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  WINDY CITY TIMES

Looking back: National passages
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2016-01-05

This article shared 3449 times since Tue Jan 5, 2016
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—Tim Campbell: Gay-rights activist Campbell died Dec. 26, 2015, in Houston, Texas, at the age of 76, from esophageal cancer. Campbell was perhaps best known as the publisher of the GLC Voice newspaper in Minneapolis, which came out from 1979 through 1992.

—Dr. Robert Spitzer: Spitzer—who gave psychiatry its first set of rigorous standards to describe mental disorders—died at 83. One of the first behaviors he scrutinized was homosexuality, which at the time was listed in the manual as a mental disorder. Spitzer, after meeting with gay advocates, began re-examining homosexuality based on whether it caused any measurable distress. Some have contended that marriage equality exists today, in part, because of Spitzer's research.

—Meghan Galbraith: Galbraith, 35, front woman for the queer Chicago-based rock/pop/punk trio band 8 Inch Betsy, died Jan. 22 after a year-long illness.

—Lowell "John" Evans: "Ex-ex-gay" individual Evans, in 1973 co-founded the first modern "ex-gay" ministry, Love in Action. He quit this ministry a few years later after his friend, Jack McIntyre, committed suicide because he could not change his sexual orientation. Evans spent the remainder of this life speaking out against "pray away the gay" programs. The cause of Evans' death was heart failure.

—Leslie Gore: Legendary lesbian singer Gore—a singer-songwriter who topped the charts in 1963 with her song "It's My Party" and followed it with the hits "Judy's Turn to Cry" and "You Don't Own Me"—died at age 68. According to her partner of 33 years, Gore died Feb. 16 of cancer at New York-Presbyterian Hospital in Manhattan.

—Minnie Minoso: Minnie Minoso, the first Black player for the Chicago White Sox, passed away March 1 at the age of 90. Minoso, called the "Cuban Comet," blazed a trail for Latin American players in the big leagues starting in the 1950s. Minoso drove in 100 runs four times for the Sox and hit .300 or better six times. Among those Minoso left behind is son Charlie Rice-Minoso, who was a Windy City Times 30 Under 30 honoree in 2014.

—Dirk Shafer: Shafer—a gay man who, while closeted, posed nude for Playgirl Magazine and won its Man of the Year title in 1992—died at 52. Shafer, who was born in Carbondale, Illinois, but grew up in Oklahoma, came out publicly then lampooned his Playgirl experience in the 1995 mockumentary Man of the Year, which he wrote, starred in and directed. The Los Angeles County Coroner's office determined Shafer's death was at least partially the result of "methamphetamine and cocaine toxicity."

—Jean Hardisty: Hardisty, 69, passed away March 16 at her Somerville, Massachusetts, home after a recurrence of lymphoma, according to her colleagues at Political Research Associates ( PRA ), a social justice, right-wing watch group she founded in 1981 in Chicago under the name Midwest Research.

—Blake Brockington: In Charlotte, North Carolina, trans youth Brockington, 18, committed suicide. In 2014, he was nominated and later crowned homecoming king as an openly transgender student after winning a fundraising competition and drawing in thousands of dollars for a charity the school chose.

—Sidney Abbott: Abbott, 77, a longtime New York City-based lesbian feminist/activist, died April 15 in a house fire in Southold, Suffolk County, New York. She co-authored a ground-breaking book with Barbara Love in 1971—Sappho Was a Right-on Woman: A Liberated View of Lesbianism.

—Rachel Bryk: Prominent transgender game developer Rachel Bryk, who committed suicide on April 23. Bryk, 23, was plagued by chronic pain, which she told friends was a result of rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia. She took her own life by jumping from the George Washington Bridge, which connects Manhattan to New Jersey—something she discussed on social-media platform Ask.fm days before her death.

—Cameron Langrell: Just days after Racine, Wisconsin, teen Langrell announced to friends and classmates online that she identified as a transgender girl, switching her Facebook gender identifier to "female," the 15-year-old took her own life at home on May 1. The artistic freshman reportedly had faced incessant bullying at Horlick High School.

—Nikki Rashan Jenkins: Lesbian writer Jenkins, 42, died May 4 of complications from breast cancer. She wrote four novels; Double Pleasure Double Pain, You Make Me Wanna, Cyber Case and The EXchange.

—Ronnie Gilbert: Ronnie Gilbert—who was part of the Weavers, the seminal quartet that helped propel folk music to wide popularity—died June 6 in Mill Valley, California at the age of 88. Her partner, Donna Korones, confirmed Gilbert's death. The Weavers—whose other members were Pete Seeger, Lee Hays and Fred Hellerman—started playing together in the late 1940s. The group became known for such folk standards like "On Top of Old Smoky," "and "The Hammer Song" ( a.k.a. "If I Had a Hammer" ).

—Julian Bond: Bond—a giant in the civil-rights movement who once headed the NAACP—died at age 75 in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, after a brief illness. Bond also fought for LGBT rights. Earlier in 2015, Bond was among those who condemned an Arkansas bill that some said fell short of providing needed non-discrimination protections to all of the state's residents. In 2013, he issued a letter supporting same-sex marriage that Illinois Unites for Marriage distributed.

—Holly Woodlawn: Woodlawn—the transgender Warhol star who Lou Reed name-checked in his song "Walk on the Wild Side"—died of cancer and cirrhosis at 69. Woodlawn was born Haroldo Santiago Franceschi Rodriguez Danhakl in 1946 in Puerto Rico.

—George Zander: Zander, a longtime LGBT-rights activist in Palm Springs, California, died at 71 in early December. Zander and his husband, Chris, were attacked in a hate crime in early November—although it was unknown if Zander's death was related to the attack.

—Adrianna Vorderbruggen: Air Force Major Vorderbruggen, 36, of Plymouth, Minnesota, was one of six service members killed Dec. 21 while serving in Afghanistan. Vorderbruggen left behind a wife, Heather, and son, Jacob. She was one of the first U.S. service members to be wed in a same-sex ceremony following the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."


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