Today in Gay History

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December 03

Baron Frederick Leighton
1830 -

BARON FREDERICK LEIGHTON, English sculptor and painter, born (d: 1896); Leighton’s painting, long in disfavor, but coming back in style as more and more people learn to appreciate the Victorian Renaissance Revival, was enormously popular in his lifetime. Since Leighton’s sympathies were with the Italian Renaissance tradition, his paintings – with their often mythological subject, monumental compositions, and figures clad in classical drapery – are among the last examples of the grand traditional manner in European art.

Leighton’s paintings appealed to a large and influential segment of the Victorian public, which craved an art of “high seriousness.” Because he played by the established rules of the game, Leighton, whose sexuality was widely known, pursued his career and his pleasure with discretion. He died at 65, the day after being made a baron, the first English painter to be so honored.

Anna Freud
1895 -

Pioneering psychologist and daughter of Siggy, ANNA FREUD was born on this date (d.1982). A pioneer in the field of child psychoanalysis, Freud neither conformed to conventional heterosexual expectations nor identified herself explicitly as a Lesbian. Even though it is impossible to know whether Freud was homosexual, it is relatively easy to conclude that she was decidedly not heterosexual in any typical sense.

Anna Freud's primary relationships were with her father, with whom she lived and cared for until his death in 1939, and two close female friends, Lou Andreas-Salome and Dorothy Burlingham. Burlingham became Freud's life partner and companion, although the sexual nature of their intimacy remains unclear.

Burlingham moved to Vienna in 1925 to begin her work in psychoanalysis. She lived with the Freud family in their apartment at Berggasse 19, which at that time included Sigmund Freud, his wife Martha, her sister Minna Bernays, and Anna Freud. She and Anna Freud became close friends and began their life-long collaboration on developing children's therapies and psychoanalysis. They worked and lived together for the rest of their lives. Freud helped raise Burlingham's children from a previous marriage.

1927 -

ADRIAN HALL was an American theater director born on this date (d: 2023); Hall's directing style was described as "bold" by the New York Times, and his work was considered part of the first and second generation of the regional theater movement of the 1960s and late 1980s. He was the founding Artistic Director of the Trinity Repertory Company in Providence, Rhode Island from 1963 to 1986, and the Artistic Director of Dallas Theater Center in Dallas, Texas from 1983 to 1989. He is considered to have created major and divisive change within both institutions.

In addition to his work producing plays at Trinity Repertory, Hall oversaw and participated in the Project Discovery program at Trinity Repertory, which introduced high school students to theater. Actress Viola Davis credits Hall's visit to her high school and the subsequent visits to the theater during Hall's tenure as what "changed her path." Two of Hall's productions at Trinity Repertory Company were featured on the PBS series, Great Performances.

Mr. Hall had a big personality and sometimes clashed with theater boards; his reluctance to set his full season in advance was one source of friction, since that made it hard to market subscriptions. A split with the Trinity board led him to leave Providence in 1989 and devote his full attention to the Dallas job, only to have that end when he clashed with the board there the same year, after which he became a freelance director.

“Every once in a while,” he told The Los Angeles Times in 1989, “an Adrian Hall will meet an unmovable object such as the Dallas Theater Center board.”

If his personality set him apart, so, to some, did being openly gay. It also influenced his work, “Being gay, well, it’s an outsider status, no matter what anyone else says, and part of me really likes that,” he told The Globe in 1986. “It keeps me on edge, keeps me aware of what it’s like not being fully accepted, what it’s like being scored and thought less of because you’re different.

“I identify with society’s rejects. Always have. That’s what my work’s about.”

Literary forger, Lee Israel
1939 -

LEE ISRAEL (d: 2014) was an American author, known for her involvement in literary forgery. A film adaptation of her 2008 confessional autobiography Can You Ever Forgive Me? was released in 2018. The New York Times called it "pretty damned fabulous."

She began a career as a freelance writer in the 1960s. The November 1967 edition of Esquire ran her profile of Katharine Hepburn for which Israel had visited California shortly before the death of Spencer Tracy. Israel's magazine career continued into the 1970s. In the 1970s and 1980s she wrote biographies of actress Tallulah Bankhead, journalist and game show panelist Dorothy Kilgallen and cosmetics tycoon  Estee Lauder. The Kilgallen book was well received and appeared on The New York Times Best Sellers List.

In her memoir published decades later, Israel claimed that in 1983 she had received an advance from Macmillen Publishing to begin a project on Lauder, "about whom Macmillan wanted an unauthorized biography — warts and all. I accepted the offer though I didn't give a shit about her warts." Israel also claimed that Lauder repeatedly attempted to bribe her into dropping the project. In the book, Israel discredited Lauder's public statements that she was born into European aristocracy and attended church regularly in Palm Beach, Florida.

When Lauder realized that Macmillan planned to publish Israel's book, Lauder wrote a memoir that her publisher timed to coincide with it, in fall 1985. Israel's book was panned by critics and a commercial failure. "I had made a mistake," said Israel of the episode. "Instead of taking a great deal of money from a woman rich as Oprah, I published a bad, unimportant book, rushed out in months to beat [Lauder's own memoir] to market." After this failure, Israel's career went into decline, compounded by alcoholism and a personality that some found difficult.

Israel is best remembered for her criminal enterprises. By 1992, her career as a writer of books and magazine articles had ended. She had tried and failed to support herself with wage labor. To make money, she began forging a number of letters, estimated to be over 400, by deceased writers and actors. Later, she began stealing actual letters and autographed papers of famous persons from archives and libraries, replacing them with forged copies. She sold both forged and stolen original works.

This continued for over a year before two undercover FBI agents questioned Israel on a Manhattan sidewalk. According to her memoir, in which she cites FBI documents from her case file, the agents left without arresting her or telling her what was going to happen next. She immediately returned to her apartment on Riverside Drive in Manhattan and got rid of all evidence, discarding in public trash cans more than a dozen typewriters she had used to simulate various typefaces. By the time she was served with a federal warrant ordering her to save evidence, it was already gone.

In Israel's memoir, she also claims she was never arrested or handcuffed, instead receiving summonses for federal court dates. In June 1993, Israel pleaded guilty to conspiracy to transport stolen property, for which she served six months under house arrest and five years of federal probation. Israel later expressed pride in her criminal accomplishments, especially the forgeries.

Allan Berube
1946 -

On this date the American historian, activist, scholar and self-described "community based" researcher ALLAN BERUBE was born (d. 2007).  The award-winning author was best known for his research and writing about homosexual members of the American Armed Forces during World War II. He also wrote essays about the intersection of class and race in Gay culture, and about growing up in a poor, working class family, his French- Canadian roots, and about his experience of anti-AIDS activism.

Among Bérubé's published works was the 1990 book Coming Out Under Fire, which examined the stories of Gay men and women in the US military between 1941 and 1945.

Del Shores
1957 -

Today is the birthday of the American director, producer, playwright and actor DEL SHORES. Born in Winters, Texas Shores' first made a splash with his play Daddy's Dyin' (Who's Got the Will?) which saw a 1987 debut in Los Angeles. The comedic play was made into a film in 1990. Perhaps Shores' best known play is the 1996 comedy Sordid Lives, which centered around the Texan Ingram family and touched on LGBT themes. In 1999 Shores wrote and direct the screen version of Sordid Lives. Eight years later Shores produced 12 prequel episodes of "Sordid Lives: The Series" which aired on US Gay cable channel Logo.

Shores has two daughters Caroline and Rebecca from a previous marriage. He is reportedly married to his partner and co-producer, Jason Dottley, since 2003, and they remarried in a state where same-sex weddings were recognized in 2008.

Paul and Elizabeth Glaser
1994 -

ELIZABETH GLAZER, AIDS activist died (b. 1947); major American HIV-AIDS activist and child advocate married to actor and director Paul Michael Glaser. She contracted HIV very early in the modern AIDS epidemic after receiving an HIV-contaminated blood transfusion in 1981 while giving birth. Like other HIV-infected mothers, Glaser unknowingly passed the virus to her infant daughter, Ariel, through breastfeeding. The Glasers' son, Jake, born in 1984, contracted HIV from his mother in utero.

The virus went undetected in all three infected family members until they underwent HIV testing in 1985, after the Glasers' daughter, Ariel, began suffering from a series of unexplained illnesses. Ariel had developed full-blown AIDS at a time when the medical community knew very little about the disease and there were no available treatment options. Early in 1987, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration finally approved AZT as an effective drug to extend the lives of AIDS patients, but the approval only extended to adults. With their daughter's condition rapidly deteriorating, the Glasers fought to have her treated with AZT intravenously. However, the treatment came too late, and the child eventually succumbed to the disease late in the summer of 1988.

Mourning the loss of her daughter and determined to save her surviving child, Jake, along with other HIV-positive children, Glaser co-founded the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation in 1988. Glaser's work raised public awareness about HIV infection in children and spurred funding for the development of pediatric AIDS drugs as well as research into mother-to-child transmission (MTCT) of HIV. (Significantly, Glaser's children received the virus through two of the most common means of mother-to-child transmission.) Before her death in 1994, Glaser entered the national spotlight as a speaker at the 1992 Democratic National Convention. She criticized the federal government's under-funding of HIV-AIDS research and its lack of initiative in tackling the HIV-AIDS crisis.

Bea Arthur as Maude
1977 -

On this date CBS broadcast "The Gay Bar" an episode of Norman Lear's series Maude. '

Bea Arthur portrayed Maude and in this episode she fought with her neighbor, Dr. Harmon, over the opening of a gay bar in town.  Dr. Harmon is portrayed as bigoted and ignorant in his hatred of Gay people and his opposition of the opening of the bar.

Meanwhile Maude's husband Arthur forms the group "Fathers Against Gay Society" (F.A.G.S.). Craig Richard Nelson starred as a patron of "The Gay Caballero." In the end the bar is opened outside of the city limits where it can't be legally stopped.

It can be seen here: 

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