Tag Archives: gay

LGBT History Month – Day 29 – Imaam Daayiee Abdullah

And so we come to the last in this series, having explored LGBT+ people with amazing lives and positive contributions to our society. From actors to poets, musicians to doctors, astronauts to artists, each one of the people we have mentioned has enriched our society and helped further understanding into what it means to self-define as either LGBT+, straight, man, woman, bi-gendered, or something beautifully unique. We hope you’ve enjoyed the series and maybe made one or two new discoveries on the way over the last month.

Before we close the series, our last is Imam Daayiee Abdullah (1954 –   )

Imaam Abdullah

Daayiee Abdullah is an African American gay Imam from Washington DC. He is one of three openly gay Imams in the world.

Around 2000, he joined the online Yahoo! group Muslim Gay Men. On this forum, there were many who claimed to be gay, but were intent on telling those who were seeking help that the Qur’an forbids homosexuality.  Abdullah attempted to refute these comments by explaining that one is to follow the Qur’an first and the Haddith second. Through this, he began to gain popularity among homosexuals and allies across the online community. One of the reasons he began to be called Imam was because he performed many ceremonies for people in who were considered pariahs in their community due to illnesses, or the gender or religion of the person they wished to marry. Abdullah performed same-sex marriages for men and women and counselling for all couples.  Along with performing these ceremonies that others would not, he married mixed couples and religiously differing couples who are from Abrahamic faiths.

Abdullah was a board member of the round table of the Al-Fatiha Foundation for several years until it closed in 2011.  From 2011 to 2012, he served as part of the Queer Muslim Working Group, which evolved into the Muslim Alliance for Sexual and Gender Diversity in 2013. Abdullah also has served on the planning team for the LGBT Muslim Retreat since 2011.

You can visit his website here: https://daayieesplaceofinnerpeace.com/MPV-WASHINGTON__DC_2.html 
And read an article about him and his work HERE

LGBT History Month – Day 26 – Zachary Quinto

Day 26 and we wish we had as much charisma as our next inspirational person holds in half of one eyebrow: it’s Zachary Quinto (1977 – ).

zachary quinto

Zachary Quinto is an American actor and film producer. He is best known for his roles as Sylar on the science fiction drama series Heroes, and Spock in the reboot Star Trek, and its sequels Star Trek Into Darkness and Star Trek Beyond.
In 2010, Quinto contributed a video to the It Gets Better Project, an Internet-based campaign that aims to prevent suicide among LGBT youth. Quinto publicly came out as gay in October 2011. He explained that, after the suicide of gay teenager Jamey Rodemeyer, he realised “that living a gay life without publicly acknowledging it is simply not enough to make any significant contribution to the immense work that lies ahead on the road to complete equality.”

You can read more on his official site, here: http://www.zacharyquinto.com/

LGBT History Month – Day 23 – David Bowie

We couldn’t do a series like this without him. Day 23 celebrates the life of David Bowie (1947 – 2016)

david bowie

As a musician, actor and fashion icon, David Bowie constantly reinvented himself, developing challenging music and alter egos regularly throughout his career. His musical success began with Space Oddity in 1969 and continued up until the release of the album Blackstar just a few days before he died in January 2016.

A beloved, much-admired icon, for sure – but what puts him on our list for this month?

Bowie could be seen as something of an LGBT enigma. As with his overall performance persona, his sexual identity is a story of layers. In 1972 he declared himself gay. In 1976 he said he was actually bisexual. And years later, he explained that, in fact, he had always been a ‘closet heterosexual’, and suggested that his G and B identifications had been simply a product of the time and of his cultural environment.

This is perhaps a good illustration of the fact that people can have many aspects and elements to their identities, and regardless of how Bowie truly saw himself, his artistic work has had an enormous positive influence on the LGBT community. His alternates and stage characters were sexually ambiguous, gender-fluid, and unashamed to be who they were. These were themes he developed extensively in his portrayals of the Thin White Duke and Ziggy Stardust.

His presentation of ‘Otherness’ as something to be embraced challenged assumptions and broke down barriers, and inspired many people who found his messages relevant to their own struggles. Musicians including Boy George, the Pet Shop Boys and Scissor Sisters have all acknowledged owing much to Bowie’s work, both personally and professionally.

As an actor, Bowie is probably best known for his portrayal of Jareth, the Goblin King, in Jim Henson’s Labyrinth (1986). He wrote five songs for the movie, including Magic Dance (and wore those tights…) . He also appeared in 1983 vampire fantasy The Hunger, 1976 sci-fi drama The Man Who Fell To Earth in 1973, and the 2006 mystery The Prestige.

You can explore his website here: http://www.davidbowie.com/ and read his obituary here http://www.theguardian.com/music/2016/jan/11/obituary-david-bowie

LGBT History Month – Day 21 – John Maynard Keynes

Day 21, and we take a closer look at John Maynard Keynes (1883 – 1946):

John Maynard Keynes

John Maynard Keynes, 1st Baron Keynes, CB, FBA, was an English economist whose ideas fundamentally changed the theory and practice of modern macroeconomics and the economic policies of governments. He was born in 1883, a subject of Queen Victoria. He died in 1946, having lived through the Boer War, both World Wars, and a worldwide economic depression. He is best known for his proposal that when national economies suffer a downturn, governments should borrow and spend money to boost economic activity. Part of the proceeds of the resulting economic growth should then be used to repay the debt.

In 1921, Keynes fell in love with, and thereafter married, Lidia Vasilyevna Lopukhova, a Russian ballerina. They lived happily until his death in 1946. The marriage surprised his friends, as prior to meeting Lopukhova, Keynes had been exclusively involved with men. While studying at Eton and Cambridge, Keynes engaged in many affairs, which – presumably because ‘economist’ – he documented meticulously in diaries. He was perhaps fortunate to have been involved in an academic intellectual subculture – the so-called ‘Bloomsbury Set’ – which for its time was unusually at ease with same-sex relationships

There’s an article about his economic theories and personal life here: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/analysis-and-features/john-maynard-keynes-new-biography-reveals-shocking-details-about-the-economists-sex-life-10101971.html

LGBT History Month – Day 19 – Stephen Fry

Gooooooood evening good evening good evening good evening good evening good evening, and welcome to… Day 19 for a look at Stephen Fry (1957).

stephen fry

Stephen Fry is a gay English comedian, actor, writer, presenter and activist, who suffers from bipolar disorder. His career in showbusiness began with his involvement with the Cambridge Footlights, which led to a successful performing partnership with fellow comedian and satirist Hugh Laurie. Both Fry and Laurie appeared (though rarely together) in the classic BBC comedy Blackadder (“Baaaaaaa!”), and in 2003 Fry went on to host the popular comedy panel quiz QI. He has also appeared in and presented numerous plays, TV dramas, films and documentaries. He’s also a novelist. And he reads audiobooks. And… Oh, look, he basically does everything. And we love him for it.

In 2014, Fry was listed number 4 on the World Pride Power list, he married his partner, Elliot Spencer, in 2015. In February 2014 Stephen Fry became the honorary president of Proud Canaries, a new club for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender fans of Norwich City Football Club, as well as being an official Ambassador for the City of Norwich. He is also active in mental health charity and awareness groups and serves as president of the charity Mind.

His official website is here: http://www.stephenfry.com/

LGBT History Month – Day 16 – George Takei

It’s Day 16 – Oh, my! It’s George Takei (1937 – ).

george takei

Best known for his acting role as Hikaru Sulu in the original series of Star Trek, George Takei is an American actor, director, author, and activist.

He is a proponent of LGBT rights and active in state and local politics, apart from his continued acting career. Born in 1937, as a child Takei experienced at first hand the segregation and internment of Japanese-Americans following the attack on Pearl Harbor and has since campaigned for improved human rights and Japanese-American relations, winning several awards and accolades, including for his work with the Japanese American National Museum.

Takei is gay, a fact he revealed publicly in 2005 in a magazine interview, in response to the California governor’s veto of a proposed same-sex marriage bill in the state. Prior to this, Takei’s sexuality had been widely known amongst his Star Trek colleagues and the show’s fans, and from the 1970s on he was openly active in LGBT organisations. He married Brad Altman, his partner of 18 years, in 2008.

In June 2012, the American Humanist Association gave Takei the LGBT Humanist Award, and in May 2014 the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation honoured him with the GLAAD Vito Russo Award, presented to an openly LGBT media professional who has made a significant difference in promoting equality for the LGBT community.

In 2014, Takei spoke up in defence of a Miss America winner who was suffering racial abuse based on her Indian heritage. He wrote: “In Star Trek we have this creed: ‘Infinite diversity in infinite combinations’. That’s what Starfleet was all about.”

(Oh, and he also has an asteroid named after him.)

You can find his official website here: http://www.georgetakei.com/ and he maintains an active Twitter profile @GeorgeTakei.

LGBT History Month – Day 13 – Marcel Proust

For our 13th, it’s Marcel Proust.

marcel proust

Marcel Proust (1871 – 1922) was a French novelist, critic, and essayist best known for his monumental novel À la recherche du temps perdu (‘In Search of Lost Time’) published in seven volumes from 1913 – 1927. Proust was gay, and his sexuality and relationships with men are often discussed by his biographers. However, Proust himself never admitted being gay, though it seems it was something of an open secret for those who knew him. On 5 February of 1897 (we really should’ve put Proust on the 5th, now we think about it) he duelled with fellow writer Jean Lorrain, a writer and dandy – and openly gay – who had accused Proust of being involved with a chap called Lucien Daudet. As writer Kathy Padden puts it in an article on the confrontation on Today I Found Out, “Yes, this was two gay men dueling over the suggestion that one of them was gay.”

Proust and Lorrain both fired their pistols; both shots missed. There’s some suggestion that both missed intentionally, but whatever the case, honour was satisfied and their relationship continued in simmering hatred for many more years.

The exact influence of Proust’s sexuality on his writing is a topic of debate. However, In Search of Lost Time discusses homosexuality at length and features several principal characters, both men and women, who are either gay or bisexual.

You can read more about his work, here: http://www.theguardian.com/books/2002/nov/02/classics.marcelproust

LGBT History Month 2016 – Day 9 – Kenneth Williams

For our Day 9, and without further ado, it’s Kenneth Williams (1926 – 1988):


Kenneth Williams was an English comic actor and comedian, most famous for his work in 26 of the 31 Carry On films (1958-1978), and appeared in many British television shows and radio comedies, including series with Tony Hancock and Kenneth Horne.  Often caustic, critical and pithy, Williams lived in a time when homosexuality was illegal, and so referred in his copious diaries to unconsummated or barely consummated same-sex dalliances, which he describes as “traditional matters” or “tradiola”.

You can read more about Kenneth Williams, here http://www.theguardian.com/film/2010/oct/10/kenneth-williams-biography-christopher-stevens and watch an interview with him here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T7_IWWAlMJg

LGBT History Month 2016 – Day 8 – Gertrude Stein

Day 8, and it’s into the life of Gertrude Stein (1873 – 1946):


Gertrude Stein was an American writer of novels, poetry and plays, and a collector of art. Born in 1873, she initially studied medicine at Johns Hopkins, she moved to Paris in 1903, and began collecting art.  In 1907, she met her life partner Alice Toklas, and in the 1980s some 300 love letters between the two were discovered at Yale University.  Stein wrote one of the earliest coming-out stories, QED, in 1903, though it was not published until 1950. She also wrote ‘Miss Fur and Miss Skeene’ containing the first use of the word ‘gay’ to refer to same-sex relationships.

For more about her life and work, you can go here: http://www.biography.com/people/gertrude-stein-9493261

LGBT History Month 2016 – Day 5 – Sir Ian McKellen

For Day 5, we head into the fabulous world of stage and film and celebrate Sir Ian McKellen CH, CBE (1939 –   ).  As well as being an accomplished out-and-proud actor on stage and screen, he co-founded Stonewall in 1988 and continues to act as a prominent advocate for LGBT rights.

Sir Ian publicly declared himself to be gay during the national debate over the enactment of S28 Local Government Act 1988, commonly referred to simply as ‘Section 28’. This was a piece of legislation banning the ‘promotion of homosexuality’, particularly in schools. The discussion programme – called ‘Third Ear’ – is still held available in archive at the BBC here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/archive/gay_rights/12012.shtml.  It requires Flash to play.

“Since coming out… I’ve been asked, almost expected, to speak and write about gay issues. And I’ve been very happy to do so in London, Washington DC, Cape Town and on any number of Gay Pride Days everywhere.”

LGBT History Month 2016 - 05 - Ian McKellen

You can find Sir Ian’s website here: http://www.mckellen.com/ and more information about him here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ian_McKellen