Saturday, 31 December 2016

Remembering the People we Lost This Year

As we reach the end of another year we remember those members of the lgbt community who have left us in the past twelve months. This is by no means a comprehensive list and there are many, many people from local communities who have died this year.

January 2016
5th       Pierre Boulez (aged 90), composer.
6th       Francis King, CBE (aged 86), novelist and theatre critic
10th     Jeanne Cordova (aged 67), activist, author and publisher
10th     David Bowie (aged 69), singer-songwriter and actor
12th     David St. Vincent (aged 48), writer and activist in Romania
13th     Brian Bedford (aged 80), Tony award-winning actor
13th     Bryn Kelly (aged 35), transgender advocate and writer

March 2016
2nd      Tony Warren (aged 79), creator of “Coronation Street”, the world’s longest-running tv soap
13th     Sir Peter Maxwell Davis (aged 81), composer
18th     Guido Westerwelle (aged 54), Vice-Chancellor of Germany 2009-13

April 2016
11th     Miss Shangay Lily (Enrique Vásquez) (aged 53), drag queen and activist
12th     David Gest (aged 62), television producer, ex-husband of Liza Minnelli
14th     Dan Ireland (aged 57), film director and producer
16th     Maurice Kenny (aged 69), poet of Mohawk heritage
18th     Brian Asawa (aged 49), opera singer
28th     Jim Morris (aged 80), bodybuilding multi-champion, including Mr Universe 1977
28th     Demetrius Mallisham (aged 46), lgbt community liaison to the Mayor of Baltimore

May 2016
6th       Candye Kane (aged 54), singer, entertainer and porn star
16th     Donald Eckert (aged 74), photographer and chronicler of the Gay Games
19th     Mario Pannella (aged 86), Italian Member of the European Parliament 1979-2009
26th     Angelo D’Agostino (aged 52), figure skater, Olympic reserve, and Gay Games competitor
28th     Connie Kopelov (aged 90), became the first same-sex spouse in New York City

June 2016
4th       Paul Walentowicz (aged 65), Labour Party campaigner, mayoral spouse of Ealing 2011
10th     Desmond Healey (aged 85), theatre designer
17th     Peter Feuchtwanger (aged 86), concert piano tutor and mentor

July 2016
11th     Bruce Littrell (aged 61), tennis umpire, Chief Umpire at the 2015 US Open
18th     Antony Copley (aged 79), historian of sexuality and of Indian religions
18th     Jeffrey Montgomery (aged 63), activist and anti-violence campaigner
26th     Miss Cleo (Youree Dell Harris) (aged 53), television psychic

August 2016
3rd       Elliot Tiber (aged 81), co-founder of the Woodstock Festival
12th     Mark Thompson (aged 63), former senior editor of The Advocate
14th     Alan Wilkinson (aged 60), Zimbabwean activist and campaigner
28th     Juan Gabriel (aged 66), Mexican star singer

September 2016
8th       Lady Chablis (aged 59), cabaret performer and actor
11th     Alexis Arquette (aged 47), actor
16th     Edward Albee (aged 88), playwright
18th     Stephanie Anne Lloyd (aged 70), businesswoman and reality tv celebrity
24th     John Michael Gray (aged 66), hat-maker who, with partner, was known as The Hat Sisters

October 2016
10th     Marnix Kappers (aged 73), Dutch cabaret singer and actor
23rd     Peter Burns (aged 57), singer with Dead or Alive

November 2016
5th       Giles Waterfield (aged 67), novelist and art gallery director
14th     David Manusco (aged 72), DJ and pioneer of disco music

December 2016
19th     Lionel Blue (aged 86), Reform Rabbi; television and radio personality
19th     German man killed in the Berlin Christmas Market Terror attack (his name withheld by his injured American partner and family)
25th     George Michael (aged 53), singer songwriter

The man killed in the Berlin Christmas market attack reminds us all that we live in troubling times when anyone can become a victim regardless of sexuality. This year we have seen a truly horrific attack aimed at the lgbt community which resulted in the deaths of many lgbt and non-lgbt people.

The Pulse club in Orlando, a well-known gay club in Florida, was attacked on 12th June by a lone gunman in an obvious anti-gay hate crime. The list of victims is as follows:

Stanley Almodovar III, aged 23
Amanda Alvear, aged 25
Oscar Aracena-Montero, aged 26
Rodolfo Ayala-Ayala, aged 33
Alejandro Barrios Martinez, aged 21
Martin Benitez Torres, aged 33
Antonio Brown, aged 30
Darryl Burt II, aged 29
Jonathan Camuy Vega, aged 24
Angel Candelario-Padro, aged 28
Simon Carrillo Fernandez, aged 31
Juan Chevez-Martinez, aged 25
Luis Conde, aged 39
Cory Connell, aged 21
Tevin Crosby, aged 25
Franky Dejesus Velazquez, aged 50
Deonka Drayton, aged 32
Mercedez Flores, aged 26
Juan Guerrero, aged 22
Peter Gonzalez-Cruz, aged 22
Paul Henry, aged 41
Frank Hernandez, aged 27
Miguel Honorato, aged 30
Javier Jorge-Reyes, aged 40
Jason Josaphat, aged 19
Eddie Justice, aged 30
Anthony Laureano Disla, aged 25
Christopher Leinonen, aged 32
Brenda Marquez McCool, aged 49
Jean Mendez Perez, aged 35
Akyra Monet Murray, aged 18
Kimberly Morris, aged 37
Jean Nieves Rodriguez, aged 27
Luis Ocasio-Capo, aged 20
Geraldo Ortiz-Jimenez, aged 25
Eric Ortiz-Rivera, aged 36
Joel Rayon Paniagua, aged 32
Enrique Rios Jr., aged 25
Juan Rivera Velazquez, aged 37
Yilmary Rodriguez Solivan, aged 24
Christopher Sanfeliz, aged 24
Xavier Serrano Rosado, aged 35
Gilberto Silva Menendez, aged 25
Edward Sotomayor Jr., aged 34
Shane Tomlinson, aged 33
Leroy Valentin Fernandez, aged 25
Luis Vielma, aged 22
Luis Wilson-Leon, aged 37
Jerald Wright, aged 31

Saturday, 24 December 2016

Out of Their Trees : Blood of the Conqueror

This year marked a significant anniversary in the history of Britain. It is the 950th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings and the Norman Conquest. Its one of the first events that British children learn about. On 24th October 1066 the English King Harold II fought against William, Duke of Normandy. William, of course, won and became known as William the Conqueror. Tomorrow we celebrate the 950th anniversary of King William the Conqueror’s coronation.

Those who read my blog regularly will know that quite a lot of lgbt people have royal blood. If you have European ancestry you more than are 80% likely to have royal blood yourself, even if you have to trace it all the way back to 1066 to find it.

To celebrate the 950th anniversary I’ve compiled the following list of lgbt people who all have the blood of William the Conqueror flowing through their veins. Most of the people listed below have more than one line of descent from King William (I have over 10 myself). And, like me, you don’t have to be famous or rich to inherit his DNA. Among the names below are those of lgbt kings and local activists – and the oldest known lgbt person (aged 108!).

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

The Seven Heavenly Gay Virtues : Being Diligent

Last year I ended my mini-series on the Seven Deadly Gay Sins with the 6th sin of Vanity. I was too lazy to go into the final sin of Sloth! This year I’m making up for it by being Diligent and completing all Seven Heavenly Gay Virtues. But in doing so a problem arises. Where do I put the 7th virtue of Diligence on my Rainbow Virtue flag? Sloth was associated with the colour light blue in Medieval times and there isn’t a light blue stripe on the flag. So I’ve had to solve the problem by adding one. Below is the full Rainbow Heavenly Virtue flag.
Writing about lgbt heritage involves quite a lot of diligence in research. Sometimes there is enough evidence or source material to form an opinion with very little debate. Often I have spent many months researching one particular subject before I write an article because evidence and source material are not authoritative enough and I need to dig deeper to confirm or deny an opinion. An illustration of this is my list of lgbt Olympians and Paralympians. Several names have been on my “pending” list for over a year because I don’t have confirmation of the sexuality of the athlete.

Similarly, my genealogical research needs a lot of careful and diligent research. Just because someone’s ancestry is given online doesn’t mean it’s accurate. Several times in my “Out of Their Trees” series I’ve done enough research to disprove a specific line of descent. The best example of this is my debunking of the alleged royal ancestry of James Knight Ord III (given here) whom the perpetually unreliable Daily Mail “revealed” earlier this year. At the other end of the scale, last year my research uncovered for the first time that gay Olympic diver Tom Daley has royal blood (I was also the first to establish royal ancestries for Paralympian Oscar Pistorius and singing superstar siblings Richard and Karen Carpenter).

Over the past hundred years there has been many lgbt historians who have revealed many significant aspects of the world’s heritage. When I looked through my lgbt databases and indexes I realised there was many more lgbt historians than I thought, not only historians of lgbt history but lgbt historians of just about any subject you can imagine. From the history of the gay rights movement to military history, and from the history of the US railroads to my own research into lgbt Olympians, all aspects in the history or humanity are covered.

To list them all would take up too much space so I’ll just list a few which shows the diversity of research. Not listed are genealogist and archaeologists. I’ll leave them both for future articles. Included in the list below are everything from professors to school history teachers. Using the Seven Sins and Virtues as my inspiration I’ve listed 7x7 historians (if you add myself you get 50 in total).
Peter Ackroyd (b.1949)
Ajumu X (b.1963)
black lgbt community
Peter Avery (1923-2008)
Ancient Persia
Geoffrey Bawa (1919-2003)
Jay Bell (1948-2003)
lgbt Mormons
Scott Bessent (b.1962)
Anthony Blunt (1907-1983)
John Boswell (1947-1994)
homosexuality and the medieval Church
Beth Brant (b.1941)
Native American women
Michael Camille (1958-2002)
Medieval art
Bob Cant (b.1945)
Scottish lgbt history
Charles Clegg (1916-1979)
US railroads
Rose Collis (b.1959)
female biography
Luke Cottrill (b.1955)
history teacher
Claude Courove (b.1943)
lgbt language and slang
Alain Daniélou (1907-1994)
music; India
Stephen Paul Davies
film industry and movies
Emma Donoghue (b.1969)
Didier Eribon (b.1953)
French philosophy
Lillian Faderman (b. 1940)
female same-sex relationships
Jeremy Farrell (1947-2008)
John Golding (1929-2012)
James Naylor Green (b.1951)
Latin America
Boze Hadleigh (b.1954)
entertainment biography
C. Jacob Hale
transgender community
Gerald Heard (1889-1971)
Dorine Hermann (b.1959)
Dutch royalty
Bret Hinsch (b.1962)
Ancient China
Keith Howes (b.1947)
lgbt involvement in broadcasting
Wim Ibo (1918-2000)
Paul Jackson
Michel Jacq-Hergoualch (1943-2015)
South-east Asia and French colonialism
Geoffrey Kaiser (b.1945)
The Society of Friends (Quakers)
Jonathan Ned Katz (b.1938)
founder of Out History
Elizabeth Lapovsky Kennedy (b.1939)
Saleem Kidwai (b.1951)
Medieval period
Yolanda Chávez Leyva
Chicana (Latin-American women)
Aldo Mieli (1879-1950)
Edward, Lord Montagu of Beaulieu
cars and motoring
George Lachmann Mosse (1918-1999)
theology; masculinity
Rictor Norton (b.1945)
lgbt community
Martin Pénet (b.1968)
French music
Otto Rahn (1904-1939)
the Holy Grail and the Cathars
Chuck Renslow (b.1928)
co-founder, Leather Archives and Museum
Nils Johan Ringdal (1952-2008)
Norwegian culture and Nazi occupation
Sue Sanders (b.1947)
co-founder, UK LGBT History Month
Norman Scarfe (1923-2014)
D-Day landings
David Starkey (b.1945)
English Tudor history
Johann Winckelmann (1717-1768)

Friday, 16 December 2016

The Blind Man Who Sees

On the Transgender Day of Visibility earlier this year I featured the Greek character of Tiresias. He was originally a humble shepherd. When he killed female snake the goddess Hera changed him into a woman. For the next seven years Tiresias was a priestess at Hera’s temple, got married and had several children. At the end of those seven years she killed a male snake and was instantly turned back into a man.

This transgender identity gave Tiresias a unique insight into the lives of both men and women and gave him an exalted status among his Greek contemporaries. It was when the gods asked for his advice on gender that Tiresias underwent another change.

The chief god of Olympus, Zeus, was often having affairs with both women and men and fathered many illegitimate children. His wife, Hera, naturally often got furious and berated Zeus on his infidelity. One day their argument got so heated that Zeus claimed that women got far more enjoyment out of having sex with men than men would ever get from any woman (I notice that this legend makes no reference to how he ranks sex with a man!). Hera was offended. She argued that women gave as much sexual enjoyment than any man or god. There was only one way to settle the argument – ask someone who had both been male and female for his/her opinion.

There was only one person to ask – Tiresias. Being regarded as a man with great wisdom Tiresias wasn’t wise enough to give an impartial answer. His answer was given in marks out of 10, where 10 represented the most sexual pleasure and 1 represented the least. He said women gave men 1 out of 10 points of pleasure, while a man gives a woman 9 out of 10 points.

Once again Tiresias earned the anger of Hera. This time she struck him blind. How ironic! After beginning his story on the Transgender Day of Visibility we see him losing his own vision. Zeus, on the other hand, not able to reverse the actions of another god, gave the power of prophecy to Tiresias as a reward for supporting his side of the argument. At the same time he bestowed upon him an increased lifespan equal to that of 7 men.

Tiresias seems to have been called upon to give his opinion at other times. One myth says that Aphrodite was arguing with the Three Graces over who among the four of them was the most beautiful. Once again Tiresias made an error of judgement and said that one of the Graces called Cale was the most beautiful. Aphrodite instantly turned him into an old woman as punishment. I don’t know for how long Tiresias lived like this or how he changed back, but considering the later events when Zeus gave him 7 life spans it would have made men like me jealous if he retained the full head of hair Cale gave him for the rest of his life.

In many faiths and myths blindness and prophecy seem to co-exist. The historian Robert Graves wrote that Tiresias’s name became a familiar title for Greek prophets. Perhaps this is why they considered his life span to have been so long – each were seen as an incarnation of the original.

Among the many prophecies attributed to Tiresias was of the warning he gave to the mother of Narcissus that her son’s life would end as soon as he saw his own reflection.

Tiresias died by taking a drink from the spring Tilphussa. Presumably this was at the end of his 7 life spans. A shrine was built in his honour and even from beyond the grave he continued to give prophecies. The hero Odysseus called upon him to assist in his quest to reach home. The spirit of Tiresias appeared and told Odysseus of the further adventures he had ahead of him, including his death from old age.

Having been blessed and cursed alike by the gods Tiresias remains the only mortal in Greek mythology to have experienced transgenderism not once but twice. Though it is as a blind prophet and seer that he gained his legendary status.
Tiresias appears before Odysseus,
from the painting by Johann Heinrich Fussli.

Monday, 12 December 2016

Queer Achievements : A Conclave of Cardinals

[Achievement – the name given in heraldry to the full pictorial representation of a coat of arms.]

Back in August in my article on Queer Spirituality I mentioned that Professor George Klawitter of St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas, suggested that there was a higher proportion of ordained lgbt clergy throughout history than we might think. In the Roman Catholic Church this has been very controversial in our own time. A handful of its highest ordained clergy have been accused and de-frocked for homosexual behaviour or sexual abuse.

We need to remember that pre-20th century instances of same-sex attraction were recognised by the Catholic Church and were not thought of as being wrong or immoral. The Church recognised a difference between being gay and having gay sex. Being homosexual doesn’t seem to have been a problem to the medieval Church, particularly during the Renaissance when a whole host of clergy were known to have been partial to young men and boys. Falling in love with a boy wasn’t a problem. What the Church condemned, as it does now, is gay sex.

With the Renaissance promoting parts of the Ancient Greek world as a way forward it’s not surprising that the Greek attitude to man-boy sex should have become popular. The difference was that the Ancient Greek men had sex with boys but there’s no real evidence to prove that the majority of boy-loving Renaissance clergy did. Catholic clergy in more recent times, however, have been rightfully condemned and convicted for what we now consider as sexual abuse.

But let’s get on with today’s article. The medieval world considered high ranking clergy to be worthy of a coat of arms. They are still being granted arms today. Below is a selection of coats of arms of Roman Catholic cardinals (in alphabetical order) ancient and modern. Some of them were platonic affairs while others, particularly some more recent ones, were abusive. The red hat and tassels are those use in the heraldic achievements of cardinals.

They are numbered as indicated in the illustration as follows:
2  3
4  5  6
7  8

1) Allesandro Albani (1692-1779), Librarian of the Holy Roman Church

2) Scipione Borghese (1577-1633), Archbishop of Bologna

3) Carlo Carafa (1518-1566), Cardinal-Nephew of Pope Paul IV

4) Hans-Hermann Groër (1919-2003), Archbishop of Vienna

5) Francesco Maria de’ Medici (1660-1711)

6) Blessed John Henry Newman (1801-1890)

7) Keith O’Brien (b.1938), Archbishop of St. Andrews and Edinburgh

8) George Pell (b.1941), Archbishop of Sydney

9) Francis Spellman (1889-1867), Archbishop of New York

Thursday, 8 December 2016

Rio Paralympic Review: Part 2

Day 2 of the Rio Paralympics saw the start of the rowing competition and the sole lgbt representative in that sport was Israel’s Moran Samuel. She earned her place at Rio by becoming world champion in her category last year. In Rio Moran won a bronze medal in the single sculls final on Day 4.

On Day 3 Belgian wheelchair athlete Marieke Vervoort began her defence of the 100m T52 category gold medal and Paralympic record she won in London 2012. A bronze medal was all she achieved this time but was a seasonal best time. She did better in the T52 400m in which she held the world record by winning the silver medal. Despite this success most media organisations’ attention centred on Marieke’s comments on euthanasia.

The sitting volleyball competition also began on Day 3. America’s Monique Burkland was the sole lgbt player. In London 2012 she and her team won silver. In Rio they became the Olympic champions.

Day 3 saw a new sport appear at the Paralympics, the triathlon. Team GB’s David Hill finished in a disappointing 10th place, made even more disappointing in that only 11 athletes competed and that he was only pipped out of 9th place by a photo finish. Even though triathlon was making its debut at the Paralympics David Hill wasn’t. Way back in Athens 2004 he competed in swimming as a 15-year-old, the youngest member of Team GB that year. In the run-up to the Rio Paralympics David was appointed as Athlete Ambassador for Team GB who, with Matt Lister (who competed in the Olympic canoeing trials for Rio but didn’t qualify) were appointed to raise the profile of elite lgbt athletes. Their job was to give support and encouragement to new Paralympians and Olympians.

The last lgbt Paralympian to begin competition was GB’s flag bearer Lee Pearson. Apart from being the most successful British Paralympian still competing (he intends to be at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics) he is also the most successful lgbt Paralympian of all time. He has won at least one gold medal in each of his 5 successive Paralympics and won 14 medals in total. In previous games he has entered three equestrian dressage events and medalled every time. In Rio one event was dropped, but he still won a team gold and an individual bronze. A knighthood is surely on its way.

The closing ceremony of both the Rio Olympics and Paralympics can go down in history as being the first in which the Rainbow Pride flag was seen. In previous years there has been a vigorous attempts by the IOC to remove flags that weren’t national flags from all venues. Even Kathy Freeman had to get special permission from the IOC to carry the Australian Aboriginal flag to celebrate her gold-medal-winning race in the Sydney 2000 games. This year there was a plethora of flags – national, regional, provincial and club flags, and the Rainbow flag. In the Olympic closing ceremony when IOC President Thomas Bach was making his speech there was someone in the crowd waving two Pride flags behind him. In the Paralympic closing ceremony several of the performers wore Pride flags around their shoulders.

One well deserved mention goes to all the volunteers of both games in Rio. For many years they have been given special recognition at the closing ceremonies. There are countless lgbt volunteers whose names are not known. But one of my followers who was also a volunteer at Rio 2016 left a comment on my Olympic Alphabet article and all I can add is my admiration to all the volunteers. I’ve volunteered at much smaller events such as Nottingham Pride and enjoyed it very much. I even applied to be volunteer for London 2012 but was unsuccessful. However, I attended the London Paralympics and saw first hand the joy, enthusiasm and energy of the volunteers.

Finally, how did Team LGBT do in the final medal table? Of the 12 medals won by athletes they won 10 events (2 team medals). As with the Olympic medals I’ve taken medals won in individual events from the athlete’s nation and counted them in the Team LGBT total. Medals won in team sports where both straight and lgbt  athletes played are counted in both Team LGBT and their national team. That places them down in 29th place in between Ireland and Mexico.

Now that the dust has settled and the results analysed all that remains for me to do is produce an updated lgbt Olympian list. This will appear in early January.