Monday, January 22, 2018

Born Today in 1788: British Poet, Nobleman Lord Byron

George Gordon Byron, 6th Baron Byron FRS was born today,  January 22 in 1788, and known as Lord Byron, was an English nobleman, poet, peer, politician, and leading figure in the Romantic movement. He is regarded as one of the greatest British poets and remains widely read and influential. Among his best-known works are the lengthy narrative poems Don Juan and Childe Harold's Pilgrimage as well as the short lyric poem "She Walks in Beauty."

He travelled extensively across Europe, especially in Italy, where he lived for 7 years in the cities of Venice, Ravenna and Pisa. During his stay in Italy he frequently visited his friend and fellow poet Percy Bysshe Shelley. Later in life Byron joined the Greek War of Independence fighting the Ottoman Empire, for which Greeks revere him as a national hero. He died in 1824 at the age of 36 from a fever contracted in Missolonghi.

Often described as the most flamboyant and notorious of the major Romantics, Byron was both celebrated and castigated in his life for his aristocratic excesses, including huge debts, numerous love affairs with both men and women, as well as rumors of a scandalous liaison with his half-sister. 

LGBT Murders and Suicides Hit All-Time High In Brazil

The Guardian reports:

Violent deaths of LGBT people in Brazil have hit an all-time high following a sudden spike last year, new research reveals.

At least 445 LGBT Brazilians died as victims of homophobia in 2017 – a 30% increase from 2016, according to LGBT watchdog group Grupo Gay de Bahia.

The victims – 387 murders and 58 suicides – include Dandara dos Santos, a transexual woman who was beaten to death in the north-eastern Brazil city Fortaleza in March. A video of her being beaten and kicked circulated on social media with her torturers calling her homophobic slurs.

Brazil is one of the world’s most violent countries, with a record 62,000 homicides in 2016, but authors of the research say that the deaths were directly related to homophobia.

See full story here.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

First Active-Duty Same-Sex Couple Marry At West Point

Newsweek reports:

Two Army captains who met in the “don’t ask, don’t tell” era of the military, became the first active-duty, same-sex couple to get married at West Point when they exchanged vows last weekend.

Capt. Daniel Hall, 30, and Capt. Vinny Franchino, 26, both Apache helicopter pilots, were married at the New York military academy’s picturesque chapel, the New York Times reported on Friday.

The couple met in 2009 when Hall was a senior and Franchino was a freshman. At the time, former President Bill Clinton’s policy, “don’t ask, don’t tell” was in effect, barring homosexual or bisexual members of the military from disclosing his or her sexual orientation and from speaking about homosexual relationships.

See full story here.

Today in 2013: Obama First President to Use the Word 'Gay' In Inauguration

The second inauguration of Barack Obama as President of the United States, marked the commencement of the second term of Barack Obama as President and Joe Biden as Vice President.

In his inauguration speech, President Obama said "all of us are created equal" and that the shared equality of the American people guided the United States "through Seneca Falls and Selma and Stonewall"—linking the Seneca Falls Convention, Selma to Montgomery marches and Stonewall riots as key moments in women's rights activism, the civil rights movement, and the LGBT rights movement in the United States together.

Additional words indicated a commitment to LGBT rights: "Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law—for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well."

These words made Obama the first president to use the word "gay" as a reference to sexual orientation in an inaugural address. Some analysts interpreted his statement as a reaffirmation of President Obama's previously stated support for same-sex marriage. Others noted that all nine justices of the Supreme Court were seated nearby when Obama linked gay and lesbian rights to two other groups whom the court treats with special consideration: women and racial minorities.

A private swearing-in ceremony took place on Sunday, January 20, 2013 in the Blue Room of the White House. The public inauguration ceremony took place on Monday, January 21, 2013, at the United States Capitol building.

Approximately one million people attended the inauguration, and millions more watched from around the world.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Pioneering Out Comedian Bob Smith Dies At 59

The Hollywood Reporter 

Bob Smith, the pioneering gay comedian and award-winning writer, died Saturday [January 20, 2018] in his New York City home from complications from ALS, his rep told The Hollywood Reporter. He was 59.

The comedian is best known for being the first openly gay male comedian to star in his own 30-minute special on HBO, which he did in 1994, and to perform on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.

Smith was also a prolific and decorated writer, penning the autobiographical essay collection Openly Bob (1997), which won the LAMBDA Book Award for humor. In 1999 Smith was nominated for another LAMBDA for his second collection of essays, 1999's Way to Go, Smith. In 2016, Smith published his last collection of essays, Treehab: Tales from my Natural Wild Life, which he wrote in the midst of battling ALS and using his one functional hand on an iPad. Smith also wrote the novels Selfish & Perverse (2007), a finalist for the Edmund White Award for Debut Fiction, and Remembrance of Things I Forgot (2011), nominated for a LAMBDA for Best Gay Fiction and shortlisted for the Green Carnation Prize.

Smith is survived by his mother Sue, his brothers James and Gregory, his partner Michael Zam — the co-creator of FX's Feud: Bette and Joan — and his children Madeline and Xander.

See full story here.

Bob Smith was born in Buffalo, New York. Smith, along with fellow comedians Jaffe Cohen and Danny McWilliams, formed the comedy troupe Funny Gay Males in 1988.

With Funny Gay Males, Smith is the co-author of Growing Up Gay: From Left Out to Coming Out (1995). Smith published his first novel, Selfish and Perverse, in 2007, and Remembrance of Things I Forgot in 2011.

He performed at the inaugural We're Funny That Way! comedy festival in 1997, and appeared in the festival's documentary film in 1998.

While taping a 2007 comedy special for Logo, Smith disclosed that he is suffering from a neurological disorder. He described his symptoms at that time as slurred speech, making him sound inebriated. In response to an August 2012 New York Times article on openly gay male standup comedians, Smith posted a comment stating he had ALS.

On February 2013, Smith gave a candid interview to Canada's Global News, where he elaborated about his condition. The article also revealed that Smith assisted with the conceiving of fellow LGBTQ comedian Elvira Kurt's children, who, with Kurt, reside in Canada.

LGBTQ Protesters Join Women's March In New York City

At the Women's March in New York City today, January 20, 2018, thousands of people turned out to protest President Trump and his policies, and to stand up for the rights of women. The #MeToo movement was well represented also, as was the LGBTQ community. The photo essay below gives a taste of the event that was repeated in many cities around the United States and the World.

All photos by Mark Ross/The Gay Almanac