 1961 with Franklin E. Kameny. He also appeared in the CBS Reports: The Homosexuals (1967). Although he allowed himself to be interviewed on camera, he used the pseudonym “Warren Adkins” in the broadcast because of his father, an FBI agent. His father threatened to kill  him if the U.S. government found out that Jack was his son and he lost his coveted security clearance. Nichols led the first gay rights march on the White House, in April 1965. He and other activists successfully lobbied the American Psychiatric Association to rescind its definition of homosexuality as a form of mental illness.

03-16-1939 – 02-03-2015 Koos Van Den Akker – Born in the Hague, Netherlands. He was a Dutch-born fashion designer based in New York City. He was known for his unique collaged ‘Koos’ designed clothing. Until his death Koos had a store on Madison Ave., New York. He maintained a high profile in New York and LA where entertainers such as Julie and Harry Belafonte, Cher, Elizabeth Taylor, Diahann Carroll, and Barbara Walters were clients. His clients also included Stevie Wonder, Chita Rivera, Brooke Shields, Isabella Rossellini, Glenn Close, Lauren Hutton, and NBA stars Isaiah Thomas and Magic Johnson. In 1991 Koos’ life partner John Bell died of AIDS. Van Den Akker died at the age of 75.

03-16-1954 Anna Grodzka – Born in Otwock, Poland. Transgender pioneer. Poland’s first transgender woman to serve in its parliament when she was elected in 2011. Living as a male, she had married and fathered a son. She transitioned in 2009 after divorcing in 2007. In June 2014, she changed party affiliation and joined the Green party. As of May 2013, she is also the only remaining openly transgender MP in the world.

03-16-1949 Victor Garber – Born in London, Canada. He is a Canadian film, stage, television actor, and singer. Garber is known for playing Jesus in Godspell. He was in Titanic and Argo, and is also known for his portrayal of Jack Bristol on ABC’s show, Alias, for which he earned three Emmy nominations. Garber referred publicly to his homosexuality in 2012. In 2013, he said “I don’t really talk about it, but everybody knows.”

03-16-1958 – 06-06-2004 Kate Worley (born Kathleen L. Worley) – Born in Illinois (city unknown). She was an American comic book writer best known for her work on Omaha the Cat Dancer. She was a writer and performer for the science fiction comedy radio program Shockwave Radio Theater. Kate came out as bisexual in the Omaha letters column in 1988, making her and her then-lover, Reed Waller (he was out as bisexual too), the first openly bisexual couple creators in comics. She was married to Jim Vance, a comic book writer, at the time of her death. She died of cancer in 2004.

03-16-1964 – 05-17-2009   Octavia St. Laurent – Born in Brooklyn, New York. She was an American model and AIDS educator who was active in New York City’s Black and Latino drag society and Harlem’s drag balls. Octavia was featured in the 1990 documentary Paris Is Burning. Octavia was an intersex person that produced more estrogen than most people assigned male at birth. She said that growing up, her parents were accepting. “I had wonderful parents that supported me. My sexuality was not an issue with my parents.”  She also said, “This is me, you understand? No, I am not a woman. No, I am not a man. I am Octavia.” Diagnosed as HIV+, she served as an educator about the disease. During her appearance in the LGBT documentary How Do I Look, Octavia discussed her drug use, sex work, and fight with AIDS. After a long battle with cancer, she died in 2009.

03-16-1969 – 02-11-2010 Alexander McQueen – Born in Lewisham, London, England. He was a British fashion designer and couturier. He is known for having worked as chief designer at Givenchy from 1996 to 2001 and for founding his own label. His achievements in fashion earned him four British Designer of the Year awards (1996, 1997, 2001 and 2003). McQueen was openly gay and said he realized his sexual orientation when he was six years old. He described coming out at a young age by saying, “I was sure of myself and my sexuality and I’ve got nothing to hide. I went straight from my mother’s womb onto the gay parade.” In February 2010, his housekeeper found him hanging at his home on Green Street, London. He died nine days after his mother had died from cancer at the age of 75. A friend of the designer said that McQueen “was doing a lot of drugs and was very unhappy” at the time of his death.

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