05-17-1895 – 12-26-1984 Gayelord Hauser – Born in Tübingen, Germany. At the age of sixteen, he immigrated to the United States in 1911. He was an American nutritionist and self-help author, who promoted the ‘natural way of eating.’ He discouraged the consumption of sugar and white flour. In 1927, Hauser moved to Hollywood, California. He became popular among movie stars, including Adele Astaire, Marlene Dietrich, Paulette Goddard, Gloria Swanson, and Greta Garbo. He and Garbo remained friends until his death. His prolific writing career began in 1930 with Harmonized Food Selection, with the Famous Hauser Body-Building System. His books with translated into twelve languages and he had a column in Hearst newspapers. In the early 1940s, actor Frey Brown became Hauser’s domestic partner. The couple lived in a villa in Taormina, Sicily, until Brown’s death in 1979. Hauser sold the villa and returned to Hollywood. He died in 1984 from complications of pneumonia. Hauser is regarded as the founder of the natural food movement and a pioneer decades ahead of his time. (Photo of Greta Garbo & Gayelord Hauser)
05-17-1984 Lena Waithe – Born in Chicago, Illinois. She is an American actress, producer, and screenwriter best known for co-writing and acting in the Netflix series Master of None. She was the first African-American woman to win an Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series. The Thanksgiving episode for which she won the Emmy was partially based on her personal experience coming out as a lesbian to her mother. In her Emmy acceptance speech, she said, “The things that make us different—those are our superpowers.” Her words were a special message to the LGBT community. Waithe has been in a relationship with Alana May, a content executive, for three years. The couple became engaged on Thanksgiving Day 2017. Out Magazine named Waithe the Out100: Artist of the Year on November 8, 2017. (Photo by Gage Skidmore CC BY-SA 3.0 March 24, 2018)
05-17-1938 – 09-21-2021 Marcia Freedman – Born in Newark, New Jersey. She was an American-Israeli activist of peace, women’s rights, and gay rights. In the early 1970s, she helped create and lead the feminist movement in Israel. Freedman was the founding president of Brit Tzedek v’Shalom (also known as the Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace) and a past president of the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival. She was openly lesbian and written a memoir Exile in the Promised Land. She was a member of the Knesset (Israel’s legislative body) from 1974 to 1977. As of 2021, she remains the only openly lesbian to have served in the Knesset.
05-17-1919 – 06-10-1986 Merle Miller – Born in Montour, Iowa. He was an American writer and novelist best remembered for his best-selling biography of Harry S. Truman, and as a pioneer in the gay rights movement. On January 17, 1971, Miller came out of the closet in an article titled “What It Means to Be Homosexual” in the New York Times Magazine. The response to the article led to a book publication later that year. In 2012, the book was reprinted by Penguin Classic with a new foreword by Dan Savage and a new afterword by Charles Kaiser. Miller died in 1986 from peritonitis following surgery to remove a ruptured appendix.
05-17-1929 – 09-18-2010 Jill Johnston – Born in London, England to an American mother and a British father. Her parents were never married and separated when Jill was an infant. Her mother took her to Little Neck, Long Island, New York, where she was raised. She was an American feminist author and cultural critic who wrote Lesbian Nation in 1973 and was a longtime writer for The Village Voice. She also wrote under the pen name of F. J. Crowe. In Lesbian Nation Johnston wrote: “Many feminists are now stranded between their personal needs and their political persuasions. The lesbian is the woman who unites the personal and political in the struggle to free ourselves from the oppressive institution [of marriage]…By this definition, lesbian are in the vanguard of the resistance.” It was revolutionary in those days when marriage to a man was the goal for women and not married was somehow to be less of a woman. Johnston’s words were so influential — and unsettling — that her approach to lesbian feminism caused a schism within the lesbian and feminist communities. Johnston redefined how lesbians looked at their lives – not in relationship to men, but in relationship to themselves and each other. Johnston married her partner, Ingrid Nyeboe, in 1993 in Denmark after having lived with her since 1980. The couple re-married in Connecticut in 2009. Johnston died from complications from a stroke. Her death was announced September 19, by her wife, Ingrid Nyeboe. She was 81.
05-17-1950 – 03-14-1991 Howard Ashman – Born in Baltimore, Maryland. He was an American playwright and lyricist. Known for: Little Shop of Horrors; Disney’s The Little Mermaid, Beauty & The Beast, and Aladdin. He collaborated with Alan Menken, Ashman writing the lyrics and Menken composing the music. On the night of the 62nd Academy Awards, Ashman told Menken that they needed to have an important talk when they got back to New York, where he revealed to Menken that he was HIV positive. He had been diagnosed in 1988, midway through the making of The Little Mermaid. On March 10, 1991, the Disney animators had their first screening for Beauty and the Beast and it was an enormous success. Afterward, they visited Ashman in the hospital. They told him that the film was incredibly well received by the press. Four days later Ashman died from complications from AIDS. Beauty and the Beast is dedicated to him: “To our friend Howard, who gave a mermaid her voice and a beast his soul, we will be forever grateful. Howard Ashman 1950-1991.”
05-17-1956 Annise Parker – Born in Houston, Texas. She is an American politician, who has been elected Houston Mayor three times. Parker is Houston’s second female mayor and one of the first openly gay mayors of a major U.S. city. Houston is the most populous U.S. city to elect an openly gay mayor. She was mayor from January 2, 2010 – January 2, 2016. Parker and her wife, Kathy Hubbard, have been together since 1990. On January 16, 2014, Parker and Hubbard were married in Palm Springs, California. They have three foster children.
05-17-1969 Thom Filicia – Born in Syracuse, New York. He is an American openly gay interior designer, most famous for his role on Queer Eye For The Straight Guy. He is also co-author of a book based on the show. Filicia is the founder and chief creative officer of New York City-based design firm, Thom Filicia, Inc. Since launching the enterprise in 1998, Filicia’s New-American Style has earned him clients in the worlds of entertainment, finance, sports, media, fashion, and hospitality. In 2011 he was named as one of Elle Decor’s top 25 A-List Designers, in 2006 he was chosen as one of House Beautiful’s Top 100 American Designer and House & Garden’s Top 50 “Tastemakers.” Felicia said it was easier to tell his parents he was gay than to tell them he would be on a show called, Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.