We pay tribute to Professor and filmmaker Marlon Riggs, who died Tuesday. His film about gay black sexuality, "Tongues Untied," unleashed a storm of controversy for its graphic content; it was used by Senator Jesse Helms (Republican, North Carolina), to argue against government grants to the arts. Another RIGGS film was "Color Adjustment," a critique of prime time TV's myths and messages on American race relations. RIGGS was on the faculty of the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California at Berkeley. (Rebroadcast of 7/11/1991)
Monette died of complications from the AIDS virus on Friday, at age 49. His 1988 book "Borrowed Time: An Aids Memoir," was the first memoir to be published about AIDS, and won a National Book Award. In it, Monette told the story of his "beloved" friend and lover's two year struggle with AIDS. The book was called "a gallant, courageous love story." In 1992, he wrote a memoir about his own life before he came out of the closet at the age of 25, "Becoming a Man: Half a Life Story." (Rebroadcast)
Writer May Sarton. She died of breast cancer on Sunday, July 16, 1995. For many readers, Sarton was a heroic figure for her decision to expose her lesbianism in the early 60s, long before society was tolerant of the gay life, and also for her decision to lead a life of solitude. The author of over 35 novels, books of poetry and essays, Sarton was probably best known for her journals, Recovering, and At Seventy. (REBROADCAST FROM 7/7/89).
We remember Quentin Crisp, who died last Sunday at the age of 90. Crisp became a cult figure after the publication of his autobiography, The Naked Civil Servant. He came out of the closet in his native London in 1931, when homosexuality was very clandestine. His flamboyant and exhibitionist style often made him the object of ridicule and violence. Crisp moved to New York at the age of 72. (Rebroadcast from 1/21/1986)
We remember the gay journalist who was the founder and first president of the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association. He died Sunday at age 70. He worked at The Washington Post for 14 years, with posts as bureau chief in New York and Los Angeles.
Historian Allan Berube died this past Tuesday, at age 61. He wrote what's considered the definitive history of gay men and lesbians in the military. Coming Out Under Fire was published in 1990, and a documentary based on the book was released in 1994. The idea for the book sprang from a box of letters recovered from a Dumpster. The correspondence among gay soldiers led to dozens of interviews about homosexual life in the military. Berube himself came out in 1969 and went on to found the San Francisco Lesbian and Gay History Project.
Gay rights activist Rodger McFarlane was involved in the earliest efforts to combat the transmission of AIDS during the 1980s. McFarlane, who was 54, died May 15. According to his bother, the cause of death was suicide.
The co-founder of the first national lesbian-rights organization in the United States — and the country's first national lesbian magazine — died Aug. 27 at age 87. We remember her with a Fresh Air interview from 1992.