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 Post subject: Re: Famous lesbians
PostPosted: Tue Mar 19, 2013 8:11 am 
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Actress Miriam Margolyes becomes an Australian
26 January 2013

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Actress Miriam Margolyes arrives at the UK Film Council's Inaugural "Breakthrough Brits" luncheon at the Four Seasons Hotel November 1, 2005 in Los Angeles, California.

AFP - British actress Miriam Margolyes, best known for her work in the Harry Potter films, became an Australian citizen on Saturday, saying she felt that the rest of her life would be "joyous".

Margolyes was one of 100 people taking the pledge at a ceremony in Canberra attended by Prime Minister Julia Gillard, and one of a record 17,059 people from 145 countries to become citizens on Australia Day.

"This is your new country, and you'll never want another," Gillard, who was born in Wales and who came to Australia as a small child, told the gathering. "Welcome to citizenship. Welcome to Australia. Welcome home."

Margolyes, 71, who won the BAFTA for best supporting actress for the 1993 Martin Scorsese film "The Age of Innocence" and played Professor Sprout in two Harry Potter movies, joked it had taken her years to take the plunge. "Well, you have to be sure don't you," she said. "Now I am. I'm just very happy to be here and I will be with friends and the rest of my life will be joyous."

Ahead of the ceremony, the character actress whose partner Heather is an Australian said she had been visiting Down Under for decades and had always loved the place. The outspoken actress told The Sydney Morning Herald she had always felt an affinity with Australia and would be a loyal citizen but joked: "This sheila is not going to shut up."

Source: France24.

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 Post subject: Re: Famous lesbians
PostPosted: Sat Jul 27, 2013 2:56 pm 
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Vita Sackville-West's erotic verse to her lover emerges from 'intoxicating night'
by Maev Kennedy
Monday, 29 April 2013

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Vita Sackville-West's wedding skirt and her Fortuny gown at her home, Sissinghurst Castle. The poem was found in a gift from Trefusis. Photograph: Tim Stubbings

When Vita Sackville-West married the diplomat Sir Harold Nicolson in the chapel of the palatial family home at Knole in Kent in 1913, the society column-writers enthused over the 21-year-old bride's beauty and her magnificent wedding gown.

But as a poem going on display this week for the first time makes clear, there was more to the marriage than a conventional fairytale romance. Sackville-West's erotic verse, written in French to her lover Violet Trefusis and translated by Harvey James, the scholar who found it, contrasts daytime strolls through floral meadows with "intoxicating night" when "I search on your lip for a madder caress/ I tear secrets from your yielding flesh."

Nicolson and Sackville-West went on to create one of the most famous gardens in England at their home at Sissinghurst Castle in Kent, now, like Knole, in the care of the National Trust, but both had many same-sex affairs during their long marriage, which only ended with her death in 1962. Their tangled love life overlapped with the Bloomsbury Group of writers and artists. Sackville-West's most famous affair was with Virginia Woolf, who immortalised their relationship and her family background in the 1928 novel Orlando.

Knole, said to have a room for every day of the year, including one with silver furniture, was lost to an uncle because Sackville-West's parents had not produced a son – a loss Nigel Nicolson, who wrote a classic account of his parents in his book Portrait of a Marriage, described as the tragedy of her life.

Sackville-West also wrote extensively and the poem, which fell out of a bookin her writing room at Sissinghurst as her library was being catalogued, was written just five years after her marriage, when her on-off affair with Trefusis resumed. Trefusis, daughter of Alice Keppel, the lover of King Edward VII, also had literary pretensions, and described how her lover's "profound, hereditary Sackville eyes were as pools from which the morning mists had lifted".

The poem was only found in February by James, a bookmark in a gift from Trefusis. "It literally just fell out from between the pages of an old book that was being catalogued as part of our conservation work. It's a really poignant reminder of the challenges and crises that Vita and Harold's relationship endured," he said.

The garden has been open to visitors since 1 May 1938, and on Wednesday, the anniversary, visitors will again pay just 5p – worth far less than when Sackville-West called her visitors the "shillingses".

The family heirlooms displayed for the first time have been lent by her grandchildren, novelist and historian Juliet and Adam Nicolson. Only the skirt survives of the sumptuous wedding gown, which was described by the Lady's Pictorial as "'the colour like the tassel of Indian corn, the silk shimmering bright like the silk on the cocoon". The wedding outfit was made by Reville & Rossiter, whose clientele included Queen Mary. Her trousseau also included a dress by one of the most important and influential designers of the day, Mariano Fortuny, whose pleated silk gowns transformed Edwardian women into Grecian goddesses.

Juliet Nicolson has transcribed some of her great-grandmother's journals for the exhibition, recording the fabulous expense of the wedding: they went with Nicolson to choose the ring and inspected "over 100 emerald and d[iamond] rings" before he settled on "a lovely one" for £185. On 14 October she settled the bill at Reville & Rossiter, "nearly £400, the wedding dress cost 50 guineas".

The exhibition, along with one on the creation of the garden, whose quintessentially English style remains influential, runs until the end of October.

Lost poem

    When sometimes I stroll in silence, with you
    Through great floral meadows of open country
    I listen to your chatter, and give thanks to the gods
    For the honest friendship, which made you my companion
    But in the heavy fragrance of intoxicating night
    I search on your lip for a madder caress
    I tear secrets from your yielding flesh
    Giving thanks to the fate which made you my mistress

• Courtesy of the beneficiaries of the Literary Estate of Vita Sackville-West, 2013

Source: Guardian UK.

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 Post subject: Re: Famous lesbians
PostPosted: Tue Aug 06, 2013 6:18 am 
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Society seductress who slept with both her bridesmaids
By Adam Nicolson
4 May 2013

A hundred years ago this year, on October 1, 1913, my grandparents, Vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicolson, were married.

It was quite a to-do, at Knole in Kent, the great house where Vita had been brought up and where the Sackvilles had been in residence since the early 17th century.

Six hundred wedding presents were laid out on tables in the Great Hall. Only 26 people could fit in the little private chapel but hundreds, including four duchesses, came to the party afterwards. Vita wore a golden wedding dress. She had two bridesmaids, one of whom she was having an affair with at the time. The other, her new husband's sister, she would have a long affair with 15 years later.

It was not to be a conventional marriage. Both Vita and Harold had many love affairs with other people during it, hers almost always with women, his invariably with men. Yet, despite this near constant infidelity — or perhaps because of it — their marriage was undoubtedly one of the deepest possible love for each other.

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Defying convention: Vita Sackville-West, centre, with husband Harold Nicolson and lover Rosamund Grosvenor

When they were engaged, early in 1912, each of them knew they were homosexual, but neither told the other. Homosexual acts were illegal at the time, but their marriage was not an act of concealment or conventionality. They had quite simply fallen in love with each other. Harold was 25, the son of a diplomat who had been Ambassador in St Petersburg, and who had joined the diplomatic service himself. He had first met Vita at a small dinner party in London 18 months before. 'He arrived late,' she remembered, 'very young and alive and charming, and the first remark I ever heard him make was “what fun!” when he was asked by his hostess to act the host. 'Everything was fun for a man of his energy, vitality and buoyancy. I liked his irrepressible brown curls, his laughing eyes, his charming smile.'

The buoyant delight in life spread on in his attitude to sex. His affairs with men, as his biographer (and one-time lover) James Lees-Milne wrote, were 'conducted on a high-spirited, physical and casual level' and were quickly forgotten. Handsome, intelligent, cultivated young men were one of the delights of life, to be enjoyed, as so many other aspects of life were to be enjoyed. Philandering with men was always to be a 'jolly vice'. As soon as anyone started to take it too seriously — let alone to boast about it — the affair should come to an end.

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Unconventional: Vita and Harold at home in Kent in 1960

And sex should never be what he called 'squalid'. He was a snob and he once told another of his lovers, the literary critic Raymond Mortimer, that 'the idea of a gentleman of birth and education sleeping with a guardsman is repugnant to me'. 'Lust is a fine thing, a noble thing,' he wrote. 'It should not be allowed to get down at heel.' Lust, in fact, was to him a symptom of our basic life force. Suppress lust and you would suppress the well-springs of vitality and creativity. 'One's mind will sag,' he told Mortimer. 'And if interest goes, brain goes.'

Four years after he married Vita, by which time she had already given birth to two sons, my uncle Ben and my father Nigel, Harold was forced to admit to Vita that he had been having sex with other men. At a house party at the great estate of Knebworth in Hertfordshire in October 1917, he had contracted a venereal infection and the doctor said he must tell his wife about it. Her reaction was to go away for a short time to stay with a friend in Oxford, but within a few days she had forgiven him and was back home, reading to him the draft of the novel she was writing.

For Vita, the whole question of her sexuality was far more difficult. Harold thought of his life as centrally engaged with his work at the Foreign Office, his own writing of biographies and novels, and later his job as a Member of Parliament and junior minister in Churchill's wartime coalition. To him, sex was a diversion on the side, not very different from skiing. Yet to Vita, what she was sexually was all-important to her idea of herself as a person.

Earlier this year, Harvey James, a book conservator working in the Long Library at Sissinghurst — the house in Kent where Harold and Vita went to live in 1930 — came across a small manuscript poem, in French, written by Vita in 1918. It hasn't seen the light of day until it was published this week, 95 years later. The poem contrasts two ways of loving someone: as a friend, strolling together in the daytime through flowery fields, in easy companionship, arm in arm; or later, surrounded by 'the heavy scents of intoxicating night', when she searches on what is now her mistress's lip for 'a madder caress', 'tearing its secrets from your yielding flesh'. The poem throws a sudden sharp light on Vita's nature and her own idea of herself.

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Seductress: Harold Nicolson and Vita Sackville-West at their home in Sissinghurst Castle, Kent in 1932

She knew she was in many ways a deeply conventional member of the English ruling class, attached to land, tradition, the English landscape, the grandeur of her own background as one of the Sackvilles of Knole; but at the same time she thought of herself as 'a Bedouin in corduroy', impatient with tedious social convention, passionate and in need of a more vivid life than an ordinary married existence might provide.

What was she? Mother or adventurer? Seducer or nurturer? A sweet, gentle and kind person — as she could certainly be — or the ruthless user of other people's bodies and hearts?

'This is the life for me,' she had written to Harold during their engagement, while he was plodding away at his work in the Foreign Office and she was off in Andalusia with Rosamund Grosvenor, her first girlfriend. Vita's own grandmother had been a Spanish gipsy from Malaga and Andalusia became a fantasy zone for Vita in which her ruthless self could find fulfilment: 'gipsies, dancing, disreputable artists, bullfights. Oh Harold I can't paint to you the state of mind I am in now. I feel can never go back to that humdrum existence.' By which of course she meant her engagement to him — the rather nice, polite, kind, clever, funny and friendly Englishman waiting for her in London. Rosamund Grosvenor, one of the bridesmaids at the wedding, was soon got rid of.

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Author: 'She knew she was in many ways a deeply conventional member of the English ruling class'

But her place was taken in Vita's heart by the far more threatening presence of Violet Keppel, the daughter of the King's mistress Alice Keppel (the current Duchess of Cornwall's great-grandmother), and someone with a far more sophisticated armoury with which to attack and manipulate Vita's heart. It was to Violet that Vita wrote that divided poem in 1918. This love affair became the great crisis of the marriage. Violet, who married a handsome officer and war hero, Denys Trefusis, in 1919, threw down a challenge to Vita to be true to the more ferocious version of herself.

Harold might think of himself as 'a sunny harbour' but, as Violet knew, Vita hated nothing more than to be referred to as 'Mrs Nicolson'. Harold might be having affairs with French couturiers or aristocrats or enjoying a crush on the composer Ivor Novello, but Vita wanted grand passion. 'I wish I were more violent and less affectionate,' Harold wrote to his wife, but it was not enough. Vita began to dress as a man, calling herself 'Julian', and walking the streets of London and Paris as a wounded soldier arm in arm with her lover, Violet. 'You could do anything with me,' Violet wrote to her, 'or rather Julian could. I love Julian overwhelmingly, devastatingly, possessively, incoherently, insatiably, passionately, despairingly — also coquettishly, flirtatiously and frivolously.'

Violet, and for long periods Vita, too, wanted them to run away together, to escape the humdrum Harold and home. For his part, Harold wrote to Vita: 'I wish Violet was dead. She has poisoned one of the most sunny things that ever happened.'

Only in 1920 did the heat finally go out of the women's affair, after reaching a hysterical climax in a hotel in Amiens in Northern France where the women had fled, and to which the abandoned husbands had rushed in a hired aeroplane (high glamour for 1920) to get them back. Never again was the marriage threatened, and Violet sank from view. 'I think the secret of a successful marriage,' Harold said a little complacently, 'is the capacity to treat disasters as if they were incidents and not to magnify incidents into disasters.'

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'The secret of a successful marriage is the capacity to treat disasters as if they were incidents'

That was scarcely going to set the pulse racing, but Vita managed to integrate her double existence as a deeply loving wife — no marriage can have more written avowals of love surviving in its archive — and as a woman with an inveterate appetite for new love affairs: with her sister-in-law Gwen St Levan, by then the mother of five children; with the poet Dotty Wellesley; with Hilda Matheson, who was in charge of arranging talks on the BBC; with the dazzlingly beautiful Mary Campbell, to whom at the height of that affair she wrote erotic sonnets all night; and others less well known, but whose often sad letters of abandonment and regret remained in Vita's files.

Her appetite for love was real, and her cruelty to those she had rejected just as real. In the mid-1920s, she fell in love with and was slightly overawed by the novelist Virginia Woolf, with whom she became romantically involved. Their affair was undoubtedly passionate, but not overwhelmingly physical.

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Lovers: Vita and Rosamund arriving in court

Vita was amazed by Woolf's brilliance. Woolf half-admired, half-teased her in return: 'She shines in the grocer's shop in Sevenoaks with a candle-lit radiance, stalking on legs like beech trees, pink glowing, grape clustered, pearl hung.' Virginia told a friend rather disobligingly that Vita wrote with 'a pen of brass', 15 pages a day, too many. 'Why she writes is a puzzle to me. If I were she, I should merely stride, with 11 Elk hounds behind me, through my ancestral woods.'

After the war, as Harold and Vita perfected the garden at Sissinghurst, the pace of life slowed, although Vita even in her 60s could still amaze and seduce otherwise entirely heterosexual married women in the county, perhaps because she seemed, as Virginia Woolf's husband Leonard described her, 'an animal at the height of its powers, a beautiful flower in full bloom'. And it seems to be true that Harold and Vita loved each other more deeply with every passing year.

Here on my desk I have a letter written from her to him on Wednesday November 23, 1960. It is her own coda to this story. She was already ill with cancer when she wrote it and would die 18 months later. 'Isn't life odd?' she asked him. 'There once was a time when Violet and I were so madly in love, and I hurt you dreadfully, and now how dead that is. Passion completely spent. And the true love that has survived is mine for you and yours for me. 'Oh what a very unexpected letter to write to you suddenly. You won't like it, because you never like to face facts. 'Anyhow, I love you, much more than I loved you on October 1, 1913, and that is something more than most people can say after 45 years of marriage.'

The newly-discovered poem and many other documents, photographs and drawings are part of a new exhibition at Sissinghurst Castle, Cranbrook, Kent TN17 2AB, open every day.

Source: Daily Mail UK.

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 Post subject: Re: Famous lesbians
PostPosted: Fri Oct 11, 2013 7:05 am 
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The Pink List 2013: Val McDermid, Nigel Owens and Charlie Condou share their coming out stories
by Katy Guest
Sunday, 6 October 2013

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Val McDermid has written best-selling crime novels. Geraint Lewis

Evan Davis, the economist and presenter of Radio 4’s Today programme, came out to his parents over Christmas dinner in his twenties, but wishes that he had done it much sooner.

Alice Arnold, the broadcaster, knew she was a lesbian the first time that she felt “tummy flips”. Being gay is “maybe the 47th most interesting thing” in the life of comedian and presenter Sue Perkins. They, and others, tell their “coming out” stories in a new book, It’s OK to be Gay, (Accent, £10.99) edited by Alison Stokes and published on Thursday in support of Diversity Role Models. The charity works to stop homophobic bullying in schools and provide positive voices in the fight against homophobia.

Launched in time for National Coming Out Day, the book is a collection of inspirational stories from well-known figures including entertainers, journalists, a Paralympian and a peer of the realm. The following are extracts from the book. Next week, alongside the Pink List 2013, we will publish the coming out stories of Evan Davis and Shelley Silas.

Val McDermid: Author

Born: Kirkcaldy, Scotland, 1955
Best known as: Writer of the best-selling series of crime novels featuring clinical psychologist Dr Tony Hill and DCI Carol Jordan, which were adapted for TV as Wire in the Blood starring Robson Greene and Hermione Norris, and the Lindsay Gordon Mysteries

As a child I had plenty of friends but I always felt like an outsider. I thought that was because I wanted to be a writer, but it was really more to do with being gay, I suspect. I grew up in Kirkcaldy on the East Coast of Scotland, a small town famous for producing linoleum and for being the birthplace of the economist Adam Smith. It was at the heart of the Fife coalfield, and I spent a lot of my childhood with my grandparents, who lived nearby in a mining village. I was an only child so I had plenty of opportunity to lose myself in the worlds of imagination inside books.

My family lived opposite the central library, so I had access to a wide range of possibilities. As soon as I realised being a writer was a job, that was what I wanted to do. As a teenager I used to write songs and poems. I played guitar and sang in folk clubs, I played hockey, I was a champion debater and I spent a lot of time walking my dog and dreaming up stories in my head. I must have been about 10 when I had my first crush. It was Dusty Springfield. I cut out a picture of her from a magazine and stuck it on my wardrobe where I could see it from my bed.

The realisation I was gay was more of a slow dawning through my teens rather than a moment of revelation. I think it had more to do with my gradual understanding that an alternative to being straight was possible. There were no lesbians in Fife in the 1960s … Or at least, no visible ones. The first time I can remember being aware that homosexuals were real people was in my early teens. There was a bit of a scandal when a local businessman left his wife to go off with another man. He was someone my father knew quite well, and I remember there was a definite shock wave in our community. But that seemed very far removed from my life.

At 17 I was accepted to read English at St Hilda’s College, Oxford. There I first came out to my best friend as we were drinking coffee in her kitchen. She was completely blasé about it. It really seemed to make no difference to our friendship. The second friend I told had a totally different reaction. She was clearly very uncomfortable about it and it took years for us to get back on the same footing as before.

I was scared that by coming out I’d lose friends and that it would have a negative effect on my career. In fact almost all of my friends and family have been completely relaxed about it. I’ve been out for almost forty years now – which is a pretty wild thought for me – but of course, it’s a constant process for all of us. Sometimes, to be honest, it feels more like a tedious chore than a source of fear or embarrassment.

Although I knew I wanted to write for a living, everyone told me that it was impossible and I should get a proper job. I knew I wasn’t the sort of person who would be suited to a proper, nine to five, job so I became a journalist. For 14 years, I worked on national newspapers in Manchester and Glasgow. It was the 1980s and newsrooms were male-dominated. Some colleagues took my sexuality in their stride, some were uncomfortable with it, some took the piss and some just ignored it. I never experienced overt homophobia but I did work with one or two people who clearly had a problem with my sexuality. One news editor I worked for was a fanatically moralistic Catholic who went to mass every lunchtime. For about six months after he joined the paper, he simply ignored me. He wouldn’t assign stories to me and when I generated my own story leads, sometimes he would pass them on to other reporters to follow up. Eventually I got so fed up that I engineered a meeting in the pub with the editor and pointed out they were paying me a helluva lot of money to do nothing. He saw my point. And my news editor clearly got a bollocking, because things changed almost immediately.

Since coming out I have had negative experiences but even in the negatives there have been positive moments. Once my girlfriend and I took my mum on holiday to the Highlands. In Oban, the B&B we were sent to by the tourist board refused to give me and my girlfriend a room with a double bed. My mum read the riot act to the owner then insisted on going back to the tourist office to complain about the offensive treatment we’d received. My mum’s reaction turned what could have been a humiliation into a moment of pride.

Being open about my sexuality has opened up story possibilities that I might otherwise have shied away from. I think a life in the closet is a life half-lived and that’s a terrible restriction for a writer. Always to be looking over your shoulder and worrying if you’re revealing too much is self-censorship of the worst kind. And of course, it’s given me access to all sorts of experiences and environments that I would otherwise have missed out on. Since everything is material, that has to be a help!

In 1984 I started writing Report For Murder, the first in the series of Lindsay Gordon books which features a lesbian freelance journalist as the central character. I was lucky enough to start my career at a time when there were feminist presses who were eager to publish lesbian fiction. So in my head there was no reason why Lindsay couldn’t be a lesbian. Most writers start off by writing close to their own lives in one way or another – either literally or emotionally or psychologically – so I gave Lindsay a lot of the superficial elements of my life – nationality, sexuality, politics, occupation – because I understood how to write about those things. But she’s a very different personality from me, I should stress!

Those early books taught me a huge amount about my craft. I planned to write a trilogy, but it ended up as six books over a period of sixteen years. Like all writers, I’m on a journey of constant development and challenge and writing so I don’t know if I’ll ever go back to her; I can only write the books that shout loudest in my head and she’s not been doing much shouting lately.

My advice to young people struggling to come to terms with their sexuality is to decide who you can trust and make that person your confidant. The fears and doubts that loom huge in our imagination are cut down to size when we share them with somebody who doesn’t condemn us, somebody who loves and cares for us regardless of who we want to have relationships with.

Cross and Burn by Val McDermid is published on 10 October by Little, Brown, £10.99

It’s OK to be Gay: Celebrity Coming Out Stories, edited by Alison Stokes, is published on 10th October by Accent Press, £9.99. The Kindle version is available to download now, price £5

Source: The Independent UK.

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 Post subject: Re: Famous lesbians
PostPosted: Mon Dec 09, 2013 7:50 am 
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Gay women need more celesbians
by Amelia Abraham
Monday, 25 November 2013

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Angel Haze: 'Addressed to her mother, the lyrics of Same Love recall her coming out process from age 13 and give young girls a narrative they can empathise with.'
Photograph: David Levene

More than two million Britons watch Alan Carr's Chatty Man, nearly four million the Graham Norton Show and even more will watch just about anything Stephen Fry does.

These men are the British icons keeping the nation entertained and they're all openly homosexual; Carr with his cooing camp, Norton cracking gay sex jokes, and Fry fronting the urgent and enlightening Out There for BBC2, which explored gay culture around the world. There's a host of other gay men on primetime TV, including Paul O'Grady, Gok Wan and Ian McKellen, and I haven't even got to celebs like Nick Grimshaw, Will Young and George Michael yet.

Gushing about the openly gay women in the British media seems a much harder feat. Clare Balding, Sandi Toksvig, Sue Perkins and Mary Portas are the few out lesbians on British primetime, and while their contribution to raising LGBT awareness is huge, I can't help feeling that their sexuality goes under the gaydar. In a time when lesbianism still seems to shock, frighten and offend a lot of people (just look at the tiresome controversy surrounding Blue Is the Warmest Colour), these women provide safe representations of lesbianism; they're not too butch or too femme, they're white, middle-class and middle-aged, and they've all been in long-term relationships.

There's also the issue that if you're under 20 and glued to YouTube and Instagram rather than the television or radio, then you probably haven't even heard of these women. I know my 16-year-old sister hadn't. When the Independent published its questionably titled Pink List last month, an annual list of the 101 most influential LGBT people in the public eye in Britain, I'd only heard of five of the 40-odd women on it; and the recent Stonewall awards also demonstrated the scarcity of well-known gay celebs when semi-successful lesbian X Factor contestant Lucy Spraggan was nominated for "entertainer of the year".

Some argue that to conduct these kinds of ceremonial pats on the back for those who choose to come out as gay is reductive or patronising, but I disagree. I still hear kids slinging the word "gay" around as an insult, I notice some of my friends ashamed to admit they slept with someone of the same sex, and most vitally, I see the figures presented by Stonewall that 23% of lesbian, gay and bisexual young people have tried to take their own life at some point, with 29% of girls likely to attempt this, compared to 16% of boys.

Ruth Hunt, deputy chief executive of Stonewall comments: "Young people growing up to be gay or bisexual can all too often feel isolated and alone. For many of us, it's the celebrities and sports stars that we see on our television screens who help us develop our sense of self and to feel comfortable with our sexual orientation." If this is the case, the number of lesbians represented in the British media desperately needs to catch up with that of gay men. We need more celesbians.

Yet, while Jane Czyzselska, editor of Diva magazine, notes the reluctance of celebrity PRs to allow their artists to appear on a lesbian magazine cover, openly lesbian US rapper Brooke Candy suspects that many famous women might be gay but afraid to come out. "There are a lot of them [closeted famous people] but they're not willing to actually be the real role models that they can be. I think their management can say whatever they want but it's the artist's choice to come out."

Candy's part of an emerging group of young American female rappers who have publicly stated they're into girls. Nicki Minaj and Azealia Banks have both professed to like women, and Angel Haze recently recorded a track, entitled Same Love, about just that. Addressed to her mother, the lyrics recall her coming out process from age 13 and give young girls a narrative they can empathise with, one that ends with the optimistic mantra "here's to who you'll be when you figure it all out".

As someone who is 22 and identifies as bisexual, I'll vouch that instances like Jessie J's bisexuality and Cara Delevingne and Rita Ora's "wifey" episode made me feel more legitimised in my sexuality. I wouldn't expect bisexual celebrities to provide the same comfort to gay people though, as female bisexuality tends to be deemed more socially acceptable than lesbianism; maybe because it's perceived as more edgy or porny, or because bisexual celebrities such as Drew Barrymore, Angelina Jolie and Megan Fox all wound up married to men.

Still, what Britain possesses in the stakes of gay male national treasures and America boasts in gay and bisexual female role models, there should be for British celesbians. We need young, strong, relatable lesbian role models who speak openly about their sexuality. It would make closeted gay girls feel more comfortable to come out, it would make openly gay girls feel more validated, and it would pave the way for a media that actually reflects the diversity of our culture, in terms not just of sexuality, but race, age and gender too.

Source: Guardian UK.

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 Post subject: Re: Famous lesbians
PostPosted: Mon Jan 13, 2014 12:13 pm 
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Lily Tomlin ties knot with partner of 42 years
7 January 2014

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In this Friday, March 15, 2013 file photo, actress Lily Tomlin poses for a portrait at the Four Seasons Hotel, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP, File)

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- After more than four decades together, Lily Tomlin's longtime partner and collaborator is now her wife.

Tomlin's publicist Jennifer Allen told People Magazine and other media outlets Tuesday that the 74-year-old actress and comedian married 78-year-old Jane Wagner in a private New Year's Eve ceremony in Los Angeles.

Tomlin gained fame through the 1960s sketch show "Laugh-In," went on to star in movies like "9 to 5" and "All of Me" and more recently was a regular on the TV shows "Murphy Brown and "The West Wing." Wagner was writer of Tomlin's Tony-winning one-woman show "The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe," and wrote the screenplay for her movie "The Incredible Shrinking Woman."

Chicago Tribune columnist Liz Smith, a friend of both women, first reported the marriage.

Source: AP.

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 Post subject: Re: Famous lesbians
PostPosted: Mon Mar 03, 2014 7:34 pm 
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'Juno' actress Ellen Page comes out as gay
By Eric M. Johnson
February 15, 2014

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Cast member Ellen Page poses at the premiere of ''The East'' at the Arclight theatre in Hollywood, California May 28, 2013. The movie opens in the U.S. on May 31. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

(Reuters) - Actress Ellen Page, who was nominated for an Oscar for her role in "Juno," came out as a lesbian on Friday at a Las Vegas conference for gay teens.

"I am tired of hiding and I am tired of lying by omission," the 26-year-old actress said in a speech that drew roaring support from an audience at the Time to Thrive conference sponsored by the Human Rights Campaign. "I'm here today because I am gay. And because ... maybe I can make a difference," she said. "To help others have an easier and more hopeful time. Regardless, for me, I feel a personal obligation and a social responsibility."

Page, who in 2007 played a pregnant teen in "Juno," has also starred in "Inception", "To Rome with Love" and "X-Men: The Last Stand." Page is also working on "Freeheld," a drama about a terminally ill police detective fighting to assign her retirement benefits to a lesbian lover.

Page said in her speech that she suffered for years because she was scared to be public about her sexuality. "My spirit suffered, my mental health suffered and my relationships suffered," she said. "And I'm standing here today, with all of you, on the other side of all that pain."

The Human Rights Campaign, a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender advocacy group that posted her speech on its website, congratulated Page for completing the "deeply personal and arduous journey" of coming out.

Page in her speech also praised others who have taken similar steps, such as athlete Michael Sam, who announced he was gay this month and could become the National Football League's first openly homosexual player.

(Reporting by Eric M. Johnson in Seattle; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)
Source: Reuters.

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 08, 2014 3:46 pm 
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Cara Delevinge and Michelle Rodriguez’s romance is news and we do care
by Jenn Selby
Wednesday, 19 February 2014

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Michelle Rodriguez and Cara Delevinge

We don’t usually bother with romance rumours as a general rule.

But when the world’s biggest supermodel confirms that she is not only currently dating a woman, but that the woman in question is kick-ass actress, Michelle Rodriguez, we think that’s awesome information worthy of sharing.

"I love her, she's great," Cara Delevingne told Digital Spy at last night’s Elle Style awards, after she was asked about her rumoured relationship with the Machete Kills star. Earlier this week, Rodriguez also apparently confirmed the romance, though many initially approached her statement with caution, as it was printed in The Mirror from what appeared to be an undisclosed interview. "It’s going really well. She’s so cool," the Fast & Furious actress was quoted as saying about the British model. "When we started hanging out I just thought she was awesome, and we have the best time together. She’s hard though. You wouldn’t want to mess with her in a fight."

The pair were then spotted hand-in-hand as they left one of many guerrilla Prince shows popping up around London as part of his Hit And Run tour. Their relationship is news for many reasons, not least because it turns the table on the traditional stereotypes usually associated with 1) supermodels and 2) gay women.

Unusually, the fashion world is also giving young women a positive role model. Particularly those searching for the courage to come out publicly, and those still in the process of discovering their own sexual identities. "It’s always fabulous to see people being open about their relationships as we know it still takes courage for women to stand up and be honest about who they love," said Ruth Hunt, Acting Chief Executive of LGB charity Stonewall. "It’s important for young lesbians and bi women to see that they can be themselves and be happy at the same time."

For that reason, we'll keep covering it. It's up to you whether you want to read it or not.

Source: Independent UK.

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 Post subject: Re: Famous lesbians
PostPosted: Tue Mar 11, 2014 5:31 pm 
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Kelly McGillis: 'I would cameo in Top Gun 2'
by James Mottram
Friday, 21 February 2014

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Winging it: Kelly McGillis. Rex Features

Ever so quietly, Kelly McGillis is back. Over the past couple of years, the Top Gun star has begun to reappear in small but significant movie roles – from Jim Mickle’s vampire movie Stake Land to Ti West’s acclaimed haunted hotel tale The Innkeepers.

This month, she reunites with Mickle for We Are What We Are, a gruesome story about a cannibal family inspired by the 2010 Mexican-made film of the same name.

Now living in Asheville, North Carolina, the 56-year-old McGillis is orchestrating her comeback – on her own terms. “For me it’s kind of like starting over,” she says. “It’s slow, but it’s really good. I don’t feel compelled to be the same Kelly McGillis that I was in the Eighties. I’ve aged. I’ve grown. I have the opportunity to reintroduce myself as a character actress.”

There was a time when McGillis was arguably the hottest female star on the planet. She’d starred in Witness, alongside Harrison Ford, before producer Jerry Bruckheimer cast her in Tony Scott’s Top Gun, opposite Tom Cruise, playing the leather-clad flight instructor Charlie Blackwood. She looked to have a glittering career ahead of her.

Yet the Californian star committed Hollywood hara-kiri – walking away at the height of her fame. You can just imagine the sort of heart palpitations that caused Team McGillis. “My agent at the time wasn’t very happy,” she laughs now, “but that’s OK.” Marrying Fred Tillman, a wealthy yacht salesman, she and her husband moved to Key West, Florida, to open a restaurant called Kelly’s, and had two daughters, Kelsey (now 24) and Sonora (20).

While she didn’t entirely disappear from acting – there were sporadic roles on screen, including Rob Reiner’s comedy North – McGillis never again hit Top Gun levels of fame. “I have no regrets,” she says. “I would do it again – my kids are my priority in my life.” That only really tells half the story, as she and Tillman divorced in 2002, amid rumours that McGillis was embroiled in an affair with another woman, Melanie Leis, a former bartender at their restaurant.

It wasn’t until 2009 that McGillis came out – despite the odd on-screen hint (she played a lesbian poetry professor in the 2000 film The Monkey’s Mask and appeared on The L-Word in 2008).) Only then did she confirm to website SheWired.com, “I’m done with the man thing.”

A year later, she and Leis married in a civil ceremony in New Jersey, the grey-haired McGillis almost unrecognisable from the blonde bombshell of her Top Gun days. McGillis is quite open about why it took her so long to talk publicly about her sexuality. “You know what? It wasn’t until after my kids grew up and went out of the house [that I felt ready to do it],” she says. “Prior to that, I wouldn’t have said anything because it would’ve impacted upon my children’s lives in a very negative way. We lived in a very conservative place in Pennsylvania. It would’ve been very difficult for my children.”

Raised in Newport Beach, the daughter of a doctor and midwife, McGillis moved to New York in 1979 to study acting at the prestigious Julliard drama school, the same year she married fellow student Boyd Black. It was short-lived, the couple divorcing in 1981 – a year before McGillis was raped at knifepoint by two assailants who forced their way into her Manhattan apartment.

Already ashamed of her sexuality, for years she believed this ordeal was her penitence for being gay – an internal struggle that also led to alcohol and substance-abuse issues. She now regularly works with those facing addiction problems. “I just try to help people learn how to live sober… I had a huge drug and alcohol problem and it’s my way of giving back.” Curiously, when we meet it’s just two days after Philip Seymour Hoffman died from a heroin overdose. “I think it’s heartbreaking,” she says, “but that’s the reality of addiction.”

For McGillis, re-building her career has been as almost as sobering as kicking her addictions. “It would be far easier if I was willing to move to New York or LA,” she states. “But – you know what? – I like the quietness and simplicity of my life, and I’m not willing to sacrifice myself for a job.” She hasn’t even watched We Are What We Are in which she plays “ditzy” Marge, neighbour to the flesh-eating family.

There are forthcoming roles too – a family-friendly TV movie, Love Finds You In Sugarcreek, Ohio, and a movie Blue. What about the persistent rumours that there will be a Top Gun 2? Would she return as Charlie, if asked? “Yeah, I’d cameo in it maybe!” she says, looking uncertain that Bruckheimer would ask her.

Just 28 when she made the original, she still holds fond memories for a film that turned her into an Eighties pin-up. “Shit, it was like being at boys’ camp,” she trills. “It was far more popular than I ever imagined it would be.” Now, things are different. “Now, I don’t feel like I have to succumb to that pressure, because I took so much time off that I can come back to acting – without trying to be anything other than who I am.”

‘We Are What We Are’ opens on 28 February
Source: Independent UK.

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Jodie Foster marries girlfriend Alexandra Hedison
April 23, 2014

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Actress Jodie Foster poses with her Cecil B. DeMille award at the 70th annual Golden Globe Awards in Beverly Hills, California January 13, 2013.
REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Jodie Foster has married her girlfriend, the photographer Alexandra Hedison, a representative for the Oscar-winning actress said on Wednesday.

E! News, which first reported the marriage, said the couple wed over the past weekend. The notoriously private Foster, 51, first acknowledged publicly that she is gay during a televised speech at the 2013 Golden Globe Awards, and referred to her "ex-partner in love" Cydney Bernard, with whom she has two sons. She joked at the time that "I already did my coming out about a thousand years ago back in the Stone Age."

Hedison, 44, who had dated comedian Ellen DeGeneres about a decade ago, is also an actress. She appeared most recently in the former Showtime series "The L Word."

(Reporting by Eric Kelsey; Editing by Piya Sinha-Roy and Grant McCool)
Source: Reuters.

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PostPosted: Sat Sep 06, 2014 9:39 pm 
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Five famous women that history outed as lesbians
12th August 2014
by E.J. Rosetta

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Eleanor Roosevelt

Everyone loves a rumour, especially surrounding the sexuality of “straight” celebrities (*cough, Kristen Stewart, cough*) and although it’s no longer taboo to be gay or bisexual, this has not always been the case.

History is littered with speculation over certain famous figures and their sexuality. In order to be gay, even 30 years ago, involved an incredibly brave and life altering declaration. It still does, as we all know, but nowadays we’re all required to be dignified and polite to each other by law.

But you have to feel for our predecessors, in their sexless marriages with their clandestine meetings. You have to pity them, deeply. Can you imagine not being able to live authentically, out in the open?

Past generations have been suppressed for years by their peers and powers, not permitted to come out and be honest about how they wanted to live. They were very simply not allowed to feel the way they did, can you imagine how heartbreaking that must have been? We have to be grateful for the changes society has made so far, even if we have a long way to go.

No, being gay isn’t a choice, but the choice to live openly is one I am glad we now enjoy.

Looking back through the sands of time, it’s hard to name many openly gay women… They just don’t seem to exist. But the truth is they must have done. Lesbianism isn’t something that has just been invented over the past 50 years. Attitudes towards it have changed, but not the very essence. Truth is, women have been gay/bisexual for years. The only difference is that are the first generation that are allowed to live openly (almost). We get to be authentic… lucky us!

But the same cannot be said for those that have come before us. And here are a few of my favourite strong women of history who have inspired speculation surrounding their sexuality. Some are widely recognised as gay, others only rumoured. Whispers have swept through the internet after these icons have passed on, deliberating over facts and quotes, trying to find an answer. But the truth is we’ll never know, in some cases. But as it’s fun to hypothesise, here’s my list of rumoured lesbians throughout time.

1. Eleanor Roosevelt

The infamous American first lady, although married, was known to have been permitted a clandestine “Boston Marriage” by her straying husband – essentially a permitted affair – and chose reporter Lorena “Hick” Hickock

After her death, the speculation surrounding the decades-long relationship between these two unearthed a series of letters between them. Although most were destroyed by the Roosevelt family, the ones that were uncovered revealed a tender and indisputably romantic relationship between the two women. There are whole books available of the published collections. It’s undeniable.

One reads “I want to put my arms around you & kiss you at the corner of your mouth” and another “I can’t kiss you, so I kiss your picture good night and good morning” and it is said that only Hick’s sister, Ruby, knew the true content of their first years correspondence. Following Hick’s death, Ruby decided to throw the letters on the fire after reading them, declaring “this is nobody’s business”. And I say good for her. My twin sister and I have a “Clear browser history on death” agreement, and I imagine this to be the same sort of gesture.

Eleanor Roosevelt, a strong feminist, was the first First Lady to actively engage in political issues and was known to have a close group of openly lesbian friends. On Inauguration Day, Roosevelt wore a sapphire ring, given to her by Hick. In a 1933 letter, Eleanor writes “I want to put my arms around you. I ache to hold you close… Your ring is a great comfort to me. I look at it and think she does love me, or I wouldn’t be wearing it.”. Which sort of puts to bed any speculation that end, doesn’t it?

Before Eleanor, the history books record a certain famous Austrian princess whose bisexuality is also fervently rumoured…

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Marie Antoinette

2. Marie Antoinette

Arguably the most famous French female Royal, “Madame Deficit” endured a life of infamy.

People loved to hate her, blaming her from everything from the French Revolution to ruling through the King. She is famously misquoted “Let them eat cake!” when, actually, she said nothing of the sort. Still, history proves people love to hate women born into power, and her reputation doesn’t disappoint.

In those days, lesbianism was known as “The German Vice”, and the Austrian princess, as she became increasingly unpopular, was slandered by the opposition. They accused her aggressively of bisexuality and promiscuity, naming her close friends The Princess of Lamballe and The Duchess of Polignac as her lovers.

Throughout France, the population was convinced of the rumour by the publication of pamphlets picturing her in compromising positions with other women. Back then they didn’t have celebrity magazines, so Royal Gossip was circulated in leaflets, usually with a political agenda, and Marie Antoinette was a regular feature. And it’s understandable how much of France believed the rumours. The Queen had fervently remained a virgin for the first seven years of her marriage and never addressed publicly the accusations. As is the case now, if you didn’t deny it, people generally assume it’s true.

Now although we’ll never know the answer, it’s a sad thought. As Queen of a country, you’d be watched at every turn, and even in modern times, a member of the Royal Family probably simply wouldn’t be allowed to be gay. I can’t imagine how it must feel to not be able to be your true self, just because of who you were born. Luckily, me and my twin sister being gay is a favourite social topic of my mothers… she finds it fashionable and boasts at dinner parties about it. How very modern and interesting it makes her. She’s thrilled! And for that, I count myself very, very blessed.

But some parents aren’t so keen, and I imagine the mother of the Queen of France (a Royal herself) wouldn’t have found it quite so thrilling. But moving swiftly onwards, here’s a name that most have heard bounced around the lesbian rumour mill…

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Virginia Woolf

3. Virginia Woolf

Ms Woolf was every angst-ridden teenage girl’s hero when I was growing up. If you owned a pair of black cords, a Cranberries CD and any novel by Woolf, you were in. Well, not “in” actually. But I probably liked you.

Virginia Woolf met fellow writer Vita Sackville-West in the early 1922, and the women began a romantic affair that lasted for a number of years. Now I realise you can prove pretty much anything with the internet nowadays, and also disprove it, but Virginia Woolf’s bisexuality is almost impossible to argue with. Vita and her husband were both bisexual, and had an open marriage, and once Virginia’s own husband gave his blessing to the affair, the two woman began a relationship. This remained secret, but not because they were ashamed. Virginia’s publisher, Bloomsbury, held a strong opinion against lesbianism, and so their secrecy can be attributed to Virginia’s passion for her career and her writing. But although they kept their tryst on a strictly “need to know” basis, history has proven the affair without doubt.

In a letter from Virginia to Vita (Current day celebrity couple name…Virgita?) she described coming out to her sister Nessa - “I told Nessa the story of our passion in a chemists shop the other day. ‘But do you really like going to bed with women’ she said – taking her change. ‘And how’d you do it?’ and so she bought her pills to take abroad, talking as loud as a parrot.” And in another letter between the two, this excerpt - “Look here Vita — throw over your man, and we’ll go to Hampton Court and dine on the river together and walk in the garden in the moonlight and come home late and have a bottle of wine and get tipsy, and I’ll tell you all the things I have in my head, millions, myriads — They won’t stir by day, only by dark on the river. Think of that. Throw over your man, I say, and come.”

In fact, a quick Google search will pull up indisputable proof. But as there has never been a documented confession from the literary icon, it remains a romantic rumour along with the rest.

Speaking of romantic rumours, here’s one of the most controversial examples of potentially lesbian behaviour by a famous icon…

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Marilyn Monroe

4. Marilyn Monroe

OK, please don’t shout at me/sue me. As possibly the most famous sex icon in history, it’s inevitable that someone would suggest that Ms Monroe experienced both sides of the proverbial coin. With whole pockets of the internet dedicated to this debate, and handfuls of people set on proving it, Marilyn makes my list on a strictly speculative basis. It’s also a good excuse to look at pictures of her on Google.

Marilyn Monroe (pictured with Jane Russell) has been rumoured to have had sexual encounters with many of history’s more famous actresses, including Elizabeth Taylor, Joan Crawford, Barbara Stanwick, Marlene Dietrich and many more. Betty Grable reported that Monroe would pursue her, and is quoted as finding her attention “sometimes scary”. The same story is told by Judy Garland, who apparently claimed Marilyn had propositioned her on many occsions. Which answers the question “If you could be any woman in history, who would you be?”. My answer would definitely be any woman that Marilyn Monroe hit on. And I’d be very easily persuaded.

For those of you that haven’t had the time to obsessively stalk Marilyn Monroe on the internet, she was well known for her crippling insecurities and the most convincing piece of information I have seen to prove her bisexuality would be a book written by actress Jane Lawrence – “My Little Secret” – which alleges her sexual relationship with Marilyn Monroe. Of course, it can be argued that these are all lies to sell books, but they’re pretty descriptive and enjoyable lies. Here’s my favourite excerpt…

Lawrence claims that one evening, Ms Monroe suddenly kissed her on her thigh, with a ‘mischievous twinkle in her eye’. “…The next few minutes became hazy, surreal and dream-like. My pulse leaped as Marilyn kissed my thigh again… she then leaned in and kissed me full on the lips, very softly and very slowly. I was nearly hyperventilating. We moved through the living room into the bedroom,” the story continues. “Marilyn used her tongue, lavishly flicking and licking, an entirely new sensation for me. With the girls I had enjoyed sex with, there was often a shyness and hesitancy, not the hunger and confidence Marilyn displayed.”

I’ll give you a minute to re-read that... OK, moving on. There is also testimony from Jean Negulesco, director of the Monroe film How To Marry A Millionaire. ‘She told me once she had never had an orgasm with a man in her entire life,’ he said. Notably adding “with a man”. Then there’s Natasha Lytess, her acting coach. Marilyn was famously very close with Lytess, and the rumour of their affair was enthusiastically circulated once she moved into Lytess’s apartment in 1950.

Anyway, there are hundreds of stories like this, which are possibly fictional but I, personally, am hoping they’re true. And if you need any more proof, go look it up yourself. What am I, an article writer or something? Last on the list, the least credible and my personal favourite possible lesbian from history.

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Florence Nightingale

5. Florence Nightingale

Florence Nightingale grew up at Embley Park, a manor house in Romsey, Hampshire which was later converted in to a school. The school which I attended.

So you can imagine the amount of time I spent learning about Ms Nightingale’s life, family and her incredible devotion to nursing and selfless care for others. However, alongside the ghost stories (it’s a boarding school) that we used to tell each other about her past patients haunting the halls, there was also a strong belief that Florence Nightingale lived and died a secret lesbian.

Now, let me be very clear – Florence Nightingale was deeply religious and took a vow of celibacy which lasted her whole life. I am not suggesting that this woman engaged in lesbian activity (my favourite kind of activity)… only that there is evidence that, had she not committed herself to God, she may have preferred the company of women. And who can blame her? Plus, remember, you don’t have to have sex to be gay… but it probably helps.

As the story goes, Florence was very close to her aunt, with Florence describing their relationship as “Like two lovers”. OK, so let’s ignore the obvious incest vibe, for arguments sake. We all know that back then, it was common to marry a cousin and so I guess they looked at things a little differently. Although her aunt married, she returned to Embley Park when Florence became an invalid later in life to nurse her, leaving her own husband and children behind.

Earlier in life, Florence also wrote of her cousin - “I have never loved but one person with with passion in my life, and that was her…” And then there’s her own memoir, in which she wrote - “I have lived and slept in the same beds with English Countesses and Prussian farm women. No woman has excited passions among women more than I have”.

Which sort of paints her as the alpha-lesbian of her time.

The truth, however, can never be certain. In her Victorian era, it would have been unheard of for her to live her life as a gay woman, and so I suppose it is believed this is why she chose a life of celibacy, refusing four marriage proposals. I think it’s tragic almost, that one of the most remarkable and progressive women of history was denied the happiness and freedom of living openly. If ever I decided anything growing up at Embley Park, in the home of the “Lady of the Lamp”, it was to count myself lucky that I get to be who I am. Openly. Especially since her accomplishments were vast and incredibly noble, whereas the most I’ve achieved so far to help mankind is promising to stop posting daily pictures of my cat on Facebook.

*********

Finally, the stigma around lesbianism/bisexuality is fading into history, as this generation fights tooth and (neatly trimmed) nail to banish homophobia for good. We may be the last generation in history to have to suffer through it, as “Gay/Lesbian” becomes as important to equal rights as being black, or a woman. As in, it’s not even relevant who/what you are, how you feel or choose to live your life. All human beings are equal.

Future generations are predicted to not even blink an eye when confronted with the question of ones sexuality. It will become just another fact about a person, a part of the building blocks that makes them uniquely and deliciously them. Homophobia will be a story of history, like “Did you know that our ancestors once made black people sit at the back of buses?”. Our story will be “Can you believe it, at one time you weren’t allowed to get married if you were the same sex?! How bizarre!”.

So as we wave goodbye to prejudice and the closed minds that have now (almost) been silenced, it’s worth taking a minute to offer a respectful nod to the gay women that have come before us. To those who weren’t allowed to be gay, to those who continued to do so regardless, and to those who fought so that lesbians today can live openly. With as many cats as we want.

Source" PinkNews.

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 Post subject: Re: Famous lesbians
PostPosted: Sat Sep 06, 2014 11:03 pm 
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Vicky Beeching, Christian rock star 'I'm gay. God loves me just the way I am'
by Patrick Strudwick
Wednesday, 13 August 2014

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Beeching says: 'I've lost so much living as a shadow of a person'. Jason Alden/The Independent

There is no quicker, more effective way to destroy someone than to isolate them. Guards at Guantanamo Bay know this. Psychiatrists know this.

Vicky Beeching, 35, British star of the American Christian rock scene, one of the most successful artists in US mega-churches and now one of the most sought-after religious commentators in Britain, knows this too.

There is also no better way to destroy a group of people than to ensure they do the job for you. And so, as Beeching's story pours out on a hot afternoon – a story of psychological torture, life-threatening illness and unimaginable loneliness, imposed all around from a supposedly Godly environment – one question fills the air: if shrinks, brutes and fascists know how best to devastate a person, does the Church of England? Or do they know not what they do?

We meet twice. On the first occasion, Beeching, normally enlivening Radio 4's Thought for the Day or any number of Sunday morning TV discussion programmes, sits opposite me in a café in Soho. She pushes a piece of paper in my direction. It is a précis she has written of her background: of growing up in a conservative Christian household in Kent, first in the Pentecostal Church then in the evangelical branch of the Church of England, of going to Oxford to study theology, of the EMI recording contract that sent her to Nashville 12 years ago and launched a successful singer-songwriting career… and then a line that jars and jolts. I turn the piece of paper over and look up to see her smiling nervously.

"I'm gay," she says, confirming what is written. She has never said this publicly before – a handful of people in her private life know. She has only just told one her closest friends, Katherine, and Katherine's father, Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury.

The enormity of the political ramifications of this disclosure scarcely have a second to sink in – a theologian who spends holy days with the Archbishop, whose God-fearing lyrics are sung by millions in America's Bible Belt, coming out as a lesbian – before I begin to reflect on the implications for her personally.

She will be liberated. She may well, through her commentating work, become a key figure in the liberalisation of Anglicanism. And she will be crucified. Boycotts of her music are already in place since Beeching decided to speak up for same-sex marriage over a year ago. Hatred has been flung at her online ever since: "You've been deceived by the devil," is a typical, charming comment.

Then, as we begin to talk over these implications, she slides her fringe to one side to reveal a wide, white scar running down the length of her forehead. It is also concealed by make-up. Beeching knows how to cover things up. A week later, she arrives at my flat in east London to tell the story of the scar. It is the story of her life.

As a little girl, Vicky Beeching soon became aware of the attitudes towards homosexuality surrounding her. She learnt of them in Sunday school. "It was in children's picture books about the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah – hailstones of fire raining down on these cities known for the 'abomination' of homosexuality. It was viewed as a terrible evil, the cause of the floods. I don't think that my parents brought it up – it was just a given."

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Voicing her opinion: Vicky Beeching on Sky News

At 12, her feelings towards other girls at school began to deepen. "Realising that I was attracted to them was a horrible feeling," she says, looking down. "I was so embarrassed and ashamed. It became more and more of a struggle because I couldn't tell anyone." As adolescence emerged, with school and Church services several times a week, alienation set in.

"I increasingly began to feel like I was living behind an invisible wall. The inner secrecy of holding that inside was divorcing me from reality – I was living in my own head. Anybody I was in a friendship with, or anything I was doing in the church, was accompanied by an internal mantra: 'What if they knew?' It felt like all of my relationships were built on this ice that would break if I stepped out on to it."

Beeching is cross-legged on a sofa in my living-room, deportment impeccable, done up in a tailored jacket, made up with absolute precision. Her face has a divine, ethereal, bone- structure-to-die-for beauty, like Sharon Stone suppressing her basic instincts. All of this, however, looks different, harrowed, when Beeching describes the attempts to cure her lesbianism. She went to a Catholic priest at 13: a confession to absolve the innate.

"When I said that I had feelings for the same sex he prayed the prayer of absolution, for me to be forgiven. And that was it." Afterwards, her feelings remained, which "only increased the sense of shame. I felt there was something really wrong with me, that maybe I was so sinful and awful I couldn't be healed."

She reached her first breaking point that year. One night alone in her bedroom, still just 13 years old, the schism between feelings and beliefs overcame her.

"I felt like it was ripping me in half. I knew I couldn't carry on. I was trying to align the loving God I knew and believed in with this horrendous reality of what was going on inside me," she says. "I remember kneeling down and absolutely sobbing into the carpet. I said to God, 'You have to either take my life or take this attraction away because I cannot do both.'" Her eyes glisten for the first time.

By 16, the isolation, fear and shame were escalating. Her mother, who is very musical, had taught her to play the piano and guitar, and Beeching was already writing worship songs and performing them at services in front of hundreds. "It was my one outlet." Her first song, called "Search Me O God", contains, tellingly, the line: "Find any way in me that does not reflect Your purity."

That summer, at a Christian youth camp in the English countryside, Beeching became subject to an altogether more extreme way to make her sexuality "pure": an exorcism. I ask her to name which camp it was, which organisation was responsible. "Do I have to say?" she asks, with a half grimace. "It might make them look bad." "Yes, it will," I say. "This happens at a lot of them. It feels a bit mean to pick one," she replies, chiming with an earlier comment: "I'm not angry with the Church."

Instead, she takes herself back to that day. "I remember sitting in my seat at this big conference, with about 4,000 people. Someone had preached about how God could set you free from anything, and I was desperate, I thought, 'I have to deal with this, it's breaking me.' They invited us to the front." The shy teenager got up.

"The walk felt like 10 years. The music was very loud. At the altar one of the prayer team said, 'What would you like us to pray for you about?' I said, 'It's really hard for me to say this but I am attracted to people of the same sex and I've been told God hates that and I'm so ashamed and I need Him to take it away because I can't keep living like this. I'm so sad and depressed, I can't carry on.'"

Beeching stood with her arms outstretched as the leaders brought in extra people to perform the deliverance. "I remember lots of people placing their hands on my shoulders and back and front, praying in tongues really loudly and then shouting things: 'We command Satan to let you go! Cast these devils out of you! We speak to you demon of homosexuality: let her go!' People around me were wailing and screaming. It was really frightening. I was already feeling so vulnerable, it was horrible to think, 'Am I controlled by demons?'" How did it feel? "Degrading," she says. "Very humiliating – it made me so embarrassed." And when this too didn't change her orientation, Beeching turned inwards. "I began to disconnect."

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Vicky Beeching’s story can inspire many conflicted young people (Jason Alden/The Independent)

She spent as much time on her own as possible, pushing friends away at school, filling break times by working in the library alone. "It was too painful to be around people that didn't understand." She became a workaholic. "I felt like there was something so wrong with me, according to the Church, that maybe I could make up for it by getting good grades." On several occasions, Beeching tried to force an attraction to boys, by letting those who asked her out walk her to school, but she felt nothing. Instead, all her energy went in to work: the grades took her to Oxford (where she lived in a Christian halls of residence); at 23, the songwriting took her to Nashville.

For the next six years, Beeching lived in the fire-and-brimstone heart of conservative America, recording albums and touring the country's vast churches. To avoid the desolation of her personal life, Beeching would perform endlessly, ensuring every birthday and public holiday was booked up. Countless unrequited loves for straight female friends compounded the torment of her teenage years. "That was one of the hardest parts – to have your heart crushed so many times you wonder whether it actually has any life left in it," she says, quietly. "It's incredibly painful. I just wanted a soul mate.

By 2008, aged 29, she decided to move to California, hoping that San Diego would provide a more liberal setting. But this was the year that Proposition 8 – the state law to ban same-sex marriage – was to be voted on. The Christian lobby galvanized. And Beeching was being booked to perform at mega-churches throughout California. "I would find myself at these events that were anti-equal-marriage rallies, but I was only booked to sing so there was no way I could say anything. If I had, I would have got kicked out." It didn't help that her contract with the Christian music branch of EMI had a "morality clause", in which "any behaviour deemed to be immoral" would be a breach of contract.

The secrecy, the loneliness, the unerring work at churches hell-bent on attacking her own, erupted the following year. Her body started attacking itself. "I was blow-drying my hair and looked in the mirror and noticed this white line down my forehead." The scar grew and became "really noticeable – inflamed and red". The day she handed in the master tapes for what was to be her last album, she went to the doctor's, expecting to be handed some E45 cream.

"They said, 'You need to sit down. This is really serious. It's an auto-immune disease called linear scleroderma morphea, and a form of the disease called coup de sabre.' It's a degenerative condition where soft tissue turns to scarring. At that point they didn't know if it was just localised or whether it would affect my whole body." In the worst cases, one's whole body can turn to scar tissue, including internal organs. It can cause epilepsy, blackouts, and can kill.

Beeching was told she would need extensive chemotherapy and to expect hair loss, weight gain and exhaustion. She went home to her apartment where she lived alone, and looked up pictures online of sufferers, many of whom lose parts of their face. "I vomited," she says. She flew home as soon as she could. "The doctor here said, 'In our experience there will always be one thing you can name that is a point of stress, of deep trauma in your life, that triggers this.' For me there was no question: it was the stress of my sexuality." In hospital a few weeks later, Beeching made a vow. "I looked at my arm with the chemotherapy needle poking out, I looked at my life, and thought, 'I have to come to terms with who I am.'" She gave herself a goal: to come out by the time she was 35. Thirty-five is half a life," she says, sadly. "I can't lose the other half. I've lost so much living as a shadow of a person."

Beeching had 18 months of gruelling chemotherapy. The exhaustion was so acute that she was forced not to work, and instead, to think, to feel, to gradually accept her sexuality. She has never had a relationship. She didn't meet an out gay person until she was 30. In recovery, Beeching went to visit Ruth Hunt, chief executive of Stonewall, who put her in touch with some out lesbians: the BBC newsreader Jane Hill, sports presenter Clare Balding and her wife, Alice Arnold, the former Radio 4 newsreader. "They said, 'Be yourself and everything will follow.'"

One hopes it is that simple. Before we meet, I hear Beeching is being lined up to be one of the new presenters on Songs of Praise. She refuses to comment either way, instead replying simply that it would be a "dream job".

At Easter this year, she came out to her parents. "I was terrified but they reacted really well. They said, 'We're so sorry that you had to go through this alone.'" Beeching and her parents have agreed to disagree on the theology around homosexuality. "It's a picture of what is possible, even when you don't agree, that love can supersede everything." She hopes the Church of England can one day follow suit. "What Jesus taught was a radical message of welcome and inclusion and love. I feel certain God loves me just the way I am, and I have a huge sense of calling to communicate that to young people. When I think of myself at 13, sobbing into that carpet, I just want to help anyone in that situation to not have to go through what I did, to show that instead, you can be yourself – a person of integrity."

After what Beeching has suffered, why not discard the faith that considers her sinful and wrong?

"It is heartbreaking," she says, her eyes glimmering again. "The Church's teaching was the reason that I lived in so much shame and isolation and pain for all those years. But rather than abandon it and say it's broken, I want to be part of the change."

As Beeching jumps into a waiting taxi, I think of all the young gay Christians who have spoken out over the years, who've told of their loneliness, their depression, the "cures" they sought, the suicides they attempted, and all who might hear Beeching's story and feel less alone, and I whisper under my breath, for them, two words: thank you.

Source: Independent UK.

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Marlow Moss: forgotten art maverick
by Charles Darwent
Monday, 25 August 2014

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A detail from White, Black, Yellow and Blue, 1954, by Marlow Moss. Photograph: Tate St Ives

A radical lesbian who apprenticed herself to Léger and became a modernist to rival Mondrian – Marlow Moss is one of the great figures of English art. So why has no one heard of her?

In 1956, the abstract painter Michael Canney, recently made a curator at the Newlyn Art Gallery in Cornwall, was surprised to see a diminutive figure pull up in a pony and trap. This in itself was unusual; even more so was that the figure was dressed as a jockey. It came inside and, Canney recalled, "strode around in a rather alarming manner, tapping its leg with a riding crop". Then Marlow Moss – for it was she – climbed into her trap and trotted back to the nearby fishing village of Lamorna, where she had lived since 1940.

If Moss's name is not known to you, then you are in good company. When a show of her work opens at Tate Britain next month, it is a fair bet that even those with a professional interest in modern British art will not have heard of her. For this, Canney, who died in 1999, blamed Moss herself.

Despite living in what was, in the 1950s, the crucible of English modernism, Moss, he said, kept herself "aloof". A stone's throw from St Ives, she had nothing to do with the artists there, even though most were abstractionists like her and, in the case of Ben Nicholson and Barbara Hepworth, fellow members of the Paris group Abstraction-Création.

Although Moss had been the most devoted follower and friend of the Dutch abstract painter Piet Mondrian, St Ives knew nothing of her work. The cloud of forgetting that engulfed her was, Canney suggested, at least in part of her own making.

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Moss, circa 1937 Photograph: Tate St Ives

That cloud has only grown more dense. The display at Tate Britain will be the last in a tour of Moss's work that has taken in Tate St Ives, the Leeds Art Gallery and the Jerwood Gallery in Hastings. In spite of this, not a single review has appeared in a national newspaper, and little anywhere else. As the show's curator, Lucy Howarth, ruefully notes, the main effect of Moss's exposure so far has been to alert the Dutch museum that lent two works to the first show to the fact that they owned Mosses at all. As a result, the paintings are now hanging on the museum's walls for the first time in half a century, and will not be shown at the Tate. So complete has been the forgetting of Marlow Moss that when some of her work was shown at St Ives in 1997, the critic Tom Lubbock suggested that she had been made up. He was only half-joking.

Critics tend to flinch at the words "forgotten artist", the most common cause of their forgetting being that their work is rubbish. This is so clearly not so in the case of Moss that her eclipse seems scarcely believable.

Marlow, née Marjorie, Moss was born in London in 1889 and died in Cornwall in 1958. In the intervening 69 years, she changed herself utterly. The child of prosperous Jewish parents, she took herself off to the Slade, disappearing to Cornwall after a nervous breakdown. When she returned, it was as the crop-haired, jockey-clad, Marlow-not-Marjorie lesbian Canney saw in Newlyn 40 years later. In the meantime, she had moved to Paris and found the work of Piet Mondrian.

The effect was electrifying. One of the things that makes Moss stand out historically as an English artist is her untypical passion for European modernism. In 1927, the year she moved to Paris, the hottest group in London was the Seven and Five Society, its members still doggedly struggling to marry an outdated post-impressionist style to an outmoded local romanticism. Moss, by contrast, apprenticed herself to Fernand Léger, then experimenting with the mechanical mode of painting he had dubbed purism. Even this would not be radical enough for Léger's English student. In or about 1928, Moss saw her first Mondrian, and the die was cast.

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Spatial Construction in Steel, 1956-8. Photograph: Bridgeman Art Library

Cast, as it turned out, in more ways than one. The Swiss abstract painter Max Bill recalled meeting Moss and her partner, Nettie Nijhoff – wife of the Dutch poet Martinus Nijhoff – at an opening at a Paris gallery in 1933. "Both," said Bill, "were dressed in flat hats with broad brims. They could have been Don Quixote and Sancho Panza." Flustered, the young man pointed to a group of pictures on the wall and burbled, "Thank goodness Mondrian has sent in such beautiful works!" There was a silence. Then Moss, the smaller of the two women, said, crisply, "Those are my paintings."

Amusing though it is, this story suggests two things. One is that Moss's gender-bending appearance, her membership of that ambiguous group known as garçonnes, bothered people. Presumably it was meant to. Posterity, though, likes neatness. Although nearly a quarter of a century had passed when Michael Canney saw Moss, his response to her is couched in the same terms as Bill's. She is an oddity rather than a person, not quite real. If she is memorable at all, it is as a footnote to the history of a man, Piet Mondrian.

A quick walk around Howarth's Tate display will suffice to show how wrong this is. Moss's prewar paintings do look like Mondrians, in the way that some early Mondrians look like Derains. There is a difference between influence and imitation. Moss's take on neoplasticism is mathematically based, Mondrian's instinctual. When Moss – always "Miss Moss" to Mondrian – writes to explain her theories to him, he answers, stiffly, "Numbers don't make any sense to me." Her works look like his, but they also don't.

Nor was the influence all one-way. While other English artists, notably Nicholson and Hepworth, may later have appropriated Mondrian, only one English artist influenced him. In 1931, Moss introduced parallel double grid-lines into her paintings, an unorthodoxy that left the Dutchman dumbstruck. Nonetheless, in 1932, he painted Composition with Double Line and Yellow, now in Edinburgh. Debate rages over whether this is a response to Moss's invention, although, as ever, the discussion has focused on Mondrian rather than her.

Meanwhile, Canney's idea of Moss as aloof from English art has stuck. "That whole image of her comes from just one source," says Howarth, "but is it accurate? Maybe she was just in a bad mood the day she went into the gallery."

A much sounder reason for Moss's obscurity is that so little of her early work survives, and so much of her later work is hard to see. The chateau in Normandy she rented with Nijhoff was destroyed in the war, and most of her extant paintings with it. Moss's postwar work was left, at her death in 1958, to Nijhoff's son, Stefan, a Man Ray-trained photographer who worked under the name Stephen Storm and died in 1986. He in turn left it to his partner, who has seldom lent or shown the work since.

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Balanced Forms in Gunmetal on Cornish Granite, 1956-7. Photograph: Tate St Ives

As to Moss's supposed aloofness, the facts do not bear it out. At Nettie's house in Zeeland when Holland fell in May 1940, she talked her way on to a tanker and escaped to Cornwall. Once there, and at Mondrian's prompting, she wrote to Ben Nicholson, proposing tea. He never replied. She wrote again, with the same result. Unbowed, Moss worked on alone, sticking to the abstraction that English artists – Nicholson at the time included – had given up on as too troublesome to sell.

Moving into sculpture, she had solo shows at the Hanover Gallery in London in 1953 and 1958: the work, some of it in the Tate show, made no reference to Mondrian at all. With her fellow garçonne, the artist Paule Vézelay (née Marjorie Watson-Williams), Moss fought to open an English chapter of the French abstract club Groupe Espace. Their efforts were scuppered by Henry Moore and Victor Pasmore, appalled at the group's insistence on abstraction, subservience to Paris and the fact that its English chapter would be run by two women.

That Marlow Moss is ripe for rediscovery has struck the British art mainstream last of all. In Holland, she has been the subject of a novel, a ballet and an opera about her life with Nettie Nijhoff. She has also been claimed by queer theorists, intrigued less by her art than by her refusal to be a woman in a man's world. "During the Leeds show, I gave a queer tour of the gallery," says Howarth, laughing. "I started talking about the problems of Marlow Moss being seen only in terms of Mondrian, and a couple of women stopped me. 'Who's this Mondrian?' they said. It was great."

• Marlow Moss is at Tate Britain, London, from 29 September to 22 March. Details: tate.org.uk

Source: Guardian UK.

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'It's My Party' singer-songwriter Lesley Gore dies at 68
By MARK KENNEDY
February 16, 2015

NEW YORK (AP) -- Singer-songwriter Lesley Gore, who topped the charts in 1963 at age 16 with her epic song of teenage angst, "It's My Party," and followed it up with the hits "Judy's Turn to Cry," and the feminist anthem "You Don't Own Me," died Monday. She was 68.

Gore, a nonsmoker, died of lung cancer at New York-Presbyterian Hospital in Manhattan, according to her partner of 33 years, Lois Sasson. "She was a wonderful human being - caring, giving, a great feminist, great woman, great human being, great humanitarian," Sasson, a jewelry designer, told the Associated Press.

Brooklyn-born and New Jersey-raised, Gore was discovered by Quincy Jones as a teenager and signed to Mercury Records. She graduated from Sarah Lawrence College with a degree in English/American literature.

Gore's other hits include "She's A Fool," "Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows," which Marvin Hamlisch co-wrote, "That's the Way Boys Are" and "Maybe I Know." She co-wrote with her brother, Michael, the Academy Award-nominated "Out Here On My Own" from the film "Fame."

She sang at the 1964 T.A.M.I. Show in Santa Monica, California, alongside future Rock and Roll Hall of Famers like the James Brown and the Rolling Stones. Gore also played Catwoman's sidekick in the cult TV comedy "Batman."

"She was a serious artist that was way ahead of her time," said Ronnie Spector in a statement. "She had a certain sound. But you want to be able to do new things too, and it can be hard on an artist that is so identified with a specific sound. Although she wasn't in a girl group, Lesley was definitely a huge part of that era. But she continued to be creative, and kept looking ahead, and that's how I will remember her."

In a Facebook post, songwriter Neil Sedaka, who attended Gore's Sweet 16 birthday party, shared his thoughts: "She was a great person and a phenomenal talent, who had opened for me on many occasions. She recorded a few of my songs ("Magic Colors" and "Summer Symphony") and was a great songwriter in her own right. I'm glad I had the chance of knowing her."

In the 1990s, Gore co-wrote "My Secret Love" for Allison Anders' film "Grace of My Heart," released in 1996. A couple of years later, she appeared in "Smokey Joe's Cafe" on Broadway. Gore had been working on a stage version of her life with playwright Mark Hampton when she died.

In 2005, she released "Ever Since," her first album in 30 years, but was sure to revisit older hits in front of fans. "If I've learned anything in this business," she told The New York Times that year, "how stupid would it be not to do `It's My Party' when people come to hear it?"

She officially came out to the public when she hosted several episodes of the PBS series, "In The Life," which dealt with gay and lesbian issues.

During the 2012 presidential campaign, Gore turned "You Don't Own Me" into an online video public service announcement demanding reproductive rights which starred Lena Dunham and Tavi Gevinson, among others.

In the last few years, she performed at Feinstein's at the Loews Regency in New York and, along with Spector and LaLa Brooks, headlined the "She's Got the Power" concert outdoors at Lincoln Center in 2012.

In addition to Sasson, Gore is survived by her brother and mother, Ronny. Services will be held on Thursday at the Frank E. Campbell funeral home on Madison Avenue.

Source: AP

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'Yep, I'm Gay': Happy 20th out anniversary, Ellen DeGeneres
By LEANNE ITALIE
April 27, 2017

NEW YORK (AP) -- With a headline of "Yep, I'm Gay" on the cover of Time magazine and the same declaration on her sitcom, Ellen DeGeneres made history 20 years ago as the first prime-time lead on network TV to come out, capturing the hearts of supporters gay and straight amid a swirl of hate mail, death threats and, ultimately, dark times on and off the screen.

The code-named "The Puppy Episode" of "Ellen" that aired April 30, 1997, was more than just a hit. It was one of those huge cultural "where were you" moments for anybody remotely interested in TV, or the advancement of LGBTQ people working in TV, or who were itching to come out of their closets at home at a still-perilous time.

Variety summed it up this way: "Climaxing a season of swelling anticipation, Ellen Morgan (the bookstore-managing alter ego of Ellen DeGeneres) finally acknowledges her lesbianism tonight in an 'Ellen' hour that represents television's most-hyped coming out since Little Ricky came out of Lucy 44 years ago."

The hype was real, fed by DeGeneres' personal desire to end her secret-keeping at age 38 and to bring her TV character along for the ride. The off-screen act came first in Time by slightly more than two weeks, but "Puppy" was months in the making under lock and key, something that failed to matter when the script leaked and the world then waited.

Why risk it all? Because DeGeneres, one of America's sweethearts then and now, was done with the lying and the hiding. "It became more important to me than my career," she said in a recent interview with the Associated Press. "I suddenly said, 'Why am I being, you know, ashamed of who I am just to be successful and famous in society's eyes?'"

The hate was also real. There was pulpit-pounding from conservatives, including full-page newspaper ads (the late Rev. Jerry Falwell called her "Ellen DeGenerate"). There was nasty mail all around, including some for guest star Oprah Winfrey suggesting that she "go back to Africa." After "Puppy" wrapped, cast, crew and live audience were hustled out of the Burbank, California, studio because of a bomb threat.

Winfrey, who played Ellen's therapist, told the AP she had no clue that "I would get the worst hate mail of my career." She praised DeGeneres for having the courage to produce a "seminal moment for anybody who was hiding behind anything."

The episode was watched by an estimated 44 million viewers. It won an Emmy for writing, a Peabody as a landmark in broadcasting and numerous other accolades. The attention coincided with a new and very public relationship for DeGeneres with her girlfriend at the time, Anne Heche, herself new to the out life.

The following season, DeGeneres' fifth, was the last. It was a failure in terms of ratings. The network took to slapping "adult content" warnings on the show, something DeGeneres knew nothing about ahead of time. The season was bashed by some as unfunny and "too gay," as was the out-and-proud DeGeneres herself as she lived life big with Heche offscreen. Sponsors fled and the show was canceled.

DeGeneres went into a "hole," a deep depression, where she stayed without work for more than three years. Laura Dern, among the guest stars on "Puppy" and happy to be included, didn't work for a year after she played the out love interest to whom Ellen Morgan finally came out. (Both Dern and Winfrey join DeGeneres on Friday on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" to mark the anniversary).

Ellen Garcia in San Pedro, California, is a gay, 47-year-old office administrator for a mental health nonprofit. She was 27 and out to just close friends and co-workers when she watched. "How you feel about yourself, and how you feel about how society views you, plays a huge factor and that's why this show was so significant, because it brought all those things out," she said. "It made me feel normal."

So what made it the right time for DeGeneres? Well, nothing, she said. "There was every indication that I should not do it. My publicist at the time said, 'Don't do it.' The studio, the network, everyone said (it)," she recalled. "I said, 'You know, look, you may lose a show but you have thousands of other shows revolving through this door that come to you and you'll have another show. This is my career. If I'm willing to lose my career for this, you have to let me do this.'"

The doing wasn't easy. The first draft of "Puppy" was rejected by the show's Disney point person. It took forever for script approval, with "Puppy" finally hitting air as the fourth season's third-to-last show, a full hour as opposed to the usual half-hour. DeGeneres had thrown a bash at her California house for cast members and writers months earlier, at the top of the fourth, declaring then that she wanted to come out, but nobody was sure how it would all play out. "I remember these walks from our offices to the Disney offices to see the big guys," recalled Dava Savel, one of the executive producers and writers. "We walked with her and it was kind of like the Bataan Death March. We were like, 'Ohhh, here we go.' I remember Ellen crying on the way back when Disney finally gave her the OK."

History was made. Friends gathered around TVs. The gay rights advocacy group GLAAD organized watch parties after an ABC affiliate in Alabama declined to air "Puppy."

DeGeneres herself made a spectacular comeback, eventually, now the host of her own daytime talk show and still America's sweetheart at age 59. (President Barack Obama awarded her the nation's highest civilian honor, the Medal of Freedom, last year.) Numerous gay leads followed on TV, yet advocates hope for still more diversity and accuracy in story and character development.

None of that mattered the night of April 30, 1997. Eric Marcus, creator and host of the podcast "Making Gay History" and author of a 2002 collection of oral history of the same name, put it this way: "For everyday people, Ellen made gay OK."

Associated Press television writers Lynn Elber in Los Angeles and Frazier Moore in New York contributed to this report.
Source: AP

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