PEDRO ZAMORA, was a Cuban-American AIDS activist born on this date (d. 1994); Zamora was an out gay Cuban-American, HIV-positive AIDS educator who became famous for his activism, testimony before Congress, and his appearance on MTV's The Real World: San Francisco.  U.S. President Bill Clinton credited Zamora with personalizing and humanizing those with the disease....

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AMY LOWELL, American poet, born (d: 1925); Lowell was born into Boston's prominent Lowell family. Her brother, Percival Lowell, was a famous astronomer who predicted the existence of the dwarf planet Pluto; another, Abbott Lawrence Lowell, served as President of  Harvard University. She herself never attended college because it was not deemed proper for a woman by her family, but she compensated for this with her avid reading, which led to near-obsessive book-collecting. She lived as a socialite and traveled widely, turning to poetry in 1902 after being inspired by a performance of Eleanor Duse in Europe.


Her first published work appeared in 1910 in The Atlantic Monthly. The first published collection of her poetry, A Dome of Many-Coloured Glass, appeared two years later. Lowell was Lesbian, and in 1912 she and actress Ada Dwyer Russell, whom she called “Peter” were lovers. Russell was Lowell's patron. Russell was the subject of her more erotic work.


The two women traveled to England together, where Lowell met Ezra Pound, who at once became a major influence and a major critic of her work. Lowell has been linked romantically to writer Mercedes de Acosta, but the only evidence that they knew each other at all is the brief correspondence between them about a memorial for Duse that never took place.


Acosta is said to have said that Lowell could spit a cigar tip into a spittoon fifteen feet away. Forgotten for years, there has been a resurgence of interest in her work, in part because of its focus on lesbian themes and her collection of love poems addressed to Ada Dwyer Russell, but also because of its extraordinary, almost frightening, ability to breathe life into inanimate objects, such as in The Green Bowl, The Red Lacquer Music Stand, and Patterns....

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NEAL CASSADY, American writer born (d. 1968); In 1946 Cassady met Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg at Columbia University in New York and quickly became friends with them and the circle of artists and writers there. While in this writer's opinion he is one of the great cock-teases of history, he had a sexual relationship with Ginsberg that lasted off and on for the next twenty years and he later traveled cross-country with Kerouac....

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WILLIAM S. BURROUGHS, American author born (d. 1997); The outline of his life is known to almost everyone: the flight from the riches of the Burroughs Adding Machine Company family to jobs as newspaper reporter, private detective, exterminator; the tragic but grimly comic death of his wife when he tried to shoot a champagne glass off her head, à la William Tell and missed; the escape into drugs and the fifteen-year addiction that led to his first novel, Junkie, and The Naked Lunch, which twenty odd years ago was thought to be required reading.


But time seems to be working against the avant-garde writer. What once seemed new is now seen to be a pastiche of techniques borrowed from surrealism, science fiction, goth. And yet…and yet…there’s something in Burroughs that holds one, that resists too easy dismissal. Read the instructive pages given him in Gay Sunshine Interviews, in which he is questioned by a Gay writer, some twenty years his junior. It is the meeting of a giant and a pygmy that makes one want to reread his books while simultaneously fearing for the future of language....

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