Leonard Bernstein, (1918 –1990) was an American composer, conductor, author, music lecturer, and pianist. He was among the first conductors born and educated in the United States of America to receive worldwide acclaim. According to music critic Donald Henahan, he was "one of the most prodigiously talented and successful musicians in American history." His fame derived from his long tenure as the music director of the New York Philharmonic, from his conducting of concerts with most of the world's leading orchestras, and from his music for “West Side Story,” “Peter Pan,” “Candide,” “Wonderful Town,” “On the Town” and his own “Mass.” In 1951, he married the beautiful actress Felicia Montealegre. But it was a marriage of convenience as it was revealed in a letter Felicia wrote to her husband:  “you are a homosexual and may never change—you don’t admit to the possibility of a double life, but if your peace of mind, your health, your whole nervous system depend on a certain sexual pattern what can you do?  I am willing to accept you as you are.”

Joe Orton (1933 –1967) was an English playwright and author. His public career was short but prolific, lasting from 1964 until his death three years later. During this brief period he shocked, outraged, and amused audiences with his scandalous black comedies. “Entertaining Mr. Sloane,” “Loot,” “What the Butler Saw,” and “Up Against It” a screenplay written for the Beatles. The adjective Ortonesque is sometimes used to refer to work characterized by dark yet farcical cynicism. Orton met Kenneth Halliwell in 1951 and moved into a flat with him. They quickly formed a strong relationship and became lovers. On 9 August 1967, Kenneth Halliwell bludgeoned 34-year-old Orton to death at their home in Noel Road, London, with nine hammer blows to the head, and then committed suicide with an overdose of 22 Nembutal tablets. His murder inspired the Beatles' song Maxwell's Silver Hammer.

“Queer as Folk” is a 1999 British television series that chronicles the lives of three gay men living in Manchester's gay village around Canal Street. It was one of the most controversial shows ever to grace British television screens, The title of the program comes from a dialect expression from some parts of Northern England, "there's nowt so queer as folk" meaning "there's nothing as strange as people"; which is a word play on the modern-day English synonym of "queer" meaning homosexual. The originally title was known as “Queer as Fuck,” before it reverted to the former name. It was a groundbreaking show. This was a series, which focused on gay men, that didn't shy away from getting graphic, and that was unapologetic in its subject matter. Channel 4 was breaking boundaries on a weekly basis. Driven by the success of the series, American cable channel Showtime and Canadian cable channel Showcase co-made a North American version set in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, still under the title Queer as Folk, closely following the original's plot, but then moving onto new storylines since it continued for four additional seasons. The North American version covered more social issues such as AIDS, gay parental rights, and gay  marriage.

Under Paragraph 175 of the criminal code, male homosexuality was illegal in Germany starting in 1871. Charges were brought under Paragraph 175 of the German criminal code, which outlawed ''unnatural indecency'' between men. The Nazis took advantage of the law to arrest an estimated 100,000 homosexual men, 50,000 of whom were imprisoned. During the Nazi regime, the police had the power to jail indefinitely — without trial — anyone they chose, including those deemed dangerous to Germany’s moral fiber. Between 5,000 and 15,000 gay men were interned in concentration camps in Nazi Germany. These prisoners were marked by pink triangle badges and, according to many survivor accounts, were among the most abused groups in the camps. The law was expunged in 1994, and it was only in May of 2003 that convicted “175ers” were pardoned by the German government.

2006: Same-sex marriage has been legal in South Africa since the Civil Union Act came into force on 30 November 2006. The decision of the Constitutional Court in the case of Minister of Home Affairs v Fourie on 1 December 2005 extended the common-law definition of marriage to include same-sex spouses—as the Constitution of South Africa guarantees equal protection before the law to all citizens regardless of sexual orientation—and gave Parliament one year to rectify the inequality in the marriage statutes. On 14 November 2006, the National Assembly passed a law allowing same-sex couples to legally marry 230 to 41, which was subsequently approved by the National Council of Provinces on 28 November in a 36 to 11 vote, and the law came into effect two days later. South Africa is still the first (and only) country on the African continent to legalize same-sex marriage.


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