Today in Gay History

RSS  FEED OF June 15

June 15

Adah Isaacs Menken
1835 -

ADAH ISAACS MENKEN, American actress, born (d: 1868); An American actress, painter and poet, the flamboyant performer got around. Menken was born of a free black male parent and a mixed race Creole mother although she reinvented her background and birthplace numerous times throughout the relatively short course of her life.

She was reputed to be only slightly less man-hungry than the legendary Cleopatra, who, nicknamed “Thick Lips,” is said to have blown a hundred Roman soldiers in a single night.

Her reputation notwithstanding, which seems to have been encouraged to provide cover, Menken was a man-hater whose Infelicia, a collection of Sapphic poems, clearly reveals her delight in women. She was, for a time, the lover of novelist Georges Sand.

Edvard Grieg
1843 -

EDVARD GRIEG, Norwegian composer (d. 1907); Edvard Grieg? That sweet little guy, the one whose “Anitra’s Dance” is always played in third grade music appreciation class? What’s he doing here? In old age he was completely taken with the boyish charms of curly-haired, blond Percy Grainger, whose “Country Gardens” is inflicted on the same third-grade class of audiophiles. “I love him,” Grieg declared, I love him like I love a young woman.” That’s odd. That’s exactly what Vachel Lindsay said about the same guy! Mercy Percy!

Malvina Hoffman
1887 -

MALVINA HOFFMAN, American sculptor, born (d: 1966); Hoffman was called "the American Rodin." She traveled around the world to model the heads of every racial type, and is included here on the most tentative “evidence.” Since there is no modern biography, and we have only Hoffman’s not-too-candid 1930 autobiography to go on, the slender thread is the drippy Here Lies the Heart, Mercedes de Acosta’s account of her many loves, in which Hoffman is one of the players.

Since none of the cast of characters, including Garbo and Dietrich, uttered a public peep when the book was published, we can only assume that the book was either too silly to refute, or sillier still, true.   For images:

Author Patricia Nell Warren
1936 -

PATRICIA NELL WARREN is an American author and journalist born on this date (d: 2019). Her first novel, The Front Runner, was the first contemporary Gay fiction to make the New York Times Best Seller list. Warren was born in Helena, Montana in 1936. She grew up on the Grant-Kohrs Ranch at Deer Lodge, Montana,

She began writing at age 10, and got her first literary recognition at age eighteen, winning the Atlantic Monthly College Fiction Contest with a short story. In 1957 she married Ukrainian emigre poet Yuriv Tarnawsky. Through her marriage, she learned the Ukrainian language and became associated with a group of other young Ukrainian emigre poets who became internationally known as the New York Group. As a part of their publishing collective, she began writing and publishing poetry in Ukrainian.

In 1976, Warren followed with a second novel, "The Fancy Dancer". The story was set in her native Montana, tracking the struggle with sexual-orientation issues of a young Catholic parish priest in a small cow-country town. In 1978 came Warren's third novel, "The Beauty Queen." Also published by Morrow, this book was set in the New York City world where she'd spent many years. The story focused on a socially prominent Manhattan businessman, a closeted Gay father trying to get up the courage to come out to his daughter, who had become a fiercely anti-Gay, born-again Christian politician.

In 1980, Warren moved back out West to pursue research on her next novel, a Western historical opus. It appeared from Ballantine in 1991 under the title "One Is the Sun." Eventually settling in southern California, she made the decision to go independent with book publishing. The result was Wildcat Press, which has published all her books since then, including her 2001 novel, "The Wild Man," inspired by her years in Spain.

During the 1990s, Warren became more active politically. In 1996-99, as a result of her concerns for LGBT youth, she volunteered as a commissioner of education in Los Angeles Unified School District, serving on the Gay & Lesbian Education Commission and later the Human Relations Education Commission. In 2006, Warren hired veteran political consultant Neal Zaslavsky and announced her candidacy for City Council in West Hollywood. Warren was unsuccessful in the run.

Neil Patrick Harris
1973 -

NEIL PATRICK HARRIS, American actor, born; A Golden Globe and Emmy-nominated, Tony Award-winning American actor known for his roles as the teenage doctor Doogie Howser, the womanizing Barney Stinson in How I Met Your Mother and as a parody of himself in Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle and its sequel Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay.

In 2006, after a report about Harris' romantic relationship with actor Burtka surfaced on, Harris' publicist issued a denial, stating that the actor "is not of that persuasion." However, a day later Harris, who had long been openly Gay in his personal life and in the theater community, came out to the media in People Magazine.

His statement read: “The public eye has always been kind to me, and until recently I have been able to live a pretty normal life. Now it seems there is speculation and interest in my private life and relationships. So, rather than ignore those who choose to publish their opinions without actually talking to me, I am happy to dispel any rumors or misconceptions and am quite proud to say that I am a very content Gay man living my life to the fullest and feel most fortunate to be working with wonderful people in the business I love."

Harris has gone on to dazzle the stage and television audiences of the world, hosting the Tony Awards in 2009, 2011, 2012, and giving a show-stopping performance opening the 2013 Tony Award Show. He stepped down from the role in 2014 because he was nominated for his lead role in Hedwig and the Angry Inch, which he won. Harris is married to actor and chef, David Burtka. He and Burtka are parents to fraternal twins Gideon Scott, a boy, and Harper Grace, a girl, born in 2010.

2020 -

The Supreme Court ruled that a landmark civil rights law protects LGBT people from discrimination in employment, a resounding victory for LGBT rights from a conservative court. The court decided by a 6-3 vote that a key provision of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 known as Title VII that bars job discrimination because of sex, among other reasons, encompasses bias against LGBT workers.

The cases were the court’s first on LGBT rights since Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement and replacement by Kavanaugh. Kennedy was a voice for gay rights and the author of the landmark ruling in 2015 that made same-sex marriage legal throughout the United States. Kavanaugh generally is regarded as more conservative.

The Trump administration had changed course from the Obama administration, which supported LGBT workers in their discrimination claims under Title VII. During the Obama years, the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission had changed its longstanding interpretation of civil rights law to include discrimination against LGBT people. The law prohibits discrimination because of sex, but had no specific protection for sexual orientation or gender identity.

In recent years, some lower courts have held that discrimination against LGBT people is a subset of sex discrimination, and thus prohibited by the federal law. Efforts by Congress to change the law had failed.

The Supreme Court cases involved two gay men and a transgender woman who sued for employment discrimination after they lost their jobs.

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