May 23rd People

May 23rd

05-23-1904 – 06-18-1971 Libby Holman – Born in Cincinnati, Ohio. She was an American Jewish torch singer and stage actress who also achieved notoriety for her personal life. Bisexual, she preferred the company of gay men. Two of her three most significant relationships were with self-proclaimed lesbians, the DuPont Heiress Louisa d’Andelot Carpenter and writer Jane Bowles. She also had an affair with Libby Holmanactress Jeanne Eagels. Her third most important relationship was with actor Montgomery Clift, although it is believed in most circles that they were just close friends. Holman was always involved with what became known as the Civil Rights Movement. During WWII, she tried to book shows for the servicemen with her friend, Josh White, but they were turned down on the grounds that “we don’t book mixed company.” (Josh White was African-American). In the 1940s, she and Josh White started rehearsals in a New York club. She arrived at the front door, Josh White was directed to the staff entrance. Libby waited until they were due to open after the owners had spent a vast amount on publicity, and told them that she was not going to sing until their club changed their racial door policy. She won. In 1959, she financed a trip to India for Martin Luther King, Jr. and his wife, Coretta Scott King, both of whom became close friends of Holman. Holman was also credited with inventing or wearing the first strapless gown.

05-23-1908 – 11-15-1942 Anne Marie Clarac-Schwarzenbach – Born in Bocken, near Zurich, Switzerland. She was a Swiss writer, journalist, photographer, and traveler. Her father was a wealthy businessman in the silk industry; her mother was the daughter of a Swiss general and descended from German aristocracy. From an early age, she began to dress and act like a boy, a behavior not Anne Marie Clarac-Schwarzenbach 2discouraged by her parents, and which she retained all her life. In 1930 she had a relationship with Erika Mann (the daughter of Thomas Mann). Although the relationship didn’t last long, they remained friends. She moved to Berlin and became friends with Klaus Mann (Erika’s brother) and she started using drugs. She led a fast life in the bustling, decadent, artistic city of Berlin towards the close of the Weimar Republic. Her androgynous beauty fascinated and attracted both men and women. Her lifestyle ended with the Nazi take-over in 1933. Tensions with her family increased when she refused to renounce her friendship with the Manns. Her circle of friends included Jews and political refugees from Germany. In 1935, while in Persia, despite being a lesbian, she married the French diplomat Claude Clarac, also gay. In 1937 and 1938 her photographs documented the rise of Fascism in Europe – she was a committed anti-Fascist. In 1939, in an effort to combat her drug addiction, she embarked on an overland trip to Afghanistan with ethnologist Ella Maillart. They were in Kabul when WW II broke out. The trip is described by Maillart in her book The Cruel Way, which was dedicated to Anne Marie. It was made into a movie, The Journey to Kafiristan, in 2001. Anne Marie is reported to have had affairs with the daughter of the Turkish Ambassador in Teheran and a female archaeologist in Turkmenistan. On September 7, 1942, in the Engadin (a long valley in the Swiss Alps), she fell from her bicycle and sustained a serious head injury. Following a mistaken diagnosis in the clinic where she was treated, she died on November 15. Because her mother disliked her friends, including her husband, she forbid them from visiting her during her final days. After her death, her mother destroyed all her letters and diaries. A friend of Anne Marie took care of her writings and photographs, which were later archived in the Swiss Literary Archives in Bern.

05-23-1910 – 11-13-1952 Margaret Wise Brown – Born in Brooklyn, New York. She was a prolific American writer of children’s books, including the picture book Goodnight Moon and The Runaway Bunny. In the 1950s, she wrote several books for the Little Golden Book series. She had numerous Margaret Wise Brownaffairs with both men and women. Most notable was her long-term relationship with Blanche Oelrichs, the former wife of John Barrymore. In early 1952, she became engaged to James Stallman Rockefeller, Jr. Later that year, while on a book tour in Nice, France, she died unexpectedly of an embolism. By the time of her death, she had written over one hundred books.

05-23-1945 — 11-16-2017   Ben Dillingham III – Born in Honolulu, Hawaii, the descendant of a wealthy railroad and construction family. He served as a Marine during the Vietnam War. In 1993, he became the first acknowledged gay elected official in San Diego, California, serving on the City Council. He became a top aide for San Diego Mayor Maureen O’Connor. As O’Connor’s gatekeeper, Dillingham had a reputation for toughness but he was also loyal to his co-workers, once taking a cut in pay so that others in his office could get raises. Dillingham later became a leader in community organizations dedicated to LGBT rights and to fight against AIDS, which claimed the lives of three of his partners.  He once said, “Until we all come out of the closet, it will not be safe for any of us”. He died on November 16, 2017, from cancer.

05-23-1958 Lea DeLaria – Born in Belleville, Illinois, DeLaria is an American comedian, actress, and jazz musician. She was the first openly gay comic to break the late-night-talk-show barriers with her 1993 appearance on The Arsenio Hall Show. On the show, DeLaria said, “It’s the 1990s…it’s hip to be queer, and I’m a bi-i-i-i-ig dike!” In December 1993 she hosted Comedy Central’s Out There, theLea DeLaria first all-gay stand-up comedy special. She has released two CD recording of her comedy, Bulldyke in a China Shop (1994) and Box Lunch (1997). She has also written a humorous book entitled Lea’s Book of Rules for the World. Since 2013, she has appeared in the Netflix Original Orange is the New Black as prison inmate Carrie ‘Big Boo’ Black. On February 14, 2015, DeLaria received the Equality Illinois Freedom Award for her work as “a cutting-edge performer who used her talent to entertain and enlighten millions of Americans,” said Bernard Cherkasov, CEO of Equality Illinois. DeLaria said, ”As an out performer for over 33 years who has made it her life’s work to change peoples perception of butch, queer, and LGBT, it is an honor for me to receive such recognition from my home state.”

05-23-1958 Pekka Haavisto – Born in Helsinki, he is a Finnish politician and minister representing the Green League. Haavisto was the first openly gay candidate and the first candidate to have served Pekka Haavistoin non-military service instead of the regular military service to make it to the second round of presidential elections in Finland. Haavisto lives in a registered partnership with Antonio Flores, who originally comes from Ecuador.

05-23-1961   Norrie May-Welby – Born in Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland. She is a Scottish-Australian transgender person who pursued the legal status of being neither a man nor a woman form 2010 to 2o14. The High Court of Australia ruled in April 2014 that the NSW Registry of Births, Deaths, and Marriages to record the sex of Norrie was ‘non-specific’. Norrie prefers the term androgynous and does not mind being referred to as she or her. In 2019 she published an autobiographical book, Ultrasex (Beyond Division).

05-23-1968 Guinevere Turner – Born in Boston, Massachusetts. She is an American actress, writer, and director. She is one of the most recognizable faces in lesbian cinema. Turner was producer, as well as star, Guinevere Turnerof the classic lesbian film Go Fish. She’s appeared in The L Word as Alice’s ex-girlfriend and has written numerous screenplays, including Blood Rayne, The Notorious Bettie Page, and American Psycho.

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