The Daily Agenda for Sunday, July 24

From The Body Politic (Toronto, ON), April 1986, page 12. (Source.)

From The Body Politic (Toronto, ON), April 1986, page 12. (Source.)

Baron Smith

In 1984, just one year after being elected as Member of the British Parliament on the Labour ticket, Smith became the first MP to come out as gay at his own choosing. There had been a few other MP’s who had been involuntarily outed, typically as a result of a scandal. But Smith did so voluntarily, during a pro-gay rally in Rugby, Warwickshire, protesting a proposed ban on gay employees by the town council. Smith did came out during his self-introduction at the rally: “”Good afternoon, I’m Chris Smith, I’m the Labour MP for Islington South and Finsbury. I’m gay, and so for that matter are about a hundred other members of the House of Commons, but they won’t tell you openly.”

That revelation did little to impede his political progress. Smith became Labour opposition whip in 1986, shadow Treasury minister in 1987, shadow environment minister in 1992, shadow secretary for National Heritage in 1994, and shadow secretary for Social Security in 1995. When Labour won the general election in 1997, Smith served as Tony Blair’s first Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport through 2001, making him the first openly gay Cabinet Minister. He left the House of Commons at the 2005 general election, and was rewarded for his services with a life peerage in the House of Lords as Baron Smith of Finsbury. In 2008, he was appointed chairman of the Environment Agency. He stepped down in 2014, and in 2015 he accepted an appointment as Master of Penbroke College, Cambridge. He also became chairman trustees of the Cambridge Union Society that same year.


Born in Louisville, Kentucky, Van Sant’s traveling salesman father moved the family around through much of his childhood. One thing remained constant though, and it was the young Van Sant’s interest in painting and Super-8 filmmaking. He enrolled at the Rhode Island School of Design to study painting, but he switched to cinema after discovering avant-garde films. Since avant-garde films were never much of a money-maker, Van Sant wound up being very familiar with some of the more derelict areas along Hollywood Boulevard, and 1985’s Mala Noche, the story of a doomed love affair between a gay store clerk and a Mexican immigrant, was the first of many films touching on the fringes of society. 1989’s Drugstore Cowboy and 1991’s My Own Private Idaho became signature films which established Van Sant as a director to be taken seriously.

His 1993 flop, Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, very nearly unraveled his career, but 1995’s To Die For (starring Nicole Kidman, Matt Dillon and Joaquin Phoenix), his first major studio production for Columbia, catapulted him into the mainstream. Good Will Hunting, which starred and was written by Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, earned Van Sant a Best Director Oscar nomination. His remake of Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho was considerably less successful. His decision to re-create Hitchcock’s film shot-for-shot in color instead of black and white looked more alike a parlor trick than a serious artistic decision. He then turned to art-house films, including Elephant (a fictional film inspired by the 1999 Columbine shooting) which earned the Palme d’Or at Cannes in 2003. He returned to the mainstream again in 2008 with his biopic Milk, starring Sean Penn as the late San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk and featuring a screenplay by Dustin Lance Black (Jun 10). Again, Van Sant was nominated for an Oscar for Best Director, although he lost to Danny Boyle for Slumdog Millionaire.

Kirk, at the age of 4 years and 6 months, just a few months before entering treatment at UCLA’s Feminine Boy Project (Photo courtesy of the family)

(d. 2003) For more than four decades, Kirk well known among behavioral therapists who were trying to prevent homosexuality and transgender identities in very young children. His identity wasn’t known; they only knew him by his pseudonym “Kraig.”

The seeds for “Kraig’s” fame were planted in the summer of 1970, when Kirk’s mother saw a television program featuring famed sexologist Dr. Richard Green describing a new federally-funded treatment program, called the Feminine Boy Project, at UCLA’s Neuropsychiatric Institute. After hearing his spiel about the dangers of effeminate boys growing up to become homosexual, she became worried that her son was headed for trouble. So a month before his fifth birthday, she took him to UCLA where Kirk came under the care of a young grad student by the name of George Rekers. Ten months later, five-year-old Kirk was declared to be rid of his “severe gender identity disturbance,” and Kirk’s case would help Rekers earn his Ph.D. in 1972.

Two years later, Rekers published his case report of “Kraig” in the Journal of Applied Behavioral Analysis, where he described “Kraig’s” treatment and the astounding “success.” This was the first time anyone had reported curing a young child’s budding homosexuality or transgenderism — no one was ever quite sure what it was they though they saw in Kirk — and that paper became one of the more widely-cited papers in the late 1970s. Kirk’s case launched Rekers’s career, first as an acclaimed or controversial young psychologist (depending on one’s point of view at the time), and later as a significant anti-gay activist when he co-founded the Family Research Council in 1983. Throughout Rekers’s career he would write at least twenty papers describing Kirk’s case as an example of the power of his treatment program to prevent homosexuality and transgender identity in very young children. The most recent publication touting “Kraig’s” supposedly successful cure appeared in a 2009 book promoted by the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH), where Rekers served on its Scientific Advisory Committee. Of course, all of that was before Rekers was discovered returning from a European vacation in the company of a male escort in 2010.

But it wouldn’t be until 2011 when the truth about “Kraig” would finally emerge. Our award winning original BTB investigation revealed that Kirk’s therapy was highly abusive; that contrary to Rekers’s persistent reports, Kirk was not straight; that Kirk struggled all his life with the shame that his treatment at UCLA had been instilled in him; and that his struggle finally ended with his suicide in December of 2003. If Kirk were alive today, he would be fifty-one years old. His is still deeply missed by his mother, brother, sister and friends.

Clinton Pays Private Visit With Pulse Families, Pays Respects To Victims

Jim Burroway

July 23rd, 2016

hillary_pulsex750Hillary Clinton was in Orlando yesterday where she met privately with families and friends of the Pulse gay night club massacre. The meeting occurred just before a larger roundtable meeting with city leaders and representatives from the LGBT and religious communities. According to the Washington Post:

“I’m really here to listen to what your experiences have been,” Clinton said during the meeting.

She noted that the attack on the gay club highlights the dangers that LGBT people in America face, including higher risk for hate crimes.

“We need to acknowledge and be very clear who this attack targeted,” Clinton said. “The Latino LGBT community by any measure was the community that was the most severely impacted by this terrible attack.”

“It is still dangerous to be LGBT in America,” Clinton added. “It is an unfortunate fact but one that needs to be said.”

The Post reported that Patty Sheehan, an Orlando city commissioner who is also a lesbian, thanked Clinton “for not politicizing it and for waiting until we were ready.” According to WESH TV, a mother and a survivor echoed that appreciation:

She never wanted to use me or my son for her political gain,” said Christine Leinonen whose son was killed in the June shooting.

“She just allowed us to tell our story and I thought that was really powerful and impactful,” said Brandon Wolf, a survivor.

During the private meeting, Sheehan warned against blaming the Muslim community for the gunman’s actions:

“Hating a Muslim person is the same as hating a gay person,” Sheehan said, growing emotional. “We cannot allow this country to become a country of hatred and division.”

“We have got to stop this kind of rhetoric. We are better together,” she added.

The Orlando Sentinel reported about the later roundtable meeting with community leaders:

…Clinton pledged to “promote the kinds of changes that will prevent this from happening to other people, other families and other communities.”

“We have to be willing to stand as one and demand changes from lawmakers at the federal, state and local level … We have a lot of work ahead of us,” said Clinton…

(Orlando Mayor Buddy) Dyer, who led the meeting alongside Clinton, said he would not wade into policy but called for unity and inclusiveness.

“We need to better understand how we come together, that we are stronger when we appreciate the similarities that we have and don’t focus on the differences,” Dyer said.

After the roundtable meeting, Clinton made an unannounced visit to an impromptu memorial outside the shuttered night club:

The Daily Agenda for Saturday, July 23

From The Advocate, January 8, 1981, page 5.

From The Advocate, January 8, 1981, page 5.

Yesterday came news that the last manufacturer of the video cassette recorder will end production by the end of this month:

The last-known company still manufacturing the technology, the Funai Corporation of Japan, said in a statement Thursday that it would stop making VCRs at the end of this month, mainly because of “difficulty acquiring parts.”

…According to the company — which said in the statement, “We are the last manufacturer” of VCRs “in all of the world” — 750,000 units were sold worldwide in 2015, down from millions decades earlier.

…The first VCRs for homes were released in the 1960s, and they became widely available to consumers in the 1970s, when Sony’s Betamax and JVC’s VHS formats began to compete. VHS gained the upper hand the following decade; but Sony stopped producing Betamax cassette tapes only in 2016.

230037778_4e8c70e60eThe VCR and its constantly blinking “12:00” is credited for making binge watching and time-shifting possible possible for the first time. It made porn available to the masses for the first time, and it also created demand for on-demand video. Before VCRs came along, if you wanted to watch a movie, you had to hope it would be available at a local theater, and once the movie’s run was complete, it was as good as gone unless you were lucky enough to catch it on television sometime. VCRs changed all of that. Today, it’s all about Netflix and chill, but in the eighties and the nineties, it was a Blockbuster night.

I have to admit I was surprised to learn that VCRs were still being produced. And I’m even more surprised to learn that they sold 750,000 machines last year. Caetlin Benson-Allott, who teaches film and media studies at Georgtown, explains:

First of all, VHS has a longer shelf life than DVD. The average shelf life of a DVD is about 25 years given average use, and if it’s a DVD-R, it can be as short as five or 10 years, depending on the quality of manufacture. VHS, if stored right, is estimated to last 50 years. …Second, while the U.S. has gone over to digital television broadcasts, a lot of countries haven’t. Third and finally, because it is a mechanical device, there is the capacity to repair it yourself, assuming you can get or manufacture parts.

She mourns the VCR’s demise and thinks we’ve lost an important human connection because of it:

What I miss most—and I have to say I already miss this—about VHS are the video stores. I miss walking into the cornucopia that was my local Lincoln Video of Lincoln, Massachusetts, and finding out about some guy named Scorsese when I was way too young to be watching his movies. And then working back from him to other things that he liked. I miss having a relationship with a video clerk and the esoteric taste, the evolution of taste, that I got from knowing that guy or that gal. We have that in a sense with the you-might-also-like function on Netflix, but that’s an algorithm replacing a human relationship, which is never the same thing.

On June 24, President Ronald Reagan announced the creation of the President’s Commission on the HIV Epidemic, and two days later he appointed Dr. W. Eugene Mayberry, CEO of the Mayo Clinic, to head the commission, despite Mayberry having no experience with the disease. Gay activists and people with AIDS were alarmed by the appointment, and demanded that the rest of the panel be made up of more qualified people, including representatives from the gay community. Anti-gay White House staff opposed that last demand, with Gary Bauer, Reagan’s chief domestic policy advisor, leading the resistance (Jun 30). In the end, Reagan apparently ignored Bauer’s advice. When Reagan announced the rest of the commission’s members on July 23, the list included Dr. Frank Lilly, a geneticist at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Lilly was also on the board of the Gay Men’s Health Crisis from 1984 to 1986, and he was openly gay.

Lilly’s appointment to a part time, purely advisory commission which did not require Senate confirmation appears to be the first Presidential appointment of an openly gay person, and his presence on the panel upset conservatives. Sen. Gordon Humphrey (R-NH) said that Reagan had caved in to demands by the gay community that “society accept their sexual practices as normal.” He warned that Reagan “should strive at all costs to avoid sending the message to society — especially to impressionable youth — that homosexuality is simply an alternative lifestyle. It is not. Homosexual practices are unnatural. The practice of homosexuality is immoral. The consequences of that immoral behavior is AIDS, and not only AIDS for homosexuals, but AIDS for many innocent victims, including children.”

Sen. Jesse Helms (R-NC) lashed out by distributing pages from a comic book published by GMHC (“Lilly’s homosexual organization,” Helms called it) which included graphic depictions of safe-sex practices. Helms distributed those pages as part of a letter addressed “for senators’ eyes only” because “I think senators ought to know what the taxpayers’ money is being spent for, but I don’t want to help Lilly distribute this mess.” GMHC and the federal Public Health Service responded that the money used for Safer Sex Comix came from private donations, not government funds.

If conservatives were upset over Lilly’s appointment, other panelists named to the commission seemed to mollify those concerns. The most surprising nomination was New York Cardinal John, J. O’Connor, who had drawn the wrath of Act UP for publicly repudiating a National Conference of Catholic Bishops policy paper calling for AIDS educational programs even when they included information about condoms. Another conservative on the panel was Penny Pullen, Republican leader of the Illinois House of Representatives who sponsored legislation that would require a names-based HIV testing regime for marriage licenses, hospital admissions, and for all sex offenders and intravenous drug users, with additional tracing of sexual contacts for those who tested positive. Also named to the panel was Theresa Crenshaw, a controversial California sex therapist with a questionable resume who proposed barring students with AIDS from attend schools in San Diego. She also said that AIDS could be spread by insects, advised against “casual (dry) kissing” because AIDS patients “often carry other diseases,” and warned that AIDS “threatens our extinction.”

Reagan defended his more conservative choices: “When it comes to stopping the spread of AIDS, medicine and morality teach the same lessons.” The Eagle Forum’s Phyllis Schlafly also praised those selections saying she hoped the panel would “make recommendations to protect the uninfected from the infected.” But Jeff Levi, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force said he did “not have high hopes for this commission.” Those fears appeared to be well-founded when Chairman Mayberry, the vice chairman and its only medical staff officer quit in October over turmoil within the commission.

The commission was quickly re-organized under the leadership of retired Admiral James Watkins. When the commission issued its report in 1988, it endorsed 580 specific recommendations including a call for state and federal anti-discrimination laws to protect people with AIDS. Another section harshly criticized funding cuts to public health services and the resulting impacts to the poor. It also recognized the work of gay community organizations which rose up to try to fill the gaps left by government inaction. “Semen, blood and ignorance surround this epidemic,” Watkins said at a press conference, “and we were in that last category.” He added, “The foremost obstacle to progress raised was the discrimination faced by those with HIV.” Such discrimination, he said, “is the rule, not the exception.”

Tim Sweeney, deputy executive director of GHMC, called the report “courageous, aggressive and compassionate. We challenge the President, Congress and presidential candidates to respond to this report by implementing its recommendations.” But the response to the report was muted. After all, it was a presidential election year with a lame-duck president waiting out the end of his term and a Congress whose attention focused solely on re-election.

charlotte-cushman200 YEARS AGO: (d. 1876) The American stage actress was from one of Boston’s oldest families, a direct descendent of Robert Cushman, a Pilgrim who helped organize the Mayflower voyage to Plymouth and who is credited for giving the first sermon on North American soil. But Charlotte was nothing like her Pilgrim forbearers or other proper Bostonian families. She would begin her life in the theater at thirteen, when she began singing opera to make money after her father died. She learned to sing from a friend of her father’s who owned a piano factory, and she is said to have possessed a remarkable contralto range. Her performance in Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro was a great success.

But when her singing voice suddenly failed due to the strain of singing above her comfortable range, she switched gears and became a noted drama actress, with a particular flair for Shakespeare. In 1836, she made her dramatic debut in the lead role of Lady MacBeth to rave reviews. With her sister, fellow actress Susan Webb Cushman, they became famous for playing Romeo and Juliet together, with Charlotte playing Romeo to Susan’s Juliet.

Charlotte Cushman and Matilda Hays

Charlotte Cushman and Matilda Hays

In 1844, Cushman began traveling to Europe, where in 1848 she met journalist and sometime actress Matilda Hays. They began an affair and lived as a couple. They were known for dressing alike, and they immersed themselves in an expatriate community in Rome consisting mainly of lesbian artists. They also, separately, indulged in a number of tumultuous affairs. In 1857, Cushman began seeing the sculptor Emma Stebbins (Sep 1). When Hays discovered the affair,  the two underwent a violent argument, with Hays hitting Cushman and chasing her around the house. Hays left Cushman and sued her, saying that she had sacrificed her career to support Cushman’s. The two settled the case privately for an unknown sum, and parted ways.

Stebbins moved in with Cushman. A few months later, Cushman left Stebbins behind and returned to the U.S. for another tour. Before returning to Italy in 1861, Cushman performed at the Washington Theater in the title role of Hamlet. The poster for the production described her as “a lady universally acknowledged as the greatest living tragic actress.”

Charlotte Cushman and Emma Stebbins

Charlotte Cushman and Emma Stebbins

In 1869, Cushman underwent treatment for breast cancer, with Stebbins setting aside her sculpting to devote her energies to Cushman’s recovery. As Cushman recovered, she developed a career as a dramatic reader, reading scenes from Shakespeare, poetry, poems and humorous pieces. In 1871, the couple returned to the U.S. and Cushman embarked on a series of performances, many of them billed as her final appearance as either a dramatic reader or actress. Her final final stage performance was in May of 1875 at Boston’s Globe Theater, which was followed by a short tour of dramatic readings in Rochester, Buffalo, and Syracuse before retiring to her villa in Newport. She became ill in October of 1875, and moved to Boston for treatment, where she died the following February of pneumonia. As for Stebbins, she never produced another sculpture after Cushman died. Instead, she devoted her time to compiling their correspondence for Charlotte Cushman: Her Letters and Memories of Her Life.

(d. 1942) Trained as a lawyer though he never practiced, Edward Irenaeus Prime-Stevenson was known as a very cosmopolitan man of letters, befitting one who was born into a wealthy and cultured family. A master of nine languages, he wrote poetry, short fiction, magazine serials and travel essays for Harpers and The New York Independent before settling on music criticism. Early in his career, he wrote two books for boys: White Cockades: An Incident of the “Forty-Five” (1887), a historical fiction about a young Prince Pretender; and Left to Themselves: Being the Ordeal of Philip and Gerald (1891), which Prime-Stevenson described as “a romantic story in which a youth in his latter teens is irresistibly attracted to a much younger lad, and becomes, con amore, responsible for the latter’s personal safety, in a series of events that throw them together—for life.” While Left to Themselves didn’t contain any sexual content, it is believed to be the first gay novel for young adults.

It was at about that time that he began dividing his time between the U.S. and Europe, and by the time the century turned, he was spending most of his time, never quite settled, in a regular circuit that consisted of stays in London, Paris, Budapest, Florence, and Rome. His beloved mother had died and left him an independently wealthy man, and his great love, Henry Harkness Flager, the son of a railroad magnate, had dumped him to marry a woman. As Prime-Stevenson let it be known in a few of his letters, he found America too oppressive for one such as he.

While in Naples in 1906, he published his “little psychological romance,” Imre: A Memorandum, under the pen name of Xavier Mayne. Imre, about a young Hungarian military officer’s relationship with another man, was notable for two reasons. Not only was it the first American novel to deal openly and sympathetically with homosexuality, but its story line had a happily-ever-after ending.

Prime-Stevenson, again as Xavier Mayne, followed that with another book, The Intersexes: A History of Similisexualism as a Problem in Social Life, which he published privately in Rome in 1908. (“Intersex” during this period was used to refer to gay men or women under the idea that they were members of the “intermediate sex”. “Simisexual” was an all-Latin version of the word “homosexual,” which scandalized some scholars for its hybridization — some said bastardization — of Greek and Latin roots.) This 646-page opus, dedicated to the memory of the German writer Richard von Krafft-Ebing (Aug 14), covered an incredible array of topics: homosexuality in the ancient world and among primitive peoples, animal studies, gay geniuses, literature, ancient and modern legal codes, male prostitution, blackmail, violence, and contemporary anecdotes, gossip and scandals. It is considered the first great defense of homosexuality in the English language, as in this passage (where he uses Krafft-Ebing’s “Uranian” to refer to gay men):

Happiest of all, surely, are those Uranians, ever numerous who have no wish nor need to fly society — or themselves. Knowing what they are, understanding the natural, the moral strength of their position as homosexuals; sure of right on their side, even if it be never accorded to them in the lands where they must live; fortunate in either due self-control or private freedom — day by day, they go on through their lives, self-respecting and respected, in relative peace

From 1913, Prime-Stevenson published Her Enemy, Some Friends — and Other Personages, a collection of short stories, many of them with overtly gay themes. This time, he published it under his own name. He stayed busy through the 1920s and 1930s, but by then he was writing mostly about music. When World War II broke out, he retreated to Lausanne, Switzerland, where he died in 1942.

Trump: “I Will Protect Our LG, BTQ Citizens From Hateful Foreign Ideology”

Jim Burroway

July 22nd, 2016

This video is the full speech, for those who care to watch the whole thing. I’ve cued it up to this point:

Only weeks ago, in Orlando, Florida, forty-nine wonderful Americans were savagely murdered by an Islamic terrorist. This time, the terrorists targeted LGBTQ community. No good. And we’re going to stop it. As your President, I will do everything in my power to protect our LGBTQ citizens from the violence and oppression of the hateful foreign ideology. Believe me.

And I have to say as a Republican, it’s so nice to hear you cheering for what I just said. Thank you.

Trump’s congratulating the audience for congratulating his speech perfectly illustrates the problem here. We’re only useful when we can be used in the service of a different kind of phobia, especially since Trump is silent on whether he would protect “LGBTQ citizens” from violence and oppression of hateful domestic ideology of the kind enshrined in his own party’s platform. Scott Shackford, a libertarian who is, for example, no fan of non-discrimination policies, nevertheless looks at Trump’s speech alongside the party’s platform and is underwhelmed:

This has been characterized as a sign of advancement for the Republican Party in some fashion, but is it really something new for the Republican Party to say they don’t want gay Americans to be murdered? Certainly the left would love to characterize the party that way, but for those of us who see ourselves independent of party ties, is this an actual shift in the party or something that was simply expected?

…Taken holistically, the message from the GOP seems to be “Hey, at least we don’t want to kill you! Radical Islam and Muslim-dominated countries want to kill you, but we don’t.” Well … thanks?

PayPal Co-Founder Peter Thiel: “I’m Proud To Be Gay, I’m Proud To Be a Republican, I’m Proud To Be An American”

Jim Burroway

July 22nd, 2016

Here’s a clip from his speech last night. I would note that the reaction from the convention hall didn’t really kick in until he said he was proud to be a Republican and proud to be an American. That’s all well and good, but I think it’s safe to say that if he had just ended with “I’m proud to be gay,” the hall wouldn’t have been nearly as noisy.

After all, out of all of the 2,470 delegates at the convention, pro-LGBT proponents couldn’t find just twenty-eight of them to back revisiting the most the most anti-LGBT platform in the party’s 162-year history. Thiel may be proud of them, but his fellow Republicans just see him as useful.

The Daily Agenda for Friday, July 22

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

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

I can’t find any information about Pete’s, except that, like all the bars in the French Quarter, Pete’s was very welcoming to out-of-towners. If you go to 800 Bourbon Street today, you will still find the gays dancing and the D.J.s spinning, except it’s now called Oz. I’m sure they are just as welcoming to out-of-towners as Pete’s, although I doubt that this ad will still get you a complimentary drink.

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

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

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

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

James Whale

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

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

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

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

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

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In this original BTB Investigation, we unveil the tragic story of Kirk Murphy, a four-year-old boy who was treated for “cross-gender disturbance” in 1970 by a young grad student by the name of George Rekers. This story is a stark reminder that there are severe and damaging consequences when therapists try to ensure that boys will be boys.

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When we first reported on three American anti-gay activists traveling to Kampala for a three-day conference, we had no idea that it would be the first report of a long string of events leading to a proposal to institute the death penalty for LGBT people. But that is exactly what happened. In this report, we review our collection of more than 500 posts to tell the story of one nation’s embrace of hatred toward gay people. This report will be updated continuously as events continue to unfold. Check here for the latest updates.

Paul Cameron’s World

In 2005, the Southern Poverty Law Center wrote that “[Paul] Cameron’s ‘science’ echoes Nazi Germany.” What the SPLC didn”t know was Cameron doesn’t just “echo” Nazi Germany. He quoted extensively from one of the Final Solution’s architects. This puts his fascination with quarantines, mandatory tattoos, and extermination being a “plausible idea” in a whole new and deeply disturbing light.

From the Inside: Focus on the Family’s “Love Won Out”

On February 10, I attended an all-day “Love Won Out” ex-gay conference in Phoenix, put on by Focus on the Family and Exodus International. In this series of reports, I talk about what I learned there: the people who go to these conferences, the things that they hear, and what this all means for them, their families and for the rest of us.

Prologue: Why I Went To “Love Won Out”
Part 1: What’s Love Got To Do With It?
Part 2: Parents Struggle With “No Exceptions”
Part 3: A Whole New Dialect
Part 4: It Depends On How The Meaning of the Word "Change" Changes
Part 5: A Candid Explanation For "Change"

The Heterosexual Agenda: Exposing The Myths

At last, the truth can now be told.

Using the same research methods employed by most anti-gay political pressure groups, we examine the statistics and the case studies that dispel many of the myths about heterosexuality. Download your copy today!

And don‘t miss our companion report, How To Write An Anti-Gay Tract In Fifteen Easy Steps.

Testing The Premise: Are Gays A Threat To Our Children?

Anti-gay activists often charge that gay men and women pose a threat to children. In this report, we explore the supposed connection between homosexuality and child sexual abuse, the conclusions reached by the most knowledgeable professionals in the field, and how anti-gay activists continue to ignore their findings. This has tremendous consequences, not just for gay men and women, but more importantly for the safety of all our children.

Straight From The Source: What the “Dutch Study” Really Says About Gay Couples

Anti-gay activists often cite the “Dutch Study” to claim that gay unions last only about 1½ years and that the these men have an average of eight additional partners per year outside of their steady relationship. In this report, we will take you step by step into the study to see whether the claims are true.

The FRC’s Briefs Are Showing

Tony Perkins’ Family Research Council submitted an Amicus Brief to the Maryland Court of Appeals as that court prepared to consider the issue of gay marriage. We examine just one small section of that brief to reveal the junk science and fraudulent claims of the Family “Research” Council.

Daniel Fetty Doesn’t Count

Daniel FettyThe FBI’s annual Hate Crime Statistics aren’t as complete as they ought to be, and their report for 2004 was no exception. In fact, their most recent report has quite a few glaring holes. Holes big enough for Daniel Fetty to fall through.