March 1st People

March 1st

03-01-1810 – 10-17-1849    Frédéric Chopin – Born in Żelazowa Wola in the Duchy of Warsaw, Poland. He was a child prodigy and completed his musical education and composed his early work in Warsaw before leaving Poland at the age of 20. At 21, he settled in Paris, France. All of Chopin’s compositions include the piano. According to The Guardian, Swiss music journalist Moritz Weber who had been researching letters written by Chopin discovered a “flood of declarations of love aimed at men.” Weber also stated that some of the composer’s writing was intentionally mistranslated. In one letter, Chopin said that rumors about his love affairs were a “cloak for hidden feelings,” and his writing also hints at an interest in “cottaging,” or looking for sex in public toilets. In one letter to a male school friend, he wrote: “You don’t like being kissed. Please allow me to do so today. You have to pay for the dirty dream I had about you last night.” Twenty-two letters on record from Chopin to his friend, Tytus Woyciechowski often began with “my dearest life” and was signed off: “Give me a kiss, dearest lover.” In an 1829 letter to Woyciechowski, Chopin wrote: “My ideal, whom I faithfully serve, […] about whom I dream.” A translation of the letters published by the Fryderyk Chopin Institute in Warsaw, Poland, describes the “ideal” as a woman, despite the original letter using the masculine version of the Polish noun. A spokesperson from the institute spoke on a radio show and admitted that there was no actual proof that Chopin had had relationships with women, only rumors and accounts from family members. In another letter to Woyciechowski, Chopin wrote: “I confide in the piano the things that I sometimes want to say to you.” Weber added: “The fact that Chopin had to hide part of his identity for a long time, as he himself writes in his letters, would have left a mark on his personality and his art. Music allowed him to express himself fully because piano music has the advantage of not containing any words.”

03-01-1893 – 05-09-1968 Mercedes de Acosta – Born in New York City, New York. She was an American poet, novelist, and playwright. Four of de Acosta’s plays were produced. She also published a novel and three volumes of poetry. De Acosta is known for her many lesbian affairs with famous Broadway and Hollywood personalities, and numerous friendships with prominent artists of the period. She never hid her sexuality, which was rare for her generation. In 1916 she began an affair with actress Alla Nazimova and later with dancer Isadora Duncan. She had a five-year relationship with actress Eva Le Gallienne. Over the next decades she was involved with several famous actresses and dancers, including Greta Garbo, Marlene Dietrich, Ona Munson, and Russian ballerina Tamara Platonovna Karsavina. She was rumored to have affairs with Pola Negri, Eleonora Duse, Katharine Cornell, and Alice B. Toklas. She was an advocate for women’s rights. She also became a vegetarian and refused to wear furs. When asked about religion, de Acosta said if she had to be anything, she would be a Buddhist. She was raised Catholic.

03-01-1880 – 01-21-1932 Lytton Strachey – Born in London, England. He was an English writer and critic. Strachey was a founding member of the Bloomsbury Group.  His first great success was Eminent Victorians (1918), a collection of four short biographies of Victorian heroes. This was followed by a biography of Queen Victoria (1921). Strachey spoke openly about being gay with his Bloomsbury friends and had relationships with a variety of men, including Bloomsbury member Ralph Partridge. Details of his sexuality became more widely known after the publication of a biography by Michael Holroyd in the late 1960s. Strachey died in 1932 from stomach cancer.

(Photo by Dora Carrington)

03-01-1899 – 08-10-1958 Oliver Baldwin, 2nd Earl Baldwin of Bewdley – Born in Astley Hall, Malvern Hills District, United Kingdom. He was a Liberal politician. Baldwin was openly gay and was supported by his family but publicly he was closeted. Baldwin had a long term relationship with John Boyle, described as a “charming ne’er-do-well” in The New Statesman. He served in the House of Commons until he became the Earl Baldwin of Bewdley. He then was forced to leave the Commons and take his seat in the House of Lords. Homosexuality was still illegal and later in 1947, presumably to give him a dignified exit from politics, he was appointed Governor of the Leeward Islands (a group of islands in the West Indies). He created a minor scandal by taking John Boyle with him.

03-01-1915 – 09-23-1994 David Wolfe – born in New York City, New York. He was an American film actor from 1949 to 1954. His film credits include, Bagdad (1949), Prisoners in Petticoats (1950), and Smuggler’s Island (1951). After his acting career, he was the romantic partner of Broadway showman Tommy Tune. He was with Tommy Tune for 10 years and died of AIDS in 1994.

03-01-1963 Bryan Batt – Born in New Orleans, Louisiana. He is an American actor best known for his role in the AMC series Mad Men. Primarily a theater actor, he has had a number of roles in movies and television as well. In 2005, Batt told Playbill that he used to worry about the effect of coming out had on his career: “When I played the lead in Sunset Blvd., the movie Jeffrey, where I played a gay role, [I] was coming out, and I was petrified. Back then, every agent told you that if you want to play a straight role, you don’t come out. This was before Ellen [DeGeneres] came out. But now I couldn’t give a rat’s ass. It’s normal to be gay.” Batt lives with his partner, Tom Cianfichi, an event planner. They have been together more than 21 years.

03-01-1960   Art Smith – Born in Jasper, Florida. He is an American chef who worked for former Florida governors Bob Graham and Jeb Bush and was personal chef to Oprah Winfrey until 2007. Smith has authored three award-winning cookbooks. His latest cookbook, published in 2013, focuses on healthy cooking and healthy living. Smith lives in Jasper, Florida with his husband, Jesus Salgueiro, an artist. After being together for ten years, they married at the Lincoln Memorial in 2011. As of 2018, the couple have adopted five children. They also donate their time to many causes, including children’s cooking classes and humanitarian aid.

03-01-1966 Don Lemon – Born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He was a CNN reporter and news anchor, best known as the host of the prime-time CNN Newsroom, based in New York. He was the co-host of CNN Tonight. In 2023 he was fired by CNN. In his memoir, Transparent, Lemon came out as gay and discusses colorism, (term coined by Alice Walker in 1982 based on skin color alone), in the black community, and the sexual abuse he suffered as a child. It was not until he was thirty that he told his mother of the sexual abuse he suffered as a child.

03-01-1967   Michael Mronz – Born in Cologne, Germany. He is a German sports and events manager. In 1989, Mronz organized his first tennis tournament, now called the Cologne Open. In 2006, he was Head of the Organizing Committee of the World Equestrian Games, the second largest sporting event in Germany. He is also Chairman of the relief organization “A heart for children.” Mronz was life-partner of former German Foreign Minister, Guido Westerwelle. The couple entered into a registered civil partnership in 2010. In 2016, Westerwelle died of leukemia. 

03-01-1971 Thomas Adès – Born in London. England. He is a British composer, pianist, and conductor. In 2006, he entered a civil partnership with Israeli filmmaker, Tal Rosner. Their civil union was later terminated. He was made Britten Professor of Composition at the Royal Academy of Music. In 2010, he was appointed foreign member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Music. On October 8, 2015, Adès was elected into the Board of Directors of the European Academy of Music Theatre. He is openly gay.

03-01-1987 Kesha (born Kesha Rose Sebert) – Born in Los Angeles, California. She is an American singer, songwriter, and rapper. Her debut album, Animal, in 2010 became the number one album in the United States. Her single, Tik Tok, is among the best selling digital singles in history, selling over 14 million internationally. As of November 2013, she has sold over 33 million records (albums, tracks and ringtones) in the United States and 60 million records worldwide. She considers herself primarily a songwriter and has written for other artists, including Britney Spears and Miley Cyrus. Kesha was named the first global ambassador for animal rights by the Humane Society of the United States. In 2013, she talked about her sexual orientation with Seventeen magazine, saying, “I don’t love just men. I love people. It’s not about gender.” In 2010, she made a similar statement to Out magazine. She is bisexual.

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