September 17th People

September 17th

09-17-1730 – 11-28-1794 Baron Friedrich von Steuben – Born in Magdeburg, Duchy of Magdeburg. He was a Prussian-born American military officer that served as Inspector General and Major General under Baron Friedrich von SteubenGeorge Washington of the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War. One of his biggest contributions was training in the use of the bayonet. In the Battle of Stony Point, American soldiers attacked with unloaded rifles and won the battle solely on Steuben’s bayonet training. He wrote Regulations for the Order and Discipline of the Troops of the United States, the book that served as the standard United States drill manual until the War of 1812. Steuben served as General Washington’s chief of staff in the final years of the war. In Prussia, Steuben had faced allegations that he engaged in improper relationships while in the service of Prince Joseph Friedrich Wilhelm. The allegations were never proven, but Steuben knew they would stymie his chances at an officer’s position in Europe. Threatened with prosecution for his homosexuality, Steuben went to Paris and then to America. A letter from Benjamin Franklin introduced Steuben to George Washington. Rumors followed him from Prussia to America that he was homosexual, but there never was an investigation of him and he received a Congressional pension after the war. He is credited with turning the volunteers into a great army. Steuben established standards of sanitation and camp layouts that would still be standard a century and a half later. He never married nor did he deny any of the allegations of homosexuality. He left his estate to his former aides-de-camp, Captains Benjamin Walker and William North, with whom he had had an “extraordinarily intense emotional relationship”. The two had lived with him at his home at Valley Forge until his death in 1794.

09-17-1904 – 08-18-1988 Sir Frederick Ashton – Born in Guayaquil, Ecuador. He was a British dancer and choreographer. He also worked as aSir Frederick Ashton director and choreographer in opera and film. Although he was a successful ballet dancer, it was as a choreographer that he became famous. One of Ashton’s most celebrated ballets was created for the Royal Ballet in 1960: La filled mal gardée. In 1936-37, although he was homosexual, he had an affair with American heiress and socialite, Alice von Hofmannsthal. After the affair ended, her love for him continued, though she had two subsequent marriages, both to gay Englishmen. Ashton’s last years were marred by the death of his partner, Martyn Thomas, in a car crash in 1985. Ashton never fully recovered. He died in his sleep in 1988 at his country home in Suffolk.

09-17-1962   Randy Boehning – Born in Hankinson, North Dakota. He is a member of the North Dakota House of Representatives from the 27th District, serving since 2002. He is a Republican. After voting against expanding gay rights in North Dakota, Boehning was outed for sending an explicit photo and messages to another man on Grindr in April 2015. Boehning later told the Grand Forks Herald that he is “gay” and that he is “relieved to come out.” He lost his re-election bid in November 2018 to Ruth Buffalo, the first Native American Democratic woman elected to the North Dakota Legislature.

09-17-1970 Rebecca Kaplan – Place of birth unknown. She was a City Councilmember of Oakland, California from 2002 to 2009. She now serves Rebecca Kaplanas Oakland’s Councilmember At-Large. She is the first openly gay councilmember of Oakland. In May 2014, she announced her engagement to Pamela Rosin. They married in July of 2014.

09-17-1971 Nate Berkus – Born in Orange County, California and grew up mainly in suburban Minneapolis. He is an American interior designer, Nate Berkusauthor, TV host, and television personality. He runs the Chicago interior design firm Nate Berkus Associates and has been a regular guest on the Oprah Winfrey Show. Berkus is openly gay. In December 2004 Berkus and his partner, photographer Fernando Bengoechea, were vacationing at a beach resort in Sri Lanka when the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami hit. Berkus survived, Bengoechea is missing and presumed dead. Berkus appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show on January 17, 2005, to talk about his experience and the loss of his partner. After nearly a year of dating, Berkus became engaged to Jeremiah Brent in April 2013. They were married on May 4, 2014, in New York City. In early 2014, the couple was featured in clothing ads. The New York Times noted that they were the first same-sex couple to be featured in ads for the magazines.

09-17-1983 Mark Kanemura – Born and raised on Oahu, Hawaii. He is one of the male dancers for Lady Gaga. Mark was a finalist on Fox’s hit television show So You Think You Can Dance and returned as an “All Star” Mark Kanemurafor Season 7. After moving to Los Angeles, he has appeared on Dancing with the Stars, America Idol, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, and various award shows. Mark has worked with other artists, including Carrie Underwood, Katy Perry, Janet Jackson, and Beyoncé. His first performance with Lady Gaga was at the 2009 Video Music Awards during “Paparazzi.” After the “Born This Way Ball”, he started working on his own projects. He is openly gay and has a relationship with Jeremy Hudson.

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