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Spotlight Lesbian and Bisexual Female Poetry before Stonewall
 
  Even though no canonical list of pre-Stonewall Lesbian Poetry exists, a significant number of women wrote and read a wide range of poems that expressed their sensibilities as woman-loving women.  
 
 
  Natalie Clifford Barney Natalie Clifford Barney (1876-1972), an American expatriate known as the Amazon, was the muse and inspiration of other writers and a poet, memoirist, and epigrammatist in her own right.  
 
 
  Katharine Lee Bates American poet, literary scholar, and educator, Katharine Lee Bates (1859-1929) is best known for her poem "America the Beautiful" and for her relationship with Wellesley College colleague Katharine Coman.  
 
 
  Aphra Behn Aphra Behn (ca 1640-1689), an English writer known to her contemporaries as a "scandal" for her writings and her flamboyant personal life, was one of the most influential dramatists of the late seventeenth century. Today, she is better known as a poet and novelist with a fascinating biography.  
 
 
  Elizabeth Bishop (1911-1979), who is widely acknowledged as one of the finest twentieth-century American poets, encoded a lesbian identity in her poems.  
 
 
  Emily Dickinson Emily Dickinson (1830-1886), a reclusive American poet more appreciated after her death than before, wrote poems and letters to her sister-in-law Susan that are both passionate and elusive in their homoeroticism.  
 
 
  Hilda Doolittle Hilda Doolittle (1886-1961), a bisexual poet and novelist who published under the initials H. D., wrote poems and autobiographical prose works that celebrate women's romantic relationships with each other.  
 
 
  Katherine Bradley (1846-1914) and Edith Cooper (1862-1913), writing as Michael Field, collaborated on a number of plays and eight volumes of verse, many of which had lesbian contents.  
 
 
  Elsa Gidlow (1898-1986), known to many as the "poet-warrior," was unabashedly visible as an independent woman, a lesbian, a writer, and a bohemian-anarchist at a time when such visibility was both unusual and potentially dangerous.  
 
 
  Angelina Weld Grimke Angelina Weld Grimké (1880-1958) was the first African American to have a play staged. In addition to that historic achievement, her poetry regularly appeared in journals, newspapers, and anthologies during the era now known as the Harlem Renaissance, though she faded into near obscurity after the 1920s.  
 
 
  Although Radclyffe Hall (1880-1943) is best known as the author of The Well of Loneliness, arguably the most famous lesbian novel ever written, she also wrote five volumes of poetry.  
 
 
  Amy Lowell Amy Lowell (1874-1925) was a poet, translator, essayist, literary biographer, and public speaker. Her poetry is extremely frank, forthrightly sensual, and often overtly lesbian.  
 
 
  Charlotte Mew Charlotte Mew (1869-1928), an English poet, does not explicitly mention her lesbianism but encodes the emotional pain of hiding her sexuality in complex dramatic monologues on themes of loss and isolation.  
 
 
  Edna St. Vincent Millay Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892-1950), an American poet and playwright, expressed her bisexuality in both her life and her work. She achieved fame early on in life as the pretty, petite "It Girl" of poetry, but was criticized for turning to social politics and activism starting in the 1930s.  
 
 
  Gabriela Mistral Gabriela Mistral (1889-1957) was a Chilean educator, journalist, feminist, diplomat, and Nobel laureate who celebrated women and motherhood in poems and essays that are frequently homoerotic.  
 
 
  Sophia Parnok Sophia Parnok (1885-1933) was Russia's only openly lesbian poet during her lifetime. The lyrics in her first book of verse, Poems (1916), presented the first, revolutionarily nondecadent, lesbian desiring subject ever to be heard in a book of Russian poetry.  
 
 
  Geneviève Pastre (b. 1924), one of France's leading lesbian theorists and political activists, was a respected French poet and academic in her fifties when she came out as a lesbian and made radical lesbian feminism the root of her political and literary work.  
 
 
  Katherine Philips Katherine Philips (1632-1664) was called "The Matchless Orinda" and considered "The English Sappho" of her day. Two-thirds of her poems concern erotic relationships among women.  
 
 
  Adrienne Rich Adrienne Rich (1929-2012) has aestheticized politics and politicized aesthetics and is America's most widely read lesbian poet. Her work has won both fans and many critical accolades including the National Book Award.  
 
 
  Christina Rossetti Christina Rossetti (1830-1894) was such a devout Anglo-Catholic that one doctor diagnosed her with "religious mania." Though her piety repressed her sexuality, she wrote poetry that included vividly erotic female-to-female affection.  
 
 
  Muriel Rukeyser (1913-1980) wrote poetry that broke the silence of many aspects of female experience such as sex, menstruation, breast-feeding, mother-daughter relationships, and female aging. Her work has been enormously important to many feminist and lesbian readers.  
 
 
  Vita Sackville-West Vita Sackville-West (1892-1962) was a prolific author of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction, though she is best known for her relationship with Virginia Woolf and for her scandalous love affairs.  
 
 
  A representation of Sappho Sappho (ca 630? B.C.E.), an ancient Greek poet born on the Isle of Lesbos, has been admired through the ages as one of the greatest lyric poets. Today, she is esteemed by lesbians around the world as the archetypal lesbian and their symbolic mother.  
 
 
  May Sarton May Sarton (1912-1996), the author of more than forty books, gradually revealed her lesbianism in her writing. Sarton worked successfully in poetry, the novel, essays, and the journal.  
 
 
  Anna Seward Anna Seward (1742-1809) was one of the best known English women poets of her time. She had several romantic friendships with women and celebrated the Ladies of Llangollen in verse.  
 
 
  Edith Sitwell Edith Sitwell (1887-1964) was a poet and novelist who surrounded herself with gay men, some of whom became her artistic collaborators. Although it is not clear that she ever experienced a sustained sexual relationship with anyone of either sex, her closest emotional bond was with another woman.  
 
 
  Gertrude Stein Gertrude Stein (1874-1946), in addition to becoming--with Alice B. Toklas--half of an iconic lesbian couple, was an important innovator and transformer of the English language.  
 
 
  May Swenson (1913-1989), one of America's most inventive and incisive poets, wrote many love poems celebrating lesbian sexuality.  
 
 
  Sara Teasdale Sara Teasdale (1884-1933) reflected in her poetry the reality that the strongest emotional relationships in her life were with women.  
 
 
  Marina Tsvetaeva Maria Tsvetaeva (1892-1941) is widely considered one of the four greatest twentieth-century Russian poets. She described herself as bisexual, but the lesbian theme found throughout her poetry, prose, letters, and journals has been ignored or minimized by Western biographers and concealed by Russian scholars.  
 
 
  Renée Vivien (1877-1909), who had many affairs with women, openly celebrated lesboerotic love in her poetry and dreamed of women-controlled spaces in an era when most women were still domestically confined.  
 
 
  Sylvia Townsend Warner (1893-1978), a poet, novelist, and short story writer, is an important lesbian voice of the earlier twentieth century.  
 
 
notable birthdays this week
July 27
 
Troy Perry Troy Perry
FOUNDER OF THE UNIVERSAL FELLOWSHIP OF METROPOLITAN COMMUNITY CHURCHES, 1940
Carol Leifer
COMEDIAN, ACTOR, WRITER, PRODUCER, AND ACTIVIST, 1956
 
July 28
 
Gerard Manley Hopkins Gerard Manley Hopkins
SEXUALLY REPRESSED ENGLISH POET WHO PRAISED MALE BEAUTY, 1844
Marcel Duchamp Marcel Duchamp
AN INFLUENTIAL 20th-CENTURY ARTIST WHO CREATED A FEMALE ALTER EGO, 1887
 
John Ashbery John Ashbery
A LEADING CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN POET, 1927
Judy Grahn
MULTI-TALENTED LEADER OF THE GAY RIGHTS MOVEMENT BOTH PRE- AND POST-STONEWALL, 1940
 
Colin Higgins
AUSTRALIAN-AMERICAN WRITER, DIRECTOR, AND PRODUCER, 1941
Sarah Schulman Sarah Schulman
AUTHOR AND PLAYWRIGHT CONCERNED WITH CONSTRUCTING LESBIAN IDENTITY, 1958
 
July 29
 
Dag Hammarskjöld Dag Hammarskjöld
ENIGMATIC FIGURE WHO BECAME THE SECRETARY GENERAL OF THE UNITED NATIONS, 1905
Paul Taylor Paul Taylor
AN IMPORTANT PRESENCE IN DANCE SINCE THE 1950s, 1930
 
July 30
 
Paula Martinac Paula Martinac
FICTION WRITER AND COLUMNIST WHOSE WORKS DOCUMENT LESBIAN CULTURE, 1954
Sean Patrick Maloney
OPENLY GAY MEMBER OF THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, 1966
 
July 31
 
George "Chet" Forrest
COMPOSER AND LYRICIST WHO ADAPTED CLASSICAL MUSIC FOR STAGE MUSICALS, 1915
Barbara Gittings Barbara Gittings
PIONEER IN THE AMERICAN GAY RIGHTS MOVEMENT, 1932
 
David Norris
SENATOR, SCHOLAR, AND A RESPECTED LEADER OF THE GLBTQ RIGHTS MOVEMENT IN IRELAND, 1944
Richard Rodriguez Richard Rodriguez
ESSAYIST, MEMOIRIST, AND SOCIAL COMMENTATOR, 1944
 
Ian Roberts
AUSTRALIAN RUGBY STAR WHO CAME OUT DURING HIS PLAYING CAREER AND LATER BECAME AN ACTOR, 1965
Sean Eldridge
ACTIVIST FOR MARRIAGE EQUALITY, 1986
 
August 1
 
Herman Melville Herman Melville
AMERICAN NOVELIST WHOSE TEXTS REFLECT HIS HOMOSEXUALITY, 1819
Yves Saint-Laurent
ONE OF THE SEMINAL FASHION DESIGNERS OF OUR ERA, 1936
 
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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Latest Blog Posts

We are happy to announce that although glbtq.com will cease publishing on August 1, 2015, an archive of glbtq.com material will become available on that same date.

glbtq Publisher Wik Wikholm announces that the glbtq Encyclopedia will close on August 1, 2015 after more than thirteen years of operation.

The celebration of America's Independence Day in 2015 is all the sweeter in light of the Supreme Court's historic ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, which not only extended marriage equality throughout the nation but also recognized the "equal dignity" of glbtq Americans under the law. In recognition of the Fourth of July, we offer several strikingly different music videos appropriate to the holiday.

Jim Obergefell (left) and the late John Arthur.

Now that the Supreme Court has recognized marriage as a fundamental right open to gay and lesbian couples, it is worth observing that while Love won, our enemies, however unintentionally, helped speed along our victory.

On June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States declared that marriage is a fundamental right that must be extended to gay and lesbian couples. In an eloquent decision authored by Justice Anthony Kennedy, and joined by Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan, the Court ruled that the Constitution guarantees a right to same-sex marriage, holding that the Fourteenth Amendment mandates both that states must issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples and also must recognize valid marriages entered into by same-sex couples in other states.

While we await a ruling from the Supreme Court of the United States that may extend marriage equality throughout the nation, Mexico's Supreme Court has, with little fanfare, issued a series of rulings that has effectively legalized same-sex marriage throughout the country. However, Mexico's judicial system is different from that of the United States in that its supreme court does not invalidate state laws en masse. Rather, it issues rulings that become binding precedent in other judicial proceedings until finally the issue is settled. This month a ruling from Mexico's Supreme Court marked a crucial turning point in the process.

Transgender military couple Logan Ireland and Laila Villanueva.

The Department of Defense has recently announced additional protections for gay and lesbian servicemembers and has refined its policy on service by transgender servicemembers. Following in the wake of the successful and incident-free repeal of the discriminatory Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy in 2011, which barred gay men and lesbians from serving openly, the new moves make the U.S. military a more welcoming home for glbtq members.

Alison Bechdel.

At the Tony Awards, broadcast on June 7, 2015, Fun Home, the musical based on Alison Bechdel's graphic memoir of the same name, scored a major upset, winning "Best Musical" and four other Tonys. Besting other more traditional entertainments, including An American in Paris, Fun Home, in the words of Michael Paulson and Patrick Healy in New York Times, "completed a long journey from the margins to the mainstream." Perhaps the first Broadway musical featuring a lesbian protagonist, Fun Home focuses on the cartoonist's relationship with her closeted gay father and explores issues of sexuality, family, memory, and suicide.

Plaintiffs Loretta M. Pangelinan and Kathleen M. Aguero.

On June 5, 2015, Chief Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood declared unconstitutional Guam's law that restricts marriage to opposite-sex couples. The ruling takes effect on June 9 and makes Guam the last jurisdiction in the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to gain marriage equality and the first U.S. territory to do so.

Congratulations to the winners of the 27th Annual Lambda Literary Awards, which were presented at a gala ceremony at New York City's Cooper Union on June 1, 2015. The event was hosted by Kate Clinton and featured musical performances by Lauren Patten and Toshi Reagon. Special Awards were presented to Rita Mae Brown (Pioneer Award) and John Waters (Trustee Award for Excellence in Literature). Ann Balay and Daisy Hernandez were presented Betty Berzon Emerging Writer Awards.

 
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