LGBT History Month

LGBT History Month: Oct. 6-7

Sandro Botticelli, Renaissance Painter
b. 1445

d. May 17, 1510

“Figures are designed and painted with plastic subtlety and confident mastery; they are incarnate with vitality, each seeming to have taken form unforced, imaged on wall or panel or canvas with resolute immediacy.” — Ronald Lightbown, “Botticelli: Life and Work”

Alessandro di Mariano di Vanni Filipepi, better known as Sandro Botticelli, was an esteemed painter during the early Italian Renaissance. His most famous works include “The Birth of Venus,” “The Primavera” and “The Adoration of the Magi.”

The son of a tanner, Botticelli was born in Florence, Italy — the epicenter of the Renaissance — where he lived for most of his life. He trained under Fra Filippo Lippi, one of the city’s most prominent artists. As Lippi’s apprentice, Botticelli studied composition and painting techniques. He began painting frescoes in Florentine churches and spent most of his career employed by the politically-powerful Medici family.

Botticelli painted prolifically during the 1480s. During this period, he completed “The Birth of Venus” (c. 1484–86). Groundbreaking for its nudity and the artist’s use of a canvas, as opposed to a traditional wood-panel substrate, it is one of the most celebrated and iconic paintings in history. Based on the writings of Homer, it depicts the naked goddess Venus arriving at the shore on a seashell. “The Birth of Venus” hangs in the famed Uffizi Gallery in Florence.

Botticelli’s late 1470s painting, “The Primavera” (meaning “spring”) features a gathering of mythological figures in a grove. Considered one of the gallery’s most significant works, it also resides in the Uffizi.

By 1472 Botticelli had his own workshop. He mentored Filippino Lippi, the son of his teacher. As his success grew, the pope summoned Botticelli to help paint the walls of the Sistine Chapel in Rome.

Botticelli never married. He was friends with Leonardo da Vinci, and the two collaborated. Many understood Botticelli to be homosexual. Although most of his subject matter concerned mythological characters, the Madonna and religious scenes, Botticelli also painted portraits in which art historians have noted homoeroticism.

Botticelli is regarded as one of the greatest artists of all time. His paintings adorn the walls of the world’s most prestigious galleries and museums. In 2016 he was portrayed in the international television series Medici: Masters of Florence.

Richard Burns, Movement Leader
b. May 12, 1955 

“The call is to each of us to now take responsibility for the conferring of all rights to all people.” 

Richard D. Burns is a longtime LGBT community leader and organizer. He served for 22 years as executive director of New York’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Community Center and has held leadership roles at numerous human-rights organizations, including the Arcus Foundation, Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, and Lambda Legal.

Burns graduated from Hamilton College in 1977 and earned a law degree from Northeastern University. In 1978 he cofounded GLAD and served as its president until 1986. He became managing editor of Gay Community News in 1978, the only national lesbian and gay newsweekly at the time, and later became president of its board.

In February 1979, Burns and three other Boston representatives participated in the Philadelphia Conference, a meeting of LGBT leaders from across the nation to organize the historic October 1979 National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights.

From 1980 to 1983, Burns served on the first national board of the Lambda Legal Defense & Education Fund. In 1985, he co-founded and led the board of the Massachusetts LGBTQ Bar Association.

Burns became the first executive director of The Center in 1986, at the height of the AIDS crisis, and served until 2009. The second largest multiservice center of its kind in the world, The Center offers health and social services as well as cultural and recreational activities to the NYC LGBT community.

In 1994, while serving at The Center, Burns co-founded CenterLink, an organization serving over 200 LGBT community centers across the United States. That same year, he co-founded the New York State LGBT Health and Human Services Network.

Since 2009 Burns has led prominent nonprofit organizations. He was the chief operating officer of the Arcus Foundation, one of the largest international funders of LGBT initiatives. He has acted as interim executive director of organizations such as the Stonewall Community Foundation, Funders for LGBTQ Issues, PENCIL, the North Star Fund, the Funding Exchange, and the Johnson Family Foundation. Currently, he serves as the interim CEO of Lambda Legal.

Burns is a member of the board of directors for the Proteus Fund, a social justice grantmaker; the New York City AIDS Memorial Park; the Nonprofit Coordinating Committee; and the Center for HIV Law and Policy. He is a past member of the selection committee of the New York Community Trust Nonprofit Excellence Awards.

Burns has received several awards for his vision and service. In 2008, the Center for Effective Government (formerly OMB Watch) named him to the Public Interest Hall of Fame for Outstanding Leadership and Commitment to Social Justice.

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