Role models of greatness.

Here you will discover the back stories of kings, titans of industry, stellar athletes, giants of the entertainment field, scientists, politicians, artists and heroes – all of them gay or bisexual men. If their lives can serve as role models to young men who have been bullied or taught to think less of themselves for their sexual orientation, all the better. The sexual orientation of those featured here did not stand in the way of their achievements.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Frank Kameny

Kameny picketing in front of the White House in 1965 (he is second in line, immediately to the right of the policeman's elbow, his face partially obscured; click to enlarge).











Gay rights activist Frank Kameny (1925-2011) died this week at age 86, in Washington, DC. He was crusty, in-your-face stubborn and possessed of a one track mind: equality for homosexuals. He was out, loud and proud 24 hours a day. I consider him the most important person I’ve ever entertained in my home. We all owe this man, big time.

Born and raised in NYC, Kameny saw combat as an Army soldier in Europe during WW II. After earning a doctorate degree in astronomy from Harvard University, he went to work as an astronomer for the US Army map service in the 1950s and was fired in 1957 after authorities discovered he was homosexual. Kameny fought the firing and appealed his case to the US Supreme Court, becoming the first known gay person to file a homosexual-related case before the high court. The Supreme Court upheld the lower court ruling against Kameny and declined to hear the case, but Kameny’s decision to appeal through the court system motivated him to become a lifelong advocate for LGBT equality.

1961: Kameny and Jack Nichols co-founded the Mattachine Society of Washington, an organization that embraced aggressive action for the civil rights of homosexuals. In 1963 the group was the subject of Congressional hearings over its right to solicit funds.

1968: He gave us the phrase ''Gay is Good'' back when homosexuality and shame were partners. The Library of Congress archives contain this original example.

1973: The American Psychiatric Association stopped classifying homosexuality as a mental disorder, and Kameny had played a major role in that change. Kameny “crashed the APA conference in Washington DC, seized the microphone and shouted, ‘We’re not the problem. You’re the problem!’” He and lesbian activist Barbara Gittings were the first recipients of the American Psychiatric Association's John M. Fryer, M.D., Award, recognizing their contribution to fighting against that association’s earlier homophobia.

2006: the Human Rights Campaign presented him with the National Capital Area Leadership Award. That same year the Library of Congress accepted 77,000 items from his collected papers.

2009: President Obama signed an executive order that granted benefits to the same-sex partners of federal employees; Kameny was by his side in the Oval Office and received a pen from Obama. Also that year, he received a formal apology from the U.S. government for his treatment all those years ago, and Kameny’s home in Washington DC was designated a Historic Landmark by the District of Columbia’s Historic Preservation Review Board.

The Smithsonian Institution’s “Treasures of American History” exhibit includes Kameny's picket signs carried in front of the White House in 1965. The Smithsonian now has 12 of the original picket signs carried by homosexual Americans in the first-ever White House demonstration for gay rights.

By his example, perseverance and sacrifice, he showed Americans what courage looked like.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Dave Kopay - Jerry Smith: NFL team love affair

Washington Redskins: NFL’s Gayest Team?

At least four players and an assistant General Manager of the Washington Redskins football team were known to be gay. The players were Dave Kopay (left), Jerry Smith, Wade Davis and Roy Simmons, and the General Manager was David Slattery.

While a running back for the Washington Redskins, Dave Kopay (b. 1942) had a relationship with teammate Jerry Smith, a star tight end for the team from 1965-1977. In 1975, three years after his career in football had ended, Kopay gave an interview to the Washington Star (newspaper) in which he declared his homosexuality. He is believed to be the first professional athlete to do so. It was while playing for the Redskins under legendary coach Vince Lombardi that Kopay and Smith had their affair.

In 1977 he wrote his autobiography, “The David Kopay Story: An Extraordinary Self-Revelation,” currently in its 5th printing. The book remains a perennial favorite with people coming to grips with their sexual identities.

Kopay told the cable sports network ESPN about his relationship with Jerry Smith, calling it his “first real coming-out experience.” Although Smith died of complications from AIDS in 1987 at age forty-three, he never publicly acknowledged his homosexuality.

Teammate and lover Jerry Smith:



At the Gay Games VII in Chicago (July 2006), Kopay was a featured announcer in the opening ceremonies. Currently active as a motivational speaker, Kopay announced in September 2007 that he would be leaving $1 million as an endowment to the University of Washington Q Center, a resource and support center for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students and faculty. In early 2008 Kopay left the Los Angeles area to relocate to Seattle, where he still receives hundreds of letters from fans of his book who received understanding, support and inspiration from his life story.

In 1992, Roy Simmons, who had been a linebacker for the Washington Redskins and New York Giants in the 1980s, came out on the national television talk show, “Donahue.” In 2003, on World AIDS Day, he revealed that he had been diagnosed with AIDS in 1997. His book that tells his story about being in the closet while playing with the NFL is titled "Out of Bounds."



In 1993 David Slattery, general manager of the Washington Redskins in the early 1970s, came out as homosexual, long after he had left the sport.





Wade Davis (below) was a defensive back for the Redskins for the 2003 season. He announced he was gay when he participated in the Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network's "Changing The Game" program, which is designed to fight against homophobia in K thru 12 athletics by starting a dialogue about the issue.



Thursday, January 18, 2018

Richard Olney

Chef, 
food writer 
& oenophile










There was a trio of influential gay male American chefs whose lives overlapped, spanning the entire twentieth century:

James Beard (1903-1985)
Craig Claiborne (1920-2000)
Richard Olney (1927-1999)

The least well-known of the three was Richard Olney. He was an advocate of  French cooking, but not in the grand manner. He promoted a far more relaxed country French cuisine. Olney was also a noted promoter of French wine from the Provence region. But unlike Beard and Claiborne, Olney directed his culinary empire from his home in Sollies-Toucas in Provence, France. An Iowa native, Mr. Olney left Brooklyn for France at the age of 24 and never moved back.

Two books published in the early 1970s established his career, “Simple French Food” and the “French Menu Cookbook”. Richard was obsessive about cooking with seasonal ingredients and making correct wine pairings with food. Olney was also the editor of Time Life’s influential series “The Good Cook”, the first cookbooks that used minimalist step-by-step photographs to explain traditional cooking technique. Published from 1978-1980, the complete set numbered 28 volumes, each edited by Olney.

Olney’s best known disciple is Alice Waters (b. 1944) of the famed Chez Panisse restaurant in Berkeley, California. She claimed that, without Richard's mentoring, she would not exist. As to his closely guarded personal life, Mr. Olney was the one-time lover of celebrity chef Jeremiah Tower (b. 1942), who worked for many years as chef at Chez Panisse before opening his own restaurant. 


For the most part, however, Olney lived a hermit’s life on a hillside in a village inland from Toulon, where he dug a wine cellar by hand and built a brick cooking hearth in his kitchen. He slept in a tiny alcove off the kitchen (where his gardener confirmed that Olney had died in his sleep) and ate and entertained in good weather on a stone terrace under a grape arbor. To keep it "simple", he had no telephone, no car (didn't drive), no radio, no television. 

He was a neighbor of Lucie “Lulu” Peyraud, a petite chef and vintner who just turned 100 last month. In 1994 Olney published “Lulu’s Provençal Table”, a book that extolled her masterful, earthy cooking and wine production from her Domaine Tempier vineyard. Lulu promoted French cuisine as a way of living – not just eating. Food writer Steve Hoffman said that Olney “wished to teach us how cooking could be a path to well-being, a blessed pagan state of sensual, aesthetic and intelligent fulfillment.” Olney learned what he knew about French country cooking from Lulu, and his book about her has become a collector’s item.