March 31st People

March 31st

03-31-1990 – 04-18-2019   Lyra McKee – Born in Belfast, Northern Ireland. She was a journalist from Northern Ireland that wrote about the consequences of the Troubles (the conflict in Northern Ireland that began in the 1960s). She was also a gay right s activist and “believed passionately in social and religious tolerance.” McKee, who was named Sky News Young Journalist of the Year in 2006, was writing a book on the disappearance of young people during the violence in Northern Ireland. She had also written about her struggles growing up gay in Northern Ireland. On April 18, 2019, McKee was shot during rioting in the Creggan Area of Derry, Northern Ireland. Violence had broken out after police raids on dissidents with the aim of seizing munitions ahead of the Easter Rising (also known as the Easter Rebellion) parades that were to take place in the area that weekend. McKee was standing near an armored police Land Rover when a gunman fired up to twelve shots towards the police. She was hit in the head and died later at the area hospital. The leaders of Northern Ireland’s main political parties released a joint statement condemning the killing of McKee and described it as “an attack on all the people of this community, an attack on the peace and democratic processes.“ McKee was in a domestic partnership with Sara Canning, a nurse. After her death it was revealed that she had been planning to propose marriage to Canning, and had purchased an engagement ring. Her funeral was attended by then Prime Minister Theresa May, Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, and Irish President Michale D. Higgins. Father Martin Magill received a standing ovation when he asked why it took her death to unite politicians. Days later the British and Irish governments announced a new talks process aimed at restoring Ireland’s political institutions. That has now happened after three years of deadlock. On February 11, 2020, four men were arrested under the Terrorism Act in Derry. A 52-year-old man was charged with McKee’s murder the following day. (2nd photo is a mural of Lyra McKee in Belfast, Ireland)

03-31-1934 Richard Chamberlain – Born in Beverly Hills, California. He is an American actor, both stage and screen, and singer. Starring in the hit television series Dr. Kildare (1961-1966) he became a teen idol. He has appeared in several mini-series such as Shögun (1980) and The Thorn Birds (1983). Chamberlain was romantically involved with television actor Wesley Eure in the early 1970s. In 1977, he met actor-writer producer Martin Rabbet, with whom he began a long-term relationship. This led to a civil union in the state of Hawaii, where the couple resided from 1986 to 2010. During that time he legally adopted Rabbet to protect his future estate. In 1989 he was outed by the French magazine Nous Deux, but it was not until 2003 that he confirmed his homosexuality.

03-31-1872 – 08-19-1929 Sergei Diaghilev – Born in Selishchi, Novgorod Governorate Russian Empire. He was a Russian art critic, patron, ballet impresario, and founder of Ballets Russes, from which many famous dancers and choreographers would arise. After the Russian Revolution of 1917, Diaghilev stayed abroad. The new Soviet regime, once it became obvious that he could not be lured back, condemned him in perpetuity as an especially insidious example of bourgeois decadence. Soviet art historians wrote him out of the picture for more than 60 years. His homosexuality was well known. He was lovers with Nijinsky.

03-31-1961 Suzanne Westenhoefer – Born in Columbia, Pennsylvania. She is an American  lesbian stand-up comedian. After accepting a dare, she began her career delivering gay-themed material to straight audiences in mainstream comedy clubs in New York City in the early 1990s. She became the first out lesbian comic ever to appear on television in 1991 on an episode of Sally Jesse Raphael entitled “Breaking the Lesbian Stereotype…Lesbians Who Don’t Look Like Lesbians.” She went on to become the first out gay comic to host her own HBO Comedy Special in 1994 and to appear on the Late Show with David Letterman in 2003.

03-31-1940 Barney Frank – Born in Bayonne, New Jersey. He is an American politician who served as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Massachusetts from 1981 to 2013. A member of the House Financial Services Committee (2007 -2011) and was a leading co-sponsor of the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act, a sweeping reform of the U.S. financial industry. He is considered the most prominent gay politician in the United States. Frank resides in a studio apartment complex in Newton, Massachusetts. His husband, Jim Ready, is a surfing enthusiast whom Frank met during a gay political fundraiser in Maine. On July 7, 2012, Frank married Ready, his longtime partner, at Boston Marriott Newton in suburban Boston.

03-31-1964 Pat Steadman – Born in Westminster, Colorado. He is a legislator, attorney, and former lobbyist from Colorado. Steadman, a Democrat, was appointed to the Colorado Senate in May 2009. He is best known for his advocacy on gay rights issues. In 2000 he met David Misner. They were together until Misner’s death of pancreatic cancer in 2012. Steadman is out gay and one of eight other gay members of the Colorado General Assembly.

03-31-1972 Alejandro Amenábar – Born in Santiago, Chile. He is a Spanish-Chilean writer, composer, and director. He has won 8 Goyas, an Academy Award, and one European Film Award. Amenabar has written the screenplays to all five of his movies and is also the composer of the soundtracks of his films. In 2004, Amenábar came out as gay.

03-31-1974 Prabal Gurung –  Born in Singapore and raised in Kathmandu, Nepal. He is a fashion designer. In 1999, Gurung moved to New York City, where he interned for Donna Karan while attending Parsons School of Design. In his first year he was awarded the “Best Designer” title at the Parsons/FIT design competition. He became design director at Bill Blass. Following five successful years at Blass, he launched his own collection. His designs have been worn by Oprah Winfrey, Michelle Obama, The Duchess of Cambridge, Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lawrence, and many other celebrities. He was on Out’s 3rd Annual 100 Most Eligible Bachelors (2013).

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