05-15-1923 — 10-01-2004 Richard Avedon – Born in New York City, New York. He was an American fashion and portrait photographer. He worked for Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue, and Elle. Born into a Jewish family, his mother encouraged Avedon’s love of fashion and art. From 1937 until 1940 he worked on his high school paper, The Magpie, with James Baldwin. In 1946, he opened his own studio and began to provide images for magazines including Vogue and Life. He became the chief photographer for Harper’s Bazaar. He then became lead photographer at Vogue in 1962 and photographed most of the covers from 1973 to 1988. As his reputation as a photographer became more well known, he photographed many public figures including Buster Keaton, Marian Anderson, Marilyn Monroe, Ezra Pound, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Andy Warhol and the Chicago Seven. Avedon’s bisexuality has been confirmed by colleagues and family. According to Norma Stevens, Avedon’s longtime studio director, Avedon confided in her about his homosexual relationships, including a decade-long affair with director Mike Nichols. On October 1, 2004, Avedon died in San Antonio, Texas, from complications from a cerebral hemorrhage.
05-15-1930 Jasper Johns – Born in Augusta, Georgia. He is an American painter, sculptor, and printmaker whose work is associated with abstract expressionism, New-Dada, and Pop Art. Johns has held the title of most paid for a work by a living artist. In 1990, he received the National Medal of Arts and in 2011, President Obama presented him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. In 1954, Johns went to New York and met his life-partner, artist Robert Rauschenberg. Working together they explored the art scene and began to express their own ideas. Johns was strongly influenced by the gay couple Merce Cunningham (choreographer) and John Cage (composer). “Flags” are Johns’s most famous works. The artist painted his first American flag in 1954-54, which is now at MoMA.
05-15-1940 Lainie Kazan – Born in Brooklyn, New York. She is an American singer, actress, and LGBT straight ally. Kazan made her Broadway debut in 1961 with the musical The Happiest Girl in the World. The following year she appeared in the musical, Bravo Giovanni, and understudied Barbra Streisand for the lead role of Fanny Brice in Funny Girl (1964). In 1970, she posed nude for the October issue of Playboy. Hugh Hefner opened two nightclubs, called “Lainie’s Room West” (Los Angeles) and “Lainie’s Room East” (New York). She guest-starred on Dean Martin’s variety show twenty-six times. Kazan has been in many films and television shows, including the role of Maria Portokalos in My Big Fat Greek Wedding and My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2. She was married a short time to director-arranger Peter Daniels and had 1 child. In 2008, Kazan appeared to raise money for the New York LGBT Community Center, where she sang The Gal Who Got Away. In 2014, she made a YouTube in support of gay rights stating, “Everyone has a right to be who they are.” Beginning in 2012, Kazan became an adjunct professor at UCLA. She has also served on the board of AIDS Project LA.
05-15-1990 Stella Maxwell – Born in Brussels, Belgium to Northern Irish parents. She is a Belgian-Irish fashion model and since 2015 has been modeling for Victoria’s Secret. Maxwell has appeared in advertising campaigns for Versace, Alexander McQueen, Max Factor, and others. She dated singer Miley Cyrus in 2016. Since late 2016, she has been dating actress Kristen Stewart.
05-15-1991 Mollee Gray – Born in Orem, Utah. She is an actress and Disney channel star, known for Teen Beach Movie (2013), Teen Beach 2 (2015), and The Reliant (2018). On September 9, 2017, she married long-time girlfriend, Jeka Jane (born January 19, 1987).
05-15-1939 – 03-16-2019 Barbara Hammer – Born in Hollywood, California. She is an American filmmaker known for being one of the pioneers of lesbian film. In her forty-year career, she is known for creating films dealing with women’s issues. Her first feature film, Nitrate Kisses, in 1992 was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at the 1993 Sundance Film Festival. In 2010, her autobiography, HAMMER! Making Movies Out of Sex and Life was published. She currently teaches film at The European Graduate School in Saas-Fee, Switzerland. After years of short-term relationships, she got married to human rights advocate Florrie Burke. They were together, until Hammer’s death, for thirty-one years. Hammer died of ovarian cancer on March 16, 2019.
05-15-1938 – 06-25-2014 Nancy Garden – Born in Boston, Massachusetts. She was an American writer of fiction for children and young adults, best known for her lesbian novel Annie On My Mind. The first author for young adults to create a lesbian love story with a positive ending. Annie On My Mind was awarded the Lee Lynch Classic Award by the Golden Crown Literary Society in 2014, cited as one of the most important classics in lesbian literature. Garden opens a window through which the readers can find the courage to be true to themselves. She spent many years living between Massachusetts and Maine, with partner Sandy Scott, their golden retriever, Loki, and their cats. Nancy Garden died of a heart attack on June 23, 2014.
05-15-1940 – 02-21-2019 Jackie Shane – Born in Nashville, Tennessee. She was an American soul and rhythm and blues singer that was prominent in the local music scene of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, in the 1960s. She was a pioneer transgender performer and is best known for the single Any Other Way. In 1965, she made a television appearance in Nashville on WLAC-TV’s Night Train, performing Walking the Dog. Around the same time, she was offered an appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show but refused as the booking made conditional on her presenting as male. Her identity as a trans woman was not confirmed publicly until music journalist Elio Iannacci interviewed her for The Globe and Mail in 2017. Shane had returned to Nashville to take care of her ailing mother. In a 2019 interview, she stated that she regretted not having chosen to bring her mother to Toronto. Shane died in her sleep on February 21, 2019.
05-15-1945 – 03-30-2016 Bill Rosendahl – Born in Los Angeles, California. He was the first out gay man elected to the Los Angeles City Council. Rosendahl was in office from July 1, 2005, to July 1, 2013. Before he was elected, Rosendahl was an educator and television broadcaster. In 2013 he retired to fight stage-four cancer. Towards the end of his time in office, he was an ardent supporter of medical marijuana, which he used to fight the side effects of his cancer treatments. He died on March 30th, 2016.
05-15-1954 Boze Hadleigh (aka George Hadley-Garcia) – Born in Syria, city unknown. He is an American journalist writer of celebrity gossip and entertainment. As of 2015, he has published 19 books and has written for more than 100 magazines in the U.S. and abroad, including TV Guide, Playboy, and Us Weekly. He won $16,400 as a contestant on the March 20, 1998 episode of the game show Jeopardy. Six of his books are exclusively about the LGBT presence in and contributions to entertainment. Hadleigh himself is gay.
05-15-1981 Spencer Chandra Herbert – Born in Vancouver, Canada. He is a Canadian politician who was elected to the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia. He was in office 2008 and 2009. Openly gay, he married his partner, Romi Chandra, in March 2010. Both Spencer and Romi have been active in supporting causes within the LGBT community.