Gay History 101: April 22, 2015

Marlon Brando, a cultural icon and among the greatest movie actors, was an activist for African- American Civil Rights. He was married three times, but open about his homosexual experiences.

Walt Whitman (1819 –1892) was an American poet, essayist and journalist. A humanist, he was a part of the transition between transcendentalism and realism, incorporating both views in his works. Whitman is among the most influential poets in the American canon, often called the father of free verse. His work was very controversial in its time, particularly his poetry collection Leaves of Grass, which was described as obscene for its overt sexuality.

Whitman's sexuality is often discussed alongside his poetry. Though biographers continue to debate his sexuality, he is usually described as either homosexual or bisexual in his feelings and attractions. Whitman was a religious skeptic: though he accepted all churches, he believed in none. God, to Whitman, was both immanent and transcendent and the human soul was immortal and in a state of progressive development. American Philosophy: An Encyclopedia classes him as one of several figures who "took a more pantheist or pan deist approach by rejecting views of God as separate from the world.

Marlon Brando (1924 –2004) He is widely considered the greatest movie actor of all time, rivaled only by the more theatrically oriented Laurence Olivier in terms of esteem. Unlike Olivier, who preferred the stage to the screen, Brando concentrated his talents on movies after bidding the Broadway stage adieu in 1949. A cultural icon, Brando is most famous for his Academy Award-winning performances as Terry Malloy in On the Waterfront (1954) and Vito Corleone in The Godfather (1972), as well as influential performances in A Streetcar Named Desire (1951), Viva Zapata! (1952), Julius Caesar (1953), The Wild One (1953), Reflections in a Golden Eye (1967), Last Tango in Paris(1972) and Apocalypse Now (1979). Brando was also an activist, supporting many causes, notably the African-American Civil Rights Movement and various Native American Movements. In his 1976 biography “The Only Contender,” Brando, who was married three times, openly admitted his homosexuality. He was quoted as saying, "Like a large number of men, I, too, have had homosexual experiences, and I am not ashamed."

2000: The Oxford English Dictionary definition of marriage has included same-sex couples since the year 2000: “The term is now sometimes used with reference to long –term relationships between partners of the same sex”.

2003: Merriam-Webster recognized the increased discussion among supporters and opponents of gay marriage by adding the following to its earlier definition of marriage: “the state of being united to a person of the same sex in a relationship like that of a traditional marriage.” The dictionary made the change one

Year before Massachusetts became the first state to legalize same-sex marriage.


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