With President Joe Biden and Gov. Roy Cooper declaring June as national and state recognized Pride month here in North Carolina and at large in the United States, we’re continuing to showcase significant figures in LGBTQ history that have left behind a mark or made a significant contribution to our culture.
As June continues, so does our list of important LGBTQ folk that share their birthdays with Pride Month.
Russian-turned-American actress, producer and director Alla Nazimova was born June 3, 1879. She made her mark as a silent screen actress in such significant films as “The Dollhouse” and “Salome.” The latter is considered a cult classic. She appeared and directed a plethora of films during the silent era, but returned to her roots as a Broadway actress when talking pictures became popular. She eventually did appear in more films in the 1930s and ‘40s. Her most significant appearance at that time was in the Tyrone Power and Rita Hayworth smash “Blood and Sand.”
In her personal life, she coined the term “sewing circle” to indicate which actresses were either bisexual or lesbian. She identified as bisexual and had female lovers while also married to husband and coworker Sergei Golovin.
Born to Jewish parents, Nazimova had no qualms about portraying scandalous roles and exploring themes such as adultery, promiscuity, drug addiction and even same-sex encounters in her films. While legally married to Golovin, Nazimova also pretended to have a “lavender marriage” with yet another actor Charles Bryant. This fake union was meant to make the pair appear to be more heterosexual than they truly were; however, Bryant shocked the movie-fans of the day when he left Nazimova to marry another woman who was much younger.
Also of Russian descent, Suze Orman was born on June 5, 1951. She’s won numerous awards and appeared on a multitude of talk shows and named one of most influential people of the year by Time Magazine, Forbes and Barron’s. She and her wife, Kathy Travis, have been life partners as well as business partners for over eleven years.
With ten published books under her belt, Orman is one of the United States’ most well-known financial advisors. She started her own business, the Suze Orman Financial Group, in 1987 and was asked to star in her own series, the Suze Orman Show, in 2002. “Let me just say it like it is: They’re straight,” Orman said of other financial advisors. “They might be knowledgeable and they may be great, but they’re unrelatable, I am of the people. I’m for the people.”
Musician, fashion icon, producer and photographer, George Alan O’Dowd, more widely known as Boy George, was born June 14 in Kent, England to Irish parents. Having known warfare, abuse, loss and stigma before his twenty-first birthday, Boy George’s childhood could only be described as traumatic. His first performances were with the band Bow Wow Wow, which he was offered because music producer Malcom McLaren liked his androgynous style.
George’s big claim to fame, of course, is/was Culture Club. They stacked up a slew of pop hits, among them “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me,” “Time (Clock of the Heart),” “I’ll Tumble 4 Ya,” “Church of the Poison Mind,” “Karma Chameleon” and “Miss Me Blind.” They captured two Grammy awards and a plethora of other awards from around the globe.
George poked his toe out of the proverbial closet in an interview with Joan Rivers in 1985, telling the comedienne, when she asked if he liked boys or girls, “Both.”
He officially came out as openly gay in 1995, with the release of his autobiography “Take It Like A Man.”
Sheila Gail and Ronald Gene Harris welcomed their son, Neil Patrick Harris, into the world on June 15, 1973. These days, the actor, comedian, producer, writer, and stage performer is married to husband David Burtka, and has been since 2014. The pair are notorious for creating elaborate family costumes with their two children on Halloween each year.
Harris was a child actor who flourished naturally into an adult performer. His singing career consists of Broadway shows such as Sweeney Todd, Rent, Cabaret and Hedwig and the Angry Inch. Nominated for a Golden Globe at the age of sixteen, Harris played the main character on Doogie Howser, M.D. for four seasons running. Contributing to the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, American Cancer Society, Feeding America and Global Green, Harris is also extremely involved in philanthropy.
Born June 16, 1967, Jenny Shimizu is a California-born model and actress who is perhaps best known for having an ongoing affair with Madonna and a romantic relationship with Angelina Jolie. She tied the knot, however, with girlfriend of two years, Michelle Harper, in 2014. Although she was born in the US, Shimizu’s family is from Japan and, as a first-generation citizen, she became the first Asian model to walk the Prada catwalk.
Invited to guest-judge on shows like America’s Next Top Model and Make Me A Supermodel, Shimizu was part of what is said to be Calvin Klein’s most popular ad campaigns. She starred in the film “Foxfire” with Jolie and, over a decade later, was cast in the lesbian film “Itty Bitty Titty Committee.”
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