05-19-1930 – 01-12-1965 Lorraine Hansberry – Born in Chicago, Illinois. She was an African-American playwright and author. She wrote A Raisin In The Sun (1959). Hansberry was the first black woman to write a play performed on Broadway. The title of the play was taken from the poem Harlem by Langston Hughes: “What happens to a dream deferred? Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun?” On June 20, 1953, she married Robert Nemiroff, a Jewish publisher, songwriter, and political activist. The success of the song Cindy, Oh Cindy, enabled Hansberry to start writing full-time. Hansberry was a closeted lesbian, a theory supported by her secret writings in letters and personal notebooks. She was an activist for gay rights and wrote about feminism and homophobia. She was also a member of the Daughters of Bilitis. In 1957, under her initials, LHN, she contributed two letters to their magazine, The Ladder. She separated from her husband at this time, although they continued to work together. In 1960, A Raisin in the Sun was nominated for four Tony Awards. In 1961, a film version of A Raisin in the Sun was released featuring its original Broadway cast. Hansberry wrote the screenplay. In 2013, Hansberry was inducted into the Legacy Walk, an outdoor public display which celebrates LGBT history and people. It made her the first Chicago-native honored along the North Halsted corridor. Also in 2013, Lorraine Hansberry was posthumously inducted into the American Theatre Hall of Fame. She died of pancreatic cancer on January 12, 1965, age 34.
05-19-1945 Pete Townsend – Born in Chiswick, London, England. He is an English musician, singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist, best known as the lead guitarist and songwriter for The Who. The Who is considered one of the most influential bands of the 20th century. Townsend has written over one hundred songs for the band’s 11 studio albums. He has also written many newspaper and magazine articles, book reviews, essays, books, and scripts. As a lyricist and composer, he has collaborated with many other musical acts. In 1990, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of The Who. He received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2001 and in 2008 received Kennedy Center Honors. In his autobiography Who I Am (2012), Townsend describes himself as “probably bisexual” because of a brief affair he had with journalist Danny Fields, and his interest in Mick Jagger, saying, “Mick is the only man I’ve ever seriously wanted to fuck.”
05-19-1992 Sam Smith – Born in London, England. He is an English singer-songwriter. In December 2014, Smith was nominated for six Grammy Awards. At the 2015 Grammy Awards, he won four. For his and Jimmy Napes’ song, Writing’s on the Wall, the theme song for the James Bond film Spectre (2015), Smith won the Golden Globe Award and the Academy Award for Best Original Song. In May 2014, Smith came out to the public as gay. His 2017 album, The Thrill of It All, showed “the gay guy I’ve become.” He describes himself as a feminist and in an October 2017 interview with Attitude, he stated that he “[felt] as much a woman as I am a man.” (Photo by pitpony.photography 2015)
05-19-1960 – 02-11-1987 Mark Ashton – born in Oldham, Lancashire, England. He was a British gay rights activist and member of the Communist Party of Great Britain. He, along with his friend, Mike Jackson, formed the Lesbians and Gays Support Miners, a group that collected donations for the miners that were on strike in 1984. The film, Pride, tells the story about the unlikely alliance and its success. Diagnosed with HIV/AIDS, Ashton was admitted to the hospital on January 30, 1987, and died twelve days later. In his memory, the Mark Ashton Trust was created to raise money for individuals living with HIV. (Photo by Johnny Orr)
05-19-1958 Jenny Durkan – Born in Seattle, Washington. She is an American prosecutor and politician. In 2017, she became the first lesbian and second woman to become the Mayor of Seattle. From October 2009 through September 2014, she served as the United States Attorney for the Western District of Washington under President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder. She was the first out gay U.S. Attorney. Durkan and her wife, Dana Garvey, live in Seattle and have two sons.
05-19-1978 Kim Zolciak – Born in Pensacola, Florida. She is an American television personality. In 2008, she rose to prominence as one of the original housewives that appeared on the Bravo reality television series The Real Housewives of Atlanta. In March 2010, she revealed that she is bisexual and that she and DJ Tracy Young were in a romantic relationship. Zolciak has since married (for the second time) football player Kroy Biermann.
05-19-1979 Gus Johnston – Born in Melbourne, Australia. Former Australian field hockey goalkeeper. When Gus Johnston posted a video on YouTube talking about being gay in sports on September 13, 2011, he became the highest-level male field hockey player in the world to be publicly out. He is now a writer, filmmaker, and anti-homophobic campaigner. On Out’s 3rd Annual 100 Most Eligible Bachelors (2013).