Raymond Burr (1917 –1993) was a Canadian-American actor, primarily known for his title roles in the television dramas “Perry Mason” and “Ironside.” Because he had not revealed his homosexuality during his lifetime, initial press accounts gave it sensational treatment. Burr bequeathed his estate to Robert Benevides and excluded all relatives, including a sister, nieces, and nephews. His will was challenged by a niece and nephew, Minerva and James, the children of his late brother, James E. Burr, without success.
Brian Epstein (1934 –1967), was the backbone and manager of the Beatles. A gay man who was a part of the most visible phenomenon the world has ever experienced. Back then, just being gay was illegal, but it didn't seem to matter too much anymore. Very quickly, on the heels of such stratospheric popularity, Her Majesty's government moved forward on legalizing homosexuality, and by 1966, the music business had acquired a very strong gay presence. The Beatles, The Who, and The Yardbirds had openly gay managers, and The Stones had one that seemed to be rolling both ways. Pop had become populated by gays. There were gay songwriters, producers, directors, and especially managers: Robert Stigwood with the Bee Gees, Vic Billings with the "Soul Diva"', and gay icon, Dusty Springfield, to name a few. Unintentionally perhaps, that could have been one of The Beatles’ greatest contributions and gifts to modern society.
Christopher Isherwood (1904-1986) was a novelist, playwright, screenwriter, autobiographer, and diarist. He was also homosexual and made this a theme of some of his writing. He was born near Manchester in the north of England in 1904, became a U.S. citizen in 1946, and died at home in Santa Monica, California in January 1986. In 1930, he moved to Berlin where he taught English, dabbled in communism, and enthusiastically explored his homosexuality. His experiences there, notably his friendships with Gerald Hamilton, the real-life original of Mr. Norris, and Jean Ross, the original of Sally Bowles, provided the material for Mr. Norris Changes Trains (1935) and Goodbye to Berlin (1938), still his most famous book. When this opened on Broadway in 1951, actress Julie Harris became a star as Sally Bowles. There followed a film of I Am a Camera (1955) and then the Kander & Ebb musical Cabaret (1966), produced and directed by Hal Prince, which won eight Tony Awards and played to sold out houses for nearly three years (1,165 performances). Finally, the film of the musical in 1972 made Liza Minnelli a superstar.
FAGGOT as the Oxford English Dictionary says, initially meant "a bundle of sticks, twigs, or small branches of trees bound together.” To be used as “fuel" or for "burning heretics alive.” The American slang term was first recorded in 1914, the shortened form fag shortly after, in 1921.
Its use has spread from the United States, to varying extents, elsewhere in the English-speaking world through mass culture, including films, music, and the Internet. The words queer, homo, and poof are all still in common use in the UK, and some other countries, as pejorative terms for gay men. The words fag and faggot, moreover, still have other meanings in the British Isles and other Commonwealth societies. In particular, faggot is still used to refer to a kind of meatball, and fag is common as a slang word for "cigarette.”
FUORI: (OUT in Italian), the letters stand for Italian Homosexual Revolutionary United Front, was founded, in Turin, in 1971 and it was the first gay Italian association. It was disbanded in 1982 with the intent to become a lobby for gay rights and morphed into Arcigay ( Associazione Lesbica e Gay Italiana). The organization became known throughout Italy for its, unsuccessful as of now, campaign for civil unions. Arcigay has often protested against the Vatican’s opposition to homosexuality and LGBT rights.
If you want to learn more about your gay heritage and those who paved the way, through activism, sacrifice, courage and civil disobedience to give us a better and freer life you can visit The Stonewall Museum & Archives in Wilton Manors.
We should all know who our gay heroes are and be thankful for what they did on our behalf.