Home' South Florida Gay News : SFGN 100715 Contents 54 • 10.7.2015
Birth: May 29, 1984
“It is revolutionary for any trans person to choose to
be seen and visible in a world that tells us we should
Laverne Cox is an American actress, producer and
LGBT advocate best known for her role as a transgender
prison inmate in the Netflix series “Orange Is the New
Black.” She is the first openly transgender person to be
nominated for an Emmy Award for acting and the first to
appear on the cover of Time magazine.
Cox was born a twin in Mobile, Alabama. She was
“majorly bullied” as a child for being feminine. Cox
begged for dance lessons, which she began in third grade.
She went on to earn a BFA in dance from Marymount
Manhattan College, where her twin brother, musician
M Lamar, pursued visual art. He has also appeared in
“Orange Is the New Black,” playing the role of Cox’s
character before she transitioned.
Cox is the first trans woman of color to produce
and star in her own TV show, the makeover series
“TRANSform Me.” She has appeared on VH1’s “Want to
Work for Diddy” and on programs such as “Law & Order:
SVU” and “Bored to Death.” She plays a supporting role
in the 2015 film “Grandma,” starring Lily Tomlin.
Cox has earned numerous awards and honors for
her work as well as her activism, including the 2013
Courage Award from the Anti-Violence Project. In
2014—the year her hour-long documentary, “Laverne
Cox Presents: The T Word,” aired simultaneously on
MTV and Logo—she received a GLAAD Media Award.
She was also named Glamour’s Woman of the Year and
included on the EBONY Power 100 List.
In 2015 Cox was named to the OUT Power 50 List and
as one of People magazine’s Most Beautiful Women.
Time magazine included her on its 2015 list of the 100
Most Influential People in the World.
Birth: February 15, 1968
“I don’t exclusively align myself with any one particular
group — Latino, Cuban, gay or ‘white’ — but I embrace
Blanco is the youngest, the first Latino and the first openly
gay person to be named a U.S. inaugural poet. He read his poem
“One Today,” written soon after the mass shooting in Newtown,
Connecticut, at President Barack Obama’s second inauguration.
He describes the poem as “a unique snapshot of where we are
as a country.”
Blanco was born in Madrid to Cuban exiles. Shortly
thereafter, the family immigrated to New York and later settled
in Miami, where Blanco was raised. He graduated from Florida
International University with a degree in civil engineering and
worked initially as a consulting civil engineer. His creative
yearnings eventually sent him back to his alma mater, where he
earned an MFA in creative writing.
His first book of poetry, “City of a Hundred Fires,” published
in 1998, won the Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize from the
University of Pittsburgh. After the book’s success, Blanco
accepted a creative writing professorship at Central Connecticut
State University. Subsequently, he taught at Georgetown
University, American University and at the Writer’s Center.
Blanco’s poetry explores his cultural heritage and sexuality,
most notably in “Looking for the Gulf Motel,” published in 2012.
“It’s trying to understand how I fit between negotiating the
world, between being mainstream gay and being Cuban gay,” he
His work has been published in The Nation, Ploughshares,
New England Review, Americas Review and many other poetry
journals and publications. He received the PEN Open Book
Award for “Directions to the Beach of the Dead” in 2006 and
the Thom Gunn Award for Gay Poetry for “Looking for the Gulf
Motel” in 2013. He wrote and read the poem, “Matters of the
Sea,” for the reopening ceremony of the U.S. embassy in Havana,
Cuba, in 2015.
Blanco has participated in many charitable causes, including
Freedom to Marry and One Fund, an organization that benefits
victims of the Boston Marathon bombing. He lives in Bethel,
Maine, with his partner, Dr. Mark Neveu, a research scientist.
Birth: December 2, 1978
“I want to do the right thing and not hide anymore.”
Jason Collins is a retired professional American basketball
player who played for 13 seasons with the NBA. During the
2012-13 season, Collins came out in Sports Illustrated before
signing with the New Jersey Nets, making him the first
openly gay athlete to play on any professional sports team in
“If I had my way, someone else would have already done
this,” he said when he came out. “Nobody has, which is why
I’m raising my hand.”
During his career, Collins played for the Houston Rockets,
the Memphis Grizzlies, the Minnesota Timberwolves, the
Atlanta Hawks, the Boston Celtics, the Washington Wizards
and the Brooklyn Nets before retiring in 2014. He wore
number 98 on his jersey in honor of Matthew Shepard,
the young gay man who was murdered in 1998 in Laramie,
Wyoming. Collins’s jersey broke records at the NBA Store;
it became a best seller with the proceeds of signed jerseys
benefiting the Matthew Shepard Foundation and the Gay,
Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN).
In 2013 Collins was inducted into the National Gay and
Lesbian Sports Hall of Fame. The following year, he was
featured on the cover of Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential
People in the World.
Collins was born in California. He has a twin brother who
is also an athlete.
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