Articles tagged with: biography
Ryan Murphy is an award-winning film and television director, writer and producer. He is best known for creating the television series “Nip/Tuck” and “Glee.” Bent Alaska presents his story as part of our celebration of LGBT History Month 2011, with thanks to the Equality Forum.
Ryan Murphy (born November 30, 1965 ) is an award-winning film and television director, writer and producer. He is best known for creating the television series “Nip/Tuck” and “Glee.”
Murphy grew up in Indianapolis, Indiana, in an Irish Catholic family. His mother was a writer. His father was a newspaper circulation director. At 15, after coming out to his parents, Murphy saw a therapist, who said he was just “too precocious for his own good.”
At Indiana University in Bloomington, Murphy worked on the school newspaper and performed with the “Singing Hoosiers,” the university’s show choir.
Starting out as a journalist, Murphy worked for the Miami Herald, the Los Angeles Times and Entertainment Weekly. He began scriptwriting in the late 1990’s. In 1999, he made his first foray into television, creating the teen comedy series “Popular”. He wrote most of the show’s episodes.
In 2003, Murphy created “Nip/Tuck”, winner of the 2005 Golden Globe for best TV drama series. Murphy wrote and directed many episodes and served as executive producer for the show, which ran for seven seasons. “Nip/Tuck” earned him his first Emmy Award nomination for directing.
“Glee”, a groundbreaking musical comedy series created by Murphy, premiered in 2009. In its second season, the show became a pop culture phenomenon and one of the top-rated programs on television among young adults. That season, “Glee” received four Emmy Awards, including one for Murphy for outstanding directing for a comedy series.
For its honest depictions of LGBT characters and story lines, “Glee” also received the 2010 GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Comedy Series. The same year, Murphy directed Julia Roberts in a screenplay he co-wrote based on the book Eat, Pray, Love. The film grossed over $200 million worldwide. His most recent project, the TV series “American Horror Story”, premiered on F/X earlier this month.
Murphy serves on the National Advisory Board of the Young Storytellers Foundation, a Los Angeles area educational program that brings entertainment professionals into the classroom.
Murphy lives in Los Angeles.
In October 2010, Mediaweek talked with Ryan Murphy about Glee‘s impact on its gay viewers, and his own commitment to gay kids. Watch:
Photo credit: Ryan Murphy at at the 2010 Comic Con in San Diego, 25 July 2010. Photo by Gage Skidmore; used in accordance with Creative Commons license.
Constance McMillen became a poster child for LGBT rights after asking permission to bring her girlfriend to the prom. When her school responded by cancelling the prom, McMillen took legal action. Bent Alaska presents her story as part of our celebration of LGBT History Month 2011, with thanks to the Equality Forum.
Constance McMillen (born 1992) became a poster child for LGBT rights after asking permission to bring her girlfriend to the prom. When her school responded by cancelling the prom, McMillen took legal action.
As a senior at Itawamba Agricultural High School in Fulton, Mississippi, McMillen challenged the prom rules forbidding same-sex couples from attending and girls from wearing tuxedos. When the school cancelled the prom, students responded by harassing McMillen.
The ACLU filed a lawsuit requesting that the court order the school to hold an inclusive prom. The case was settled when a U.S. District Court ruled that McMillen’s First Amendment rights had been violated. The Itawamba County School District consented to a judgment in which it paid McMillen $35,000 and $81,000 in attorneys’ fees.
After the settlement, the school held a prom. Only McMillen and seven learning disabled students attended. Parents organized a separate prom that all other students attended, but to which McMillen was not invited.
The school district agreed to implement policies that would prevent future discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity for extracurricular and educational activities. This was groundbreaking for a Mississippi school district.
McMillen’s story received national attention. Glamour magazine named her Woman of the Year in 2010, and she appeared on national television shows including “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” where she received a $30,000 scholarship. She was invited to the White House and served as Grand Marshal of the New York Gay Pride Parade.
McMillen transferred to a school in Jackson, Mississippi, and graduated in 2011. She enrolled at Northeast Mississippi Community College to study psychology.
Photo credit: Constance McMillen at the 2010 GLAAD Media Awards, 17 April 2010. Photo by Greg Hernandez (greginhollywood on Flickr); used in accordance with Creative Commons license.
Amélie Mauresmo was the World No. 1 tennis player. She won 25 career titles including two Grand Slams. In 2004, she received an Olympic Silver medal in tennis singles. Bent Alaska presents her story as part of our celebration of LGBT History Month 2011, with thanks to the Equality Forum.
Ricky Martin is a 5-time Grammy Award-winning pop singer. A professional entertainer since childhood, Martin has sold more than 60 million albums. Bent Alaska presents his story as part of our celebration of LGBT History Month 2011, with thanks to the Equality Forum.
Ricky Martin (born December 24, 1971) is a 5-time Grammy Award-winning pop singer. A professional entertainer since childhood, Martin has sold more than 60 million albums.
He was born Enrique Martin Morales in San Juan, Puerto Rico, into a Roman Catholic family. His mother is an accountant and his father is a psychologist.
Martin’s singing career began at age 12 with the Latin American boy band Menudo. After completing high school, he moved to Mexico City, where he signed a solo record deal with Sony.
After two successful Spanish-language albums and a sold-out concert tour, Martin moved to Los Angeles, where he was cast as a singer/bartender on the popular soap opera “General Hospital.”
In 1999, he released his first English-language recording. The self-titled album sold 22 million copies and launched the No. 1 hit single “Livin’ La Vida Loca.”
That year, Martin performed at the Grammy Awards and received the award for Best Latin Pop Album. With his good looks, sexy dance moves and dynamic performance style, he became an international superstar.
Martin is the founder and president of the Ricky Martin Foundation. The foundation works to prevent the trafficking of children. In 2005, he received the International Humanitarian Award from the International Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
In 2006, Martin was honored with the Latin Recording Academy Person of the Year Award. The following year, he received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
In 2008, Martin had twin sons via a surrogate mother. Two years later, he came out with a post on his Web site, “I am a fortunate homosexual man.”
In 2010, Martin’s memoir, Me, was published. In an interview he said, “I want my children to be able to read the book one day and understand the spiritual journey I had to experience.”
Martin lives in Miami with his partner and his two sons.
On December 3, 2003, Martin was appointed as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador for his work as a defender of children’s rights, and in October 2011 he was honored with a Leader of Change Award during the Global Conference for Social Change in New York. He prepared a video in thanks for the award, and explaining the work of the Ricky Martin Foundation against exploitation of children and child trafficking. Watch:
Photo credit: Ricky Martin, 9 August 2007. Photo by lander2006 (Flickr); used in accordance with Creative Commons license.
Dave Kopay made headlines in 1975 when he became the first NFL player and one of the first professional athletes to come out as gay. His autobiography, now in its fifth printing, was a New York Times best seller. Bent Alaska presents his story as part of our celebration of LGBT History Month 2011, with thanks to the Equality Forum.
Victoria Kolakowski is the first openly transgender person to be elected a trial judge in the United States. Bent Alaska presents her story as part of our celebration of LGBT History Month 2011, with thanks to the Equality Forum.
Victoria Kolakowski (born August 29, 1961) is the first openly transgender person to be elected a trial judge in the United States.
Born in Queens, New York, Kolakowski graduated from Stuyvesant High School. She was the first person in her family to attend college. Kolakowski earned master’s degrees in biomedical engineering, electrical engineering, public administration and divinity. She received a law degree from Louisiana State University.
In 1990, Kolakowski moved to Berkeley, California. She served on the Oakland Budget Advisory Committee and was an administrative law judge for the California Public Utilities Commission.
In 1994, the East Bay Lesbian/Gay Democratic Club named her Woman of the Year. In 1995, she received the Outstanding Woman of Berkeley Award.
In 2010, Kolakowski campaigned for a judgeship on the Superior Court of Alameda County, California. She won by 10,000 votes. Her victory was significant, not only for the transgender community, but also for women, who occupy a small percentage of judgeships. She received Equality California’s Equality and Justice Award.
Kolakowski co-chaired the Transgender Law Center, an organization dedicated to the well-being and protection of transgender individuals. She serves on the California Council of Churches and is a volunteer clergy member at the New Spirit Community Church.
In 2004, Kolakowski married Cynthia Laird, editor for the Bay Area Reporter. The couple lives in Oakland, California.
In 2010, while a candidate for the Alameda County Superior Court judgeship she later won, Victoria Kolakowski appeared on Comcast’s Newsmakers show. Watch:
Photo credit: Victoria Kolakowski. Photo copyright Jane Philomen Cleland; used by license through the Equality Forum (LGBT History Month).
Michael Kirby is a former justice of the High Court of Australia. He is the world’s first openly gay justice of a national supreme court. When he retired, he was Australia’s longest-serving judge. Bent Alaska presents his/her story as part of our celebration of LGBT History Month 2011, with thanks to the Equality Forum.
Michael Kirby (born March 18, 1939) is a former justice of the High Court of Australia. He is the world’s first openly gay justice of a national supreme court. When he retired, he was Australia’s longest-serving judge.
Kirby was born in Sydney, Australia. He attended Fort Street High School, which is renowned for the accomplishments of its graduates. He earned three bachelor’s degrees and a Master of Laws degree from the University of Sydney.
Kirby practiced law for 13 years. In 1975, he was named deputy director of the Australian Conciliation & Arbitration Commission. Subsequently, he served as judge of the Federal Court of Australia, chairman of the Australian Law Reform Commission and as president of the New South Wales Court. In 1996, he was appointed to the High Court.
A pioneering AIDS activist, Kirby served on the World Health Organization’s Global Commission on AIDS and the United Nations Global Commission on HIV and the Law.
In 1991, Kirby received the Companion of the Order of Australia, the nation’s highest civil
honor, and the Australian Human Rights Medal.
In 2008, fellow judge Michael McHugh told The Australian about how he first learned about Kirby’s longterm partner, Johan van Vloten, in late 1997:
There were Court of Appeal Christmas parties held at his place and there was never any sign of Johan. I was at a wedding and (the late solicitor) John Marsden was there and came up and started talking about Michael and he said, ‘He’s had this partner for 30 years’. Frankly, I didn’t believe it.
When McHugh next talked with Kirby, Kirby told him he had been reading a book about coming out, and in succeeding months came out to his fellow judges before coming out publicly in 1999 by naming his Johan van Vloten as his partner in his listing in Who’s Who in Australia. The couple had been together since 1969.
Kirby came under attack in March 2002 by Liberal Senator Bill Heffernan, who used parliamentary privilege to make a speech in which he accused Kirby of making improper use of Commonwealth cars “trawling” for underage male prostitutes. However, the document Heffernan produced in support of his claims— a driver’s log book turned in to New South Wales police by a Commonwealth driver two years previously, on Heffernan’s advice — proved to have been fabricated. The disgraced Heffernan was censured by the Senate for abusing parliamentary privilege, and later offered an unqualified apology to Justice Kirby, who accepted the apology in a written statement:
I accept Senator Heffernan’s apology and reach out my hand in a spirit of reconciliation.
I hope my ordeal will show the wrongs that hate of homosexuals can lead to.
In 2010, Kirby received the Gruber Justice Prize for his work on sexual orientation discrimination and international human rights law, including laws relating to privacy and HIV/AIDS. In 2011, his biography, Michael Kirby: Paradoxes and Principles by A.J. Brown, was published.
Kirby lives with his partner in Sydney, where he advocates for LGBT equality and for people with HIV and AIDS.
In 2011, one of the 10 questions asked Kirby by The Australian‘s Greg Callaghan was about his decision to come out publicly in 1999:
You came out as gay in 1999, by naming Johan van Vloten as your partner in your Who’s Who entry. Is it true you “sounded out” other members of the High Court first?
It is not true. Such a personal matter had to be decided by Johan and me alone. The idea of having a personal discussion with judicial colleagues on such a matter was unthinkable. In any case, I would’ve had a pretty fair idea about what the different justices would have thought. Some, a minority, were always a bit uncomfortable with my sexuality. I believe that my openness was a good thing for us, for my family, for the court and for the Australian community.
On May 22, 2010, Judge Kirby participated in TEDxSydney at CarriageWorks in Sydney, which featured a selection of Australia’s leading visionaries and storytellers sharing “Ideas Worth Spreading” in the tradition of TED Talks. Judge Kirby asks religious leaders & God botherers to change their messages.” Watch:
Photo credit: Michael Kirby, 22 May 2010 at TEDxSydney in Sydney Australia. Photo by TEDxSydney / Enzo Amato; used in accordance with Creative Commons License.
David Kato was the founder of Uganda’s LGBT civil rights movement. He was an outspoken advocate for equality in a country with some of the harshest anti-gay laws. His murder in January 2011 brought global attention to the plight of LGBT people in Uganda and Africa. Bent Alaska presents his story as part of our celebration of LGBT History Month 2011, with thanks to the Equality Forum.
David Kato (born February 13, 1964, died January 26, 2011) was the founder of Uganda’s LGBT civil rights movement. He was an outspoken advocate for equality in a country with some of the harshest anti-gay laws. His murder this past January brought global attention to the plight of LGBT people in Uganda and Africa.
Kato and his twin brother were raised in a conservative family in a small Ugandan village. He recalled being brainwashed to believe “it was wrong to be in love with a man.” He attended some of Uganda’s best schools before moving to South Africa in the mid-1990’s to pursue a teaching career. Inspired by South Africa’s LGBT civil rights movement, Kato became an activist.
In 1998, intent on dismantling the homophobia, Kato returned to Uganda, where homosexuality is a crime punishable by up to 14 years imprisonment. Uganda’s minister of ethics and integrity stated, “Homosexuals can forget about human rights.”
Despite the risks, Kato held a televised news conference pressing for LGBT civil rights. As a result, he suffered several arrests and beatings.
Undeterred but cautious, Kato continued to lead the movement while supporting himself as a teacher. In 2004, he cofounded Sexual Minorities Uganda Group (SMUG), Uganda’s first LGBT civil rights organization.
In 2009, the Ugandan legislature proposed a bill designating the death penalty for homosexuality. The following year, a Ugandan national newspaper published the names and photographs of gay rights activists, including Kato. It explicitly called for homosexuals to be executed by hanging.
Four months later, Kato was bludgeoned to death in his home. Local authorities claim his death had nothing to do with his sexual orientation. Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have both called for an in-depth and impartial investigation into his murder.
In response to Kato’s death, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said, “This crime is a reminder of the heroic generosity of the people who advocate for and defend human rights on behalf of the rest of us—and the sacrifices they make.” In commemoration of his life, an annual award, the David Kato Vision & Voice Award will be awarded annually on Human Rights Day, December 10, to
an individual who demonstrates courage and outstanding leadership in advocating for the sexual rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people, particularly in environments where these individuals face continued rejection, marginalization, isolation and persecution.
In a February 2011 broadcast, Rachel Maddow linked Kato’s murder to the climate of hatred in Uganda promoted in part by American anti-LGBT religious right activists Scott Lively of Abiding Truth Ministries (classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center) and a staffer for “conversion therapy” advocate Richard Cohen, who went to Uganda as supposed “experts” to spread the message that homosexuals were out to recruit children and spread disease. Watch:
Photo credit: David Kato. Associated Press; used by license through the Equality Forum (LGBT History Month).
Frida Kahlo is a renowned Mexican painter, noted for her vibrant colors as well as nationalist and feminist themes. Her paintings have commanded higher prices than any other female artist. Bent Alaska presents her story as part of our celebration of LGBT History Month 2011, with thanks to the Equality Forum.
Frida Kahlo de Rivera (born July 6, 1907, died July 13, 1954) is a renowned Mexican painter, noted for her vibrant colors as well as nationalist and feminist themes. Her paintings have commanded higher prices than any other female artist.
Born in Mexico and named Magdalena Carmen Frieda Kahlo y Calderón was the third of Matilda and Guillermo’s four daughters. When she was 15, she was sent to the most prestigious national preparatory school.
At age 18, she was in a trolley accident that left her with permanent pain and health problems. This accident crippled her, led to over 30 surgeries, and rendered her unable to bear children. Kahlo’s pain is reflected in her works.
In 1929, she married the famous painter and communist Diego Rivera. Twenty years her senior and a noted muralist, Rivera’s relationship with Kahlo was a mixture of passion and strife. While they had much in common, Rivera was frequently unfaithful. Kahlo had a series of affairs with men and women. They divorced in early 1940, but remarried later that year.
Her genius as an artist went unrecognized until she was offered a show in New York. It was wildly successful and led to shows in Paris and other international cities.
Her work is celebrated for its Mexican folk art traditions, use of vivid colors, and its subject matter, including self-portraits. Her work has been associated with surrealism, though Kahlo herself renounced the genre saying, “I never painted dreams. I painted my own reality.”
In 1944, her health began to rapidly deteriorate. In 1950, she was hospitalized for a year. When Kahlo finally received her first solo show in Mexico, she had to be carried to the opening in bed.
After her death, her work continued to grow in popularity. Kahlo’s paintings have been displayed in prestigious international shows, including a solo exhibit that celebrated the 100th anniversary of her birth. In 2001, her face graced a U.S. postage stamp. In 2002, her life was made into the Academy Award-winning movie “Frida”, based upon Hayden Herrera influential biography of her, Frida: A Biography of Frida Kahlo.
Photo credit: Frida Kahlo, Self-portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird, Nikolas Muray Collection, Harry Ransom Center, The University of Texas at Austin. It is believed this image is used in accordance with Fair Use under U.S. copyright law.
A celebrated poet and writer, Langston Hughes is one of the most significant voices to emerge from the Harlem Renaissance. A major contributor to American literature, his legacy includes 25 published works. Bent Alaska presents his story as part of our celebration of LGBT History Month 2011, with thanks to the Equality Forum.
A celebrated poet and writer, Langston Hughes (born February 1, 1902
died May 22, 1967) is one of the most significant voices to emerge from the Harlem Renaissance. A major contributor to American literature, his legacy includes 25 published works.
Hughes was born in Joplin, Missouri. After his parents divorced, he moved to Lawrence, Kansas, where his grandmother raised him until her death. By the time he was 14, he had lived in nine cities with various families.
Hughes showed impressive literary aptitude. In eighth grade, he began writing poetry, short stories and plays and was elected “class poet.” His breakthrough poem, “The Negro Speaks of Rivers,” was published shortly after he graduated from high school.
In 1921, at the urging of his father, Hughes enrolled at Colombia University to study engineering. He left after two semesters due to racial discrimination. Over the next few years, Hughes worked odd jobs while pursuing a writing career. He traveled to Africa and Europe on the crew of a shipping vessel before moving to Washington, D.C. While employed as a busboy, Hughes met poet Vachel Lindsay, who helped promote his work.
In 1926, Hughes’s first book of poetry, The Weary Blues, was published. Well received by literary critics, it earned him a reputation as the country’s leading black poet. A year later, his second book of poetry, Fine Clothes to the Jews, was published. Heavily influenced by blues and jazz, his work portrayed life in black America and addressed racism and oppression. He continued to write and publish poetry throughout his life.
In 1929, Hughes graduated from Lincoln University, a historically black university in Chester County, Pennsylvania, where Thurgood Marshall, later a Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, was a classmate. He later traveled to Haiti and to the Soviet Union, where he studied communist theory, but lived in Harlem as his primary home for the rest of his life.
His first novel, Not Without Laughter, about a black boy in 1920s rural Kansas, was published in 1930, and his first collection of short stories The Ways of White Folks, was published in 1934. He continued to write stories throughout his life, many of them featuring the character Jesse B. Semple, often referred to as “Simple,” a representation of the the every day black man in Harlem. He also wrote several works of nonfiction, plays and screenplays, and works for children.
In 1934, Hughes became head of the League for Negro Rights, the main African-American branch of the Communist Party. A victim of McCarthyism, he was subpoenaed to appear before the Senate Permanent Sub-Committee on Investigations in 1953.
Like most artists of his time, Hughes was not open about his sexuality. Literary scholars point to his poems “Joy,” “Desire”, “Cafe: 3 A.M.” (about police harassing “fairies”), “Waterfront Streets”, “Young Sailor”, “Trumpet Player”, “Tell Me”, “F.S.”, and some of the poems in Montage of a Dream Deferred as having gay themes; his short story “Blessed Assurance” deals with a father’s anger over his son’s effeminacy and “queerness.”
Hughes died at age 65 from prostate cancer. His ashes are memorialized in Harlem at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.
Langston Hughes’ poem “Weary Blues” was one of 21 poems featured in short films in the Moving Poetry Series “Rant Rave Riff” by Four Seasons Productions. “Weary Blues” is spoken in the film by author and Harvard Professor Dr. Allen Dwight Callahan. Watch: