05-10-1960 – 06-22-2020 Angela Madsen – Born in Xenia, Ohio. She joined the Marine Corps and, at 6’1”, became a member of the women’s Marine Corps basketball team. In 1980, she fell on the court and another player stepped on her back, rupturing two discs in her spine. Errors in her back surgery left her permanently disabled. Madsen turned her life around when she was introduced to wheelchair basketball. Her basketball sponsor invited her to a learn-to-row event in Dana Point, California. She came out as gay in 1981, while in the US military. Madsen met her wife, Debra, in 2006. In 2007, she became the first woman with a disability to row across the Atlantic Ocean. Madsen wrote an autobiography, Rowing Against the Wind, published in 2014. In 2015, she was a grand marshal for the Long Beach Pride Parade. She held six Guinness World Records and was working toward another (as the oldest woman and first paraplegic to row across the Pacific alone) at the time of her death. Madsen was found dead nearly halfway into her solo row from Los Angeles to Honolulu on June 22, 2020. The journey was being filmed by Soraya Simi. Madsen was a voice for disability rights and an LGBT activist. (Bottom photo of Angela Madsen with her wife, Debra Bogan Madsen)
05-10-1904 – 04-26-1995 Frieda Belinfante – Born in Amsterdam, Netherlands. She was a Dutch cellist, conductor, a prominent lesbian, and a member of the Dutch Resistance during WWII. In 1937, she was artistic director and conductor of a chamber orchestra and in 1939, she was awarded first prized over 12 professional male conductors by German conductor, Hermann Scherchen. The Nazi occupation interrupted Belinfante’s musical career, which she did not resume until after the war. During the war, she joined the Dutch Resistance Council, led by openly gay artist, Willem Arondeus. She personally forged documents for Jews and together with Arondeus and others, blew up the populations registry in Amsterdam on March 27, 1943, which destroyed thousands of files and hindered Nazi attempts to compare forged documents with documents in the registry. Belinfante was forced into hiding and disguised herself as a man to escape the Gestapo. Many of the resistance were arrested, including Arondeus, and were executed. The resistance helped her cross the border to Belgium and France, where the French Underground helped her get to Switzerland by crossing the Alps by foot. She returned to the Netherlands after the war. In 1947, she emigrated to the U.S., settling in Laguna Beach, California and joining the music faculty of UCLA in 1949. In 1954, she became the founding artistic director and conductor of the Orange County Philharmonic Society. Her involvement with the Orange County Philharmonic came to an abrupt end in 1962 when it was discovered that she was romantically involved with a woman. She then established a private studio in Laguna Beach where she taught numerous musicians and for more than 20 years, she acted as a booking agent and artistic advisor to the Laguna Beach Chamber Music Society. In 1987, the Orange County Board of Supervisors and the City of Laguna Beach both declared February 19 “Frieda Belinfante Day”, honoring her many musical contributions to the area. Belinfante firmly believed that “all human conflict could be resolved peacefully and that great art, music, in particular, was a tool that could help achieve that end.” She died in 1995 from cancer.
05-10-1991 Shaun Ross – Born in The Bronx, New York City, New York. He is an American model, actor, and dancer. Ross is the first male albino professional model. His modeling includes fashion publications British GQ, Vogue, and Another Man. He has also modeled for Alexander McQueen and Givenchy. Ross is of African-American descent and dealt with a lot of discrimination as well as being frequently bullied by his peers. He was called names such as “Powder,” “White-Out,” and “Casper.” At the age of 16, he was discovered on YouTube and entered the fashion industry. He considers himself pansexual and is an advocate for LGBT rights. He has funded the campaign, Free to Be Me, in which people from the LGBT community are not afraid to be themselves. (Photograph Manfred Werner/Tsui CC by 3.0 Life Ball 2014)
05-10-1906 – 01-25-1963 Betty Knox – Born in Salina, Kansas. She was an American vaudeville dancer and journalist. As a teenager, she eloped with her boyfriend, Donald Knox. She did have a daughter, but the marriage (if there was one) was short lived. In 1928, she joined a vaudeville act that became known as Wilson, Keppel and Betty. The trio moved to the UK in 1932 and début at the London Palladium. When she retired from dancing, she became a journalist for the London Evening Standard and was a war correspondent in Normandy and a reporter at the Nuremberg trials. Knox had a thrice-weekly column. Her first column featured an interview with novelist John Steinbeck, who was a war correspondent with the US Navy. She was supposed to cover the war from a woman’s point of view but often bent the rules, hitching a ride with the French Resistance to go Nazi hunting. During this time she worked closely with fellow was correspondent Erika Mann (daughter of Thomas Mann) with whom she became romantically involved. After the war, Knox stayed in Germany reporting from the Nuremberg trials. She spent her final years with her mother and daughter in Düsseldorf, Germany, dying in 1963 from emphysema and pulmonary trouble.
05-10-1951 Steve Gunderson – Born in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. He is a Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Wisconsin’s 3rd district from January 3, 1981, to January 3, 1997. In 1994, Gunderson was outed as gay on the House floor by conservative Bob Dornan (R-CA) during a debate over federal funding for gay-friendly curricula., making him one of the first openly gay members of Congress and the first openly gay Republican representative. In 1996, Gunderson was the only Republican in Congress to vote against the Defense of Marriage Act, and he has been a vocal supporter of gay rights causes since leaving Congress.
05-10-1958 Arthur “Art” J. Feltman – Born in Paterson, New Jersey. Feltman was a member of the Connecticut House of Representatives from the 6th district from January 1997 to January 2009. He is openly gay.
05-10-1967 Scott A. Brison – Born in Windsor, Nova Scotia. Brison is a Canadian businessman, investment banker, and politician. Brison came out as gay in 2002, saying that he is “not a gay politician, but a politician who happens to be gay.” He became the fourth sitting Member of Parliament to do so after Svend Robinson, Réal Ménard, and Libby Davies. As well, he was the first openly MP to sit as a member of the Progressive Conservative Party. He and his partner, Maxime Saint-Pierre were married on August 18, 2007.
05-10-1977 Denise Ho (also known as HOCC) – Born in Hong Kong and educated in Canada. She emigrated with her family to Montreal, Quebec at the age of eleven. She is the first mainstream female singer in Hong Kong to come out of the closet. She announced her sexual orientation on stage at the “Dare To Love” event at the Hong Kong Pride Parade, 2012. In 2014, Ho became a columnist for Apple Daily and was recognized for her activism for equal LGBT rights in Hong Kong. She has been a high-profile supporter of the 2014 Hong Kong protests, and a protester herself.
05-10-1978 Todd Gloria – Born in San Diego, California. He is an American politician. Elected official in San Diego, California. He served as the interim Mayor of San Diego after the resignation of Bob Filner in August 2013. His term as interim mayor concluded on March 3, 2014, when mayor-elect Kevin Falconer was sworn in. When Gloria became interim mayor, it made San Diego the second largest city in the United States (after Houston) to have an openly gay mayor. Gloria is also a former chairman of the San Diego LGBT Community Center. On April 7, 2015, Gloria announced that he will run in 2016 for the California State Assembly seat held by Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, who will be termed out. He was easily elected on November 8, 2016.