The Top Ten Greatest Gays of Texas
Here in Texas, we lay claim to some of the most interesting and influential GLBT men and women of our time. Admittedly, they generally get out as fast as they can, but to us, they'll always be Texans. Here are ten GLBT men and women we're proudest to call Texans, especially during this season of Pride.
10. Alvin Ailey
One of the biggest names in modern dance grew up in the Bell County town of Rogers. Ailey was raised during a time of segregation, and many of the racial and religious themes prevalent in the choreographer's later works were gleaned from his Southern Baptist childhood. When he was 12, Ailey moved to LA, where he saw his first ballet and enrolled in dance class. He joined a company, later becoming the artistic director. His own company, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, is one of the best-known in the world.
An openly gay black man, Ailey encountered plenty of stigma, even from his own mother. He is said to have kept his early life as a dancer secret -- when his mother caught Ailey in makeup before a performance, she slapped him. Even at the end of Ailey's life, he asked the doctor to say that he was suffering from terminal blood dyscrasia. Ailey died from AIDS in 1989.
Black won the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay in 2009. From his acceptance speech:
If Harvey had not been taken from us 30 years ago, I think he would want me to say to all of the gay and lesbian kids out there tonight who have been told that they are less than by their churches, or by the government, or by their families, that you are beautiful, wonderful creatures of value, and that no matter what anyone tells you, God does love you and that very soon I promise you, you will have equal rights federally across this great nation of ours.
Now, he calls on his Texas childhood to write and produce HBO's polygamist show Big Love.
8. Sheryl Swoopes
WNBA superstar Sheryl Swoopes is an Olympian and a lesbian -- two of the best -ians! She grew up in Brownfield and started shooting hoops at an early age. She chose to stay close to home when she was recruited for college, and enrolled at Texas Tech in Lubbock. There, Sports Illustrated and USA Today named her National Player of the Year.
Swoopes helped win America an Olympic gold medal in 1996 and was the first drafted player for the WNBA, where she played for the Houston Comets. And though by this time Swoopes was married with a son, she fell in love with Comets assistant coach Alisa Scott. She came out in 2005, divorced her husband, and has been with Scott ever since.
From a 2006 ESPN interview:
The thought of being intimate with her [Alisa Scott] or any other woman never entered my mind. I've had plenty of gay friends I've hung out with, but that thought never entered my mind. At the same time, I'm also a firm believer that when you fall in love with somebody, you can't control that. Whether it's another woman. Whether it's another man. Whatever. I think that's what happened to me, to us.