by Brian Burns and Judd Proctor
Honoring American Indians
In the early 1900s, efforts got underway to recognize the contributions of American Indians when Seneca Indian Dr. Arthur C. Parker of Rochester, New York, persuaded the Boy Scouts to set aside a day for the “First Americans.”
In 1914, a Blackfoot Indian named Red Fox James rode from state to state on horseback seeking approval for a day to honor Indians. Although he had the backing of twenty-four state governments, the federal government was unmoved.
In 1916, however, New York became the first state to celebrate American Indian Day.
From 1985 to 1989, Congress enacted American Indian Heritage Week.
Finally, on August 3, 1990, President George H. W. Bush designated November as “National American Indian Heritage Month.” It’s now commonly referred to as “Native American Heritage Month.”
Billie Jean King Paves the Way for Women in Sports
Born in Long Beach, California, in 1943, Billie Jean King bought her first tennis racquet at age eleven. The rest is history.
In her stellar career, King won a record twenty Wimbledon titles and thirteen U.S. Open championships.
In 1973, she beat tennis champion Bobby Riggs in a televised showdown billed as “The Battle of the Sexes.” It was a theme that underscored her life off the court as well, since she fought for equal treatment of women in sports.
King was outed in 1981, when ex-lover, Marilyn Barnett, filed a palimony suit. The publicity cost King most of her commercial sponsorships. Regardless, she remains an icon to the tennis greats that followed her – especially the women. If not for her, their careers wouldn’t have gotten off the ground.
Coming Out on the Cover
Some gays and lesbians have come out with a splash on the cover of popular national magazines.
The very first was Lenny Matlovich, a decorated soldier discharged from the Air Force because he was gay. His picture appeared on the cover of the September 8, 1975, issue of Time Magazine, with the headline, “I Am a Homosexual.”
Then there was Olympic Medalist, Greg Louganis, who appeared on the cover of the March 6, 1995, issue of People Magazine, with the headline, “My Private Hell.”
Entertainer Ellen DeGeneres appeared with a big smile on the April 14, 1997, issue of Time Magazine, with the headline, “Yep, I’m Gay.”
Other celebrities followed, including Rosie O’Donnell in 2002, N’Sync’s Lance Bass in 2006, and Clay Aiken in 2008.