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CDC: not enough doctors are prescribing PrEP

Timothy Kincaid

November 25th, 2015

As I have discussed in a series of articles, obtaining pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for HIV is not simply a matter of asking your physician. Depending on your health insurance, it may be extremely difficult to get a prescription for Truvada, the medication that with proper use prevents HIV infection. For example, for the 10 million residents of Los Angeles County, there is only one clinic that provides PrEP and accepts Blue Shield HMO coverage.

It would appear that this scarcity is not limited to Los Angeles, and this concerns the Centers for Disease Control. (

“PrEP isn’t reaching many people who could benefit from it, and many providers remain unaware of its promise,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “With about 40,000 HIV infections newly diagnosed each year in the U.S., we need to use all available prevention strategies.”

“PrEP has the potential to dramatically reduce new HIV infections in the nation,” says Jonathan Mermin, M.D., M.P.H, director of CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention. “However, PrEP only works if patients know about it, have access to it, and take it as prescribed.”

The CDC is now recommending that about 25% of gay men take PrEP, based on a number of criteria. It has awarded about $216 million to organizations that are targeting at risk communities.

NYC aggressively attacks HIV using PrEP and PEP

Timothy Kincaid

November 25th, 2015

There are about 3,000 new diagnoses of HIV infection each year in New York City. And the City has decided that this is far too much. (Gay City News)

The plan, which was first proposed by leading AIDS groups in 2014, relies largely on using anti-HIV drugs in HIV-positive and HIV-negative people to reduce the number of new HIV infections in New York State from the current roughly 3,000 a year to 750 annually by 2020.

The tools are there. With pre-exposure and post-exposure prophylaxis, along with antiretroviral medication for HIV positive persons, the transmission of the virus is preventable. Even in the heat of the moment. Even if drugs or alcohol are impeding rational decision making. Even if a condom breaks.

Moving on the Plan to End AIDS, the City Council will spend $6.6 million to fund pre-exposure and post-exposure prophylaxis programs and efforts to aid people with HIV in staying on anti-HIV drugs so they remain non-infectious.

While $6.6 million is a large number, it is nearly negligible in the City’s budget. And if this allocation can cut HIV transmissions by three-quarters in five years, it is an investment that is well spent.

DeMaio’s accuser sentenced

Timothy Kincaid

November 23rd, 2015

bosnichIn the final weeks of the 2014 election, the battle between incumbent Scott Peters (D) and gay challenger Carl DeMaio (R) was intense. DeMaio’s chances looked promising, until nasty accusations began to fly.

A story was leaked about a former staff member, Todd Bosnich, a straight man who was allegedly sexually assaulted by DeMaio. Although DeMaio denied any impropriety and insisted that Bosnich was fired for plagiarizing, local media seemed to buy into the ‘gay men are sexual predators’ stereotype, and their bias bled through in news reports.

In the last week of the campaign, Bosnich produced an email which he said had been sent to him anonymously but which he thought was from DeMaio. It made threats that Bosnich would never again work in politics and implied that DeMaio would buy his silence. This appeared to be the smoking gun that Peters’ camp needed. When Bosnich gave Peters’ campaign the email, they “took it to the police” (after a little trip to the local media).

It seemed proven now that DeMaio was a liar and a predator and he lost the election by 3% of the vote.

But while the email may have been the item that convinced the public that DeMaio was lying, it was also Bosnich’s error. This was a tangible item and, as such, had a traceable history.

Further, the threats implied in the email were sufficient for San Diego Police to turn the email over to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which opened an investigation into the matter. Had DeMaio made threats of this nature, it could have been a serious issue.

Throughout the investigation, Bosnich insisted that he had received the email anonymously and that anonymous emails were a common means that DeMaio used to attack political threats. But when he was finally confronted with evidence, Bosnich admitted that the email was created by himself and sent to himself in order to give the appearance that DeMaio was threatening him.

Federal prosecutors brought Bosnich up on charges of obstruction of justice and he admitted his guilt. He has now been sentenced.

A former aide to Congressional candidate Carl DeMaio was sentenced to five years of probation Monday for using a phony email account to make it appear DeMaio or one of his associates threatened him.

While he avoided jail time, Todd Bosnich will also have to complete 240 hours community service, to take part in a mental health treatment program and to pay a $2,500 fine.

Bosnich will have this felony on his record for the rest of his life and will never again work in politics. DeMaio lost an election over false accusations. The voters were unduly influence and voted based on information that wasn’t true. Peters (who responded to the admission of fakery in the nastiest way possible) now has a tarnished reputation. And yet again, it has been proven that accusations against gay men are believed true until proven otherwise.

There are no winners here.

Sadly, I suspect this is a model that we will see used again against gay candidates. The stakes are high, and probation seems a low price for slandering a candidate enough to throw an election.

No, Syrian refugees are not a gay issue

Timothy Kincaid

November 23rd, 2015

It seems to me that sometimes gay activists confuse causes, assuming that their worldview is the only valid perspective that can be held by a gay person and thus that any cause they support is a gay cause. And those who disagree can be immediately and vehemently denounced as self-loathing homocons and quislings, worthy of derision and scorn.

But not all gay people have the same experiences, perspectives, or lifestyles. And competing interests or different values are not resolved by a shared sexual orientation.

We may see disputes over resource allocations or military action without demanding uniformity or laying charges of homophobia. But when it comes to social issues, there is often a presumption that all gay people must lean left and that failure to do so is betrayal of the gay community.

This is irrational. There is no logical basis for demanding conformity among the gay community on issues that do not have a direct or largely disproportionate impact on gay people.

Abortion is not a gay issue. Immigration is not a gay issue. Gun control is not a gay issue.

There are within each of these areas some arguments that speak to the community. Asylum based on sexual orientation, for example, is highly relevant and specific to the community. And as we get closer to identifying genetic markers for orientation, we may find ourselves facing difficult questions about abortion.

But, as a matter of belief and policy, there is nothing about orientation that dictates ideology. And gay=liberal is a false narrative that not only leads to disappointment for activists, but does a disservice to the roughly one-quarter of gay citizens who hold more conservative positions. (And I suspect that for some of the more vocal activists, the number of LGBT persons in disagreement soars to large majorities.)

To get around this fallacy, they propose another: that because some gay people are impacted by a policy, then therefore their response is the gay response and any other position is homophobia.

Because some immigrants are gay, we must support open borders. Because some gay people are coal miners, we must support a strike. Because some gay people are Palestinian, we must oppose the state of Israel.

What never is mentioned is that gay people are also on the other side of those issues.

Yes, some immigrants are gay, but so are some of the existing residents of nations. Some gay people are coal miners, and some are customers or in management. Some gay people are Palestinian, and some are Israeli.

Obviously, some gay people are impacted positively or negatively whichever way a policy goes and championing one position does not make it any more the gay position than championing its competitor. And it is dishonest to see gay people only on one side and not the other.

Further, we should understand that these efforts can serve as a disservice to our community. They are not steps to protect gay people or to advance our common cause. Rather they are an exploitation of our community, an effort to harness our connections or our political power and employ it for a cause that does not serve all gay people equally.

In the worst of instances, it’s cynicism and self-serving. Activists who can “deliver votes” from their community gain power, influence, and financial advantage. If an activist can turn out gay support, it may be far more advantageous to them personally than to the gay people they claim to represent.

But irrespective of motivation, activists employ it far too frequently. And the latest example, a rather extreme one, comes from Michelangelo Signorelli.

On Friday, the House of Representatives voted to slow the President’s plan of resettling in the United States 10,000 Syrian immigrants fleeing the regime of President Bashar Hafez al-Assad or life under ISIS.

The House vote on the Syrian resettlement program, passing 289-137, reflects shifting sentiment on an issue where emotions have run deep in the aftermath of a deadly terror in Paris last week which left 129 dead. The House bill would require the FBI to create a background check of any refugee who spent time in Syria or Iraq after March 1, 2011.

The measure also called for the heads of the FBI, Department of Homeland Security and National Intelligence to personally vouch that those admitted aren’t a threat, a requirement the White House in its earlier vow to veto the measure called “untenable.”

Among the 25% of House Democrats who voted for the bill were three members of LGBT Caucus: U.S. Reps. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.), Jared Polis (D-Colo.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.)

In statements released, the lawmakers indicated differing levels of concern, but mostly took positions that were not in opposition to immigration but rather focused on the assurance provided by greater scrutiny.

“Our nation has long stood as a beacon of freedom, but after the events of the last few weeks some leaders have given into fear and turned their backs on refugees,” said Maloney in a statement he released after the vote. “These actions are reprehensible, and present a false choice between our values and our security. It’s understandable that people are scared, and Americans have a right to know that the process we use to screen refugees will keep us safe. I have faith in our system, and I don’t believe these refugees — the overwhelming majority of whom are women, elderly, and children — threaten our communities or national security. So instead of slowing the program or pausing it, the administration should agree to immediately certify refugees if they pass the current extensive screenings and we should all refocus on actual threats.”

But this response has been deemed entirely unacceptable by Michelangelo Signorelli.

Totally shameful and Victory Fund & Institute should dump them just as it doesn’t accept anti-choice, racist candidates even if they’re LGBT. Equality should be litmus test of anyone in “LGBT Equality Caucus” in Congress. And realize that these individuals voted against desperate LGBT Syrian refugees — there was hope 500 of the refugee spaces would be set aside for them. Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema is the worst: She was actually an attorney for an Iraqi refugee in ’07, arguing that his vetting was taking too long, over 2 years, discriminated against based on his nationality. Now she votes this way. She’s a total fraud. We don’t need these people folks. Let’s get pro-LGBT, real progressives (on all the issues), gay or straight, in office.

To Signorelli, because “equality” means accepting 10,000 Syrian refugees into the country without personal assurances from the heads of the FBI and Homeland Security that each immigrant has been vetted, this is a gay issue. It’s a litmus test issue which Victory Fund should use to determine whether gay candidates receive support.

That is absurd.

The majority of Americans, perhaps as many as three-quarters, are skeptical about the government’s process of review when it comes to controlling access to the country. And this cannot be simply written off as religious bias – all polls show a vast majority of citizens think that any refugees accepted should not be given preference based on their religious faith, that Christians and Muslims should have the same access.

And among that large majority of Americans who are concerned about possible terrorists infiltrating the refugees are gay people. Real living breathing gay people. And some of them are Democrats and progressives.

But but but there are “desperate LGBT Syrian refugees” so this is a gay issue!

And Equality California has jumped on board.

“Last week’s vote was a victory for ignorance and fear. We are deeply disappointed that the list of ‘ayes’ included members of California’s congressional delegation, including members who have been champions of LGBT civil rights, and several LGBT members of Congress outside of California.

Among the millions of Syrians fleeing their country in fear for their lives are thousands of LGBT people, who face even harsher cruelties if they were to stay than the others, who are fleeing already unspeakable atrocities.

See, it’s a gay issue!!

No. The resettlement of Syrians fleeing the Assad regime or ISIS is not a gay issue. Even if some of the refugees are LGBT.

Though no doubt some here will disagree with me, I do not see this issue as a simple matter.

On the one hand it seems callous and selfish not to come to the aid of a fellow human in distress. On the other, our government has not shown itself to be singularly skilled in detecting and preventing threats. And some, including members of the LGBT Caucus, wish to help those in need but do not find it unreasonable to expect that each refugee be vetted so as to weed out someone who might shoot up a shopping mall or bomb a restaurant.

So how do we respond to those like Signorelli and EQCA who seek to co-opt the gay community for their position?

First, we should look at this in perspective.

At a dinner I attended last year, Equality California announced that would be shifting some of their focus from gay issues to more general progressive issues such as opposing barriers to immigration and seeking greater power for labor unions. Seen from that perspective, EQCA has narrowed their voice from a representative of gay Californians to speak only for the progressive segment of the gay community.

And Signorelli has clearly illustrated that his greater loyalty is “real progressives (on all the issues)” rather than to inclusion of gays and lesbians among the people’s representatives. As is his right.

Or yours. You have every right to think that only one position is reasonable or humane or just.

You just can’t claim that you speak for all gay people or even that gay people should agree with you because they are gay.

Victory Fund was correct in dismissing Signorelli’s demands. Their purpose is to support the campaigns of LGBT candidates for public office, not advance progressive policies. They are non-partisan and do not base their support criteria on how whether an individual office seeker is in complete agreement with Michelangelo Signorelli, or any other activist.

And policies around the resettlement of Syrian refugees are not a gay issue.

Getting PrEP: Step One

Timothy Kincaid

November 20th, 2015

truvadaAfter several weeks of effort, I was able to find a doctor within the Blue Shield HMO plan who prescribes Truvada as Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis, PrEP. The source of my primary care is now through APLA Health and Wellness at the Gleicher / Chen Health Center in Baldwin Hills.

This feels a bit ironic to me. For years I’ve sporadically supported AIDS Project Los Angeles. I’ve participated in the AIDS Walk from time to time and contributed to various programs but they weren’t particularly applicable to my life. They were just a “good organization” with whom I didn’t much interact.

Thursday evening was my first appointment. There was almost no one in the waiting room and the staff was more than pleasant. The employees seemed to be genuinely enjoying their work and their interaction with patients. The office, which is only a year old, was spotless, well lighted, and comfortable.

I didn’t see my doctor yesterday.

Before Truvada is prescribed, a series of tests needs to be run. There was blood work taken for two HIV tests (one which identifies more recent exposure), a liver test, as well as the usual lab work. Urine and swab samples were taken to indentify any sexually transmitted infections. And, of course, there were questions about recent sexual history and practices.

The nurse-practitioner was friendly, informative, and willing to answer questions. She was aware that some personal questions are uncomfortable and made the process feel professional rather than invasive.

We discussed the changes in care and protection over the years and the hopes for the future. Although we both celebrated the changes we’ve seen, she expressed concern about how a younger generation sees HIV like it sees diabetes, not terribly serious. A long time AIDS care provider and community advocate who has lost many friends to the disease, she’s disappointed that more people are not availing themselves of PrEP. I share that feeling.

But now I wait.

In two weeks I will return for my results and, if everything is proper, I’ll get my prescription and join the ranks of those who are proactively protecting themselves from the HIV virus.

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The Daily Agenda for Thanksgiving Day

Jim Burroway

November 26th, 2015

J.C. Leyendecker’s Thanksgiving cover for the Saturday Evening Post, 1928.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The Calendar (San Antonio, TX), November 20, 1987, page 11. (Souce.)

From The Calendar (San Antonio, TX), November 20, 1987, page 11. (Source.)

British Parliament Shelves Wolfenden Report Recommendations: 1958. More than a year had passed since the Wolfenden committee issued its groundbreaking report urging Parliament to decriminalize homosexual activity between consenting adults (see Sep 4). The Wolfenden committee, named for chairman Lord John Wolfenden, had spent the previous three years combing through studies and soliciting testimony from experts in medicine, science, theology, ethics, and the law. The first print run of 5,000 copies of the Wolfenden Committee’s 155-page “Report on Homosexual Offences and Prostitution” sold out within hours of its publication. In it, the committee recommended that “homosexual behaviour between consenting adults in private should no longer be a criminal offence… It is not, in our view, the function of the law to intervene in the private life of citizens, or to seek to enforce any particular pattern of behaviour.”

When Parliament finally got around to considering the report on November 25, 1958, Conservative Home Secretary Rab Butler opened the debate by announcing that the government was not prepared to alter the country’s laws with regard to homosexual relationships. He explained the reasons, in part, in terms of what he believed the effect the law’s removal would have on those who were not particularly religious:

Home Secretary Rab Butler

Many people outside the influence of religion found no other basis for their notions of right and wrong but in the criminal law. Could we be sure that if the support of the criminal law were removed from these people they would find any other support?

What is clear to me is that there is at present a large section of the population which strongly repudiates homosexual conduct and whose moral sense would be offended by an alteration ot the law seeming to imply approval or tolerance of what they regard as a great social evil. Therefore the considerations I have indicated satisfy the Government that it would not be justified, on the basis of opinions expressed so far, in proposing legislation to carry out the recommendations of the Committee.

Opposition MP Anthony Greenwood (Lab-Rossendale) spoke in favor of the Wolfenden Committee’s recomendations, although he stressed that his position was not an official Labour position. He said that he hoped that during the debate, Members would “extend tolerance to each other and compassion to minorities in our midst who are denied the happiness and fulfilment which is the lot of most of us.” He then added:

MP Anthony Greenwood

What we have to decide is whether men who, for some reason we do not understand, are practising homosexuals should live their lives under the shadow of the law and at the mercy of the blackmail. I believe that life is harsh enough for these people without society adding to their burdens. The fact that the law is largely unenforced, and indeed largely unenforceable, is certainly no reason for retaining it. I am fortified in my view by the fact that it is shared by many of the great religious leaders of the country. … I believe that ultimately this reform will come. I am saddened by the fact that it should only come after a still greater toll of human misery has been extracted by society.

Arguments for and against the Wolfenden recommendations cut across party lines. Labor MP Frederick Bellenger (Lab-Bassetlaw) opposed any change in the law. He described those in the “cult” as “a malignant canker in the comminuty. If this were allowed to grow, it would eventually kill what is known as normal life.” But Conservative MP High Linstead (C-Putney) argued that because homosexuality was “fixed in people at an early age,” the law would make “no difference to a man’s tendencies.” Labour MP Jean Mann (Lab-Coatbridge and Airdrie) opposed any changes to the law, but the feminist in her couldn’t let one point pass without comment. On observing that lesbian relationships had never been criminalized under British law, Mann wryly remarked that this time it was “the male (who) was now demanding equality with the female.”

The greater consensus on both sides of the House was against scrapping the laws criminalizing consensual homosexual relationships. The House approved, without dissent, a motion put forward by Prime Minister Harold Macmillan’s Conservative government which said, simply, “That this House takes note of the report.”

[Source: “No Action on Homosexuals Yet: Mr. Butler Sets Out the Problems.” Daily Telegraph (November 27, 1958). As reprinted in The Mattachine Review 5, no. 1 (January 1959): 4-12.]

ABC Airs “A Question of Love”: 1978. Six years earlier, ABC broke ground in providing a positive portrayal of a gay relationship with the broadcast of “That Certain Summer” in 1972 (see Nov 1) depicting a divorced father’s relationship with another man. But portrayals of lesbians remained limited to criminals, prisoners and sexual abusers (see, for example, Nov 8). In response to pressure from LGBT activists, ABC opted to produce a docu-drama based on a true-life custody battle by a Texas lesbian mother for her two sons. Gena Rowlands played the mother, with Jane Alexander as her partner, as they contended with the mother’s abusive ex-husband who discovers their relationship and sues for custody. In the end, the jury sided with the father, despite his history of violence and infidelity. The made-for-TV movie aired on Sunday night of Thanksgiving weekend following a warning that the program may not be suitable for young people. It was greeted with a few smarmy reviews, but surprisingly for being in the year of Anita Bryant, the telecast prompted very little protest or controversy.

Wayland Flowers: 1939-1988. The thing about puppets is that they get to say and do things that ordinary people aren’t allowed to do. Maybe that’s why Georgia-native Wayland Flowers took up puppetry and created “Madame,” which Hofstra University’s Patricia Jukliana Smith aptly described as “a grotesquely ugly and flamboyantly ribald old crone festooned in outrageous evening gowns, tiaras, and rhinestones.” In other words, an outrageously campy drag queen in wood and wire, a hideous hag who thought herself glamorous and who spoke in double entendres and bitchy take-downs.

Flowers developed Madame in night clubs and gay bars throughout the 1960s before landing frequent appearances on Laugh-In. The act then appeared as a recurring comedy skit on Solid Gold before eventually replacing Paul Lynde as Center Square on Hollywood Squares. In 1982, Madame was star of her own sitcom, Madame’s Place, a half-hour syndicated program that ran five days a week for one season. Madame’s talk show within the series drew Debbie Reynolds, Foster Brooks and William Shatner as guests. Flowers died on October 11, 1988, five weeks after collapsng during a performance at Harra’s resort in Lake Tahoe. The family attributed his death to cancer, and asked that no other details about his AIDS-releated death be released to the public.

Simon Tseko Nkoli: 1957-1998. Born in Soweto, Nkoli became a youth activist against apartheid with the Congress of South African Students and with the United Democratic Front. He also became a gay rights activist when he joined the mainly white Gay Association of South African in 1983 and later formed the Saturday Group, the first black gay group in Africa. Nkoli’s anti-apartheid activism led to his arrest in 1984, when he faced the death penalty for treason with twenty-one others who became collectively known as the Delmas 22. While prisoner, he came out as gay. Fearing that the state would use his homosexuality against the entire group, the others of the Delmas 22 demanded a separate trial. But in the end he won them over and they stood trial together because, as they all realized, they were in the same struggle together. As Nkoli later wrote in the anthology, Defiant Desire: Gay and Lesbian Lives in South Africa, “If you are black in South Africa, the inhuman laws of apartheid closet you. If you are gay in South Africa, the homophobic customs and laws of this society closet you. If you are black and gay in South Africa, well, then it really is all the same closet, the same wardrobe. Inside is darkness and oppression. Outside is freedom. It is as simple as that.”

By coming out as gay while a prisoner against apartheid, he is credited with helping to change the attitude of the African National Congress toward gay rights. Patrick “Terror” Lekota, who later became chairman of the ANC, remarked, “all of us acknowledged that [Nkoli’s coming out] was an important learning experience . . . His presence made it possible for more information to be discussed, and it broadened our vision, helping us to see that society is composed of so many people whose orientations are not the same, and that one must be able to live with it.” And so, when it came to writing the Constitution, “how could we say that men and women like Simon, who had put their shoulders to the wheel to end apartheid, how could we say that they should now be discriminated against?”

After his acquittal and release from prison in 1988, he founded the Gay and Lesbian Organisation of the Witwatersrand (GLOW), which organized South Africa’s first Gay Pride march in 1990. He also was among the first African gay men to come out publicly as HIV-positive and founded Positive African Men in Johannesburg. He was among the first gay activists to meet with President Nelson Mandela in 1994, and he campaigned successfully for anti-discrimination measures on the Bill of Rights of the South African Constitution. Nkoli lived long enough to see South African repeal its sodomy law in 1998, shortly before he died on November 30.

 45 YEARS AGO: John Amaechi: 1970. The Boston-born son of a Nigerian father and English mother grew up in England and didn’t take up basketball he was seventeen, when he moved to Toledo and played hoops at St. John’s Jesuit High School. His college career began at Vanderbilt, then he transferred to Penn state, where he was named to First Team Academic All-American twice. He also when he began his career as a motivational speaker and youth mentor. After college, he played one season with Cleveland (1995-6), then played a few years in Europe before returning to the Orlando Magic in 1999. He was so grateful to Orlando for hiring him when no other NBA team would that the next year he turned down a $17 million contract from the Lakers so he could remain in Orlando for $600,000 per year. “There are many people who are asked what their word is worth,” he later explained, “and when people ask me that I can say, ‘At least $17 million.'” After Orlando, Amaechi was traded to the Utah Jazz, where he played for two years. He then went to the Houston Rockets for a season before retiring from the New York Knicks.

Since then, Amaechi has launched his second career as NBA broadcaster for UK’s Channel Five and he provided broadcast commentary for the BBC’s coverage of the 2008 Olympics. He also returned to school to earn a Ph.D. in psychology. In 2007, Amaechi became the first openly gay former NBA player after coming out in his memoir, Man in the Middle. In 2011, Amaechi was awarded the Order of the British Empire for his services to sports and for his voluntary work after retiring.

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).

As always, please consider this your open thread for the day.

The Daily Agenda for Wednesday, November 25

Jim Burroway

November 25th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The Advocate, March 3, 1983, page 56.

From The Advocate, March 3, 1983, page 56.

Wendy Chandler

Wendy Chandler

Judge Rules Utah Teacher’s Rights Were Violated: 1998. Wendy Weaver taught psychology and physical education, and coached the girls’ volleyball team at Spanish Fork High School in Utah. In 1997 after an acrimonious divorce, from her ex-husband Gary Weaver went to the district and told them the reason they divorced was because she was a lesbian. Rumors quickly began to swirl around the high school, and that summer students began asking her if she was gay. She answered truthfully, and a few of the girls dropped out of the girl’s volleyball team.

On July 14, the school district removed her as volleyball coach and banned her from mentioning her “lifestyle” or partner to students, parents or staff. If she mentioned a word about her sexuality to anyone, she would be fired. A letter to that effect was placed in her employee record. She was also relieved of her duties as coach of the volelyball team, despite having led the team to four state championships.

When word got out, an overflow crowd showed up to denounce Weaver at a Nebo Board of Education meeting on November 14, 1997, where parents demanded the right to pull their children out of any class she taught. A group, calling themselves the Nebo Citizens for Moral and Legal Values presented a petition signed by 2,700 parents demanding her removal. After Weaver filed suit in Federal Court alleging that her First Amendment Rights were being violated, the parents’ group filed a suit of their own, with the backing of the Utah County chapter of Phyllis Schlafly’s Eagle Forum, demanding that Weaver’s teaching certification be revoked because, according to the complaint, Defendant Weaver engages in sodomy as defined under Utah criminal law.”

On November 25, 1998, U.S. District Judge Bruce Jenkins issued a sweeping 25-page ruling finding that Weaver’s constitutional rights of free speech and equal protection were violated. The judge ordered the school district to remove its threat to fire her from their files, restore her to the girl’s volleyball coaching job, and to pay her the $1,5000 stipend that she would have been entitled to as coach. He found the limits on Weaver’s speech to be overly broad. “Indeed,” wrote Judge Jenkins, “these restrictions limit Ms. Weaver’s ability to speak on her sexuality outside of the school, as, for example, when meeting a parent of a student in the supermarket, or when speaking at dinner with a friend who may be a staff member at the school, or even when speaking with her own children, who are students in the school district.” All of this was a gross violation of Weaver’s constitutional rights. “Simple as it may sound, as a matter of fairness and evenhandedness, homosexuals should not be sanctioned or restricted for (speech) where heterosexuals are not likewise sanctioned or restricted.”

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).

As always, please consider this your open thread for the day.

The Daily Agenda for Tuesday, November 24

Jim Burroway

November 24th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From the Village Voice, July 7, 1970, page 8. (Source.)

Berkeley’s KPFA Broadcasts Two-Hour Program on Homosexuality: 1958. On a Monday before Thanksgiving, several people gathered at Pacifica Radio’s studios at KPFA in Berkeley, California, for what appears to have been the first broadcast discussion on homosexuality in the Bay area. The broadcast consisted of two separate panel discussions in two consecutive hours, which represented quite an investment of airtime for the non-profit, noncommercial station.

Participants for first hour of the historic broadcast were Mattachine president Hal Call (see Sep 20); Dr. Blanche Baker, a bay area psychologist and straight ally who wrote a regular column for ONE magazine; and Leah Gailey, a mother of a gay son. The first hour’s topic was “The Role of the Homosexual as an Individual and as a Member of Society.” Del Martin’s (see May 5)  summary of the broadcast for the Daughters of Bilitis’ magazine The Ladder the following January indicates the kinds of the questions that ordinary people had about gay people:

…According to Dr. Blanche Baker, San Francisco psychiatrist, there is much controversy on the subject, “even in the medical profession.” There are those who feel it is a neurotic problem and others who call it glandular, or even a hereditary problem.

“For myself, from many years of work, I consider the homosexual first of all a human being,” she stated. “I believe in individual adjustment of each particular case. Factors leading to homosexuality lie deep in the individual nature. It is a psychological problem in which early childhood has its effect. All people have a certain amount of maleness and femaleness in their constitution, and child experiences tend to throw us to one side of the scale or the other.”

When questioned by Elsa Knight Thompson, moderator, Mrs. Leah Gailey, housewife and mother, replied, “My first reaction was a universal one — shock. There was ostracism to face for me and my son. It was clearly — shock. But basically I loved my son, so I decided I would try to understand. Fear is based on the unknown, and much fear disappears as one learns to understand.

“There is much literature on the layman level for anyone to read,” she pointed out. “It is just a matter of understanding and accepting.”

Mr. Call declared that the problem of homosexuality is very often closer to all of us than many realize — a member of the family, a neighbor, a co-worker, a friend.

“Approximately every tenth adult may be predominantly homosexual in orientation,” he stated. “This covers the entire strata of society, every intellectual and economic Ieve1.”

Mr. Call said that there had not necessarily been an increase in homosexuality in recent years, as some have supposed, but rather a greater awareness of the subject.

Moderator Thompson posed the problem of “hostility” in the homosexual. Does it stem from the individual because of his fear of being “different”? Or is it a result of society’s attitude?

Mr. Call said that the homosexual adopts attitudes as result of the society in which he lives. He may effect certain mannerisms of hostility toward society because of its attitudes and also because of his inability to accept himself.

According to Mrs. Gailey, the homosexual’s hostility is based on fear from society and guilt from self. The homosexual has both problems to face, she said.

Dr. Baker pointed out that in her field she works on self acceptance so that the individual can relax and be more comfortable in the world he lives in.

When asked if her clients wished to rid themselves of their homosexuality or if they sought acceptance, Dr. Baker said, “Most of those who come to me want to get rid of this approach to life. If the heterosexual component potential is large enough to function with, fine. But many cases just don’t have the potential.”

Dr. Baker said she had no statistics on the subject, that she herself worked with small numbers of people, “But the ones who come to me are artists — versatile, gifted people, not just bread, meat and potatoes people.”

Mr. Call did not consider this a just evaluation. He said that homosexuals are no more gifted or talented than any other group, but that perhaps the homosexual has more opportunity to develop creative and artistic talents since he doesn’t have the economic pressure of providing for a wife and family.

Elsa Knight Thompson suggested that, as in the  case of any other minority group, there is more concentration to excel in order to counteract criticism.

“This is true job-wise,” Mrs. Gailey declared. “Because of his fear of detection, the homosexual puts forth an utmost effort to do his best.”

On consideration of the short duration of most homosexual relationships, Dr. Baker asserted, “The friction between homosexual couples is due to the hate in themselves and an unhappy adjustment to life. The over-emphasis on a sexual level would keep them from adjusting on other levels.”

Mr. Call pointed out that there were many lasting homosexual relationships that are not known or recognized, and Dr. Baker admitted, “We are all too conscious of those who do not get along together and don’t know about those who do.”

The second hour was given over to the professionals: Dr. Karl Bowman, a at the University of California School of Medicine in San Francisco; Dr. Frank Beach Jr., anthropologist and professor of psychology at the UC Berkeley; Morris Lowenthal, a San Francisco attorney who worked on a number of gay rights cases on behalf of local bars targeted by the state alcohol control board; and Dr. David Wilson, attorney and psychiatrist of the UC Berkeley’s School of Criminology.

Bowman, like Baker and Lowenthal (and Beach, as you will see), was something of an ally for the Bay area gay community, having given several talks for local Mattachine and DoB meetings in the bay area. He opened the second hour with brief discussion of the state’s anti-gay laws which “largely traced back to ancient Hebrew laws.”  He added, ” it is my contention,” Dr. Bowman added, “it is time to re-examine our laws in the light of present knowledge and recommend modifications.” Del Martin picks of the narrative from there:

Dr. Frank Beach Jr. …recounted the varying degrees of homosexual behavior: the latent individual who has tendencies but who manifests no overt behavior, the individual who has one or two experiences in his life time, those who find satisfaction in both homosexual and heterosexual behavior, and those with exclusive homosexual experience.

Dr. Bowman pointed out that in the armed forces mere diagnosis of latent homosexuality makes an individual unsuitable and subject to an undesirable discharge which interferes seriously with the individual’s ability to secure a position. Some one who has never violated any law and who has never had a homosexual experience thus becomes a victim, he said.

Relative to the problem of who is a homosexual, Morris Lowenthal, San Francisco attorney, spoke of the 1955 law passed by the California state legislature that any bar or restaurant becoming a “resort for sexual perverts” may have its license revoked. The problem of the proprietor is two-fold, he said, since the 1951 California Supreme Court decision in the Stoumen vs. Reilly case upheld the civil right of the homosexual to meet and eat or drink in any public bar or restaurant, while the new law in direct conflict prohibits the use of these premises as a gathering place for homosexuals. Mr. Lowenthal also posed the issue as to how the bartender or owner can determine the homosexual tendencies of his patrons.

The subject then moved to the question of what “causes” homosexuality. Beach and Bowman argued that homosexuality may be hereditary, although Bowman also believed that ” physical condition and psychological conditioning” played a role. It’s interesting that those arguments were as lively then as they are now, with the underlying assumption that if homosexuality was biological in origin, then laws forbidding it were profoundly unjust:

“The crux of the matter,” asserted Dr. David Wilson, attorney and psychiatrist of the University of California School of Criminology at Berkeley, “is the law making something a crime. Society passes a law because it feels threatened, but it doesn’t work and in no way affects the amount of homosexuality. If the law doesn’t work, it should be reappraised and handled in a realistic manner.

“The propensity is there or it could not develop. We can not change basic individual factors. Unless we know why, we can’t pass laws to curb the incidence of homosexuality.”

Mr. Lowenthal advanced the theory that homosexuals have been discouraged in cultures when an increase in population was needed for survival and encouraged when it was necessary to curb the population.

“Naive assumption!” Dr. Wilson interjected. “Homosexuals are not going to be the productive members of society in any case.”

Dr. Beach also rejected the idea, “Human beings don’t behave this rationally.” Prohibitions appear in many societies, he added.

Dr. Bowman considered the population theory a rationalization. “Cultures that allow homosexuality freely have in many cases had a higher increase in population than those who have not.”

“Rejection of the homosexual is purely on an emotional basis and tied up with our general repressive attitude toward all sex behavior,” he added.

In our criminal laws, many of which are not enforced, it was pointed out by Attorney Lowenthal that no reference is made to homosexuals specifically. Vague and ambiguous laws are used and abused against the homosexual resulting in his subjection to blackmail.

Dr. Bowman pointed out that the California law reads, “Anyone guilty of the infamous crime against nature…” The use of such wording has led to long controversies, he stated.

Dr. Beach took exception to the “crime against nature.” The capacity for homosexual activity is inherent in nature — in man’s biological constitution — and there is therefore nothing “unnatural” in homosexual activity, he said.

“It would appear then that the law is vague, open to loose interpretation and capable of injustice to the individual where invoked against him, bearing no fruit from the social standpoint,” Elsa Knight Thompson, the moderator, put in.

“Laws to prevent crimes of Violence and violation of children would satisfy my requirements of a fair law,” Dr. Wilson asserted. “Homosexuality is a medical and social problem, not a legal one.”

Mr. Lowenthal declared that a strange situation existed where it has been granted by the California Appellate Court that the homosexual is no menace to society and has no particular propensity toward crime, yet at the level of police and certain legislators he is declared a menace and attempts are made to whittle away the civil rights of the individual.

“The mere existence of a law can be a threat to an individual even though it may not be enforced or can be overturned at a higher court level,” Dr. Wilson said. However, he did not hold out much hope for immediate action. The legislators won’t change the law until they understand more. It will take a great deal of time and education, of which this program is a step.

The KPFA broadcast was an enormous shot in the arm for the gay movement. Tapes of the broadcast were circulated and played at gay conferences and meetings, and the Mattachine Review reprinted the broadcast transcripts in July and August of 1960. The program was rebroadcast a month later on KPFA, and Los Angeles’s KPFB and New York’s WBAI picked it up for 1959. KPFA also published a printed transcript as a booklet.

You can listed to the program’s first hour via the Internet Archive here.

[Sources: Del Martin. “Two-Hour Broadcast on Homophile Problem.” The Ladder 3, no. 4 (January 1959): 7-14.

“The Homosexual In Society.” Mattachine Review 6, no. 7 (July 1960): 12-28.

“The Homosexual In Society (Part II).” Mattachine Review 6, no. 8 (August 1960): 9-25.]

Craig Rodwell at Oscar Wilde Memorial Bookshop. Photo by Kay Tobin Lahusen. (Source)

First Gay Bookstore In the U.S. Opens: 1967. Craig Rodwell had been a longtime resident of Greenwich Village, and he grew increasingly frustrated with the New York Mattachine Society’s timidity. In 1964, he formed the Mattachine Young Adults in an attempt to gain greater visibility for gay people, and he helped to organize the nation’s first gay rights picket  at the U.S. Army’s Whitehall Induction Center, in protest over the army’s failure to keep gay men’s draft records confidential (see Sep 19). In 1966, Rodwell joined three other activists to stage a “sip-in” to challenge a New York Liquor Authority regulation against serving customers who were “disorderly,” a term that was invariably used against anyone who was gay (see Apr 21).

But perhaps his most important contribution to the gay community came in 1967, when he opened the doors to the Oscar Wilde Memorial Bookshop at 291 Mercer Street near Washington Park. It has been described as “the first legal business (i.e. not a bar) opened explicitly for gay people.” Despite the severely limited quantity of materials on homosexuality, Rodwell decided to focus his offerings on literature by gay and lesbian authors. Selections were slim at first, reportedly “three copies apiece of the 25 most positive books about homosexual behavior he could find.” He refused to sell pornography in a bid to avoid negative publicity. It didn’t work. A New York Post columnist compared his modest bookstore to see-through dresses and topless flicks. That decision also wasn’t particularly popular with his male gay customers. Consequently, money was tight, with Rodwell putting in 70-hour work weeks as the store’s sole employee for its first eighteen months.

Three months after founding Oscar Wilde, he founded a bookshop-based youth group, Homophile Youth Movement in Neighborhoods (HYMN) which published the New York Hymnal, a monthly newsletter that called for ending Mafia ownership of gay bars and police harassment of bar patrons.

In 1973, Rodwell moved the Oscar Wilde to 15 Christopher St, just a block away from the Stonewall Inn. At some point, Rodwell relented on the pornography ban. Bills had to be paid, but the operation always remained a struggling, hand-to-mouth existence. But for the next four decades, Oscar Wilde became a more than a bookstore; it was also something of a community center for its LGBT patrons.

When Rodwell developed stomach cancer in 1993, he sold the store to one of his managers, Bill Offenbaker, who ran it until 1996, when Larry Lingle took it over. The store was never much of a money maker, and in 2003, Lingle announced that he would have to close the doors. At the last minute, the owner of Washington, D.C.’s Lambda Rising bookstore bought it and saved it from closure. Three years later, manager Kim Brinster took over, but with the down economy and the pressure that all booksellers were experiencing from and big box chain bookstores, the store couldn’t survive, despite its drastically bel0w-market rent. The Oscar Wilde Memorial Bookshop closed for good on March 29, 2009 at 7:00 p.m. In a fitting coda just a few weeks later,’s software accidentally reclassified all LGBT-themed books in its inventory as pornography.

[Additional source: Martha E. Stone. “After Many a Season Dies the Oscar Wilde.” The Gay and Lesbian Review Worldwide 16, no. 4 (July-August 2009): 9.]

Candy Darling

Candy Darling: 1944-1974. The Andy Warhol star was born James Lawrence Slattery in Queens to a violently alcoholic father and smart, supporting mother. After her parents divorced, Jimmy and her mother moved to Long Island, where she spent much of her childhood watching old Hollywood movies on TV and impersonating her favorite actresses. In the mid-1960s, her mother confronted her about rumors that she was dressing as a girl and hanging out at a rough gay bar known as The Hayloft. In response Jimmy left the room and came back a few minutes later dressed as Candy. Her mother later said, “I knew then… that I couldn’t stop Jimmy. Candy was just too beautiful and talented.”

By then, Candy had been going into Manhattan and hanging out in Greenwich Village quite regularly. She first adopted the name of Hope Slattery after she began taking hormone injections. Her name then evolved to Hope Dahl to Candy Dahl and Candy Cane, but so many people called her “darling” that it stuck. By then, she was a fixture of Greenwich Village’s arts scene. Lou Reed wrote a whole song about her, “Candy Says,” and he gave her a cameo in the second stanza of “Walk on the Wild Side”:

Candy came from out on the Island
In the back room she was everybody’s darling
But she never lost her head
Even when she was giving head
She says, “Hey, babe,
Take a walk on the wild side.”

In 1967, Candy Darling starred in a way-off Broadway play called Glamour, Glory and Gold. Andy Warhol saw the play one night, praised the performance (“I wasn’t bored.”) and met with Darling afterward. He cast Darling for a short scene in Flesh with Joe Dallesandro (see Dec 31). She was then cast in Warhol’s Women in Revolt (1971), where she played a Long Island socialite who joined a women’s lib group PIGS (Politically Involved Girls). She went on to appear in several other films, including in Klute (1971) with Jane Fonda and Donald Sutherland, and Lady Liberty (1971) with Sophia Loren. She also appeared in several off-Broadway plays, including a revival of Tennessee Williams’s Small Craft Warnings.

Candy Darling died of leukemia on March 21, 1974. Shortly before she died, she wrote a letter for Warhol and members of the Factory. It read:

"Candy Darling on her Deathbed" by Peter Hujar. This photo was used for the cover of Antony and the Johnson's 2005 album, I Am A Bird Now.

“Candy Darling on her Deathbed” by Peter Hujar. This photo was used for the cover of Antony and the Johnson’s 2005 album, I Am A Bird Now.

To whom it may concern

By the time you read this I will be gone. Unfortunately before my death I had no desire left for life. Even with all my friends and my career on the upswing I felt too empty to go on in this unreal existence. I am just so bored by everything. You might say bored to death. It may sound ridiculous but is true. I have arranged my own funeral arrangements with a guest list and it is paid for. I would like to say goodbye to Jackie Curtis, I think you’re fabulous. Holly, Sam Green a true friend and noble person, Ron Link I’ll never forget you, Andy Warhol what can I say, Paul Morrissey, Lennie you know I loved you, Andy you too, Jeremiah don’t take it too badly just remember what a bitch I was, Geraldine I guess you saw it coming. Richard Turley & Richard Golub I know I could’ve been a star but I decided I didn’t want it. Manuel, I’m better off now. Terry I love you. Susan I am sorry, did you know I couldn’t last I always knew it. I wish I could meet you all again.

Goodbye for Now
Love Always

Candy Darling

Her funeral was attended by a high crowd. Julie Newmar read the eulogy, and Gloria Swanson saluted her coffin.

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The Daily Agenda for Monday, November 23

Jim Burroway

November 23rd, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From David, a Florida-based gay lifestyle and photography magazine, May, 1972, page 51.

From David, a Florida-based gay lifestyle and photography magazine, May, 1972, page 51.

Georgia Supreme Court building

Georgia Supreme Court Strikes Down State Sodomy Law: 1998. It took twelve years for the Georgia Supreme Court to do what the U.S. Supreme Court refused to do. In 1986, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld Georgia’s sodomy law as constitutional in Bowers v. Hardwick (see Jun 30), a ruling that deeply disappointed the gay community and set back the quest to get rid of the nation’s sodomy laws by nearly two decades. But in 1998, the Georgia Supreme Court struck down that state’s law, the very law that was in question in Bowers, as a violation to the right to privacy under Georgia’s constitution.

Unlike the 1986 case which involved a gay man who was in a consensual sexual relationship with another man, this case involved a heterosexual man who was accused of performing non-consensual oral sex on his niece. The jury acquitted him of the non-consensual portion of the charge due to lack of evidence, but convicted him of sodomy since Georgia, like many states, defined sodomy to include oral sex. But unlike many states, Georgia made it a crime regardless of whether it was heterosexual or homosexual. On appeal, the defense held that the statute was unconstitutional, but the state was confident. After all, the law had already been validated by the U.S. Supreme Court.

But the Georgia Supreme Court saw it differently. “While many believe that acts of sodomy, even those involving consenting adults, are morally reprehensible, this repugnance alone does not create a compelling justification for state regulation of the activity,” the court ruled in its 6-1 decision. Citing a 1905 state ruling, the state Supreme Court found that the defendant had “the right to be let alone,” a right that was more expansive under Georgia’s Constitution than the right to privacy under the U.S. Constitution. “We cannot think of any other activity that reasonable persons would rank as more private and more deserving of protection from governmental interference than consensual, private, adult sexual activity,” Chief Justice Robert Benham wrote in the decision. Because the U.S. Supreme Court doesn’t involve itself in interpreting state constitutions, the Georgia Supreme Court had the final word.

Romain “Erté” de Tirtoff: 1892-1990. Born Roman Petrovich Tyrtov in St. Petersburg, Russia, and known the world over as Erté (the French pronunciation of his initials), the art deco designer and decorator was the very antithesis of his father, a Russian admiral who insisted that Romain follow in the family tradition and become a naval officer. Romain moved to Paris in 1910, adopted his French pseudonym, and quickly became an illustrator for Harper’s Bazaar, which opened the doors to commissions for theatrical costumes and stage sets. Between 1915 and 1937, Erté’s designs graced more than 200 covers for Harper’s Bazaar, along with other illustrations for Vogue, the Ladies Home Journal, and Cosmopolitan. He also created costumes and fashion designs for the era’s most fashionable celebrities, including Joan Crawford, Lillian Gish, Sarah Bernhardt, Anna Pavlova, and Norma Shearer, and his set designs appeared in a number of Hollywood films. His extravagant designs were also regular fixtures in Radio City Music Hall, the Folies-Bergères, the Paris Opera, George White’s “Scandals” and Irving Berlin’s “Music Box.”

“La rose au pollen de diamantsn” from the 1928 French publication L’Illustration.

Erté’s graceful and elegant designs set the standard for glamor and sophistication for decades to come. His illustrations, designs, jewelry and sculptures became the very definition of the Art Deco movement, and he almost single-handedly revived Art Deco’s popularity in the 1970s and 1980 when he recreated many of his designs for a new generation. Erté was incredibly prolific, and he was never without work. He continued working right up until two weeks before he died, at the age of 97, in 1990. Always energetic, it would appear his death caught him by surprise: he was in the middle of building a new home in Majorca.

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The Daily Agenda for Sunday, November 22

Jim Burroway

November 22nd, 2015

Events This Weekend: Side-By-Side LGBT Film Festival, St. Petersburg, Russia; Arctic Pride Tromsø, Norway.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The Fifth Freedom (Buffalo, NY), February 17, 1974, page 2.

From The Fifth Freedom (Buffalo, NY), February 17, 1974, page 2.

Trying to operate a gay bar or night club in Buffalo in the early 1970s was a very dicey proposition:

The gay bar situation in Buffalo has never been good. Whenever a new bar opens, the first question in everyone’s mind is “How long will it stay open?” The Vice Squad and the S.L.A. have closed so many bars in the past several years that it seems like they’re playing a game of musical chairs.

Mattachine has, in the past, taken a “hands off” attitude toward the problems of the bars. However, it is now apparent that due to the backward policies of the Buffalo Police Vice Squad and the State Liquor Authority, an atmosphere has been created at the gay bar level that is clearly oppressive to any gay person that wishes to use the bars to give expression in to their social needs. Bar closings by Vice Squad/S.L.A. actions and subsequent overreaction by other bar owners to these closings, by instituting policies of “no touch-no slow dancing,” has created an intolerable situation for all of us.

— Don Michaels, on the gay bar problem in Buffalo, The Fifth Freedom, March 10, 1974.

Benjamin Britten and Peter Pears

Benjamin Britten. 1913-1976. Fame came early to the English composer with his a cappella choral work, A Boy Was Born when he was just 21, and his 1945 opera Peter Grimes sealed his international reputation. His compositions were both prodigious and varied: working in orchestral, chamber, instrumental, choral and solo vocal. Much of his vocal work was written for tenor Peter Pears, who he met in 1937 and who became his musical inspiration and life partner. In 1939, Britten and Pears went to America, where his friendship with Aaron Copland inspired the development of Britten’s own work, notably his operetta Paul Bunyan.

Britten’s sexuality wasn’t the only thing controversial about him: he was also a pacifist during World War II. On returning to Britain in 1942, he fought a long battle for recongition as a conscientious objector. The resulting publicity led to a drop in commissions and performances in London both during and after the war. It also shaped his work. Many of his operas featured an “outside” character on the fringes of society, many of them at least suggestive of being gay. His 1973 opera, Death in Venice, based on a novel by Thomas Mann, is perhaps the first to feature an openly gay character. By then , Britten found that he was no longer an outsider, but an acclaimed 20th century composer. On July 2, 1976, he was awarded a life peerage as Baron Britten, just a few months before he died. Pears died ten years later, and was buried next to Britten at a churchyard in Aldeburgh.

Billie Jean King: 1943. Like all tennis greats, she started playing at a young age and won her first Wimbledon doubles title in 1962 at the age if eighteen. That was the first of 20 Wimbledon titles between 1961 and 1979. She also one 13 U.S. titles, four French and two Australian. Throughout her career, she fought for equal prize money for men and women players. When she won the U.S. Open in 1972 but received $15,000 less than the men’s champion, she announced that she would not play the next year if the prize money weren’t made equal. The following year, the U.S. Open became the first major tournament to equalize its prize money for men and women.

Bobby Riggs congratulates Billy Jean King after his defeat.

Her campaign for tennis equality took a particularly public turn in 1973 when Bobby Riggs, a champion mens player from the 1940s, claimed that women’s tennis was so inferior to men’s that even a fifty-five year old like himself could beat the top women’s players. King accepted the challenge, and the Battle of the Sexes was on. Before more than 30,000 spectators at Houston’s Astrodome and a worldwide audience of 50 million people in 27 countries, King beat Rigs 6-4, 6-3, 6-3.

In 1974, King became the first president of the Women’s Tennis Association. In 1983, she retired from singles play, but continued to play doubles sporadically through 1990.

In 1981, King was sued for palimony by a former lover with whom she had had a relationship since 1971. The lawsuit effectively outed King, making her the first prominent professional female athlete to be openly gay. This came about despite her having been married to her husband since 1965. They divorced in 1987. Since then, she has been very involved with the Women’s Sports Foundation and the Elton John AIDS Foundation. In 2012, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barrack Obama for her advocacy work for women and the LGBT community.

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The Daily Agenda for Saturday, November 21

Jim Burroway

November 21st, 2015

Events This Weekend: Side-By-Side LGBT Film Festival, St. Petersburg, Russia; Arctic Pride Tromsø, Norway.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The Advocate, May 13, 1982, page 38.

From The Advocate, May 13, 1982, page 38.

Michael Sandy

Michael Sandy’s Killers Sentenced. 2008. On October, 5, 2006, Michael Sandy, 29, was lured to a secluded beach in the New York area by three others who he met in an online chat room. When he arrived, he was pulled from his car and beaten. In trying to escape, he was chased onto a busy freeway where he was struck by an SUV. One of his attackers pulled him to the side of the road and went through his pockets before fleeing. Sandy was taken to the hospital, where he remained on life support for five days without regaining consciousness. His family removed him from life support one day before his 29th birthday.

The four men who were accused of planning the attack were arrested on hate crime charges. The police investigation showed that Sandy had been selected to be robbed because he was gay, believing a gay man would hesitate to resist the attack or report it to the police.

Michael’s death brought to the fore an ongoing debate over the intersection of race and sexuality in regards to community reactions to hate crimes. Los Angeles commentator Jasmyne Cannick noted:

Michael Sandy could have been anyone of us, and yet he was us. He was black. He was a black male and he was a black gay male. If Michael Sandy would have been heterosexual, would that have brought out the Reverend Jesse Jacksons and the Reverend Al Sharptons a black America? Would that have made it okay for the NAACP to get involved and for other black civil right groups to take notice? I’m beginning to think so.

…When Matthew Shepard was murdered, the world stopped. Why? Because whites across this country made that white gay boy’s death an issue for the media, politicians and community groups. Do we care enough to do the same? So again I ask, where’s the outrage?

Gary Timmins, 17, pleaded guilty to attempted robbery with a hate crime enhancement. As part of his plea agreement, he testified against his friends in exchange for a four-year prison sentence. John Fox, 20, who posed as a gay man in the internet chat room, was charged with manslaughter and attempted robbery as hate crimes and was sentenced to between 13 and 21 years in prison. Anthony Fortunato, 21, tried to avoid the hate crime enhancement by claiming he was gay himself. He was convicted of manslaughter as a hate crime and was sentenced to 7 to 21 years. Ilya Shurov, 21, pleaded guilty to manslaughter and attempted robbery as hate crimes and was sentenced to 17½ years. Before sentencing, Michael’s father, Zeke Sandy rose to address the court. “These hate crimes become a cancer; it’s a disease,” he said. “I don’t know why we have to go butcher one another because we don’t like what they are, who they are.”

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The Daily Agenda for Friday, November 20

Jim Burroway

November 20th, 2015

Events This Weekend: Side-By-Side LGBT Film Festival, St. Petersburg, Russia; Arctic Pride Tromsø, Norway.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From the Montrose Star, November 19, page 6 (source)

From the Montrose Star (Houston, TX), November 19, page 6. (Source.)

Miami Beach Police Raid Beach, Arrest 21: 1953. The Miami News, the city’s afternoon daily, published an oddly influential column titled “Whirligig.” It was a rather tiny feature — typically occupying just a couple of inches of space on the paper’s editorial page. But it’s minuscule physical presence belied its political influence, as the nameless author passed along political gossip and other goings-on about town. A good indication of the column’s influence can be illustrated by this small item that appeared on November 19:

Femmics — The new administration in the Miami Beach police department might send an observer over to the 22nd Street public beach to watch the antics of a coterie of youths who make that beach a gathering spot. The girlish attitudes of the boys cause many a gaping mouth among tourists.

Those two small sentences were enough for Miami Beach Police Chief Romeo J. Shepard to swing into action. The next day, the Chief personally led a raid on the beach, rounding up twenty-one men and hauling them to the police station for questioning. But while the News’ Whirligig column appears to have prompted the action, it was the paper’s morning rival, The Miami Herald, which capitalized on the raid by plastering its coverage on the front page:

Angered by complaints that the beach at 22nd st. was becoming a “hangout for males with a feminine bent,” Miami Beach Police Chief Romeo J. Shepard made a personal inspect Friday — and then called for the wagon. As a result, 21 perverts were taken to Beach police headquarters and questioned before being released. But Chief Shepard said the raid served notice on “this questionable type of individual” that they’re not wanted on Miami Beach.”

The chief said that he has been “getting lots of complaints” that men with girlish-looking hair-dos and flimsy, Bikini-type tights “have been prancing around the 22nd st. public beach in droves.” The area, he explained, has been acquiring a reputation as a congregating place for males who try to look and act like women.

The chief said that the 21 who were arrested were taken to headquarters and questioned about their employment, but he complained that he had to let them go. “We had no charges we could book them on,” he admitted. “It’s just a question of cleaning up a bad situation and letting undesirables know they’re not wanted here.” Meanwhile, that afternoon’s Miami News, reported that the cleanup would continue. “We’re going to continue to keep a close watch on their actions and I have instructed my men to pick them up every time they get out of line,” said Shepard. The News also made sure their readers knew why the chief acted so swiftly. “The Whirligig item was very timely and it was the basis for the action taken by my department,” the chief acknowledged.

[Sources: “Miami’s Whirligig: News Behind the News.” The Miami News (November 19, 1953): 19-A. Available online via Google News here.

“Police Corral 21 Undesirables.” The Miami News (November 21, 1954): 8-A. Available online via Google News here.

Stephen J. Flynn. “Rounded Up for Quiz: Turn-About Not Fair Play, Say Beach Police.” The Miami Herald. (November 21, 1954): 1-A. As reproduced in Edward Alwood’s Straight News: Gays, Lesbians and the News Media (New York: Columbia University Press, 1996): 2.]

California Supreme Court Restores Teacher’s Credentials: 1969. In the spring of 1963, Marc S. Morrison, a teacher in Whittier, California, became friends with a fellow teacher, Fred Schneringer, who was in the process of getting a divorce and was experiencing serious financial troubles. Morrison did what he could to help his friend out by providing advice and support. One night, that support extended to what court documents described as “a limited, non-criminal physical relationship which Morrison described as being of a homosexual nature.” The relationship lasted a week, and while the two remained friends, nothing further happened. There were no arrests and no convictions, just whatever that “non-criminal” activity happened to be. (The California Supreme Court ruling would only say “It would serve no useful purpose to describe or detail them except to note that they did not fall within the statutory offenses of sodomy or oral copulation.”) But for whatever reason, Schneringer reported the incident to the Lowell Joint School District a year later, and that led to Morrison’s resignation in May of 1964.

Nineteen months later, Morrison found himself at a State Board of Education hearing fighting to retain his two lifetime teaching diplomas. He told the board that, aside from “a homosexual problem” at the age of 13, his contact with Schneringer was the only time he “experienced the slightest homosexual urge or inclination for more than a dozen years.” An investigator backed him up, and assured the board that this was “was the only time that [Morrison] ever engaged in a homosexual act with anyone.” Furthermore, Morrison’s record was clean and there was no evidence that he had engaged in any misconduct while teaching.

Nevertheless, the Board decided that the lone, solitary incident constituted immoral and unprofessional conduct involving “moral turpitude,” and stripped Morrison of his lifetime teaching diplomas. Morrison went to court, but the Los Angeles Superior Court sided with the Board and called Morrison “unfit for service as a teacher in the California public school system.” Morrison then appealed to the California State Supreme Court, which ruled 4-3 that an individual cannot be denied his teaching credentials unless evidence shows that homosexual behavior affected his fitness as an instructor. The Court criticized the Board for failing to uncover any such evidence:

The board called no medical, psychological, or psychiatric experts to testify as to whether a man who had had a single, isolated, and limited homosexual contact would be likely to repeat such conduct in the future. The board offered no evidence that a man of petitioner’s background was any more likely than the average adult male to engage in any untoward conduct with a student. The board produced no testimony from school officials or others to indicate whether a man such as petitioner might publicly advocate improper conduct. The board did not attempt to invoke the provisions of the Government Code authorizing official notice of matters within the special competence of the board. This lack of evidence is particularly significant because the board failed to show that petitioner’s conduct in any manner affected his performance as a teacher.

The ruling was a narrow one, both in the vote and in the ruling’s reach:

Our conclusion affords no guarantee that petitoner’s life diplomas cannot be revoked. If the Board of Education believes that petitioner is unfit to teach, it can reopen its inquiry into the circumstances surrounding and the implications of the 1963 incident with Mr. Schneringer. The board also has at its disposal ample means to discipline petitioner for future misconduct.

Finally, we do not, of course, hold that homosexuals must be permitted to teach in the public schools of California. As we have explained, the relevant statutes, as well as the applicable principles of constitutional law, require only that the board properly find, pursuant to the precepts set forth in this opinion, that an individual is not fit to teach. Whenever disciplinary action rests upon such grounds and has been confirmed by the judgment of a superior court following an independent review of the evidence, this court will uphold the result.

John Geddes Lawrence and Tyron Garner

John Geddes Lawrence and Tyron Garner Fined $200: 1998. One of the biggest steps toward gay equality, the end of America’s sodomy laws, began on November 17, 1998 when a 911 operator received a call about “a black male going crazy with a gun” at John Geddes Lawrence’s home in the Houston suburbs. Harris County sheriff’s deputies responded and entered Lawrence’s unlocked apartment. There, they purportedly found Lawrence and Tyron Garner engaging in consensual sex. What they actually found is a matter of debate. Lawrence and Garner weren’t lovers — in fact, that false report had been phoned in by Garner’s actual lover, Robert Eubanks, who suspected Garner and Lawrence were having an affair. One deputy wrote in his report that he saw Garner on the bed “on all fours” on the receiving end of anal sex with Lawrence, and that both were completely naked. Another said that he saw them on the floor, and that Garner wasn’t naked. He wasn’t sure whether he saw them having anal sex or oral sex — two completely different acts which would be very difficult to confuse. “The black guy was giving him head or they was [sic] doing each other from behind. I don’t remember.”

Lawrence and Garner were arrested, held in jail overnight, and charged with violating Section 21.06 of the Texas Penal Code. That law, otherwise known as the Texas Homosexual Conduct law, prohibited engaging “in deviant sexual intercourse with another individual of the same sex.” They both denied having sex that night, but their lawyers, sensing that the case might have the makings of a landmark case, advised them to plead no contest, neither admitting guilt nor protesting innocence. Because they didn’t actually have sex, the lawyers didn’t want to make the case about their innocence. After all, it’s hard to argue that two consenting adults of the same sex have the right to have sexual relations in the privacy of their home when the two adults in question hadn’t actually had sex. And so on November 20, 1998, Lawrence and Garner were convicted of the Class C misdemeanor by a Justice of the Peace in Houston, and were fined $200 each.

And with that, the landmark case of Lawrence v. Texas began to make its way through the court system: to the Texas Criminal Court (which rejected the defense’s request to dismiss the charges), a three-judge panel of the Texas 14th Court of Appeals (which ruled the law unconstitutional), and the full nine-judge panel of the 14th Court of Appeals (which reversed the three-judge panel). The appeal then reached the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, which serves as the state’s supreme court for criminal cases. That court refused to hear the case, which left the lower court’s decision standing. Lawrence vs. Texas was then appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which agreed to hear the case. On June 26, 2003, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Texas anti-sodomy law in a 6-3 ruling, along with similar laws in twelve other states. But it wasn’t until 2011, when Dale Carpenter published Flagrant Conduct: The Story of Lawrence v. Texas, that we learned the ironic fact that the case about two men having sex was based on a case in which it appears that neither man had ever had sex with the other, before that fateful night or since.

Chuck Colson speaking at a press conference announcing the Manhattan Declaration.

Chuck Colson speaking at a press conference announcing the Manhattan Declaration.

 Manhattan Declaration Released: 2009. That was an interesting year for marriage equality. The year before, voters in California, Arizona and Florida had approved constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriage (see Nov 4). The slap was particularly strong in California, where same-sex couples had been able to marry during a four-month window after California’s Supreme Court found that Prop 22, an initiative (and not a constitutional amendment) which banned same-sex marriage, violated the state’s constitution (see Jun 16). Then on November 3, 2009, Maine voters repealed that state’s newly-minted law allowing same-sex couples to marry. (That law hadn’t gone into effect yet.) But also that year, voters in Washington state elected to affirm the legislature’s decision to provide domestic partner benefits equal to marriage to same-sex couples. Also, legislators in New Hampshire and Vermont approved bills allowing same-sex couples to marry, the Iowa Supreme Court ruled that that state must begin offering same-sex marriages, and Colorado, Nevada and Wisconsin also began offering domestic partner benefits.

It may have been difficult to see at the time, especially given the stinging defeats at the ballot box, but 2009 may well have marked the start of a turning point in the fight for marriage equality. According to opinion polls, a majority of Americans still opposed allowing same-sex couples to marry, but the gap was closing very rapidly. That was thanks largely to a growing crop of younger voters who, as an age group, overwhelmingly supported same-sex marriage. As trends continued, it would only be a few more years before majorities overall would support same-sex marriage. Meanwhile, and despite the setbacks in California and Maine, the number of Americans living in marriage equality states doubled from 2007 to 2009, and nearly a quarter of Americans were now living in states that either provided full marriage equality or a lower form of civil union/domestic partnership recognition. While marriage equality opponents could still point to ongoing victories, they worried that the long-term trend didn’t look good.

On October 20, 2009, when polls still showed that efforts in main to block that state’s marriage equality law might go down in defeat, three anti-gay extremists got together to begin drafting what they hoped would be a stirring manifesto to rally their side. Princeton University Law Professor Robert George, Beeson Divinity School dean Timothy George, and evangelical leader and convicted Watergate felon Chuck Colson spent a month drafting what they called “The Manhattan Declaration: A Call of Christian Conscience,” which called for a rededication to the fight for “the sanctity of life, traditional marriage, and religious liberty.”

When the document was released a month later, it carried the signatures of more than 150 American religious and political activists (and one African one: Anglican archbishop Peter J. Akinola of Nigeria, who had led the effort to induce American Anglican congregations to split with over ordination of gay clergy). Notable signatories included Focus on the Family’s James Dobson, anti-gay political activist Gary Bauer, Family “Research” Council’s Tony Perkins, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary president Albert Mohler, marriage equality opponents Maggie Gallagher, Brian Brown and Frank Schubert, and anti-gay pastors Ken Hutcherson and Harry Jackson, and other assorted activists and extremists, including William Donahue, Jim Daly, Richard Land and Allan Sears. Nine Catholic Archbishops also signed the declaration.

The Manhattan declaration sought to address a rather large host of issues — abortion, single parenting, divorce, promiscuity — but it a good deal of its energy for the arguments against marriage equality:

The impulse to redefine marriage in order to recognize same-sex and multiple partner relationships is a symptom, rather than the cause, of the erosion of the marriage culture. It reflects a loss of understanding of the meaning of marriage as embodied in our civil and religious law and in the philosophical tradition that contributed to shaping the law. Yet it is critical that the impulse be resisted, for yielding to it would mean abandoning the possibility of restoring a sound understanding of marriage and, with it, the hope of rebuilding a healthy marriage culture. It would lock into place the false and destructive belief that marriage is all about romance and other adult satisfactions, and not, in any intrinsic way, about procreation and the unique character and value of acts and relationships whose meaning is shaped by their aptness for the generation, promotion and protection of life.

…We understand that many of our fellow citizens, including some Christians, believe that the historic definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman is a denial of equality or civil rights. They wonder what to say in reply to the argument that asserts that no harm would be done to them or to anyone if the law of the community were to confer upon two men or two women who are living together in a sexual partnership the status of being “married.” It would not, after all, affect their own marriages, would it? On inspection, however, the argument that laws governing one kind of marriage will not affect another cannot stand. Were it to prove anything, it would prove far too much: the assumption that the legal status of one set of marriage relationships affects no other would not only argue for same sex partnerships; it could be asserted with equal validity for polyamorous partnerships, polygamous households, even adult brothers, sisters, or brothers and sisters living in incestuous relationships. Should these, as a matter of equality or civil rights, be recognized as lawful marriages, and would they have no effects on other relationships? … No one has a civil right to have a non-marital relationship treated as a marriage.

The document also called for what it termed “civil disobedience”:

Going back to the earliest days of the church, Christians have refused to compromise their proclamation of the gospel. In Acts 4, Peter and John were ordered to stop preaching. Their answer was, “Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to obey you rather than God. For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.” Through the centuries, Christianity has taught that civil disobedience is not only permitted, but sometimes required.

The call for civil disobedience got a lot of attention. In fact, The Washington Times’ story led with that call in its headline. ALos Angeles Times editorial called the declaration’s “apocalyptic argument for lawbreaking” both disingenuous and dangerous. “We certainly hope it doesn’t come to that,” Robert George said during the news conference announcing the declaration. “When the limits of conscience are reached and you cannot comply, it’s better to suffer a wrong than to do it.” When pressed, the three writers remained mum over what sort of civil disobedience they were contemplating.

The document purported to represent the Christian position on marriage and family as “heirs of a 2,000-year tradition of proclaiming God’s word, seeking justice in our societies, resisting tyranny, and reaching out with compassion to the poor, oppressed and suffering.” But missing from the original signatories were representatives from large swaths of mainstream Christianity, including Seventh-Day Adventists and Episcopalians. Presbyterians, United Methodists and Pentecostals were also notably under-represented among the signers. Several signers spoke of the document as a moral one rather than a political manifesto. During the news conference, Colson incredibly claimed, “this document is a clarion call to reach out to the poor and the suffering.” BTB’s Timothy Kincaid wasn’t buying it:

While this alliance is one that does not reflect the face of Christianity, it also is not a declaration of a new-found position of agreement based on shared Christian teaching and ideology. There is no mention of shared faith in creeds or teachings, no virgin birth, no resurrection, no divine redemption.

Rather, this is a statement of political purpose by an alliance of socially conservative activist who oppose abortion and marriage equality. Indeed, although the document speaks in lofty terms of Christian tradition and religious freedom, the only commitments it makes are to oppose legal abortion (some day down the road) and the immediate attack on the ability of gay people to avail themselves of civil equality.

This is, in short a political alliance. It is a pact and a threat.

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 Thursday, November 19

Jim Burroway

November 19th, 2015

Events This Weekend: Side-By-Side LGBT Film Festival, St. Petersburg, Russia; Arctic Pride Tromsø, Norway.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Where It's At, July 24, 1978, page 38.

From Where It’s At, July 24, 1978, page 38.

From GPU News, January 1981, page 7.

From GPU News, January 1981, page 7.

35 YEARS AGO: Gay Bar Shooting Spree Kills 2, Injures 6: 1980. Ronald Crumpley, 38,  a former Transit Authority policeman and son of a minister, spent the evening cruising the streets of New York’s Greenwich Village in his father’s stolen blue Cadillac. Dressed in a dark wool topcoat, printed shirt, a vest and a black fedora sporting a red feather, he fired three shots from an automatic handgun at Sim’s Deli shortly before 11:00 p.m., wounding at least three people and shattering the front plate glass window. Minutes later, he drove to Christopher Street and stopped in front of two gay bars, Sneakers and Ramrod, which were next door to each other. Dan Hedges, 30, was in Sneakers and watched as the horror unfolded. “The man in the Cadillac waited about two or three minutes, drove around the block, returned, stepped out of the car calmly, walked up to the curb and shot a man standing on the curb waiting for a cab. The man fell to the ground, then he shot another guy who ran around the corner. He started spraying both bars through the plate-glass windows. Then he got back into the car and drove off.” Hedges scribbled the car’s license plate number on a dollar bill and gave it to police.

John Ganrecki, 27, was one of six who were injured. “I heard a noise up front. … It sounded like a string if firecrackers. People were falling on the floor screaming and yelling. My friend, Fred, said ‘Hit the floor! Hit the floor!’ … I was already on the floor, looking at my hand, and it was bleeding. It was like something in Al Capone; there was a row of bullet holes across the glass behind the bar.” Ronald Greenberg, 52, also survived the shooting. “It was a massacre, a bloodbath.”

After Crumpley drove off, he stopped again at 10th and Greenwich and fired eight more shots at another group of men. This time his shots missed, and as police cars approached he sped away. As many as 15 police cruisers chased Crumpley to Broadway and West 10th Street, where Crumpley abandoned the Cadillac. Officers found him trying to pull himself up underneath a parked van’s undercarriage.

All told, two were killed. Vernon Koenig, an organist at Greenwich Village’s St. Joseph’s church, died on the operating table at St. Vincent’s Hospital. Jorg Wenz, Ramrod’s 21-year-old doorman, died soon after surgery. Rene Malute, 23, was in intensive care, and five others were admitted in stable condition.

Crumpley was charged with murder, attempted murder, and possession of illegal weapons. Police found four weapons: a .357 Magnu, a .45 caliber automatic pistol, a 9mm automatic pistol, and an Uzi. Crumpley told police that he attacked the bars and the deli because he hated homosexuals. “I want to kill them all,” he said. “They’re no good. They ruin everything.” Lt. John Yuknes said, “He had a dislike for homosexuals, a rather intense one I would say, under the circumstances.”

The Ramrod’s doors during the candlelight vigil (Photo: Bettye Lane/Advocate, January 8, 1981, page 6)

The Ramrod’s doors during the candlelight vigil (Photo: Bettye Lane/Advocate, January 8, 1981, page 6)

The next day, about a thousand people joined a solemn candlelight procession to mourn those killed in the shooting. Arthur Bennett, one of those marching, told reporters, “Everybody’s been almost waiting for something like this. It’s not because we wanted it to happen but because we feared it. There have been a lot of people down here getting beat up.”

During Crumpley’s trail, the prosecution presented 35 witnesses, and the defense five. At issue was Crumpley’s mental state at the time of the shooting. Prosecutors contended the shootings were “deliberate and conscious.” Crumpley’s psychiatrist testified that Creumpley suffered from paranoia. Crumpley himself took the stand and said gay people were “agents of the devil” who were following him continuously for three years and were trying to convert him. The jury found him not guilty by reason of insanity. He was committed to Kirby Forensic Psychiatric Center on Wards Island. In 2001, a judge turned down Crumpleys’s request to be moved to a less restrictive psychiatric facility.


American Council of Christian Churches Calls AIDS “God’s Wrath”: 1989. Peter Steinfels wrote in the New York Times about a gathering earlier in November of the U.S. Catholic Bishops in Baltimore. They had met to hammer out a document responding to the AIDS crisis. The bishops overwhelmingly decided to reject the theological proposition that AIDS was in any way a punishment from God, a position held by one in four Americans, according to a recent poll.

J. Gordon Melton, director of the Institute for the Study of American Religion in Santa Barbara, had published 68 statements on AIDS from 45 different religious groups in the United States, Canada and Great Britain, and found “a remarkable consensus” across liberal and conservative religious groups recognizing that AIDS was not just a gay problem, “that special ministries should be established to serve AIDS victims, their families and friends, and that the civil rights of homosexuals or of those with the AIDS virus should be protected.” But, The Times learned, that consensus wasn’t unanimous:

The Bible repeatedly describes God as employing all kinds of terrors, natural and human, to punish those who disobey his commands. These biblical accounts naturally governed the reaction of the American Council of Christian Churches, a fundamentalist group that recently expressed dismay at the consensus discovered by Mr. Melton. The council, which claims to represent about two million ”Bible Christians,” promptly went on record upholding the idea that AIDS is God’s wrath visited on homosexuals and drug addicts, although for their ultimate benefit if they turn to Jesus.

Morris Kight

Morris Kight: 1919-2003. To some, he was a leading figure in the gay rights movement in Southern California: He founded the Gay Community Services Center (which later became the Los Angeles LGBT Center), and he was a principle organizer of Christopher Street West, Los Angeles’ gay pride parade, in 1970. To others, he was out of control egotistical gadfly, an unabashed radical who alienated many of those who would (and sometimes did, begrudgingly) work with him. His passion for gay rights — and human rights generally — was absolutely undeniable, and it was a passion that roughly matched his drive to occupy the center stage in everything he did.

Kight was born in conservative Comanche County, Texas, and grew up on the family farm. He graduated from Texas Christian University in 1941 with a degree in personnel and public administration. He moved to New Mexico, where he became active in the local gay community. He also married, in 1950. The six-year union resulted in two daughters. In later years when Kight was an activist, he avoided mentioning his marriage, perhaps fearing that it would diminish his credibility as a gay rights leader. In 1958, Kight moved to Los Angeles, where he found a much more vibrant gay community. But his activism was first directed toward anti-war protests as the war in Vietnam escalated.

It wasn’t until the Stonewall rebellion in 1969 that Kight became active in gay rights, when he became one of the founders of the Los Angeles Gay Liberation Front. One of the GLF’s first activities was a protest against Barney’s Beanery in West Hollywood, which displayed a sign reading “Fagots [sic] Stay Out.” Kight and Troy Perry (see Jul 27) led a protest outside and a series of sit-ins inside. The Sheriff’s office refused to evict the protesters, and after three months, the owner symbolically relented and handed the signs over to Kight and other protesters. Bit once the media attention evaporated, the owner replaced the signs and even had the slogan printed on matchbook covers. (The sign didn’t come down for good until 1984, after the City of West Hollywood passed an anti-discrimination ordinance.)

That victory, such as it was, only whetted Kight’s appetite for more media attention. A few months later, a GLF member proposed that some two hundred gays and lesbians quietly move to tiny Alpine County, California, register to vote, and take control of local government. Kight dismissed the idea at first, until he realized he could garner a great deal of publicity by punking the media and its prevailing homophobia. He called a press conference to publicly announce that Alpine would become the new “gay Mecca” (see Oct 19), much to the consternation of Alpine residents as well as other gay rights leaders. (The GLF of Berkeley denounced the plan as “sexist,” “racist,” and “impractical,” something that GLFs generally had not been known to be worried about before.) The stunt quickly fizzled, and the publicity left a bad taste in the mouths of many other gay activists. But actually taking over Alpine County was hardly Kight’s point. As he explained to another gay activist at the time:

Alpine County takeover has really caused a ruckus. Why? GLF has done a lot of crazy things which deserved news before and received the silent treatment from the Establishment media. I believe the reason is that we have threatened straight America. We are taking over! We could take all the gay bars in town, and nothing would be said; but take a county with 300 people and straight America goes outa mind! If GLF wants news it has the tool. Anything which looks like a threat to straight society will get news. P.S. Alpine County is very cold in the winter. There may be places in Nevada or elsewhere with even fewer people and a nicer climate.

The following summer, Kight was a key organizer of Christopher Street West, the West Coast’s first gay pride parade, in 1970. The Los Angeles Police Commission denied the group a parade permit unless the group posted an exorbitant $1.5 million bond. Kight and Perry got the ACLU involved. Just before the parade was scheduled to begin on June 28, the California Supreme Court held that the GLF had a “constitutional guarantee of freedom of expression” and ordered the commission to issue a parade permit constitutional. That parade was a huge success, as were the ones in 1971 and 1972. But by 1973, Kight, who was always a lightning rod for controversy, grew tired of the infighting and, in the words of Jim Kepner (see Feb 14) Kight “sabotaged it (the parade) in its third year,” and the parade was cancelled for 1973.

A personal turning point for Kight appears to have been the devastating Upstairs Lounge Fire in New Orleans that killed 32 people (see Jun 24). With the Christopher Street West parade cancelled for 1973, Kight was in New York to participate in that city’s festivities when he received word of the fire. True to his instincts, Kight launched himself into publicity mode: “I notified the press that I was coming. When I got to Atlanta, the press was at the airport and I said it was a national day of mourning and they interviewed me, and so on. And then I went on to New Orleans and Troy [Perry] was there, along with some other people.” But what awaited him and other activists in New Orleans chilled everyone. The local police were callous about the victims, dismissing them as “thieves and queers.” Churches refused to hold funerals for the dead. It was up to Kight, Perry, and other activists to counsel families, arrange for funerals, and to denounce the police and fire officials to the press. Kight’s media chops paid off: “The Fire Marshall of New Orleans Parish called me and said, ‘We saw your press conference, and you’re absolutely right. We did say terrible things. We will meet with you anywhere you want. You set the location, and we will meet with you to adjust our differences.’ [And we said,] ‘Fine, let’s meet.’ And we adjusted it.” As for the whole experience, Kight later recalled, “It was a shattering experience. We were unbelievably inspired. We were unbelievably brave. We were pushed beyond ourselves.”

Kight soon began to work both as an insider in addition to his more customary role as an outsider. He founded the Stonewall Democratic Club in 1975. In 1976, the reconstituted Christopher Street West welcomed him back as the official ringmaster for the event’s circus tent, and honored him as the first official grand marshal for the 1977 parade. Yet he still managed to piss off other gay activists if he felt he wasn’t getting his due. As Kepner remembered:

…[Kight] became very jealous of these newcomers who were daring to come in and join the movement without kissing the Pope’s toes. And some of these people began doing effective things, which he tried to sabotage. He still had a creative streak to him, but it became more destructive than creative, increasingly. And the movement has drawn in waves between being primarily a radical thrust and primarily a sort of establishment or P.R., or image-conscious thrust. And Morris has not been strong on the latter, although at times he has given in to it a bit. He tried his damnedest to sabotage and stop the first March on Washington in ’79, and at the last minute, when he saw it was actually going to happen, he began moving heaven and earth to become …one of the featured speakers. …And the L.A. Committee, about 90 strong, at one of the weekly meetings, voted unanimously—I had arrived late, and the issue was already on the floor, so I didn’t get into it—to threaten a boycott of the March if Morris were a keynoter.

In the early 1980s, Kight was appointed to the Los Angeles County Human Relations Commission. He served for two decades, inaugurating the Crossroads Employment Agency specifically to help gay men and lesbians find work. He resigned in 2002 due to deteriorating health, including cancer, heart trouble and a series of strokes. He died on January 19, 2003 at a hospice of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, which had donated its services in recognition of Kight’s activism. Kight was survived by his partner of twenty-five years, Roy Zucheran.

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).

As always, please consider this your open thread for the day.

The Daily Agenda for Wednesday, November 18

Jim Burroway

November 18th, 2015

Events This Weekend: Side-By-Side LGBT Film Festival, St. Petersburg, Russia; Arctic Pride Tromsø, Norway.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Wilde Side, September 1, 1976, page 22.

From Wilde Side, September 1, 1976, page 22.

Sporter’s was a friendly leather/levi/dive bar in Boston’s Beacon Hill. It’s not clear when Sporter’s opened, but I did find a reference in 1972 describing the establishment as a gay bar “of long standing.” The building now houses a restaurant/pub.

Julie and Hillary Goodridge

Massachusetts Supreme Court Rules In Favor of Marriage Equality: 2003. It’s over a decade since the Bay State became the first in the nation to provide marriage equality for same-sex couples, and the sky still hasn’t fallen. Massachusetts still has the lowest divorce rate in the nation, and school children are still not being subjected to live gay sex demonstrations as part of their state-mandated curriculum. But gay couples can marry, and that was due to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court decision in 2003.

In Goodridge v. Department of Public Health, the court ruled 4-3 that the state could not “deny the protections, benefits and obligations conferred by civil marriage to two individuals of the same sex who wish to marry.” The court gave the state legislature 180 days to “take any such action as it may deem appropriate” to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Liberty Counsel tried to get the Federal Courts involved, but those efforts failed when the judge denied their request, the First Circuit Court of Appeals backed him up, and the Supreme Court declined to hear the case. After a long drawn-out battle in which the Massachusetts high court ruled in response to a question from the state Senate that civil unions would not satisfy the court’s ruling, the legislature ended up taking no action, neither blocking nor implementing the Goodridge decision. The state began marrying same-sex couples on May 17, 2004.

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 Tuesday, November 17

Jim Burroway

November 17th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From ONE, May 1955, page 24.

From ONE, May 1955, page 24.

“The 41 Maricones …. Here are the maricones, so pretty and flirtatious.”

The Arrest of “The 41” in Mexico City: 1901. Getting to the bottom of what actually happened is tricky business. The only accounts of the raid conducted by Mexico City’s police on a private party come from a decidedly unapproving and often sensational press. We know virtually nothing of those who were arrested; we barely know some of the names. Their story was never told: they were never interviewed, and as far as I can tell there is not a single quote which can be reliably attributed to any of them. Whatever we may know of the scandal was clouded further by fictional accounts — the 41, as they were simply known, became the subject of a popular novel in 1906. But one thing is certain: the “Ball of the 41” became the scandal of the year, inspiring more than a month of headlines, sermons, editorials, and even a few corridos.

The public humiliation of the men in drag.

The public humiliation of the men in drag.

Only a few details are solid. On Sunday, November 17, 1901, police raided a private party and arrested forty-one men, nineteen of them were dressed as women. Those in drag were publicly humiliated by being forced to sweep the streets — “women’s work.” The 41 were taken to an army barracks and inducted into the Mexican army. At least some of them were then put on a train to Veracruz, sent by ship to the Yucatán, and made to serve in the army as it was putting down a Mayan insurgency.

Those appear to be the bare facts, which, of course, weren’t enough to satisfy the nation’s newspapers. Here is how El Popular reported the story on November 20:

Last Sunday night, the police of the Eighth Precinct were informed that in the house located at number 4 La Paaz Street, a ball was being held without the corresponding permit. They immediately moved in to surprise the culprits, and after having encountered numerous difficulties in trying to get the partygoers to open up, the police broke into the house’s patio where they found 42 individuals who were dancing to the excessively loud music of a local street band.

When they noted the presence of the police, some of those who were dressed in women’s clothing attempted to flee in order to change out of the clothes of the opposite six; but as the police understood the gravity of the situation, they did not allow anyone to leave, and all 42 including those still dressed as women were taken to the station from which they were then sent to Belem Prison, charged with attacks on morality, and put at the disposition of the District Governor.

As a complement to the previous report, we will say that among those individuals dressed as women, several were recognized as dandies who are seen daily on Plateros Street.

These men wore elegant ladies’ gowns, wigs, false breasts, earrings, embroidered shoes, and a great deal of eye makeup and rouge on their faces.

Once the news hit the boulevards, all kinds of commentaries were made, and the conduct of those individuals was censured.

We will not provide our readers with further details because they are summarily disgusting.

It was said that many of those arrested came from highly respected families with ties to the government of dictator Porfirio Díaz. Some of the earliest newspaper reports, like this one, had it that 42 were arrested. That number later dropped to 41, which generated even more rumors. One had it that the elderly lady who owned the house was one of those arrested, and she was later released. Other, more sinister rumors had it that one of those arrested was one of Díaz’s nephews.

El Popular may have been reluctant to provide details, but in subsequent days it was happy to imagine the scene for its readers:

If only we had seen them in their resplendent hairdos, their fake cleavage, with their shiny sparkling earrings, with their falsies like the ones worn by anemic bimbos, with their corseted waists, their dancing-girl skirts like inverted tulips, their butterfly tights, their shoes fringed with crimped gold thread and colored glass beads, and all of them bedaubed in white powder and rouge, prancing about in the fandango with their perfumed and curly mustaches.

"The great voyage of the 41 maricones to Yucatán."

“The great voyage of the 41 maricones to Yucatán.”

On November 23, El País published this account of one group of prisoners being transferred to the train bound for Veracruz:

The men-only ball that was raided by the police continues provoking talk in all social circles, by virtue of the fact that many of those detained are perfectly well known, since among them are men who stroll day after day down the boulevards showing off their stylish and perfectly tailored suits and wearing sumptuous jewels.

As we stated in yesterday’s issue, 12 of those captured in the house on the fourth block of La Paz were sent to Veracruz along with seven thieves who were also conscripted into the armed services.

At 5:30 in the morning, the hour at which attendance is taken in the 24th Battalion (that is being remitted to the port of Veracruz), those called on first were the 12 individuals who had been at the famed ball, and after number 13, who was a pelado [a term for a rough, lower-class urban Mexican] was called, he replied on hearing his name, “Present, my Captain,but let me go on record as saying that I am being conscripted as a thief; but I’m not one of them,” and he pointed to the group of dancers.

This provoked the laughter of those present, because not even a thief was willing to be confused with the perfumed boys, as they are called by the soldiers from the barracks

A very amusing scene developed in the the barracks of the 24th Battalion when the repugnant ones arrived wearing their magnificent overcoats, along with hats and fine patent-leather shoes. The captain of the recruits made them all strip without delay, and then handed out the rough but honorable articles of clothing that are given to recruits.

With tears in their eyes, they stripped off all their clothes, some of them begging that they be allowed at least to keep their fine silk undergarments, a request that the captain denied, since, he told them, there they were just the same as everyone else. He didn’t even allow them to keep their socks, and they all began to cry as they put on the shoes that would replace their lovely patent leather ladies’ shoes.

The government paper, El Imparcial, took plains to deny that the army was foolish enough to send any girly-men to the front lines:

All of the prisoners have been sent to Yucatán, but not — as it has been said — to join the ranks of the valiant soldiers taking part in the campaign; they will be employed instead on such tasks as digging trenches, opening breaches, and raising temporary fortifications.

As you have undoubtedly noticed, it was the men in drag who occupied the attention of the press; through their manner of dress, they particularly transgressed the limits of what was tolerable in Mexican society. This brings up the two ways in which homosexuality has traditionally been viewed in Mexico: There are homosexuals, and then there are homosexuals. There are men who are attracted to other men (we understand this homosexuality as a sexual orientation), and there are men who, while identifying as men, are effeminate and, more specifically, adopted the “passive” role (a further transgression of the male gender role.) The second group, it might be said, are the real homosexuals according to traditional society; it was possible (and still is in some rural areas) for one man to have sex with another man and still be regarded as straight, as long as he is the one who retains his claim to masculinity by being the chingón (the one who does the deed) and not the chingado (the one to whom the deed is done), who has effectively surrendered his claims to masculinity.

As long as there was at least some measure of deniability that one had surrendered their masculinity, then that masculinity (and hence, heterosexuality) remained intact in many peoples’ eyes. But deniability was crucial. A few newspapers tried to argue that the twenty-one how weren’t in drag were had been “tricked,” leaving readers to try to imagine who those “tricked” men couldn’t have known who they were dancing with. Other accounts, of course, found that impossible to believe. And it appears that it was that lack of deniability which ultimately doomed everyone to the same fate. While those who were in drag were the most remarked-upon players in the scandal, the whole affair today is known as the “the 41,” not just the nineteen.

Today, the number 41 has become slang for homosexuality or, more specifically, “faggot” or maricón. As the former revolutionary general and National Defense Secretary Francisco L. Urquizo explained in 1965, “The influence of this tradition is so strong that even officialdom ignores the number 41. No division, regiment, or battalion of the army is given the number 41. From 40 they progress directly to 42. No payroll has a number 41. Municipal records show no houses with the number 41; if this cannot be avoided, 40 bis is used. No hotel or hospital has a room 41. Nobody celebrates their 41st birthday, going straight from 40 to 42. No vehicle is assigned a number plate with 41, and no police officer will accept a badge with that number.” Some of the early LGBT advocacy groups in Mexico incorporated the number into their names, just as many similar groups in the U.S. have leveraged “Stonewall” as a shorthand for the struggle for gay rights.

[Sources: Robert McKee Irwin. “The Famous 41: The scandalous birth of modern Mexican homosexuality.” GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies 6, no. 3 (2000): 353-376.

Robert McKee Irwin, Edward J. McCaughan, Michelle Rocio Nasser. The Famous 41: Sexuality and Social Control in Mexico, 1901 (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003).]

90 YEARS AGO: Rock Hudson: 1925-1985. In 1960, The Saturday Evening Post’s Pete Martin interviewed him in 1960 and asked the question that far more people were asking that we might realize:

“…Somewhere during this interview I have to write at least one paragraph in which I say that you were married and that you are not married any more. I’ll tell you this before you begin: I’ve read that your marriage was ‘made,’ not by you but by the same agent who is reported to have made a star of you.”

“I’m sure you did read that,” he said. “I read it too, and it made me feel like an idiot. She was my agent’s secretary. I met her in a supermarket. She introduced herself. Naturally I had talked to her many times on the phone. For a while we had a lot of trouble getting together. Either I had a date or she had one. We went together for a year and were married. But it didn’t work out. We stayed married only a couple of years. Last summer our divorce was final. Now I’m single again.”

…I said, “I’m interested in your present reaction to dames. You do date, don’t you?”

“Certainly,” he said. Only my dates don’t get into print. To get a date into print you have to appear in a public place like a night club. I don’t like night clubs.”

“What’s your idea of a date?”

“To take a girl for a sail or meet her at my house or somebody else’s house. What am I supposed to prove? There are times when I almost wish I made the scandal sheets.”

Even in 1960, the interest in Hudson’s love life went a bit beyond that experienced by other male sex symbols. What other subtext could possibly explain the question about whether his marriage to Phyllis Gates was “made” or not? Martin’s question came exceptionally close to exposing the secret that just about everyone in Hollywood knew, that Hudson’s agent, Henry Willson (see Jul 31), had prevailed on Hudson to marry Willson’s secretary after Hudson narrowly escaped having his secret exposed in Confidential magazine in 1955. The couple divorced in 1958, and Hudson never married again. His secret remained well-protected outside of Hollywood, even if gays in L.A. didn’t always respect it. Los Angeles-based ONE magazine, in a laudatory review of a book acknowledging Michelangelo’s homosexuality, suggested the book would make a great movie starring Rock Hudson. “That would be casting with a twist. Or two,” ONE commented with characteristic snark.

Hudson was just one product from Willson’s “Adonis factory,” so named for Willson’s uncanny ability to find (and often, bed) some of Hollywood’s hotest male stars. Willson took a not-so-smart Roy Fitzgerald out of the truck he was driving, fixed his teeth and his bad grammar, taught him to lower his voice and lose his sibilant lisp, along with how to move, shake hands, sit, dance, sing, ride horses, and even act. It took Hudson thirty eight takes before he could successfully deliver his only line in Warner Brother’s Fighter Squadron in 1948.

He got better from there. He received good reviews for his role in 1954’s Magnificant Obsession opposite Jane Wyman, and his popularity went through the roof with the 1956 release of Giant, which also featured Elizabeth Taylor and James Dean. In the 1960s, he turned to romantic comedies, including three with Dorris Day: Pillow Talk, Lover Come Back, and Send Me No Flowers. As the sixties wore on, film offers declined and Hudson began transitioning to television. From 1971 to 1977, he played police commissioner Stewart McMillan in McMillan & Wife (“wife” was played by Susan Saint James).

In November 1981, Hudson suffered a serious heart attack, followed by quintuple bypass surgery. That didn’t surprise anyone because of his heavy drinking and smoking, but his unusually long recovery did. He remained in ill health while filming The Ambassador in 1983-1984, and health problems followed while filming the made-for-TV movie The Vegas Strip Wars in 1984. When he began appearing in a recurring role in the primetime soap Dynasty with his gaunt appearance, deteriorating speech and failing memory — he could no longer memorize his lines — rumors began to fly. First it was cancer, this publicists said, but others were whispering AIDS.

In July 1985, Hudson appearance on Doris Day’s talk show became instant news, thanks to his shocking appearance and incoherant speech. The following week, Hudson flew to Paris and checked into the hospital at the Pasteur Institute. The official version, at first, was that Hudson was “tired” and that a diagnosis wasn’t yet available. But reporters didn’t fail to notice that the Pasteur Institute was one of the world’s leading research institutions on AIDS and the destination for hundreds of American AIDS patients seeking treatments that were unavailable in the U.S, as you can see in this report:

Hudson’s publicists soon acknowledged most of what everyone else suspected: that Hudson was in Paris for experimental treatment for AIDS, which he attributed to multiple blood transfusions when he underwent bypass surgery. But even that story didn’t hold for long. People magazine published a story about Hudson’s disease, and featured comments from Angie Dickinson, Robert Stack, Joan Rivers, and Mamie van Doren, who said they knew about his homosexuality and supported him. His death on October 2, 1985, galvanized Hollywood, especially his life-long friend Elizabeth Taylor, who made AIDS fundraising not just a fashionable cause, but an urgent one for a nation that was still very uncomfortable about discussing the disease.

[Sources: Robert Hofler. The Man Who Invented Rock Hudson: The Pretty Boys and Dirty Deals of Henry Willson (New York: Carroll & Graff, 2005).

Peter Martin. “I call on Rock Hudson.” The Saturday Evening Post 233, no. 4 (July 23, 1960): 16ff.

Sal McIntire. “Tangents: Gutsy Scholar with a Shovel.” ONE 10, no. 11 (November 1962): 15-16.]

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