In some ways it seems strange to single out people whose work deals specifically with sexuality or gender. After all, most of these artists, scientists, and activists did many things in their lives, and they may or may not have themselves separated out their work that confronted experiences of sexuality and gender in ways that opened up dialogue and made us think. Still, few people get credit for this kind of work, and so it feels important and a worthwhile exercise to take a few moments to remember some of our sexual losses in 2010. As always, this list is in no particular order, and definitely incomplete. I welcome any additions.
Lucille Clifton (June 27, 1936 - February 13, 2010)
Poet and children's author Lucille Clifton left a body of work which "trained lenses wide and narrow on the experience of being black and female in the 20th century, exploring vast subjects like the indignities of history and intimate ones like the indignities of the body." Clifton's work, for which she received the National Book Award, the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, often confronted the multiple intersections of race, gender, class, as well as violence and sexuality, in language that was accessible and biting, and funny. The Times obituary reprints her "homage to my hips". Also check out "i was born with twelve fingers".
Read more - New York Times: Lucille Clifton, Poet Who Explored Intricacies of Black Lives, Dies at 73
Laura Hershey (August 11, 1962 - November 26, 2010)
Laura was a writer, poet, disability activist, partner, ally, friend, and mom. She had an ability in her writing to convey hope and pride while confronting difficult parts of human experience, suffering, isolation, shame, and fear. She didn't shy away from messiness or conflict and the simple way she integrated sexuality into everything else she did gave permission for others to do the same, and worked as a efficient rebuke to those who would try and deny access to the basic right of being sexual.
Read more - Laura Hershey, 1962 - 2010
Will Munro (February 11, 1975 - May 21, 2010)
Will Munro was an artist, club promoter, and community builder. In Toronto, his adopted city, he may have been best known as the creator of Vazaleen, a queer club night that created a space open to many who never had a place of their own, which also became a safe place for many different communities to intersect in an intensely joyful way. Filmmaker Bruce LaBruce wrote a loving remembrance of Will for Torontoist, describing Munro as a Renaissance man, a warrior, a friend and colleague for nonconformist artists, thinkers, and partiers everywhere.
Read more - Torontoist: Will Munro
Juliet Anderson (1939 - January 10, 2010)
Juliet Carr, whose screen name was Juliet Anderson, was a well known and much loved porn star turned sexual healer. She began her porn career at the age of 39 and went on to make over 80 films. David Steinberg describes Anderson as a "true sexual enthusiast" who "projected life and joy" in all her work. In 1999 she produced and starred in one of the first explicit videos about older adults having sex called Ageless Desires speaking out for herself and an entire population that had been, and continue to be, sexually marginalized.
Read more - SFGate.com: A fond farewell to Aunt Peg
Bertram Schaffner (1913 - January 29, 2010)
A psychiatrist who served in World War II and later at the Nuremberg trials, Dr. Schaffner was openly gay and one of the key figures in the removal of homosexuality from the DSM in 1973. He was also one of the first psychiatrists to work with people living with HIV/AIDS in the U.S.
Read more - POZ: R.I.P. Betram Schaffner
Dorothy Height (March 24, 1912 - April 20, 2010)
Called the "Godmother of the civil rights movement" Dorothy Height began her working life at 25 with the New York City Welfare Department. She fought for civil rights particularly identifying race and gender as sites of intense oppression and marginalization, and was the president of the National Council of Negro women for forty years. While serving as president, Height, along with a friend and colleague organized Wednesdays in Mississippi, an initiative that brought black and white women together from the north and south, to work together to end legalized segregation and fight institutionalized racism and oppression.
Read more - New York Times: Dorothy Height, Largely Unsung Giant of the Civil Rights Era, Dies at 98
Paul Longmore (July 10, 1946 - August 9, 2010)
I met Prof. Paul Longmore three or four times over the past fifteen years and was lucky enough to have heard him speak at several conferences and arrange to have him participate in two television documentaries in my role as a researcher for Sex TV. Paul was an author, historian,and disability activist who was a key figure in the development of disability studies in the U.S. Paul saw sexuality as a part of life and yet another site of resistance against an ablest world that denies that people with disabilities are people, let alone sexual beings, partners, sex pots, and more. Sexuality wasn't the focus of his work, it was part of his awareness and experience and he saw no reason why it shouldn't be talked about and fought for as a right alongside other rights that continue to be denied to specific groups of people.
Read more - Paul Longmore, 1946 - 2010
Sandra Leiblum (1943 - January 28, 2010)
Sex therapist, educator, and researcher Sandra Leiblum was involved in over 130 clinical and research studies and was the editor or co-editor of ten books, including the now classic text Principles and Practice of Sex Therapy. Leiblum's commitment to caring for and researching people's basic experiences of sexuality was reflected in her approach to people (described by friends, colleagues, and students as warm, supportive, and open) as well as her choice of research area. Most recently, Leiblum coined the term persistent genital arousal disorder to describe a very real problem that is nonetheless relatively rare and under discussed.
Read more - Sandra Leiblum and Colleagues and friends remember Sandra Leiblum
Antony Grey (October 6, 1927 - April 30, 2010)
Grey was an early campaigner for gay rights in the UK. He began publicly working to decriminalize homosexuality in 1958, and received the Stonewall Hero of the Year award for spearheading the campaign which resulted in the first partial decriminalization of homosexuality in 1967. He was quoted in 2007 at the time he received the award as taking some satisfaction in the improved legal standing for some, without wanting to rest on laurels while others continue to be denied basic rights: "the price of liberty is eternal vigilance, and ours is a never-ending struggle not just for our own rights, but for human rights."
Read more - Pink News: Tribute to Antony Grey
I only learned about Ellen Hardy and her work after she died, from an obituary written by Dr. Maria Jose Duarte Osis. Hardy was a sociologist who "used to say that professionally she was born in Chile, grew up in the Dominican Republic and reached maturity in Brazil." After experiencing her own marginalization while studying sociology in Chile, Hardy focused her work on women's reproductive rights, and was "a crucial figure in the scientific formation of many researchers, particularly within CEMICAMP (Centro de Pesquisas em Saude Reprodutivo de Campinas--the Campinas Center for Reproductive Health) and at the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, School of Medical Sciences, University of Campinas (UNICAMP)." The remembrance ends with this "The legacy Ellen has left us encompasses not only her numerous publications, but also the courage, strength, competence and dedication with which she performed her academic and research roles, and her example as a human being, who had to confront and overcome innumerable obstacles and learn to live with her convictions and contradictions, as a means of winning her battles."
Read more - Ellen Hardy
Wilma Mankiller (November 18, 1945 - April 6, 2010)
Former Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation, and noted as the first female to be elected to that position, Mankiller was a leader, educator, activist, and author. She founded the community development department of the Cherokee Nation and was instrumental in developing water systems, better housing and improved educational opportunities. While speaking out about human rights, she was also vocal about women's rights and was a founding member of Women Empowering Women for Indian Nations. In remembering Mankiller, Chad Smith, the Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation said: "We are better people and a stronger tribal nation because her example of Cherokee leadership, statesmanship, humility, grace, determination and decisiveness. When we become disheartened, we will be inspired by remembering how Wilma proceeded undaunted through so many trials and tribulations. Her gift to us is the lesson that our lives and future are for us to decide."
Read more - Official website for Wilma Mankiller
Robert Carter (July 27, 1927 - February 22, 2010)
The Reverend Robert Carter was one of the first Roman Catholic priests in the U.S. to come out publicly as gay, which he did in 1973, at the same time that he helped found the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. Carter also was involved in founding a support group for gay Catholics.
Read More - New York Times: Robert Carter, Priest and Gay Activist, Dies at 82.
Ai (October 21, 1947 - March 20, 2010)
Ai was a poet and teacher, whose work and voice was variously described as "all woman - all human" and "the vagina-dentata itself starting to talk." In her Times her work is described as being "known for its raw power, jagged edges and unflinching examination of violence and despair" standing "as a damning indictment of American society". She received a National Book Award for her collection "Vice: New and Selected Poems." Her work was heavily informed by her own experience of race (she self-identified as Japanese, Choctaw-Chickasaw, Black, Irish, Southern Cheyenne, and Comanche) as well as gender. Jerry Williams, writing on the Best American Poetry blog describes encountering her work which was "what every other poet seemed too afraid to write - disturbing poems, violent, sexy, unspeakably moving, grief-stricken, harrowing, cutting, beautiful, and yet the verse seemed skillfully controlled and peaceable. For me, most other poets sat in the back seat and Ai drove."
Read more - Isak: RIP Ai (1947 - 2010): Poet, Feminist, Fierce Voice
Jamie Gillis (April 20, 1943 - February 19, 2010)
Susie Bright offers a remembrance of a man many call the first male superstar of porn. Gillis starred in some of the great classic porn films, and, as Susie's interview with him illuminates, he began in the industry before it was one. One of the things that makes some of those early films so erotic is the sense that the people on screen are actually having a good time, and can't quite believe their getting paid to have sex. Very different from what one sees on the small porno screen today.
Read more - Susie Bright: An Educated Man: Jamie Gillis, RIP
Winifred Kempton (1936 - August 4, 2010)
AASECT-certified sexuality educator Pamela Boyle passed along news of Winifred Kempton's passing. Kempton was the director for Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania from 1969 to 1980 and Pam remembers that "she was a powerful voice in the field, and was one of the first people who advocated for teaching people with intellectual disabilities about sexuality. She wrote several books and did a great deal of training on the issue both nationally and internationally.
Read more - Philly.com: Winifred Kepmton, sex, music therapist
Hillard Elkins (October 18, 1929 - December 1, 2010)
A theater producer, Elkins may be credited in no small part for the amount of public nudity one sees on stage, on television, and every time a drunk celebrity who has"forgotten" to wear underwear, exits a limousine. For it was Elkin who, in 1969 produced "Oh! Calcutta!" a play performed largely in the nude, which included sexual fantasies and simulated sex acts the likes of which had not been seen in a mainstream theater. Like so much public nudity, the artistic merit of the play can easily be called into question, however the impact on what was permissible and the public conversation about sexuality, cannot.
Read more - LA Times: Hillard Elkins dies at 81; talent manager and producer
Margaret "Midge" Costanza (November 28, 1932 - March 23, 2010)
Costanza was the first woman to hold the office of Assistant of the President of the United States which she did when Jimmy Carter named her Assistant to the President for Public Liaison in 1977. She was only in that position for 20 months, largely as a result of her active campaigning for reproductive rights, as well as gay rights. Of the position she is quoted as saying “The White House should be the President’s window to the nation. [It should be] a place where the people can voice what they want, what they feel and what they need.”
Read more - New York Times: Midge Costanza, a Top Assistant to Carter, Dies at 77
Walter Stamm (February 4, 1945 - December 13, 2010)
Former president of the Infection Diseases Society of America, Dr. Walter Stamm is credited with research that helped prevent, control, and treat chlamydia. According to his obituary, his research team were the first to demonstrate how screening for chlamydia could reduce rates of pelvic inflammatory disease.
Read more - New York Times: Walter Stamm, 64; Helped Curb Chlamydia
Jill Johnston (May 17, 1929 - September 18, 2010)
Johnston was a writer, poet, dance critic, and, according to Norman Mailer introducing her in 1971, "America's finest free-associative writer". Probably best known for her collection of essays Lesbian Nation: The Feminist Solution, Johnston famously said (and wrote) that all women are lesbians, some just don't know it yet, and "feminists who still sleep with men are delivering their most vital energies to the oppressor."
Read more - Guardian UK: Jill Johnston obituary
Joseph Sarno (March 15, 1921 - April 26, 2010)
One of the pioneering directors of 1960s "sexploitation" films, Sarno was the director of such classics as "Sin in the Suburbs" and "Come Ride the Wild Pink Horse". Sexploitation films are considered a formative stage in the evolution of explicit erotic moving pictures, from early porn loops and nudist films to mainstream hardcore pornography. In the 1970s he directed several hardcore films, but never under his own name and, according to a Times obituary he had no interest in "simpley filming sex acts.
Read more - New York Times: Joseph Sarno, Sexploitation Film Director, Dies at 89