03-25-1942 – 08-16-2018 Aretha Franklin – Born in Memphis, Tennessee. She was an American singer, songwriter, pianist, and civil rights activist. She was also an LGBT ally. By the end of the 1960s, she became known as “The Queen of Soul.” In 1987, she became the first woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Aretha’s sister, Carolyn, was a lesbian. About her, Aretha stated, “I consider her a great woman…She went her own way, lived her own life, and found freedom and her individuality. She had no shame about her sexual preference and spoke the unvarnished truth.” Aretha also recorded with George Michael (1987) and Elton John (1989) — two of the most famous openly gay singers. In 1993, she organized a concert to raise money for the Gay Men’s Health Crisis. In 2011, Aretha sang at wedding ceremony of Bill White and Bryan Eure in New York, solidifying her support for LGBT rights. On November 7, 2017, Aretha sang at what was to be her final public performance for Elton John’s AIDs Gala. She died of cancer on August 16, 2018.
03-25-1947 Sir Elton John (born Reginald Kenneth Dwight) – Born in Pinner, United Kingdom. He is an English singer, songwriter, composer, pianist, record producer, and occasional actor. He has worked with lyricist Bernie Taupin as his songwriter partner since 1967; they have collaborated on more that 30 albums. In his five-decade career, Elton John has sold more that 300 million records, making him one of the best-selling music artists in the world. He has more than fifty Top 40 hits and has received six Grammy Awards, five Brit Awards, an Academy Award, a Golden Globe Award, a Tony Award, a Disney Legend Award, and the Kennedy Center Honors in 2004. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994. Elton John has been heavily involved in the fight against AIDS since the late 1980s. He has been openly gay since 1988. After gay marriage became legal in England, he wed David Furnish on December 21, 2014. He continues to be a champion for LGBT social movements worldwide and same-sex marriage.
03-25-1971 Sheryl Swoopes – Born in Brownfield, Texas. She is a retired American professional basketball player. She was the first player to be signed in the WNBA when it was created. She won three Olympic Gold Medals. Her partner, Alisa Scott, is a former basketball player and Houston Comets assistant coach. Swoops was married from June 1995 to 1999 to her high school sweetheart, with whom she had a son in 1997. In October 2005, with her announcement that she was gay, Swoopes became one of the highest profile athletes in a team sport to do so publicly. Swoopes said, “It doesn’t change who I am. I can’t help who I fall in love with. No one can…Discovering I’m gay just sort of happened much later in life. At the same time, I’m a firm believer that when you fall in love with somebody, you can’t control that.”