Sunday, April 25, 2010

Out Spotlight

Today's Out Spotlight is thought to be the oldest "out" African American lesbian known. She is GLBT and civil rights activist Ruth Ellis.

Ruth Ellis was born in Springfield, Illinois, on July 23, 1899, the youngest of four children and the only girl to Charlie Ellis and Carrie Farro Ellis. Her parents were born in Tennessee during the last years of slavery. Her father was the first African-American mail carrier in Springfield. Ellis' mother passed away when she was a teenager.

Ruth learned she could do anything. And she learned to stand up for herself.

When a race riot erupted in Springfield in 1908 after a black man was accused--falsely, as it turned out--of raping a white woman, many black families fled under the threat of having their homes burned down. Not so with the Ellis family with her father standing guard with a sword he owned as a member of the Knights of Pythias. Though the violence raged for two days before the National Guard could end it, the family and their home were safe.

Ellis attended Springfield High School at a time when very few African-Americans enrolled in secondary education. It was during high school when she became aware of her sexual orientation remembering her high school gym teacher as her first female crush around 1915. She was to say that she never had to come out because she was always out from the beginning. She graduated from Springfield High School in 1919, at a time when fewer than seven percent of African Americans graduated from secondary school.

She believed her eldest brother, Charles, Jr, was gay though he never said anything to her about it. Homosexuality was not the kind of issue families discussed at that time, but looking she believed her father knew she was a lesbian and accepted it.

"I think [my father] was kind of glad that I had a woman instead of a man because he was afraid I'd come home with a baby. If you had a baby in those days, you'd have to leave home. And he wanted me home."

After high school, Ruth worked as a nursemaid and cook for a local family before finding a job in a print shop, where she learned how to set type and operate the presses. During that time in the early 1920’s, she met Ceciline “Babe” Franklin, the only woman she ever lived with. They became friends and lovers for more than 35 years. They moved to Detroit in 1937, after the encouragement of Ellis' brother Ray, buying a home and Ellis starting her printing business. She was the first woman in Michigan to own and operate a printing company. She made a living printing stationery, fliers, and posters out of her house.

From 1946 to 1971, their home became the local hangout for African-American gays and lesbians. Known as the “gay spot,”. They opened their home for parties and dances, and never turned down a gay or lesbian friend who needed a place to stay. For generations of African American gays and lesbians in the Midwest, it was an alternative to the bar scene that discriminated against blacks and refuge to African Americans who came "out" before the civil rights movement and Stonewall. They also offered lodging to black gay
men newly arrived from the South and helped many of the young people through college.

In the 70s, Babe Franklin left Detroit for the suburbs so she could be close to her job; Ruth stayed in the city, but they remained a couple, staying the night in each other's homes until Franklin died in 1975.

At age seventy-nine, Ellis enrolled in a self-defense class taught by a woman, Jay Spiro, who she correctly suspected was a lesbian. Spiro was the first white lesbian Ellis had ever met. Spiro introduced her to a community of younger gay women, who immediately embraced her and took Ellis to lesbian bars, something the church goer had had never done, and she began to meet more lesbians, openly out lesbians, who loved to hear her story. Soon she became an icon in the Detroit LGBT community. She than became know in the GLBT community, nationally, attending events and programs across the country, often as a speaker or special guest.

In 1999, her life was made the subject of the documentary “Living With Pride: Ruth C. Ellis @ 100,” directed by Yvonne Welbon. The film was screened at film festivals worldwide, and won the Audience Award for Best Documentary at the San Francisco International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival in 1999.

Ellis remained in Detroit and lived to 101, passing away on October 5, 2000. Her life spanned three centuries touching countless lives.

The Ruth Ellis Center honors her life and is dedicated to serving homeless GLBT youth and young adults. It is one of only four agencies in the United States dedicated to homeless LGBT youth and young adults. Among their services are a drop-in center, street outreach program, transitional living programs, and emergency housing shelter.

"The only way we can get anyplace is by being together....Gay people have to get in there just like anybody else. We have to work. We need more businesses. Scientists, chemists, things like that. If we could get more gay people in our politics, I think it would help a lot....And be honest and caring. Try to love people. Have a happy life if you can in this crazy world."

The Ruth Ellis Center


Living with Pride: Ruth Ellis @ 100

Sisters in Cinema - Living with Pride: Ruth Ellis @ 100

53 comments:

Cirrus said...

What a wonderful life. How frightening to experience rascim like that. Sounds like Ruth had a great Dad too. :)

Parade Magazine said...

From today's Parade Sunday supplement:

Developed World Leads on Gay Rights

Last month, the District of Columbia joined Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, and New Hampshire in legalizing gay marriage. Though it’s hard to generalize, there is “definitely a movement” toward expanded rights for gays in much of the world, says Scott Long of Human Rights Watch.

Albania recently passed a law to protect gays against bias. A court in New Delhi, India, overturned that city’s ban on consensual gay sex, and Nepal is expected to legalize same-sex marriage this year in hopes of attracting gay tourists. China opened its first state-sponsored gay bar in December, following a dramatic rise in the spread of HIV/AIDS among gay men. “If people are afraid to ‘out’ themselves, they’re forced into a conspiracy of silence that prevents them from receiving information that can save their lives,” explains Jessica Stern of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission. In fact, rates of new HIV infections are higher in countries with repressive laws against homosexuality, according to research from the United Nations agency on HIV/AIDS.

Yet gay sex is still illegal in 80 countries. At least seven impose the death penalty for homosexual acts—usually under Islamic law. Gays “are often used as political proxies for other agendas—the West, anything modern or non-traditional,” Stern explains.

Same-Sex Rights Around The Globe

Same-sex marriage is legal: Canada, Spain, the Netherlands, Belgium, Norway, Sweden, South Africa, and others.

Homosexual acts are punishable by death: Iran, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Yemen, Mauritania; parts of Nigeria and Sudan.

Sanctions against homosexuals seem to be easing: China, Singapore, Cuba, Nepal.

Sanctions seem to be tightening: Burundi, Nigeria, Russia, Uganda.

— Drew Jubera

Developed World Leads on Gay Rights

Seaweed said...

I was fortunate enough to see the documentary "Living with Pride: Ruth Ellis @ 100" a few years ago and was so impressed with this woman's story.

Here's hoping that all of Special's Out Spotlights will be saved in a permanent archival holding.

Special K said...

Hey there is another Disney Channel Movie Surfer's featurette

Disney Movie Surfers PoP Featurette #2

You can see Jake running with the ostriches. (Looks just as scared as if he was in Pamplona LOL)

Jersey Tom said...

Gays Happy About New Archie Comics

AOL News (April 25) -- The latest addition to the fictional town of Riverdale is drawing plenty of praise.

This September, long-running Archie Comics will celebrate its 69th birthday by adding a gay character to the gang, one Kevin Keller.

This hunky new character, with blond curly hair and a strong Ben Affleck-like chin, shows up in Riverdale in Veronica Comics #202 and immediately becomes the apple of Veronica's eye.

Archie Comic Publications
Pop culture observers say that introducing a gay character is only the first step. Following up with interesting story lines will determine the future of Kevin Keller as a viable character.
However, the plot of the debut story, titled "Isn't It Bromantic," centers around the fact that Veronica doesn't have a clue why he's not interested in her.

Having a gay character in a comic whose readership tends to be females between the ages of 7 and 14 is groundbreaking enough, but what is pleasing pop culture writers like Dennis Ayers is how nonchalantly Archie, Reggie, Betty and especially Jughead react to the news.

"When Jughead finds out, he acts like it's no big deal," Ayers said. "It's great that a comic book that is so wholesome and white bread is treating being gay as if it's a perfectly normal American thing."

Ayers also says that focusing the plot around Veronica's cluelessness is the best way to handle introducing a gay character to the series.

Jersey Tom said...

Way to go Archie. Kevin is hot.

destiny said...

What an inspiring Spotlight. Truly amazing what she accomplished given she had three strikes against her in the eyes of society back then.

Thanks for the story from Parade. Very interesting that it would run in such a mainstream, middle-America publication like that. I think of Parade as the insert you usually find in all those staid, conservative newspapers around the country, that don't want something too hip or too edgy.

Parade said...

Yes, I thought that was interesting too, Destiny. There's also an interview with Sean Hayes. :)

destiny said...

I saw Sean Hayes in Promises Promises yesterday--a musical from the 60s based on the movie The Apartment, with music by Burt Bacharach. I went with a friend who had an extra ticket, so it wasn't something I probably would have gone to necessarily. He was actually pretty good in it--I wasn't expecting that--and got lots of applause from the audience. It opens on Broadway tonight, but it sure looked like a big hit to me. Kristen Chenowith is in it too, plus great sets and clothes, not to mention the music.

m said...

I'm not the only one who played hooky today based on the number of comments - it was 85+ here today and absolutely beautiful so I spent most of the day outside.

Looks like someone is really threatened by Jake and Austin's relationship as they wasted a lot of time last night trying to convince us Jake did not see his husband for his birthday. Nice try, but no cigar.

Great post and even better music.

PG, I am wondering about Reese too. She is going way out of her way to disassociate herself from Jake. More than is necessary. Something is up. I guess we'll find out soon enough.

observer said...

"Looks like someone is really threatened by Jake and Austin's relationship as they wasted a lot of time last night trying to convince us Jake did not see his husband for his birthday. Nice try, but no cigar.

No one has to go out of their way to convince me that Jake didn't see his husband for his birthday. Jake is a single, closeted, gay man. There is no husband.

better than chocolate said...

Lunchtime Deliciousness: Jake Gyllenhaal in Prince of Persia

prairiegirl said...

Whew, what a long day. Not entirely a fun day, unfortunately.

But had a great time with mom and my Aunt from Osceola. Osceola, the home of the Osceola Cheese Factory. We got to hear all about their trip to San Antonio with one of their other sisters and brother. Always lots of tales.

Really good out spotlight today. What courage her father showed by staying in town during that uprising. That's awesome. Can you imagine living to be 100? Wow. What those people saw in their lifetime; it boggles the mind.

Well, Jake must be back in Montreal by now. Nice, tidy little trip to LA for the weekend. Sherlaustin Holmes needs to get on the ball and keep on the trail of Austin. Austin who remains pictorially undocumented thus far. So Sherlaustin must keep his end of the deal.

lol, wow, that took all of 9 minutes. That's phenomenal.

LA said...

Jake is done with filming in Montreal.

lol said...

No one has to go out of their way to convince me that Jake didn't see his husband for his birthday. Jake is a single, closeted, gay man. There is no husband.

LOL - IA. If there were pics, we would never hear the end of it, and when there are no pics, the party line is "well what do you expect from closeted actors in a sooper sekrit relationship".

You can't have it both ways.

Special K said...

Yup Jake's all done with Source Code and Duncan has only 4 days left filming with Vera Farmiga and Jeffery Wright.

But Jake's gotta rest up because after this week he's going to be a very busy fella, and flying everywhere for premieres in London and then back for the one in LA and we soon will get to know all the shows Jake will be sitting down to interview on. Jake will have to do some promoting in the UK too.

With ABC having Disney as their parent company, definitely will see Jake on Good Morning America, wonder if he will do Regis & Kelly, or hop on the couch with the ladies from The View. Of course there will be the CBS Morning News, a little afraid of what Meredith will ask on The Today Show.

But it's late night were you wonder who's he going to sit down and chat with, and first. Definitely will miss Conan who always brings out the ornery and silly. But have to admit it was Letterman who got the Gooberball story. Want to see him sit down with Jon Stewart again too.

Here's hoping for more of those classic Jake moments.

use your head said...

10:29 PM,

We have 10.000 Reeke pictures and we know that they don't mean a thing.

We have no Jake and Heath pictures but we know that Jake and Heath were close.

Only idiots and stupid fangirls would use paparazzi pictures as the measure of friendship and love.

prairiegirl said...

Ahh, thanks for the info, Special. I thought this week was going to be the last for filming but I didn't realize last week was his last. Wow. What a quick filming.

lol said...

"Only idiots and stupid fangirls would use paparazzi pictures as the measure of friendship and love."

LMAO - you would salivate if pics of Jake and Austin turned up on Just Jared, and shout from the roof tops that it is "proof" of their relationship.

Don't bother responding with more twisted logic.

prairiegirl said...

Those clips are awesome.

I am really excited to see this movie. Of course, it's along my speed of things but I am quite impressed with the visuals of it.Despite the awfulness of the hair, it's still Jake and he's still got that drop-dead gorgeous smile and good looks. And I think all the entertainment shows are going to show that clip of him practicing parkour practically naked until we'll have the whole clip memorized.

I honestly think this thing could be very successful. It's different. It's action. It's simple popcorn summer movie entertainment. That's what I want to go see when it's 89 degrees outside and I want to sit inside an AC conditioned theatre.

The best thing about Jake being done in Montreal? That just means more family time tonight. Here I was thinking they had to part ways today. That's better news yet - thanks, guys!

porcine said...

AAWWWWWW, you guys are so forgiving of Jake. A few months ago you had all put an embargo on going to POP, unless he came out of the closet.

Tweet said...

VisitNewOrleans: Peter Sarsgaard & Maggie Gyllenhall @Maggie_Gyll spotted here at #jazzfest today! #celebritysighting
about 3 hours ago

This can't be real because it doesn't fit with our agenda.

prairiegirl said...

Day 5:

Memphis TN. We were undoubtedly due for a driving break. The van had been on a non-stop voyage since 6 this morning. After a fuel fill-up at the Elvis BP on Elvis Presley Boulevard, I was privy to a pledge to the wee cargo that a lunch stop was in store. And with wee cargo, there was only one logical destination. McDonald’s on Elvis Presley Boulevard. I fumbled with every digital station on my Ford Focus radio, finding 10 stations playing Suspicious Minds, 4 stations playing Love Me Tender, 2 stations playing Burning Love and one station giving non-stop Elvis Presley’s Graceland Updates.

I watched my subject: Austin Nichols fuel the van while he sang along to the tune playing overhead through the Elvis BP speakers: “Hunka Hunka Burnin’ Love” in a splendid baritone complete with a “Thank you. Thank you very much,” much to the delight of the diminutive backseat cargo who squealed and gave their long and lean parental unit a love-me-tender set of claps. I found myself identifying with their tiny Texan tribute with one of my own. But that would be a more toothsome tale in a later viewing hour for a more titillating audience.

We both completed our fuel up and I discreetly followed the van back onto Elvis Presley Boulevard whereupon we arrived at the McGolden Arches complete with a welcoming McElvis at the door and cheerful counter help adorned in white studded jumpsuits. I felt underdressed in my deerstalker cap and cape, careful to remain hidden behind the Red Box Video until the Nichols party had ordered and were seated in a booth behind my guise.

“Well, hey guys, shall we give Daddy a call? Who wants to eat French fries in Daddy’s ears?”

“Me! Me! Me!”

“Alright, that’s what I thought. Let’s do it.”

“Sir! Sir! Did you want to order?” I waved my hand at the offending, interrupting McHelp and shushed them with my finger. It was time for my first cellphone clue. The McElvi Burger would have to wait.

prairiegirl said...

^^^ courtesy of our dear Sherlaustin Holmes.

Look in mirror said...

This can't be real because it doesn't fit with our agenda.

Sounds like someone else has their own personal agenda, don't you think? Why else would an agnostic hang out on a site openly dedicated to the belief that Austin and Jake are a couple. Maybe you clicked on the wrong link when you would looking for the tooth fairy.

Look in mirror said...

Oops! Typo corrected:

"Maybe you clicked on the wrong link when you were looking for the tooth fairy.

Tweet said...

Hai "Look in mirror", you are very perceptive to read all that from just 11 words.

Sort of like the great perception of other posters who "read" that the post on JJ meant that Maggie was winging her way to LA to share cake with Austin.

So, as you are all correct, that tweet can't be real.

Still haven't answered question yet said...

Babbler must be your middle name because you certainly don't make sense. You must be that rare find. A dyslexic agnostic. A rare find, indeed.

Tweet said...

I thought you were so perceptive that you had me figured out. Now you have added "babbler", "dyslexic", and "agnostic". Keep going, I'm intrigued to know more about myself.

For others not as perceptive as you are: my agenda - posting a tweet that had been conveniently not posted. Wonder why?

lol said...

poor couch frumps, no Maggie in LA, no Austin to be found anywhere - just couch frumps looking like the fools they are

WTF? said...

Looks like someone is really threatened by Jake and Austin's relationship as they wasted a lot of time last night trying to convince us Jake did not see his husband for his birthday. Nice try, but no cigar.

Is it the mindset here that Jake and Austin are now married?

I don't think anyone can convince you of anything other than what makes you happy when it comes to your beliefs in Jake and Austin's life.

WTF. You all have taken this thing too far now. It's really getting scarry to even come to this site now.
Not that it would not be a good thing that if they were married, but it's just the mental and emotional investment in something that has not been proven then believing it because you want it to be then convincing yourself that it is truth.
Like a schizophrenic hearing voices.
I don't care how much you support gays, or gay rights, but living this fantasy of Jake and Austin are a married couple without either of them confiming it, and because it makes you feel good or whole is insane.
This is were I get off the bus.

M, There is something Wrong.

No cigar said...

Forget about the cigar, we have

- no photos for over 12 months
- no sightings AT ALL for over 12 months
- no marriage certificate
- no birth certificate(s)
- no tweets
- no facts, except anonymous posts on DL

lol said...

The couch frumps thought they had hit onto something big, with Maggie appearing at the airport. It was looking so good, PG even had BT playing with Ramona as they all stood around singing Happy Bday to Austin.

Now all they have is egg on their collective faces.

Don't worry, Austin will be 31 yo in a years time - plently of time to get the yolk off your faces.

WTF? said...

"Looks like someone is really threatened by Jake and Austin's relationship as they wasted a lot of time last night trying to convince us Jake did not see his husband for his birthday. Nice try, but no cigar.

WTF?

Is it the mindset here, or is it just M, that Jake ans Austin is now a MARRIED COUPLE?

M, are you sure you are not threatend by something?

Were did you find out that Jake and Austin are now married?
It's one thing to support gays, gay rights, equal rights and all, but to believe the two are married without anyone of them confirming it, no word from ANY hollywood insider, or because it makes you feel warm and complete inside is like hearing voice that are not there. It's Insanity.
Schizophrenic behavior.
TMZ don't even have this exclusive report.

It's now become a mental and emotional security blanket that these two just have to be together. It's really getting scarry around here now after all these years. Like someone said above.
If you see Austin and Jake together, it's all the evidence that they are together, a couple and have a baby.
If they are not seen together, which has been for a Long time now, then they are still together because you know what, they are in the closet. Which way is it?

They are MARRIED NOW? WoW

It's time for me to get off the Jake and Austin bus.
Good bye

WTF? said...

Sorry for the second post.
I'm just floored with this Jake and Austin are married comments.

PR said...

One down, a few loonies to go

WTF said...

One down, a few loonies to go

^^^they wasted a lot of time last night trying to convince us Jake did not see his husband for his birthday.

You call me looney? Now this is LOONEY.

Special K said...

Still up.

Funny the pattern of comments - The Who. The Where. The When. The Why.

PR said...

Sorry WTF, didn't mean to tar you with the loony brush.

Glad you can see how ridiculous some of beliefs here are.

Da said...

What's funny is someone believing that Jake and Austin are married because they want to believe it.

Jake's PR said...

speaking of patterns, how about these:

Jake and Austin are married

Every woman with a baby stroller is Jake and Austin's surrogate and she's with babytile

every picture or word of Jake around a woman is PR

endless excuses of no Jake and Austin pictures together.

Is anyone aware of this pattern?

PR said...

"Funny the pattern of comments - The Who. The Where. The When. The Why."

Are any of them coming from the Seagull Hotel

m said...

Like I said earlier, someone is really threatened by the fact that Jake likely spent yesterday celebrating his husband's birthday. They are melting down again. As to the husband reference, you must not be keeping up with Ted's AT site. Do your homework.

loon said...

May be PR had an increase in budget and are now on here 24/7. Or maybe PR got a whiff of something big that Ted is going to publish.

porcine said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
? said...

Special K, are you ever going to start deleting troll posts? Or do you think that we enjoy their insults?

Typical OMG'er said...

What you are really asking is that your insults remain, while opinions that differ from the party line be deleted. Keep crying.

Typical troll pretending that his shit is just another opinion said...

This is an opinion: "The couch frumps thought they had hit onto something big..."?

Yes, I will keep saying that troll shit and insults should be deleted.

lol said...

have a tissue, dear

prairiegirl said...

Good mooooooorning!!! Happpy Monday to you guys.

It's a real Jessica Fletcher head-shaker to watch Reese in action right now. She's a woman on a mission, alright. She's polluting Just Jared real good right now and she's getting trashed for it, lol. Caution today if you happen to go over to JJ this morning.

Well, you all have a great Monday! I'm off on another weekday adventure. I cannot wait! lol.

So very bitter said...

It's a real Jessica Fletcher head-shaker to watch Reese in action right now.

Prairegirl, did Reese run over your cat or something? Every other day you drag her up and moan about her. Let. It. Go.

Ted said...

Dear Ted:
How bisexual is Anna Paquin, really? I kissed a few girls in college. Somehow it seems girls have less trouble kissing girls than guys have kissing other guys. But kissing a same-sex person once or twice doesn't really make you bisexual, don't you agree?
—B

Dear Bi-Curious:
A.Paq is no wannabe celeb trying to get attention by manipulating her sex appeal. She announced her bisexuality to bring awareness to a cause, so I'd give her a bit more clout than a few drunken makeouts with other chicks.

Bitch-Back! Angelina in a League of Her Own?

Judy Garland said...

Someone didn't take their meds last night. You really should find somewhere else to play.