Marguerite Radclyffe Hall is a lesbian British author who lived from 1880 to 1943.
Hall went to King’s College in London and then moved to school in Germany. Her writing career began with poems and then moved onto novels.
Hall was a lesbian, and as such these themes carry through her personal life and her writing. She said she had never been attracted to men, and her romantic attachments to women began early when she began to develop feelings for multiple women in her youth and young adult life. Most of the women she fancied were artists like herself, and her first long-term relationship was with Mabel Batten, a married amateur singer. The two formed a home together after Batten’s husband died, and Hall’s poetry continued to develop with newfound lesbian themes, such as her poem Ode to Sappho.
She also began an affair with another married woman in 1915, Una Troubridge, and this relationship lasted the rest of Hall’s life. She carried on the affair with Troubridge and Batten until Batten’s death, and then she and Troubridge moved in together after Troubridge separated from her husband legally.
Hall’s most famous and controversial literary work was The Well of Loneliness, about a lesbian attachment between two women. It spoke of the troubles of being a lesbian in society, and Hall did intensive research for the book. Shortly after publication, it was damned as immoral.
“I would rather give a healthy boy or a healthy girl a phial of prussic acid than this novel. Poison kills the body, but moral poison kills the soul.”
– Sunday Express, August 19th, 1928
Publication and distribution of the book was made to cease in Britain and in the US, and was declared obscene in court. It continued to sell well in France, however.
She continued writing despite this failure, focussing more on Catholic themes. She also picked up another affair with a russian woman, Evgenia Souline. This affair lasted until just before Hall’s death, and she remained with Troubridge throughout.
Hall died in 1943 due to colon cancer and left behind a legacy of groundbreaking lesbian literature and poetry, and remains a staple in LGBTQ+ reading even today.
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Ben Barres, formerly known as Barbara Barres, is a neurobiologist and a professor at Stanford University.
Born in 1955, he excelled in math and science at an early age. He attended MIT for his bachelor’s degree in Biology, Dartmouth for his medical degree, and Harvard for his PhD in Neurobiology. He transitioned in 1997. In 1993, he joined the faculty at Stanford. In 2008, he was appointed to the Chair of Neurobiology. His research is on the development and function of glial cells in the central nervous system.
His research and teaching has won him many awards, such as the Life Sciences Research Fellowship, the Klingenstein Fellowship Award, a McKnight Investigator Award, a Searle Scholar Award, and the Kaiser Award for Excellence in Teaching. He has published many articles on his research and sexism in STEM. He is member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
In 2013 he was elected to the US National Academy of Sciences, and was the first openly transgender member .
On April 18, 1981 Audrey Tang, formerly known as Autrijus Tang, was born. From a young age, she showed interest in technology and began learning the programming language Perl at the age of 12. Tang was a high school drop-out, but at the age of 19 she had experience in software companies as well as entrepreneurship in Silicon Valley. In 2005 at the age of 24, Tang began her transition (which is when she changed both her Chinese and English names).
With her IQ reportedly being 180, one can see that she is extremely intelligent, though that is quite evident in her accomplishments as listed below.
Ferdinand Karsch was a scientist from Germany that identified as homosexual.
He was born on September 2, 1853 in Münster, Germany. He worked as an entomologist, anthropologist, and an arachnologist. He went to college at the Friedrich Wilhelm University in Berlin and in 1877 he published a thesis on the gall wasp. He was the curator of the Museum für Naturkunde in Berlin for 43 years. He published many articles about the specimens of spiders that the museum had received from explorers and naturalists in Africa, China, Japan, and Australia.
In addition to these, he published many articles and studies on homosexuality in the animal world and in communities that were referred to as “primitive.” He lived as openly homosexual in Berlin until December 20, 1936. Unfortunately, Hitler’s rise to power and the oppression of the LGBT community by Nazi’s led to his work being disregarded for a time.
Vivian Underhill is a chemist at the US Geological Survey where she researching mercury contamination in California. She has a blog called vivianunderhill.wordpress.com that she uses for writing, LGBT+ activism, and general nerdy stuff. Between 2010 and 2012, she wrote the Boulder Frugalista weekly column in the Colorado Weekly. Additionally, she has written articles for New West Magazine, Bitch Magazine Online, Lip Poetry Journal, and Autostraddle.com, where she wrote a series called the “Queered Science.” Underhill graduated summa cum laude from the University of Colorado with her BA in Environmental Studies.
Leonard Matolovich served in the United States Air Force as a pilot from 1963 to 1975. It was there that he made history for the LGBT community. In 1975, after twelve years of service, three tours of duty and earning a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star, he came out to his officers as homosexual, making him the first person to out themselves in the fight against the military’s ban on gay service members. Before coming out, he’d spent much of his life hiding his identity, even going so far as to mock other homosexuals in an attempt to assimilate. He knew that there were others like him in the military, but the ban kept them closeted in fear of discharge. This was exactly what happened to Matolovich. Only six months following his coming out, a three member panel discharged him from the military because of his refusal to sign an agreement to “never practice homosexuality again”.
Because of the lawsuit, the military’s ban was brought to the media’s attention. Matlovich appeared on the cover of Time magazine, the first openly gay person to be featured on the cover of a US publication. After his discharge, he continued to fight against the military ban and became a public figure in the LGBT community. He helped with fundraising and advocating against anti-gay discrimination, specifically efforts to overturn a gay nondiscrimination ordinance and prevent a ban on gay teachers in California.
Matlovich passed away from AIDS in 1988 when he was only 44. Instead of being inscribed with his name, his tombstone reads “When I was in the military, they gave me a medal for killing two men and a discharge for loving one.” His bravery to come out in unsure circumstances began the fight for equality for servicemen and women in our armed forces. Today, LGBT people are able to serve our country proudly.
Lynn Conway was born in 1938 in Mount Vermon, New York. She received her BS degree in physics from MIT in 1962. Conway received her MSEE degree from Columbia University in 1963. Shortly afterwards, she was hired by IBM where she made huge contributions to computer architecture.
Conway transitioned in 1968, and was unfortunately fired from her job. Ironically, IBM is now considered one of the more trans-friendly companies in America. Five years later in 1973, Conway was hired by Xerox PARC.
Between the time she started working and the 1980’s, she revolutionized the microchip. She later went on to be the Assistant Director for Strategic Computing at DARPA. After that, she went on to accomplish a plethora of other things before finally retiring.
George Takei is the actor who played Sulu in Star Trek. Although that is mostly what he is known for, he is also an Internet personality and social activist. Being a kid during a time of war is always stressful, but for George, the stress was more for him than his peers. During his childhood, the US began putting Japanese Americans in internment camps, and many of his early memories revolve around the great social injustice. As a young kid, Takei felt insecure about his sexual orientation and his ethnicity, but in recent years, especially after the gay pride movement became more accepted, he began to love and accept himself. By 2005, he was ready to come out to the works. At that time, he had already been with his partner, Brad Altman, for 18 years, but he wanted the media to spread his pride. George inspired Asian Americans to join STEM fields but since his coming out, he’s inspiring a lot more people.
Bruce Voeller was a Biologist that specialized in research related to sexually transmitted diseases, especially AIDS. In fact, it was Voeller who coined the term Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) to replace the inaccurate name Gay Related Immune Defense Disorder (GRIDD). Bruce Voeller was born in 1934, a time when understanding of homosexuality was lacking. Despite resistance against his homosexuality from his school counsellor, Voeller went on to earn a Ph.D. in Biology.
Voeller originally became president of the New York Gay Activists Alliance, but feeling that its reach was not far enough, he founded the National Gay Task Force in 1973. It was through this task force that Voeller organized the first-ever meeting between LGBT+ leaders and the president, and the first official discussion of LGBT+ rights in the White House.
Beyond civil rights, Voeller also founded the Mariposa Education and Research Foundation. The chief goal of the Mariposa foundation was to change prevailing attitudes about sexuality and homosexuality. It was through this foundation that Voeller released the first study showing that condoms could prevent STI’s. The Mariposa foundation used this research to spread information about sexuality, especially to those in the LGBT+ community to help fight the spread of STI’s such as AIDS.
Concerned about the legacy of LGBT+ leaders and movements, Voeller and his friend David Goodstein went on to start what would become the Human Sexuality Collection at the Cornell University Library.
Bruce Voeller passed away in 1994 due to complications from AIDS, but his research set the foundation for modern studies on sexuality and STI’s.
Louise Pearce was born on March 5, 1885, in Winchester, Massachusetts. She was the eldest child in her family, and had a younger brother. Pearce was an American pathologist at the Rockefeller Institute who helped develop a treatment for African sleeping sickness – a devastating epidemic which had depopulated whole districts of Africa.Louise received an A.B. degree in physiology and histology from Stanford University in 1907, and attended Boston University from 1907-1909. She was admitted to Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in 1907, and in 1912 she obtained her M.D., graduating third in her class.
The Rockefeller Institute sent Louise to the Belgian Congo in 1920 to test tryparsamide on victims of sleeping sickness, trusting that her enthusiasm for her job would carry her to success. There, she worked with a local hospital and lab to carry out a drug testing protocol for human trials to establish tryparsamide’s safety and effectiveness on patients.
Spending much of her career studying animal models of cancer, Pearce also successfully developed treatment protocols to apply tryparsamide to syphilis. For her efforts, Pearce received the Order of the Crown of Belgium, the King Leopold II prize of $10,000, and the Royal Order of the Lion awards. Louise was also the first elected woman member of American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, an impressive feat in the 1920s.
Pearce was also a member of Heterodoxy, a progressive feminist group, along with her partner, physician Sara Baker. Heterodoxy was a debate group notable for providing a forum for the development of more radical conceptions of feminism, including the acceptance of bisexual and lesbian females such as Pearce.
Pearce passed away August 10, 1959 at age 74 in New York City, leaving behind an impressively progressive legacy to women, scientists and LGBT+ people everywhere.
About LGBTQ+ of FIRST
LGBTQ+ of FIRST is a student run organization that advocates awareness and acceptance of LGBTQ+ students, mentors, and volunteers of FIRST Robotics. LGBTQ+ of FIRST reaches out to over 1000 members across the FIRST regions and fronts multiple outreach endeavors.