Benjamin Britten, Prominent British Composer

Born in England in 1913, Benjamin Britten began playing the piano at age five and was composing at fourteen. He attended the Royal College of Music, but far more significant to him were his evenings in London's concert halls.

The performance of his 1933 work, "A Boy Was Born," was a twist of fate. He met tenor Peter Pears, one of the BBC Singers set to perform the piece. Their mutual attraction cemented a forty-year personal and professional relationship.

Many of Britten's greatest works were inspired by Pears, or to showcase Pears' voice – such as the opera "Peter Grimes."

Other works include "A Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra," "Spring Symphony, and "War Requiem."

Britten was unable to attend the premiere of his last opera "Death in Venice" due to failing health. In 1976, he died peacefully in Peter Pears's arms.

This Rainbow Minute was read by Tom Miller.

“The Rainbow Minute” is produced by Judd Proctor and Brian Burns and can be heard every weekday at 7:59am, 12:29pm and 2:59pm on WRIR – 97.3fm in Richmond, Virginia, and webcast at wrir.org. It’s also heard internationally on over 200 stations.

Walt Whitman, Father of Modern American Literature

Walt Whitman was born in 1819 in Long Island.  Receiving only five years of schooling, he apprenticed himself as a printer.

He recorded observations in notebooks, which evolved into the poems published in 1855, "Leaves of Grass." Because they lacked meter and rhyme, and because a number spoke of homosexual desire, the poems were considered scandalous.

While in Washington, Whitman met Peter Doyle, who said, "we were awful close together." Their relationship would last for the rest of Whitman's life.

Although Whitman remained closeted, he gave voice to same-sex desire, and inspired many in the modern gay rights movement.

Whitman's persona was best described by a fellow poet in 1882. Oscar Wilde said, "He is the grandest man I have ever seen, the simplest, most natural, and strongest character I have ever met in my life."

This Rainbow Minute was read by Mike Hinerman.

“The Rainbow Minute” is produced by Judd Proctor and Brian Burns and can be heard every weekday at 7:59am, 12:29pm and 2:59pm on WRIR – 97.3fm in Richmond, Virginia, and webcast at wrir.org. It’s also heard internationally on over 200 stations.

Audre Lorde – Poet, Activist and Educator

Audre Lorde was born in 1934 in Harlem. As a child, she became immersed in poetry, at times speaking in poetry.

As a black lesbian, her poetry often expressed longing for justice in a world dominated by white, heterosexual males. In 1968, her first book, The First Cities, was published.

During a six-week writer-in-residence position at Tougaloo College, she met Frances Clayton, her longtime partner.

In 1971,  Ms. Magazine published a lesbian love poem by Audre Lorde. After two more decades of prolific writing, she was given the Walt Whitman Citation of Merit, and was appointed Poet Laureate of New York State.

She often said, "I am a black, lesbian feminist," and at other times said, "I cannot be categorized." Her life and legacy proved both statements true.

This Rainbow Minute was read by Reverend Robin Gorsline.

“The Rainbow Minute” is produced by Judd Proctor and Brian Burns and can be heard every weekday at 7:59am, 12:29pm and 2:59pm on WRIR – 97.3fm in Richmond, Virginia, and webcast at wrir.org. It’s also heard internationally on over 200 stations.

Wanda Landowska Brings Back the Harpsichord

Wanda Landowska was born in Poland in 1879.  She took to the piano at age four and, once grown, studied at the Warsaw Conservatory. She also took music composition in Berlin, and taught piano and harpsichord.

Interested in musicology, she visited a European museum with keyboard instrument collections – and began acquiring old instruments herself.

Manuel de Falla composed new works for her to perform, which marked the return of the harpsichord to the modern orchestra.

Beginning in 1927, her home in France was a center for the study and performance of old music.

During Germany's invasion, her home was looted, and many instruments and manuscripts were stolen. Practically penniless, she fled to the U. S. with her assistant and life companion, Denise Restout, and re-established herself as a performer and teacher.

This Rainbow Minute was read by Jon Klein.

“The Rainbow Minute” is produced by Judd Proctor and Brian Burns and can be heard every weekday at 7:59am, 12:29pm and 2:59pm on WRIR – 97.3fm in Richmond, Virginia, and webcast at wrir.org. It’s also heard internationally on over 200 stations.

Obama's Words

When President Obama spoke at the grand opening of the Smithsonian Museum of African American History & Culture on September 24, 2016, he quoted three gay icons.

The president kicked off his comments with the words of a famous writer. "James Baldwin once wrote," Obama said, "'For while the tale of how we suffer, and how we are delighted, and how we may triumph is never new, it always must be heard.'"

Later, stressing the importance of African-American inclusion in society, Obama referenced the last line of a poem by Langston Hughes: "I too, am America."

African-Americans have shaped every aspect of our culture, Obama pointed out, reciting one of Walt Whitman's lines, "We are large, containing multitudes." This was taken from Whitman's poem, "Song of Myself."

This Rainbow Minute was read by Robyn Bentley.

“The Rainbow Minute” is produced by Judd Proctor and Brian Burns and can be heard every weekday at 7:59am, 12:29pm and 2:59pm on WRIR – 97.3fm in Richmond, Virginia, and webcast at wrir.org. It’s also heard internationally on over 200 stations.

Sammy Fromm, Infamous Psychology Student

In the 1940s, a gay student named Sammy Fromm took a psychology class at UCLA, taught by Dr. Evelyn Hooker. Along the way, the two became friends. While in San Francisco over Thanksgiving, they shared a night on the town with Sammy's gay friends.

Later that night, Sammy took Evelyn aside, saying, "We have let you see us as we are, and now it is your scientific duty to make a study of people like us. We're homosexuals, but we don't need psychiatrists. We're not insane. We're not any of those things they say we are."

Also encouraged by her colleagues, Evelyn began her landmark study. She turned the scientific community on its head, finding that gay men are psychologically indistinguishable from straight men.

Through his good friend Evelyn, Sammy Fromm had at last revealed the truth to the whole world.

This Rainbow Minute was read by Dustin Richardson.

“The Rainbow Minute” is produced by Judd Proctor and Brian Burns and can be heard every weekday at 7:59am, 12:29pm and 2:59pm on WRIR – 97.3fm in Richmond, Virginia, and webcast at wrir.org. It’s also heard internationally on over 200 stations.

Larry Kramer, Pioneer AIDS Activist

Larry Kramer was born in Connecticut in 1935. He earned his degree from Yale, and became a writer in the entertainment industry.

Through his later writings, he sounded the alarm about the AIDS epidemic. He bluntly warned gays against a life of excess, and wrote scathing criticism of the government's inaction to the crisis.

In 1982, Kramer helped form a group called the Gay Men's Health Crisis, to help combat the AIDS epidemic. He also helped form the AIDS Coalition To Unleash Power, known as ACT UP. Through its demonstrations, ACT UP garnered widespread media coverage, influencing drug companies to ramp up the development of new AIDS treatments.

Kramer discovered he himself was HIV-positive in 1988. He responded by writing a play, based loosely on his life journey. That journey reveals a man with a dogged determination to fight AIDS with political change.

This Rainbow Minute was read by Tom Miller.

“The Rainbow Minute” is produced by Judd Proctor and Brian Burns and can be heard every weekday at 7:59am, 12:29pm and 2:59pm on WRIR – 97.3fm in Richmond, Virginia, and webcast at wrir.org. It’s also heard internationally on over 200 stations.

May Sarton, Prolific Twentieth Century Writer

Born in Belgium in 1912, May Sarton came to America and embarked on a notable career as a poet and novelist. Early on, she taught creative writing at Wellesley College. She was awarded honorary doctorate degrees from more than a dozen colleges and universities.

Although Sarton had affairs with both sexes, her intimate relationships with women inspired much of her poetry. And since many of her novels portrayed positive lesbian experiences, she's credited with strengthening the lesbian movement. At times, Sarton detailed her own lesbian relationships in her journals, which became a common staple in women's studies courses.

Her most significant lesbian relationship was with Juliette Huxley. After Huxley's death in 1994, an elderly Sarton said, "I have had many lovers, many friends, but none has so nourished the poet and the lover as she did."

This Rainbow Minute was read by Candace Gingrich.

“The Rainbow Minute” is produced by Judd Proctor and Brian Burns and can be heard every weekday at 7:59am, 12:29pm and 2:59pm on WRIR – 97.3fm in Richmond, Virginia, and webcast at wrir.org. It’s also heard internationally on over 200 stations.

Frank Kameny, Grandfather of the Gay Movement

Frank Kameny was born in New York in 1925. He served in WWII and later earned his Ph.D. in astronomy.

In the 50s, he took a civil service position with the Army. But he got fired, because at that time, the government banned employment of homosexuals. Kameny was the first to take such a case to the Supreme Court.

Although he didn't prevail, he was eventually vindicated – because in 1975, the Civil Service Commission amended its anti-gay policy. He once said, "My dismissal amounted to a declaration of war against me by the government, and I tend not to lose my wars."

In that spirit, Kameny helped found the Washington D. C. branch of the Mattachine Society, organized the first gay demonstration at the White House, and co-founded the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.

Frank Kameny's successes were all forged by his central thought: Gay is good.

This Rainbow Minute was read by Tom Miller.

“The Rainbow Minute” is produced by Judd Proctor and Brian Burns and can be heard every weekday at 7:59am, 12:29pm and 2:59pm on WRIR – 97.3fm in Richmond, Virginia, and webcast at wrir.org. It’s also heard internationally on over 200 stations.

Josephine Baker Saves the Children

Josephine Baker was born in New York in 1873. Tragically, her three siblings died during their childhood.

In 1898, she graduated from medical school. Determined to keep Victorian views of women from limiting her ambitions, she dressed in masculine suits.

She came to prominence with her historic breakthroughs in preventative medicine, while serving as the first director of New York City's Bureau of Child Hygiene. Her pilot programs on child hygiene, maternal education and midwife training helped drastically reduce the mortality rates of children under five.  

In turn, fellow physicians petitioned the mayor, saying her work "ruined medical practice, by its results in keeping babies well." Josephine wrote she was profoundly grateful for the compliment.

She spent the rest of her life as an advocate for children, with support from her female partners and a legion of feminist friends.

This Rainbow Minute was read by Mary Gay Hutcherson.

“The Rainbow Minute” is produced by Judd Proctor and Brian Burns and can be heard every weekday at 7:59am, 12:29pm and 2:59pm on WRIR – 97.3fm in Richmond, Virginia, and webcast at wrir.org. It’s also heard internationally on over 200 stations.

Renowned Architect, Philip Johnson

Philip Johnson was born in Cleveland in 1906, and at 35 entered architecture. His daring designs made him one of the most prominent architects of the past century, designing skyscrapers in every major city in America.

Johnson received the Gold Medal of the American Institute of Architects in 1978, and served as a role model to three generations of architects. He once said, "I like the thought that what we are to do on this earth is embellish it for its greater beauty, so that oncoming generations can look back to the shapes we leave here and get the same thrill that I got looking at theirs."

Johnson was known to be provocative, but didn't publicly come out until rather late in life. At his death in 2005, he was survived by David Whitney, his partner of 45 years.

This Rainbow Minute was read by Bill Lupoletti.

“The Rainbow Minute” is produced by Judd Proctor and Brian Burns and can be heard every weekday at 7:59am, 12:29pm and 2:59pm on WRIR – 97.3fm in Richmond, Virginia, and webcast at wrir.org. It’s also heard internationally on over 200 stations.

Alexander Hamilton, first Secretary of the Treasury

Alexander Hamilton was a hero in the Revolutionary War and later the first Secretary of the Treasury under President George Washington.

He was born in 1757 in the West Indies. As a highly-intelligent youth, he came to America and began his education. He was soon sidetracked, joining the colonial army as an officer. Because of his evident abilities, General George Washington chose Hamilton as his advisor.

Hamilton had relationships with both women and men, his most intense bond with fellow advisor, John Laurens. When they were apart on military assignments, they exchanged affectionate letters.

Hamilton once wrote to Laurens saying, "I wish my dear Laurens, it might be in my power, by actions rather than words, to convince you that I love you."  In 1782, Laurens was killed in a military skirmish, and Hamilton felt "the deepest affliction at the news."

This Rainbow Minute was read by Jay White.

“The Rainbow Minute” is produced by Judd Proctor and Brian Burns and can be heard every weekday at 7:59am, 12:29pm and 2:59pm on WRIR – 97.3fm in Richmond, Virginia, and webcast at wrir.org. It’s also heard internationally on over 200 stations.