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Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2023-02-22



Looking back: National passages in 2014
Extended for the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times

This article shared 5893 times since Tue Jan 6, 2015
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—Father Robert Nugent: Nugent, SDS—a co-founder of New Ways Ministry, an organization that cares for gay and lesbian Catholics—passed away Jan. 1 in Milwaukee. Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry's executive director, said of Nugent, "During a time of intense homophobia in both church and society, he exhibited uncommon courage and foresight in welcoming and affirming the goodness of God's lesbian and gay children."

—Phillip Seymour Hoffman: Hoffman, one of the most versatile and talented actors of his generation, died of a drug overdose at age 46. He won the Academy Award and numerous other honors for his portrayal of gay writer Truman Capote in the 2005 film Capote. He received Oscar nominations for best supporting actor for three films: Charlie Wilson's War, Doubt and The Master.

—Roy Simmons: Simmons, a former New York Giants offensive lineman who later became the second former player in NFL history to come out as gay, died in his New York home at 57. Simmons, the only player in NFL history to acknowledge that he was HIV-positive, was known for his nice demeanor—but was also tortured by his sexuality and struggled for years with substance abuse.

—Quentin Elias: Elias, the leader of the popular '90s French boy band Alliage, died in his New York City home of an alleged heart attack at age 39. After leaving Alliage in 1999, he also tried to launch a solo career and relocated to New York City in 2002. It was also reported that Elias started a gay-porn career under the name "Q3."

—Elaine Stritch: Legendary Broadway and screen actress Stritch died at 89. Stritch, whose stage career began in the 1940s, is perhaps known for her association with Broadway composer Stephen Sondheim. She won an Emmy for her role as Alec Baldwin's pushy mother on the NBC show 30 Rock. Most recently, Stritch was the subject of a documentary, Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me.

—The Rev. Fred Phelps: Phelps—the leader of a small Baptist church in Westboro, Kansas, who made a name for himself by traveling the country to hoist up "God Hates Fags" placards—died of natural causes. Phelps managed to secure some historic notoriety for himself in 2011, when the church escaped millions of dollars in liability for picketing outside the funeral of a straight soldier killed in Afghanistan. Although certainly appalled by Phelps' tactics and tenacity, the LGBT community came to ignore the man and his family that referred to themselves as a church.

—Charles "Chuck Schoen: Schoen—one of the six founding members of American Veterans for Equal Rights ( AVER )—passed away Feb. 27 in Desert Hot Springs, California, at the age of 88. Schoen was a life member of AVER and is survived by his fellow U.S. Navy veteran and partner of 48 years, Jack Harris, also a life member of AVER. Schoen served in the United States Navy during World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War.

—Frankie Knuckles: House-music pioneer Knuckles passed away at 59. The openly gay producer, who was inducted into the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame in 1996, mixed work by artists such as Chaka Khan, Michael Jackson and Depeche Mode.

—Storme DeLaverie: DeLaverie passed away at age 93. A 2010 Huffington Post item said that DeLaverie "probably threw the first punch in the Stonewall Riot that sparked gay rights," although that has been disputed. She was also part of the Jewel Box Revue—arguably the country's first gay community—which was a traveling troupe of impersonators that originally formed in 1939.

—Dr. Maya Angelou: Award-winning author, renowned poet and civil-rights activist Angelou has died at 86 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. She received more than 50 honorary degrees, and was Reynolds Professor of American Studies at Wake Forest University. Angelou wrote the poem "On the Pulse of Morning"—one of her most famous works; she recited it at President Bill Clinton's inauguration in 1993.

—Zoraida Reyes: Transgender activist Reyes, 28, died in California under circumstances authorities described as "suspicious." Reyes was involved with several Orange County immigrant and LGBT advocacy groups. She was at a protest May 27 calling on Santa Ana to end its contract with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

—Nancy Garden: Garden, a lesbian award-winning author of fiction for children and young adults, died at age 76. Her books included the lesbian teen novel Annie on My Mind.

—Frank Robinson: Robinson, a former Chicagoan who moved to San Francisco and later became a speechwriter for gay politician Harvey Milk, died. After moving to San Francisco, Robinson wrote speeches for the campaigns that culminated in Harvey Milk's historic 1977 election to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. The 1970s Hollywood blockbuster The Towering Inferno is based partly on The Glass Inferno, a novel of which Robinson and Thomas M. Scortia were co-authors. He was inducted into the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame in 2009.

—Robin Williams: Groundbreaking comic Williams, 63, was found dead of a suicide. Williams was a star of standup, stage, TV and movies, and he was unafraid to take on a wide range of characters, including performing as a gay man in 1996's The Birdcage, opposite Nathan Lane. He also played a cross-dressing nanny in 1993's Mrs. Doubtfire—a role that won him a Golden Globe.

—Lauren Bacall: Bacall, the husky-voiced Hollywood icon known for her sultry sensuality, died Aug. 12 at age 89. Bacall ( born Betty Joan Perske ) started experiencing international fame in 1944 with her first film, To Have and Have Not, which she made with future husband Humphrey Bogart. Bacall won two Tony Awards ( for her roles in the Broadway musicals Applause and Woman of the Year ) and an honorary Oscar; also, she was nominated for three Emmy Awards.

—Carl Strickland: Point Foundation co-founder Strickland, 40, has died in a boating accident at Lake Tahoe, Nevada. Strickland and his partner of 17 years, Bruce Lindstrom, created the Point Foundation in 2001 to provide scholarship funds to LGBT students. Since its inception, Point has provided more than $15 million in the education and support of its scholars.

—Joan Rivers: Rivers—a witty, sometimes-controversial comic, actor, TV host, author and producer—suddenly died at age 81 as a result of a medical procedure. Rivers had a big following in the LGBT community, and she was among the first celebrities to help raise money to fight the AIDS crisis, in the mid-1980s—including in 1984 for AIDS Project Los Angeles, Aid for AIDS and the Shanti Project. She willed that her daughter, Melissa, be made executor, and also directed amounts to go to several charities, such as Guide Dogs for the Blind, God's Love We Deliver, Jewish Guild Healthcare and the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

—Leelah Alcorn: Alcorn, a transgender teenager, committed suicide in Ohio Dec. 28, stepping in front of a moving tractor-trailer truck. The passing semitrailer killed Leelah Alcorn on southbound Interstate 71 in Union Township. Alcorn made national news after leaving a gripping, emotional suicide note on her blog at Tumblr, detailing a troubled life that was dominated by Christian parents who reportedly rejected their transgender child.

—Ruby Dee: Dee—a award-winning actress whose seven-decade career included triumphs on stage and screen—died at age 91. Dee ( often with her late husband, Ossie Davis ) was a formidable force in both the performing arts community and the civil-rights movement. Her movies included A Raisin in the Sun, Do the Right Thing and American Gangster.

—Leslie Feinberg: Feinberg, who identified as an anti-racist white, working-class, secular Jewish, transgender, lesbian, female, revolutionary communist, died Nov. 15. She succumbed to complications from multiple tick-borne co-infections, including Lyme disease, babeisiosis, and protomyxzoa rheumatica, after decades of illness.

—Oscar de la Renta: The iconic fashion designer de la Renta died at age 82. The man dressed every first lady since Jacqueline Kennedy. Other celerities who wore his fashions included Oprah Winfrey, Anne Hathaway and, most recently, George Clooney's bride Amal Alamuddin.

—Mike Nichols: Nichols, the entertainment icon and husband of ABC News anchor Diane Sawyer, died suddenly at the age of 83. He graduated from the Walden School in New York City, and began pursuing theater while attending the University of Chicago in the early 1950s. Nichols—one of the few to win the EGOT: an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar and a Tony—directed Broadway and film hits such as The Graduate, The Birdcage, Death of a Salesman, Carnal Knowledge and Working Girl.

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