Today in Gay History

RSS  FEED OF March 06

March 06

Born
Michelangelo Buonaroti
1475 -

MICHELANGELO BUONAROTI, Italian sculptor, painter, master, born (d: 1564); commonly known as Michelangelo, was an Italian Renaissance painter, sculptor, architect, poet and engineer. Despite making few forays beyond the arts, his versatility in the disciplines he took up was of such a high order that he is often considered a contender for the title of the archetypal Renaissance man, along with his rival and fellow Italian Leonardo Da Vinci.

Everyone knows he was Gay. Even Dear Abby said as much in one of her columns. Poor Abby wound up being gently chewed out by none other than Irving Stone who insisted that all this queer business was started by that jealous old queen, Aretino. After all, would Charlton Heston ever play a fag?

The sculptor's expressions of love have been characterized as both “Neo-platonic”” and openly homoerotic; recent scholarship seeks an interpretation which respects both readings, yet is wary of drawing absolute conclusions. One example of the conundrum is the story of Cecchino dei Bracci, whose death, only a year after their meeting in 1543, inspired the writing of forty-eight funeral epigrams, which by some accounts allude to a relationship that was not only romantic but physical as well:

La carne terra, e qui l'ossa mia, prive
de' lor begli occhi, e del leggiadro aspetto
fan fede a quel ch'i' fu grazia nel letto,
che abbracciava, e' n che l'anima vive.

Or

The flesh now earth, and here my bones,
Bereft of handsome eyes, and jaunty air,
Still loyal are to him I joyed in bed,
Whom I embraced, in whom my soul now lives.

The love of male beauty is fundamental to Michelangelo's art, which attracted him both aesthetically and emotionally. Such feelings caused him great anguish, and he expressed the struggle between platonic ideals and carnal desire in his sculpture, drawing, and his poetry, too, for among his other accomplishments Michelangelo was also a great Italian lyric poet of the 16th century.

The sculptor loved a great many youths, many of whom posed for him. Some were of high birth, like the sixteen-year old Cecchino dei Bracci. Others were street wise and took advantage of the sculptor. Febbo di Poggio, in 1532, peddled his charms — in answer to Michelangelo's love poem he asks for money.

Earlier, Gherardo Perini, in 1522, had stolen from him shamelessly. Nonetheless, Michelangelo defended his privacy above all. When an employee of his friend Niccolò Quaratesi offered his son as apprentice suggesting that he would be good even in bed, Michelangelo refused, suggesting Quaratesi fire the man.

His greatest male love was Tommaso dei Cavalieri (c. 1509–1587), who was 23-years old when Michelangelo met him in 1532, at the age of 57. Cavalieri was open to the older man's affection: "I swear to return your love. Never have I loved a man more than I love you, never have I wished for a friendship more than I wish for yours." Cavalieri remained devoted to Michelangelo till his death.

Michelangelo dedicated over 300 sonnets  and madrigals to him, constituting the largest sequence of poems composed by him. Though some modern commentators assert that the relationship was merely a Platonic affection (mostly because they can't imagine anything other than Platonic), the sonnets are the first large sequence of poems in any modern tongue addressed by one man to another, predating Shakespeare's sonnets to his young friend by a good fifty years.

 I feel as lit by fire a cold countenance
That burns me from afar and keeps itself ice-chill;
A strength I feel two shapely arms to fill
Which without motion moves every balance.


Critic and author Parker Tyler
1904 -

HARRISON PARKER TYLER, better known as PARKER TYLER was born on this date in New Orleans (d: 1974; New York City), Tyler was an author, poet, and film critic. Tyler had a relationship with underground filmmaker Charles Boultenhouse  from 1945 until his death. Their papers are held by the New York Public Library.

He wrote The Young and Evil (Paris: Obelisk Press, 1933) with Charles Henri Ford, an energetically experimental novel with obvious debts to fellow Villager Djuna Barnes and Gertrude Stein. Tyler and Ford co-edited the Surrealist magazine View until it folded in 1947. A writer for the journal Film Culture, Tyler is one of the few film critics to write extensively on experimental and underground film. From its inception in 1946, Tyler was film commentator for the historic film society Cinema 16, founded by Amos Vogel. His Screening the Sexes: Homosexuality in the Movies (New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1972) was one of the first books about homosexuality and film, preceding Vito Russo's The Celluloid Closet.

Tyler was mentioned several times in the novel Myra Breckinridge by Gore Vidal, bringing renewed attention to Tyler's film criticism. This led Vidal to claim that "I've done for [Tyler] what Edward Albee did for Virgina Woolf" after The Hollywood Hallucination and Magic and Myth of the Movies were republished in 1970.


Glenn Greenwald
1967 -

GLENN GREENWALD is an American lawyer, journalist and author born on this date. He was a columnist for Guardian US from August 2012 to October 2013. He was a columnist for Salon.com from 2007 to 2012, and an occasional contributor to The Guardian. Greenwald worked as a constitutional and civil rights litigator.

At Salon he contributed as a columnist and blogger, focusing on political and legal topics. He has also contributed to other newspapers and political news magazines, including The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, The American Conservative, The National Interest and In These Times. In 2014 he became, along with Laura Poitrasand and Jeremy Scahill, one of the founding editors of The Intercept.

Greenwald was named by Foreign  Policy Magazine as one of the "Top 100 Global Thinkers of 2013" and The Advocate named him as one of the "50 Most Influential LGBT Persons in 2014".

Four of the five books he has written have been on The New York Times Best Sellers list. Greenwald is a frequent speaker on college campuses, including Harvard Law, Yale Law, the University of Pennsylvania, Brown University, UCLA School of Law and the University of Wisconsin. He frequently appears on various radio and television programs.

In June 2013 Greenwald became widely known after The Guardian published the first of a series of reports detailing United States and British global surveillance programs, based on classified documents disclosed by Edward Snowden. The series on which Greenwald worked, along with others, won the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service.

His reporting on the National Security Agency (NSA) won numerous other awards around the world, including top investigative journalism prizes from the George Polk Award for National Security Reporting, the 2013 Online Journalism Awards, the Esso Award for Excellence in Reporting in Brazil for his articles in O Globo on NSA mass surveillance of Brazilians (becoming the first foreigner to win the award), the 2013 Libertad de Expresion Internacional award from Argentinian magazine  Perfil, and the 2013 Pioneer Award from the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Greenwald lives in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the hometown of his partner, David Michael Miranda. Greenwald has said his residence in Brazil was the result of an American law, the Defense of Marriage Act, barring federal recognition of same-sex marriages, which prevented his partner from receiving a visa to reside in the United States with him.


Died
Ivor Novello
1951 -

IVOR NOVELLO, died on this date (b. 1893); a Welsh composer, singer, and who became one of the most popular British entertainers of the early 20th century. Novello was well-known for some of his more glamorous affairs. For thirty-five years, he was the lover of the British actor Bobbie Andrews and he had an affair with the British poet and writer Siegfried Sassoon. It was widely rumored and reported that he had slept with none other than Winston Churchill. When Churchill was asked to describe how was it? He was said to have told the reporter, "Musical!"

Only a few weeks before Novello's death, Noel Coward had written of him: "Theatre – good, bad and indifferent – is the love of his life. For him, other human endeavors are mere shadows. … The reward of his work lies in the indisputable fact that whenever and wherever he appears the vast majority of the British public flock to see him." Grove's Dictionary of Music and Musicians writes of Novello that he was "until the advent of Andrew Lloyd Webber, the 20th-century's most consistently successful composer of British musicals.


Mel Boozer
1987 -

MEL BOOZER (b: 1946) died on this date. Boozer was a university professor and activist for African-American  LGBT and HIV-AIDS issues. He was active in both the Democratic Party and the Socialist Party, USA. He was a sociologist and former president of the Gay Activist Alliance.

Boozer was nominated in 1980 for the office of Vice President of the United States by the Socialist Party USA and, by petition at the convention, by the Democratic Party. He was the first openly gay person ever nominated for the office. Boozer spoke to the Democratic convention in a speech televised in prime time, calling on the party to support equality for LGBT people. “Would you ask me how I dare to compare the civil rights struggle with the struggle for Lesbian and Gay Rights? I can compare them and I do compare them, because I know what it means to be called a ‘nigger’ and I know what it means to be called a ‘faggot,’ and I understand the differences in the marrow of my bones. And I can sum up that difference in one word: none.”

Boozer received 49 votes before the balloting was suspended and then-Vice President Walter Mondale was re-nominated by acclamation.

In 1981, Boozer was hired by the National Gay Task Force as district director and a lobbyist. NGTF executive director Virginia Apuzzo fired him in 1983, replacing him with then-GAA president Jeff Levi. This had the effect of "leav[ing] the nation's oldest Gay organization even whiter" and drew protests from other gay African Americans.

Boozer died of an AIDS-related illness in March 1987 at the age of 41 in Washington D.C.


Subscribe to Gay Wisdom

Would you like to have Today in Gay History (aka Gay Wisdom) sent to you daily?

Building Connections & Community for Gay Men since 1989