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Spotlight Jazz and The Blues
 
  Jazz and the Blues, two of the most prominent musical forms to emerge from African-American roots, differ sharply in their relationships to glbtq performers. While jazz continues to be hostile toward glbtq musicians despite the significant contributions of several gay male jazz artists, the Blues has been more welcoming, particularly to lesbian and bisexual women.  
 
 
  Josephine Baker Entertainer Josephine Baker (1906-1975) achieved acclaim as the twentieth century's first international black female sex symbol, but kept carefully hidden her many sexual liaisons with women, which continued from adolescence to the end of her life.  
 
 
  Gladys Bentley Gladys Bentley (1907-1960) was an African-American Blues singer whose name became synonymous with "Hot Harlem" of the 1920s. Bentley openly flaunted her lesbianism in the 1920s and 1930s, but recanted in the 1950s in an attempt to salvage her career.  
 
 
  Nell Carter A dynamic performer on stage, television, film, and record, Nell Carter (1948-2003) built a successful and versatile show business career; only after her death was her longtime relationship with a woman revealed to the public.  
 
 
  Lea DeLaria Lea DeLaria (b. 1958) has been a proudly out lesbian since the beginning of her career. As the daughter of a jazz musician, performing came naturally to the versatile DeLaria who has earned accolades for her talents as an actor, a singer, and a stand-up comic.  
 
 
  Frances Faye Frances Faye (1912-1991) was a gravel-voiced vocalist and pianist whose style and sound evolved over the years to include jazz, pop, Latin, and rock influences. She warmly embraced her gay and lesbian audience and was openly bisexual at a time when few other performers dared to do the same.  
 
 
  Peggy Gilbert (1905-2007) was a virtuoso jazz musician and leader of a number of successful all-women bands. She tirelessly promoted other female musicians and demanded that they receive respect and opportunities.  
 
 
  Sam Harris Multi-talented Sam Harris (b. 1961) is best known as a singer and actor, especially for his bluesy renditions of classic American songs; since coming out publicly in 1999, he has lent his voice to the cause of glbtq rights.  
 
 
  Alberta Hunter Alberta Hunter (1895-1984), a Blues singer, lyricist, actress, and one of the top recording artists of the 1920s and 1930s, experienced a dramatic comeback in her old age.  
 
 
  Janis Joplin (1943-1970) is a rock and roll legend, but she was also a remarkable Blues singer, who helped break down the old dichotomy of “white music” versus “black music.”  
 
 
  Mabel Mercer Mabel Mercer (1900-1984) is one of the most respected singers of the mid-twentieth century. She was a most original stylist who became a beloved icon of gay New York in her later years.  
 
 
  Singer, songwriter, and bassist Meshell Ndegeocello (b. 1968) is a notably eclectic artist whose music confronts social and sexual issues, including racial identity, same-sex attraction, and homophobia.  
 
 
  Gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender persons have had tremendous influence on Popular Music, though some musical genres have been more receptive to a homosexual presence than others.  
 
 
  Gertrude "Ma" Rainey (1886-1939) was short, fat, and country to the core. Nicknamed "The Mother of the Blues," Rainey made no secret of her relationships with women.  
 
 
  Larry Rivers (1923-2002) is recognized as one of the pioneers of Pop Art, but he was also a jazz musician, teacher, performer, and writer. Though he did not identify as gay or bisexual and married twice, he had significant same-sex sexual experiences, most notably with poet Frank O'Hara (1926-1966).  
 
 
  Bessie Smith Bessie Smith (1894-1937), "Empress of the Blues," had a powerful voice and sophisticated musical talents. She conducted her life by her own set of rules and enjoyed affairs with both men and women.  
 
 
  Billy Strayhorn William "Billy" Strayhorn (1915-1967) was a major figure in American music who enriched jazz by investing it with complexly orchestrated form. The prolific composer, arranger, and performer was unusual for his refusal to hide his homosexuality.  
 
 
  Ethel Waters Ethel Waters (1896-1977) is perhaps best remembered as an actress who brought depth and acuity to fat "mammy" roles in plays and films. She began her entertainment career as "Sweet Mama Stringbean," a slender and glamorous blues singer whose musical talents made her a major nightclub star in 1920s Harlem.  
 
 
notable birthdays this week
March 1
 
Lytton Strachey
ENGLISH BIOGRAPHER AND ESSAYIST ASSOCIATED WITH THE BLOOMSBURY GROUP, 1880
Mercedes de Acosta Mercedes de Acosta
POET, PLAYWRIGHT, AND COSTUME DESIGNER REMEMBERED FOR HER LOVE AFFAIRS, 1893
 
Dimitri Mitropoulos Dimitri Mitropoulos
SUCCESSFUL CONDUCTOR AND COMPOSER WHO WAS VICTIMIZED BY HOMOPHOBIA, 1896
Bryan Batt
ACTOR, ACTIVIST, AND ENTREPRENEUR, 1963
 
Don Lemon
TELEVISION REPORTER AND NEWS ANCHOR, 1966
 
March 2
 
Marc Blitzstein
AMERICAN COMPOSER BEST KNOWN FOR HIS OPERA SCORES, 1905
Lou Reed
ROCK MUSICIAN WHO SYMBOLIZES THE REBELLIOUS OUTSIDER, 1942
 
March 3
 
Françoise Raucourt
FRENCH LESBIAN ACTRESS AND ROYAL FAVORITE, 1756
James Merrill James Merrill
POET WHO DELIBERATELY DRAWS ON A PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP AS FUEL FOR HIS WORK, 1926
 
Perry Ellis
SPECTACULARLY SUCCESSFUL AMERICAN FASHION DESIGNER, 1940
Andris Grinbergs
PROVOCATIVE BISEXUAL LATVIAN ARTIST WHO SURVIVED THE SOVIET ERA, 1946
 
March 4
 
David Plante
NOVELIST WHO HAS EXPLORED A VARIETY OF HOMOSEXUALITIES, 1940
Jean O'Leary
AMERICAN ACTIVIST WHO DEVOTED HER LIFE TO THE STRUGGLE FOR GAY AND LESBIAN RIGHTS, 1948
 
Svend Robinson
FIRST OPENLY GAY MEMBER OF THE CANADIAN PARLIAMENT, 1952
Chaz Bono
ACTIVIST FOR GLBTQ RIGHTS, 1969
 
Edward Gal
MEDAL-WINNING DUTCH OLYMPIC EQUESTRIAN, 1970
 
March 5
 
Pier Paolo Pasolini Pier Paolo Pasolini
A SOCIOPOLITICAL LIGHTNING ROD WHO MADE HIS GREATEST IMPACT IN FILM, 1922
Laurie Toby Edison Laurie Toby Edison
ARTIST KNOWN FOR HER PHOTOGRAPHS OF FAT WOMEN, NUDE MEN, AND JAPANESE WOMEN, 1942
 
March 6
 
 Michelangelo Buonarroti Michelangelo Buonarroti
RENAISSANCE ARTIST WHO LEFT AN ENORMOUS LEGACY, 1475
Tyler Parker
FILMMAKER, FILM CRITIC, AND POET, 1904
 
March 7
 
Maurice Ravel Maurice Ravel
DISTINGUISHED FRENCH COMPOSER, 1875
Bret Easton Ellis Bret Easton Ellis
ONE OF THE MOST ACCOMPLISHED OF THE "GENERATION X" WRITERS, 1964
 
Wanda Sykes
COMEDIAN, ACTRESS, AND ACTIVIST, 1964
 
About Notable Birthdays
This feature lists people about whom glbtq.com has both entries and complete birth dates. Each person listed has made a significant contribution to or had a significant impact on glbtq culture or history. Most are gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender, though some are either heterosexual or cannot be adequately characterized using any of these labels.
 
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On March 3, 2015, the Alabama Supreme Court, in an incoherent ruling displaying both ignorance and contempt, ordered probate judges to cease issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The 7-1 ruling declaring that "Alabama law allows for 'marriage' between only one man and one woman" directly contravenes the January 23 ruling by U.S. District Judge Callie V. S. Granade, which declared that Alabama's "Sanctity of Marriage Amendment" and "Marriage Protection Act," which prohibit the performance and recognition of same-sex marriage, are unconstitutional. Judge Granade found that the laws violate the Fourteenth Amendment's guarantees of equal protection and due process.

In defiance of an orchestrated campaign by the Roman Catholic Church and other conservative groups, on March 3, 2015 the Parliament of the Republic of Slovenia passed, on a vote of 51 to 28, a bill that legalizes same-sex marriage and adoption rights for gay and lesbian couples. Barring repeal of the new law via a threatened referendum, Slovenia will become the twelfth European nation and the first Central European nation to adopt equal rights for same-sex couples.

In a ruling announced on March 2, 2015, U.S. District Judge Joseph Bataillon declared Nebraska's ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional. He ordered "all relevant state officials . . . to treat same-sex couples the same as different sex couples in the context of processing a marriage license or determining the rights, protections, obligations or benefits of marriage." The ruling becomes effective on March 9, 2015. However, it is likely that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit will grant a stay of the ruling pending appeal.

In a powerful op-ed at USA Today, published on March 2, 2015, Attorney General Eric Holder declared marriage equality the "defining civil rights struggle of our time" and announced that the Department of Justice will file a brief with the United States Supreme Court "setting forth our position that state bans on same-sex marriage violate the fundamental constitutional guarantee of 'equal protection of the laws.'" He added, "It is clear that the time has come to recognize that gay and lesbian people deserve robust protection from discrimination."

Malcolm Boyd, Episcopal priest and prolific author who in 1977 became the first prominent openly gay clergyman in a mainstream Christian denomination in the United States, died on February 27, 2015 in a Los Angeles hospice of complications from pneumonia. He is survived by his husband, author and activist Mark Thompson.

On March 2, 2015, newscaster Thomas Roberts returns to mid-day television as host of a two-hour show called MSNBC Live with Thomas Roberts, which will air from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. Eastern time. As part of an attempt to bolster sagging daytime ratings at MSNBC, the new show will replace the programs currently hosted by Ronan Farrow and Joy Reid, who will remain at the network as special correspondents.

In an interview with Nick Kazamia for the Canadian newsmagazine Daily Xtra, acclaimed film producer and director Lee Daniels declared that gay people are "third-class citizens." He made the remark while reflecting on a test audience's negative reaction to a scene in which two men kiss in his new television series Empire. The observation dovetails with recent observations from New York Times columnist Frank Bruni and a survey recently published by GLAAD.

Eric Fanning, who served a stint as Acting Secretary of the Air Force in 2013, was named Pentagon Chief of Staff by new Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter on February 18, 2015. The highest ranking openly gay official in the Department of Defense, Fanning has previously served as Deputy Under Secretary of the Navy and as Under Secretary of the Air Force. As Chief of Staff of the Pentagon, Fanning will assist Secretary Carter with policy deliberations and coordinating interagency matters.

Singer, songwriter, and actress Lesley Gore died of cancer at New York-Presbyterian Hospital on February 16, 2015. Best known as a pop singing sensation in the 1960s, Gore became a successful songwriter and an influence on a number of other women artists, from Debbie Harry to Madonna, as well as an actress. After coming out publicly in 2003, she hosted episodes of In the Life and reached out to members of the glbtq community. She is survived by Lois Sasson, her partner of more than 30 years, and by her mother and her brother, Michael Gore.

Blanche Debris as Queen of Armeinius in New Orleans.

On February 17, 2015, Mardi Gras will be celebrated in many parts of the world, but in some areas it is a holiday with distinct significance for glbtq people. In some Roman Catholic countries Carnival is observed with abandon. Some of the most famous sites of Mardi Gras celebrations are the weeks-long festivities in Rio de Janeiro, Cologne, Venice, and New Orleans. In contrast to these traditional Mardi Gras observances, Sydney's famous Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras is rooted in the gay liberation movement and is decidedly secular.

 
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