10-11-1884 – 11-07-1962 Eleanor Roosevelt – Born in New York City, New York. She was an American politician, diplomat, and activist. She was the longest-serving First Lady of the United States, holding the post from March 1933 to April 1945 during her husband President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s four terms in office. President Harry S. Truman later called her the “First Lady of the World” in tribute to her human rights achievements. Though widely respected in her later years, Roosevelt was a controversial First Lady for her outspokenness, particularly her stance on racial issues. She was the first presidential spouse to hold press conferences, write a syndicated newspaper column, and speak at a national convention. In the 1930s, Roosevelt had a close relationship with Associated Press reporter Lorena Hickok, who covered her during the last months of the presidential campaign and “fell madly in love with her.” During this period, Roosevelt wrote daily between ten and fifteen-page letters to “Hick,” who was planning to write a biography of the First Lady. The letters included such endearments as, “I want to put my arms around you & kiss you at the corner of your mouth,” and “I can’t kiss you, so I kiss your picture goodnight and good morning.” At Franklin’s 1933 inauguration, Eleanor wore a sapphire ring Hickok had given her. Hickok resigned her position with the AP to be closer to Eleanor, who secured her a job as an investigator for a New Deal program. There is considerable debate about whether her relationship with Hickok was sexual. It was known in the White House press corps at the time that Lorena Hickok was a lesbian. The rumors about their relationship began then. “And so you think they gossip about us?” Eleanor wrote to Lorena in November 1933. “I am always so much more optimistic than you are. I suppose because I care so little what ‘they’ say!” There is another letter where Eleanor acknowledges that Hick experienced “a feeling for me which for one reason or another I may not return in kind.” So, the debate about whether her relationship with Hickok was sexual still goes on. For certain, the two women were extremely close but whether their relationship went beyond hugging and kissing cannot be determined with any certainty. Eleanor was also close friends with several lesbian couples. She lived for years with a lesbian couple, Marion Dickerman and Nancy Cook, at Eleanor’s cottage in upstate New York, where the sheets and towels were monogrammed with the three women’s initials: EMN. Later, in Greenwich Village, two of her closest friends were another lesbian couple, Ester Lape and Elizabeth Read. Marie Souvestre, her childhood teacher and a great influence on her later thinking, was also a lesbian. Even if Eleanor Roosevelt was 100 percent straight, she was very comfortable around lesbians at a time when homosexuality was stigmatized, and even criminalized during her lifetime. Marc Peyser stated, “We’ll probably never know if Eleanor shared their sexual orientation or if she just admired independent women. Whatever the case, her refusal to let the morals of the day define her was a remarkable kind of heroism.”
10-11-1918 – 07-29-1998 Jerome Robbins – Born in Manhattan, New York. He was an American choreographer, director, dancer, and theatre producer. His stage productions include On the Town, Peter Pan, High Button Shoes, The King And I, The Pajama Game, Bells Are Ringing, West Side Story, Gypsy, and Fiddler on the Roof. Robbins was a five-time Tony Award-winner and a recipient of the Kennedy Center Honors. He also received two Academy Awards, including the 1961 Academy Award for Best Director with Robert Wise for West Side Story. Robbins was a gay man. He had an affair with Montgomery Clift. His last live-in relationship was with photographer, Jess Gerstein. The 2009 documentary, Jerome Robbins: Something to Dance About, won an Emmy and a Peabody Award. It features excerpts from his journals, archival performances and rehearsal footage, as well as interviews with Robbins and others that worked with him. Well worth seeing.
10-11-1948 Becky Birtha – Born in Hampton, Virginia. She is an American poet and children’s author. Birtha is best-known for her poetry and short stories depicting African-American and lesbian relationships. Speaking at the 13th Annual Trenton Writers Conference in 1994, Birtha discussed her career as a writer, stating: “Have being black, a woman, and lesbian been the biggest barriers I have had to overcome to become a successful writer…No, in fact,…I celebrate it. I am also an adoptive parent, a single mother, and a Quaker, and that has not stopped me writing, either.” She lives with her partner Nancy and daughter Tasha in Delaware County, Pennsylvania.
10-11-1947 Lupe Valdez – Born in San Antonio, Texas. She is an American law enforcement official and the Sheriff of Dallas County, Texas. Born to migrant farmworker parents, she started life working in the fields, but paid her way through college, earning a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Southern University in Bethany, Oklahoma. She then earned a Master’s degree in Criminology and Criminal Justice from the University of Texas at Arlington. When she ran for office as Sheriff of Dallas County in 2004, she was considered the underdog against Republican Danny Chandler. She won the election by 51.3% to 48.7%. The election, combined with the fact that Valdez is female, Hispanic, and a lesbian, made national headlines and was even reported overseas. She was sworn in on January 1, 2005. On November 4, 2008, she was re-elected Sheriff of Dallas County and began her second four-year term on January 1, 2009. She served as Sheriff for four terms. In December 2017, she ran for Governor of Texas. She won the primary and became the first Latina and first openly gay person nominated for governor by a major party in the state. She lost the election to the incumbent Republican
10-11-1891 – 11-19-1979 Dorothy Burlingham-Tiffany – Born in New York City, New York. She was the daughter of Louis Comfort Tiffany and granddaughter of Charles Lewis Tiffany, founder of Tiffany & Co. Dorothy was a child psychoanalyst and educator. In 1914, she married a surgeon, Robert Burlingham, but separated from him in 1921 on account of Robert’s bipolar disorder. During their marriage, she had four children. In 1925, Dorothy moved to Vienna where she met Anna Freud, Sigmund Freud’s daughter, who was also a psychologist that focused on children. Dorothy moved to London in 1938 along with the Freuds, who were fleeing Nazi anti-semitism. After Sigmund Freud died in 1939, Dorothy moved close to Anna and in 1940, she moved into Anna’s home where the two would live together for 40 years. During WWII they founded the Hampstead War Nurseries. Together they published Infants Without Families (1943). Anna and Dorothy had an “intimate relationship that closely resembled those of lesbians,” although Anna denied “the existence of a sexual relationship.”
10-11-1949 Elana Dykewomon (born Elana Nachman) – Born in New York City, New York. She is a Jewish lesbian activist, award-winning author, editor, and teacher. In 1974, Dykewomon published her first novel, Riverfinger Women, under her birth name, Elana Nachman. Her second book, They Will Know Me By My Teeth (1976), was published under the name Elana Dykewomon. She changed her name as an expression of her strong commitment to the lesbian community and knew anyone reading her work would know the author was a lesbian. Beyond the Pale (1997), a historical novel, won a 1998 Lambda Literary Award for best Lesbian novel of the year. She taught at her alma mater San Francisco State University. Dykewomon lives in Oakland.
10-11-1954 Cleve Jones – Born in West Lafayette, Indiana. He is an American AIDS and LGBT rights activist. He conceived the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt which has become, at 54 tons, the world’s largest piece of community folk art as of 2009. In 1983, at the onset of the AIDS pandemic, Jones co-founded the San Francisco AIDS Foundation which has grown into one of the largest and most influential People with AIDS advocacy organizations in the United States. He became a friend of Harvey Milk when he worked as a student intern in Milk’s office. Jones participated as an actor in the Los Angeles premiere of 8, a condensed theatrical re-enactment of the Perry v. Schwarzenegger trial’s closure, on March 3, 2012.
10-11-1956 Stephen Spinella – He was born in Naples, Italy. His father was an American naval airplane mechanic. He grew up in Glendale, Arizona. He is an American stage, television, and film actor. He won consecutive Tony-awards for Best Featured Actor and Best Actor for his performance as Prior Walter in Angels in America: Millennium Approaches and Angels in America: Perestroika. He was also nominated for Best Featured Actor in a Musical for James Joyce’s The Dead. Spinella is openly gay.
10-11-1967 Peter Thiel – Born in Frankfurt, Germany. He is a German-born American entrepreneur/venture capitalist/billionaire. Co-founder of PayPal and also the first outside investor in Facebook, and sits of the company’s board of directors. Thiel lives in San Francisco and considers himself a libertarian. He supports predominately Republican candidates. Thiel has also supported far-rights causes such as the American Foundation for Equal Rights and GOProud (Republican gay group). Thiel was on Out’s 3rd Annual 100 Most Eligible Bachelors (2013). He is openly gay.
10-11-1977 Matt Bomer – Born in Webster Groves, Missouri. He is an American film, stage and television actor. He made his television debut with Guiding Light in 2001. He gained recognition with his recurring role in the NBC television series Chuck as Bryce Larkin. He played the lead role of a con-artist in the USA Network series White Collar from 2009 to 2014. Bomer won a Golden Globe Award and received a Primetime Emmy Award for his supporting role as Felix Turner in the HBO television film The Normal Heart. He stared in the Dustin Lance Black play 8 on Broadway and at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre as Jeff Zarrillo, a plaintiff in the federal case that overturned California’s Proposition 8. Bomer is married to the publicist Simon Halls with whom he has three children. He publicly came out in 2012, when he thanked Halls and their children during an acceptance speech for his Steve Chase Humanitarian Award.
10-11-1989 Robbie Manson – Born in Hamilton, New Zealand. He was a 2012 New Zealand Olympic rower. In November 2014, he came out publicly as gay. His older brother is also gay. He said that he realized that he was different from most other guys at an early age and desperately tried to hide that “different” side of himself. When he turned 21 he came out to his older brother. He next came out to his mom. Accepted by his family, he then came out to his friends and rowing team. Much to his surprise, everyone was supportive. Manson said, “I felt I could finally find out who I really was. I feel like my perspective has changed so much and now I’m not only proud to be gay, but glad that I am. I wouldn’t want to be any other way. I think it makes me more interesting, and it’s something that does make me different in a good way.” Manson was one of 49 out LGBT athletes at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
10-11-1993 Brandon Flynn – born in Miami, Florida. He is an American actor, best known for his role as Justin Foley in the Netflix series 13 Reasons Why. In 2018, he has a recurring role in the third season of True Detective. In September 2017, Flynn confirmed that he is gay and that he was dating English singer Sam Smith. The pair split up in June 2018.