Chicago remembers gay icons Sally Ride and Cole Porter

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The plaque for Cole Porter | Advocate | 14032

New memorial plaques on Chicago’s North Side have been dedicated in commemoration of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender history in time for the US’ Gay History Month. Seven bronze plaques have been added along North Halsted street in Lakeview. The legacy project works to combat anti-gay bullying by celebrating LGBT contributions to history.

Sally Ride | Undated photo: NASA | 14033

The new plaques honour, among others, composer Cole Porter and astronaut Sally Ride, who became the first American woman in space in 1983.

Sally Ride died on 23 July 2012, while Cole Porter died on October 15, 1964.


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Remembering Tony Washington, gay Motown star

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Openly gay Tony Washington (far left) with his group the Dynamic Superiors | Congressinal Entertainment Complex | 14034

The Dynamic Superiors were a 1970s Motown act. The lead singer, Tony Washington, was openly gay. His brother, Maurice Washington, was also in the group. Tony was the only openly gay member of the group, although it is understood that another member of the group was also gay.

“I can’t really think of a soul group that had a very openly gay frontman that was on a major label before this. A lot of gay newspapers and magazines interviewed Tony, and he talked about how happy he was that people would come up to him after shows all the time and say he was an inspiration for them to come out. So in the gay community, I think he made an impact,” says music historian Kevin Coombe.

Tony Washington is understood to have died in 1989.


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Reappraising Bayard Rustin

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Bayard Rustin (left) and Cleveland Robinson discuss the March on Washington on 7 August 1963 | Wikipedia | 14035

Lydia Smith in the International Business Times notes that:

One of the most significant figures of the American civil rights movement, Bayard Rustin, born 1912, was the key strategist behind the 1963 March on Washington and taught Martin Luther King Jr the philosophy of pacifism. Historian John D’Emilio wrote in his book Lost Prophet: The Life And Times Of Bayard Rustin: “He did not die under tragic circumstances, as did Martin Luther King Jr and Malcolm X, two more renowned African Americans who we do remember. Rustin was dismissed during his lifetime as a Communist, a draft dodger, or a sexual pervert. None are characteristics designed to win a revered place in our nation’s history.”

Rustin was a key player in the civil rights movement and was behind all King’s campaigns. He was born in West Chester, Pennsylvania, before moving to Harlem and joining the Young Communist League in 1936. An accomplished tenor vocalist, he performed in the renowned Bohemian capital Greenwich Village. Rustin’s career ranged from organising the Journey of Reconciliation in 1947 and the first of the Freedom Rides to test the ruling of the Supreme Court of the United States that banned racial discrimination in interstate travel to advocating the Free India movement.

Mr Rustin died in Manhattan in 1987 of a perforated appendix and was survived by his partner of ten years, Walter Naegle. He was given official recognition last year when US President Barack Obama posthumously awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom.


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Saving gay art: the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art

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Berenice Abbott, Margaret Anderson, ca. 1923-26 | Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art | 14036

The Huffington Post visits and profiles the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art which was first founded in 1969 when Charles Leslie and the late Fritz Lohman opened their home to art enthusiasts. The current director is Hunter O’Hanian.

“We officially started in 1987, when people were dying of AIDS. Families would come in and throw everything away — throw away the gay art. It was obviously a terrible time, the ’80s in New York City. So Charles and Fritz, who lived in SoHo, decided that they wanted to do something about it.” The co-founders were already a large part of gay culture, O’Hanian explained, having welcomed 200 people to their first exhibition years before. Realizing that the art created by their friends and peers was being disposed of at a rapid pace, the two decided to set up a non-profit corporation to preserve and exhibit the works of art that spoke to the gay and lesbian community.”

Ingo Swann, Male Love – Not War, Undated | Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art | 14037

The museum now runs under a guest curator model.


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The origin of AIDS in the 1920s

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Kinshasa in the 1950s | Getty | 14038

A team at the University of Oxford and the University of Leuven, in Belgium, tried to reconstruct HIV’s “family tree” and find out where its oldest ancestors came from by analysing mutations in HIV’s genetic code. They found that the HIV virus originated in the 1920s in the city of Kinshasa, in what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo, and was then called Leopoldville.

Prof Oliver Pybus said: “It was a very large and very rapidly growing area and colonial medical records show there was a high incidence of various sexually transmitted diseases.” Large numbers of male labourers were drawn to the city, distorting the gender balance until men outnumbered women two to one, eventually leading to a roaring sex trade…. “Public health campaigns to treat people for various infectious diseases with injections seem a plausible route [for spreading the virus].

“The second really interesting aspect is the transport networks that enabled people to move round a huge country. Around one million people were using Kinshasa’s railways by the end of the 1940s. The virus spread, with neighbouring Brazzaville and the mining province, Katanga, rapidly hit.


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