Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Today In 1988, Greg Louganis Hits Head, Still Wins Gold

At the 1988 Seoul Olympics on this day, September 19, Greg Louganis's head struck the springboard during the preliminary rounds, leading to a concussion. He completed the preliminaries despite his injury. He then earned the highest single score of the qualifying round for his next dive and repeated the dive during the finals (the next day), earning the gold medal by a margin of 25 points. In the 10m finals, he won the gold medal, performing a 3.4 difficulty dive in his last attempt, earning 86.70 points for a total of 638.61, surpassing silver medalist Xiong Ni by only 1.14 points. His comeback earned him the title of ABC's Wide World of Sports "Athlete of the Year" for 1988.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Born Today In 1905, Screen Legend Greta Garbo

Greta Garbo was born today, September 18, in 1905. She was a Swedish-born American film actress during the 1920s and 1930s. In 1999, the American Film Institute ranked Garbo fifth on their list of the greatest female stars of classic Hollywood cinema.

Garbo's films include Anna Christie in 1930. MGM marketers enticed the public with the catch-phrase "Garbo talks!" That same year she starred in Romance. For her performances in these films she received the first of three Academy Award nominations for Best Actress. In 1932, her popularity allowed her to dictate the terms of her contract and she became increasingly selective about her roles. Her success continued in films such as Mata Hari (1931) and Grand Hotel (1932). Many critics and film historians consider her performance as the doomed courtesan Marguerite Gautier in Camille (1936) to be her finest. The role gained her a second Academy Award nomination. Garbo's career soon declined, however, and she was one of the many stars labeled "Box Office Poison" in 1938. Her career revived upon her turn to comedy in Ninotchka (1939), which earned her a third Academy Award nomination, but after the failure of Two-Faced Woman (1941), she retired from the screen, at the age of 35, after acting in 28 films. From then on, Garbo declined all opportunities to return to the screen. Shunning publicity, she began a private life.

Garbo never married, had no children, and lived alone as an adult. Her most famous romance was with her frequent co-star, John Gilbert, with whom she lived intermittently in 1926 and 1927. Soon after their romance began, Gilbert began helping her acting on the set, teaching her how to behave like a star, how to socialize at parties, and how to deal with studio bosses. They costarred again in three more hits, Love (1927), A Woman of Affairs (1928), and Queen Christina(1933). Gilbert allegedly proposed to her numerous times, with Garbo agreeing but backing out at the last minute. "I was in love with him," she said. "But I froze. I was afraid he would tell me what to do and boss me. I always wanted to be the boss."

Recent biographers and others believe that Garbo was bisexual or lesbian, that she had intimate relationships with women as well as with men. In 1927, Garbo was introduced to stage and screen actress Lilyan Tashman and they may have had an affair, according to some writers. Silent film star Louise Brooks stated that she and Garbo had a brief liaison the following year.

In 1931, Garbo befriended the writer and acknowledged lesbian Mercedes de Acosta, introduced to her by her close friend, Salka Viertel, and, according to Garbo's and de Acosta's biographers, began a sporadic and volatile romance. The two remained friends—with ups and downs—for almost 30 years, during which time Garbo wrote de Acosta 181 letters, cards, and telegrams, now at the Rosenbach Museum & Library in Philadelphia. Garbo's family, which controls her estate, has made only 87 of these items publicly available.

Greta Garbo died on April 15, 1990, aged 84, in the hospital, as a result of pneumonia and renal failure.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Happy Birthday to 'Drag Race' Alum Tammie Brown

Tammie Brown is the stage name of Keith Glen Schubert, who was born today, September 15, in 1980. He is an American drag performer and recording artist. Brown was a fixture in the Southern California Drag scene, before appearing on the first season of RuPaul's Drag Race and RuPaul's Drag Race: All Stars.

Schubert was born in Corpus Christi, Texas. He first started dressing in drag during high school, in theatre productions of Grease as Cha Cha and Into the Woods as Cinderella's Stepmother.

Tammie Brown first appeared on The Surreal Life with Tammy Faye Messner. Out of drag, Schubert has appeared on How Clean Is Your House? and acted in commercials for McDonald's and UPS. Brown also performed in the Los Angeles Auditions of season 2 of America's Got Talent.

Brown was announced as one of nine contestants for the first season of RuPaul's Drag Race on February 2, 2009. He was eliminated in the second episode, placing eighth.

Tammie Brown was amongst 12 past contestants who were brought back for RuPaul's Drag Race: All Stars in 2012. Brown was paired with first-season castmate Nina Flowers to form Team Brown Flowers and was eliminated in the second episode "RuPaul's Gaff-In." "Responsitrannity," the runway theme song for All Stars, was inspired by RuPaul's first season fight with Tammie Brown. Brown, along with All Stars contestants Manila Luzon, Raven, and Latrice Royale, appeared in a television commercial for travel website Orbitz's new portal for LGBT leisure travel.

Outside of Drag Race, Brown released his debut album Popcorn on March 18, 2009.

In 2011, Brown and fellow RuPaul's Drag Race contestant Ongina were honorary trail guides for the Saddle Up LA AIDS Benefit Trail Ride.

In 2012, Brown was featured in an Allstate ad. Brown was also photographed for Gorgeous, a project that involved Armen Ra, Candis Cayne, and Miss Fame.

Brown is a member of the band the Rollz Royces with Kelly Mantle and Michael Catti. Mantle and Catti have appeared in Tammie Brown's Christmas show Holiday Sparkle at Fubar in West Hollywood, California.

Brown was the only season one contestant to not appear at the season 10 grand finale, due to being the warm up act for Trixie Mattel's tour in August 2018.

Schubert has been openly gay since high school. He frequently volunteers at the Long Beach Gay and Lesbian Center.

Schubert has described his drag style as bohemian. He cites the movies What's Love Got To Do With It? and Tootsie as major inspirations for his drag.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Born Today In 1885, English Author D. H. Lawrence

David Herbert Lawrence was born today, September 11, in 1885. He was an English novelist, poet, playwright, essayist, literary critic, and painter. Some of the issues Lawrence explored were sexuality, emotional health, vitality, spontaneity, and instinct. Among his notable works are Sons and Lovers, Women in Love, and Lady Chatterley's Lover.

While writing Women in Love, Lawrence developed a possibly romantic relationship with a Cornish farmer named William Henry Hocking. Although it is not clear if their relationship was sexual, his wife, Frieda Weekley, said she believed it was. Lawrence's fascination with the theme of homosexuality, which is overtly manifested in Women in Love, could be related to his own sexual orientation.

In a letter written during 1913, he wrote, "I should like to know why nearly every man that approaches greatness tends to homosexuality, whether he admits it or not ..." He is also quoted as saying, "I believe the nearest I've come to perfect love was with a young coal-miner when I was about 16." However, given his enduring and robust relationship with Frieda it is likely that he was primarily bicurious, and whether he actually ever had homosexual relations remains an open question.

Remembering 9/11 Hero Mark Bingham

Mark Bingham was born May 22, in 1970. He was a public relations executive who founded his own company, the Bingham Group. 

During the September 11 attacks in 2001, he was a passenger on board United Airlines Flight 93. Bingham was among the passengers who, along with others, formed the plan to retake the plane from the hijackers, which resulted in the crash of the plane into a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. The passengers thwarted the hijackers plan to crash the plane into a building in Washington, D.C., most likely either the U.S. Capitol Building or the White House.

Both for his presence on United 93, as well as his athletic physique, Bingham has been widely honored posthumously for having "smashed the gay stereotype mold and really opened the door to many others who came after him."

Mark Bingham was born in 1970, the only child of mother Alice Hoagland and father Gerald Bingham. When Mark was 2 years old, his parents divorced. Raised by his mother and her family, Mark grew up in Miami, Florida, and Southern California before moving to the San Jose area in 1983. 

Bingham was an aspiring filmmaker growing up, and began using a video camera as a teenager as a personal diary through which he expressed himself and documented his life and the lives of his family and friends. He accumulated hundreds of hours of video documenting the final decade and a half of his life. He graduated from Los Gatos High School as a 2-year captain of his rugby team in 1988. As an undergraduate at the University of California, Berkeley, Bingham played on two of Coach Jack Clark's national-championship-winning rugby teams in the early 1990s. He also joined the Chi Psi fraternity, eventually becoming its president. Upon graduation at the age of 21, Bingham came out as gay to his family and friends.

A large athlete at 6 ft 4 in (193 cm) and 225 pounds (102 kg), Bingham also played for the gay-inclusive rugby union team San Francisco Fog RFC. Bingham played No. 8 in their first two friendly matches. He played in their first tournament, and taught his teammates his favorite rugby songs.

Bingham had recently opened a satellite office of his public relations firm in New York City, and was spending more time on the East Coast. He discussed plans with his friend Scott Glaessgen to form a New York City rugby team, the Gotham Knights.

On the morning of September 11, 2001, Bingham overslept and nearly missed his flight, on his way to San Francisco to be an usher in his fraternity brother Joseph Salama's wedding. He arrived at the Terminal A at 7:40am, ran to Gate 17, and was the last passenger to board United Airlines Flight 93.

United Flight 93 was scheduled to depart at 8:00am, but the Boeing 757 did not depart until 42 minutes later due to runway traffic delays. Four minutes later, American Airlines Flight 11 crashed into the World Trade Center's North Tower. Fifteen minutes later, at 9:03 am, as United Flight 175 crashed into the South Tower, United 93 was climbing to cruising altitude, heading west over New Jersey and into Pennsylvania. At 9:25 am, Flight 93 was above eastern Ohio, and pilots Jason Dahl and LeRoy Homer received an alert, "beware of cockpit intrusion," on the cockpit computer device. Three minutes later, Cleveland controllers could hear screams over the cockpit's open microphone. Moments later, the hijackers, led by the Lebanese Ziad Samir Jarrah, took over the plane's controls and told passengers, "Keep remaining sitting. We have a bomb on board." 

Bingham and the other passengers were herded into the back of the plane. Within 6 minutes, the plane changed course and was heading for Washington, D.C. Several of the passengers made phone calls to loved ones, who informed them about the two planes that had crashed into the World Trade Center. Bingham phoned his mother, reporting that his plane had been hijacked and relaying his love for her. According to Hoglan, Bingham said: "Hi mom, I love you very much, I'm calling you from the plane. We've been taken over. There are three men that say that they have a bomb."

After the hijackers veered the plane sharply south, the passengers decided to act. Bingham, along with Todd Beamer, Tom Burnett and Jeremy Glick, formed a plan to take the plane back from the hijackers. They were joined by other passengers, including Lou Nacke, Rich Guadagno, Alan Beaven, Honor Elizabeth Wainio, Linda Gronlund, and William Cashman, along with flight attendants Sandra Bradshaw and Cee Cee Ross-Lyles, in discussing their options and voting on a course of action, ultimately deciding to storm the cockpit and take over the plane.

According to the 9/11 Commission Report, after the plane's voice data recorder was recovered, it revealed pounding and crashing sounds against the cockpit door and shouts and screams in English. "Let's get them!" a passenger cries. A hijacker shouts, "Allah akbar!" ("God is great"). Jarrah repeatedly pitched the plane to knock passengers off their feet, but the passengers apparently managed to invade the cockpit, where one was heard shouting, "In the cockpit. If we don't, we'll die." At 10:02 am, a hijacker ordered, "Pull it down! Pull it down!" The 9/11 Commission later reported that the plane's control wheel was turned hard to the right, causing it to roll on its back and plow into an empty field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania at 580 miles an hour, killing everyone on board. The plane was 20 minutes of flying time away from its suspected target, the White House or the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. According to Vice President Dick Cheney, President George W. Bush had given the order to shoot the plane down had it continued its path to Washington.

Bingham's name is located on Panel S-67 of the National September 11 Memorial's South Pool, along with those of other passengers of Flight 93.
Bingham was survived by his family and his former partner of 6 years, Paul Holm, who said Bingham had risked his life to protect the lives of others on occasions prior to 9/11, having twice successfully protected Holm from attempted muggings, one at gunpoint. Holm described Bingham as a brave, competitive man, saying, "He hated to lose—at anything." He was known to proudly display a scar he received after being gored at the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona, Spain.

U.S. Senators John McCain and Barbara Boxer honored Bingham on September 17, 2001, in a ceremony for San Francisco Bay Area victims of the attacks, presenting a folded American flag to Paul Holm.

The Mark Kendall Bingham Memorial Tournament (referred to as the Bingham Cup), a biennial international rugby union competition predominantly for gay and bisexual men, was established in 2002 in his memory.

Bingham, along with the other passengers on Flight 93, was posthumously awarded the Arthur Ashe Courage Award in 2002.

The Eureka Valley Recreation Center's Gymnasium in San Francisco was renamed the Mark Bingham Gymnasium in August 2002.

Singer Melissa Etheridge dedicated the song "Tuesday Morning" in 2004 to his memory.

Beginning in 2005, the Mark Bingham Award for Excellence in Achievement has been awarded by the California Alumni Association of the University of California, Berkeley to a young alumnus or alumna at its annual Charter Gala.

At the Flight 93 National Memorial in Pennsylvania, Bingham's name is located on one of the 40 8-foot-tall panels of polished, 3-inch thick granite that comprise the Memorial's Wall of Names.

The 2013 feature-length documentary The Rugby Player focuses on Bingham and the bond he had with his mother, Alice Hoagland, a former United Airlines flight attendant who, following his death, became a nationally known authority on airline safety and a champion of LGBT rights. Directed by Scott Gracheff, the film relies on the vast amount of video footage Bingham himself shot beginning in his teens until weeks before his death. The film's alternate title, With You, is a popular rugby term, and one of Bingham's favorite expressions.

First LGBTQ Documentary Aired On TV Today in 1961

The Rejected is a made-for-television documentary about homosexuality, produced for KQED in San Francisco by John W. Reavis. It was the first documentary program on homosexuality broadcast on American television. It initially ran on KQED on September 11, 1961, and was later syndicated to National Educational Television (NET) stations across the country. The Rejected received positive critical reviews upon airing.