Box Turtle Bulletin

Box Turtle BulletinNews, analysis and fact-checking of anti-gay rhetoric
“Now you must raise your children up in a world where that union of man and box turtle is on the same legal footing as man and wife…”
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Six AIDS Researchers, Advocates Confirmed Dead on MH17

Jim Burroway

July 19th, 2014

An earlier report from The Australian placed that toll at 108, but this morning Malaysian Airlines released its official manifest which confirms that six AIDS researchers and advocates were on board MH17 on their way to the International AIDS Conference in Melbourne when it was shot down over eastern Ukraine:

Malaysian Airlines has confirmed six HIV/AIDS researchers and advocates were among those who were on an airliner that pro-Russian separatists apparently shot down over eastern Ukraine on Thursday.

Joep Lange, a prominent Dutch HIV researcher who is a former president of the International AIDS Society, which organizes the biennial International AIDS Conference, and his partner, Jacqueline van Tongeren, were among the 283 passengers and 15 crew members who were on Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur.

A passenger list that Malaysian Airlines released on Saturday also confirms Pim de Kuijer, another Dutch national who worked for Stop AIDS Now, and Glenn Thomas, a former BBC journalist who was a press officer for the World Health Organization, were also on Flight 17.

The airlines has also confirmed Lucie van Mens, another Dutch HIV/AIDS researcher, and Martine de Schutter, a program manager for Bridging the Gaps, were on the flight.

Report: More Than 100 AIDS Activists Were On Board Aircraft Shot Down Over Ukraine

Jim Burroway

July 17th, 2014

The Australian is reporting that among the passengers of Malaysian Flight 17 that was shot down over Eastern Ukraine were as many as 108 AIDS activists who were flying to Melbourne in Australia to attend the 20th International AIDS conference. That conference is set to begin on Sunday.

Among those thought to have been killed was prominent Dutch researcher Joep Lange, a former president of the International Aids Society. Glenn Thomas, a World Health Organisation media relations coordinator, also died in the crash, according to Dr Haileyesus Getahun, coordinator of the WHO’s Global TB program. Delegates Lucie van Mens, Martine de Schutter, Pim de Kuijer and Jacqueline van Tongeren were also reportedly on the flight. Dr Van Mens, director of program development and support at the Female Health Company, has been involved in public health, focusing on prevention of STIs and HIV/AIDS, since 1995.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation tweeted that MH17 was due to change its flight number after landing in Kuala Lumpur to MH129 before proceeding to Melbourne.

Malaysian flight in Ukraine included many AIDS researchers/activists

Timothy Kincaid

July 17th, 2014

Buzzfeed is reporting that the Malaysian flight which may have been shot down by Russian forces in Ukraine included a number of prominent AIDS researchers and activists traveling to the AIDS 2014 Conference in Australia. Confirmed so far include Joep Lange, prominent HIV researcher from Netherlands and Glenn Raymond Thomas, a Geneva-based spokesman for World Health Organization.

Compass points get marriage

Timothy Kincaid

July 17th, 2014

Marriage equality is now the law of the land in the

* Southernmost part of the contiguous United States: Ballast Key, Florida

* Northernmost part of the contiguous United States: Sumas, Washington Northwest Angle Inlet in Lake of the Woods, Minnesota [still equal]

* Easternmost part of the contiguous United States: West Quoddy Head, Maine

* Westernmost part of the contiguous United States: Cape Alava, Washington


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The Daily Agenda for Tuesday, July 22

Jim Burroway

July 22nd, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Contact (Houston), March 1974. Ad from page 4, photo from page 8.

From Contact (Houston), March 1974. Ad from page 4, photo from page 8.

In 1974, there was a rather impressive cluster of gay and lesbian bars along the western edge of New Orleans’ French Quarter, a number of which are still in business today. Most of them were concentrated just a couple of blocks on Bourbon Street and North Rampart, between St. Peter and St. Phillips, although a few could be found here and there elsewhere in the Quarter. Travis’s on North Ramparts is no more, but the building is still a gay bar. The sign on front said Michael’s On the Park when the Google camera car last passed by in 2013, but the bar is now called Grand Pre’s.

Dixie’s Bar in New Orleans, one of the South’s few openly gay bars in the 1950s.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
New Orleans Launches Raids Against Gay Bars: 1958. The Big Easy has long enjoyed a mind-your-own business reputation where personal and public morality is concerned. But that “Laissez les bons temps rouler” mindset didn’t extend to the city’s gay citizenry, and much like other major cities across the nation, anti-gay campaigns often heated up ahead of local elections. Mayor deLesseps “Chep” Morrison had earned a national reputation as a dynamic reformer, even as he blocked efforts to reform the city’s notoriously corrupt police department. But in 1958, city councilmen complained that the police were sitting on their hands while the French Quarter was being invaded by roving bands of homosexuals, alledgedly from other cities since, apparently, such a thing was unheard of there, the city’s storied tolerance for sexual eccentrics in music, literature and the arts notwithstanding. One councilman complained of “men with blondined hair and awful looking people all day and all night in the French Quarter,” and wondered why police had only made 86 arrests in two years on charges of lewd behavior or wearing women’s clothing. Police Supt. Provosty A. Dayries responded, “You can’t just point to someone and say he or she is a deviate — that is one of the frustrating things about the problem.”

Amid complaints about lax police enforcement and courts that insisted that those arrested should be charged with something specific and based on real evidence, Mayor Morrison appointed his half-brother, Jacob Morrison to head a citizen’s committee to look into the problem. With pressure increasing across all sectors of city govermnent, Supt. Dayries launched a raid against known “deviate bars,” arresting eighteen people (mostly bar employees) on charges of vagrancy, disturbing the peace, and “no visible means of support.” Thirty others were warned to stay away. While most of the charges were dropped the next day, the names and addresses of those arrested were printed in the newspapers. That raid was tiny, compared to another “sweeping drive” which resulted in 325 arrested in a single night. One city resident, in a letter to the editor to a local paper, noted the irony of the New Orleans political establishment enforcing morals in the city: “I consider it a piece of unmitigated gall for anyone, be he District Attorney or City Councilman, to tell me what I may see or with whom I may associate without endangering my morals. I must confess that were I to seek guidance in matters of morals, I should not likely turn to politicians.”

[Source: "Dal McIntire" (either Jim Kepner or Don Slater). "Tangents: News and Views." ONE 6, no. 8 (September 1958): 17-20.]

James Whale

TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS:
125 YEARS AGO: James Whale: 1889-1957. While serving in the British Army during the First World War, he was taken prisoner by the Germans in Flanders in 1917, where he became involved as an actor, writer and producer of amateur camp productions to help take his fellow prisoners’ minds off their conditions. It’s where he developed his love for the theatre and his hatred for Germany. On returning to England after the war, he got involved in theater, launching the West End debut of Journey’s End. It was a smashing success, which brought him to the attention of Hollywood. Whale signed with Paramount in 1929 and brought Journey’s End (1930) to the silver screen, to rave reviews in Britain and the U.S. That same year, he met producer David Lewis, who would become Whale’s partner for the next twenty-three years.

Whale moved to Universal Studios in 1931, where he produced Waterloo Bridge, another commercial and critical success. Universal head Carl Laemmle offered Whale his choice of any project the studio owned. Whale chose Frankenstein, casting the then-unknown Boris Karloff in the title role. It was, as they say, money in the bank, shattering box office records and earning Universal the unheard of sum of $12 million in its first release. Other highly-regarded films followed: The Invisible Man (1933), The Bride of Frankenstein (1935), and Show Boat (1936).

In 1937, he produced The Road Back (1937), the sequel to All Quiet on the Western Front. Harkening back to his experience with Journey’s End, it was to be the film to cement Whale’s reputation for all time. But when filming started, Laemmle had lost control of Universal, and the new studio heads rescinded Whale’s total control over the film. The L.A. consul for Nazi Germany objected to the film’s anti-German themes. Whale refused to back down, and his original cut of the film received positive reviews. But sometime between the previews and the film’s final release, Universal bucked to Nazi criticisms, and ordered additional cuts and added comical-relief scenes to soften the film’s edge. That move proved disastrous. The movie flopped, was banned in Germany anyway, and infuriated Whale. From then on Whale was was consigned to making B movies for the remainder of his contract. Only one of those films proved successful; 1939′s Man in the Iron Mask.

When his contract ended, Whale left the film business, aside from a few odd jobs here and there, and generally entered a life of comfortable retirement, hosting pool parties for the benefit of Hollywood’s discrete gay set. In 1952, while traveling in Europe, Whale ent to a gay bar in Paris and was smitten by a 25-year-old bartender, Pierre Foegel. When Whale brought Foegel to California, David Lewis moved out and Foegel moved in (although Lewis and Whale would remain lifelong friends). Whale suffered a small stroke in 1956, followed by a larger one a few months later. Those strokes left him physically impaired and emotionally depressed. He committed suicide in 1957 by throwing himself into his swimming pool. He left a suicide note, but Lewis intervened to hide it and Whale’s death was ruled an accident, leaving the exact nature of his death shrouded in mystery. Lewis released the note twenty years later, shorty before his own death in 1987.

Emily Saliers: 1963. A singer-songwriter and one half of Indigo Girls, she plays the guitar, banjo, mandolin, ukulele and the Greek bouzouki. She met her Indigo Girls partner, Amy Ray, when they were in elementary school together in Decatur, Georgia. Both Girls are lesbian, although Saliers jokes that she prefers “gay” because “lesbian has three syllables.” In 2004, Saliers co-wrote a book with her father, retired theology professor Don Saliers, titled A Song to Sing, A Life to Live: Reflections on Music as Spiritual Practice, and the two of them conducted a combined book tour and church appearances around the country, including a stop at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C.  The Indigo Girls released their latest album, Beauty Queen Sister, in 2011, and they are currently touring as a duo, with several dates accompanied by a full band and symphony orchestras in select cities.

Rufus Wainwright: 1973. His mother was the late Kate McGarrigle, and his father is Loudon Wainwright III. With genes like that, it’s no wonder Rufus won a 1989 Genie Award for Best Original Song when he was only  sixteen years old. Rolling Stone named his eponymous debut album as one of the best albums of the year and named him the Best New Artist of 1998. Politically, he came late to the marriage equality bandwagon. “I wasn’t a huge gay marriage supporter before I met Jörn (Weisbrodt) because I love the whole old-school promiscuous Oscar Wilde freak show of what ‘being gay’ once was. But since meeting Jörn that all changed.” He and Weisbrodt became parents in 2011, and they married in Montauk, New York in 2012. His seventh studio album, Out of the Game, was released that same year.

If you know of something that belongs on the agenda, please send it here. Don’t forget to include the basics: who, what, when, where, and URL (if available).

And feel free to consider this your open thread for the day. What’s happening in your world?

Regnerus Shoots His Own Foot

Rob Tisinai

July 21st, 2014

Mark Regnerus has gotten a lot of flack lately for publicly criticizing a positive Australian report on same-sex parenting, a classic example of the pot calling the kettle incompetent. Hidden in his critique, though, is a little nugget that deserves more attention.

Midway through, Regnerus flogs his notions about the instability of same-sex couples, but then tries to substantiate them by linking to research that proves him wrong — and in doing so, brings to light a study that we should all have bookmarked.

So…thanks, Mark!

A bit of background. We lambasted Regnerus, of course, for presenting his famous study as research into same-sex parenting even though he did not specify outcomes for kids raised by same-sex parents, mostly because he hardly studied any kids raised by same-sex parents. His defense was that grown-up kids like that are hard to find because families like that seem to be unstable, and then he turned this alleged instability into further criticism of same-sex parenting.

He pushes this theme again in his recent critique:

Children fare better in an environment of household stability. In the NFSS, stability was largely absent when an adult child reported a parental same-sex relationship. Hence, their life experiences were (on average) notably more challenging than those of their peers with married mothers and fathers. Some critics felt this was an “unfair” comparison. But if social reality is unfair, there’s not much that any sociologist can do about that.

And also:

But will same-sex parents’ relationships be more or less stable in the future? On the one hand, we know that same-sex relationships in general—across multiple datasets—remain more fragile than opposite-sex ones (and to be fair, no group is performing all that well).

That link is in his original, and with that link we strike gold.

It leads to an abstract of a research paper by Stanford professor  Michael Rosenfeld called, “Couple Longevity and Formal Unions in the Era of Same-sex Marriage in the United States.” I was surprised by the last sentence of that abstract:

I hypothesize that the higher relationship instability that was reported for same-sex couples in the past was due in part to the lack of options for union formalization available to same-sex couples in the past.

If true, that would actually undercut Regnerus’ argument. Since he linked to this paper, though, I expected to find the hypothesis debunked. But I found the full text and, my, was I surprised. Check this out. It’s worth reading carefully.

In this paper I show that while same-sex couples in the US are more likely to break up than heterosexual couples (Hypothesis 1), the difference in couple longevity is explained by the lower rate of marriage among same-sex couples. Once marriage (and marriage-like unions) are controlled for, same-sex couples and heterosexual couples have statistically indistinguishable rates of break-up, confirming Hypothesis 2 ["that same-sex couples and heterosexual couples would have similar rates of break-up once marriage was controlled for"]. Despite the fact that none of the same-sex couples in the US in the 2009-2012 period enjoyed the same legal benefits and federal recognition as heterosexual married couples (because of the Defense of Marriage Act of 1996), the association between marriage and couple stability was similar for same-sex couples and for heterosexual couples, confirming Hypothesis 3 ["Marriage has a similar positive association with couple longevity for same-sex couples and for heterosexual couples"].

Emphasis added.

That’s great stuff. It not only demolishes an anti-gay talking point, but also wipes out the many arguments built on that talking point. For years, anti-gays have been spouting irrelevant nonsense like Homosexual relationships generally last only a fraction of the time that most marriages last.” Irrelevant nonsense, because even for heterosexuals, relationships are shorter on average than marriages. In fact, from an arithmetic geek’s perspective, if you have just one pre-marital relationship that’s shorter than your marriage, then your average relationship will last only a fraction of the time of your marriage.

But this Regnerus-recommended paper goes further than that. It doesn’t just knock down nonsense arguments. No, it establishes an affirmative case for the stability of same-sex marriages, and thus for same-sex parenting.

I still have to wonder, though: why did Regnerus link to a study that establishes the opposite of what he’s trying to claim? It’s easy to assume he’s just lying, hoping no one investigates his link, but I always keep a few wonderful quotes in mind:

Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.

Along with:

You have attributed conditions to villainy that simply result from stupidity

And this wonderful variation on Clarke’s Third Law:

Any sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from malice.

I mean, come on — even the abstract the appears when you click Regnerus’ link is enough to raise suspicion that he’s missed the target. My best guess is that he seized on the first sentence in the quote I provided, and found himself so tangled in confirmation bias that he completely missed what followed, even though what followed is the crucial piece of information when it comes to evaluating same-sex families (i.e., marriage and marriage-like unions).

At this point it looks like Regnerus has so thoroughly ruined his scientific credibility that he’s gone into denial over it, and now lives in a self-imposed Dunning-Kruger inability to recognize his own incompetence. Not because he’s inherently stupid, but because a rigorous intelligence would threaten his last bastion of support.

However, even this man’s small tragedy has produced some good. Bookmark that Stanford study, and be ready to offer it up as Regnerus-approved proof that Regnerus is wrong.

The Daily Agenda for Monday, July 21

Jim Burroway

July 21st, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
obamaObama To Sign Executive Order Banning LGBT Discrimination by Federal Contractors: Washington, DC. President Barack Obama will sign an Executive Order prohibiting discrimination against employees on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity by the federal government or its contractors. While the White House hasn’t released the text of the order, Buzzfeed obtained a copy which, as of last week, amends an earlier Executive Order signed by President Bill Clinton which, in turn, modified an Johnson-era Executive Order banning discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex and national origin. According to Buzzfeed, Obama’s Executive Order will not contain any additional religious exemptions beyond those already provided by the previous Executive Orders, although an Executive Order signed by President George W. Bush allows a limited exemption for any any “religious corporation, association, educational institution, or society” that allows such contractors to extend hiring preferences to people of “a particular religion.” According to the HRC, by reaching back to Johnson’s landmark Executive Order,  Obama “plac(es) sexual orientation and gender identity on equal footing with race, color, religion, sex and national origin, and thus making these protections virtually politically impossible for a future administration to undo.”

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Bay Area Reporter, July 15, 1971, page 32.

From Bay Area Reporter, July 15, 1971, page 32.

According to this web site:

This building and the Moulinie Building directly across Gold Street were acquired by a French sea captain during a voyage to California after the Gold Rush. The two buildings were owned by his family for over a century. The building has been home to Four Monks Winery, a cooperage, a truck storage depot, a gay bar named “Gold Street,” and since 1988 the bar and restaurant “Bix.

Gold Street is little more than an alleyway in San Francisco’s Barbary Coast district, which was the city’s history red-light district just south of North Beach.

THIS MONTH IN HISTORY:
55 YEARS AGO: “The Homosexual and the Beat Generation”: 1959. Allen Ginsberg’s Howl (1956), William S. Burroughs’s Naked Lunch (1957), and Jack Kerouac’s On the Road (1957) introduced Americans to the “Beat Generation,” a group, and then a movement, which began in New York’s Greenwhich Village and ended up relocating, for the most part, to San Francisco’s North Beach neighborhood, nurtured by City Lights bookstore, Cafe Trieste, and the Six Gallery. They were dubbed “Beatniks” by San Francisco columnist Herbert Caen who said they were as far out of the mainstream as Sputnik and suggested that these new bohemians, by their rebellion against social norms, possessed Communist sympathies The Beats probably reached their peak awareness among middle-Americans with the archetypal Beatnik character of Maynard G. Krebs (played by future Gilligan, Bob Denver) in “The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis,” which aired on CBS from 1959 to 1963. Goatees, berets, black sweaters, bongo drums, roll-your-own cigarettes (often with substances other than tobacco) and a general, overall rebellion against the straight-laced norms of the McCarthy-dominated fifties marked the Beats as both a dangerous and fascinating phenomenon.

Thanks to the Beats’ non-conformist attitudes, a number of gay artists were associated with the subculture. In addition to Ginsberg, there were the poets Robert Duncan (who had a brief affair with abstract impressionist painter Robert De Niro, Sr.), Robin Blaser, and Jack Spicer, (along with his partner, the abstract-impressionist artist Jess Collins). Naturally, gay people were become fascinated by this movement. In 1959, ONE magazine, the nation’s first nationally-distributed gay-themed publication, capitalized with that growing fascination with a cover story on “The homosexual and the Beat Generation.” The author, Wallace de Ortega Maxey, was himself the embodiment of counter-culturalism. He was former priest and Archbishop of the American Old Catholic Church (an independent breakaway church) who seemed to collect consecrations from a bewildering number of pseudo-Catholic churches as well as the Episcopal Church, before abandoning independent Catholicism in 1954 and establishing the Liberal Universalist Church, first in Los Angeles in 1954, and then in Fresno. Maxey’s interests were quite small-c catholic, as an early Mattachine member and author of Man Is A Sexual Being in 1958. By the time Maxey wrote his article for ONE, San Francisco’s Beats found themselves being gawked at by tourists and bedeviled by wannabe weekend Beatniks. Maxey began his article by describing the difference between what he called the “real” Beats and these poseurs:

The Homosexual and the Beat Generation.This gang of “kix” hoodlums consist of heterosexuals in the larger number. They are those who like to “cash-in” on the daring and non-conforming Beats. Having money in their pockets, they think they can out-buy, out-bid and out-sex the Beats. The few homos in this tribe of week-enders are of the timid sort who can’t make it in their own everyday world and in despair hope to find “satisfaction” in the world of the beat generation. …

There is a distinction to be made between the beat-homo and the nonbeat. The beat-homo has no inhibitions. Within his own consciousness he has accepted himself and is completely integrated. He is not fighting himself, much less the rest of the world. This applies to the male as well as the female of the species. He doesn’t give one god damn what the world thinks about him. Like the rest of the beat generation he simply wants to be left alone. He has closed his mental door to the rat-race. He has cut himself off from the shams and shamans of the competitive world. He is usually of the aesthetic type, psychologically, not necessarily so physically.

I have seen some gangling seamen and longshoremen, truck drivers, woodsmen and cement-construction workers, that would surprise all hell out of you when you listen to their conversation. In their particular fields of interest and study they are extraordinarily well informed. There is one chap I am thinking of who has been a seaman all his life, who can keep you spell-bound when telling about the “history of erotica”. Another, a female, could write a book about the world’s historic prostitutes and how they have influenced political thought. Still another homo-beat has been in several mental institutions under observation, but can reel off anything you want to know about the religions of the Orient. Of course, I am speaking of the real Beats, the ones who have severed all ties with the square world, as far as it is humanly possible to do, and still live.

It has been said that Allen Ginsberg is the St. Peter of the beat generation. He has been quoted in the New York Post (3-13-59) as saying: “I sleep, with men and with women. I am neither queer nor not queer, nor am I bi-sexual. My name is Allen Ginsberg and I sleep with whoever I want.” It has been my experience in discussing life in general with a considerable number of Beats, that these words of Allen Ginsberg voice quite accurately the opinions of the majority of the real Beats.

Maxey went on to describe two “Beat-homos” that he had been counseling. The first was “Tom Doe,” who had been kicked out of the Army when they found out he was gay. Saddled with a less-than-honorable discharge, he had trouble finding steady work. He lost his home, turned to alcohol, and “ended up three months later on a pad in Beatnik-land.” After discovering Maxey’s book, Doe underwent counseling with Maxey, with some considerable success:

When finally he was able to stop his self·deception and admit to himself he was what he was, all other matters took their proper place. When this bug-a-boo was disposed of and he could see his “whole self”, not just the phantom side, it was not long before he had re-established himself. However, he still thinks of himself as a Beatnik and has never moved away from Beatnik-land. At present, after much struggling and hardship he owns and operates a “shop” making a moderate living off the “squares” that come to stare at the Beats.

The second example, that of “Jim Doe,” probably is a better portrayal of a true San Francisco “Beat-homo”:

As stated previously he contended homosexuality was not his problem. He freely and frankly admitted to such tendency. When we met he was quite outspoken and wasted no words in getting to the situation that was disturbing him. He lived with a man and a girl in Beatnik-land; was contemplating going to art school and was quite talented in music and painting. He had been successful to the extent of having sold two of his compositions and one oil painting for a quite tidy sum of money. He claimed that his social relations were excellent with the other Beatniks and that generally speaking they liked him. What was his problem? Doubt. Underneath all the social relationships there was ever present a constant fear of someone betraying him. Of misplaced confidence. He never completely trusted anyone. Basically, when he got right down to the subject he was so damn lonesome, at nights after social events he usually went home alone, locked himself in his room and cried.

Doubt was his problem. First, I learned that he really doubted himself. After considerable discussion with Jim, I came to the conclusion his acceptance of his homosexuality was not as he made it appear. From his reading of abnormal phychology he wondered about his sex. As he said to me, “Am I a man or a woman?” “Who really was my father?” (He had never been able to find a birth record.) “Have I ever loved anyone?” “Does anything have any real meaning — or is life just an illusion?” “Dare I really trust anyone, completely?” “Must I go through all my life in doubt?” “The only reason I’m a Beatnik is that none of them try to pry into my personal life … I can get along with the other Beatniks because they don’t ask ‘personal questions’ “.

Naturally it took considerable time and effort to bring about a change in his outlook on life. After exploring the various psychological “excuses” he presented for his condition, we assumed none were satisfactory by way of explanation. He had experienced a rotten home life in his youth. So have thousands of people. Examples were cited of heroic characters who began in pot-sheds. Switching to the existentialist treatment, in a few words I made it clear to him quoting from Jean-Paul Sartre: “Whereas the existentialist says that the coward makes himself cowardly, the hero makes himself heroic; and that there is always the possibility for the coward to give up cowardice and for the hero to stop being a hero. What counts is the total commitment, and it is not by a particular case or particular action that you are committed altogether.”

…The final outcome in Jim Doe’s story is interesting. He met a girl named Dora, a confirmed Lesbian. They got married and now have two children, a boy and a girl. Jim still says he is an homosexual and Dora affirms she is still a Lesbian, and they both live in Beatnik-land.

Maxey observed that there were several general similarities between the Beat Generation and the so-called “Lost Generation,” the group of artists of the inter-war years which included Earnest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, and F. Scott Fitzgerald. But…

I think the Lost Generation placed more emphasis on the social and civil liberties interests than the Beats are doing. I think the beat generation is more nude than the Lost Generation was. There is little to discover among the Beatniks. As a matter of fact, they have a certain amount of juvenile crudeness in their art work and writing, with exceptions of course. They, the Beats, are not forced to starve while many · of the Lost Generation were, during the long siege of the depression.

However, with all their vices and virtues if they can teach the world by example the evils of social conformity, I feel they will go down in history as having made a worthwhile contribution.

[Source: Wallace de Ortega Maxey. "The Homosexual and the Beat Generation" ONE 7, no. 7 (July 1959): 5-9. ]

If you know of something that belongs on the agenda, please send it here. Don’t forget to include the basics: who, what, when, where, and URL (if available).

And feel free to consider this your open thread for the day. What’s happening in your world?

The Daily Agenda for Sunday, July 20

Jim Burroway

July 20th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Pride Charlotte, NC (Black Pride); Colorado Springs, COFrankfurt, Germany; Glasgow, Scotland; Kitsap, WA; Munich, Germany; Reading, PA; Rochester, MN; Rochester, NY; San Diego, CA.

Other Events This Weekend: Sand Blast Weekend, Asbury Park, NJ; Outfest Film Festival, Los Angeles, CA; Miami Beach Bruthaz, Miami Beach, FL; Pink Dot Rally, Okinawa, Japan (Monday only); Bear Week, Provincetown, MA; Roze Maandag (Pink Monday), Tilburg, Netherlands (Monday only); Tokyo International Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, Tokyo, Japan; AIDS Walk, San Francisco, CA.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From the Michelle International 1962 Souvenir Program, via Houston LGBT History.

From the Michelle International 1962 Souvenir Program, via Houston LGBT History.

A Winchell’s Donut House outlet is there today.

Mattachine Missions and Purposes

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Mattachine Society Adopts Its First Mission and Purposes: 1951.In 1950, a group of seven men met at the home of Harry Hay (see Apr 7) in the Silver Lake area of Los Angeles to found a new society for gay people they tentatively called “The Society of Fools” (see Nov 11). The following April, the group followed Hay’s suggestion to change its name to the Mattachine Society, after the medieval French secret societies of masked men whose anonymity empowered them to mock and criticize kings and other nobility. That same month, one of the newer members suggested that the group’s ideals be put down in in writing. They began drafting the Mattachine’s “Missions and Purposes,” and marked it “confidential” out of fear of attracting the attention of the police. Jim Gruber (see Aug 21), one of the founders, described the whole effort as “a dare” with serious potential consequences, as they saw it. Given the tenor of the times amid the McCarthy-inspired Lavender Scare, their fears weren’t out of line.  The members ratified the document on July 20. It read:

MISSIONS AND PURPOSES

of the

Mattachine Society.

TO UNIFY: While there are undoubtedly individual homosexuals who number many of their own people among their friends, thousands of homosexuals live out their lives bewildered, unhappy, alone, isolated from their own kind and unable to adjust to the dominant culture. Even those who have many homosexual friends are still cut off from the deep satisfactions man’s gregarious nature can achieve only when he is consciously part of a large, unified whole. A major purpose of the Mattachine Society is to provide a consensus of principle around which all of our people can rally and from which they can deprive a feeling of “belonging.”

TO EDUCATE: The total of information available on the subject of homosexuality is woefully meagre and utterly inconclusive. The Society organizes all available material and conducts extensive research itself — psychological, physiological, anthropological, and sociological — for the purpose of informing all interested homosexuals and for the purpose of informing and enlightening the public at large.

The Mattachine Soeity holds it as possible and desirable that a highly ethical, homosexual culture emerge as a consequence of its work, parallelling sic the emerging cultures of our fellow-minorities — the Negro, Mexican and Jewish peoples. The Society believes homosexuals can lead well-adjusted, wholesome and socially productive lives once ignorance and prejudice against them is successfully combatted and once homosexuals themselves feel they have a dignified and useful role to play in society. The Society, to these ends, is in the process of developing a homosexual ethic — disciplined, moral and socially responsible.

TO LEAD: It is not sufficient for an oppressed minority like the homosexuals merely to be conscious of belonging to a minority collective when, as is the situation at the present time, that collective is neither socially organic nor objective in its directions and activities — although this minimum is, in itself, a great step forward. It is necessary that the more far-seeing and socially conscious homosexuals provide leadership to the whole mass of social deviants if the first two missions (the unification and the education of the homosexual minority) are to be accomplished. Further, once unification and education have progressed it becomes imperative (to consolidate these gains) for the Society to push forward into the realm of political action to erase from our law books the discriminatory and oppressive legislation presently directed against the homosexual minority.

The Society, founded upon the highest ethical and social principles, serves as an example for homosexuals to follow and provides a dignified standard upon which the rest of society can base a more intelligent and accurate picture of the nature of homosexuality than currently obtains in the public mind. The Society provides the instrument necessary to work with civic-minded and socially valuable organizations and supplies the means for the assistance of our people who are victimized daily as a result of our oppression. Only a Society, providing an enlightened leadership, can rouse the homosexuals — one of the largest minorities in America today — to take the actions necessary to elevate themselves from the social ostracism an unsympathetic culture has perpetrated upon them.

[Sources: Cruising the Archive: Queer Art and Culture in Los Angeles, 1945-1980 (Los Angeles: ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives, 2011): 38-39.

Stuart Timmons. The Trouble with Harry Hay: Founder of the Modern Gay Movement Centenary edition (Brooklyn: White Crane Books, 2012): 170-172.]

KTLA_1947

Panel Discussion on Homosexuality Airs in L.A.: 1958. KTLA’s Crime Story was one of those very serious, topical panel discussion programs, airing in the graveyard time slot of 11:00 p.m. on Sunday nights just before station sign-off — back in the days when televisions would go off the air sometime around midnight. The program picked a topic each week, and moderator Sandy Howard would assemble a panel of “experts, which were typically from among the KTLA staff, since real experts weren’t eager to schlep to the studio late at night for a low-rated program. Topics for discussion included drugs, law enforcement, prison reform, international crime, and, on this night, homosexuality, which itself was a crime under California law.

In previous episodes where the subject was homosexuality, the tone was almost entirely negative and the opinions offered were ill-informed. But on this night, things were different. Sitting in for Howard was Bill Bradley, who this time included someone who actually knew something about the topic: Herbert Selwyn, attorney for the Los Angeles Chapter of the Mattachine Society. Also on the panel were two psychiatrists (both of them working for state penal systems), and a private detective and former L.A. policeman who also free-lanced for the scandal magazine Confidential — so you can imaging what his contribution would be.

After the announcer made clear that the opinions expressed on the program were not those of KTLA, Bradley asked the panel to define “sex crime.” Right off the bat, one of the two psychiatrists, Dr. Isidore Ziferstein of the Iowa State Penitentiary, declared that he didn’t consider sex acts between consenting adults to be criminal because no one was harmed — a radical idea in 1958. Fred Otash, the private detective, began explaining that California’s penal code defined “sex perversion” as including, more specifically, “copulation by mouth.” Ziferstein responded, “Yes, the penal code regarding sex acts would make nearly every American citizen a sex criminal.” The other psychiatrist, Dr. William Graves of San Quentin, agreed.

Bradley then asked whether all homosexual men — lesbians were never mentioned during the entire program — were sex criminals. Otash jumped in and said yes, according to the letter of the law, and rightly so, contending that homosexuals bred other homosexuals simply by contact. Because homosexuals could not keep to themselves, they “preyed on normal men” and made them gay. He then got tired of saying the word “homosexual,” over and over. “You may call them homosexuals, I call them ‘fags’,” he declared. That, for the most part, was the extent of his “expertise.”

Selwyn, confident that the two psychiatrists would answer the question of whether “normal men” could be turned so easily, turned the topic instead to the problem of police entrapment, which was rampant in Los Angeles. If a policeman could strike up a conversation with a gay man in a bar and get the man to suggest that they retire to his apartment, he was liable to find himself in handcuffs and facing a fifteen year sentence.

The program ended with the two psychiatrists agreeing that homosexuality should not be against the law, but they debated whether homosexuality was a neurosis or not. Ziferstien said that society wasn’t just anti-gay, but anti-sex, and that this produced an abundance of “sex deviates,” including homosexuals. Graves pushed back, and pointed out that because society was so anti-gay, it would be surprising if some gay people didn’t become in some way disturbed or distressed over the situation. In other words, Graves was explaining the concept of homophobia some ten years before the word itself was invented. By this point in the program, the panelists were regularly ignoring Otash as they lamented the way the law and society treated gay people. A review by ONE magazine, the nation’s first gay magazine, commented that viewers “may have been gratified, if surprised, by the unexpectedly friendly attitudes toward homosexuality expressed on the program. … The members of the qualified panel made effective, intelligent observations, and many positive and constructive points.”

[Sources: "Sten Russell" (Stella Rush) "TV: Crime Story." ONE 6, no. 8 (September 1958): 26-28.

"Sten Russell" (Stella Rush). "Crime Story." The Ladder 2, no 12. (September 1958): 11-14.]

Rep. Gerry Studds Censured: 1983. The U.S. House of Representatives voted to censure Reps. Gerry Studds (D-MA) and Daniel Crane (R-IL), both of whom admitted to having sexual affairs with pages. Crane admitted to having sex with a 17-year-old female page three years earlier, while Studds acknowledged a relationship with a 17-year-old male page ten years earlier. (Both pages were above the age of consent.) In Studds’s case, the page himself defended the relationship as consensual and not intimidating.

When Studds returned home to his district following his censure, he was met with standing ovations at his first town meeting. He would continue to be re-elected to Congress where he fought for AIDS funding, gays in the military, and marriage equality, right up until his retirement in 1997. When Studds died in 2006, his legally married husband was denied Studd’s pension, the same pension which was provided to all other surviving spouses of former members of Congress.

Roberta Achtenberg

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
Roberta Achtenberg: 1950. If he could help it, Sen. Jesse Helms (R-NC) wasn’t about to let President Bill Clinton appoint her as Assistant Secretary for Housing and Urban Development. “She’s not your garden-variety lesbian,” he complained. “She’s a militant-activist-mean lesbian, working her whole career to advance the homosexual agenda. Now you think I’m going to sit still and let her be confirmed by the Senate? … If you want to call me a bigot, go ahead.” Helms was a bigot, and, garden-variety or not, she was confirmed, making her the first openly gay person to receive a Senate confirmation for an administration position.

The daughter of immigrants grew up in Los Angeles and attended college at UCLA and UC Berkeley, before studying law at Hastings Law School in San Francisco and the University of Utah. She had married another male law student while at Berkeley, but the couple divorced amicably after Achtenberg figured out she was a lesbian.

Achtenberg quickly became concerned about the legal disadvantages that gays and lesbians experience, and as a member of the Anti-Sexism Committee of the National Lawyers Guild, she helped to write a manual to advise lawyers representing gay and lesbian clients. She also began working with the Bay Area Lawyers for Individual Freedom, and then co-founded the Lesbian Rights Project, which later became the National Center for Lesbian Rights. In 1979, she met attorney Mary Morgan, who already had a well-established track record representing lesbian mothers in custody cases. By then, Achtenberg was out, and she was ready for politics. She ran, unsuccessfully, for a seat in the California State Assembly in 1988, and she succeeded in getting elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1989. When a little-known former Arkansas governor decided to run for president, Achtenberg joined the Clinton campaign and worked on the Democratic Party’s drafting committee.

When Clinton nominated Achtenberg for HUD Assistant Secretary, Conservative Christians were outraged. They accused Achtenberg of a “personal vendetta” against the Boy Scouts because she was one of fifty — fifty! — members of the San Francisco United Way board of directors who voted unanimously to deny funding to the Scouts because of their discriminatory anti-gay policies. The Christian Action Network circulated a videotape of Achtenberg and Morgan, showing them hugging each other, ever so briefly, during the 1992 San Francisco Pride parade. Helms called that brief contact an “insane assault on family values.” Achtenberg was nevertheless confirmed in a 58-31 vote.

Achtenberg left HUD in 1995 to run for mayor of San Francisco, but lost. She served on the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce until 2005, and she was appointed to the Board of Trustees of Cal State in 2000, becoming chair in 2006. In 2011, President Barack Obama appointed her to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.

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The Daily Agenda for Saturday, July 19

Jim Burroway

July 19th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Calabria, Italy; Pride Charlotte, NC (Black Pride); Colorado Springs, CO; Demming, NM; Frankfurt, Germany; Glasgow, Scotland; Kitsap, WA; Leipzig, Germany; Munich, Germany; Reading, PA; Rochester, MN; Rochester, NY; San Diego, CA.

Other Events This Weekend: Sand Blast Weekend, Asbury Park, NJ; Outfest Film Festival, Los Angeles, CA; Miami Beach Bruthaz, Miami Beach, FL; Pink Dot Rally, Okinawa, Japan (Monday only); Bear Week, Provincetown, MA; Roze Maandag (Pink Monday), Tilburg, Netherlands (Monday only); Tokyo International Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, Tokyo, Japan; AIDS Walk, San Francisco, CA.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Texas Silver Dollar Times, September 1982, page 28.

From Texas Silver Dollar Times, September 1982, page 28.

The site about ten blocks north of downtown Amarillo, Texas, is now home to the Coco Locos Tejano Nightclub.

Dr. George F. Shrady

Dr. George F. Shrady

TODAY IN HISTORY:
130 YEARS AGO: Medical Journal Describes “Perverted Sexual Instinct”: 1884. One of the many startling things one encounters in nineteenth-century medical journals is the terminology writers deployed to describe something which heretofore had no name. The German word Homosexualität  had another decade to go before it made its way into the English language (see May 6), leaving Dr. George F. Shrady, editor of The Medical Record and one of the nation’s most prominent physicians, some difficulty in describing those whose inclinations were not toward procreation:

SIR THOMAS BROWN once wrote, platonically, that the act of procreation was “the foolishest act a wise man commits in all his life. Nor is there anything that will more deject his cooled imagination.” The physician learns, however, that man, so far from tending toward this ideal, is more apt to show instincts of a violently opposite character, and finds, far down beneath the surface of ordinary social life, currents of human passion and action that would shock and sicken the mind not accustomed to think everything pertaining to living creatures worthy of study. Science has indeed discovered that, amid the lowest forms of bestiality and sensuousness exhibited by debased men, there are phenomena which are truly pathological and which deserve the considerate attention and help of the physician.

That Shrady used the word “pathological” shows that already he had been influenced by various German authors — Carl Westphal (see Mar 23), Karl Heinrich Ulrichs (see Aug 28), Richard von Krafft-Ebing (Aug 14), to name a few — who had already made a name for themselves in the study of Homosexualität (or Urnings, a term that was more widely used in Germany). Before homosexuality became the subject of serious study, it had been written off as mere evil or vice. Viewing it as pathology at least invited society to consider that homosexuals weren’t criminals, but were somehow diseased or deformed, and were merely acting according to what came naturally to them. This framework was considered far more enlightened, because the proper response wouldn’t be punishment and scorn under this understanding, but treatment and pity, an arguable advancement in how gay people would be treated.

But what was the name of this condition? Westphal called it “Contrare Sexualempfindung” (contrary sexual instinct), while others employed various ideas of “inversion” (inverted sexual instinct, inversion of the genesic function, etc.). Early American writers tended to use the term “perverted sexual instinct” with “perverted” taking its original meaning as something which “has been corrupted or distorted from its original course, meaning, or state.” In the nineteenth century, all sorts of things could be “perverted,” including the understanding of religious doctrine (where the term actually originated), the application of economic incentives or the course of justice. It would only take another decade or so before “perverted sexual instinct” became shortened to “perversion,” and the “pervert” would become synonymous with gay people.

MedicalRecordAnd so this is the terminology that Shrady settled on: perverted sexual instinct. He reviewed the literature and found:

Up to that time (1883) only twenty-one cases were on record, three being reported by Americans, the rest mainly by Germans, and none at all by English observers. In a recent number of the Irrenfreund (vol. xxvi., No. I, 1884), Krafft-Ebing has reported six more cases. …In the reported cases of congenital perversion, the abnormal instinct begins oftenest as early as the eighth or ninth year, but shows itself at first, perhaps, only in an inclination to adopt the manners and practices of girls or women. The victims show the somatic basis of their trouble in various ways. There is often an hereditary psychopathic or neuropathic taint. Epilepsy is sometimes present. There are noticed in some cases, though not often, defects of the genital organs, such as hypospadias or epispadias, small or defective testicles. The hair on the face is sometimes thin, the voice almost always soft. The “Urnings” have a mincing gait, and sometimes the hips are broad like those of women. Exacerbations of the perverted feeling appear periodically. It may be accompanied with melancholia and end in insanity or suicide.

The mental peculiarities of these unfortunates have much in common. They are of the artistic, poetical. and imaginative temperament, often exhibiting a tendency to rather weak philosophizing. Sometimes they are of a vigorous understanding. In most cases there is great mental distress felt through a consciousness of their unnatural instincts. Two or three have, like Ulrichs, boldly defended their practices.

As for what to do about these individuals:

If congenital perverted sexual instinct is a pathological rather than a vicious condition, the query arises whether there is any remedy for it. The history of cases reported shows that sometimes the instinct is cultivated and intensified by bad surroundings in childhood, such as, for example, the exclusive society of women and immoral nurses. Excessive sexual indulgence seems to increase it, and we may question whether in a few cases the condition would have ever developed, were it not for an early abuse and misdirection of the sexual powers. In conditions of nervous exhaustion and weakness, the symptoms are exaggerated, and Krafft-Ebing, in his last communication, reports the case of a married man, previously healthy, who experienced an entire change in the sexual feeling, which lasted for twenty-five years. He was then cured by general faradization and other tonic measures.

“Faradization” refers to the use of electrical instruments to induce an electrical current or magnetic field in the vicinity of an afflicted body part or in general areas of the head or body.  (This is not the same as electric shock conversion therapy, which would come about much later (see Mar 11).) The late nineteenth century belief in the power of electricity and magnetism to cure all sorts of maladies gave rise to a thriving industry geared toward providing doctors with all sorts of “quack” instruments. “Tonic measures,” of course, refers to who knows what sort of snake oil which would may have been prescribed to restore masculine vigor to the unfortunate soul. (One wonders why NARTH hasn’t looked into these.) Shrady closes with this description:

In conclusion, we believe it to be demonstrated that conditions once considered criminal are really pathological, and come within the province of the physician. We have undertaken, therefore, the disagreeable task of laying some of the facts regarding sexual perversion before our readers. The profession can be trusted to sift the degrading and vicious from what is truly morbid.

We cannot do better than append the conclusions which Krafft-Ebing has reached upon this subject. He says: ” 1. There exists a congenital absence of sexual feeling toward the opposite sex, at times even disgust of sexual intercourse. 2. This defect occurs in a physically differentiated sexual type and with a normal development of the sexual organs. 3. Absence of the psychical qualities corresponding to the anatomical sexual type, but the feelings, thoughts, and actions of a perverted sexual instinct. 4. Abnormally early appearance of sexual desire. 5. Painful consciousness of the perverted sexual desire. 6. Sexual desire toward the same sex. 7. The sexual desire remains purely platonic or finds gratification in mutual onanism, or in feeling of the object of the affections. Often there is self-pollution, but for the want of something better. 8. There are symptoms of a morbid excitability of the sexual desires, together with an irritable weakness of the nervous symptoms, so that sensuous feelings, magnetic sensations, and even pollutions occur in simply touching the object of the affections. 9. The perverse sexual impulse is abnormally intense and rules all thought and sensation. The love of such individuals is excessive even to adoration, and is often followed by sorrow, melancholy, and jealousy. 10. People afflicted with this abnormity frequently possess an instinctive power to recognize one another.”

In this last conclusion we cannot agree. The power of mutual recognition is not instinctive but acquired.

Dr. Shrady’s credentials were very impressive when he wrote this article. He was president of the New York Pathological Society, a fellow of the American and New York Academies of Medicine, a member of the New York State Medical Society.  He had served as a consultant or resident physician for a number of prominent New York hospitals, and was he was a trustee of the Hudson State Hospital for the Insane in Poughkeepsie. He gained national prominence in 1881 when, after President James Garfield was shot, Shrady was called in to consult on the various options for treatment and wrote the autopsy report following Garfield’s death. In 1885, Shrady was in the limelight again as General Ulysses S. Grant’s personal physician while the former president was dying of throat cancer.

[Source: George F. Shrady "Perverted sexual instinct." Medical Record 26, no. 3 (July, 19, 1884): 70-71. Available online for free via Google Books here.]

President Clinton passes members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at Ft. McNair before announcing his new “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.

President Clinton Unveils “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Policy: 1993. “Let me say a few words now about this policy. It is not a perfect solution. It is not identical with some of my own goals. And it certainly will not please everyone, perhaps not anyone, and clearly not those who hold the most adamant opinions on either side of this issue.” With those words, President Bill Clinton unveiled a new policy on gays and lesbians in the military, which he called “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Don’t Pursue.”

This new policy was intended as a compromise posture, after his campaign promise to overturn the military’s blanket ban on gays and lesbians in the military ran into a buzz saw of opposition in Congress led by Sen. Sam Nunn (D-GA), chair of the powerful U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee. With the support of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Congress began the process of rushing through a federal law to reinforce the Pentagon’s then-existing policy of total exclusion. Clinton’s called for the new law’s repeal went nowhere, so on July 19, he proposed a compromise solution, at a speech at the National Defense University at Ft. McNair:

I have ordered Secretary Aspin to issue a directive consisting of these essential elements: One, service men and women will be judged based on their conduct, not their sexual orientation. Two, therefore the practice, now 6 months old, of not asking about sexual orientation in the enlistment procedure will continue. Three, an open statement by a service member that he or she is a homosexual will create a rebuttable presumption that he or she intends to engage in prohibited conduct, but the service member will be given an opportunity to refute that presumption; in other words, to demonstrate that he or she intends to live by the rules of conduct that apply in the military service. And four, all provisions of the Uniform Code of Military Justice will be enforced in an even-handed manner as regards both heterosexuals and homosexuals. And thanks to the policy provisions agreed to by the Joint Chiefs, there will be a decent regard to the legitimate privacy and associational rights of all service members.

Sen. Nunn and other opponents of lifting the ban altogether accepted this so-called compromise, and it would eventually make it into the Defense Appropriations Act of 1994 passed later that year. But in practice, the compromise fell apart. Service members were discharged based solely on evidence of sexual orientation, recruits were asked about their sexual orientation as part of their enlistment procedure, and any hint that a service member was gay — even if that hint did not come from the service member himself — resulted in an immediate investigation with the goal of discharge from the armed forces. Over the next eighteen years that the policy remained in effect, 14,346 soldiers, sailors and airmen/women were discharged under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” until it was finally repealed in 2011.

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The Daily Agenda for Friday, July 18

Jim Burroway

July 18th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Calabria, Italy; Pride Charlotte, NC (Black Pride); Colorado Springs, CO; Demming, NM; Frankfurt, Germany; Glasgow, Scotland; Kitsap, WA; Leipzig, Germany; Munich, Germany; Reading, PA; Rochester, MN; Rochester, NY; San Diego, CA.

Other Events This Weekend: Sand Blast Weekend, Asbury Park, NJ; Outfest Film Festival, Los Angeles, CA; Miami Beach Bruthaz, Miami Beach, FL; Pink Dot Rally, Okinawa, Japan (Monday only); Bear Week, Provincetown, MA; Roze Maandag (Pink Monday), Tilburg, Netherlands (Monday only); Tokyo International Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, Tokyo, Japan; AIDS Walk, San Francisco, CA.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From This Week In Texas, July 19, 1975.

From This Week In Texas, July 19, 1975.

Henry P. Laughlin, 1964.

Henry P. Laughlin, 1964.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Psychiatrist Denounces Anti-Gay Witchhunt: 1950. A Senate subcommittee under Joseph McCarthy investigating the federal employment of gay Americans was warned that their investigation would have negative consequences on government functioning. “The immediate effect of the probe is to threaten the emotional security and mental health of many government employees, warned Dr. Henry P. Laughlin of the Washington Psychiatric Society. “This is indeed unfortunate, tending to lower the efficiency and work production of those who have some actual or imagined basis for concern, and especially for those people whose homosexual experiences have been isolated or of a token nature or perhaps never occurred.”

Laughlin however emphasized that he was only speaking for himself and not the Society, before continuing on a line rarely heard in 1950: “Sexual orientation doesn’t enter into a person’s ability or capacity to do work. I am sure that many persons in government, as well as in industry and other areas of endeavor, have made significant contributions, although their orientation happens to be homosexual.” Laughlin’s testimony would fall on deaf years. Tens of thousands of people would be hounded out of their jobs over the next several decades, whether they were gay, suspected of being gay, or simply accused of being gay for whatever reasons.

NYC Police Commissioner Howard Leary

NYC Police Commissioner Howard Leary

New York Police Raid After Hours Club, Mafia Owners Fail To Stoke Another “Stonewall”: 1970. The Stonewall rebellion a year earlier had changed a lot. The gay community was more organized and more assertive than ever before. But there were a few things that hadn’t changed: police continued to raid gay bars and clubs, nearly all of which continued to be mob-owned. The gay community often found itself fighting on two fronts: 1) against direct harassment by the police (especially if one were to stray from well-established gender norms), and 2) from getting caught in the crossfire of a larger economic tug-of-war between organized crime and corrupt police officials. Most people today are very well versed on the first battle, but we often forget how important that second one was at the time. In New York City in the late sixties and early seventies, that second battle often threatened to eclipse the first. A good illustration of that can be found in a police raid that took place at The Barn, an after-hours club in the early morning hours of July 18, 1970. LGBT activist Randy Wicker (see Feb 3) described what happened in his column in GAY, the nation’s first weekly gay newspaper:

Barn baloney bared: New York Police raided the Barn Sunday, July 18th, issued summonses to nine employees and sent dozens of patrons scrambling out of the back rooms and into the streets. Management mafiosi reportedly took to the streets also shouting “gay power” and urging the patrons to return apparently hoping to provoke a confrontation a-la-Stonewall. The Police left shortly thereafter and most of the patrons re-entered the club.

“These raids shouldn’t be conducted at all,” Marty Robinson, GAA (Gay Activists Alliance) Political Affairs Committee chairman, declared. “We don’t like these management people running around the street shouting ‘gay power’ to further their own ends. Gay people should not simply be pawns in a power struggle between the police and underworld elements. A conference with Police Commissioner Leary has been arranged to discuss this matter more fully.

The running battle between the mob and NYPD masked the fact that the current situation was actually mutually beneficial to both parties. Because of the state’s reluctance (and often, outright refusal) to issue liquor licenses to gay businessmen who wanted to open gay bars, the mob stepped in to fill the void by opening unlicensed bars. They made tons of money selling fake, watered-down drinks at exorbitant prices, and they shared the wealth with police officers and officials who were paid to look the other way. Sometimes a payment was missed, sometimes it was shorted, or sometimes a dispute broke out over how much the mob should pay, and that’s when the police would suddenly turn up to conduct a raid. And while they were at it, police could boost their arrest numbers by hauling some of the bar patrons to the station house. It appears that noo such arrests were made in the Barn raid, a restraint which may have helped to lower the temperature among the Barn’s patrons and foil the attempts by the club’s employees to exploit the situation. But police behavior toward the club’s patrons were, typically, hostile, both before and during the raid.

L-R: Lige Clarke and Jack Nichols (publishers of GAY), Jim Owles, and Marty Robinson.

L-R: Lige Clarke and Jack Nichols (publishers of GAY), Jim Owles, and Marty Robinson.

Robinson and Jim Owles, GAA president, led a delegation to meet with Police Commissioner Howard R. Leary to discuss the problem of the mafia-owned bars as well as how the police treated gay people. As GAY reported on August 17:

Jim Owles, president of GAA, told Commissioner Leary that the homosexual community is achieving a new awareness of itself and its problems, partly as a result of its witnessing other minority group struggles and partly as a result of problem. with the police that the gay community continually faces. He charged that raids on after-hours gay bars were made at hours on weekend nights, with police by their mere presence intimidating scores of patrons. “They hang around, they check I.D .’s at random. they indulge in verbal abuse, they station one man at the door and a patrol car out front for several minutes.”

Recently at the Barn (an after-hours bar), Owles contended, a police raid created a very heated atmosphere and near violence. “We’re here to ask you what can be done. Your actions make it difficult for a civil rights organization such as ours that is trying to reform the establishment. When we work against a background of such police tactics, they tend to undermine our efforts and to drive the gay community into the hands of extremists ” Owles charged. Nevertheless, he explained, “we are not asking the police to close down after-hours bars.” He said GAA’s concern was that homosexual patrons should be left alone when police take action against such establishments.”

…Robinson pointed out that the syndicate owns legitimate bars, too. He said “We’re here about a social condition — syndicate control of gay bars and payoffs to police. The bars are run shabbily and are a bad influence on the young kids just coming out who patronize these places and who already don’t know what to make of themselves because of the way society receives them. Such gay bars shouldn’t be tolerated in these years. We can’t live with it. We want to see legitimate bars where there’s no guy at the door with a cigar in his face saying to kids, ‘Welcome to your life- this is it, your subculture, your subterranean existence.’ Commissioner, our desire now is that anyone who’s honest can get into business and stay in without a shakedown, and can get police protection. But we must have police protection for this to be possible.”

…Reinforcing Robinson’s earlier remarks, Owles told the police that successful bars not opened by the syndicate were quickly taken over by it. “In an era when homosexuals are seeking their civil rights, it’s a blatant insult to have to go to a bar taken over by the syndicate. This situation will blow up sooner or later,” he warned. “Hence GAA is pressing for an investigation of alleged collusion between the State Liquor Authority and organized crime. Meanwhile, whatever struggles there are between the police and the syndicate, we simply ask that homosexual patrons not be used as pawns in between.”

Leary countered that if the GAA or anyone in the gay community had specific evidence of official corruption, they should bring it to the police. Owles countered that this was a problem for the NYPD to solve, not his. “As far as a police investigation is concerned,” he said, “it would be most difficult for most homosexuals to appear in court to help you. Actual lives would be in danger.”

The previous April, The New York Times published a front-page article about police corruption using information supplied by two officers, Detective David Durk and Officer Frank Serpico. That article forced New York Mayor John Lindsay to appoint a five-member panel to investigate charges of police corruption. A year later, the commission issued a report saying that police corruption was endemic, and that the mayor and Leary, who by then was a former police commissioner, had failed to act.

[Sources: Kay Tobin. "Police Commissioner Howard Leary Meets with G.A.A." GAY (August 17, 1970): 3, 12.

Randy Wicker. "The Wicker Basket" GAY (August 17, 1970): 8.]

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Florida marriage ban ruled unconstitutional

Timothy Kincaid

July 17th, 2014

lmgarcia
In the first of a pair of marriage lawsuits, Huntsman v. Heavilin, a Florida county court has found that the ban on same-sex marriage violates the US Constitution. The ruling applies only to Monroe County. (Miami Herald)

Monroe County Circuit Judge Luis Garcia overturned Florida’s 2008 constitutional gay-marriage ban on Thursday, and ordered that two Key West bartenders be allowed to wed but not before Tuesday.

Aaron Huntsman and William Lee Jones, who met at a gay pride celebration and have been a couple for 11 years, sued Monroe County Clerk Amy Heavilin in April for a marriage license. Their case mirrors a similar suit in Miami-Dade County, in which six same-sex couples and LGBT advocacy group Equality Florida Institute sued County Clerk Harvey Ruvin for the right to marry.

Judge Garcia found the law in violation of both the Due Process and the Equal Protections provisions of the US Constitution. Additionally, noting that “Where a court suspects animus towards a disadvantaged group a more meaningful level of review is warranted”, Garcia illustrated the animus present in this case.

Fascinatingly, the judge turned to the amicus briefs provided by those opposing equality, specifically to Dr. Judith Reisman, to illustrate their own animus. (Ruling)

The court finds that despite the Amici Curiae assertion that there is no evidence of animus towards homosexuals by the proponents of the Florida Marriage Protection Amendment (FMPA), there is ample evidence not only historically but within the very memorandum of law filed by the Amici Curiae. For example, the affidavits of Dr. Reisman, filed by the Amici Curiae, for the proposition that, “a law encouraging homosexual behaviors appears to increase HIV risk and negative health outcomes and thus creates a danger both to the individual engaging in these behaviors as well as society as a whole.” The Amici Curiae also claims that homosexuality is not the result of biology, genetics or nature, but that in fact it is a choice that is naturally subject to change and within the control of the individual. (See page 20-21 of Amici Curiae memorandum.) The Amici Curiae’s memorandum paints a picture of homosexuals as HIV infected, alcohol and drug abusers, who are promiscuous and psychologically damaged and incapable of long term relationships or of raising children. (Pages 29-39). They contend, “the personal, social and financial costs of these homosexual-specific health problems concern not just those who engage in homosexual activity, but also the larger community of citizens who help provide services and who must bear part of the burden imposed by the health challenges. It is eminently rational for the voters of Florida to seek to minimize the deleterious effect of these conditions on public health, safety and welfare by affirming that marriage in Florida remains the union of one man and one woman.” (Page 39). The court finds that animus has been established by the plaintiffs and that the heightened rational basis test is appropriate.

Also, following an amusing trend, Garcia quoted Scalia on the matter.

Justice Scalia in his dissent in Lawrence v. Texas stated, “Preserving the traditional institution of marriage … is just a kinder way of describing the State’s moral disapproval of same-sex couples,” which is obviously not a legitimate purpose for the unequal treatment.

One of the more interesting side observations in this case is that while Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi expressed her intent to defend the law – and received considerable criticism for doing so – her defense has been so minimal as to infuriate the supporters of inequality.

After the hearing, [Liberty Counsel's Matt] Staver seemed outraged that Tanenbaum spoke for about five minutes at each of the South Florida hearings, and never actually argued in favor of the gay marriage ban.

Staver said [Florida Assistant Attorney General Adam] Tanenbaum’s boss, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, “is giving only window dressing to the Florida Marriage Amendment.”

It appears that the State’s sole argument was that states have the right to set marriage law for themselves.

Judge Garcia was appointed in 2000 by former Governor Jeb Bush.

The Daily Agenda for Thursday, July 17

Jim Burroway

July 17th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Calabria, Italy; Pride Charlotte, NC (Black Pride); Colorado Springs, CO; Demming, NM; Frankfurt, Germany; Glasgow, Scotland; Kitsap, WA; Leipzig, Germany; Munich, Germany; Reading, PA; Rochester, MN; Rochester, NY; San Diego, CA.

Other Events This Weekend: Sand Blast Weekend, Asbury Park, NJ; Outfest Film Festival, Los Angeles, CA; Miami Beach Bruthaz, Miami Beach, FL; Pink Dot Rally, Okinawa, Japan (Monday only); Bear Week, Provincetown, MA; Roze Maandag (Pink Monday), Tilburg, Netherlands (Monday only); Tokyo International Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, Tokyo, Japan; AIDS Walk, San Francisco, CA.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Bay Area Reporter, May 15, 1971.

From Bay Area Reporter, May 15, 1971.

The Ambassador Lounge was part of the Ambassador Hotel in San Francisco’s Tenderloin district. Built in 1911, the single room occupancy hotel was an AIDS hospice during the 1980s when under the management of Hank Wilson. But by the late 1990s, the Ambassador had sharply deteriorated into a veritable urban slum. Housing activists applied legal pressure against the slumlord, who sold the building to the Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation, a non-profit that fixes up old buildings in the neighborhood. Repairs were completed in 2003, and the Ambassador now serves as low income housing. It was also listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The old Ambassador Lounge is now an Indian restaurant.

Kenneth Wherry

TODAY IN HISTORY:
“They resign voluntarily, don’t they? That’s an admission of their guilt.”: 1950. Max Lerner, a columnist for the New York Post, began a series of articles on homosexuality in July, 1950, spurred on by the growing hysteria in government and the press over the presence of gay people in federal employment (see Feb 28, Mar 14, Apr 18, May 15, May 19, and Jun 15). On July 17, Lerner published his interview with Sen. Kenneth Wherry (R-NE), the GOP’s floor leader and whip, and a primary backer of the ongoing Senate investigations into gays and lesbian employees in the federal government. Two months earlier, Sen. Wherry had issued a report estimating 3,750 “perverts” were government employees. The interview revealed just how uninformed those crusaders against gays in the federal government really were:

I asked Senator Wherry whether the problem of homosexuals in the government was primarily a moral or a security issue. He answered that it was both, but security was uppermost in his mind. I asked whether he made a connection between homosexuals and Communists. “You can’t hardly separate homosexuals from subversives,” the Senator told me. “Mind you, I don’t say every homosexual is a subversive, and I don’t say every subversive is a homosexual. But a man of low morality is a menace in the government, whatever he is, and they are all tied up together.”

…I asked whether he would be content to get the homosexuals out of the “sensitive posts,” leaving alone those who have nothing to do with military security. There might be “associations,” he said, between men in the sensitive and the minor posts. “There should be no people of that type working in any position in the government.”

…I asked on what he based his view that homosexuals represent an unusual security risk. I cited a group of American psychiatrists who hold that a heterosexual with promiscuous morals may also be a security risk, that some men might be reckless gamblers or confirmed alcoholics and get themselves entangled or blackmailed. The Senator’s answer was firm: “You can stretch the security risk further if you want to,” he said, “but right now I want to start with the homosexuals. When we get through them, then we’ll see what comes next.”

This brought me to the question of definitions. “You must have a clear idea, Senator,” I said, “of what a homosexual is. It is a problem that has been troubling the psychiatrists and statisticians. Can you tell me what your idea is?”

“Quite simple,” answered the Senator. “A homosexual is a diseased man, an abnormal man.”

I persisted. “Do you mean one who has made a habit of homosexuality? Would you include someone who, perhaps in his teens, had some homosexual relations and had never had them since? Would you include those who are capable of both kinds of relations, some who may even be raising families?”

“You can handle it without requiring a definition,” the Senator answered. “I’m convinced in my own mind that any homosexual is a bad risk.”

“But how about those who get pushed out of their jobs when they are only in a minor post, when no security risk is involved, and when they are forced to resign for something they may have done years ago?”

“They resign voluntarily, don’t they?” asked the Senator. “That’s an admission of their guilt. That’s all I need. My feeling is that there will be very few people hurt.”

[Source: Jonathan Ned Katz. Gay American History: Lesbians and Gay Men in the U.S.A. (New York: Thomas Y. Crowell, 1976): pp 95-97.]

APA Refuses To Meet With Gay Rights Groups: 1963. One of the top goals of the early gay rights movement was to get the mental health professions to remove homosexuality from their list of mental disorders. As long as homosexuality remained listed, governmental agencies and private companies had all the excuse they needed to discriminate against gays and lesbians. In 1957, Psychologist Evelyn Hooker began publishing the results of a series of tests which demonstrated that gays and lesbians who weren’t patients of mental health professionals were indistinguishable from heterosexuals (see Aug 30). Before then, the mental health community thought that gays were mentally deficient because all of the prior research had only studied people who were confined to mental hospitals or were seen in clinical settings.

Despite the strength of this new evidence, it would still take many years for it to sink in. In 1963, the American Psychological Association was preparing to meet in Philadelphia for their annual convention. Leading gay activists, under the banner of the newly-formed East Coast Homophile Organizations (ECHO) also planned to meet in Philadelphia at the same time, and they proposed a meeting with members of the APA. But the APA convention’s organizing committee declined the invitation. In a very brief letter to leading gay rights activist Frank Kameny and the Washington, D.C., Mattachine Society, the APA simply said, “This problem” — yes, the APA saw the meeting as a problem — “has already been considered by the Convention Committee and it was decided that it was not in the best interests of the APA to meet with you, nor to publicize your meetings.”

Another nine years would pass before Kameny and Daughters of Bilitis New York activist Barbara Gittings would appear with Dr. John E. Fryer (as “Dr. H. Anonymous.”) on a panel discussion on homosexuality with the American Psychiatric Association (the other APA, which is the keeper of the list of mental disorders known as the DSM) (see May 2). That appearance nearly a decade later would wind up being a key moment leading to the elimination of homosexuality as a mental illness (see Dec 15).

If you know of something that belongs on the agenda, please send it here. Don’t forget to include the basics: who, what, when, where, and URL (if available).

And feel free to consider this your open thread for the day. What’s happening in your world?

Catholic Church stops funding immigrants group

Timothy Kincaid

July 16th, 2014

Voz Workers’ Rights Education Project is an organization in Portland, Oregon, which advocates against the deportation of Latinos who are in the United States illegally and facilitates day employment for such persons. Their website lists various organization with which they ally, including National Day Labor Organizing Network and Oregon New Sanctuary Movement.

Not listed on their site is National Council of La Raza, a group which works to improve opportunities for Hispanic Americans. However, NCLR does include Voz among their affiliates; the relationship is primarily that of NCLR providing financial support for the group.

Voz has also, until recently, received funding from Catholic Campaign for Human Development, a program of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops.

But no more. Because NCLR supports Voz and because NCLR also supports marriage equality, the Catholic Church has discontinued funding from Voz. (AP)

Voz Workers’ Rights Education lost a $75,000 grant in June from the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, which is the national anti-poverty, social justice program of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Catholic Campaign director Ralph McCloud said the group asked Voz to cut ties with the National Council of La Raza, a large Latino civil rights organization that endorses marriage equality, to be considered for the grant. Voz has been an affiliate of NCLR since 2009, primarily as a grantee.

After Voz refused to cut its ties, the organization “self-disqualified” itself from the funding process, McCloud said.

Yes, I know that this makes no sense whatsoever. One would think that the positions of Voz would be what matters, not whether the Catholic Church agrees with every policy of someone else who gives them money.

But the US Catholic Bishops have become so obsessed with their losing battle to deny civil marriage equality, that they have placed it as a higher priority than their own charitable endeavors. As for Voz, they were unwilling to become an anti-gay organization just to receive Catholic funds.

“Marriage equality is not the focus of our work; we focus on immigrant rights. But we work with everyone, we don’t discriminate,” Sosa said. “There may be gays and lesbians among our staff or workers, and we can’t turn our backs on them.”

It will be interesting to see how this plays out. I suspect that most organizations who advocate for persons in the United States illegally are in some way affiliated with NCLR. If the Catholic Church applies this standard consistently, they may soon find that they have distanced themselves from all of their allies in their efforts to advance their immigration position.

The Daily Agenda for Wednesday, July 16

Jim Burroway

July 16th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Calabria, Italy; Pride Charlotte, NC (Black Pride); Colorado Springs, CO; Demming, NM; Frankfurt, Germany; Glasgow, Scotland; Kitsap, WA; Leipzig, Germany; Munich, Germany; Reading, PA; Rochester, MN; Rochester, NY; San Diego, CA.

Other Events This Weekend: Sand Blast Weekend, Asbury Park, NJ; Outfest Film Festival, Los Angeles, CA; Miami Beach Bruthaz, Miami Beach, FL; Pink Dot Rally, Okinawa, Japan (Monday only); Bear Week, Provincetown, MA; Roze Maandag (Pink Monday), Tilburg, Netherlands (Monday only); Tokyo International Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, Tokyo, Japan; AIDS Walk, San Francisco, CA.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The Advocate, July 22, 1982, page 31.

From The Advocate, July 22, 1982, page 31.

Houston’s Different Drum, often known simply as the Drum, started out in the early 1970s as an early leather/levi bar called the Locker. Before that, the building housed a dry cleaning business. In the late 1980s, the bar was known as Chutes, and was one of three bars raided by Houston police as their way of kicking off Pride week in 1987. The location today is home to Empire Cafe.

1992_Factor_VIII-large[1]

TODAY IN HISTORY:
CDC Identifies Haitians, People with Hemophilia as Being at Risk for AIDS: 1982. A little more than a year had passed since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had issued its first alerts on a new syndrome affecting the immune systems of gay men on the East and West Coasts (see Jun 5, Jul 3). The syndrome still didn’t have an official name, but the popular press was beginning to call it Gay-Related Immune Deficinecy (GRID) or more simply as the “gay cancer,” for the rare form of skin cancer that often stalked people with this puzzling condition. The CDC, for its part, simply referred to the two main opportunistic infections that afflected those with this immune deficiency: the hitherto rare Pneumocystis carinii Pneumonia (PCP) and that “gay cancer, Kaposi’s sarcoma (KS). By the end of the year, the CDC noticed similar conditions among intravenous drug users. This relegated the disease to two “guilty” groups: gays and drug addicts.

1983-12-17-SMH-AIDS-scare-kills-off-Haitis-tourist-industry-620x874[1]But that would change. On July 9, the CDC issued a report identifying CDC and KAS among recent Haitian immigrants in the U.S. The report described twenty patients ranging from twenty-two to forty-three years old, three of them women. They had all been born in Haiti and living in the Miami-Dade area for anywhere from one month to seven years. Ten more patients from Haiti were found in Brooklyn, and three others were in California, Georgia and New Jersey. “None of the 23 Haitian males questioned reported homosexual activity, and only 1 of 26 gave a history of IV drug abuse — substantially lower than the prevalence reported for heterosexual patients of other racial/ethnic groups who had Kaposi’s sarcoma or opportunistic infections. … It is not clear whether this outbreak is related to similar outbreaks among homosexual males, IV drug abusers, and others, but the clinical and immunologic pictures appear quite similar. CDC is currently collaborating with local investigators to define this problem and identify risk factors.” By the end of the year, Haiti’s growing tourism industry would collapse.

So now the at-risk populations were homosexuals, drug users, and Haitian immigrants — three marginalized groups which most people found difficult to identify with. (French researchers were finding the syndrome among a much more diverse group of paitents, including African immigrants and residents, but that news hadn’t made it to the New World yet.) Meanwhile the ink was barely dry on that CDC report when, just a week later, the CDC issued another report identifying the same syndrome among three people with Hemophilia A who were being treated with Factor VIII, a blood-clotting protein that was extracted from donated blood plasma. This gave the CDC its first solid clue about how the new syndrome might be transmitted:

The clinical and immunologic features these three patients share are strikingly similar to those recently observed among certain individuals from the following groups: homosexual males, heterosexuals who abuse IV drugs, and Haitians who recently entered the United States.(1-3) Although the cause of the severe immune dysfunction is unknown, the occurrence among the three hemophiliac cases suggests the possible transmission of an agent through blood products.

That clue would be reinforced five months later when the CDC, having adopted the “Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome” as the official name for the condition just a few months earlier, reported on a 20-month-old infant who experienced an immune deficiency following a transfusion. It would also mark AIDS’ transition from being a disease contracted solely by suspect groups to one that ordinary “innocent” Americans could get.

Reinaldo Arenas

TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS:
Reinaldo Arenas: 1943-1990. His background would have made him  tailor-made for Fidel Castro’s revolutionary Cuba. Arenas was born to a destitute family in the rural Oriente province, Castro’s native province and the cradle of the revolution that Arenas joined as a teenager. Arenas moved to Havana in 1961, and became a researcher at the José Martí National Library from 1963 to 1966. His 1965 semi-autobiographical novel, Singing from the Well, was the first novel of his five-part Pentagonia (The Five Agonies) series, which he described as “the secret history of Cuba.” Singing From the Well was awarded a first honorable mention by a committee of Cuban writers, and the Prix Medici in France four years later.

Singing From the Well would be Arenas’s only novel to be published in Cuba, and it would never be reprinted there beyond its initial printing of 2,000 copies because of Arenas’s open homosexuality. Cuba’s benefactor, the Soviet Union, saw homosexuality as a product of a decadent capitalist society, ideas which easily took root in Cuba which already had its own entrenched homophobic qualities. Castro regarded regarded homosexuality as a bourgeois decadence (“In the country, there are no homosexuals,” he once said), and declared that “we would never come to believe that a homosexual could embody the conditions and requirements of conduct that would enable us to consider him a true Revolutionary, a true Communist militant.” New laws were passed and concentration camps were opened to house Cuba’s homosexuals, particularly effeminate men, who were believed to have violated the ideal of Cuba’s “new man.” Those prison camps were supposed to turn these men into the New Man through forced labor, scarce food, shaved heads, and physical mistreatment.

Arenas avoided that fate and managed to find work as a journalist and editor for the literary magazine La Caceta de Cuba, although he was prohibited from publishing abroad while the government refused to publish his books at home. His second novel, Hallucinations, published abroad in 1968, violated that ban. In 1970, Arenas was officially branded a “social misfit” and sentenced to a labor camp to cut sugar cane. When he still managed to get his works smuggled out of Cuba and published abroad, the Cuban government sent him to the notorious El Morro Prison from 1974 to 1976 for being a “counterrevolutionary.” Arenas continued writing, both in and out of prison. He wrote Farewell to the Sea three times because the authorities kept confiscating it. He dedicated his epic poem, El Central, to “my dear friend R., who made me a present of 87 sheets of blank paper.” He tried to escape Cuba, but the attempt ending in failure and more imprisonment. He was finally able to escape during the 1980 Mariel boatlift thanks to a bureaucratic snafu.

On arriving in the United States, he settled to New York and launched a frenzied period of writing: novels, short stories, poetry, essays, and newspaper articles. The two decade saw the publication of the rest of Pentagonia, with The Palace of the White Skunks (1982), Farewell to the Sea (1987), The Color of Summer, (1990), and The Assault (1992). The last major work he wrote was his autobiography, Before Night Falls, which was posthumously published in 1992. Mario Vargas Llosa, the Nobel Prize-winning Peruvian author, praised Before Night Falls and Arena’s uncompromisingly frank — some may say explicit — depiction of his homosexuality in defiance of the homophobia of his Spanish-speaking audience: “This is one of the most moving testimonies that has ever been written in our language about oppression and rebellion, but few will dare to acknowledge this fact since the book, although one reads it with an uncontrollable appetite, has the perverse power of leaving its readers uncomfortable”

Weak with AIDS, without health insurance and living in poverty ever since leaving Cuba, Arenas killed himself in his Hell’s Kitchen apartment on December 7, 1990. He titled his final poem Self-Epitaph:

A bad poet in love with the moon,
he counted terror as his only fortune:
and it was enough because, being no saint,
he knew that life is risk or abstinence,
that every great ambition is great insanity
and the most sordid horror has its charm.

He lived for life’s sake, which means seeing death
as a daily occurrence on which we wager
a splendid body or our entire lot.
He knew the best things are those we abandon
— precisely because we are leaving.
The everyday becomes’ hateful,
there’ s just one place to live, the impossible.
He knew imprisonment offenses
typical of human baseness;
but was always escorted by a certain stoicism
that helped him walk the tightrope
or enjoy the morning’s glory,
And when he tottered, a window would appear
for him to jump toward infinity.

He wanted no ceremony, speech, mourning or cry,
no sandy mound where his skeleton be laid to rest
(not even after death he wished to live in peace).
He ordered that his ashes be scattered at sea
where they would be in constant flow.
He hasn’t lost the habit of dreaming:
he hopes some adolescent will plunge into his waters.

Tony Kushner: 1956. He is most acclaimed for his Pulitzer prize-winning play, Angels In America, the seven-hour epic about the AIDS crises in the Ed Koch-era of New York. Kushner wrote the play for eight actors, but stipulated that each of the actors was to play multiple roles (including multiple genders) throughout the production. When he adapted the play for an HBO miniseries starring Meryl Streep and Al Pacino, the same construct was applied. In addition to the 1993 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, Kushner won the Tony Awards for Best Play in 1993 and 1994 (Angels In America is actually in two parts, Millennium Approaches and Perestroika, each having its own separate Broadway debut.)

After the turn of the new millennium, Kushner began writing for film, co-writing the screenplay for Steven Spielberg’s Munich. Most recently, he was the screenwriter for Spielberg’s Lincoln, starring Daniel Day-Lewis and based on Doris Kearns Goodwin’s book, Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln, for which Kushner won an Academy Award, Golden Globe, BAFTA, and a Writers Guild award for best adapted screenplay. In 2013, Kushner was one of twenty-four recipients for the National Medal of Arts and Humanities from President Barack Obama.

If you know of something that belongs on the agenda, please send it here. Don’t forget to include the basics: who, what, when, where, and URL (if available).

And feel free to consider this your open thread for the day. What’s happening in your world?

Croatia passes partnership law

Timothy Kincaid

July 15th, 2014

Croatian coast
Things have been a bit of a roller coaster for the gay citizens of Croatia, the nation comprising much of the coastline across the Adriatic Sea from Italy.

Last July Croatia joined the European Union, after passing a non-discrimination law. Almost immediately, a government commission proposed a referendum to ban marriage equality. And in December 2013, the electorate declared their support for discrimination by a two-thirds vote (though with a very low voter turnout).

But later that month the government proposed a ‘life partnership’ registry, and now that legislation has passed. (Ansamed)

La Croazia si è unita oggi ai Paesi che riconoscono le unioni civili tra le coppie dello stesso sesso, garantendo alle coppie gay e lesbiche tutti i diritti delle coppie sposate, con l’eccezione dell’adozione dei figli, e definendo queste unioni come una forma di vita famigliare.

Il Parlamento di Zagabria ha approvato oggi con 89 voti a favore, giunti dai banchi dei partiti di centro-sinistra e liberali che formano la coalizione di governo la Legge sulle unioni civili tra le coppie omosessuali, modellata in maggior parte su quella tedesca. Contro hanno votato 16 deputati di destra e centro-destra, che non si oppongono alla necessità di regolare le coppie omosessuali, ma considerano questa legge troppo liberale.

Google Translate:

Croatia has today joined the countries that recognize civil unions between same-sex couples, granting gay and lesbian couples all the rights of married couples, with the exception of the adoption of children, and defining these unions as a form of family life.

The Parliament in Zagreb today approved with 89 votes in favor, came from the banks of the parties of the center-left and liberals who form the ruling coalition the Law on civil unions between same-sex couples, modeled in most of the German. 16 deputies voted against right-wing and center-right, which is not opposed to the need to regulate same-sex couples, but consider this law too liberal.

One of the complications which the community had faced was a Constitutional requirement that the State ‘protect the family’. Lawmakers got around that problem by defining life partnerships to be a form of family.

Obama Administration to Argue Against State Marriage Bans Before Supreme Court

Jim Burroway

July 15th, 2014

Over the weekend, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the Justice Department will urge the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold lower court rulings which have struck down bans against same-sex marriage in more than twenty states:

If the Supreme Court agrees to hear any of those cases, the Justice Department will file a brief with the court that “will be in support of same-sex marriage,” Holder said in a rare interview, sitting down with ABC News’ Pierre Thomas.

Holder said the brief would be “consistent with the actions that we have taken over the past couple of years.” The Justice Department has refused to defend the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as between a man and a woman, and its legal efforts to extend federal benefits to same-sex couples have been successful.

Holder called the battle for marriage equality “a defining civil rights challenge of our time.”

Last week, the Attorney General’s office for the state of Utah announced that it would take its appeal of a lower court ruling striking down the state’s same-sex marriage ban straight to the U.S. Supreme Court rather than ask for an en banc hearing before the entire Tenth Circuit. A three-judge panel of the Tenth Circuit in June upheld a Federal District Court’s ruling which declared Utah’s ban against same-sex marriage unconstitutional.

The Daily Agenda for Tuesday, July 15

Jim Burroway

July 15th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From GPU News, July 1978, page 20.

From GPU News, July 1978, page 20.

gbg77-barint-p07-ballgame-1Milwaukee’s Ball Game opened in 1974, in a building that had been home to a procession of gay bars going back to the early 1960s. The Ball Game hosted a number of shows and special events, including drag shows and pageants. And as the name implies it also sponsored soft ball teams and other community activities.  By 2000, Milwaukee’s gay bar scene had moved out of the area and patronage at the Ball Game started to fall off. The bar finally closed in 2012.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
New York’s WBAI Radio Broadcasts Talk Show Featuring Eight Gay Men: 1962. There had long been an inherent tension among the various local chapters of the Mattachine Society between those who, because of their experience with the McCarthy-led Lavendar Scare witchhunt in the early 1950s, feared public scrutiny and exposure, and those who argued for greater visibility. Randy Wicker, was among the latter (see Feb 3). To get around some of the group’s objections, Wicker established a separate entity he called the Homosexual League of New York, an organization that consisted solely of himself, and which gave him the freedom to act independently while giving others a sense that there was an organization behind him.

Earlier in 1962 WBAI, New York’s listener-supported progressive Pacifica radio station, aired an hour-long special, “The Homosexual In America.” It featured a panel of psychiatrists who described gay people as sick and in need of a cure — a cure that they could provide with just a few hours of therapy. Wicker was insensed, not only at the ignorance of these so-called “experts,” but also because, once again, there was a panel of straight people talking about gay people with nary a gay person in sight.

Wicker marched into the WBAI studios and confronted Dick Elman, the station’s public affairs director. “Why do you have these people on that don’t know a damn thing about homosexuality? They don’t live it and breathe it the way I do. … I spend my whole life in gay society.”  Wicker demanded equal time and Elman agreed, provided Wicker found other gay people willing to go on the air as part of a panel.  When plans for the program were announced, the New York Journal-American went ballistic. Jack O’Brian, the paper’s radio-TV columnist, wrote that the station should change its callsign to WSICK for agreeing to air an “arrogant card-carrying swish. …We’ve heard of silly situations in broadcasting, but FM station WBAI wins our top prize for scraping the sockly barrel-bottom.”

WBAI went ahead despite the controversy and the program, titled “Live and Let Live,” featured Wicker and seven other gay men talking for ninety minutes about what it was like to be gay.  They talked about their difficulties in maintaining careers, the problems of police harassment, and the social responsibility of gays and straights alike. The program’s host guided the programs with questions to the panel. “Is there harassment?” he asked. One panelist described some of the police harassment he had expeirenced, when one officer “roared up, jumped out of the car, grabbed me, and started giving me this big thing about ‘What are you doing here, you know there are a lot of queers aroudn this neighborhood.’ He said, ‘You know, there’s only one thing worse than a queer, and that’s a nigger’.”

The following morning, The New York Times’s Jack Gould called the program “the most extensive consideration of the subject to be heard on American radio” — a statement that betrays his own unawareness of several similar programs which had already aired on radio and television in San Francisco and Los Angeles years earlier. Nevertheless, he wrote that “it succeeded, one would think in encouraging a wider understanding of the homosexual’s attitudes and problems.” Newsweek called the program “96 minutes of intriguing, if intellectually inconclusive listening.” A group of listeners lodged a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission and challenge the station’s broadcast license. When the FCC recognized the broadcast as a legitimate exercise in free speech, it signaled to other radio and television stations that homosexuality was an acceptable topic for broadcast (see Jan 23).

TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS:
Samuel Reber, Jr.: 1903-1971. He was a well-regarded American diplomat who spent twenty-seven years in the Foreign Service. During World War II, Reber scored a significant diplomatic success by getting Vichy France to agree that French colonies and possessions, ships and planes in the Caribbean would not be used by the Axis powers, an agreement which underscored Vichy’s weakness as a French power. Reber then joined the Allied Control Commission in Italy, and from there he served as the U.S. representative to the Allied French government in 1944. By 1946, he was a political adviser to the U.S. delegation at the Council of Foreign Ministers Conference in Paris, in 1947 he was director of the State Department’s Office of European Affairs, and in 1950 he joined in the Allied High Commission as an adviser for the U.S. High Commissioner for Germany.

Beginning in 1948, Reber faced his greatest diplomatic challenge working t for an Austrian peace treaty while enduring years of threats and insults from the Soviet Union. His work ultimately laid the groundwork for an independent Austria remaining outside of the Soviet block. But the treaty guaranteeing that independence wouldn’t come about until two years after Reber was forced out of the State Department in 1953. That’s when Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s Red Scare — and the accompanying Lavender Scare — was in full force in the U.S. Senate. McCarthy charged that the upper ranks of the State Department were filled with communists and homosexuals, prompting a wide-ranging witch hunt within the department. Reber was called in for a polygraph test and interviews on March 17 and 19, 1953. That investigation uncovered “a lot of admissions” about homosexuality. When McCarthy threatened to reveal allegations of Reber’s homosexuality, Reber promptly announced his retirement in May 1953, effective July 15 when he turned 50.

But because of Reber’s high profile, the reasons for his resignation quickly became well known in diplomatic and political circles. In 1954, McCarthy would use Reber’s resignation against his brother, Major General Miles Reber, who was called to testify on the first day of the Army-McCarthy hearings. According to Time magazine:

Returning to twist the dirk already thrust into the Reber brothers, McCarthy asked General Reber: “Are you aware of the fact that your brother was allowed to resign when charges that he was a bad security risk were made against him as a result of the investigation of this committee?” Jenkins roared in protest. McClellan roared in protest. McCarthy talked on, stuck to his question. General Reber sat in silence, gripping the edges of the witness table until his knuckles showed white. Finally, McCarthy, having made his point over radio and television, dismissed the entire question as unimportant, and grandly said he would withdraw it.

But West Pointer Reber would not have it so. In a voice thick with emotion, he asked to be allowed to answer the “very serious charge” made against his brother. After another long argument, Reber said simply: “. . . As I understand my brother’s case, he retired, as he is entitled to do by law, upon reaching the age of 50 … I know nothing about any security case involving him.” With a sigh of relief, Chairman Mundt dismissed Reber, thanking him for his frank manner—a remark to which McCarthy, who seemed determined to resent any civility, made a formal objection.

David Cicilline

David Cicilline: 1961. When he was elected mayor of Providence, Rhode Island, in a landslide in 2002, David Cicilline became the first openly gay man to become mayor of a state capital. He held that position until 2011, when he went to Congress to represent Rhode Island in the U.S. House of Representatives after a surprisingly close race against his Republican opponent in what was supposed to be a safe Democratic seat. When he joined Congress, he became one of four openly gay representatives in the House. Cicilline was re-elected in 2012, despite falling approval raitings, partly due to Providence’s near bankruptcy in the wake of Cicilline’s eight years as mayor.

If you know of something that belongs on the agenda, please send it here. Don’t forget to include the basics: who, what, when, where, and URL (if available).

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The Daily Agenda for Monday, July 14

Jim Burroway

July 14th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Bay Area Reporter, July 15, 1971, page 25.

From Bay Area Reporter, July 15, 1971, page 25.

Sr. Jeannine Gramick, Fr. Robert Nugent

TODAY IN HISTORY:
 15 YEARS AGO: Vatican Orders Priest and Nun To Halt Pro-Gay Ministry: 1999. New Ways Ministry, founded in 1977 by Sr. Jeannine Gramick and Fr. Robert Nugent, was (and still is) “a gay-positive ministry of advocacy and justice for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Catholics, and reconciliation within the larger Christian and civil communities.” The ministry’s name was inspired by a 1976 pastoral letter by Bishop Francis J. Mugavero of Brooklyn which, while emphasizing “chastity is a virtue which liberates the human person,” nevertheless “pledge[d] our willingness to help you bear your burdens, to try to find new ways to communicate the truth of Christ because we believe it will make you free.”

Free from what, exactly, the letter didn’t say. (This was before the religious ex-gay movement was founded in 1976.) But Sr. Gramick and Fr. Nugent saw that the clearest path to freedom was to create wider acceptance for gay and lesbian Catholics within the Catholic Church. Sr. Gramick came by her advocacy for gay people a few years earlier while working on her Ph.D. at the University of Pennsylvania, where she befriended a gay man and began ministering to those who had left the Church because of its stance toward gay people. Fr. Nugent had been involved with pastoral ministry and counseling to gay Catholics since 1971. When Fr. Nugent and Sr. Gramick co-founded New Ways Ministry at Mt. Rainier, MD., it attracted almost immediate attention from the Church’s hierarchy. In 1984, Archbishop of Washington James Cardinal Hickey’s criticisms of New Way Ministry led the Vatican to order Fr. Nugent’s and Sr. Gramick’s resignation. They complied, but continued speaking and writing about gay and lesbian issues within the church.

On July 14, 1999, the Vatican’s official newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, published a “Notification regarding Sr. Gramick and Fr. Nugent“, from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), which is charged with enforcing adherence to Catholic doctrines. The CDF, under the leadership of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (who would later become Pope Benedict XVI), “permanently prohibited” Sr. Gramick and Fr. Nugent “from any pastoral work involving homosexual persons and are ineligible, for an undetermined period, for any office in their respective religious institutes.”

Fr. Nugent responded with a lengthy statement describing his experience with Vatican officials during the previous two decades. That prompted a further order from the Vatican prohibiting him from speaking any further “about the Notification itself, about the ecclesiastical processes that led to it or about the issue of homosexuality.” Fr. Nugent then decided to return to parish-based ministry.

But Sr. Gramick refused to complying with the silencing. “I choose not to collaborate in my own oppression by restricting a basic human right [to speak]. To me this is a matter of conscience.” She then transferred from the School Sisters of Notre Dame to the Sisters of Loretto, where she has continued her work for social justice and outreach to LGBT people. In 2004, Sr. Gramick became the subject of a powerful documentary film, In Good Conscience: Sister Jeannine Gramick’s Journey of Faith, directed by Albert Maysles of Grey Gardens and Gimme Shelter fame. New Ways Ministry continues its work of independent advocacy on for LGBT Catholics.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS:
Arthur Laurents: 1917-2011. The three-time Tony Award winning playwright, director and screenwriter started out by writing scripts for radio shows and training films for the U.S. Army during World War II. One photograph of GIs in the South Pacific jungle inspired him to write Home of the Brave about anti-Semitism in the military. The play opened on Broadway in 1945 and ran for sixty nine performances. (When the play was adapted for the 1949 film, the topic switched from anti-Semitic to anti-black bigotry.) That first run wasn’t a long one, but its controversial subject would come back to haunt him later when he was called before the House Un-American Activities Committee and was placed on the infamous entertainment blacklist during the McCarthy red scare.

His tenure on the list was relatively brief, and by the mid-1950s, Laurents was in Broadway and Hollywood’s good graces again. Good thing, because he went on to write West Side Story and Gypsy, and the script for Alfred Hitchcock’s The Rope. He also wrote the scripts for the films The Way We Were and The Turning Point, and directed the 1983 stage production of La Cage Aux Folles. Laurents died in 2011 in New York of pneumonia at the age of 93. His partner of more than fifty years, Tom Hatcher, had preceded him in 2006. In honor of Laurents’s career, the lights on Broadway were dimmed at 8:00 p.m. the following night.

Charles Pierce

Charles Pierce: 1926-1999. The self-styled “male actress” was very clear about what he was and what he was not. “You can call me an impersonator, an impressionist, a mimic, or a comic in a dress. But not a drag queen! A drag queen is someone who dresses up and goes to a ball! I’m an entertainer.” And what an entertainer he was. His impersonations included Bette Davis, Mae West, Tallulah Bankhead, Gloria Swanson, Katharine Hepburn, Joan Crawford, Joan Collins and Carol Channing, who said “He did Carol Channing better than I did. He titled his 1990 show, “The Legendary Ladies of the Silver Screen: All Talking, All Singing, All Dancing… All Dead.”

Pierce began his male actress career after another drag performer, who impersonated Bette Davis and Tallulah Bankhead, rejected Pierce’s suggestions on how to improve his act. Pierce then decided he could do a better job. In some of the clubs in the early fifties, Pierce performed while wearing a tuxedo because of laws banning cross-dressing, but by the time he moved to San Francisco and was a regular performer at the Gilded Cage, he was performing in ever more elaborate costume. Eventually, he caught the attention of Hollywood producers and got guest roles in movies and television, including a guest stint on Designing Women where he impersonated Joan Collins and Bette Davis. He died in 1999, following a long battle with cancer.

My Mom: 1940. Happy Birthday Mom!

Jane Lynch: 1960. Nobody does bitter sarcasm like Jane Lynch. Since 2009, she has played the role of Sue Sylvester on Glee, where her Emmy-, People’s Choice- and Golden Globe-winning performance is the only rational reason why anyone would want to watch Glee (in my opinion at least). She has also appeared in The 40-Year-Old Virgin and had a recurring role in The L Word. In 2010, Lynch married clinical psychologist Dr. Laura Embry in Sunderland Massachusetts — you can see their video for Dan Savage’s “It Gets Better” project here – but the couple divorced in January 2014.

If you know of something that belongs on the agenda, please send it here. Don’t forget to include the basics: who, what, when, where, and URL (if available).

And feel free to consider this your open thread for the day. What’s happening in your world?

The Daily Agenda for Sunday, July 13

Jim Burroway

July 13th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Bellingham, WA; Bournemouth, UK; Leipzig, Germany; Lincoln, NE; Rapid City, SD; San Luis Obispo, CATacoma, WA; Valletta, Malta.

Other Events This Weekend: Aomori International LGBT Film Festival, Aomori, Japan; Rocky Mountain Regional Rodeo, Denver, CO; Durban Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, Durban, South Africa; Outfest Film Festival, Los Angeles, CA; Bear Week, Provincetown, MA; Tokyo International Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, Tokyo, Japan.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From GPU News (Milwaukee, WI), June 1974, page 20.

From GPU News (Milwaukee, WI), June 1974, page 20.

 
Chicago’s Twenty-One Club, opened in 1961, was raided by police in September 1969, just a few months after Stonewall. According to a brief article written by Bill Kelley for Mattachine Midwest:

The first raid of the current series occurred in the early morning hours of Saturday, Sept. 20, when the 21 Club was hit and 12 persons were arrested and charged with public indecency. (Public indecency is defined as lewd fondling on the body in public, and Chicago police routinely apply the law to cover homosexual dancing and even two men with arms over each other’s shoulders. Allegations of lewd fondling are always thrown in, but the real police target is harmless activity on a par with accepted heterosexual behavior.)

As usual, nothing was going on, but the time had come, so the 21 club was raided and innocent victims grabbed. Woody, the owner, was taken in and quite generously bailed out the patrons. He contacted MM, gave us details of the event and took an MM referral attorney. Moreover, Woody has helped raise funds for the legal defense of the patrons ( a benefit cocktail party was being held on Sunday, Oct. 21, as this went to press).

At some point, Club 21 became known as Legacy 21. It was still in business in 2001 when the Chicago Tribune published this brief profile which noted that the bar was the oldest gay bar still operating. I haven’t been able to track down when the club finally closed, but by 2012 it was boarded up tight, its large yellow sign was still hanging out front.

vere

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Gay Pub Raided in London: 1810. From The Times of London:

The existence of a Club, or Society, for the purpose so detestable and repugnant to the common feelings of our nature, that by no word can it be described without committing an outrage upon decency, has for some time been suspected by the Magistrates of Bow-street; who cautiously concealing the odious secret, abstained from taking any steps on the information they had received, until an opportunity should offer of surprising the whole gang. About 11 o’clock last Sunday evening, three separate parties of the patrole, attended by constables, were detached from Bow-street on this service. … The enterprise was completely successful. — We regret most deeply, that the information given at the office was found to be so accurate, that the Officers felt themselves justified in seizing no fewer than 23 individuals, at a public-house, called the White Swan, in Vere-street, Clare-market.

Two men were found guilty of sodomy and were hanged. Six more were found guilty of attempted sodomy and were made to stand at the pillory. The crowds who turned out for the pillory were particularly violent, throwing rotten fish, dead cats, “cannonballs” made of mud, and vegetables at the convicted men. The men were severely injured and barely survived their allotted time at the pillory.

30 YEARS AGO: “Brothers” Debuts: 1984. The first American television program featuring a gay lead character finally debuted on Showtime. The show, set in Philadelphia, centered around the three Waters brothers: Lou was a typical blue-collar construction foreman, Joe was a retired placekicker for the Philadelphia Eagles and owner of a sports bar, and Cliff, who in the first episode left his bride at the altar and came out to his family as a gay man. ABC and NBC had already turned down the series out of fear of portraying homosexuality on prime time, but when Showtime decided to begin producing original television series, they saw Brothers as the perfect fit. After a successful first season, Showtime decided to pick up the series for a second season. Showtime also offer the series for syndication to over-the-air broadcast stations, and the fledgling Fox network decided to jump on that deal. Brother would go on for a full five seasons and 115 episodes.

Anti-Gay Groups Kick Off Nationwide Ex-Gay Advertising Campaign: 1998. The campaign attracted so much attention that the Family Research Council’s Bob Knight hailed it as “the “Normandy landing in the larger cultural wars.” Fifteen anti-gay organizations, including the Christian Coalition, Focus on the Family, the Family Research Council and Coral Ridge Ministries, launched a national million-dollar advertising campaign, with newspaper ads in the New York Times, Washington Post and USA Today featuring “ex-lesbian” Anne Paulk under the headline, “I’m living proof that the Truth can set you free.” The campaign also included a television commercial featuring ex-gay and HIV-positive Michael Johnston who, with his mother by his side, proclaimed that he was now free from the “homosexual lifestyle.”

The ads quickly generated widespread media attention. Segments on NBC’s Today, ABC’s Nightline, CBS’s 60 Minutes and Oprah were devoted to the topic, Anne and John Paulk made the cover of Newsweek under the question, “Gay for life?” The ex-gay movement finally found its moment under the sun. But more significantly, the larger anti-gay political movement had yet another weapon to use against the gay community. As the argument went, if gay people could choose to become straight, then they didn’t need protections or guarantees of equality under the law. One underlying argument went even further: that there was no such thing as homosexuals; they were just heterosexuals with homosexual problems.

Focus On the Family, in particular, was eager to exploit the growing public awareness of the ex-gay movement. That same year, Focus, in partnership with Exodus International, launched a series of one-day conferences across the country. Titled “Love Won Out,” the conferences were part road show and part infomercial for ex-gay ministries. Featuring John Paulk (who was also a Focus employee and conference coordinator), fellow Focus employees Melissa Fryrear and Mike Haley; Exodus’s Bob Davies and Joe Dallas (and later, Alan Chambers); NARTH co-founder Joseph Nicolosi; and Nancy Hesche, actress Anne Hesche’s mother, the conferences introduced thousands, mostly parents of gay children, to the movement. Many conferences attracted an attendance of more than two thousand, with a half a dozen conferences taking place every year across North America.

But all was not well behind the movement’s facade. In 2000, Wayne Besen photographed John Paulk as he was leaving a gay bar in Washington, D.C. where he had spent a couple of hours chatting up customers (see Sep 19). Paulk was called back to Focus headquarters in Colorado Springs, where he was placed on probation and removed as Board Chair at Exodus International (although he remained a member of the board on probationary status). But Paulk managed to weather the controversy, remaining in his position at Focus, and continuing in his role as the principal organizer and featured speaker at Love Won Out conferences for another three years.

Michael Johnston and his mother in a television commercial.

In 2003, it was revealed that while Michael Johnston was the public face of the ex-gay movement, he was privately engaging in anonymous sex with men without disclosing his HIV status. Johnston quickly shuttered his ministry and fled to Pure Life Ministries, an ex-gay residential program in rural Kentucky.

So, where are they today? In 2012, Alan Chambers acknowledged that “the majority of people that I have met, and I would say the majority meaning 99.9% of them, have not experienced a change in their orientation.” He then repudiated the particular type of counseling intended to change sexual orientation known as Reparative Therapy, and he has declared that Exodus will no longer take sides in the political debates surrounding gay rights. In 2013, he issued a formal apology for the harms done by Exodus International to its clients and shut down Exodus altogether.

John Paulk left Focus on the Family in 2o03, and he and his wife moved to Portland Oregon where he started a catering business. Anne continue to write books and speak on the ex-gay circuit. In 2013, John recanted his ex-gay beliefs and issued a formal apology. Meanwhile, Anne helped to form Restored Hope Network, a more hardline break-away group of former Exodus ministries. She now serves on the board of directors of RHN. The Paulks have divorced.

Johnston continues as director of donor and media relations at Pure Life Ministries, where his is also available as a public speaker (PDF: 93 KB/3 pages).

TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS:
Robert Gant: 1968. He was Ben Bruckner in the American version of “Queer as Folk.” His HIV-positive character gave the series an opportunity to explore anti-AIDS hysteria and stigma, both outside and inside the gay community. He has had numerous television guest roles, and he acted and produced in Save Me, the film staring Chad Allen about the ex-gay movement. Gant and Allen, along with Christopher Racster, are partners in the production company Mythgarden. He is active in LGBT elder issues, supporting SAGE (Senior Advocacy for GLBT Elders) and GLEH (Gay and Lesbian Elder Housing).

If you know of something that belongs on the agenda, please send it here. Don’t forget to include the basics: who, what, when, where, and URL (if available).

And feel free to consider this your open thread for the day. What’s happening in your world?

We Had Issues

Jim Burroway

July 13th, 2014

We're BackFor those of you just tuning in, our database server crashed Friday night, taking the entire site down for several hours. The host provider was able to get the site back up and running on a database backup taken very early Thursday morning, but that meant that we lost everything — posts and comments — from Thursday morning through Friday.

As of Saturday night, our host provider was able to get the database server back and running with, in their words, “all new parts.” It is now working off of the same database that was operating as of the moment the server crashed. Regular programming will resume soon.

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