January 5, 2020 at 12:23 pm EST | by Kathi Wolfe
Remembering the queer voices and allies we lost in 2019
Valerie Harper, gay news, Washington Blade
Valerie Harper had a strong, special connection to the queer community. (Photo public domain)

Many acclaimed LGBTQ people and allies died in 2019. They include:

Carol Channing, the legendary Broadway actress, died on Jan. 15 at age 97 in Rancho Mirage, Calif. She was best know for her performances as Lorelei Lee in “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” and Dolly Gallagher Levi in “Hello Dolly!”

Mary Oliver, a lesbian poet, died on Jan. 17 at her Florida home at age 83. Her collection “American Primitive, won the 1984 Pulitzer Prize.  

Harris Wofford, a Democratic senator and civil rights crusader, died on Jan. 21 at age 92. After his wife died, Wofford fell in love with Matthew Charlton. They married in 2018.

Barbra Siperstein, a transgender rights crusader died on Feb. 3 at age 76 from cancer at a New Brunswick, N.J. hospital. A New Jersey law bears her name. It permits people in New Jersey to change their gender on their birth certificates without having to prove they’ve had surgery.  

Babs Siperstein, gay news, Washington Blade
Pioneering transgender activist Barbra ‘Babs’ Casbar Siperstein died at age 76. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Patricia Nell Warren, author of the 1974 novel “The Front Runner” died on Feb. 9 at age 82 in Santa Monica, Calif. from lung cancer.  The iconic book was one of the first to feature an open same-sex male relationship.

If you haven’t read author PATRICIA NELL WARREN’s essential ‘The Front Runner,’ then your gay card is in jeopardy. (Blade photo by Karen Ocamb)

Hilde Zadek, a Vienna State Opera mainstay, died on Feb. 21 at 101 in Karlsruhe, Germany. She debuted in the title role of in Verdi’s “Aida” in 1947. She retired in 1971.

Jackie Shane, a black transgender soul singer who received a 2018 Grammy nomination for best historical album for her album “Any Other Way,” died at age 78 in Nashville. Her body was found at her home on Feb. 21.

Gillian Freeman, the British novelist who wrote the 1961 novel “The Leather Boys” died on Feb. 23 at age 89 in London. The book was one of the first to portray working-class gay characters.

Carrie Ann Lucas, a queer lawyer and disability rights advocate, died on Feb. 24 at age 47 in Loveland, Colo. She championed the rights of disabled parents.  

John Richardson, an art historian renowned for his four-volume biography of Pablo Picasso, died at age 95 on March 12 at his Manhattan home.    

Barbara Hammer, a lesbian filmmaker, died at age 79 from ovarian cancer at her partner Florrie Burke’s home in Manhattan on March 16. Hammer celebrated lesbian sexuality in “Dyketactics” and other films.

Dr. Richard Green, a psychiatrist, died at age 82 on April 6 at his London home. He was one of the first to critique the idea that being queer is a psychiatric disorder.

Michael Fesco, the nightclub owner who provided open spaces (Ice Palace, Flamingo and other venues) for gay men to dance when LGBTQ people couldn’t be out, died on April 12 at age 84 in Palm Springs, Calif.

Lyra McKee, a 29-year-old, queer Northern Ireland journalist, died on April 18. She was killed while covering violence in Londonderry.  

Giuliano Bugialli, a gay culinary historian and three-time James Beard Award winner, died at age 88 on April 26 in Viareggio, Italy.  

Doris Day, queer icon, actress and singer best known for her romantic comedies with Rock Hudson, died at age 97 on May 13 at her Carmel Valley, Calif. home from pneumonia.

Binyavanga Wainaina, a Kenyan author, founder of the magazine “Kwani?” and one of the first prominent African writers to come out as gay, died at age 48 on May 21 in a Nairobi hospital.  

Charles A. Reich, author of the 1970 counter-culture manifesto “The Greening of America,” died on June 15 at age 91 in San Francisco. 

Douglas Crimp, an art critic and AIDS activist, died on July 5 at age 74 at his Manhattan home from multiple myeloma. He wrote many articles for journals. Yet he also attended meetings of the AIDS group ACT UP.  

Elka Gilmore, a queer chef known for her fusion cuisine, died at age 59 on July 6 in San Francisco. The New York Times Magazine called her “the enfant terrible of the modern California kitchen.”  

George Hodgman, a gay editor, died on July 19 at age 60 at his Manhattan home. The cause was thought to be suicide. Hodgman’s memoir “Bettyville” is his story of staying in Paris, Mo. with his widowed mother who had dementia.

Lee Bennett Hopkins, a gay poet who wrote and edited many books for children, died on Aug. 8 at age 81 in Cape Coral, Fla.  In 2018, he edited “World Make Way: New Poems Inspired by Art from The Metropolitan Museum.”

Sally Floyd, one of the inventors of Random Early Detection (RED), a widely used internet algorithm, died at age 69 on Aug. 25 at her Berkeley, Calif. home from cancer. She is survived by her wife Carole Leita.

Valerie Harper, the actress best known as Rhoda Morgenstern on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” died on Aug. 30 at age 80 from cancer. Harper was D.C.’s 2009 Capital Pride Parade grand marshal.

Rip Taylor, a gay comedian known as The King of Confetti, died on Oct. 6 at age 88 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.    

John Giorno, a gay artist, died on Oct. 11 at his home in Manhattan at age 82. In 1969, he founded Dial-A-Poem, a communications system enabling people to hear Allen Ginsberg and other poets read their poems.  

Gillian Jagger, an artist whose work (installations of animal carcasses and tree trunks) wasn’t aligned with any one movement, died on Oct. 21 in Ellenville, N.Y. at age 88. “I felt that nature held the truth I wanted,” she told the U.K’s Public Monuments and Sculpture Association magazine. She is survived by her wife Connie Mander.

Howard Cruse, a gay cartoonist whose comic strip “Wendel” ran in The Advocate for several years, died on Nov. 26 at age 75 in Pittsfield, Mass. from lymphoma. His graphic novel “Stuck Rubber Baby” and other work influenced other queer cartoonists. He is survived by his husband Ed Sedarbaum.

Michael Howard, a gay military historian and decorated combat veteran and pioneer of the “English school” of strategic studies, died on Nov. 30 in Swindon, England at age 97.  

Shelley Morrison, who played Rosario on “Will and Grace” from 1999 to 2006, died on Dec. 1 in Los Angeles at age 83 from heart failure.  

William Luce, who wrote the acclaimed plays “The Belle of Amherst” about Emily Dickinson and “Barrymore” about John Barrymore, died on Dec. 9 at a memory-care facility in Green Valley, Ariz. at age 88. Ray Lewis, his partner of 50 years, died in 2001.  

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