In 1953, President Dwight Eisenhower issued Executive Order 10450, establishing who could receive a federal security clearance. The order named security risks as Communists, subversives, drunks and drug users, and “sexual perverts.” As far as this order was concerned “sexual perverts,” meant homosexuals.
Frank Kameny was employed as an astronomer for the US Army’s cartography division. In 1957, he was dismissed from his position because of his homosexuality. Frank was outraged. He appealed his firing and, although his plea was unsuccessful, his efforts were notable as the first civil rights claim based on sexual orientation pursued in a U.S. court.
Frank and a number of his friends launched some of the first public protests by gays and lesbians, forming picket lines at the White House in 1965. Associated groups staged similar protests at the United Nations in New York City, The Pentagon and Philadelphia’s Independence Hall. Frank and the Mattachine Society, one of the earliest LGBT activist groups, began a campaign in 1963 to overturn laws that singled out the gay community. (Frank personally drafted a bill that was finally passed in 1993.) He also worked closely with the American Psychiatric Association to change homosexuality from being classified as a “mental disorder.” He also challenged the military’s ban on gays as early as the 1970s. After years of hard work, Frank was invited to the ceremony where President Barack Obama signed the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act of 2010.”
Frank passed away at the age of 86 on October 11, 2011 – the 23rd National Coming Out Day.
In 1969, Motown’s mighty Temptations released their Psychedelic Shack album with the title track as the lead — and only — single. The second track on side two of the record was a Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong composition that offered fierce opposition to the continuing conflict in Vietnam. The song, “War,” featured three-way vocals by Dennis Edwards, the newest member of the group replacing David Ruffin who left to pursue a solo career, along with founding members Paul Williams and Melvin Franklin, whose bass vocals provided a militaristic “hup, two, three, four” in the background. Whitfield, who also served as the album’s producer, campaigned to have “War” released as a single, but Motown balked, fearing it would upset some of their more conservative fans.
Whitfield, believing in its message and hit potential, was determined to get “War” released to the public as a single. He recruited singer Edwin Starr, best known for his recent hit “25 Miles,” to sing lead on the new recording. The Undisputed Truth, a trio who sang background vocals for the Temptations, The Four Tops and The Supremes at Motown, were tagged by Whitfield to provide backing vocals for Edwin Starr. They would later go on to have a Top 10 hit of their own with the ominous “Smiling Faces Sometimes.” Starr’s recording, augmented by heavy electric guitars and a prominent clavinet, was more passionate and aggressive than The Temptations’ original version. Starr’s rendition, released in June 1970, hit Number 1 on Billboard’s charts, knocking Bread‘s “Make It With You” out of the top spot. It remained in that position for three weeks.
Although Edwin Starr never achieved the success of “War” again in his career, he was active and prolific. The Nashville native moved to England. He teamed up with electronic band Utah Saints to re-record some of his early career hits, including a reworked version of “War.” It was his final recording. Edwin suffered a heart attack in 2003 and passed away at the age of 61.
After September 11, 2001, media giant Clear Channel added “War” to its list of songs that were banned from its airwaves.
From 1970 until 1972, Gilbert Baker served as a medic in the US Army while stationed in San Francisco at the beginning of the gay rights movement. He always exhibited artistic tendancies and was taught to sew by a fellow activist. After his discharge from the service, he began to create banners for demonstrations in the gay community.
Gilbert fashioned the first rainbow flag in 1978. He refused to copyright the design. Instead, he happily shared it as a royalty-free symbol of the LGBT community. He also designed flags and displays for the Paramount Flag Company in San Francisco, including pieces for Senator Dianne Feinstein, The Premier of China and the Democratic National Convention.
In 2003, to commemorate the Rainbow Flag’s 25th anniversary, Gilbert created a Rainbow Flag that stretched from the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic Ocean in Key West. After the commemoration, he sent sections of this flag to more than 100 cities around the world. Gilbert often used the drag name “Busty Ross,” alluding to Betsy Ross and his flag-making skills.
Gilbert died in 2017 at the age of 65. California State Senator Scott Wiener remarked that Gilbert “helped define the modern LGBT movement.”
Audre Lorde was a writer and civil rights activist. As a poet, she is best known for her extremely expressive style. Her poems express anger and outrage at the civil and social injustices she observed throughout her life. The overall themes of her poetry and prose focused largely on issues related to civil rights, feminism, lesbianism, and the exploration of black female identity.
In 1992, Audre died of liver cancer at the age of 58. In an African naming ceremony just before her death, Audre took the name “Gamba Adisa,” which means “Warrior: She Who Makes Her Meaning Known.”
“I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made straight and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.”
— Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Sylvia Rivera was a pioneering advocate for civil rights. She, and her friend Marsha Johnson, co-founded Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries, a group to help homeless gay youth on the streets of New York City. Sylvia fought hard for the Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act in New York. The Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in employment, housing, public accommodations, education, credit, and the exercise of civil rights.
It is a long-standing belief that Sylvia threw one of the first bottles at the Stonewall Riots in 1969. She never stopped her fight for righteousness.
Sylvia passed away in 2002 at the age of 50.
Freddie Starr, leading his Mersey Beat group The Midnighters, set out for fame in the early 60s. Despite being represented by Beatles manager Brian Epstein and having singles produced by music impresario Joe Meek, Freddie could not catch a break. It wasn’t until an appearance on the British talent show Opportunity Knocks that Freddie’s popularity took off.
Freddie hosted his own BBC show and performed in nightclubs all over England. His impressions of Mick Jagger and Elvis Presley had audiences rolling in the aisles. But, thanks to a little manipulative publicity, Freddie would become infamous.
On March 13, 1986, The Sun, the British equivalent of the National Enquirer, splashed this headline across its front page: “Freddie Starr Ate My Hamster.” According to the story, Freddie had been staying at the home of his friend Vince McCaffrey and his 23-year-old girlfriend Lea LaSalle. Freddie had returned to his friend’s apartment following a performance at a Manchester nightclub in the early hours of the morning. He demanded that Lea LaSalle make him a sandwich. When she refused, he allegedly went into the kitchen and put her pet hamster between two slices of bread and proceeded to eat it. The story was made up by Freddie’s publicist as a joke, but it took on a life of its own. It had an unusual effect on Freddie’s career. The story seemed to boost the demand for tickets for his live performances. Freddie, of course, denied the incident, stating, “I have never eaten or even nibbled a live hamster, gerbil, guinea pig, mouse, shrew, vole or any other small mammal.” The story followed Freddie for the rest of his life.
Freddie passed away on May 9, 2019 at the age of 76. The Sun followed suit and headlined his obituary with: “Freddie Starr Joins His Hamster.”
And now, Kelloggs proudly presents a show that has the whole town-cooking!
A-speaking of meat, let’s tell them what happened down at the chicken coop, eh?
A hungry fox boldly walked in through a hen house door.
Too bad for him, he met a hen, who stood at ten foot four!
He won’t forget the lickin’.
He got from that big chicken.
Now he gets his poultry from the store!
I love breakfast. I’ve done a few drawings based on breakfast, as well as several blog posts on the subject. You can see them all here
Drawings: Breakfast 1 • Breakfast 2 • Breakfast 3
Blog posts: Breakfast in America • Come On-a My House • Say My Name, Say My Name, Say My Stupid Name
Larri Thomas started her career as a dancer and actress, nabbing a few roles in various television commercials. She was chosen by noted film producer Samuel Goldwyn to be one of his “Goldwyn Girls.” Larri was one of six young ladies who performed on a promotional tour for the big-screen version of the musical Guys and Dolls. She even had a brief, but uncredited, appearance in the movie. Later, Larri served as actress Julie Andrews’s double in The Sound of Music and in Mary Poppins, in which she performed some of the character’s flying scenes. She also appeared on The Dean Martin Show.
Larri was briefly married to actor John Bromfield, star of the syndicated crime drama Sheriff of Cochise. In the 1960s, she had a relationship with baseball manager Leo Durocher.
In the early 70s, Larri landed a role in the children’s television series New Zoo Revue. Larri played the costumed character “Henrietta Hippo” on the show.
After retiring from show business, Larri and her second husband participated in charity events. On October 20, 2013, Larri died from injuries she suffered in a fall at her California Home. She was 81.