03-17-1912 – 08-24-1987 Bayard Rustin – Born in West Chester, Pennsylvania. He was an American leader in social movements for civil rights, socialism, non-violence, and gay rights. In 1936, he moved to Harlem, New York City and earned a living as a nightclub and stage singer. He recognized Martin Luther King Jr.’s leadership, and helped organize the Southern Christian Leadership Conference to strengthen King’s position. Rustin promoted the philosophy of nonviolence, which he observed while working with Gandhi’s movement in India. Rustin was a gay man who had been arrested for homosexual activity in 1953. In the 1970s, he became a public advocate on behalf of gay and lesbian causes. On November 20, 2013, President Obama posthumously awarded Rustin the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
03-17-1866 – 06-09-1952 Alice Austen (Elizabeth Alice Austen) – Born on Staten Island, New York. She was an American photographer. From the 1880s to the 1930s, she shot around 8,000 photographs that documented the upper middle-class society on Staten Island and poor people living in New York’s Lower East Side. The house she grew up in was built in the 17th century, but was expanded during the 19th century by Alice’s grandparents. The home, called Clear Comfort, was dedicated as a National Historic Landmark on April 8, 1976. It is also known as the “Alice Austen House.” In 1899 Alice met Gertrude Amelia Tate (1871-1962), a kindergarten teacher and dancing instructor from Brooklyn New York. She became Alice’s lifelong companion. She moved in with Alice at Clear Comfort in 1917, overriding her family’s objection over her “wrong devotion” to Alice.
03-17-1938 – 01-06-1993 Rudolf Nureyev – Born in Irkutsk, Russia. He was one of the most celebrated ballet and modern dancers of the 20th century. He defected from the Soviet Union to the West in 1961, despite KGB efforts to stop him. Within a week of his defection, he was signed up by the Grand Ballet du Marquis de Cuevas. On a tour of Denmark, he met Erik Bruhn, soloist at the Royal Danish Ballet, who became his lover, his closest friend, and his protector until Bruhn’s death in 1986. He joined The Royal Ballet as Principal Dancer. His first appearance with the company was dancing with Margot Fonteyn in Giselle on February 21, 1962. Nureyev stayed with the Royal Ballet until 1970, when he was promoted to Principal Guest Artist, enabling him to concentrate on his increasing schedule of international guest appearances and tours. In 1983 he was appointed director of the Paris Opera Ballet. Nureyev’s influence on the world of ballet changed the perception of male dancers; in his own productions of the classics the male roles received much more choreography. Another important influence was his crossing the borders of classical ballet and modern dance by performing both. Today it is normal for dancers to receive training in both styles. In 1984 he tested positive for HIV. He died from cardiac complications at the age of 54.
03-17-1961 Alexander Bard – Born in Motala Municipality, Sweden. He is a Swedish artist, music producer, and writer. Self-proclaimed bisexual, Bard studied in the United States and in Amsterdam, Netherlands. While living in Amsterdam, he earned part of his living as a sex worker. Bard returned to Sweden to study at the Stockholm School of Economics from 1984 to 1989. He also took a strong interest in philosophy and social theory. He has written 3 books on the internet revolution. He formed a band, Army of Lovers, and had over 20 European hits. He disbanded the group in 1996. Army of Lovers have earned a widespread iconic status in the gay culture, often referred to as a perfect example of the postmodern take on the ideals of camp. Since 2011, he has been a judge on Swedish Idol, a spin-off of American Idol.
03-17-1963 Dave Koz – Born in Encino, California. He is an American smooth jazz saxophonist and radio host. He was a member of Bobby Caldwell’s tour and served as a session musician in several bands. His album, Saxophonic, was nominated for both a Grammy Award and an NAACP Image Award. Koz co-hosted The Dave Koz Morning Show on 94.7, The Wave, a smooth jazz station in Los Angeles for six years. He is the host of a weekly half-hour television series named Frequency put on by Fast Focus. Koz was also a bandleader on The Emeril Lagasse Show. On September 22, 2009, he received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In December 2014, he opened Spaghettini & Dave Koz Lounge, a restaurant and live music venue in Beverly Hills, California. In an April 2004 interview with The Advocate, Koz came out publicly as gay.
03-17-1966 Jeremy Sheffield – Born in Chelmsford, United Kingdom. He is an English actor and former professional ballet dancer. He is most noted for his roles in Holby City and Murder in Suburbia on television, as well as in the films, Creep and The Wedding Date. He has a regular role on the British television show Hollyoaks. He is openly gay.