05-02-1895 – 11-22-1943 Lorenz Hart – Born in Harlem, New York City, New York. He was an American lyricist, half of the Broadway team of Rogers and Hart. Some of his more famous lyrics include Blue Moon, Where or When, The Lady is a Tramp, Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered, Falling in Love with Love, My Funny Valentine, I Could Write A Book, This Can’t Be Love, and With a Song in My Heart. Coming from an upper-middle-class Jewish American background, he was tortured by his diminutive stature (he stood just under 5 feet tall) and being gay, which he could neither deny nor accept. Too insecure to pursue social equals, Hart limited his sexual attentions to chorus boys and male prostitutes. Hart suffered from alcoholism and sometimes disappeared for weeks at a time on alcoholic binges. He suffered from depression throughout his life. Devastated by the death of his mother seven months earlier, Hart died in New York City of pneumonia from exposure on November 22, 1943, after drinking heavily. (photo of Richard Rogers & Lorenz Hart – Time Magazine, September 26, 1938)
05-02-1946 – 02-16-2015 Leslie Gore – Born in New York City, New York. She was an American singer-songwriter. Best known for 1963 hit It’s My Party. Her song You Don’t Own Me held at #2 for four weeks behind the Beatles I Want To Hold Your Hand. You Don’t Own Me became a feminist anthem. She officially came out to the public when she hosted several episodes of the PBS series, In The Life, which dealt with gay and lesbian issues. She died of lung cancer (she was a non-smoker). Her partner of 33 years was Lois Sasson, a jewelry designer.
05-02-1902 – 10-26-1989 Mabel Hampton – Born in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. She was an American lesbian activist, a dancer during the Harlem Renaissance, and a philanthropist for both black and lesbian/gay organizations. In the 1920s, she danced in chorus lines for all-black productions for Harlem Renaissance notables, including Jackie “Moms” Mabley. When her dancing career ended, she became a cleaning woman for white families in New York City. As Hampton explained, “I like to eat.” In 1932, Hampton met Lillian Foster. The two remained a couple until Foster’s death in 1978. In addition to her financial contributions to gay and lesbian organizations, Hampton marched in the first National Gay and Lesbian March on Washington, and she appeared in the films Silent Pioneers and Before Stonewall. In 1984, Hampton spoke before thousands at the New York City Lesbian and Gay Pride Parade. She said, “I, Mabel Hampton, have been a lesbian all my life, for 82 years, and I am proud of myself and my people. I would like all my people to be free in this country and all over the world, my gay people and my black people.” Throughout her career and adult life in New York, Hampton collected memorabilia, letters, and other records documenting her history, providing a window into the lives of black women and lesbians during the Harlem Renaissance. The daughter, Joan Nestle, was from one of the families that Hampton worked for, founded the Lesbian Herstory Archives in New York City.
05-02-1858 – 10-08-1949 Edith Somerville – Born in Corfu, where her father was stationed. She grew up in Drishane, Castletownsend, Ireland. In 1886, Somerville met her second cousin, Violet Martin. As Somerville recalled in Irish Memories (1917), the meeting “proved the hinge of my life, the place where my fate, and hers, turned over…” The two women became life and literary partners. The collaboration was highly successful. Together they published a series of fourteen stories and novels. Violet Martin died on December 21, 1915. Somerville believed that communication with her continued through automatic writing and her later publications were published under both names. Although Somerville never spoke of her relationship with Ross as lesbian, her memoirs indicate that their relationship was passionate and primary. Somerville was also an illustrator. She was also active in the suffragist movement and was later in life a close friend of lesbian composer Ethel Smyth. Somerville died in 1949 and is buried alongside Violet Martin at Saint Barrahane’s Church, Castletownsend, Ireland. A considerable archival legacy remains at Castletownsend and in Trinity College Library.
05-02-1962 Ty Herndon (born Boyd Tyrone Herndon) – Born in Meridian, Mississippi. He is an American country music singer. After signing to Epic Records in 1995, Herndon made his debut with his number one single, What Mattered Most, followed by the release of his first album, also entitled “What Mattered Most” (1995). The album was followed by the release of his second album, “Living in a Moment” (1996), which produced his second number one country hit, with the album’s title track. Herndon has charted a total of 17 singles on the Billboard Hot Country Songs charts. This includes three number ones, as well as four additional top ten hits. On November 20, 2014, in an interview with People magazine, Herndon came out as a gay man and stated that he had been in a relationship for a few years with a man named Matt. When asked if his two ex-wives knew of his sexuality, he confirmed that they “absolutely” knew.
05-02-1905 – 01-22-1964 Marc Blitzstein – Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He was an American composer, lyricist, and librettist. He won national attention in 1937 when his pro-union musical The Cradle Will Rock, directed by Orson Welles, was shut down by the Works Progress Administration. Blitzstein also composed music for films, including Surf and Seaweed (1931) and The Spanish Earth (1937). He wrote two songs for the original 1960 production of Lillian Hellman’s play Toys in the Attic. Blitzstein was openly gay. His first lover was conductor Alexander Smallens, with whom he traveled to Europe in 1924. He did marry novelist Eva Goldbeck in 1933. They had no children. In 1958, Blitzstein was subpoenaed to appear before the U.S. House Committee on Un-American Activities. He admitted his membership in the Communist Party (ending in 1949) but refused to name names or cooperate any further. In 1964, during a visit to Martinique, he was murdered by three sailors he had picked up in a bar.
05-02-1944 – 11-26-2019 Howard Cruse – Born in Springville, Alabama. He was an American cartoonist known for gay themes in his comics. In 1977, Cruse moved to New York City, where he met Eddie Sedarbaum, his life partner, whom he married after the couple moved to North Adams, Massachusetts. It wasn’t until 1979 that his comics featured gay themes when he became editor of Gay Comix, an anthology featuring Comix by openly gay and lesbian cartoonist. His work in the 1980s was published in The Advocate and addressed subjects such as AIDS, gay rights demonstrations, gay-bashing, closeted celebrities, and same-gender relationships. In August 2009, Cruse self-published From Headrack to Claude, a collection of all his gay-themed strips accompanied by commentaries on his career and life. Cruse died in 2019 from lymphoma in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. He is one of 5 cartoonists featured in the award-winning documentary film NO STRAIGHT LINES: The Rise of Queer Comics (released in 2021 at the Tribeca Film Festival and broadcast on national PBS in 2023).
05-02-1956 Ann F. Hackler – Born in Pekin, Illinois. In 1986, she and her longtime partner, June Millington (born April 14, 1948), founded the Institute for the Musical Arts in Goshen, Massachusetts. The IMA’s nonprofit mission is to support women and girls in music and music-related businesses. Hackler said, “We talked about what our visions and dreams were. I had always wanted to start a school and June wanted to form an organization to support women in music.” Photo is of Ann F. Hackler & June Millington.
05-02-1978 Shaun T. Fitness (b. Shaun Thompson) – Born in Camden, New Jersey. He is an American motivational speaker, fitness trainer, television personality, and choreographer. Shaun is best known for his home fitness programs for adults and children. After graduating from Rowan University, her moved to Los Angeles. He was hired as a professional dance by Mariah Carey. Shaun has been openly gay since October 2012 when he came out on Twitter. He’s married to Scott Blokker.