Sunday, November 30, 2014

Out Spotlight

Today's Out Spotlight  was an American author and activist known for his work on behalf of trans men. Today's Out Spotlight is Lou Sullivan.

Born Sheila Jean Sullivan in a Catholic household in Milwaukee, WI,  June 16, 1951, Lou Sullivan recorded in a childhood diary the joy of “playing boys.” As a teenager, Sullivan was fascinated by male homosexuality. “I want to look like what I am, but I don’t know what someone like me looks like,” she recalled. When Sullivan began to identify as a transgender gay man, the prospects were daunting: “What can become of a girl whose real desire and passion is with male homosexuals?”

Standing at the threshold of an uncertain new world, Sullivan took the first step by adopting the identity of a female transvestite. After moving to San Francisco, Sullivan took the first name Lou, lived as a gay man, identified as a female-to-male (FTM) transsexual and medically transitioned to a gender-confirming male body.

When Sullivan was initially denied transition surgery due to his homosexual orientation, he publicly advocated for homosexuality to be removed from the list of contraindications. The successful campaign provided a breakthrough in widespread acknowledgment of the difference between sexual orientation and gender identity.

He became a peer counselor for gender-questioning women and corresponded with FTMs nationwide. He founded FTM International, one of the first FTM organizations, along with SHAFT in the UK and Rupert Raj's Metamorphosis in Toronto, and is largely responsible for the modern acknowledgment that sexual orientation and gender identity are totally different concepts.

He wrote the first guidebook for FTM persons, and also a biography of the San Francisco FTM, Jack Bee Garland and was instrumental in demonstrating the existence of trans men attracted to men.  He is also credited for being the first to discuss the eroticism of men’s clothing.

He became a founding member of the Gay and Lesbian Historical Society (now The GLBT Historical Society), whose archive have one of the best collections of material on gay, lesbian, bisexual and transsexual history in the world. He contribute his papers to the society as well.

Sullivan remained an outspoken transgender activist until his death from AIDS at age 39, March 2, 1991, in San Francisco, California.  He was the first trans man to die of AIDS.

 “My problem is that I can’t accept life for what it is. I feel that there is something deep and wonderful underneath it.”

1 comment:

Special K said...

I'm sure most of you know but just in case, today is AIDS Day.