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Kentucky county clerk toys with contempt

Timothy Kincaid

August 27th, 2015

Kim DavisKim Davis should not be forced to give out marriage certificates to same-sex couples. Davis has a right to her beliefs, religious or otherwise, and a constitutionally protected freedom to live by the dictates of her conscience.

However, governmental entities do not have the right to deny marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The Supreme Court of the United States has determined that to do so is a violation of constitutional protections of equality.

And Kim Davis is the County Clerk in Rowan County, Kentucky. Which might seem to set up a conundrum. Davis cannot be forced to violate her conscience, and yet the County cannot deny equality. Quite the paradox.

But not really. Because Kim Davis does not issue marriage licenses; the Rowan County Clerk issues marriage licenses. The marriage certificates bear the Seal of the State of Kentucky, not the Seal of Kim Davis.

Davis merely performs tasks as the physical representative of the county. Her official actions do not originate in Davis’ will nor are they performed for Davis’ benefit. What Davis believes is irrelevant and when she speaks on behalf of the county, “the relevant speaker is the government entity, not the individual”.

So said the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals yesterday when denying stay to Davis in her legal challenge to her obligation to perform the duties of the county.

Two weeks ago Federal Judge David Bunning ordered Davis, in her official capacity, to issue a marriage licenses, including to same-sex couples. He had stayed his ruling so that Davis could appeal to the Sixth Circuit. But the Court’s response leaves no ambiguity.

In light of the binding holding of Obergefell, it cannot be defensibly argued that the holder of the Rowan County Clerk’s office, apart from who personally occupies that office, may decline to act in conformity with the United States Constitution as interpreted by a dispositive holding of the United States Supreme Court. There is thus little or no likelihood that the Clerk in her official capacity will prevail on appeal.

Which means that Davis and other employees of Rowan County cannot thwart the County in performing its duties to its residents. The County Clerk must issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples who request them without discrimination.

Yet the Clerk’s Office continues to refuse to do so. (Kentucky.com)

Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis continued to withhold marriage licenses from local residents Thursday, a day after a federal appeals court upheld an order telling her to end her protest.

James Yates and William Smith Jr. were turned away by a deputy clerk in Davis’ office Thursday morning when they asked for a marriage license. The deputy told the men Davis thinks she can legally withhold marriage licenses until Monday, Aug. 31, under an order issued earlier this month by U.S. District Judge David Bunning.

August 31st is the deadline Judge Bunning gave for Davis to appeal to the Sixth Circuit. Obviously the temporary stay given by Bunning expired upon the Sixth Circuit response and this is all but a game. Kim Davis is opening herself up to charges of contempt (though I doubt that happen).

Nevertheless, in a few days time there may be a showdown. Davis will need to decide whether the County Clerk’s Office will fulfill its duties, whether she will defy the orders of the court, or whether she will resign.

I suspect that Davis will continue to obstruct the operations of the county. Davis and her attorney, Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel, are using this situation as a form of public activism against same-sex marriage. Their desire is twofold: to carve away at the rights of gay citizens and to rally public support for their ‘religious freedom’ political endeavors.

But, as is so often true, Liberty Counsel and other anti-gay activists appear to have selected the wrong case to rally around.

Kim Davis is a particularly unsympathetic “victim”, one with whom it is difficult to empathize. She lacks a groomed appearance and her manner appears abrupt and harsh.

But, more importantly, her cause is not one that appeals to anyone other than those who are fiercely opposed to equality for gay people. The great middle population, that to which a thoughtful appeal for religious liberty could be effective, will likely not find “I want to block the county business because of my personal beliefs” to be compelling.

This just sounds to many people like another self-important bureaucrat seeking to interfere in others’ lives. Most people find dealing with governmental entities to be annoying enough without having to worry whether the person responsible for issuing fishing licenses is a vegan or if the county planner is an old hippy that favors quonset huts or if the person issuing business licenses is a teetotaler. Davis’ religious quest to obstruct marriages because of her religion feels like more of the same sort of nonsense.

Personally (though I know many here disagree) I think that there is a valid argument to be made for the religious liberty of individuals to operate their personal business according the their conscience. And that is an argument that can appeal to a broad spectrum, left or right, gay or straight.

But Staver and crew may turn off the public with their defense of the indefensible that they poison the well for any other more legitimate claims.

Get your all new, even sleazier, Josh Duggar (with extra ick factor)

Timothy Kincaid

August 26th, 2015

danica dillonSo we know Josh Duggar (of 19 Kids and Counting fame), was recently discovered to have molested his sisters and their babysitter while in his teens. We also know that Duggar was executive director of FRC Action (a project of Family Research Council) where he railed against the imagined sexual immorality and threat to children that gay people pose, all while maintaining accounts on hook-up site OKCupid and cheating-spouse site Ashley Madison.

We now have our first accusation of actual infidelity. And it’s even sleazier than I expected.

It seems Duggar trolled strip-clubs and hired porn stars for rough sex. In Touch Magazine

After watching her show and “eyeballing me,” Danica says he bought $600 in private dances and then “asked me how would he be able to spend the evening with me.” She reveals to In Touch that Josh was violent with her when they had sex, he did not use protection and gave her thousands of dollars after their encounters.

Danica admits she “took the opportunity because Josh offered to gift [her] $1,500.” But soon after Josh arrived at her hotel room, things got rough.

“He was manhandling me, basically tossing me around like I was a rag doll,” Danica, whose real name is Ashley Lewis, and although the sex was consensual, “It was very traumatic. I’ve had rough sex before, but this was terrifying.”

In response, Duggar has checked himself into a faith-based recovery center for his sex addiction. Ya know, kinda like Lindsay Lohan did to recover from bad publicity her drug addiction.

Let’s hope, for the sake of his wife and kids, that he’s more sincere and successful than Lohan. But I wouldn’t bet a nickel on it.

Feds shut down Rentboy.com

Timothy Kincaid

August 25th, 2015

RentboyWhat a glorious day! The Federal Government has solved all major issues before it.

The kinks in the medical care delivery system are smoothed out. Funding has been found to provide social security to future generations. Environmental policy is now such that we can leave in a cleaner world and also compete economically. ISIS has disbanded, Iran has disclosed and dismantled its nuclear programs, and Israel and her neighbors have made peace. And a sustainable energy source has been discovered that neither places reliance on foreign nations nor mildly annoys the spotted titmouse.

Yes it’s a glorious day.

And how do I know that all these achievements have been accomplished? Because the US Federal Government expended time and effort into shutting down Rentboy.com, a website that allows escorts and their potential customers to meet each other, and arresting its employees.

And surely that has to be about the lowest possible priority that Homeland Security, or any governmental unit, could have.

Now I’m not going to pretend that Rentboy is anything other than what it is: a vehicle for prostitution. Although selling sex is forbidden by the site (in a wink and nod at legality) few participants on the site expect that their clients want them to accompany them to the opera (though some may want you to help them lift luggage in Europe).

No, it’s a hustler site. Which is fine with me.

My view of prostitution – or, at least, male prostitution – is based in pragmatism.

My life has shown me that there are those who have been given a great mind and an ability to succeed financially, but a who are unlikely to ever saunter down the street to the admiring gaze of all. And I have also met those who dazzle the eye with their natural beauty but find it beyond their abilities to make change or write a coherent sentence.

I suppose those who fall in neither camp could insist that the physically less fortunate should just drastically reduce his expectations. Surely he can find someone on his own level. But, sadly, even the ugly often don’t want to date the ugly. So for many of these men, the options can end up being hiring a prostitute or having no sex at all.

And I really can’t think of any option for the beautifully stupid other than to hope that someone with economic potential falls for them and is willing to pay their bills and put up with less than stellar conversation. It happens.

Of course not all johns are unappealing nor are all hustlers dumb. The reasons to exchange money for sex are multitudinous. Time constraints may hinder the building of relationships, small town attitudes may have social costs, emotional tendencies may cause one to not date well, loss of a partner might cause one not to want to seek a mate but still fulfill sexual needs. And these all seem valid reasons to me.

But, perhaps you disagree. Maybe you believe that prostitution is demeaning and abusive and lends itself to sex trafficking and sexual slavery. And in some cases it may.

And I grant you that it’s not a good long-term plan, especially for an aging call boy.

But even if you oppose prostitution in general, let’s be honest.

Prostitution is not going to stop by shutting down Rentboy. Lonely men who have no luck in bars or on hook-up sites are still going to hunt out desireable men to pay for sex. And men who need funds are still going to be willing to offer their body for cash. That isn’t going to stop, or even likely diminish.

However, now they will do so without the protection of a site that allows for feedback and has at least some knowledge of the identity of both the escort and the john.

Now that Rentboy is gone, we can expect to see an increase in extortion, faceless crime, and physical violence. It is no coincidence that they Craigslist murders were not Rentboy murders. And we will likely also find that those who once had some measure of control over their situation will now be under the control of pimps and abusers. This decision by Homeland Security has helped no one and likely endangered many.

Ah, but the Feds have shut down the homosexual prostitutes. And I’m sure they are giving themselves a pat on the back.

Josh Duggar’s statement

Timothy Kincaid

August 20th, 2015

AshleyDuggar

In response to revelations that he had accounts with affair hook-up site Ashley Madison and dating site OKCupid while working for Family Research Council, Josh Duggar (of the 19 Kids and Counting reality show) released the following statement:

Statement from Josh Duggar:

I have been the biggest hypocrite ever. While espousing faith and family values, I have been unfaithful to my wife.

I am so ashamed of the double life that I have been living and am grieved for the hurt, pain and disgrace my sin has caused my wife and family, and most of all Jesus and all those who profess faith in Him.

I have brought hurt and a reproach to my family, close friends and the fans of our show with my actions.

The last few years, while publicly stating I was fighting against immorality in our country I was hiding my own personal failures.

As I am learning the hard way, we have the freedom to choose our actions, but we do not get to choose our consequences. I deeply regret all the hurt I have caused so many by being such a bad example.

I humbly ask for your forgiveness. Please pray for my precious wife Anna and our family during this time.

Josh Duggar

I expect that the next thing we will hear from the Duggars is a new TLC reality series about how to keep your marriage strong after one party strays. These people have no moral center. At all.

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The Daily Agenda for Thursday, August 27

Jim Burroway

August 27th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Cornwall, UK; Derry/Londonderry, UK; Erfurt, Germany; Erie, PA; Lansing, MI; Manchester, UK; Münster, Germany; San Jose, CA; Toledo, OH.

Other Events This Weekend: Michigan March to the Capital, Lansing, MI; Camp Camp, Portland, ME; Gay Ski Week, Queenstown, NZ.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Northwest Fountain (Portland, OR), May 1979, page 17

From Northwest Fountain (Portland, OR), May 1979, page 17

The location is now a parking lot.

NARTH Scientific Advisory Board member Joseph Berger

NARTH Scientific Advisory Board member Joseph Berger

TODAY IN HISTORY:
NARTH Official Advocates Peer Shaming for Gender-Variant Elementary School Children: 2006. Once upon a time, the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality thought it would be cool to jump on the cutting edge of social media in the pre-Facebook, pre-Twitter age: they started a blog, where they could remind everyone how odious their ideas were on a daily basis.

On August 27, NARTH’s resident blogger posted a brief synopsis of a story that appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle about a private elementary school in Oakland that had gained a reputation for its ability to work with very young children. “They now let boys play girls and girls play boys in skits,” the Chronicle reported. “And there’s a unisex bathroom.” It went on:

Park Day’s gender-neutral metamorphosis happened over the past few years, as applications trickled in for kindergartners who didn’t fit on either side of the gender line. One girl enrolled as a boy, and there were other children who didn’t dress or act in gender-typical ways. Last year the school hired a consultant to help the staff accommodate these new students.

“We had to ask ourselves, what is gender for young children?” Hodes said. “It’s coming up more and more.”

The NARTH blogger, known only by the handle “jjohnson,” posted a link to the article, copied the first two paragraphs, and left it at that. The blog’s first comment was left by Dr. Joseph Berger, a Toronto-based psychiatrist and a member of NARTH’s Scientific Advisory Committee. It went like this:

Dr. Berger reacted to the San Francisco Chronicle article by observing:

I think that a lot of this is nonsense and is being pushed by people who have an agenda to disrupt society in order to further some perverted goals such as the acceptance of pedophilia, and, of course, the attempted “normalization” of homosexuality.

From a medical/scientific perspective, the notion of a child of five being “transgendered” is absolute garbage. This is a child wanting attention and wanting to play “dress-up,” with an added layer of unhappiness.

That essentially is the issue for most of these children. They are unhappy. They don’t have a “biological” based “gender identity disorder.” They are unhappy; they have an envy of certain aspects of the opposite sex role – and wish to pursuit it for as long as they can.

Tolerant parents, tolerant schools, tolerant societies, might let them get away with it. No one should be surprised that avant-garde California or sun-drenched Florida should be places where the tolerance is highest.

His solution?

Here in cold Canada, I often talk with mothers of small children who routinely complain about how difficult it is to get their children dressed in the winter in the multiple layers of clothing they need to go off to school. I suggest to them that they make it clear to their children that they will leave home – or that the school bus will come – at such-and-such time, and they will go whether they are ready or not. I suggest that going just one day in their pajamas or underwear will be enough to “cure” them of their procrastination.

I suggest, indeed, letting children who wish go to school in clothes of the opposite sex – but not counseling other children to not tease them or hurt their feelings.

On the contrary, don’t interfere, and let the other children ridicule the child who has lost that clear boundary between play-acting at home and the reality needs of the outside world. Maybe, in this way, the child will re-establish that necessary boundary.

Berger closed his post with a parting shot directed toward the parents of gender-variant children: “I am sure that if we looked carefully, we could find some significant personal issues and aberrations in the parents of these children.” Berger’s comments soon attracted the attention of mental health professionals and gay rights groups. Jack Drescher, former chair of the American Psychiatric Association Committee on gay, lesbian and bisexual issues, responded:

NARTH has a long tradition of encouraging antigay social disapproval as a form of prevention, it should come as no surprise that in addition to supporting the criminalization of homosexuality and denying gay adults full civil rights, NARTH would support teasing by other children as a way to promote gender conformity. NARTH, have you no sense of decency?”

Daniel Gonzales, a writer at Ex-Gay Watch (and later for BTB), also weighed in: “Regardless if a child’s gender dysphoria persists into adulthood, allowing any child with a psychological condition to be harassed because of that condition is shameful. I’m most shocked and dismayed this position is being advocated from within a professional mental health association.”

Focus On the Family and Exodus International, who jointly staged a series of ex-gay conferences around the country called “Love Won Out,” expressed their support for NARTH and its president and co-founder, Joseph Nicolosi. But Exodus president Alan Chamber, who recalled being teased for being effeminate when he was a child, later told the Los Angeles Times that Berger’s advice that children should be ridiculed “wouldn’t be something we would tolerate from someone who was part of our board. We have to be very careful about what we say and how we say it. Peoples’ emotions, hearts and even lives are at stake.”

Nicolosi finally responded to the growing controversy with a short note on August 31: “Narth disagrees with Dr. Berger’s advice as we believe shaming, as distinct from correcting can only create greater harm. Too many of our clients experienced the often life long, harmful effects of peer shaming. We cannot encourage this.” The following day, NARTH quietly and without explanation edited Berger’s comments by deleting the three offending paragraphs. That did little to quiet the controversy. NARTH finally removed Berger’s comment, along with the entire blog thread with no further explanation. Berger remained on NARTH’s advisory committee.

Minneapolis-Saint Paul's most famous men's restroom.

Minneapolis-Saint Paul’s most famous men’s restroom.

Sen. Larry Craig’s Arrest for Lewd Conduct Revealed: 2007. Just after noon on June 11, Sen. Larry Craig (R-ID) was arrested for trying to pick up an undercover police officer at a men’s restroom in the Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport. According to the police report by the arresting officer (PDF: 794KB/7 pages):

IAt 1213 hours, I could see an older white male with grey hair standing outside my stall. He was standing about three feet away and had a roller b with him. The male was later identified by Idaho driver’s license as Larry Edwin Craig… I could see Craig look through the crack in the door from his position. Craig would look own at his hands, ‘fidget’ with his fingers, and then look through the crack into my stall again. Craig would repeat this cycle for about two minutes. I was able to see Craig’s blue eyes as he looked into my stall.

At 1215 hours, the male in the stall to the left of me flushed the toilet and exited the stall. Craig entered the stall and placed his roller bag against the front of the stall door. My experience has shown that individuals engaging in lewd conduct use their bags to block the view from the front of their stall. From my seated position, I could observe the shoes and ankles of Craig seated to the left of me. He was wearing dress pants with black dress shoes. At 1216 hours, Craig tapped his right foot. I recognized this as a signal used by persons wishing to engage in lewd conduct. Craig tapped his toes several times and moved his foot closer to my foot. I moved my foot up and down slowly. While this was occurring, the male in the stall to my right was still present. I could hear several unknown persons in the restroom that appeared to use the restroom for its intended use. The presence of others did not seem to deter Craig as he moved his right foot so that it touched the side of my left foot which was within my stall area.

At 1217 hours, I saw Craig swipe his hand under the stall divider for a few seconds. The swipe went in the direction from the front (door side) of the stall back towards the back wall. His palm was facing towards the ceiling as he guided it all the stall divider. I was only able to see the tips of his fingers on my side of the stall divider. Craig swiped his hand again for a few seconds in the same motion to where I could see more of his fingers. Craig then swiped his hand in the same motion a third time for a few seconds. I could see that it was Craig’s left hand due to the position of his thumb. I could also see Craig had a gold ring on his ring finger as his hand was on my side of the stall divider.

CraigThe officer displayed his police identification under the stall divider and pointed his finger to the restroom exit. Craig said “no,” but eventually complied. At the airport police station, Craig tried to bluff his way out of trouble by handing over his business card identifying him as a U.S. Senator. “What do you think about that?” The officer wasn’t impressed, and the interview continued. According to the arrest report, “Craig stated … He has a wide stance when going to the bathroom and that his foot may have touched mine.” When asked if he had done anything with his feet, Craig replied that he “positioned them, I don’t know. I don’t know at the time. I’m a fairly wide guy.” Craig wound up pleading guilty to a misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct on August 1. He paid the $575 fine, and for the next month, it looked like the whole thing would end quietly without anyone from the press finding out.

The press found out. On August 27, Roll Call broke the story about the arrest and guilty plea. Craig’s spokesman downplayed the whole thing as a “he said/he said misunderstanding.” Craig had often positioned himself as a “values” politician. In 1989, he led a failed effort to censure and expel Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) over his roommate’s prostitution scandal. He voted against bills that would have extended the federal definition of hate crimes to include sexual orientation, and he supported an Idaho constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

Then-Rep. Craig denying involvement in a male Capital page scandal in 1982.

Then-Rep. Craig denying involvement in a male Capital page scandal in 1982.

This wasn’t Craig’s first “misunderstanding” about his sexual interests. Nine months earlier, Mike Rogers had outed Craig on his web site at blogactive.com. “I have done extensive research into this case, including trips to the Pacific Northwest to meet with men who have say they have physical relations with the Senator,” Rogers wrote. “I have also met with a man here in Washington, D.C., who says the same — and that these incidents occurred in the bathrooms of Union Station. None of these men know each other, or knew that I was talking to others. They all reported similar personal characteristics about the Senator, which lead me to believe, beyond any doubt, that their stories are valid.” In 1982, Craig, while a congressman, pre-emptively denied involvement with a Congressional male page sex and drug scandal, a puzzling act given that his name hadn’t yet been publicly associated with the scandal (see Jul 1).

And so it would only be natural for the press to have a field day with the latest news.  On August 28, the Idaho Statesman published a story that included three allegations of Craig’s homosexuality going back to 1967. One man said that Craig had cruised him at an REI store in Boise. Another reported to have had oral sex with Craig at a men’s room in Washington’s Union Station, just north of the Capital building. That same day that the Statesman article came out, Craig held a press conference in Boise, Idaho, with his wife by his side, to try to quell the growing calls for his resignation:

28craig-600I am not gay. I never have been gay…. In June, I overreacted and made a poor decision. I chose to plead guilty to a lesser charge in hopes of making it go away…. Please let me apologize to my family, friends and staff and fellow Idahoans for the cloud placed over Idaho. I did nothing wrong at the Minneapolis airport. I did nothing wrong, and I regret the decision to plead guilty and the sadness that decision has brought on my wife, on my family, friends, staff and fellow Idahoans.

Those denials didn’t go far. Mitt Romney dropped Craig as a Senate liaison for Romney’s 2008 presidential campaign, and several GOP Senators called on Craig to resign. On September 1, Craig announced that he would resign his Senate seat at the end of the month. He then fought to withdraw his guilty plea. That request was denied. Meanwhile, Craig reversed his decision to resign his Senate seat, although he didn’t seek re-election in 2008. He finally left office when the next Congress was sworn in in 2009.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
Tom Ford: 1961. He definitely has a flair for making his own way. After studying architecture at Parsons The New School for Design, he got his first fashion design job in 1986 with American Designer Cathy Hardwick — through knowing what to say as well as what not to say. He told her that he attended The New School’s Parson division, but he didn’t bother to mention that he wasn’t an alumnus of its prestigious fashion design program. And he knew the right answer when she asked what designers he admired: Armani and Chanel. Hardwick recalled, “Months later I asked him why he said that, and he said, ‘Because you were wearing something Armani.’ Is it any wonder he got the job?”

Two years later, he moved to Perry Ellis, but he still wanted to get away from American design firms. Meanwhile, his partner, journalist Richard Buckley, had recently recovered from cancer, and the two were looking for for a drastic change of scenery. As luck would have it, Gucci was struggling and needed to overhaul its women’s ready-to-wear lines, but no major designer would come near the nearly-bankrupt firm. Ford and Buckley moved to Milan and Ford took over the women’s ready-to-wear line, and was quickly placed in charge of menswear and shoes. By 1992, he was also responsible for fragrances, image, advertising and store design, and the following year he was overseeing eleven product lines. Between 1995 and 1996, sales at Gucci nearly doubled and the company went public. When Gucci bought Yves Saint Laurent in 2000, Ford became its creative directer as well.

By 2004, Gucci was valued at $10 billion, but Ford and Gucci’s management fell into disagreements over artistic control of the group. That’s often the reason given for Ford to cash in his chips to leave Gucci. But it also marks a significant departure in Ford’s creative life as well. In March of 2005, he announced that he was opening his own film production company, and he made his directorial debut with 2009’s A Single Man, based on the novel by Christopher Isherwood. That same year, Ford re-entered the fashion world with the establishment of the TOM FORD brand, which opened his flagship store in New York City two years later. There are now dozens of TOM FORD stores around the world, and many of his products are available online. Ford and Buckley welcomed the arrival of their son, Alexander John Buckley Ford, in 2012. They currently split their time between homes in Los Angeles, London and Santa Fe.

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 Wednesday, August 26

Jim Burroway

August 26th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Cornwall, UK; Derry/Londonderry, UK; Erfurt, Germany; Erie, PA; Lansing, MI; Manchester, UK; Münster, Germany; San Jose, CA; Toledo, OH.

Other Events This Weekend: Michigan March to the Capital, Lansing, MI; Camp Camp, Portland, ME; Gay Ski Week, Queenstown, NZ.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From David, a Jacksonville-based gay photography and lifestyle magazine, May 1972, page 13.

From David, a Jacksonville-based gay photography and lifestyle magazine, May 1972, page 13.

Even as far back as 1954, Miami’s Cactus Lounge on Biscayne Blvd. was already known as Miami’s oldest gay bar. Yet somehow it escaped being mentioned in the local newspapers whenever bars were raided along Miami’s “Powder Puff Lane.” The Cactus Lounge survived all of that and latest all the way up until 2004, when development finally accomplished what Miami’s mayors couldn’t do: shutter the bar permanently. The bar was torn down and replaced with a row of upscale condos, which themselves are conveniently located across the street from a Bentley dealership.

Miami Mayor Abe Aronovitz

Miami Mayor Abe Aronovitz

TODAY IN HISTORY:
 Miami Mayor Calls for Anti-Gay Crackdown: 1954. As pressure mounted in the press over the growing anti-gay hysteria that had swept the Miami area following the murder of an Eastern Airlines flight attendant (see Aug 3, Aug 11, Aug 12, Aug 13 (twice that day), Aug 14, Aug 15, and Aug 16), Mayor Abe Aronovitz seized the moment when city manager E.A. Evans and police chief Walter Headley were both out of town on vacation to blast them for “coddling homosexuals” in the city.

Headley had already been singled out by the city’s newspapers for his policy of allowing gay bars to operate in Miami proper “so police can watch them” (see Aug 16). That policy earned the him the praises of ONE magazine, the nation’s first nationally-distributed magazine. ONE’s public endorsement of Headly’s policies was more proof to the city’s papers that Headley’s tolerance of “Powder Puff Lane” was a “civic disgrace.”

By mid August, the papers were calling for the firing of Evans and Headley, and Florida’s acting Governor Charley Johns was threatening to intervene personally. Aronovitz decided he needed to respond to the growing political crisis. He told the papers that he would give Evans just one week from the time he returns from vacation to “clean out certain pervert nests in Miami proper.” Criticizing the police chief’s more lenient policies, Aromovitz added, “I firmly believe it is a disgrace to have a place on Biscayne Boulevard whose business caters to the disturbed mind which enjoys seeing a bunch of fairies perform where the sky seems the limit.”

Richard Tafel and Sen. Dole: He’s just not that into you.

20 YEARS AGO: GOP Presidential Candidate Sen. Bob Dole Returns Donation from Log Cabin Republicans: 1995. Richard L. Tafel, president of LCR, received a letter from John A. Moran, the finance director for the presidential campaign of Sen. Bob Dole. The letter read: “Per our discussion, I am attaching a list of upcoming Dole for President fund-raising events. Senator Dole and I would appreciate any assistance you could give us in turning out your members at each event. I am looking forward to working with you. With all good wishes. Cordially, John.” The letter seemed to vindicate Tafel’s hard work in getting LCR recognized as a valuable partner in electing a Republican to unseat President Bill Clinton. With Dole, Tafel thought he had someone he could work with. Campaign officials were soliciting his support, and he prominently wore a Log Cabin lapel button as he discussed AIDS police with Sen. Dole during a fundraiser.

And so Tafel donated $1,000 to the Dole campaign to support his quest for the Republican nomination. But after a devastating showing at the Iowa Straw Poll — Dole was expected to win handily, but ended up tying with his arch-conservative rival Texas Sen. Phil Gramm — Dole’s front-runner status in the Republican field looked to be in jeopardy. And so in August, the Dole campaign decided to tack right, hard. And as part of that direction, they publicly returned LCR’s donation. Tafel was furious, and made Moran’s letter available to the New York Times. Nelson Warfield, Dole’s spokesman, said they the only reason they accepted the money in the first place was because of “a financial screw up.” He also accused the LCR of making the donation for publicity, saying, “They’re struggling for credibility.” Dole himself tried to appear insulated from his own campaign’s actions, telling ABC News, “I don’t agree with (LCR’s) agenda — I assume that’s why it was returned.” Campaign manager Scott Reed put the donation in a broader context: “We need to be seen as a consistent conservative — and we will be that.”

Dole captured the GOP nomination after his hard turn to the right, but this episode exposed the growing fissure between the party’s conservative and moderate wings. Critics asked why Dole’s campaign returned LCR’s donation “for ideological reasons” — the campaign had acknowledged that the action was the first take solely for that reason — but kept other donations from, for example, Hollywood producers who Dole sharply criticized three months earlier. Rep Steve Gunderson, (R-WI), then the only openly gay GOP Congressman, issued a letter to Dole asking, “Are you rejecting support of anyone who happens to be gay? If this is so, do you intend to now reject my support and request those on your staff who happen to be gay to resign?”

As the weeks wore on, the the issue died in the press, the internecine battles threatened to drive moderates from the party. On October 18, just as his campaign staff had hoped the furor was safely behind them, Dole reignited the controversy again when he publicly reversed the decision. One unnamed Republican said to be close to Dole told The New York Times that the campaign had acted without Dole’s knowledge in returning the check. “Dole absolutely opposed giving it back,” he said. “He was angry about it. The campaign did it without checking with him.” But now it was the conservative wing’s turn to be angry. Gary Bauer, president of the Family Research Council, warned, “When a politician takes money from a group, he or she legitimizes that group’s agenda.” His rivals for the GOP nomination said that the reversal showed that Dole “lacked conviction.” Dole ended up winning the GOP nomination, but his support from the conservative win was lackluster during the general election campaign as President Bill Clinton won his bid for a second term.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
 Christopher Isherwood: 1904-1986. Born in North West England to a Lieutenant-Colonel in the British Army, young Christopher moved around a lot as his father was stationed in various towns around England. But after his father was killed in the First World War, Christopher and his mother and brother settled at Wyberslegh. As Christopher grew to adulthood, his life appeared to have taken on some of the wanderings of his father: He studied at Cambridge, but dropped out in 1925. He studied medicine at King’s College London in 1928, but left in 1929 when he followed a friend to Berlin. There, he discovered the thriving gay scene in the Wiemar Republic, and Isherwood thrived there. He had done some writing in England, but in Germany he came into contact with several other writers, including E.M.Forster who became his mentor.

Isherwood wrote several novels throughout the 1930’s, including The Memorial and a collection of shorter novels which were later released as The Berlin Stories. When the Nazis came to power, Isherwood and his German lover moved to Copenhagen. After his lover returned to Germany for a brief visit in 1937 and was arrested as a draft dodger and for committing “reciprocal onanism,” Isherwood and his writing partner, W. H. Auden, traveled to China to collect material for a book they were working on, and stopped in New York on their way back to Britain. That’s when they decided to emigrate to the U.S. Auden remained in New York, while Isherwood took off for Hollywood.

On Valentine’s day at the age of 48, he met nineteen-year-old Don Bachardy (see May 18), and the two of them began a partnership that lasted until the end of Isherwood’s life. The differences in ages raised quite a few eyebrows among their circle of friends. They had their differences and difficulties, including separations and affairs, but in the end they remained devoted to each other. Their relationship provided material for 1964’s A Single Man, which Isherwood wrote during one of the couple’s periods of difficulty. Bachardy recalled later, “I was making a lot of trouble and wondering if I shouldn’t be on my own. Chris was going through a very difficult period (as well). So he killed off my character, Jim, in the book and imagined what his life would be without me.” The novel is not just a classic in the cannon of gay literature, but one of the great novels of the 20th century, and it became an award-winning film under the direction of Tom Ford in 2009. Isherwood died in 1986 of prostate cancer. Bachardy still lives in the home they shared in Santa Monica, California. The 2007 documentary Chris & Don. A Love Story recounts their lives together.

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 Tuesday, August 25

Jim Burroway

August 25th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Arizona Gay News October 5, 1978, page 14.

From Arizona Gay News October 5, 1978, page 14.

As a rule, I try to avoid posting an ad from the same city on two consecutive days, but this one was worth mentioning after yesterday’s post which touched on a terrible rash of anti-gay violence taking place in Phoenix in 1978, amid national anti-gay acrimony being stirred up by various anti-gay political campaigns inspired by Anita Bryant and the contentious debate over the Briggs Amendment that was just then taking place across Arizona’s western border in California. At least three serious anti-gay assaults had taken place in Phoenix in late July, and a gay bar hosted a fundraiser to cover some of the medical costs facing a 22-year-old gay man who was assaulted while leaving the 307 bar. Any hopes at that fundraiser that the spate of violence had come to an end were quickly dashed, as the Tucson-based Arizona Gay News reported on August 25:

Double Killing on Phoenix

Two men were found shot to death in the parking lot of a Phoenix gay bar. At presstime, it was not known whether either man’s death was gay oriented. Phoenix detective Mike Grant said the unidentified men were found dead early Monday morning at the edge of the parking area outside the 307 Lounge.

An officer checking a report of shots in the area found the bodies. The officer had seen a man running, followed, and discovered the bodies. Investigators said the running man had no apparent connection with the slayings. Police were using fingerprints in an attempt to identify the bodies.

I’ve not been able to find any further follow-up information on those murders.

It was not immediately obvious how the bar, located at 222 E. Roosevelt Street in downtown Phoenix got to be named the 3-0-7. It turns out that its original location was apparently located down the block at 307 E. Roosevelt before that section of the street was widened and the original bar closed down. Mark Suever tracked down some of the bar’s origins:

When S.W. Hubbard purchased it, the name was “Roy’s 307 Buffet”. Phone directories from the late 40′s and 50′s listed it as just “Three-O-Seven Buffet“, later it was changed to “Hubbard’s Three-O-Seven”. The name was changed once more to Palmer’s 307 when it was purchased by Palmer E. Ganske. In 1981 Ganske sold the bar for $40,000 to Jerry L. Graham, dba Little Jim’s 307. Little Jim’s was a gay bar chain that included Little Jim’s Chicago and another one in Florida.

The 3-0-7 was Phoenix’s oldest gay bar when it finally closed in 2000, leaving behind a history as a gay bar that appears to to have gone back as far back as the 1940s. In the sixties and seventies, the entire neighborhood was known for its hustlers and rough trade. When the bar finally closed in 2000, the owners told the Phoenix New Times that they would be opening back up in a new, larger location on North Central near two other popular gay bars. Plans were for the new location included operating as an after-hours club with a restaurant located next door. But for whatever reason those plans never came to fruition, and the 3-0-7 wound up being closed for good. The building on Roosevelt was later done-up nicely where it is now home to an artsy boutique and gallery.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
Leonard Bernstein: 1918-1990. When he died only five days after announcing his retirement in 1990, the New York Times lionized him as “one of the most prodigiously talented and successful musicians in American history.” He became instantly famous in 1943 when he stepped in at the last minute — unrehearsed — to conduct the New York Philharmonic when conductor Bruno Walter fell ill. That concert at Carnegie Hall was nationally broadcast, and it led to guest conductor engagements around the country. In 1947 he conducted a complete Boston Symphony concert in Carnegie Hall, the first time that orchestra had allowed a guest to do so in 22 years. In 1953 he became the first American-born conductor to conduct an opera at Milan’s famed La Scala. When he was named the New York Philharmonic’s musical director in 1958, he became the youngest person to fill that role in the orchestra’s history.

Bernstein was also the first conductor to give numerous television lectures on classical music, starting in 1954, continuing until his death. Meanwhile, he also achieved popular success with his many compositions, including three symphonies, ballets and operas; his Mass; and music for such Broadway hits as Candide, On the Town, and most famously, West Side Story.

Bernstein conducting the Boston Symphony at Tanglewood, 1970.

Bernstein was known for both his punishing schedule and his highly animated conducting style. One legendary story has it that at his first rehearsal as guest conductor for the St. Louis Symphony, his initial downbeat was so dramatic that the startled musicians simply stared in amazement and made no sound. In 1982 Bernstein fell off the podium while conducting the Houston Symphony, and he did it again in 1984 while leading the Vienna Philharmonic in Chicago.

Bernstein married Chilean actress Felicia Montealegre Cohn in 1951. and although they had three children, the marriage didn’t seem to fool anyone. It did somehow last some 25 years before embarking on a kind of a “trial separation” where they continued to appear together at his performances. She died in 1978. Bernstein’s homosexuality, often rumored throughout his life, became public knowledge with the 1987 publication of Joan Peyser’s Bernstein: A Biography. Arthur Laurents, Bernstein’s collaborator in West Side Story, said simply that Bernstein was “a gay man who got married. He wasn’t conflicted about it at all. He was just gay.”

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

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The Daily Agenda for Monday, August 24

Jim Burroway

August 24th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Arizona Gay News, August 18, 1978, page 3.

From Arizona Gay News, August 18, 1978, page 3.

Homosexuality was very much in the news in 1978, thanks to the numerous Anita Bryant-inspired political hate campaigns taking place in several cities across America and the contentious Briggs Amendment that was being hotly debated in California. A number of cities, like Phoenix, saw a terrible spike in anti-gay violence. On August 7, Tucson-based Arizona Gay News reported on three separate incidents in late July:

The most serious of the three occurred late last Thursday night, July 27. Blain Henderson, 22, was leaving the 3-0-7 Bar by the side door when he was accosted by three people who took his wallet and demanded his automobile keys. Henderson refused to give up his keys and, while two of the men ran away, the third produced a small caliber revolver and shot Henderson. The bullet entered through the cheek bone, into the left eye, and lodged in the right eye with some splinters lodging in the brain. At presstime, Henderson was in critical condition in intensive care. Hospital spokespersons contacted late Tuesday appeared optimistic concerning Henderson’s recovery, although it is anticipated that, because of the eye damage, he will be permanently blinded. It is two early to speculate about possible brain damage.

On August 18, Arizona Gay News followed up with news of the fundraiser:

As reported in the August 7 issue of AGN, a member of the Phoenix gay community was assaulted, robbed and shot in the parking lot of a local Phoenix bar. Still under a doctor’s car and with almost positive loss of sight in both eyes, Blaine Henderson is recovering at the home of his brother and sister-in-law.

…Mr. Henderson is able to converse and visit with friends, but from all indications, he will require “lifetime care,” according to Phyllis Nest, who helped stage a benefit for Henderson and two other men injured the same week. … The Connection and the Doug Cooper Show will be holding a benefit dance and show for Blaine Henderson, Thursday, August 24 beginning at 8:00 p.m. and lasting until midnight. These benefits are being held to help defray the astronomical medical costs that are being accrued by Blaine. Dale Williams, popular owner of the Connection, is making the first donation of $100.

In better times, The Connection was known for hosting the “County Fair” in its parking lot over Memorial Day weekend. They also hosted an annual summer Luau, with the entire parking lot filled with sand to create a kind of a beach scene. Grace Jones reportedly performed at one of the Luaus. The levi/leather bar later opened a leather disco next door called Der Druck, with a Kenworth cab next to the dance floor. The owner died of AIDS in 1988, and the businesses closed soon after. The whole thing today is now a parking lot across the street from the VA hospital that had been so much in the news last year.

Homosexuals are fit to print.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
New York Times Covers “Homosexuals In Revolt”: 1970. On June 28, 1969, the patrons of the Stonewall Inn erupted in revolt when New York City police tried to raid the bar. The New York Times, the city’s newspaper of record, barely covered the story, burying a few paragraphs on page 33 with the headline “4 Policemen Hurt in ‘Village’ Raid.” But more than a year later, the Grey Lady finally found that the explosion of new gay organizations, along with the successful Gay Pride march and a large gathering in Central Park marking the one-year anniversary of Stonewall a few months earlier, was all too much to ignore. And so on August 24, 1970, the Times printed an exhaustive and (for 1970) relatively balanced exploration of the dynamic shifts that had just occurred within the gay community over the past year, namely its new-found pride and emerging sense of self worth. Of course, not everyone thought those developments were positive:

This new attitude has its critics, both among “straights” and among homosexuals. Many doctors believe that, while homosexuals have full legal rights, “gay” is not necessarily “good.” Dr. Lionel Ovesey, a professor of clinical psychiatry at Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons, said: “Homosexuality is a psychiatric or emotional illness. I think it’s a good thing if someone can be cured of it because it’s so difficult for a homosexual to find happiness in our society. It’s possible that this movement could consolidate the illness in some people, especially among young people who are still teetering on the brink.”

Having gotten that out of the way, the rest of the Times article focused mainly on the the emergence of a new attitude and commitment to equality among younger people, in contrast to the timidity that was still common among the older generation. The youth, who were organizing gay advocacy and social groups at an astonishing pace across the country, were inspired particularly by the African-American civil rights movement as well as the women’s movement:

“We are all fighting for equal rights as human beings,” explained (New York Mattachine Society president Michael) Kotis, who had a picture of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. above his desk in the society’s cramped offices on West End Avenue. “The philosophical ideals on which this country was founded have yet to be realized. We owe a great debt to the blacks — they were the pioneers.”

But Gays and lesbians were up against a lot of history. They were also up against a lot of internalized shame and guilt — even among some of the brave new activists:

“The first job we have to do is to decondition ourselves, to undo that self-contempt we have,” said Don Kilhefner, a graduate student who started a Gay Liberation branch at the University of California at Los Angeles. “We’ve gone through the same kind of conditioning blacks have gone through. We believe the myth society tells about us, consciously or unconsciously.”

“Homosexuality is not an illness; it’s a way of expressing love for someone of the same sex, and any form of love is beautiful and valid,” said Karla, a leader of the Lavender Menace, a lesbian organization in New York, who would not give her full name.

The article went on to discuss some of the discrimination that gay people face, particularly in employment where people were routinely fired if their employers found out they were gay:

As a result, people like Karla, despite her devotion to the movement, are still afraid. “I still face the possibility that I might have to make it in the ‘straight’ world,” she said, in explaining why she would not give her full name. “And there are a lot of things you still can’t do if they know you’re ‘gay’.” In answer to these problems, “gay” organizations provide legal counsel, offer advice on job hunting, and lobby for legislative reforms.

There is much that feels antiquated about this article more than forty years later, but there is also much that feels familiar, particularly the tensions between the more established gay rights groups who feared pushing too hard and provoking a backlash (and who, quite visibly in this article, called themselves “homosexuals”), and the younger, more active members of the community who were impatient for change and were more willing to take their complaints to the street — and to proclaim themselves gay:

There are sharp disagreements within the homosexual community. People such as Michael Brown of Gay Liberation in New York identify with a broader radical movement. “The older groups are oriented toward getting accepted by the Establishment,” he said, “but what the Establishment has to offer is not worth my time. …”

On the other side are organizations such as the Tangent Group in Los Angeles, headed by a brisk, middle aged man named Don Slater (see Aug 21). He agreed that homosexuals should have pride in themselves, but he added: “People should stop thinking of homosexuals as a class. They’re not. We have spent 20 years convincing people that homosexuals are no different than anyone else, and here these kids come along and reinforce what society’s thought all along — that they’re ‘queer.’ ‘Gay’ is good! To hell with that. Individuals are good.”

The parameters of the argument have changed quite a bit in the past forty years, but the fundamental discussion continues: assimilation vs. queer identity, the establishment vs. the grassroots, Gay, Inc. vs. Act-Up. Some things may never change.

Site of the Klan's bookstore in Pasadena, TX. (via Flicker)

Site of the Klan’s bookstore in Pasadena, TX. (via Flicker)

Houston Klan: “We Endorse and Seek the Execution of All Homosexuals”: 1977. Politicians in modern-day Uganda have much in common with Houston’s Ku Klux Klan members in 1977. The Star, a gay paper in Houston, reported that the phone answering machine message for the Klan’s bookstore in the Houston suburb of Pasadena said, in part:

The Ku Klux Klan is not embarrassed to admit that we endorse and seek the execution of all homosexuals. While many church people are duped by their brain-washed, pinky-panty preachers into believing that we should merely pray for the homosexuals, we find that we must endorse and support the law of God, which calls for the death penalty for homosexuals. … Not only have we seen the establishment of homosexual churches in our once unblemished land, but at least two major denominations have actually ordained homosexuals into the ministry.

The Ku Klux Klan does not have to rely on the feelings or thoughts of man, nor do we need to experience a dialogue with some Jewish Psychiacrist or rabbi who is mentally warped anyway. We rely on the age-proven and reliable law of God. …The law on homosexuality states: “That if a man also lie with mankind as he lies with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination, and shall be put to death” (Leviticus 20:13). … It is not our intention to but this matter up to a discussion or debate the matter or start a dialogue with a committee of queers as to their rights of sexual freedom. The law of God states the death penalty for homosexuals, and when God’s laws are again enforced, the death penalty is what it will be.”

[Source: The Star, as quoted in “‘We endorse and seek the execution of all homosexuals’ — KKK.” Arizona Gay News (September 16, 1977): 2.]

Canada’s Largest Protestant Church Accepts Gay Ordination: 1988. The governing council of the United Church of Canada voted at a meeting in Victoria, British Columbia, to allow gay men and women to be ordained into the clergy. The church, which was formed in 1925 from a merger of Canada’s Presbyterian, Methodist and Congregational churches, decreed: “All persons regardless of their sexual orientation, who profess faith in Jesus Christ and obedience to Him, are welcome to be or become members of the United Church. All members of the church are eligible to be considered for the ministry.”

The 205-160 vote followed months of heated debate, during which a quarter of the church’s ministers and 30,000 of its 860,000 members signed a declaration opposing the move. Over the next four years, membership fell by 78,000 as some congregations split and a few others left the denomination altogether.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
Chuck Rowland: 1917-1990. His tiny hometown of Gary, South Dakota, straddling the state line with Minnesota, may have been off the beaten path, but the town’s only newsstand was located in his father’s drugstore, providing young Chuck with a window to a much larger world. He vividly remembered that day when he snatched a copy of Sexology magazine, a small quasi-scientific magazine about the size of a Reader’s Digest, and read “that if one was homosexual, he shouldn’t feel strange or odd, that there were millions of us, that there was nothing wrong with it.” Rowland knew from the time he was ten years old that he was gay, when he fell in love with another boy. “As soon as I read that there were millions of us, I said to myself, well, it’s perfectly obvious that what we have to do is organize, and why don’t we identify with other minorities, such as the blacks and the Jews? I had never known a black, but I did know one Jew in our town. Obviously, it had to be an organization that worked with other minorities, so we would wield tremendous strength.” Organizing would become Rowland’s greatest contribution to the early gay rights movement.

In the late 1930s, Rowland went to the University of Minnesota where he met Bob Hull (see May 31), and the two became lovers, briefly, and then lifelong friends. Rowland was drafted into the Army, but thanks to a severe injury he stayed stateside and, “frankly, I had a ball.” After his discharge in 1946, he became an organizer for the New York-based American Veterans Committee, a liberal veterans group. Rowland also became friends with a young man whose parents had been Communists. Rowland decided to join the Communist Party and became head of a youth group called the American Youth for Democracy in the Dakotas and Minnesota. He left in 1948, “not because I disagreed with anything, but because I just wanted out. Joining the Communist Party is very much like joining a monastery or becoming a priest. It is total dedication, twenty-four hours a day, 365 days a year.”

That year, Rowland moved to Los Angeles to start a new life. Hull soon followed and the two of them met Harry Hay (see Apr 7), who was already kicking around with the idea of starting an organization for homosexuals. Rowland and Hull, along with Dale Jennings (see Oct 21), met with Hay and Hay’s lover, Rudi Gernreich (see Aug 8), and in November of 1950 they formed what would become the Mattachine Foundation (see Nov 11). Rowland’s organizational skills to be an important asset to the fledgling group. Given the fearful political climate of the McCarthy era, Mattachine meetings were held in secret, with members using aliases and the leadership known only as “The Fifth Order.” Taking a cue from the Communist party, each discussion group or chapter was operated autonomously with loose coordination, so that if police were to raid and arrest the members of one chapter, it wouldn’t endanger the others.

An exceptionally rare photo of early members of the Mattachine Society. Pictured are Harry Hay (upper left, Apr 7), then (l-r) Konrad Stevens, Dale Jennings (Oct 21), Rudi Gernreich (see Aug 8), Stan Witt, Bob Hull (May 31), Chuck Rowland (in glasses), Paul Bernard. Photo by James Gruber (see Aug 21). (Click to enlarge.)

That worked for a while. But by 1953, Mattachine had grown to over 2,000 members, thanks in part to the publicity over Dale Jennings’s acquittal of trumped up charges for soliciting a police officer (see Jun 23). Mattachine raised its profile during the trial: raising money, hiring a lawyer, and generating quite a bit of publicity along the way. But the flood of new members brought pressure to change the Foundation. In particular, they demanded the secrecy surrounding the leadership’s identities be abandoned and the organization cleared of Communists. Many of them also demanded that the Foundation become less “activist,” an ironic stance given that Mattachine’s activism in the Jennings case was what made the newer members aware of the organization in the first place.

The group also split over a far more fundamental disagreement: over the nature of homosexuality itself. Were they a distinct cultural minority seeking recognition, or were they exactly like heterosexuals in every way except one? The latter “integrationist” model was sought by many (though certainly not all) of the more “conservative” members, who also demanded transparency, the ejection of former Communists, and a non-confrontational approach to public activism. A Constitutional Convention was called to try to reconcile the many emerging fault lines and come up with a new organizational structure that everyone could agree on (see Apr 11). Rowland gave a speech which blasted through the wall of secrecy of the group’s leadership. “You will want to know something about the beginnings of the Mattachine Society, how the Fifth Order happened to be. … I think it is reasonable that you should ask this and important that you understand it,” he said. He then introduced the leadership to the rank-and-file. That satisfied one of the conservatives’ demands. But he also declared his unwavering belief that homosexuals were a unique, valuable segment of society, and if they could only see themselves as such, and with pride, only then could they effect change in society. “The time will come when we will march arm in arm, ten abreast down Hollywood Boulevard proclaiming our pride in our homosexuality.” The newer members found that idea far too radical and confrontational — and downright “communistic.”

Rowland proposed a new constitution, organizing the Mattachine Foundation as a group of autonomous clubs governed by a committee and an annual convention. His draft constitution was rejected and the convention decided to suspend its meeting due to a lack of consensus. During a second meeting called for May, Rowland, Hull and Hay resigned their leadership positions, the remaining members declared the Mattachine Foundation disbanded, and announced the formation of the newly reconstituted Mattachine Society with a centralized organizational structure and a disavowal of activism.

Rowland tried to remain active in the new Society, in a chapter that was intended to take on legal cases. But an attorney for the new Society charged that “the very existence of a Legal Chapter, if publicized to society at large, would intimidate and anger heterosexual society.” At the next convention in November, Rowland’s chapter was shut down, Rowland himself was branded a Communist, his credentials were revoked and he was out of the group.

Meanwhile, a group of disaffected Mattachine members had founded ONE, Inc. (see Oct 15), which was originally formed solely to publish ONE magazine, but which found itself fielding questions and requests for help from gay men and women who were showing up at its tiny Los Angeles office. Rowland became director of ONE’s social services division, providing job placement and counseling services for nearly 100 people in 1955 alone. The following year, Rowland decided to found a church, the Church of One Brotherhood, using the name he lifted from ONE. The church launched a burst of activity in social work, activism and advocacy before flaming out in 1958.

Soon after, Rowland began suffering from alcoholism, had a nervous breakdown, saw a business partnership go belly-up, went into debt, and was evicted from his home. When Hull committed suicide in 1962, Rowland decided it was time to start over. He moved to Iowa where he somehow managed to become a high school teacher. He then earned his master’s degree in theater in 1968 and chaired a theater arts department at a Minnesota college. On retiring in 1982, Rowland returned to Los Angeles to form Celebration Theatre, “the only theatre in Los Angeles dedicated exclusively to productions of gay and lesbian plays.”

In March of 1990, Rowland was diagnosed with terminal prostate cancer. He moved to Duluth, into an apartment donated by a former student, and spent the remainder of his days among students and relatives. He died on December 20, 1990.

Stephen Fry: 1957. Fry never really had an official coming out moment in his professional life. When he was asked when he first acknowledged his sexuality, Fry joked, “I suppose it all began when I came out of the womb. I looked back up at my mother and thought to myself: ‘That’s the last time I’m going up one of those.'” His early interests included being expelled from two schools and spending three months in prison for credit card fraud. But once he got that behind him, he earned a scholarship to Queen’s College at Cambridge where he was awarded a degree in English literature. While at Cambridge, he joined the Cambridge Footlights, an amateur theatrical club, where he met his best friend and comedy co-conspirator Hugh Laurie.

After a Cambridge Footlights Review in which Fry appeared was broadcast on television in 1982, Fry and Laurie were signed to two comedy series for Granada Television. In 1983, the duo moved to the BBC. Their first show, a science fiction mocumentary, flopped and was cancelled after only one episode. Their next project, the sketch comedy A Bit of Fry & Laurie, was considerably more successful, running for four seasons between 1986 and 1995. Fry also appeared in several episodes of Rowan Atkinson’s Blackadder series.

Beginning in 1992, Fry began appearing in several BBC dramas, and in in 2005 he added documentaries to his many projects. He explored his bipolar disorder in the Emmy Award-winning Stephen Fry: The Secret Life of the Manic Depressive in 2006, and that same year he delved into his genealogy in an episode of Who Do You Think You Are? His six part 2008 series Stephen Fry in America had him travelling through all fifty states, mostly in a London Cab. His film credits include portraying Oscar Wilde — a role he said he was born to play — in 1997’s critically acclaimed Wilde. He made his directorial debut in 2003’s Bright Young Things, and he provided the voice for the Cheshire Cat in Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland.

Fry’s interests seems to know no bounds. He’s appeared in London’s West End, published four novels and several non-fiction works, sits on the board of directors of the Norwich City Football Club, and is an active blogger podcaster, vlogger, and Twitterer. (One stray Fry tweet linking to BTB resulted in the highest single-hour traffic in the web site’s history.) He flies his own biplane, and is a member of the Noel Coward Society, the Oscar Wilde Society, the Sherlock Holmes Society — and he was was voted pipe-smoker of the year in 2003.

He is also an advocate for mental health, based on his own struggles with bipolar disorder and thoughts of suicide. In 2013, he revealed that while filming abroad for a BBC documentary, “I took a huge number of pills and a huge [amount] of vodka.” The mixture made him convulse so much that he broke four ribs. “It was a close-run thing,” he said. “Fortunately, the producer I was filming with at the time came into the hotel room and I was found in a sort of unconscious state and taken back to England and looked after.” That documentary Fry was filming, “Stephen Fry: Out There” aired on BBC 2 in November 2013, and it featured him confronting anti-gay campaigners in Russia, Uganda and elsewhere around the world, as well as ex-gay movement leaders in the United States.

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

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

The Daily Agenda for Sunday, August 23

Jim Burroway

August 23rd, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Allentown, PAChico, CA; Glasgow, UKOttawa, ON;Ventura, CA.

Other Events This Weekend: Camp Camp, Portland, ME; AIDS Red Ribbon Ride, Rochester, NY.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Nuntius (Houston, TX), December 1970, page 5. (Source.)

From Nuntius (Houston, TX), December 1970, page 5. (Source.)

We’re here…

TODAY IN HISTORY:
 Newsweek’s “The Militant Homosexual”: 1971. In the two years following the seminal Stonewall Rebellion, a new wave of gay advocacy and visibility broke over the landscape, going far beyond anything that had gone before. Straight America was scratching its collective head: where did all of these homosexuals come from? They seemed to be everywhere — holding hands in Greenwich Village, running for student presidents at major universities, and marching in the streets shouting something about “gay pride.” Newsweek devoted four pages trying to explain it all to its readers:

To supporters of gay liberation, marching in the streets and holding hands in public are only minor gestures of assertion. They are picketing the Pentagon, testifying at government hearings on discrimination, appearing on TV talk shows, lecturing to Rotary Clubs, organizing their own churches and social organizations and, perhaps most important of all, using their real names. “Two or three years ago, a homosexual who tried to explain what he and the gay movement were all about would have been ridiculed,” says Troy Perry, a homosexual minister who established Los Angeles’s Metropolitan Community Church in 1968 and has been a movement hero ever since.

…What seemed then it relatively minor clash is now enshrined in gay-lib lore as the “Stonewall Rebellion.” Within weeks, the first of scores of militant homosexual groups, the Gay Liberation Front, was formed in New York. The new mood quickly crossed the continent, leading to the creation of similar organizations in Los Angeles and San Francisco. By the first anniversary of the Stonewall incident, the militants were on the march in a dozen cities. By the second anniversary, they were celebrating Gay Pride Week with an elaborate panoply of parades and protests. The movement already has a book-length history in print and some of its more imaginative propagandists have even begun to speak of a “Stonewall Nation.”

Virtually the entire four-page article dealt with the sudden visibility of the gay community — a visibility which had personal, psychological, familial and political aspects, according to Newsweek. As one measure of the surprise this new openness must have engendered, the word “militant” appeared in the four-page article fifteen times. And what the authors regarded “militant” is revealing: they described “militants” coming out to their friends, families and employers; “militants” wanting acceptance; “militants” refusing to accept the APA’s verdict that they were mentally ill (the APA would set aside that verdict two years later); “militants” demanding an end to the ban on federal employment; “militants” starting gay churches and “militants” getting married in them, and “militants” saying it’s great to be gay. And that last point, according to Newsweek was especially dangerous:

What all this suggests is a central problem that gay liberation usually chooses to ignore: if the movement succeeds in creating an image of “normality” for homosexuals in the society at large, would it encourage more homosexually inclined people — particularly young people — to follow their urges without hesitation? No one really knows for certain. Dr. Paul Gebhard, the distinguished anthropologist who directs the Kinsey Institute for Sex Research at Indiana University, believes that gay lib “will not convert heterosexuals into homosexuals but might encourage those who are going in a homosexual direction to feel less guilty about it.” New York sociologist Edward Sagarin takes an even dimmer view. “If the militants didn’t say that it is great to be gay,” Sagarin insists, “more adolescents with homosexual tendencies might seek to change instead of resolving their confusion by accepting the immediate warm security that tells them they are normal.”

A sharp-eyed reader may recognize Edward Sagarin’s name. A decade earlier, he used to be a regarded as the influential “Father of the Homophile Movement,” writing under the pseudonym of Donald Webster Corey. Sagarin might have been a towering gay rights figure if he hadn’t turned against the very movement he inspired (see Sep 18). Three weeks later, gay rights advocate Frank Kameny (see May 21), who undoubtedly felt a personal responsibility to respond to the man who had once inspired him to advocate for gay rights, challenged that paragraph with this letter to the editor:

The gay liberation movement has been formulating its positions for some twenty years, has quite “come to grips with all the implications of its own positions” and does not at all “choose to ignore” the “problem” of “more homosexually inclined people — particularly young people — [following] their urges without hesitation.” Not only do we consider this neither a problem nor a danger; we consider it an eminently desirable goal to be worked toward and achieved as soon and as fully as possible. It is the very essence of liberation.

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 Saturday, August 22

Jim Burroway

August 22nd, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Chico, CA; Columbia, MO; Doncaster, UK; Glasgow, UK; Kassel, Germany; Lübeck, Germany; Madgeburg, Germany; Moncton, NB; Ottawa, ON; Regensburg, Germany; Stockton, CA; Ventura, CA; Waterloo, IA.

Other Events This Weekend: North Carolina Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, Durham, NC; Camp Camp, Portland, ME; AIDS Red Ribbon Ride, Rochester, NY.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The Fifth Freedom (Buffalo, NY), May 1975, page 16.

From The Fifth Freedom (Buffalo, NY), May 1975, page 16.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
 James Kirkwood, Jr.: 1924-1989. With both parents as silent film stars and his father a director, it should surprise no one that the future author and Pulitzer prize-winning playwright would begin his career as an actor. In 1953, on the CBS soap opera Valiant Lady, Kirkwood played the title character’s son, Mickey Emerson. The fifteen minute program was a noontime fixture for four years, broadcast daily from New York. You can see one complete episode here, complete with organ music and commercials. (“Mickey” makes his appearance at 5:24, but you won’t want to miss the melodrama preceding that scene.)

That Kirkwood’s debut should be on Valiant Lady should also surprise no one, given that in his young life he had already experienced more twists and turns than could be portrayed on any soap opera. His parents’ careers were already fizzling by the time he was born, and the millionaire couple was soon flat broke. They divorced when he was seven after his mother left the family. Biographer Sean Egan, author of Ponies & Rainbows: The Life of James Kirkwood, writes that the younger Kirkwood stumbled upon the dead body of his divorced mother’s fiancée when he was twelve, endured kamikaze attacks when serving in the Coast Guard during World War II, and befriended Clay Shaw, the only man to be put on trial in connection with the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

With all of that going for him, it’s no wonder he decided to try his hand at comedy. His first semi-biographical novel, There Must Be A Pony! was based on the scandal surrounding his mother’s dead fiancée. Another novel, P.S. Your Cat Is Dead was turned into a stage play and a film by Steve Guttenberg. Kirkwood’s crowning achievement was the book he co-wrote with Nicholas Dante for A Chorus Line, which earned him a Tony Award, a Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Book of a Musical, and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1976. He also wrote the comedy Legends! which toured the U.S. with Mary Martin and Carol Channing in 1987, and was revived in 2006 starring Joan Collins and Linda Evans. But for the most part, the fame from A Chorus Line proved to be more of a distraction than a boost, and the last fourteen years of his life were more notable for his unproduced screen plays, stage projects, and the epic novel about his father that he never finished. Kirkwood died of spinal cancer in 1989.

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 Friday, August 21

Jim Burroway

August 21st, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Chico, CA; Columbia, MO; Doncaster, UK; Glasgow, UK; Kassel, Germany; Lübeck, Germany; Madgeburg, Germany; Moncton, NB; Ottawa, ON; Regensburg, Germany; Stockton, CA; Ventura, CA; Waterloo, IA.

Other Events This Weekend: North Carolina Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, Durham, NC; Camp Camp, Portland, ME; AIDS Red Ribbon Ride, Rochester, NY.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The Los Angeles Advocate, October 1968, page 7.

From The Los Angeles Advocate, October 1968, page 7.

The Sax Club in Burbank managed to find a way to bring the crowds in on what was typically would typically be a dead Monday night, by hosting a take-off on the game show “The Dating Game.” The Sax Club’s version, called the “Date-Me Game,” was so successful that when The Los Angeles Advocate reviewed the club in June of 1968, it noted that the game had been going on each Monday night for the previous twenty weeks. The game followed, more or less, like the television version, as a “mystery bachelor” would quiz three contestants and chose one for an all-expenses paid date. Judging by the elaborate prize, the “Date-Me Game” must have been popular and lucrative: “First, they were to be treated to dinner and cocktails at the exclusive Enchanted Castle in the Hollywood Hills. Then their “Date-Me Game” car will whisk them to the airport where they will jet to San Diego for a night of fun at the famous American speakeasy, Mickey Finn’s. Then after a full night of pleasure, they will be flown back to Los Angeles to leave future dates up to fate.”

The Advocate’s review of the Sax Club continued:

Kathy, the Sax’s jolly bar-miss and Frank, the manager, made the contestants and customers feel at home in the warm, friendly atmosphere which surrounded the dancing and laughter. David, the owner, told us that they had thought of doing a “camp” version of the “Newlywed Game,” but were having trouble finding a ‘gay married couple’ that stayed together long enough. By the way, if you wish to compete for a fabulous date in the “Date-Me Game” go in and sign up at the bar. The Sax also features jam sessions every Friday and Sunday … plus other entertainment.

[Source: “P-Nutz” (pseudonym). “Syncopation: The Sax Club.” The Los Angeles Advocate (June 1968): 13, 16.]

Compton's

THIS MONTH IN HISTORY:
The Compton’s Cafeteria Riot: 1966. Stonewall gets all of the press. Lore has it that it is the very first time in modern history that the LGBT community physically fought back against police harassment. Lore is wrong.

Until some very recent development began to take hold in San Francisco’s Tenderloin district, it has always been an impoverished neighborhood, home to the transient and the marginalized. Polk Street, between Ellis and California Streets, was the heart of the gay community in the 1960s. Turk Street, to the south and east, was home to the transgender/transsexual community. Because cross-dressing was illegal in San Francisco, gay bars often didn’t welcome transgender and transsexual people out of fear of being raided by police. What’s more, and because it was extremely difficult for transwomen to hold a job, many of them turned to prostitution and drugs. Rounding out the Turk Street population was a host of homeless LGBT youth, drag queens, prostitutes and hustlers.

At the corner of Taylor and Turk streets stood Gene Compton’s Cafeteria, a twenty-four hour restaurant and one of the few places that the people of Turk Street could go to get out of the weather and the violence on the street, and get a cheap meal or grab a cup of coffee between tricks. It was also the meeting place for Vanguard, a radical queer youth group established by Glide Memorial Methodist Church.

In the Spring of 1966, new management arrived at Compton’s, and they began to make life difficult for the hustlers, transwomen and homeless youth who spent a lot of time there but very little money. By summertime, Compton’s hired security guards and began calling the police to clear out the restaurant. Vanguard responded with a picket on July 18, but Compton’s policy of harassment and discrimination continued.

Then one night sometime in August — nobody knows when, and disturbances in the Tenderloin were so common that newspapers rarely bothered to report them — Compton’s again called the police to clear out the restaurant. When police arrived, One of the officers grabbed a transgender customer who threw her coffee in his face. Immediately, about fifty other customers started rioting, overturning tables, throwing dishes and breaking the cafeteria’s plate glass windows. The rioting expanded out in the street as customers left the cafeteria only to find more police officers and waiting paddy wagons. The riot only grew from there. By the time the night was over, one police car was destroyed and a corner newsstand was set on fire.

While little is known about the Compton’s riot, it did manage to have a lasting impact. The transgender community began organizing and police started backing off from arresting anyone violating the city’s cross-dressing laws. Those laws were eventually discarded a few years later. In 1968, the National Transsexual Counseling Unit was formed which brought together a network of social, psychological and medical support services for the transgender community. The NTCU was headed by Sergeant Elliot Blackstone, who had acted as a San Francisco Police liaison to the LGBT community since 1962.

Compton’s, like Stonewall, not the first time LGBT people fought back against police harassment. There had been a similar riot in 1959 at Cooper’s Donuts in Los Angeles. But the Compton’s riot was an important turning point. And yet it was almost forgotten. The 2005 documentary Screaming Queens: The Riot at Compton’s Cafeteria revived attention to the Compton’s riot once more, and a memorial plaque was set in the sidewalk in front of where Compton’s once stood ni 2006. The location is now a free clinic for women. The plaque reads:

Here marks the site of Gene Compton’s Cafeteria where a riot took place one August night when transgender women and gay men stood up for their rights and fought against police brutality, poverty, oppression and discrimination in the Tenderloin: We, the transgender, gay, lesbian and bisexual community, are dedicating this plaque to these heroes of our civil rights movement.

Here is the trailer for Screaming Queens:

TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS:
Aubrey Beardsley: 1872-1898. He struggled with tuberculosis from the age of nine until his untimely death at the age of twenty-five. The nearly constant reminders of mortality may well have influenced his black ink sketches, which combined the then-popular whimsy of art nouveau stylings with grotesque themes (sometimes including depictions of enormous genitals and breasts) akin to what you might find in modern goth. “I have one aim —- the grotesque,” he once said. “If I am not grotesque I am nothing,” Beardlsey received his first commission in 1893, when he published 300 illustrations for an edition of Thomas Malory’s Morte D’Arthur. That same year, he was hired to create the illustrations for Oscar Wilde’s play Salome. Other notable works followed, for an edition of Alexander Pope’s The Rape of the Lock (1896), a private edition of Aristophanes’s Lysistrata (1896) and his own A Book of Fifty Drawings by Aubrey Beardsley (1897).

An illustration for a privately published edition of Aristophanes’s Lysistrata (1896).

He founded the magazine The Studio in 1893 and co-founded The Yellow Book in 1894. The Yellow Book quickly earned a reputation for being provocative and daring, despite publisher John Lane’s constant attempts to keep Beardsley under control. Before each publication, Lane would painstakingly examine each of Beardsley’s illustrations to make sure he didn’t hide any inappropriate details, as Beardsley was known to do. The two played this cat-and-mouse game throughout Beardsley’s tenure at The Yellow Book, which shocked critics for his open mocking of Victorian values. In response to those critics, Beardsley published two drawings in one issue of The Yellow Book which were stylistically different from his other work, under the pseudonyms of Phillip Broughton and Albert Foschter. A critic at The Saturday Review called “Broughton’s” illustration “a drawing of merit” and Foschter’s “a clever study”. But as for Beardsley’s, they were “as freakish as ever.”

Beardskey was fired due to his association with Oscar Wilde soon after Wilde’s arrest in 1895. The Yellow Book‘s quality and popularity suffered, and it folded in 1897. Beardsly then went to The Savoy, where he also served as editor, allowing him to pursue writing as well as illustration. The Savoy was published by Leonard Smithers, a friend of Wilde who also published a number of Beardsley’s works, as well as, among other things, pornographic books. The Savoy lasted only a year. In 1897, Beardsley’s health deteriorated. He moved to the French Riviera, converted to Roman Catholicism, and died at the age of twenty-five on March 16, 1898.

Don Slater: 1923-1997. Born the oldest twin, in Pasadena, California, Don Slater never did take to his father’s passion for team sports, but he did become an accomplished skier and swimmer and was passionate about nature and the outdoors. He also, early on, acquired an easiness among a variety of people, from street hustlers and cross-dressers to literature professors and librarians, which belied his conservatism — a “gentleman’s conservative,” friends called him.

While attending the University of Southern California in 1944 following his honorable discharge from the army, he quickly connected with the University’s “gay underground.” He met his partner, Tony Reyes, in 1945, and the two remained together for the next fifty-two years until Slater’s death. In the early 1950s, Slater and Reyes attended a Mattachine meeting in Los Angeles, but Slater found the whole thing silly. He was put off by the “mystic brotherhood” talk and dismissed the whole affair as “a sewing circle” and “the Stitch and Bitch club.”

But when he learned that Bill Lambert (a.k.a Dorr Legg, see Dec 15), Dale Jennings (see Oct 21); and others were about to found ONE Magazine as the first national publication for the emerging gay community (see Oct 15), Slater felt that he found his calling. The first meetings of the nascent magazine took place in 1952 just before Slater’s graduation from USC (a graduation delayed by a bout of rheumatic fever) and those meeting minutes were written in his spiral class notebook.

Slater saw ONE’s main mission as being an educational one. When ONE, Inc., established an Educational Division, he became an Assistant Professor for Literature. He also became the organization’s archivist, which he saw is ONE’s core strength. Those duties were in addition to his role as an editor for the magazine. As the organization grew, Slater took on leadership roles on the Board of Directors. By the mid-1960s, a bitter dispute divided the board, and Slater led a group that complained that the board had been illegally usurped by the rival faction. In April of 1965, Slater, Reyes and Billy Glover moved ONE’s library and office from Venice to a new location on Cahuenga Blvd “for the protection of the property of the corporation.” For four months, confused subscribers received two competing ONE Magazines in the mail, one published by ONE, Inc., and the other by Slater’s The Tangent Group, named for a regular column in ONE.

Slater soon changed the name of his magazine to Tangents, but the dispute continued. The remnant faction at ONE, Inc., demanded the return of the archives, which Slater believed would have been threatened if they were returned. “If ONE has any assets, this is it. Damn the future of its publications, but the fate of this material is important.” After a two year court battle, the two sides settled, with ONE, Inc., retaining the right to publish ONE magazine and The Tangent Group retaining ownership of Slater’s beloved archives. In 1968, the Tangent Group re-incorporated as the Homosexual Information Center (HIC).

The turmoil over ONE did little to slow Slater’s activism. He helped organize a motorcade protest in Los Angeles in 1966 on Armed Forces Day to protest the exclusion of gays in the military, and he was arrested by police in 1967 when they shut down a play sponsored by HIC. In 1968, he led a picket of the Los Angeles Times for refusing to publish an ad for another gay-themed play. He continued to publish Tangents until 1973. Slater passed away in 1997 from rheumatic heart valvular disease. His HIC archives of more than 4,000 books, periodicals and pamphlets are now housed at the Vern and Bonnie Bullough Collection at California State University at Northridge.

James “John” Gruber: 1928-2011. James Gruber was born on Des Moines, Iowa, but his father, a former vaudeville performer turned music teacher, moved the family to Los Angeles in 1936. In 1946, Gruber turned eighteen and enlisted in the Marines. He later remarked that being in such close proximity to men, he “went bananas in the sex department.” Despite the, ah, camaraderie, he continued to have affairs with women, and throughout his life he considered himself bisexual. After he was honorably discharged in 1949, he studied English Literature at Occidental College and met Christopher Isherwood, who would become a close friend and mentor.

In April 1951, Gruber and his boyfriend, photographer Konrad Stevens, became the last new members of a group of gay men who had begun gathering under the name of “Society of Fools,” which proved to be a turning point. “All of us had known a whole lifetime of not talking, or repression. Just the freedom to open up … really, that’s what it was all about. We had found a sense of belonging, of camaraderie, of openness in an atmosphere of tension and distrust. … Such a great deal of it was a social climate. A family feeling came out of it, a nonsexual emphasis. … It was a brand-new idea.”

An exceptionally rare photo of early members of the Mattachine Society. Pictured are Harry Hay (upper left, Apr 7), then (l-r) Konrad Stevens, Dale Jennings (Oct 21), Rudi Gernreich (see Aug 8), Stan Witt, Bob Hull (May 31), Chuck Rowland (in glasses, see Aug 24), Paul Bernard. Photo by James Gruber. (Click to enlarge.)

Gruber and Stevens brought a new sense of urgency into group, with Gruber suggesting the group rename itself the Mattachine Foundation, referring to the medieval masque troops known as “matachines” (spelled with one “t”). Gruber was also responsible for taking the only known photo of the early members of the highly secretive group when he snapped a quick snapshot during a gathering in 1951. Founder Harry Hay was furious that the members’ faces were photographed in violation of Mattachine’s strict policy of anonymity, and Gruber was nearly expelled. The only way he stayed in was by lying and saying there was no film in the camera.

Gruber was active in Mattachine’s early public push to address ongoing harassment the Los Angeles police department. He and other Mattachine members formed the Citizens Committee to Outlaw Entrapment to raise funds for Dale Jennings’s solicitation trial (see Jun 23). Gruber wrote and distributed much of Mattachine’s early literature to publicize the trial and solicit funds for legal fees. Not only did Jennings win his case, but Mattachine’s newfound public profile attracted a crop of new members. Ironically, those new members, having discovered Mattachine because of its publicity, demanded that Foundation pull back from the spotlight over fears of further harassment. Many of them just wanted was a social organization, not a political one. They also had misgivings over co-founder Harry Hay’s Communist connections. Frustrated over the looming takeover by the newer members, Gruber and the rest of the old guard resigned (see Apr 11).

Gruber moved to San Francisco, and then Palo Alto, where he changed his first name to John. “It was the most effective way I could find to escape Mom’s ceaseless calling for ‘Jimmy!’ inside my head,” he said. He became a high school and college teacher, and he loved working in his new profession. In the late 1990s, Gruber became involved with documenting the history of the gay community and was recognized as a pioneering organizer. Before he died peacefully in 2011 at his home in Santa Clara, he was the last living member of the original Mattachine Foundation.

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?

Josh Dugger Is Making Headlines Again

Jim Burroway

August 20th, 2015

AshleyDuggar

Three months ago, Josh Duggar, the eldest of the 19 Kids and Counting Duggar clan, resigned his position as executive director of FRC Action, the Family “Research” Council’s political lobbying arm, when it was learned that Duggar had been the subject of a felony investigation of allegations that he had molested five young girls, four of whom were his own sisters. The Family “Research” Council has often promoted the lie that gays and lesbians were far more likely to molest children, even though it is not and never has been true. But what did turn out to be true was that it was FRC leaders who were statistically much more likely to molest underage kids.

TLC eventually wound up canceling 19 Kids and Counting, after putting the series on hiatus waiting to see of the whole controversy would blow over. Meanwhile, Mike Huckabee rushed to Duggar’s defense and Josh’s wife stood by his side. You might think that would have been the last we would have heard of the Duggars, or at least of Josh Duggar. But not quite. TLC is set to air an hour-long commercial-free documentary, Breaking the Silence, about child sexual abuse and featuring two of the Duggar daughters on August 30. Rumor has it that the Duggar clan is hoping to use the documentary as an opportunity for a spinoff of some sort featuring the Duggars’ daughters.

But now, new revelations should put any such rumors to rest. Last month, the Ashley Madison, a web site where straight people find hook-up partners outside of their foundation-of-civilization marriages (slogan: “Life is short. Have an affair.”), was hacked by morally indignant hackers who threatened to release the site’s user names and other personal information if Ashley Madison didn’t immediately shut down. Ashley Madison refused, and the spilled out onto the internet yesterday morning. Gawker (who else?) went trolling through the raw data. And low and behold, look what they found:

Someone using a credit card belonging to a Joshua J. Duggar, with a billing address that matches the home in Fayetteville, Arkansas owned by his grandmother Mary—a home that was consistently shown on their now-cancelled TV show, and in which Anna Duggar gave birth to her first child—paid a total of $986.76 for two different monthly Ashley Madison subscriptions from February of 2013 until May of 2015.

Gawker has a lot more information about Duggar’s profile, including the extramarital acts he was looking for (including “One-Night Stands,” “Open to Experimentation,” “Likes to Give Oral Sex,” “Likes to Receive Oral Sex,” “Someone I Can Teach,” “Someone Who Can Teach Me,” and “Sharing Fantasies”)  and his turn-ons (including “naughty girl,” “girl next door,” “high sex drive,” and “aggressive/take charge nature”). Gawker also discovered a second account opened in his name, but with a billing address for Oxon Hill, Maryland, a Washington, D.C. suburb. That’s where he lived when he was working at FRC, where he was hired to “champion marriage and family as the foundation of civilization, the seedbed of virtue, and the wellspring of society.” Duggar, who is married and has four children, may have taken that championing a bit further by possibly shelling out $250 for a money-back “affair guarantee.” No word yet on whether he collected on that guarantee.

After Gawker published their Ashley Duggar discovery, they were soon inundated with tips from readers noticing that Duggar’s unique Ashley Madison email “joesmithsonnwa” also appears as a handle for an OKCupid account. So I guess all this counts as dating and not courtship, huh Josh?

The Daily Agenda for Thursday, August 20

Jim Burroway

August 20th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Chico, CA; Columbia, MO; Doncaster, UK; Glasgow, UK; Kassel, Germany; Lübeck, Germany; Madgeburg, Germany; Moncton, NB; Ottawa, ON; Regensburg, Germany; Stockton, CA; Ventura, CA; Waterloo, IA.

Other Events This Weekend: North Carolina Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, Durham, NC; Camp Camp, Portland, ME; AIDS Red Ribbon Ride, Rochester, NY.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The Washington Blade, July 23, 1982, page 18.

From The Washington Blade, July 23, 1982, page 18.

The Exile was a popular Country and Western bar in downtown Washington, D.C. operated by the same owners who operated the D.C. Eagle. Both the Eagle and Exile, which were located just  a couple of blocks from each other, have been displaced by downtown redevelopment. There had been plans to revive both clubs in a new location, but so far only the Eagle has managed to reopen.

ONE magazine, August 1953.

ONE magazine, August 1953.

THIS MONTH IN HISTORY:
ONE Magazine Debates “Homosexual Marriage”: 1953. The push for marriage equality has often been measured in years. Some of the more amazingly short-sighted have asserted that “the revolution began” when Prop 8 was challenged in Federal District court in 2009. Others with somewhat longer memories can remember the excitement of Massachusetts becoming the first U.S. state to legalize same-sex marriage in 2004 (see May 17), or the Netherlands becoming the first country in the world to offer marriage equality in 2001 (see Apr 1), or Hawaii almost becoming the first jurisdiction to allow same-sex marriages in 1993 (see May 5). Those with longer memories may recall the battle Mike McConnell and Jack Baker waged to get a marriage license in 1970 (see May 18).

Discussions about same-sex marriage had taken place in the gay community long before all of that. But with gay relationships themselves still criminalized throughout much of the U.S. and the mental health professions considering homosexuality a mental illness, marriage was considered a much lesser priority. ONE magazine, the nation’s first nationally-distributed gay publication, had called for a push for “homophile marriage” in 1963 (see Jun 20). In 1959, ONE published “Homosexual Marriage: Fact or Fancy?” Its author had been in a relationship for eleven years which he very much likened to a marriage, and proceeded to offer advice on the ingredients that made for a successful  marriage.

Marriage License Or Just License?

But ONE‘s first discussion of gay marriage came in its very first year of existence, in 1953. Written by a ONE reader who signed his name “E.B. Saunders,” the article’s title, “Reformer’s Choice: Marriage License or Just License?”, predicted the tug-of-war between assimilationists and liberationists that would dominate the gay rights movement for the next half century. It also records some of the pre-pill/pre-sexual revolution/pre-women’s liberation-era assumptions about what was considered acceptable behavior. Overall, it’s a fascinating time capsule, left by of a group of people who were still trying to figure out who they were and what they wanted.

The activists in the early homophile movement believed they knew what they wanted. First and foremost, ONE and the Mattachine Society wanted the “reform” of anti-gay laws, which criminalized gay relationships in all fifty states. That word, reform, was carefully chosen so as not to draw the charge that they were encouraging people to adopt what was seen as an immoral lifestyle. To speak boldly of “repeal” during those years of the Lavender Scare would have been, politically, like touching a third rail. The backlash, it was feared, would have been devastating. But the reason ONE and Mattachine wanted those laws “reformed” was obvious: they wanted people to no longer face arrest for having homosexual sex. This made gay people among the earliest proponents of sexual liberation — or sexual “license,” depending on your viewpoint.

ONE and Mattachine also wanted the “acceptance” of gay people, a goal they sought to achieve by educating the broader society of the “homosexual’s problems.”  But Saunders wrote that if ONE and Mattachine really wanted society’s acceptance, then their efforts would be doomed unless they adopted an agenda that included the one thing that society found most worthy of acceptance: marriage.

…Then you sit back and try to visualize our society as these well-meaning enthusiasts would have it. And suddenly you realize that their plans are impossible! They have missed one of their most essential points and committed a basic and staggering error.”

…Image that the year were 2053 and homosexuality were accepted to the point of being of no importance. Now, is the deviate allowed to continue his pursuit of physical happiness without restraint as he attempts to do today? Or is he, in this Utopia, subject to marriage laws? It is a pertinent question. For why should he be permitted permiscuity (sic) when those heterosexuals who people the earth must be married to enjoy sexual intercourse? The answer does not lie in the fact that the deviate cannot reproduce: this is irrelevant to the effect upon society of his acceptance as a valuable citizen.

This effect would be one of immense consternation for it would be a legalizing of promiscuity for a special section of the population — which, incidentally, now begs for its rights on the very grounds that it desires the respectability and dignity of all other citizens. It is not likely that either of these would be attained by a lifting of legal sex constraints for this group alone. Actually such a change would loosen heterosexual marriage ties, too, and make even shallower the meaning of marriage as we know it… Heterosexual marriage must be protected. The acceptance of homosexuality without homosexual marriage ties would be an attack upon it.

Let’s pause a minute and let this amazing point sink in. Saunders is saying t — in 1953! — that acceptance of gay people without letting them marry (or, more to the point expecting them to marry; this is, after all, 1953) would be an attack on straight marriages!

Saunders obviously overstated the constraints marriage placed on people’s behavior, as the Kinsey Reports of 1948 and 1953 had already shown (see Jan 5 and Aug 14). A large number of married people were already findings ways to be promiscuous. Marriage did little to lessen the constraints of sex, legally or otherwise. But marriage did have one important value: society placed a very high value on it. If gay people really wanted to be accepted, then Saunders argued that they should be fighting for the one thing that would open the doors to acceptance:

Yet one would think that in a movement demanding acceptance, legalized marriage would be one of its primary issues. What a logical and convincing means of assuring society that they are sincere in wanting respect and dignity! But nowhere do we see this idea prominently displayed either in Society publications or the magazine ONE. It is dealt with in passing and dismissed as all-right-for-those-who-want-it. But it is not incorporated as a keystone in Society aims — which it must be before such a movement can hope for any success.

Saunders saw some practical problems that would need to be addressed if they were to press for gay marriage. Some of those problems were a reflection of the rigid gender roles that were still prevalent in the early 1950s. “For instance, should the Mr. And Mrs. idea be retained? If so, what legal developments would come of the objection by the ‘Mr.’ that ‘Mrs.’ doesn’t contribute equally?” He wondered how childrearing and adoption would work. Gay people marry would society come to expect them to perform childrearing duties like everyone else? “Would the time come when homosexuals would be forced to care for children as part of their social duties? How many homosexuals would actually want to bring up a child?”

A Philadelphia gay wedding, ca 1957. This photograph was part of a set that was deemed inappropriate by a photo shop in Philadelphia and never returned to the customer. From the ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives.

A Philadelphia gay wedding, ca 1957. This photograph was part of a set that was deemed inappropriate by a film processor in Philadelphia and never returned to the customer. From the ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives.

Saunders saw the idea of two men or two women vowing to remain together, monogamously, for the rest of their lives “a dubious proposition.” Here again, he apparently hadn’t absorbed some of the statistics from the Kinsey report that found those expectations a dubious proposition for large numbers of heterosexual couples But he acknowledged that social pressure made for an additional and significant obstacle for gay couples. Those in a visible same-sex relationships risked arrest, eviction and unemployment, factors which tended to dampen the enthusiasm for such arrangements.

That’s why many of the early homophile activists saw sexual liberation as the only viable option. But that would be inimicable to the monogamous expectations of a homosexual marriage. “The concept of homosexual marriage cannot come into being without a companion idea: homosexual adultery,” with all of its societal and legal sanctions. For the sexual outlaws of 1953, would such a price for acceptance be worth it?

[T]his acceptance will cause as great a change in homosexual thinking as in the heterosexual — perhaps greater. No more sexual abandon: imagine! Me, married? Yes, a great change in the deviate himself, yet nothing in the literature of the Mattachine Society and little of ONE is devoted to initiating and exploring this idea of necessary homosexual monogamy. The idea seems stuffy and hide-bound. We simply don’t join movements to limit ourselves! Rebels such as we, demand freedom! But actually we have a greater freedom now (sub rosa as it may be) than do heterosexuals and any change will be to lose some of it in return for respectability. Are we willing to make the trade? From the silence of the Society on the subject, perhaps not.

What a turn! After challenging the homophile movement to embrace gay marriage in order to advance the cause of  acceptance, he backtracks somewhat and indirectly questions whether gay people really knew what they wanted.

It is unfortunate that enthusiasm demands more action than thought, and that necessity often makes us run wildly before we’ve decided exactly where we’re running (although we may be quite sure of what we’re running from). Commendable as the Society is, it appears that there is yet to be conceived in its prospectus a concrete plan for the homosexual’s place in society. Until we know exactly where we’re going, and the stuffy and hide-bound — who can help us exceedingly — might not be willing to run along just for the exercise. When one digs, it must be to make a ditch, a well, a trench: something! Otherwise all of this energetic work merely produces a hole. Any bomb can do that.

The homophile movement did somehow manage to converge on a consensus, and that consensus leaned toward “just license” — or “liberation,” in the language of the next decade. Over the next several months, readers responded more or less that way in letters to ONE responding to Saunders. One questioned the either/or proposition between the marriage license and “just license” by pointing to Scandinavia where “sex laws are sane, (heterosexual) marriage still exists, home is sacred, and mother is honored.” Another wondered why Saunders seemed intent on imposing restrictions rather than expanding options. “In the year 2053, he asks, are we to be allowed to continue our pursuit of physical happiness without restraint as we attempt to do today? Well, why the hell not? What is this tendency on the part of some people to seek more and more restrictions?” Another scoffed: “It seems preposterous to me to use a sexual behavior yardstick for present and future generations of homosexuals which does not even meet the needs and actions of most present day heterosexuals, much less their probable future needs. … I would also be for the legalized marriage of homosexuals who desire this. And, I am one who desires this. But, E.B.S.’s naiveté regarding heterosexual chastity before marriage astounds me.”

The homophile movement didn’t adopt Saunders’ call for gay marriage. It also came to realize that its plaintive pleas for “acceptance” and “understanding” of the 1950s would never produce the kins of changes they were looking for. By the time the decade ended, the push was on for license — liberation, in the lingo of the following decade — among gay activists like Frank Kameny who demanded that the rights of gays and lesbians be respected solely because it was their birthright as citizens. By the time Stonewall came around, the lure of liberation made the idea of marriage seem irrelevant (although visionaries like Baker and McConnell saw things differently). But the AIDS tragedy of the 1980s had a way of injecting cold hard reality into the equation. There’s nothing like losing a partner to a terrible disease to focus one’s mind on all that was lost, and on all of the vulnerabilities — legal, financial, and social — that gay people were exposed to when they were denied access to marriage. The revolution may have picked up steam as the twentieth century began to draw to a close, but the seeds of discontent were already sown at least a half a century earlier.

[Sources: E.B. Saunders. “Reformers Choice: Marriage License or Just License?” ONE 1, no. 8 (August 1953): 10-12.

“Letters.” ONE 1, 10 (October 1953): 10-15.

“Letters.” ONE 1, 11 (November 1953): 18-24.]

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 Wednesday, August 18

Jim Burroway

August 19th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Chico, CA; Columbia, MO; Doncaster, UK; Glasgow, UK; Kassel, Germany; Lübeck, Germany; Madgeburg, Germany; Moncton, NB; Ottawa, ON; Regensburg, Germany; Stockton, CA; Ventura, CA; Waterloo, IA.

Other Events This Weekend: North Carolina Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, Durham, NC; Camp Camp, Portland, ME; AIDS Red Ribbon Ride, Rochester, NY.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The Los Angeles Advocate, August 1968, page 28.

From The Los Angeles Advocate, August 1968, page 28.

Danny Combs, Groovy Guy 1968. (Photo by Pat Rocco, see Feb 9.)

Danny Combs, Groovy Guy 1968. (Photo by Pat Rocco, see Feb 9.)

Who’s the grooviest guy in L.A.? “It’s about time we all settled this question, so let’s join in and find him,” proclaimed Sam Winston in kicking off The GROOVY GUY contest. Sponsored by the ADVOCATE and the HAYLOFT, the area-wide contest seeks to find the all-round attractive male from the standpoint of looks, build, and whatever else it takes to make The GROOVY GUY.

The final choice will take place at a gala pageant at the Hayloft on August 19. Any bar or combination of bars that wants to enter a candidate for the title may do so. Each entering bar may run a contest of its own or choose its entrant by any other method. They must make their choice by July 20, however. Each contestant will make appearances during August before the night of the pageant at the Hayloft and at his sponsoring bar. At the finals, each aspiring GROOVY GUY will parade before the judge twice once in a bathing suit and once in blue jeans and tee shirt.

The first contest in 1968 drew seven contestants and about 150 people to the Hayloft’s parking lot. (The bar itself was too small to handle the crowd.) Danny Combs won that year.The Advocate gushed:

Winner Danny Combs, who lives in Long Beach. is a fairly muscular young man with a 28-inch waist. He stands five feet nine inches and weighs 160 pounds. Other assets include blue-green eyes, a warm ready smile, and other things.

Contestants Bill Harris from The Klondike, Jamie Miller from Le Tomcat, Danny Combs, and Terry Gaffigan from The River Club hold raffle tickets. The winner won a color TV.

Contestants Bill Harris from The Klondike, Jamie Miller from Le Tomcat, Danny Combs, and Terry Gaffigan from The River Club hold raffle tickets. A member of the audience won a color TV.

To get an idea of those “other things,” you can see some NSFW photos here. Combs was sponsored by The Patch, a bar that had undergone a bout of police harassment just two days earlier (see Aug 17) and lived to tell about it. The 23-year-old model won a Groovy Guy Trophy and prizes including a trip to San Francisco with a night at the Ramrod, and a $25 gift certificate from a Los Angeles clothing store.

In 1969, the Los Angeles Advocate was renamed simply The Advocate andbegan national distribution. That year’s Groovy Guy contest was much larger, attracting 18 contestants and an audience of 1,500. That year was notable because organizers allowed same-sex dancing, which was still illegal at the time.  By 1971, the event was becoming so popular that other Groovy Guy contests started appearing in other cities across the U.S.

Souvenir program for the 1971 Groovy Guy contest.

Souvenir program for the 1971 Groovy Guy contest.

In 1972, the contest was moved to the Grand Ballroom of the International Hotel in Century City. Organizers tried to expand the contest to emphasis “the whole man” and not just the bodily attributes with the introduction of a Mr. Congeniality Award. It was about as successful as you would imagine it to be. By then, Groovy Guy had gotten so big that it had become too much of a distraction for the tiny Advocate staff. That was the last year for Los Angeles’ Groovy Guy, but not for the gay male pageant. Two other local gay publications took it over for 1973 and renamed it the Groovy Stud Contest (1973), then the California Groovy Guy Contest (1974-1977), then the Data Boy Pageant (1978, 1979), then the Super-Men Pageant (1980-1987).

[Other sources: “Where the Acton Is! The Groovy Guy Contest!!” The Los Angeles Advocate (July 1968): 2.

“Groovy Guy Pageant Scores.” The Los Angeles Advocate (September 1968): 3.

“Not Just a Body: Groovy Guy Contest to Stress ‘Whole Man’.” The Advocate (May 24, 1972): 7.]

Frank Kameny

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Frank Kameny “Throws Down The Gauntlet” Over Security Clearance Denials: 1969.Benning Wentworth was an electronics technician for a private research contractor for the U.S. Air Force when, in the spring of 1966, he was accused of homosexuality and his eleven-year security clearance was revoked. Frank Kameny, co-founder of the Mattachine Society of Washington, D.C., and who himself had been fired by the Army Map Service in 1957 because of his homosexuality, worked as Wentworth’s counsel in an appeal before the Industrial Security Clearance Review Office in the Department of Defense. The Pentagon justified its blanket denial of security clearances to gay people by claiming gays were subject to blackmail. Kameny pointed out the obvious flaw in that logic: Wentworth was out — he even appeared in a press conference about his hearing — and it’s impossible to blackmail someone over their homosexuality if the whole world knows about it. In his opening remarks, Kameny described a different unnamed person, known only as OSD 66-44, who was allowed to keep his clearance as long as he spent the rest of his life in the closet and pretended to be straight. But for Wentworth and others, that was not longer an option. The logic behind the two cases made no sense whatseover. Kameny declared:

The Department got its satisfaction out of OSD 66-44, whoever he may be. We hope he sleeps soundly these days, poor man. OSD 66-44 may have compromised. He may have knuckled under. He may have crawled. He may have groveled. He may have submitted to Departmental blackmail of the most contemptible kind.

We will not. We stand our ground.

We throw down the gauntlet, clearly, unequivocally and unambiguously.

We state for the world, as we have stated for the public, we state for the record and, if the Department forces us to carry the case that far, we state for the courts that Mr. Wentworth, being a healthy, unmarried, homosexual male, 35 years old, has lived, and does live a suitable homosexual life, in parallel with the suitable active heterosexual sexual life lived by 75 percent of our healthy, unmarried, heterosexual males holding security clearances; and he intends to continue to do so indefinitely into the future. And please underline starting with the word “and intends to do so into the future”. Underline that, please, Mr. Stenographer.

Despite the obvious problems with the Pentagon’s reasonings for withdrawing Wentworth’s clearance, Kameny lost that case. Over the next three decades, the Pentagon and other agencies began to allow gay and lesbian Americans hold security clearances, but the policies were inconsistent and sometimes arbitrary. President Clinton signed Executive Order 12968 in 1995 (see Aug 4) finally prohibited all agencies from citing homosexuality as a reason for denying a security clearance once and for all.

You can read Kameny’s entire opening statement in the Wentworth case here,

Paul Cameron

 30 YEARS AGO: Anti-gay Extremist Paul Cameron Hired As Congressional Adviser: 1985. This Associated Press Report appeared in newspapers nationwide:

A Psychologist who believes homosexuals should be quarantined has been hired as an expert on AIDS by a congressman who sits on the House subcommittee overseeing research on the disease, a newspaper reported Sunday. Paul Cameron of Lincoln, Neb., was hired for a $2,000, one-month tenure to advise Rep. William Dannemeyer, R-Calif., on homosexuality and acquired immune deficiency syndrome, the Register of Orange County reported. Cameron, who says the quarantine should be ordered to stop the spread of disease, has linked homosexuality to criminal behavior, including mass murder and child molestation. Dannemeyer, a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on health and environment, said he trust Camerin as an adviser even though the psychologist has been expelled from the American Psychological Association and repudiated by the Nebraska Psychological Association.

Not only was Cameron kicked out of the APA and censured by the NPA, he was also denounced by several other professional organizations for gross and unethical misrepresentations of legitimate scientific research. Cameron would go on to say that medical extermination of people with AIDS might be a legitimate consideration, and in 1999 he wrote admiringly of how the Nazi’s “dealt with” homosexuality. Dannemeyer’s record on LGBT issues was little better. In 1986, Dannemeyer was the only prominent politician to support Lyndon LaRouche’s Proposition 64 in California, which would have labeled AIDS a disease subject to quarantine. In 1989, Dannemeyer read into the Congressional Record Cameron’s graphic description of gay sex, “The Medical Consequences of What Homosexuals Do.” Dannemeyer left the House in 1992 to try to run for the Senate seat for California, but he lost in the primary.

 Marriage Equality Arrives in New Zealand: 2013. Immediately after the New Zealand Parliament passed a bill granting marriage equality in a 77-44 vote, House members and visitors in the gallery sang “Pokarekare Ana,” a traditional Maori love song. Poking at the ever-present rivalry between the Aussies and the Kiwis, Green MP Kevin Hague told reporters, “Hopefully it will push the Aussies into doing something.” His hopes went unfulfilled, but in August New Zealand became the thirteenth nation to provide marriage equality for same-sex couples.

Renee Richards

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
Renée Richards: 1934. The Yale-trained eye surgeon, author and professional tennis player completed her transition to female in 1975. After transitioning, she moved to California and re-established a successful practice as an ophthalmologist while playing in amateur tennis tournaments. After a local reporter covering a tennis tournament revealed that she had transitioned, she decided to end her practice and become a tennis pro with the hopes of raising awareness for transgender people. When tried to enter 1976 U.S. Open, the United States Tennis Association suddenly came up with a previously unknown “born-women only” policy and demanded that Richard submit to chromosomal testing to confirm her eligibility to compete. She sued, and in 1977 she won the right to play as a woman.

1977 US Open Tennis ChampionshipThat year, she was a finalist in women’s doubles with Betty Ann Stuart at the U.S. Open, but lost in a close match to Martina Navratilova and Betty Stöve. Richards won the 35-and-over women’s singles. She continued playing until 1981, and she ranked as high as 20th overall in 1979. She later became Navratilova’s coach, but Richards would always be known more for her transitioning than for her tennis career.

But if transgender people were looking to Richards as an advocate for them, she would disappointed them again and again. In 1999, she told People magazine:

This route that I took was not easy. But the compulsion was so great, I couldn’t turn it off. You can’t turn it off by throwing away all of your women’s clothes or joining the Navy. I had to do it. I wish that there could have been an alternative way, but there wasn’t in 1975. If there was a drug that I could have taken that would have reduced the pressure, I would have been better off staying the way I was—as a totally intact person. Since there wasn’t, my alternative might have been suicide. …I get a lot of inquiries from would-be transsexuals, but I don’t want anyone to hold me out as an example to follow.

In her 2007 autobiography, No Way Renée: The Second Half of My Notorious Life, she describes the challenges and the freedom that came with her decision to transition, while expressing her frustration over the intense public scrutiny that concentrated so much attention on it. A New York Times profile revealed her to be “surprisingly conservative”: her idea of marriage “demands a man and a woman” (“It’s like a female plug and an electrical outlet,” she said), and she called the 2004 decision by the International Olympic Committee to allow transgender people to compete “a particularly stupid decision.” Her own lawsuit to play in the U.S. Open was different, she said, because at age forty, “I wasn’t going to overwhelm Chris Evert and Tracy Austin, who were 20 years old.” She reiterated those views in the 2011 documentary Renee,: “Transsexuals have every right to play, but maybe not on a professional level because it’s not a level playing field.” Having resumed her surgery practice after retiring from tennis, she continued practicing in Manhattan and Westchester County, N.Y., until her retirement in 2013.

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, August 18

Jim Burroway

August 18th, 2015

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Where It's At, a New York City gay bar guide, July 24, 1978, page 63.

From Where It’s At (New York, NY), July 24, 1978, page 63.

The Elmhurst area of Queens has the most unusual street addressing scheme I’ve come across in the U.S. After a bit of hunting, I was finally able to find the location, an old wedge-shaped building at the corner of Broadway and 77th Street across the street from Elmhurst Hospital.

mfAR Program Officer Terry Beirn urging President Bush to support the Ryan White CARE Act.

amfAR Program Officer Terry Beirn urging President Bush to support the Ryan White CARE Act.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
 25 YEARS AGO: President George H.W. Bush Signs the Ryan White CARE Act: 1990. Since the earliest days of the AIDS epidemic, the nation’s response to the deadly disease was chronically and woefully underfunded. Much of the resistance to increased funding stemmed from open hostility to the diseases two of the main risk groups; gay men and intravenous drug users. If there was any sympathy toward the disease, it was reserved almost exclusively for hemophiliacs, who were infected by tainted blood products. They were deemed the only “innocent” victims of the disease, and Indiana teenager Ryan White was their most visible symbol. By 1990, the first of the most meaningful treatments, AZT, became available, but its cost of $10,000 per year (over $19,000 in today’s dollars) made it beyond the reach of all but the most wealthy patients.

In hearings held in early 1990, the House Budget Committee heard testimony in Los Angeles and San Francisco about the challenges in providing care. Mervyn Silverman of the American Foundation for AIDS Research, warned that up to one million HIV-positive Americans were at risk of becoming ill with full-blown AIDS. Others declared that it was finally time to treat AIDS like any other natural disaster. By the spring, members of the House and Senate were gearing up to prepare major legislation to help pay for treatment. The legislation would provide block grants to states to provide testing, counseling and early low-cost treatment to those with HIV who had no other ways to pay for it. It also would provide additional finds for urban centers where health care systems were already strained by the epidemic, and provide medical care for expectant mothers with HIV.

Ryan White and his mother, Jeanne, in 1985.

Ryan White and his mother, Jeanne, in 1985.

Different versions of the legislation passed the House and Senate, but they were far apart in the specifics. When the final version was hammered out in conference, it went back to both chambers for approval. During the House debate, the White House signaled its opposition to the bill, saying “The bill’s narrow approach, dealing with a specific disease, sets a dangerous precedent, inviting treatment of other diseases through similar arrangements.” By then, the bill had been named the Ryan White CARE Act after the teen died the previous April and his mother, Jeanne White, testified on Capital Hill.

North Carolina bigot Jesse Helms led the opposition in the Senate, but his filibuster threat was thwarted when the bill arrived on the Senate floor with sixty-six co-sponsors, more than enough to end debate. Both houses voted overwhelmingly for the bill’s final passage in voice votes between July 31 and August 4. Sensing that any White House veto would be quickly overridden, President Bush quietly signed it on Saturday, August 18, 1990.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
Marcel Carné: 1906-1996. A major figure in poetic realism, French filmmaker Marcel Carné bgan working in silent film as a camera assistant. In the mid-1930s, he went to England to work on Alexander Korda’s Knight Without Armour (1937) while also directing Jenny (1936), which was the start of Carné longtime collaboration with surrealist poet and screenwriter Jacques Prévert. Carné had the misfortune of being in France during Germany’s invasion, where he continued working in Vichy.

Filmmaking is always a complicated enterprise, doing so in wartime under a repressive dictatorial regime added another set of difficulties when Carné began work on what became his most highly acclaimed film, Les Enfants du Paradis (Children of Paradise). He had to work around Vichy restrictions, shooting the film in two parts to comply with Vichy’s 90-minute limit. Starving extras made off with food before banquet scenes were shot. Some of those extras were Resistance fighters, who used the cover of daylight filming to allow them to meet together. Set designer Alexandre Trauner and music composer Joseph Kosma, both Jews, had to work in secrecy. The main quarter-lile long set was destroyed during a storm, electricity was as intermittent as the funding, film stock was rationed, key personnel were reassigned to other projects by authorities, and production was suspended following the Allied landing at Normandy. After Paris was liberated in 1944, production resumed, but one of the actors was sentenced to death by the Resistance for collaborating with the Nazis; all of his scenes had to be re-shot with a replacement. When Children of Paradise was finally released as a single three-hour film (and without an intermission), it became an instant success, remaining at the Madeleine Theater for the next 54 weeks.

Children of Paradise would be the pinnacle of Carné’s career. Riding on the success of Children of Paradise, Carné’s next film, Les Portes de la Nuit was given the largest budget in the history of French film. It flopped, and it would be Carné’s last collaboration with Prévert. In the 1950s, Carné was eclipsed by the French New Wave, and his films, except for 1958’s  Les Tricheurs were typically panned by critics. Openly gay, Carné often cast his partner, Roland Lesaffre, in many of his films. Carné made his last film in 1976. But Children of Paradise was never forgotten. It was voted “Best Film Ever” in a poll of 600 French critics and professionals in 1995, and was restored and re-released on Blu-ray in 2012. Carné died in 1996.

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?

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