Wednesday, July 18, 2018

First Out U.S. Foreign Service Officer Tom Gallagher Dies


The Washington Blade reports:

Tom Gallagher, who became the first known U.S. Foreign Service officer to come out as gay in 1975 and who switched careers to become a social worker before returning to the Foreign Service in 1994, died July 8 in his hometown of Tinton Falls, N.J. from complications associated with a bacterial infection. He was 77.

In a write-up of his life and career that he prepared shortly before his passing and in an earlier interview published in the online publication Slate, he said he decided to disclose his sexual orientation at a 1975 conference in Washington, D.C., organized by the then Gay Activists Alliance called Gays and the Federal Government.

Knowing the disclosure would jeopardize his then 10-year career at the State Department and Foreign Service, he decided to come out because he became tired of having to conceal the truth of who he was, he recounted in the interview.

One year later, in 1976, after he determined longstanding policies making it difficult if not impossible for gays working in the Foreign Service to retain their required security clearances, he resigned and moved to California, where he began a new career as a social worker.

See full story here.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Happy Birthday to Political Commentator Josh Barro


Josh Barro was born today, July 17, in 1984. He is an American journalist who currently contributes to Business Insider as a political commentator.

After growing up in Massachusetts, Barro received a bachelor's degree in psychology from Harvard University. While in college, he spent a summer interning for Grover Norquist.

Barro previously worked as a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, as a real estate banker for Wells Fargo, as the lead writer for the Ticker, an economics and politics blog hosted by Bloomberg L.P., and as the politics editor at Business Insider.

He appears regularly on Bloomberg Television and MSNBC and has appeared on Real Time with Bill Maher on HBO and on All In with Chris Hayes on MSNBC.

Time named Barro's Twitter feed one of "The 140 Best Twitter Feeds of 2013," one of 10 in the Politics category. In 2012, Forbes selected him as one of the "30 Under 30" media "brightest stars under the age of 30," and David Brooks listed him as part of the "vibrant and increasingly influential center-right conversation." A former aide to Barack Obama included Barro on a short list of Obama's favorite columnists. He is currently the host and moderator of KCRW's Left, Right & Center.

In 2014, Barro left Business Insider to join The New York Times' "The Upshot." In 2016, Barro was again hired by Business Insider as a senior editor.

Early in his career, Barro described himself as Republican but criticized many policies. He also identified as a neoliberal. Barro has been opposed to traditional Christian beliefs regarding homosexuality, stating that they "linger and oppress" and must be "stamped out ruthlessly."

After the 2012 United States elections, Barro became increasingly critical of the Republican Party and wrote that "the party’s economic agenda, as embodied in the latest Ryan budget, is simply terrible for the vast majority of Americans." Barro called Congressional Republicans "crazy and awful." Reactions by other conservatives in the media led The Atlantic to name Barro "the loneliest Republican." Ezra Klein said that based on Barro's views, "He doesn't come across as much of a Republican."

On October 11, 2016, following the Republican Party's nomination of Donald Trump for president, Barro said he had left the Republican Party and registered as a Democrat. Barro cited as reasons for his decision the "fact-free environment so many of its voters live in, and because of the anti-Democrat hysteria that had been willfully whipped up by so many of its politicians," which created a "vulnerability in our democracy."

Barro lives in Manhattan and is out as a gay man. In 2017, he married Zachary Allen, chairman of TIPAH Consulting and a former Democratic National Committee official.


See more LGBTQ birthdays listed on the LGBT Daily Spotlight blog here

Monday, July 16, 2018

Happy Birthday to Pulitzer-Winning Playwright Tony Kushner


Tony Kushner was born today, July 16, in 1956. He is an American playwright and screenwriter. He received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1993 for his play Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes. He co-authored with Eric Roth the screenplay for the 2005 film Munich, and he wrote the screenplay for the 2012 film Lincoln. Both movies were critically acclaimed, and he received Academy Award nominations for Best Adapted Screenplay. He received a National Medal of Arts from President Barack Obama in 2013.

Kushner was born in Manhattan. Shortly after his birth, Kushner's parents moved to Lake Charles, Louisiana, where he spent his childhood. In 1974, Kushner moved back to New York to begin his undergraduate college education at Columbia University, where he received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Medieval Studies in 1978. He attended the Tisch School of the Arts at NYU, graduating in 1984.


Kushner's best known work is Angels in America (a play in two parts: Millennium Approaches and Perestroika), a seven-hour epic about the AIDS epidemic in Reagan-era New York. A Tony-winning revival of the play just ended on Broadway. It was also adapted into an HBO miniseries for which Kushner wrote the screenplay. His other plays include Hydriotaphia, Slavs!: Thinking About the Longstanding Problems of Virtue and Happiness, A Bright Room Called Day, Homebody/Kabul, and the book for the musical Caroline, or Change. His new translation of Bertolt Brecht's Mother Courage and Her Children was performed at the Delacorte Theater in the summer of 2006, starring Meryl Streep and directed by George C. Wolfe. Kushner has also adapted Brecht's The Good Person of Szechwan, Corneille's The Illusion, and S. Ansky's play The Dybbuk.

In the early 2000s, Kushner began writing for film. His co-written screenplay Munich was produced and directed by Steven Spielberg in 2005. In January 2006, a documentary feature about Kushner entitled Wrestling With Angels debuted at the Sundance Film Festival. The film was directed by Freida Lee Mock. In April 2011 it was announced that he was working with Spielberg again, writing the screenplay for an adaptation of historian Doris Kearns Goodwin's book Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln. The screenplay for Lincoln would go on to receive multiple awards, in addition to nominations for Best Adapted Screenplay at the Golden Globes and The Oscars.

In a 2015 interview actress/producer Viola Davis revealed she had hired Kushner to write an as yet untitled biopic about the life of Barbara Jordan that she planned to star in.

In 2016, Kushner worked on a screenplay version of August Wilson's play Fences; the resulting film Fences, directed by Denzel Washington, was released in December 2016.

Kushner is famous for frequent revisions and years-long gestations of his plays. Both Angels in America: Perestroika and Homebody/Kabul were significantly revised even after they were first published. Kushner has admitted that the original script version of Angels in America: Perestroika is nearly double the length of the theatrical version. His newest completed work, the play The Intelligent Homosexual's Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures, began as a novel more than a decade ago.

In 2018 it was announced that Kushner was working on a script of a remake of West Side Story for Spielberg to direct.

Kushner and his spouse Mark Harris (right) held a commitment ceremony in April 2003, the first same-sex commitment ceremony to be featured in the Vows column of The New York Times. Harris is an editor of Entertainment Weekly and author of Pictures at a Revolution – Five Movies and the Birth of the New Hollywood.

In summer 2008, Kushner and Harris were legally married at the city hall in Provincetown, Massachusetts.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Happy Birthday to 'I Love the Nightlife' Singer Alicia Bridges


Alicia Bridges was born today, July 15, in 1953. She is an American singer who co-wrote and performed her international hit "I Love the Nightlife (Disco 'Round)" in 1978.

Bridges was born in Lawndale, North Carolina, a small town in Cleveland County. She sang from a very young age and learned to play guitar at the age of 10. At the age of 12 she had her own radio program, The Alicia Bridges Show, broadcast every Saturday on station WADA in Shelby, North Carolina. Occasionally she would sing on the show but has said what she is most proud of is that she "ran all the dials, the turntables, cued the records and made all the announcements live on the air."

In 1977 she was signed to Polydor Records. Her 1978 hit single "I Love the Nightlife (Disco 'Round)" reached number five on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and also appeared on Billboard's "Hits of the World" chart. The song was also in the #5 position on the Record World and Cash Box charts. It was also a "crossover" hit, receiving play even on country music stations. The cover of the 1978 self-titled LP features an early skyline picture of Atlanta, Georgia.

In 1978 Bridges was a Grammy nominee and was the opening act, performing "I Love the Nightlife." Bridges' self-titled LP, Alicia Bridges, was also rising on the Billboard, Cash Box and Record World charts and the LP remained on the charts for up to 35 weeks. Both the LP and the single release were international successes, and "I Love the Nightlife" went top 40 in the UK and Germany, Spain and other European countries. Bridges' music was especially popular in Japan. She received an RIAA Certified Gold Record for the sale of over one million copies of her hit single in the USA, as well as a gold record from Canada.

Contrary to the impression created by her success with "I Love the Nightlife," Alicia was primarily a singer of rock, blues and love songs. "I Love the Nightlife" has a definite back beat and organ similar to early 1970s R&B; the original intention was for "I Love the Nightlife" to be an R&B song, but when publishing mogul Bill Lowery first heard the song, he envisioned it as a disco dance tune. Soon after, Jim Burgess created a 12" single remix. Ultimately this mix became a worldwide hit. The song has been featured in several movies, including Love at First Bite, The Last Days of Disco and The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.

Bridges is currently active in the music community as a producer and DJ. Her works, digital versions of her recordings, a blog and videos can be found on her official web sites, aliciabridges.com, discoround.com and ilovethenightlife.com.

Bridges is an out lesbian. She has stated that as a teenager, she realized she was "different from the rest," as discussed during a 1998 interview for The Advocate.


Happy Birthday to RI U.S. Congressman David Cicilline


David Cicilline was born today, July 15, in 1961. He is an American politician who has been the U.S. Representative for Rhode Island's 1st congressional district since 2011. He is a member of the Democratic Party. He previously served as Mayor of Providence, Rhode Island, from 2003 to 2011, and was the first openly gay mayor of a U.S. state capital.

Cicilline was born in Providence, Rhode Island. His father is a prominent attorney in Providence who defended local Mafia figures in the 1970s and 1980s and was an aide to Mayor Joseph A. Doorley Jr.

He was raised in Providence before moving to Narragansett. In high school, he served as president of his graduating class and participated in the Close Up Washington civic education program before heading to Brown University, where he established a branch of the College Democrats with his classmate, John F. Kennedy Jr.. He took a degree in political science, graduating magna cum laude in 1983. He then went to Georgetown University Law Center where he earned a J.D.

He remained in Washington, D.C., for a while to work as a lawyer at the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia.

He ran for the Rhode Island Senate in 1992 against incumbent senator Rhoda Perry but lost the Democratic primary. Two years later, he was elected to the Rhode Island House of Representatives, representing the 4th district on Providence's East Side.

Cicilline was elected Mayor of Providence in a landslide in November 2002 with 84 percent of the vote, following the downfall of controversial mayor Vincent Cianci and the aftermath of Operation Plunder Dome. He succeeded acting mayor John J. Lombardi, who served out Cianci's term and decided not to run in the following election.

On February 13, 2010, Cicilline announced his candidacy for the U.S. House of Representatives following the retirement of Patrick J. Kennedy. He won the Democratic primary in September and defeated Republican State Representative John Loughlin with 51 percent of the vote.

Cicilline won re-election to a fourth term in office in the 2016 election. He defeated his opponent, Republican H. Russell Taub, with 64 percent of the vote.

Upon being sworn in, Cicilline became the fourth openly gay member of Congress. He is a co-chair of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus. In March 2011, Cicilline was one of the co-sponsors of a bill to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act and supported efforts to legalize same-sex marriage.

Cicilline introduced the Equality Act in 2015 to amend the 1964 Civil Rights Act and expand protections to LGBTQ people. In September 2017, he reintroduced the Equality Act.

In September 2016, Cicilline asked Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director Sarah Saldana what her agency was doing to "enhance" guideline for LGBT individuals in ICE custody. Saldana answered that ICE officers talked with gay illegal immigrants to properly accommodate them while they are in American detention facilities.

In July 2018, Cicilline was a co-sponsor of The Gay and Trans Panic Defense Prohibition Act. This act would prohibit defense lawyers from using a victim’s LGBTQ identity as justification for a crime or to argue for lesser sentences on the premise that there were extenuating circumstances that motivated their clients to lash out violently.


Saturday, July 14, 2018

Happy Birthday to Emmy-Winning Actress, TV Hostess Jane Lynch


Jane Lynch was born today, July 14, in 1960. She is an actress, author, singer, and comedian. She is best known for her role as Sue Sylvester in the musical television series Glee. She also gained fame in Christopher Guest's improv mockumentary films such as 
Best in Show and A Mighty Wind.

Lynch's television cameos include an appearance in the Nickelodeon situation comedy iCarly and the Showtime dark comedy series Weeds. Lynch had a recurring role in the situation comedy Two and a Half Men from 2004 to 2014 and was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for her performance in 2010. She has also had other notable roles in numerous mainstream comedies, such as Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Role Models and The Three Stooges.

Her portrayal of Sue Sylvester in Glee has won numerous awards, including the Primetime Emmy Award, Golden Globe Award, Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series, TCA Award for Individual Achievement in Comedy, Satellite Award for Best Supporting Actress – Series, Miniseries, or Television Film, and the People's Choice Award for Favorite TV Comedy Actress.

On September 4, 2013, Lynch received the 2,505th star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in the category of television located at 6640 Hollywood Blvd. Lynch has lent her voice to multiple animated films, including Space Chimps, Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs, Shrek Forever After and Wreck-It Ralph. 

Since 2013, she has hosted the NBC game show Hollywood Game Night, for which she has won two Emmy Awards.

In 2005, Lynch was named one of Power Up's "10 Amazing Gay Women in Showbiz." Lynch married clinical psychologist Lara Embry on May 31, 2010. They divorced in 2014.