05-12-1907 – 06-29-2003 Katharine Hepburn – Born in Hartford, Connecticut. She was an American actress and a leading lady in Hollywood for more than 60 years. In 1999, Hepburn was named by the American Film Institute as the greatest female star of Classic Hollywood Cinema. She was outspoken, assertive, athletic, and wore trousers before it was fashionable for women to do so. She was married once and is mostly remembered paired with Spencer Tracy. In Scotty Bower’s 2012 book Full Service: My Adventures in Hollywood and the Secret Sex Lives of the Stars, he talks about his years as a procurer for the personalities in Hollywood and Beverly Hills. He spells out in stark terms the specifics to which gay rumors had only just alluded. Names are named, including Katharine Hepburn. He claims to have arranged over 150 hook-ups for the Oscar winning actress and claims her famed relationship with Spencer Tracy was a sham. Cynic, truth-seeker Gore Vidal insisted that Bower’s stories hold up. In a 2017 documentary, columnist Liz Smith, who was a close friend, confirmed that Hepburn was a lesbian.
05-12-1820 – 08-13-1910 Florence Nightingale – She was born into a rich, upper-class, well-connected British family at the Villa Colombia in Florence, Italy. An English social reformer and the founder of modern nursing, she came to prominence while serving as a manager of nurses trained by her during the Crimean War. The British Military Hospital in Turkey was a sickening, unsanitary, overcrowded, vermin-infested rat-hole death trap with a mortality rate of 50%. Fighting the doctors who disdained women’s interference, she gradually took over and cleaned the place up. Working tirelessly around the clock and endearing herself to the sick and wounded, she became known as “The Lady of the Lamp.” After Florence took over, the mortality rate dropped to 2.2%. Faced by family opposition to her independence, Florence fell ill, and was nursed by her aunt. The two became devoted to each other, and Florence described their relationship as “like two lovers.” Florence also loved a cousin, Marianne Nicholson. “I have never loved but one person with passion in my life, and that was her,” Florence wrote. But Marianne’s brother had fallen in love with Florence, and when Florence finally declined his proposal of marriage, the two women had a falling out. She clearly was emotionally devoted to women, never to men, and adamantly refused all offers of marriage. In 1883, she was awarded the Royal Red Cross by Queen Victoria. In 1904, she was appointed a Lady of Grace of the Order of St. John. In 1907, she became the first woman to be awarded the Order of Merit. In the 1870s, Florence mentored Linda Richards, “America’s first trained nurse,” and enabled her to return to the USA with adequate training and knowledge to establish high-quality nursing schools. Linda Richards went on to become a great nursing pioneer in the USA and Japan.
05-12-1937 – 10-14-2006 Gerry Studds – Born in Mineola, New York, he is an American Democratic Congressman form Massachusetts who served from 1973 until 1997. He was the first out gay member of Congress. Studds and partner Dean T. Hara (they had been together since 1991) were married in Boston on May 24, 2004, one week after Massachusetts became the first state in the country to legalize same-sex marriage. Studds died on October 16, 2006, at age 69, several days after suffering a pulmonary embolism. Due to the federal ban on same-sex marriage, Hara was not eligible to receive the pension provided to surviving spouses of former members of Congress. Hara later joined a federal lawsuit, Gill v. Office of Personnel Management, that successfully challenged the constitutionality of section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act.
05-12-1940 Joan Nestle – Born in the Bronx, New York City, New York. She is a Lambda Award winning writer and editor, and the co-founder of Lesbian History Archives. She is out gay and sees her work of archiving history as critical to her identity as “a woman, as a lesbian, and as a Jew.” After the Stonewall riots in 1969, gay liberation became a focus of her activism. She joined the Lesbian Liberation Committee in 1971 and helped found the Gay Academic Union (GAU) in 1972. The following year the GAU began to gather documents and artifacts related to lesbian history. Today its holdings include more than 20,000 books, 12,000 photographs, and 1,600 periodical titles. The Lesbian Herstory Archives in located at 484 14th St. in Park Slope, Brooklyn, New York. Nestle’s life was the subject of a 2002 documentary by Joyce Warshow entitled Hand on the Pulse.
05-12-1949 Ross Bleckner – Born in New York City, New York. He is an American artist. Bleckner is openly gay and some of his work in the 1980s and 1990s are reflective of the AIDS crisis. In 1995, the Guggenheim Museum had a major retrospective of his works from the last two decades. His work has also been exhibited at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Moderna Museet in Stockholm, and the Carnegie Museum of Art. He was one of the youngest artists to be featured the Guggenheim.
05-12-1950 Linda Ketner – Born in Faith, North Carolina. She is a business consultant, philanthropist, and community activist in Charleston, South Carolina. In what looked like as one of the most unlikely outcomes of the 2008 election cycle, Democrat Linda Ketner came within two percentage points of beating entrenched establishment wing nut Henry Brown in a gerrymandered South Carolina district specifically drawn to be an easy win for Republicans. She is an out lesbian.
05-12-1975 Jared Polis Schutz – Born in Boulder, Colorado. He is an American entrepreneur, philanthropist, and U.S. Representative for Colorado’s 2nd congressional district, serving since 2009. Member of the Democratic Party and the Congressional Progressive Caucus. Polis is the first openly gay parent in Congress. He and his partner, Marlon Reis, have two children.
05-12-1987 Robbie Rogers – Born in Rancho Palos Verdes, California. He was an American professional soccer player who played for the LA Galaxy. He also represented the U. S. men’s national soccer team. In February 2013, Rogers came out as gay, becoming the second male footballer in Britain to do so, after Justin Fashanu in 1990. In May 2013, he became the first out gay man to compete in a top North American professional sports league when he played his first match for the Galaxy. On November 7, 2017, Rogers retired due to a series of injuries that forced him to miss the entire season.