Friday, May 25, 2012

Know Your LGBT History - Bessie Smith

There are so many stories about the life of legendary blues singer Bessie Smith. Let's clear up two. No, her death in an automobile accident was not the result of being denied entry at a white hospital. And yes she was bisexual and, to put it nicely, a bad ass one.

Bessie Smith - (1894-1937):

Bessie Smith was born poor in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Her parents died when she was eight years old and she began singing to support her family at age seven. She sang on street corners with her brother accompanying her on guitar.

Bessie Smith went on to become one of the most successful Black performers of her day. Her album "Downhearted Blues," released in 1923, was the best selling blues record of its time. At the height of her career, she was making $2,000 a week. Quite a sum for those days.

Bessie Smith and Ma Rainey:

At age 17, Bessie Smith met Gertrude "Ma" Rainey and went on the road with her traveling show. Ma Rainey became a mentor to Bessie Smith. There is some speculation that the two were also lovers, but little to back that up.

Bessie Smith and Jack Gee:

Bessie Smith was married to Jack Gee in 1923. Both Jack and Bessie had affairs with women and these affairs caused many fights between the two. There are accounts of Bessie firing a gun at Jack after learning of one of his affairs and of Jack threatening to kiss Bessie after finding her with a woman.

Bessie Smith ended her relationship with Jack Gee in 1929 after she found out he was having an affair with another singer.

Bessie Smith and Lillian Simpson:

Bessie Smith had affairs with various women through out her life. One that we know about is with Lillian Simpson. According to Bessie's niece Ruby, who traveled with her, Bessie Smith had an on and off affair with one of her chorus girls Lillian Simpson in 1926. At one point when Bessie spurned her, Lillian tried to kill herself and ended up in the hospital. The affair eventually ended when Lillian left the tour, afraid of Bessie's husband Jack finding out.

Bessie's Love of Women:

Bessie's husband Jack found out about her affairs with women when he caught her with a woman at a boarding house in Detroit. He threatened to kill her, but she managed to escape with her troupe and back to her train and out of town before he caught up with her.

'Fake historian - homosexuality should be illegal in spite of the Supreme Court' and other Friday midday news briefs

Barton: 'I Don't Care What the Supreme Court Says,' Homosexuality Should be Illegal - You gotta love those  religious right figures. BTW I don't think St. Paul said what David Barton claims. It sounds like a bad translation to me:


 And in other news

 Come on people – enough with stoking the black = homophobic meme - Pam Spaulding is right. It's time for that lie to die. 

 No contradiction: I'm black and gay - Meanwhile, L.Z. Granderson, an openly gay African-American columnist drops some more truth.  

Federal Judge Finds DOMA Unconstitutional - Look what just happened to DOMA (again)  

WHOA! Even the SBC is distancing itself from FRC honoree Ron Baity (and Charles Worley and Sean Harris) - You know things are getting weird when the Southern Baptist Convention begins to distance itself from pastors for being too anti-gay.

 Long Island School Inexplicably Suspends Student For Class Project About Bullying - She was reinstated and the suspension has been taken off of her record. But the entire thing is just weird. 

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Religious right hypocrisy on gays raising children

Tony Perkins

One thing which was pointed out to me about Tony Perkins's interview yesterday on CNN was when he said:

"There are some same-sex couples that are probably GREAT parents."

It reminds me of the time where Maggie Gallagher of the National Organization for Marriage said last year :

"there are some gay people who are wonderful parents."

But both of these figures (Perkins and Gallagher) have gone on record implying awful things about gay parenting.

For instance, Gallagher once said “at least polygamy, for all its ugly defects, is an attempt to secure stable mother-father families for children.”

And Perkins claimed his children couldn't be gay because he is "teaching them the rights ways that they are to interact as human beings"

 So which beliefs do Perkins and Gallagher hold?

If Perkins and Gallagher think that gays make good parents, then why do they campaign tooth-and-nail on the distortion that marriage equality would harm children? And why do their organizations imply awful distortions about gays harming children?

It's a matter of simply hypocrisy. But as long as no one pushes the issue, they can get away with it.

If the media won't push the issue, then perhaps it's time that we did.

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