Born on October 4: actor Susan Sarandon (1946), former Icelandic PM Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir (1942), and transgender pioneer Dr Alan L Hart (1890).
Actor and activist Susan Sarandon has won so many awards there’s a Wikipedia page just for ‘Awards and nominations received by Susan Sarandon’. Her career includes movies, TV soaps, and the Broadway stage.
Within three years of launching her career, she played the now iconic role of Janet in The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Since then, she appeared in some of the most celebrated movies of all time: Thelma & Louise, Dead Man Walking, Pretty Baby, The Hunger, and The Witches of Eastwick.
Great controversy attended a lesbian sex scene between Susan Sarandon and Catherine Deneuve in 1983’s The Hunger. Then in 1993, the actor appeared in The Celluloid Closet, a documentary about the Hollywood depiction of homosexuality. She was always seen as an ally of the LGBTIQA+ communities.
While her best-known relationships have been with men, Susan Sarandon told a queer magazine in 2017 that she was ‘up for grabs’. She came out as bisexual during a 2022 appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.
Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir became both the world’s first out lesbian head of government and the first openly LGBTIQA+ head of government on February 1, 2009. A member of the Icelandic parliament since 1978, she won reelection at eight successive elections.
Her appointment as PM aroused little controversy in Iceland. The North Atlantic country decriminalised same-sex sexual activity in 1940. Iceland introduced civil partnerships in 1996 and the parliament voted unanimously for marriage equality in 2010.
Jóhanna and her partner Jónína Leósdóttir, together since the late eighties, then became one of the first same-sex married couples in Iceland.
Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir retired from politics in 2012.
Dr Alan L Hart
Alan Hart began presenting as male from the age of five — before the turn of the twentieth century. His mother, stepfather and maternal grandparents all supported his gender expression. Required to present as a girl for school from the age of twelve, he changed his clothing the moment he got home.
Alan earned his medical doctorate in 1917. He specialised in tuberculosis, then America’s leading cause of death. Dr Alan L Hart later pioneered the use of x-rays to detect tuberculosis and helped implement screening programs that saved thousands of lives.
But 1917 was a big year for Alan on the personal as well as professional front. In that year, he also underwent the first documented transgender male affirmation surgery in the US.
He married his first wife in 1918. However, after a number of moves prompted by colleagues outing Alan, she divorced him in 1925. Alan then married Edna Ruddick, a university professor, and they remained together until his death in 1962.
Dr Alan L Hart once summed up his life pholopsophy in a speech to graduating medical students.
“Each of us must take into account the raw material which heredity dealt us at birth and the opportunities we have had along the way, and then work out for ourselves a sensible evaluation of our personalities and accomplishments.”
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