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LaBarbera heads back to Chicago

Timothy Kincaid

April 15th, 2014

The Gazette is reporting that Peter LaBarbera has been released from custody and, in agreement with Canadian border control, has decided to call his stay short and return to the States.

An American anti-gay and pro-life activist has decided to voluntarily cut his visit to Saskatchewan short following another run-in with the Canadian Border Services Agency.

Peter LaBarbera was questioned by CBSA Tuesday morning in relation to his arrest at the University of Regina on Monday.

The Regina Police Service held LaBarbera in custody overnight at CBSA’s request, said police spokeswoman Elizabeth Popowich in an email Tuesday morning.

LaBarbera had been initially denied entry to Canada on April 10 under hate speech laws. He appealed and won, under the agreement he would leave the country by April 17.

It seems that he had scheduled to visit another university today, but decided that the martyr thing was more fun in theory than in practice.

And Then There’s Louisiana

Jim Burroway

April 15th, 2014

If you ever need proof that Louisiana is the Louisiana of the American South, the Louisiana House of Representatives will always be happy to oblige. Today, the House defeated a bill that would remove the state’s sodomy law from the books. Despite the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2003 ruling that all such laws are unconstitutional and unenforceable, the Louisiana House voted 27-67 to keep the law anyway.

Three Republicans — Reps. Franklin Foil (Baton Rouge), Lowell Hazel (Pineville), Nancy Landry (Lafayette) — crossed party lines to support repealing the unconstitutional law. Eleven Dems — that’s almost a quarter of the Democratic caucus — joined much of the rest of the GOP Caucus to keep it. They were Reps. John “Andy” Anders (Vidalia), James Armes (Leeville), Michael Danahay (Sulpher), Jerry Gisclair (Larose), Mickey Guillory (Eunice), Dorothy Sue Hill (Dry Creek), Robert Johnson (Marksville), Sam Jones (Franklin), Bernard DeBas (Ville Blatte), Eugene Reynolds (Minden), and Harold Richie (Bogalusa). Independent Jerome Richard (Thibidaux) also voted to keep the ban. Three Republicans and eight Democrats ducked the vote altogether, which means that only 56% of Democrats supported the law’s repeal.

Last summer, the Sheriff of East Baton Rouge Parish engaged in a classic 1950′s-style entrapment campaign in which deputies propositioned men in a public park to go back to their homes for “some drinks and some fun.” Men who agreed to private, consensual sex were then arrested and charged with Louisiana’s unconstitutional “crimes against nature” law. None of the men arrested proposed sex in public places or any other illegal activity. Once the illegal entrapment campaign came to light, the sheriff’s office responded that they were merely enforcing the law that was still on Louisiana’s books, and claimed that they didn’t know that the law had been struck down in 2003.

Also, more proof: the same House is prepared to consider another bill that will make the Bible the official book of Louisiana.

Malta passes civil unions

Timothy Kincaid

April 15th, 2014


As anticipated, the legislature of the island nation of Malta has approved civil unions for same-sex couples. (Deutshe Welle)

The Maltese parliament legalized same-sex unions and gay adoption on Monday in a 37-0 vote, signaling a major change in social policy for a conservative country where Catholicism is the state religion.

“Malta is now more liberal and more European, and it has given equality to all its people,” Labour Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said.

The opposition Nationalist Party abstained from the vote, saying that although it supports civil unions, it has doubts about adoption rights for gay couples.

The bill now goes to the President for a formal approval at which time Malta will become the southernmost part of Europe to recognize same-sex relationships. From what I glean from their local press, they are rather proud of themselves for this move. As they should be.

UPDATE: The opposition party was anxious that their abstention was not seen as opposition to civil unions or even necessarily as an absolute opposition to adoption, but rather that they opposed that the issues were addressed together. They proposed a constitutional amendment to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, which both parties supported.

Ohio’s Marriage Equality Push Inches Forward

Jim Burroway

April 15th, 2014

There have been two developments over the past twenty-four in the push for marriage equality in Ohio. Yesterday, Federal District Judge Timothy Black ruled that Ohio must recognize same-sex marriages from other states. This ruling came two weeks after Judge Black announced his intentions to strike down this portion of Ohio’s same-sex marriage ban.

The case was brought by four same-sex couples who either adopted or are waiting to adopt children and are seeking to have both parents’ names appear on their children’s birth certificates. The scope of this ruling applies to all same-sex couples who were married in other states where same-sex marriage is legal. An earlier ruling in a separate case, also by Judge Black, applied only to the state’s handling of death certificates. Both rulings are stayed pending appeal.

In a second development, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine has certified the language of a revision to a proposed constitutional amendment that would repeal and replace Ohio’s current state constitutional prohibition on same-sex marriage. The revision exempts “houses of worship” from performing or recognizing same-sex marriages. Ohio’s current prohibition bans same-sex marriage in the state and prohibits the state from recognizing any other unions from outside the state. The proposed amendment next goes to bipartisan ballot board for review to ensure that the proposal does not address more than one issue. Assuming it passes that review, it will then go to the signature gathering phase for placement on the 2016 ballot.


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The Daily Agenda for Sunday, April 20

Jim Burroway

April 20th, 2014

J.C. Leyendecker’s cover for the Saturday Evening Post, April 11, 1925 (Click to enlarge)

 
So here’s some trivia for you. In most of the world, Easter Sunday, which commemorates the resurrection of Jesus, typically goes by a name derived from the Greek Πάσχα (Paskha), which in turn comes from the Hebrew פֶּסַח‎ (Pesaḥ), which is Hebrew for Passover. Early Christianity replaced the Passover lamb with “the Lamb of God” and kept the name for their own commemoration of the Resurrection. The Greek Πάσχα was quickly transliterated into the Latin Pascha, and together those two languages gave rise to the modern Pashkë (Albanian,) Pazko (Bosque), Pasqua (Catalan), Påske (Danish and Norwegian), Pasen (Dutch), Pääsiäinen (Finnish), Pasko (Esperanto), Pâques (French), Pasko ng Pagkabuhay (Filipino), Pascua (Galician), Pak (Haitian Creole), Pasqua (Italian), Paskah (Indonesian), Paskah (Javanese), Paskah (Malay), Páscoa (Portuguese), Paşti (Romanian), Πасха (Pascha, Russian), Pascua (Spanish), Pasaka (Swahili), Påsk (Swedish), Paskalya (Turkish), Πаска (Paska, Ukrainian), and Pasg (Welsh).

But in the good old King James English, we call it Easter, which has nothing to do with the Paschal sacrifice or Passover or any of that. The Old English word Ēastre or Ēostre refers to the month of the Germanic calendar which the Venerable Bede in the Eighth century said was named for the Anglo-Saxon goddess Ēostre. (Easter in modern German is rendered as Ostern.) Which means that in the Lord’s Red-Letter English, we have taken the Paschal Lamb out of Pascha and replaced it with Easter eggs, bunnies, bonnets, and Peeps. Happy Easter everyone!

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Events This Weekend: BEARcelona, Barcelona, Spain; AIDS Walk, Columbus, OH; L.A. Rodeo, Los Angeles, CA; Philly Black Pride Philadelphia, Pa; Pride, Potsdam, Germany.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From the Bay Area Reporter, March 6, 1975, page 7.

 

TODAY IN HISTORY:
China Removes Homosexuality From List of Mental Disorders: 2001. After consulting with mental health organizations in the U.S. and elsewhere, the Chinese Psychiatric Association published the third edition of the Chinese Standards for Classification and Diagnosis of Mental Disorders, which formally removed homosexuality from its list of mental disorders. The move came as Chinese psychiatry was coming under international scrutiny for the growing use of mental institutions to detain dissidents and members of the banned Falun Gong sect. The delisting of homosexual was controversial: the Beijing Youth Daily gave prominent space to a senior psychiatrist who called gay people “abnormal.”

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
George Takei: 1937. It’s hard to tell, but the actor best known for his role as Mr. Hikaru Sulu in the Star Trek franchise turns seventy-seven today. Oh, my! Born in Los Angeles to two native-born Californians of Japanese descent, Takei nevertheless ended up spending his formative years at a Japanese in internment camp in Rohwer, Arkansas, and then in the Tule Lake camp in California. His first roles in the 1950s was doing voiceover work, dubbing Japanese monster movies. Later, he was able to score a gig with CBS’s award winning Playhouse 90, an episode of The Twilight Zone, and film roles in Hell to Eternity (1960), A Majority of One (1961), and Walk, Don’t Run (1966). When the Star Trek pilot came along in 1965, Takei was cast as helmsman for the USS Enterprise, but he was only able to take part in half of the first season due to a commitment he already had as a South Vietnamese officer in the John Wayne film, The Green Berets. When Takei returned for Star Trek’s second season, he found that he had to share a dressing room, script, and a ship’s helm panel, side-by-side, with Walter Koenig as the starship’s navigator, Ensign Pavel Chekhov.

Star Trek only lasted three seasons on NBC. It struggled to find an audience during its first season, and rumors flew that NBC was going to cancel it it at the end of the second season. A letter-writing campaign saved the program for another year, only to see NBC placing it at the dead-end 10:00 time slot on Friday night and slashing its production budget. After 79 episodes, NBC canceled the series, in a move which TV Guide in 2011 ranked as number four of its “biggest TV blunders.” Thanks to syndication, Star Trek found a larger audience than it ever had on NBC. Takei has since reprised his role as Leutenant, then Commander Sulu in the first five Star Trek movies before he was promoted to Captain with his own starship, the USS Excelsior in a Star Trek: Voyager episode, a role he reprised for Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.

In 2005, Takei came out as gay in an issue of Los Angeles-based Frontiers magazine. “It’s not really coming out, which suggests opening a door and stepping through,” he said. “It’s more like a long, long walk through what began as a narrow corridor that starts to widen.” That corridor included longtime active memberships in various LGBT organizations and a then-eighteen year partnership with Brad Altman. In 2008, Takei and Altman turned that partnership into an honest-to-god marriage just before Prop 8 was approved by California voters, and they were the first same-sex couple to appear in the Game Show Network’s revived celebrity edition of The Newlywed Game. Takei is one of the more entertaining stars of Facebook and the Twitterverse (You can send your birthday greetings to @GeorgeTakei), and he also has Asteroid 7307 named in his honor. His Internet-themed memoir, Oh Myyy!: There Goes The Internet, just dropped this week at Amazon in paperback following a November 2012 release for Kindle.

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, April 19

Jim Burroway

April 19th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Events This Weekend: BEARcelona, Barcelona, Spain; AIDS Walk, Columbus, OH; L.A. Rodeo, Los Angeles, CA; Philly Black Pride Philadelphia, Pa; Pride, Potsdam, Germany.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Wilde Side, September 1, 1976, page 29.

 
The location has been redeveloped and is now a chic restaurant in Boston’s Chinatown.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
Dick Sargent: 1930-1994. His best known role was that of the second Darrin in the 1960s sitcom Bewitched, after having taken over that role in 1969 when Dick York was forced to leave due to ongoing health problems. It was a fortuitous second chance for Sargent: he was the producers’ first choice for the role in 1964 but was forced to turn it down because he was under contract with Universal Studios to appear in the short-lived sitcom Broadside, a WWII comedy about four girls on an island with 4,000 sailors. (Hilarity allegedly ensued, but only for one season.) Before he got his second chance at Bewitched, Sargent appeared in several films and television programs which helped pad his resume with a growing list of solid if not particularly memorable roles.

He never really made it onto the A-list, but he did have a solid run opposite Elizabeth Montgomery as America’s favorite put-upon mortal. And what a strange, gay time he must have had on the set, with openly-flamboyant Paul Lynde as practical-joker Uncle Arthur and the closeted and conflicted Agnes Moorhead as Endora (a character whose style and sarcasm deserves unceasing genuflections from drag queens everywhere). The series ended in 1972 and immediately went into syndication for whole new generations to enjoy. Meanwhile, Sargent kept working in minor roles and voiceovers for commercials and cartoons.

In 1974, Sargent appeared with lesbian Fannie Flagg (see Sept 21) in the game show Tattletales, in which Hollywood couples would try to guess each others’ answers to embarrassing questions about marriage, sex, or other coupley topics. They were, ostensibly, “dating” for the game show’s purposes. Sargent finally came out on National Coming Out Day, October 11, 1991, over concerns about high suicide rates among gay teens. He revealed that when he was a student at Stanford he twice tried to kill himself when he realized he was gay. The following summer, he was Grand Marshall of the Los Angeles Gay Pride parade alongside his former Bewitched co-star and forever friend, Elizabeth Montgomery. He became involved with the AIDS Project Los Angeles and the American Foundation for AIDS Research. Sargent died in 1994 of prostate cancer.

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 Self-Defeating Folly of Robert Oscar Lopez

Rob Tisinai

April 18th, 2014

Robert Oscar Lopez is a maybe-bisexual man raised by two lesbians (well, sort of: one full-time mom and one part-time). He spouts such vicious garbage that he’s finding it hard to find places in America that welcome him to speak. Or, as he put it recently, “one of the reasons that I was so available to help European allies was practical: blacklisted and driven out of the public square by a cadre of unhinged homosexual fascists.”

I always wonder what his colleagues think of this, the ones we do see on Fox and other conservative outlets. Lopez is basically implying they weren’t effective enough to be hounded out of the country. He hints at the real reason for his exile, though. In that same article he writes:

[M]any conservatives, even the ones fighting gay marriage, have viewed me as a liability and cooperated with the blackout.  Other right-wing journals wouldn’t publish me.  For a year and a half I got many queries from college students interested in having me speak, but conservatives sponsoring them deemed me too controversial.

Well, which is it? Who’s to blame for silencing him? A cadre of unhinged homosexual fascists, or many conservatives, or a conspiracy between the two (another possibility, that “many conservatives” fighting gay marriage are in fact closeted “unhinged homosexual fascists,” is provocative, but probably not what he intended). It’s funny that he can’t see his own contradiction, which might be a good signal that he was indeed stifled from within his own movement. In fact, his penchant for contradiction, paranoia, and baffling illogic makes a damn good case for his allies to shut him up.

Lopez’s only real value to their movement lies in the fierce way he denounces his upbringing, but his irrationality infects even that. Here’s how he describes it:

Between 1973 and 1990, when my beloved mother passed away, she and her female romantic partner raised me. They had separate houses but spent nearly all their weekends together, with me, in a trailer tucked discreetly in an RV park 50 minutes away from the town where we lived. As the youngest of my mother’s biological children, I was the only child who experienced childhood without my father being around.

After my mother’s partner’s children had left for college, she moved into our house in town. I lived with both of them for the brief time before my mother died at the age of 53. I was 19.

What an awful childhood. The secrecy, the isolation, the self-shunning. The fear, the constant separation from one’s friends, the inevitable sense imposed on a child that his life is somehow wrong. It’s enough to give you sympathy for this poor — oh, wait, I left off a sentence from that last paragraph.

In other words, I was the only child who experienced life under “gay parenting” as that term is understood today.

Really? This awful closeted existence is what we have in mind when we fight for marriage equality? Again: really?

And this is where we see just how damaged Robert Oscar Lopez really is: He can’t recognize basic facts of reality, and he certainly can’t reason. We see this in nearly everything he writes. For example, from his bizarre amicus brief to Virginia’s Bostic case:

In a case where one member of the same-sex couple is the child’s biological parent and the couple wants to “jointly” adopt the child, the adoption is a form of coercion. Now the child, in addition to having permanently lost the link to a biological parent of the opposite sex, must submit to the authority and control of a new parent who may or may not dispense of such power with generosity.

Somehow Lopez misses the fact that this “coercion” doesn’t just apply to same-sex adoption, but to  adoption in general (and frankly, to parenting in general, adoptive or not). And he compounds his mistake:

I have heard the scenario raised in an Irish debate – “what if a same -sex couple is raising a child but only one is the legal parent, and the other one needs to pick the child up from school?” This is typical of the scenarios flagged in same-sex parenting debates. In truth in most schools in the United States a parent can leave a note explaining that someone else is going to pick the child up from school. A legal joint adoption, however, would give the non-biological parent the right to come to school without prior notice and demand that the child leave with him, whether or not the child wants to. Far from offering “legal protection” to the child, this opens the door to child abduction and custody battles that can escalate and inflict terrible stress on the child. There is no reason to change adoption and marriage laws in order to accommodate a small number of easily avoidable instances, which we probably do not want to encourage anyway.

Again, this is not unique to same-sex adoption, but is inherent to adoption per se. Yet Lopez only wants to condemn same sex parents with it. (NOM, and Jennifer Roback Morse in particular, suffer from a variation on this blindness.)

The gobsmacking continues. He recently wrote:

All during 2012 and 2013, there were signs that the gay movement – never to be conflated with gay people themselves – had become an engine of world-historical evil.

On a related, world-historical  note:

Homosexuals were deemed an oppressed people despite the flimsiest of historical grievances (even the legendary gay Holocaust involved no more than 15,000 victims, out of the twelve million people placed in Nazi concentration camps).

15,000 victims? How flimsy!

He’s well-known for comparing surrogacy to slavery, and believes he has special insight here because of “the fact that my great-great-grandmother was a Puerto Rican slave raped by a white man.” And it just goes on and on.

Lopez says in his amicus brief, “My personal life story is not the main source for my position before the Court,” but we can dismiss that because in its next section he devotes 6 pages to detailing that history — which is no surprise, since it’s the main only reason he gets invited to anti-gay venues. In any case, he’s utterly disqualified himself as a reliable analyst because in a single sentence – In other words, I was the only child who experienced life under “gay parenting” as that term is understood today – he demonstrates his complete break from reality when it comes to this issue.

Sadly, Lopez can’t recognize this even when it’s pointed out to him. Complaining about researchers he don’t consider his case representative, he tell us:

In my case, when I debated same-sex parenting, people have repeatedly suggested that my case is not applicable in any general sense, due to the fact that my mother and her partner chose to live in separate houses despite co-parenting me, and the fact that my mother died when I was still a teenager.

Actually, no. This is Regnerus all over again: Lopez is the product of a broken heterosexual home (which we know can be damaging) and promptly moved into a family structure that no one but Lopez would describe as “‘gay parenting’ as that term is understood today.” His very inability to see this is evidence enough of his analytical incompetence.  Enough, perhaps, but he still offers more.

As a spokesman, Lopez can’t even rise to the level of anonymous commenters on anti-gay websites. Recently I encountered this bit of nonsense from one such commenter, who told me:

You are contending that the lessons of compassion, nurturing, and caring can be just as fully conveyed to children by men as by women. A woman isn’t needed to explain to her teen son what things appeal to teen girls and what teen girls think like.

Similarly you are contending that fathers don’t matter. The job of teaching courage and risk-taking can be conveyed to boys equally well by women as by men. Bravery in the face of adversity; meeting challenges head on are items that can be conveyed to children just as well by women as by men.

Of course, you don’t even need to step out of traditional gender roles to see how deluded this is. I’d love to see the reaction when this claptrap about courage, risk-taking, bravery, and challenges is offered to a new mom leaving the delivery room, or to a widowed single mother. But as bad as this is, Lopez’s version is even worse:

Even if my peers’ parents were divorced, and many of them were, they still grew up seeing male and female social models. They learned, typically, how to be bold and unflinching from male figures and how to write thank-you cards and be sensitive from female figures.

Yes, thank-you cards: the core of your mother’s value as a woman.

The quote at the top of this piece and the one I just offered both come from a Lopez article at The Public Discourse, a Witherspoon Institute publication, Witherspoon being the group that financed Regernus. I can understand Lopez might post such nonsense on a personal blog, but this actually got past an editor who apparently didn’t read the anti-Lopez memo. And that’s terrific! It shows how incompetent how our opponents tend to be, no matter how well-funded or “respectable.” Recently Lopez and Bryan Fischer were discussing ”why the gay agenda has been able to make the strides it has made,” and Lopez complained it’s because the anti-gay side has stifled its more radical voices (!). In reality, though, stifling these radical voice is one of our opponents’ best strategies. The irony for Lopez is that his side is losing not because his voice has been silenced, but because reasonable people have heard it too much, and it’s alienated them.

I’d like to point out one last irony. Lopez shares his childhood as a way to argue against marriage equality, but the facts of that history — the lesbian who denies her sexuality and marries the “right” gender, the collapse of that relationship, the broken home that never heals, the secrecy of her new relationship, the clandestine upbringing — these details are all hallmarks of a closeted era. It’s the future Lopez wants us to go back to. It’s the past we’re working so hard to transcend. Every aspect that Lopez reveals of his tragic upbringing, every detail, is really just another compelling argument for social and legal equality.

Oregon’s lopsided marriage hearing

Timothy Kincaid

April 18th, 2014

There is never a foregone conclusion when it comes to court cases, but if there were it would be the case on Oregon’s ban on same-sex marriage.

In 2004, Oregonians voted to prohibit the legal recognition of marriage to one man and one woman. In October of 2013, two separate lawsuits were filed challenging the constitutionality of that ban, and the consolidated case will be heard on April 23 before U.S. District Judge Michael McShane.

But Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum will not be defending the ban. She believes it to be an unconstitutional violation of civil rights. Instead she filed a brief stating that, “This case presents that rare case in which there simply is no legal argument to be made in support of a state law.”

Nor will the Governor be defending the ban. Nor any other state officer. Nor any intervenor. In fact, no one at all will be there to argue on the law’s defense.

This does make it difficult for a judge to rule in the law’s favor. Without some brief to quote or some argument to accept, a justice is limited to relying on outside or third party argument, such as an amicus brief.

And plenty of amicus briefs have been filed. For example Nike and Intel and Kaiser and a bunch of other businesses filed a brief saying that the ban was bad for business. And gay groups filed briefs saying that the ban was unconstitutional. But those won’t be much use to a judge looking for a legal argument for keeping the ban. (Oregonlive.com)

Opponents of gay marriage have stayed away from McShane’s court — declining, for example, to file any “friend of the court” briefs aimed at influencing his thinking. Some say there’s little reason to get involved since they don’t have standing to appeal.

However, I suppose, were a justice sufficiently driven by his own anti-gay animus he might create out of whole cloth a reason why gay people are not entitled to equal status as citizens. Despite a growing list of courts that have found for equality, from the right and the left, we know that someone like Antonin Scalia would have little hesitation to impose his religious doctrine on top the Constitution and find within the catechism what he needs to oppose equality.

Except Judge McShane is not such a judge.

Unlike the five federal judges who have struck down laws prohibiting same-sex marriages in other states in recent months, McShane won’t have anyone in the courtroom defending Oregon’s constitutional ban when he holds oral arguments Wednesday.

And, unlike the other judges, McShane also happens to be one of just nine openly gay members of the federal judiciary, according to the Human Rights Campaign.

There is never a foregone conclusion when it comes to court cases. But if there were…

The Daily Agenda for Friday, April 18

Jim Burroway

April 18th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Events This Weekend: BEARcelona, Barcelona, Spain; AIDS Walk, Columbus, OH; L.A. Rodeo, Los Angeles, CA; Philly Black Pride Philadelphia, Pa; Pride, Potsdam, Germany.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From GAY, August 8, 1970, page 15.

 
Twenty-nine year old Morris Levy used his fortune from Roulette Records, which he had founded in 1956, to buy Roundtable two year later when the previous owners racked up a $750,000 tax bill. Before Levy bought, renovated and renamed it, the club had been the Versailles, which for the previous twenty-two years was regarded as one of the finest restaurant/cabarets in the world. Levy turned the Roundtable into a restaurant and jazz club featuring several major acts. It was also a rather convivial place, with Steve Allen stopping in to take a spin at the piano and Jackie Cooper joining him on drums from time to time. By about 1970, jazz had departed the Roundtable, and the stage and dance floor area was given over to the gays, and a few years after that the Roundtable jumped on the disco bandwagon.

RNC Chairman Guy Gabrielson

TODAY IN HISTORY:
GOP Chairman Warns of “Perverts Who Have Infiltrated Our Government”: 1950. Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s (R-WI) Red and Lavender Scares got a boost when Guy Gabrielson, Republican National Chairman, issued a letter addressed to about 7,000 party workers, under the title “This is the News from Washington,” in which he wrote:

Perhaps as dangerous as the actual Communists are the sexual perverts who have infiltrated our Government in recent years. The State Department has confessed that it has had to fire ninety-one of these. (see Feb 28) It is the talk of Washington and of the Washington correspondents corps.

American sensibilities were quite delicate in 1950, particularly on a subject as contentious as homosexuality. In many respects, it was still the “love that dares not speak its name.” Newspaper editors were reluctant to actually use the word “homosexual,” preferring instead to dance around the subject wherever possible. The use of the word “pervert,” on the other hand, was totally acceptable and routine. Gabrielson expressed his frustration over editors’ concerns over their readers delicate sensibilities:

The country would be more aroused over this tragic angle of the situation if it were not for the difficulties of the newspapers and radio commentators in adequately presenting the facts, while respecting the decency of their American audiences.

Dick Leitsch and Craig Rodwell (photo: Randolphe Wicker).

First Gay Rights Picket at the United Nations: 1965. Two years earlier, independent Mattachine Chapters in New York, Washington, and Miami, along with Daughters of Bilitis chapters in New York and Philadelphia, with other activists and small groups, had come together to form the East Coast Homophile Organization. ECHO was intended to be not so much a separate organization but a forum in which members of the activists groups could get together and plan strategy and share valuable lessons. At a meeting during the fall of 1964, they decided that the old ways of doing things — engaging in polite “education” programs with the hope of increasing “understanding — just wasn’t yielding any results. “It was a gathering of men and women impatient to remedy the discrimination against the homosexual citizen in our society,” The Ladder reported, which quoted one attendee: “A few years ago, ours was a sweeter, clubbier, less insistent organization. Now there seems to be a militancy about the new groups and new leaders. There’s a different mood.”

The group decided it was time to engage in more direct action. And so when Cuban President Fidel Castro announced a new round governmental policy of rounding up its gay citizenry and and throwing them into internment camps, New York and Washington, D.C. activists felt that this provided a good “hook” on which to hang a couple of protests. Activists in the D.C. area took the opportunity to mount the first ever picket at the White House (see yesterday), while New York advocates decided to protest in front of the Cuban Mission. They soon discovered that police rules prohibited picketing with a fifth of a mile of the Cuban Mission, so they chose to picket at Hammarksjold Plaza at the United Nations. Twenty-nine picketers showed up for the first gay rights protest at the United Nations, and only the second gay rights protest in New York City (see Sep 19).

[Sources: Warren D. Adkins and Kay Tobin (pseudonyms for Jack Nichols and Kay Lahusen) "ECHO Report '64. Part one: Sidelights of ECHO." The Ladder 9, no. 4 (January 1965): 4.

"Cross Currents." The Ladder 9, no. 8 (May 1965): 22.]

New York Times: “Certain Words Can Trip Up AIDS Grants.”: 2003. A New York Times investigation revealed that AIDS researchers were having trouble getting their research proposals funded by the National Institutes of Health because certain sensitive terms were included in their grant applications. Scientists, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told The Times that they were warned by federal health officials that their research would come under closer scrutiny by the Department of Health and Human Services or by members of Congress if their proposals included certain key words, including “sex workers,” “men who sleep with men,” “anal sex,” and “needle exchange.” A spokesman for HHS denied that such screening was taking place, but another unnamed official at NIH confirmed that:

…project officers at the agency, the people who deal with grant applicants and recipients, were telling researchers at meetings and in telephone conversations to avoid so-called sensitive language. But the official added, “You won’t find any paper or anything that advises people to do this.”

The official said researchers had long been advised to avoid phrases that might mark their work as controversial. But the degree of scrutiny under the Bush administration was “much worse and more intense,” the official said.

Dr. Alfred Sommer, the dean of the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University, said a researcher at his institution had been advised by a project officer at N.I.H. to change the term “sex worker” to something more euphemistic in a grant proposal for a study of H.I.V. prevention among prostitutes. He said the idea that grants might be subject to political surveillance was creating a “pernicious sense of insecurity” among researchers.

…In another example of the scrutiny the scientists described, a researcher at the University of California said he had been advised by an N.I.H. project officer that the abstract of a grant application he was submitting “should be ‘cleansed’ and should not contain any contentious wording like ‘gay’ or ‘homosexual’ or ‘transgender.’” The researcher said the project officer told him that grants that included those words were “being screened out and targeted for more intense scrutiny.”

He said he was now struggling with how to write the grant proposal, which dealt with a study of gay men and H.I.V. testing. When the subjects were gay men, he said, “It’s hard not to mention them in your abstract.”

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Prop 8 defender plans daughter’s wedding

Timothy Kincaid

April 17th, 2014

Proposition 8, California’s 2008 ban on marriage equality, has suffered much indignity. Not only was it pilloried at trial, condemned in appeal, and pronounced dead at the Supreme Court, but it became an international rallying moment and a watershed in the struggle for marriage equality.

The 2010 trial of Proposition 8 – though not televised or even radio broadcast – was one of the more captivating media events of the year. Social media and websites gave snippets of testimony which collectively provided a tale of drama. Local and national television recounted the day’s events.

And the presumptions and prejudices underlying anti-gay bills were placed in the harsh light of scrutiny. A watching nation realized, many for the first time, that opposition was based not in morality, truth, or tradition, but on animus and a desire to diminish the dignity and honor of gay citizens.

In the subsequent years, greater embarrassment has attached itself to the Proposition and its legacy. Perhaps one of the sharpest cuts came in June of 2012 when David Blankenhorn, the chief – and virtually only – witness in defense of the proposition reversed position and announced that he supports marriage equality.

And now the proposition has yet another disgrace to bear: (WaPo)

The conservative lawyer who defended California’s ban on gay marriage at the Supreme Court is at work on another project: planning his daughter’s upcoming same-sex wedding ceremony.

Charles J. Cooper, a former top official in the Reagan Justice Department and onetime “Republican lawyer of the year,” learned of his daughter’s sexual orientation during the legal battle over California’s Proposition 8, according to journalist Jo Becker’s soon-to-be-released book chronicling the movement to legalize same-sex marriage.

“My family is typical of families all across America. We love each other; we stand up for each other; and we pray for, and rejoice in, each other’s happiness. My daughter Ashley’s path in life has led her to happiness with a lovely young woman named Casey, and our family and Casey’s family are looking forward to celebrating their marriage in just a few weeks.”

The Daily Agenda for Thursday, April 17

Jim Burroway

April 17th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Events This Weekend: BEARcelona, Barcelona, Spain; AIDS Walk, Columbus, OH; L.A. Rodeo, Los Angeles, CA; Philly Black Pride Philadelphia, Pa; Pride, Potsdam, Germany.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From the Eastern Mattachine Magazine, July 1965, page 25.

 
Nob Hill opened in the late 1940s as a formal dinner club. By the early 1950s, the club’s owner, James Jones, realized that the lack of a gay bar for African Americans presented a golden business opportunity. Nob Hill soon joined the ranks of the Capital’s very few gay bars and the only one that was African-American owned. It developed a reputation for its drag shows and its Sunday night Gospel concerts, and became an essential refuge for gay African-Americans in Columbia Heights. Nob Hill finally closed in 2004.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
First White House Picket for Gay Rights: 1965. In 2010, former Cuban president Fidel Castro apologized for for his government’s persecution of gay people in the mid-1960s. That persecution included rounding up gay people and throwing them into camps. That apology reminded Washington, D.C.’s veteran gay rights advocate Frank Kameny (see May 21) of Castro’s action in 1965 led directly to the first time a group of gay activists picketed the White House that spring:

While, Castro had no notion, of course, of what he was doing in this context at that time, in my view and in my interpretation of the dynamics of the 1960s Gay Movement, he triggered Stonewall and all that has followed.

News of Castro’s incarceration of gays in detention camps in Cuba came out early in 1965 — probably in March or very early April. At that time “the 60s” hadn’t yet erupted in their full force, but the precursors were very well advanced. Picketing was considered the mode of expression of dissent, par excellence.

Jack Nichols (see Mar 16) approached me to suggest that we (“we”= The Mattachine Society of Washington, of which I was President) picket the White House to protest Cuba’s action. I felt that it was rather pointless to picket the American President to protest what a Cuban dictator was doing. So I suggested that we broaden and Americanize the effort. One or more of our signs said (in gross paraphrase, here, from memory) “Cuba persecutes Gays; is America much better?”, and others specifically addressed governmental and private anti-gay discrimination here, and other gay-related problems of the day.

Those MSW picketers, seven men and three women, arrived promptly at 2:00 in the afternoon of Palm Sunday at Lafayette Park. They went across the Pennsylvania Avenue and formed an orderly oval in front of the White House and marched, carrying signs reading, “U.S. Claims No Second-Class Citizens. What About Homosexual Citizens?”, “Cuba’s Government Persecutes Homosexuals. U.S. Government Beat Them To It,” and “Gov. Wallace Met With Negroes. Our Gov’t Won’t Meet With Us.” They dressed conservatively, the men in suits and ties, the women in skirts and heals. Kameny insisted on it. “If you’re asking for equal employment rights,” he said, “look employable!” The group had decided not to publicize the protest in advance because they didn’t want to give authorities time to invent a reason to block their protest. But that also meant that there were no reporters or news cameras at that first protest, although the local Afro-American did include a small news bulletin about the demonstration.

They marched for one hour, then packed up and left, elated over how easy it all was. That protest would lead to many more that year: at the Pentagon, the Civil Service Commission, the United Nations, Philadelphia’s Independence Hall, and two more pickets at the White House. Those pickets marked a new beginning for the gay rights movement, and they all happened in 1965, four years before Stonewall. Kamany later reflected on that auspicious year:

Ever since, it has been my view, and remains so, that those demonstrations created the protest-oriented mindset which made Stonewall possible, and that without it Stonewall just wouldn’t have happened. Therefore, several steps removed, and obviously utterly unbeknownst to him, by his 1965 detentions of Cuban gays, Fidel Castro precipitated and triggered Stonewall and all that we have gained from it since. So, if you enter into a same-sex marriage, or are helped by a gay-protective anti-discrimination law, or run for elective office an an open gay, thank Fidel.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
Thornton Wilder: 1897. The Pulitzer Award-winning playwright and author is best known for his plays Our Town and The Skin of Our Teeth, as well his novel The Bridge of San Luis Rey. He also wrote the screenplay for Alfred Hitchcock’s Shadow of a Doubt. His works touched on very broad, universal themes: the qualities of good and evil, and finding meaning in the lives of ordinary people. Our Town was particularly inventive: it’s sparse stage setting was quite “modern” in 1938, but not as avant-garde as the character of the “stage manager,” who breaks the fourth wall and converses with the audience, even going so far as taking questions.

Details of Wilder’s private life are very hard to come by. The lifelong bachelor was exceptionally circumspect about his private life, although he is known to have enjoyed a wide circle of friends. He was romantically linked with the writer Sam Steward, to whom he was introduced by Gertrude Stein. They were reportedly together while Wilder wrote the third act of Our Town — in which we learn that the town’s choir director and church organist Simon Stimson commits suicide. Sadly, in 1938 it would not have been at all difficult to read that as code.

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The Daily Agenda for Wednesday, April 16

Jim Burroway

April 16th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Events This Weekend: BEARcelona, Barcelona, Spain; AIDS Walk, Columbus, OH; L.A. Rodeo, Los Angeles, CA; Philly Black Pride Philadelphia, Pa; Pride, Potsdam, Germany.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From GPU News, August 1973, page 22.

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

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

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

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

TODAY IN HISTORY:
U.S. Morals Lowest in History: 1952. The National Association of Evangelicals were holding their tenth annual convention in Chicago when the group’s president, Dr. Frederick C. Fowler, told the gathering that American was at its lowest moral level in its history. Despite church membership being an all-time high, Fowler blamed “the moral collapse everywhere evident” on materialistic education:

“What is the reason for immorality in the State Department, where homosexuals were dismissed not for their sin but for security reasons?” he asked. “What is the reason for the corruption in the Internal Revenue and other departments of government, for the admitted cheating in college examinations, and in other forms of immorality in the American scene?”

“It goes back to those so-called ‘brilliant’ educators, centered in John Dewey at Columbia, who questioned and then denied the very existence of God, and ruled out any final authority except their own ridiculous and assumed knowledge.”

Fowler’s prescription for America’s abysmal 1950s values was simple: “Yo cannot disregard God and ignore his moral laws and not expect to reap a harvest of rottenness.” He called on government to act as “a minister and trustee, not a Lord; that it is responsible not to itself but to God and the people.” He also asserted that “Christianity can exist without democracy, but democracy could not exist without Christianity.

Human Events Warns of “Homosexual International”: 1952. Before Countess Waldeck became Countess Waldeck, she was Rosa (or Rosie) Goldschmidt, the daughter of a prominent German Jewish banker, who had quite a knack for reinvention. She later became Catholic, and then became a countess when she married, perhaps, her third husband (who’s really counting?) the Hungarian Count Armin Graf von Waldeck. Time described it as “a marriage in which friendship and German passport considerations were deftly blended.” But that’s getting ahead of a few things. Her first marriage, in 1921, was a brief one to the gynecologist Ernst Gräfenberg, for whom the “G-Spot” is named. They divorced four years later “by mutual agreement. In 1929, the 31-year old married the 63-year-old widowed Franz Ullstein, scion of Berlin’s Ullstein Verlag publishing house, which was caught up in a sensational spy scandal. That marriage ended, but she got a lot out of it. When she published her 1934 autobiography “Prelude to the Past,” she candidly described the Ullstein affair along with some affairs of her own.

All of which is to say that Waldeck not only had a knack for reinvention, but also one for international intrigue which she parlayed into a career in journalism for Newsweek and another gossipy and wildly popular book in 1942 about international spies at a grand hotel, the Athene Palace in Bucharest.

But a decade later, her popularity faded as America’s attention turned inward during the McCarthy era. The new enemies now were American Communists and subversive homosexuals in the cojoined Red- and Lavender Scares. Waldeck made another stab at international conspiracy with a story she published in a small newsletter, Human Events, which despite its circulation — perhaps 40,000 in 1960 — claimed among its conservative readers many top Republican Party leaders and an actor in California who would soon become governor and future President. In 1952, Human Events published Waldeck’s essay, “Homosexual International,” in which she praised the ongoing investigations and firings of homosexuals from the State Department, but warned that political leaders and the general public failed to grasp that those investigations barely uncovered the tip of an international iceberg.

In reality the main reason why, at this juncture of history, the elimination of the homosexuals from all Government agencies and especially from the State Department is of vital urgency is that by the very nature of their vice they belong to a sinister, mysterious and efficient International.

Welded together by the identity of their forbidden desires, of their strange, sad needs, habits, dangers, not to mention their outrageously fatuous vocabulary, members of this International constitute a world-wide conspiracy against society. This conspiracy has spread all over the globe; has penetrated all classes; operates in armies and in prisons; has infiltrated into the press, the movies and the cabinets; and it all but dominates the arts, literature, theater, music and TV.

And here is why homosexual officials are a peril to us in the present struggle between West and East: members of one conspiracy are prone to join another conspiracy. This is one reason why so many homosexuals from being enemies of society in general, become enemies of capitalism in particular. Without being necessarily Marxist they serve the ends of the Communist International in the name of their rebellion against the prejudices, standards, ideals of the “bourgeois” world. Another reason for the homosexual-Communist alliance is the instability and passion for intrigue for intrigue’s sake, which is inherent in the homosexual personality. A third reason is the social promiscuity within the homosexual minority and the fusion it effects between upperclass and proletarian corruption.

There was at that time an underlying belief in some quarters that there was something about homosexuality that wasn’t quite American. It wasn’t so much that homosexuality was a foreign import, but there was an undercurrent of thought that somehow tied homosexuality in America to other subversive “foreign” influences. The McCarthy witch hunts only encouraged the notion that homosexuals and communists were interchangeably charged with being national security risks. There was even a new word for the homosexual side of this international conspiracy: hominterm, a play on “Comintern,” short for the Moscow-based Communist International. This “Homosexual International” was allegedly an international conspiracy to control the world and break down society. Waldeck described its supposed history this way:

Actually, the Homosexual International began to gnaw at the sinews of the state in the 1930′s. Until then it just nibbled. I have before me notes I took years ago about that nibbling stage. Still very new to politics, I was amazed to discover that, the “Cherchez l’homme” pointed to a much more powerful factor in international affairs than the “Cherchez la femme.” With fascination I watched the little Sodoms functioning within the Embassies and foreign offices. Somehow homosexuals always seemed to come by the dozen, not because they were cheaper that way but rather because a homosexual ambassador or charge d’affaires or Undersecretary of State liked to staff his “team” with his own people.

Waldeck claimed that “the scope of this article does not permit naming names and place,” which was rather convenient because it allowed her to spend the rest of her 3,500-plus word article to indulge her vivid imagination without actually having to produce anything which might constitute verifiable facts:

…Why had a certain capitalist country such an amazing influence on the politics of a certain revolutionary country? Because the aristocratic ambassador of the capitalist country was a homosexual and so was the foreign minister of the revolutionary country, and the perfect understanding between them cut across ideologies. Why did a certain bilateral trade conference, which seemed hopelessly bogged down, suddenly come to life again? Because the homosexual head of one mission, in order to please the homosexual aide of another mission, decided to sacrifice some vested interests at home for the sake of better understanding abroad. There were many instances of this kind; they didn’t then add up to a menace. But in politics it is always smart to fear a power not because it is dangerous but because it could become dangerous.

That the Homosexual International could become dangerous should have been evident to anyone who had an opportunity to observe the mysterious manner in which homosexuals recognize each other — by a glance, a gesture, an indefinable pitch of voice — and the astonishing understanding which this recognition creates between men who seem to be socially or politically at opposite poles. True, other Internationals are better organized and more articulate. But what is the unifying force of race, of faith, of ideology as compared to the unifying force of a vice which intimately links the press tycoon to the beggar, the jailbird to the Ambassador, the General to the pullman porter?

Waldeck then returns to the two great themes of the McCarthy witch hunts in claiming that “the Homosexual International has become a sort of auxiliary of the Communist International”:

…the Homosexual International works into the hands of the Comintern without any special organizing effort. This does not mean that every homosexual diplomat or official is a Communist or even a fellow-traveller. Still, this dangerous mixture of anti-social hostility and social promiscuity inherent in the vice inclines them towards Communist causes. That’s why agencies in which homosexuals are numerous excel in the sort of intrigue and doubletalk which, apparently objective, somehow always coincides with the party line. One could probably trace some of our more preposterous foreign policy decisions during the last 25 years to the little Sodom inside the State Department. Then too, a study of the the OWI (the U.S. Office of War Information) — veritable home from home for the Homosexual International during the war — would yield a few fascinating cues.

There is another even more sinister aspect of homosexuality in high places. It is that homosexuals make natural secret agents and natural traitors. This conclusion is to be drawn from a theory developed by Professor Theodor Reik in his “Psychology of Sex Relations.” Briefly, this theory is that the phantasy of sex metamorphosis operating in most homosexual affairs which causes him to play the role of the other sex causes him also to enjoy any job which gives him the chance of playing a double role.

The classical example is the famous espionage case of the homosexual Colonel Alfred Redl of the Austro-Hungarian Military Intelligence who, during the decade preceding World War I, delivered Austrian military secrets to the Russians and denounced his own agents to them. He got an immense kick out of playing the role of both the traitor and of the one whose lifework it is to apprehend and punish traitors.

Wardeck advised that the chief weapon against Homintern’s spread was education, in language that is still familiar today:

At best the elimination of homosexuals from Government agencies is only one phase of combatting the homosexual invasion of American public life. Another phase, more important in the long run, is the matter of public educations. …However, the chief educational task would be to combat the “love-and-let-love” line which, peddled by the pseudo-liberal fringe, claims that sexual preversion (sic) does not prevent a man from functioning normally in all other contexts and that it was just like Senator McCarthy to “persecute” the poor dears in the State Department. This line is fatal in that it lulls society into a false sense of security. It fools homosexuals themselves.

It fools them by instilling in them the notion that there is nothing wrong with the satisfaction of their abnormal desires and that it is, indeed, the solution of the homosexual problem. That this is by no means the case is demonstrated by the unhappiness under which most homosexuals (even the most successful among them) labor. In fact, if proof were needed of the high price paid by those who violate the Divine Laws, that dark melancholy unhappiness which is so characteristic of the homosexuals would be it. Actually, license acerbates the homosexual problem both for society and for the individual. Its solution lies just in the opposite direction — namely, in the practice of the admirable art of self-control and resignation.

Two weeks later, Rep. Katherine St. George (R-NY) read the article into the Congressional Record while warning that “the dangers to our own country and our whole political structure from this kind of international ring is dangerous in the extreme and not to be dismissed lightly.” Waldeck’s “Homosexual International” was so influential that Human Events reprinted it again in 1960.

[Source: R.G. Waldeck "Homosexual International." Human Events (April 16, 1952): 1.]

Miami Gay Bar Raided: 1960. Residents of greater Miami woke up on Easter morning to the news that Metro police overnight had raided the “E Club,” located at the corner of Tamiami Trail and SW 37th Avenue “at the request of a citizen. Twenty-three men, including the manager, were arrested at the “deviates’ den” and were charged with “disorderly conduct by being in a known homosexual hangout.” The manager was charged with allowing minors in the bar as well as “operating a known homosexual hangout.” Among those charged was an instructor at Miami Military Academy. When reporters informed the academy’s superintendent, he vowed, “We will drop him immediately, without question. We just can’t have a thing like that. We have enough headaches as it is. I will get in touch with him tomorrow and find out if he was arrested.” Another man from Coral Gables told police he was a teacher, but he later told the Miami News that he was a former teacher who hadn’t taught since 1956.

The names, addresses, and occupations of all twenty-two men arrested were printed in the accompanying article.  According to The Miami News:

Habitues of the place were reported to embrace each other, wear tight-fitting women’s pants and bleach their hair, (Metro Capt. Patrick) Gallagher said. When Gallagher and six other officers descended on the place Friday night, they found the dim-lit bar full of men, some of them paired off in “couples” he said. The only woman in the place told police she just dropped by for a drink, and she was not detained. Officers took all the men in the place to headquarters. Several were released after a screening and 22 were booked.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
Dusty Springfield: 1939-1999. Mary Isobel Catherine Bernadette O’Brien got the nickname “Dusty” because she was fond of playing football with the boys on the streets of Ealing in West London. In 1960, Dusty, her brother Tom and Tim field formed a reasonably successful folk trio, The Springfields. When Dusty launched her solo career in 1964, she kept the Springfield name, and switched to to a kind of an R&B Phil Spectoresque “Wall of Sound” that completed her transition to the singer we know today.

Her first album, A Girl Called Dusty, reached number 6 on the British charts powered by her single “I Only Want to Be With You,” which also broke into the U.S. top 20 more than a full year before the Beatles invasion. Other hits followed: “Wishin’ and Hopin’” (1964), “You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me” (1966), “The Look of Love” (1967), and “Son of a Preacher Man (1968). She also had a knack for exposing other acts to new audiences. She hosted a series of television programs that introduced the Temptations, the Supremes, the Miracles and Stevie Wonder to British audiences, and while recording an album in Memphis for Atlantic records, she convinced one of the label’s heads to sign Led Zeppelin. Those Memphis sessions resulted in the album, Dusty in Memphis, which won rave reviews but was met with poor sales. (It nevertheless won a Grammy Hall of Fame award in 2001.)

By the mid-1970s, Springfield had mostly abandoned her recording career and hid out in the U.S. and away from the British tabloids. Part of that had to do with her increasing drug and alcohol abuse, but part of it also had to do with her sexuality. In 1970, she told the Evening Standard that she was “as capable as of being swayed by a girl as by a boy.” She had lived with follow singer Norma Tanega from 1966 to the early 1970s, and she had an on-again/off-again relationship with American photojournalist Faye Harris. Meanwhile, her addictions got worse and her mental health deteriorated. She began cutting herself, was hospitalized several times, and was finally diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

Springfield started recording again in the late 1970s but her later efforts failed to chart. She even tried New Wave music in 1982. But when she accepted an invitation from the Pet Shop Boys to record vocals on their 1987 single “What Have I Done to Deserve This?”, the single reached number 2 in the U.S. and U.K. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1994 while recording her final album, A Very Fine Love, in Nashville, and died in 1999, just two weeks before she was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

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LaBarbera arrested in Canada

Timothy Kincaid

April 15th, 2014


Much to Peter LaBarbera’s disappointment, Canada allowed him to enter the country. It didn’t stop those who are part of the anti-gay industry to rant about how The Peter was languishing in jail, despairing but resilient, but his brief detainment for review just didn’t have quite the impact he was hoping for.

However, the police in Regina, Saskatchewan, obliged The Peter in arresting him and finally awarding him the martyrs crown that he so desperately sought. (CBC)

U.S. anti-gay activist Peter LaBarbera and a Saskatchewan man were arrested on the University of Regina campus on Monday and will be charged with mischief, police said.

At one point, with news cameras rolling, an unidentified university official approached Whatcott, 46, and LaBarbera, 51, and asked them to leave. During that encounter, Whatcott said he had attempted to get permission to set up an information table and, since he was denied, proceeded to set up a table anyway.

“I’m not leaving,” Whatcott told the official, “You guys are intolerant and should be ashamed of yourselves for shutting down our message without even considering it.”

A short while later, several Regina police officers arrived and Whatcott and LaBarbera were handcuffed and taken off campus.

I’m not sure what other option the police had; clearly The Peter and Whatcott were violating an legal request to leave. However, I think the university would have been wiser to let him stand there with his smutty pictures and his vile positions and ignore him.

And the school could probably have done without the following statement, which appears to have been made without the slightest registration of the inherent irony.

“We are a diverse campus, we are a welcoming campus,” Tom Chase, one of the vice presidents of the university said. “We celebrate that diversity and our staff felt that the material and some of the things they had with them simply contravened that policy and we asked them to leave.”

The school is certainly within its rights to deny a public spectacle. But it’s an unfortunate decision when an institution of learning chooses to define “diversity” in such a way as to limit viewpoint or restrict perspective.

LaBarbera will now be questioned by border officials and is scheduled to appear in court on mischief charges on May 26.

UPDATE:

It appears that the t shirt The Peter is wearing says:

NO to HATE CRIMES Against CHRISTIANS who Disagree with HOMOSEXUALITY

and has the picture of Mary Stachowicz, who was murdered in 2002 by a deranged young gay man whom she had been harassing. Because martyrdom.

The Daily Agenda for Tuesday, April 15

Jim Burroway

April 15th, 2014

IRS Form 1040 for 1958, with check boxes for “Yourself” and “Wife.” (Click to download. PDF: 472KB/4 pages)

TODAY’S AGENDA:
It’s Tax Day in America, a day that has long been a yearly reminder of the ways in which gay couples have paid more taxes that straight couples in exchange for fewer government benefits and, historically, open discrimination. In the 1950s, that discrimination extended to federal bans on gays in government employment and the military, where the policy wasn’t “don’t ask, don’t tell,” but “get out, and here’s your dishonorable discharge.” With DADT gone and major portions of the Defense of Marriage Act voided, the playing field between gay and straight families have been leveled considerably. But in 1958, Helen Sandoz (see Nov 2), who had become president of the Daughters of Bilitis the year before, had plenty of reasons to lament the unfairness directed towards gays and lesbians of her day:

All morning I have been working on my income tax and this is a drearier task for the Lesbian than f or most people.

We live together, we own homes, we pool our resources and we work for the community, but we cannot enjoy the benefits of a household under the law.

According to statistics that I have seen here and there, there must be quite a lot of “married” homosexuals. This is a great boon to Uncle Sam, because, no matter how much these people make, no matter how much property they own, they will still pay the “single, one deduction” type of income tax. A pair of Lesbians may own a house, join the community league, contribute to all causes, keep the yard up as a credit to the area. They enjoy the taxes imposed by the state and county and city. They pay these taxes. But because the church and state do not sanction their “marriage” they must file as single citizens and pay the premium tax thereon. Property is held jointly, loans are made jointly. The mortgage broker doesn’t question the sex. Property taxes are levied jointly upon the owners. Only when it comes to income tax does the fairness disappear.

I do not cry for a small space on an income tax blank asking for me to check “sex” and leaving room for a variation. I do not ask for a special consideration. I Just think that one person in any household that is bearing its rightful burdens otherwise, should be allowed to claim “head of household” without a lot of claptrap about “relationship”.

Society may choose to condemn homosexuality. But those of us who live together and own property and join in our community’s interests are householders and have a right to consideration under the constitution. Shall we all become cousins?

Source: Helen Sanders (Helen Sandoz). “Me vs. Taxes” The Ladder 2, no. 8 (May 1958): 10.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Michael’s Thing, August 30, 1976, page 23.

 
My how times have changed. The location is now a yoga studio.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence Founded: 1979. The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence founded a “convent” in San Francisco when three men, dressed in full traditional habits, went out in the Castro on Easter Sunday of 1979. Ken Bunch (Sister Vicious PHB), Fred Brungard (Sister Missionary Position) and Baruch Golden, were met with shock and amusement. Over the next several months, the attracted new members: Sister Hysterectoria (Edmund Garron) and Reverend Mother (Bill Graham). They quickly settled on a name for their group and composed a mission statement: “to promulgate universal joy and expiate stigmatic guilt.”

Originally a form of camp street theater, the controversial nuns’ mission became deadly serious a few year later as the AIDS crisis gripped San Francisco. The Sisters became among the earliest bay-area AIDS charities at a time when few other established churches and organizations deigned to pitch in. The Sisters helped organize the first AIDS Candlelight Vigil, and have raised more than $1 million in San Francisco alone to benefit such groups as the Breast Cancer Network, Haight-Ashbury Free Clinic and the Gay Games. The Sisters continue to bring meals to those who can no longer care for themselves, and they fund alternative proms for LGBT youth.

The Sisters have branched out with twenty-four orders and seven missions across North America and sixteen orders internationally. And through it all, they continue to be the favorite targets of many religious-right organizations, many of whom still show scant evidence of performing the charitable work that the Sisters do. Ironic, isn’t it?

TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS:
Leonardo Da Vinci: 1452-1519.
Born in Vinci “at the third hour of the night,” Leonardo was apprenticed to the artist Andrea del Verrocchio in Florence at the age of fourteen. Early descriptions indicate that he was tall for his day (at least 5’8″), athletic and extremely handsome. One contemporary described him as “an artist of outstanding physical beauty who displayed infinite grace in everything he did.” At the age of twenty-four, Da Vinci was among four people accused of sodomy, a very serious accusation because it carried the death penalty. Those charges were dismissed on the condition that there were no further accusations. When accusations were made again that same year, charges were dismissed again, perhaps because one of those charged may have been linked with the powerful Medici family.

Undoubtedly, those accusations made Da Vinci very cautious, even in Florence where, despite those charges,  homosexuality was somewhat more tolerated than elsewhere (so much so that in Germany, the word Florenzer became slang for homosexual.) While there’s no further contemporary mention of Da Vinci’s sexuality, it was generally known that the life-long bachelor was particularly fond of and generous with his handsome male pupils, some of whom may have inspired some of Da Vinci’s erotic sketches. Later historians mostly assumed that he was gay, an assumption that gained greater currency in the nineteenth century when German, French and British authors began examining the new understanding of what was to be called inversion, uranism, and, finally, homosexuality. Whenever nineteenth century authors sought examples of inverts in history, Da Vinci’s name nearly always earned a prominent mention.

Henry James: 1843-1916. His father, Henry James Sr., was a prominent Swedenborgian philosopher and litrary figure who counted Ralph Waldo Emerson and Thomas Carlyle among his friends. His brother, William, was a groundbreaking American philosopher, psychologist, and physician. His sister, Alice, who struggled with mental illness and opium use for much of her life, was mainly known after her death for her candid, witty and insightful diaries which made her something of a feminist icon.

His father’s constant search for intellectual stimulation had the family nearly constantly on the move between the United States and Europe. The younger James’ adopted a similarly peripatetic life, traveling often between the U.S. and Europe. (He would eventually become a British citizen in 1915, just a year before his death.) His literary works often focused on the perceptions of Europeans and Americans as they encountered each other, and they nearly always examined the characters’ psychological motives. The Portrait of a Lady(1881), explores some of the conflicts between Old World and New World perceptions of personal freedom, duty, honesty and trust through the story of an American heiress whose fortune attracts the malicious attention of some American expatriates in Italy, one of whom marries her in a loveless and psychologically abusive relationship. Another American heiress figures in The Wings of the Dove (1902). She is stricken with a serious disease while visiting relatives in London, and the novel explorse her effect on those around her.

James was also an important literary critic. In his essay The Art of Fiction (1884), he sought to free authors of the prevailing conventions on what made a proper novel. James argued for the widest freedom in content and methods of storytelling. He wrote an important critical study of Nathaniel Hawthorne, and when he collected his own works for a final edition, he wrote a series of prefaces that subjected his own writings to the same penetrating criticism. James had ambitions to becoming a playwright, but his attempts were poorly received and he soon abandoned the effort.

James was exceptionally circumspect about his personal life. He never married, proclaiming himself simply as “a bachelor.” He was horrified by Oscar Wilde’s flamboyance, yet fascinated by his downfall. In one letter to a friend, James protested that Wilde “was never in the smallest degree interesting to me — but this hideous human history has made him so — in a manner.”

James’ biographers insisted that he was celibate due to a “fear of or scruple against sexual love on his part.” But as other diaries and letters to contemporaries and younger men have come to light over the years, a more complete picture of James’s private life has begun to emerge. His letters to American sculptor Hendrik Christian Andersson were intensely emotional and somewhat erotic. Similar letters to novelists Howard Sturgis and Hugh Walpole have also come to light.

James suffered a stroke in late 1915, and died a few months later in London on February 28, 1916 at the age of 72. His ashes were returned to America and interred in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Back in England, a memorial stone for him was placed in the Westminster Abbey’s Poets’ Corner in 1976.

120 YEARS AGO: Bessie Smith: 1894-1937. “The Empress of the Blues” was born in Chattanooga, the daughter of a laborer and part-time Baptist preacher. He died before she could remember him, and by the time she was nine, she had lost her mother and a brother. Her older brother had joined a Black Vaudeville troupe owned by Moses Stokes, which featured Ma Rainey as blues singer. In 1912, Bessie joined that same troupe, but as a dancer rather than a singer. While it’s believed that Rainey didn’t teach Smith to sing, (Smith had been singing on the streets of Chattanooga from a very young age), Rainey is credited with teaching Smith about stage presence. By 1913, Smith began singing professionally, and her career exploded in 1923 when she began recording for Columbia Records. By then, she was the highest-paid African-American entertainer in her day.

In 1923, she entered a very stormy marriage with Jack Gee, but he was unable to accommodate her show-biz life or her open bisexuality. They separated but never officially divorced. Meanwhile, she recorded hit after hit for Columbia, including “Downhearted Blues,” “St. Louis Blues”, “Empty Bed Blues,” and the tune she is perhaps best known for today, “Gimme a Pigfoot (And a Bottle of Beer).” By the end of the 1920′s, the arrival of the “talkies” meant the end of vaudeville, while the onset of the Great Depression brought about a collapse of the recording industry. Smith continued touring in clubs, but the going was tough. By 1933, she was recording for Okeh records, where she was paid a non-royalty fee of $37.50 for each side. Those were her last recordings. She was critically injured in a car accident in 1937, her right arm nearly severed in the accident. She died the following morning at the G.T. Thomas Afro-American Hospital in Clarksdale, Mississippi. Her funeral in Philadelphia drew 10,000 mourners. Her grave however remained unmarked; her estranged husband kept pocketing the money raised for a tombstone. She finally got her marker in 1970, courtesy of Janis Joplin.

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George Platt Lynes: 1907-1955. He first wanted to start a literary career after meeting Gertrude Stein and her circle in Paris. In 1927, he opened a bookstore in Englewood, New Jersey and took up photography so he could take pictures of his friends, and that is where his creative energies went. By 1932 Lynes opened his photography studio in New York and began exhibiting in the city’s art galleries. He earned commissions from the New York City Ballet, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Bergdorf Goodmans. After World War II, he moved to Hollywood, where he became chief photographer for Vogue and photographed such luminaries as Katharine Hepburn, Gloria Swanson, Igor Stravinsky, and Thomas Mann. His work was an artistic success, but a financial failure. He moved back to New York, but was never able to re-establish the success he once had.

You can see his passion for photography in his photos recalling why he took up photography in the first place: intimate (usually nude) photos of friends, lovers, performers and models. The artist Paul Cadmus (see Dec 17) posed for Lynes and recalled how he “used flattery to make everyone feel so comfortable.” Those male nudes were never published, at least not in his lifetime. In the late 1940s, he transferred many of his negatives to Dr. Alfred Kinsey’s Institute for Sexual Research in Bloomington, Indiana, and destroyed much of the rest of his work just before dying of lung cancer in 1955. In 2011, Rizolli published George Platt Lynes: The Male Nudes, marking the first time many of his beloved nudes appeared in print.

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A Reader Participation Request

Rob Tisinai

April 14th, 2014

Blogging’s been stressful lately, and I’m afraid it drove me back into self-destructive behavior, indulging an addiction that’s nothing more than a cheap thrill, a dopamine high, an escape satisfying in the moment but ultimately dangerous to my mental and emotional health.

I went commenting on conservative web sites.

At least it was the National Review, a mainstream conservative mouthpiece, instead of the fringe-dwelling, unintentionally hilarious sites like the one by Matt “Barb Wire” Barber. And as happens a lot these days, I found someone using the Brenden Eich controversy to compare gay people to Nazis. This is the new big meme on their side. They even have their pet word, “homofascist,” that they love throwing around so much.

No matter what you think of Eich’s resignation, people who invoke Nazism are appalling. They trivialize Nazi persecution.They mock the cry of “Never again!” by blurring the memory what happened. They are shallow opportunists, commandeering the great crime of the 20th century to score cheap and dishonest political points. I growled, then, when I saw this comment about an anti-gay darling, Dr. Ben Carson, in a Brendan Eich article:

Very good example. They would tear down a talented man who saved so many lives because of his political and religious beliefs.

But it’s beyond shame now. It’s getting down right 1930s Germany scary.

I did a moment’s research and pulled together a quick response:

Really?

Have you been excluded from federal employment (as Jews were, and as gays were until just a few decades ago)? Has the government imposed limits on how many of “your kind” can attend universities (the way Jews were, and the way gays were once kicked out of Harvard?)

Does the government prevent your lawyers prevented from working on legal matters? Has your citizenship been revoked, your right to vote been denied, and your right to serve in public office been outlawed?

Are you no longer admitted to government-funded hospitals? Have your names been stricken from war memorials?

Has the government barred you from cinemas and sports facilities? Have special identifying marks been added to your passports?

That describes “1930s Germany scary.” Some of those measures were in place against gay people in this country until recently. Until you can say “yes” to those questions, stop hijacking the real persecution that Nazis inflicted on the Jews just so you can feed your victim fantasy.

This isn’t going to convince anyone who’s really committed to that position. The danger of these Nazi comparisons isn’t that most people will believe them, though. Most people, it seems, view the truth as whatever sits midway between two opposing extremes. That’s the real harm of these gay Nazi comments: they push that midpoint in the wrong direction. When this comparison is made, we need to come back fast with fact-driven, emotionally-resonant replies. We need to generate a backlash against those ridiculous charges, one that draws the middle closer to us.

That’s where the reader-participation aspect comes into play. Let’s create a roster of crimes that will make it obvious how reprehensible these comparisons are. Let’s build a resource for debunking the myth. Add your suggestions in the comment section. Write whatever you think is true, but I have a few suggestions for maximum impact.

  • Make sure it’s something the Nazis actually did.
  • It will have more impact if gays were persecuted by the measure you cite.
  • It will have even greater impact if it was done to gays recently.
  • Avoid things that our opponents could turn around and claim are happening to them today. For instance, I almost included the confiscation of Jewish businesses, but I knew people would reply that Christian bakers, florists, and other business owners are being persecuted right now. Rather than having the impact diluted by arguing over that, I stuck to things that provided a clear and undeniable smackdown.

For example, a good one would have been the involuntary lobotomies performed on gay people in the US during my own lifetime, linking it to medical experiments performed by the Third Reich.

And look what I just did: I called that “a good one.” And not just for effect; it’s the phrase that leapt into my mind. It’s easy to get swept up in the gusto of exposing our opponents, but let’s not get into a mentality of Look at this great atrocity I found! We’re better than our opponents. Let’s always bring ourselves back to the moral enormity of what we’re dealing with, the enormity that make their comparisons so vile.We can do put this list together while keeping a profound respect for the real victims of Nazi persecution — in fact, we can do it as an expression of that respect.

The Daily Agenda for Monday, April 14

Jim Burroway

April 14th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From the Advocate, May 13, 1983, page 38.

 
In 1983, Indianapolis’s gay bars got together to take out a full page ad in the Advocate to encourage anyone coming to town for the upcoming Indy 500 to stop in for some fun. Among them was Heads or Tails, which was located in a small strip mall in the northern part of the city on Meridian near 38th Street. As of 2011, the strip mall is empty except for a payday loan office next door to the club’s old location.

The state mental hospital in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Iowa’s Sexual Psychopath Law Goes Into Effect: 1955. The last time anyone saw eight-year-old Jimmy Bremmer alive was on the night of August 31, 1954, when the Sioux City youth went to a friend’s house two doors down to play after dinner. He left his friend’s house at around 8:00 to go home, but he didn’t make that short distance. On September 29, his decomposed body was found in a pasture north of town. His crushed skull was several feet away from his decapitated body, and both hands were missing. A man was arrested and sentenced to life imprisonment. He had confessed after being sent to a mental hospital and injected with Desoxyn and Seconal. (His conviction wouldn’t be overturned until 1972.)

The Red and Lavender Scares, which had dominated the evening news and newspapers for most of the decade, may have been winding down in Washington, but its effects continued to reverberate in cities and towns across the country. With Jimmy’s death, Iowans became convinced that the state was crawling with sexual psychopaths. On January 31, 1955 Iowa legislators introduced a bill in the Iowa House of Representatives “to provide for the confinement of persons who are dangerous criminal sexual psychopaths.” The bill extended to anyone, whether they had been convicted of a crime or not, and its procedures allowed “any reputable person” to charge anyone with such “propensities.” It empowered the court to appoint a psychiatrist for an examination, and allowed the court to commit the accused to  indefinite confinement until “cured,” or until proven to court that release would not be “incompatible with welfare of society.”

The bill passed both houses unanimously with very little discussion and went into effect on April 14, 1955, making Iowa the twenty-fourth state to pass such a law. Michigan was the first, in 1937, and in one eleven year period confined 369 under its law. Twenty-four were confined under the District of Columbia’s law between October 1948 and March 1950 (see Jun 9), and in California, more than fourteen hundred had been confined over a fourteen year period.

On the evening of July 10, 1955, two year old Donna Sue Davis was kidnapped from her crib where she was sleeping. The kidnapper had come in through the open bedroom window, and left the house with Donna Sue through that same window. A neighbor saw the kidnapper flee and gave chase, but the kidnapper got away. The next morning her body was found in a cornfield outside of town. An autopsy revealed that the child had been raped and sodomized. Her left jaw was broken and there were several bruises and cigarette burns on her buttocks. She died of a massive brain hemorrhage from a severe blow to the head. One itinerant farm hand was arrested, but investigators quickly ruled out the possibility that he committed the crime.

Panic gripped Sioux Falls as hardware stores reported running out of padlocks. The Sioux City Journal on July 12 demanded that the city be made “the most feared town in American for the sex deviate.” With no other firm suspects to investigate, the police chief began a roundup of “known sex perverts.” On July 23, Gov. Leo Hoegh announced that a special ward at the state mental hospital in Mount Pleasant had been established to house them. He said, “The guy I want to treat [is the sex deviate] who is now roaming the street but never committed a crime.” Most of those “sex perverts,” it would turn out, were gay men, “diagnosed” with “sociopathic personality disturbance. Sexual deviation (Homosexuality).”

By the end of the year, thirty-three men had been committed, all without charge or trial. At least twenty of them from Sioux City. Many of them were arrested at the Warrior Hotel and its bar, the Tom Tom Club. Once they were nabbed, and fearing for their jobs and reputation, they named names which led to more arrests and detentions. A few with connections were set loose, and one man was able to successfully fight back in court. That was a risk; one juror commented, “He admitted in open court that he listened to Liberace on the radio, and a man who does that is liable to do anything.”  But most of the men accepted plea bargains to avoid public trial and arrest. At least one confined man’s diagnosis was “Homosexuality, no overt acts” — he hadn’t even done anything except be a homosexual. Sioux City’s prosecutor boasted, “At least word is out that they’re not welcome in Sioux City any more.”

At Mt. Pleasant, the men underwent group therapy, individual counseling, and so-called “therapeutic” — unpaid — labor. They were spared aversion therapy, but otherwise, hospital staff were at a loss as to what to do. Mount Pleasant superintendent Dr. W.B. Brown said, “there is no specific treatment which brings about improvement or cures of such individuals. … Law requires me to report to the court once a year… What can I say? I can’t say they are cured.” He also complained that due to crowded conditions, the gay men were often put in the same bedrooms together, leading an Iowa State law professor to note that “the curative effect of this may be said to be doubtful. Staff psychologists, pressured by a state government that no longer wanted to foot the bills, eventually released the men despite doubts that they could be “cured.” Most of those confined never spoke of their confinement again.

Donna Sue’s killer was never found. The sexual psychopath law was finally repealed in 1977.

[Sources: "Dal McIntire" (pseudonym). "Tangents: News & Views." ONE 4, no. 2 (February 1956): 11-12.

Neil Miller. Sex-Crime Panic: A Journey to the Paranoid Heart of the 1950s (Los Angeles: Alyson Books, 2002).]

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
110 YEARS AGO: John Gielgud: 1904-2000. Acting is quite literally in his blood. His maternal grandmother was the actress Kate Terry, whose two brothers and sister were also actors, and his great-grandmother on his father’s side was a renowned Polish actress, Aniela Aszpergerowa. And for good measure, his brother Val was a popular radio actor, writer and director for the BBC. John began studying acting in 1921, and by the following year he was understudying for Noël Coward. From 1929 to 1931, Gielgud drew attention for his performances in the title roles for Shakespeare’s Richard II and Hamlet at the Old Vic Theater, and through much of his career he was a fixture in London’s West End where he specialized in classical plays with a smattering of comedies here and there, including a production of Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest, for which he won a Tony in 1948.

He also took his Shakespearean roles to film, although he didn’t get really serious about film acting until the late 1960s. He won an Academy Award for his supporting role as a sardonic butler in Arthur (1981), a New York Film Critics Circle Award for Providence (1977), and a BAFTA Award for Murder on the Orient Express (1974). He also appeared on television’s Brideshead Revisited (1981) and won an Emmy for Summer’s Lease (1991).

Gielgud’s “coming out” was under less than auspicious circumstances: shortly after receiving his knighthood in 1953, he was arrested and found guilty of “persistently importuning for immoral purposes” at a public toilet in Chelsea. Deeply humiliated, Gielgud avoided traveling to the states as much as he could for the next decade, fearing that he would be denied entrance by U.S. Customs, who routinely barred homosexuals from entering. While Gielgud never denied being gay, he kept his private life private. After he died in 2000, it was revealed that he had made anonymous financial contributions to the British gay rights group Stonewall.

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The Daily Agenda for Sunday, April 13

Jim Burroway

April 13th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Events This Weekend: Women’s Fest 2014, Camp Rehoboth, DE; Virgin London Marathon, London UK; Miami Beach Pride, Miami Beach, FL.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From the Los Angeles Advocate, September 1968, page 10.

 
The address today is a driveway that separates a Chipotle from a Union Bank office.

Graphic from ONE, May 1953, page 5.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
State Department Announces It Has Fired 425 People for Alleged Homosexuality: 1953. The Associated Press carried this update to the ongoing quest to rid the State Department of its gay employees:

“Homosexual proclivities” led to the dismissal of 425 State Department employees since 1947, the director of the department’s office of security, John Ford, told the House Appropriations Committee yesterday. He said many cases are still pending.

First Congressional Hearing on AIDS: 1982. It had been ten months since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention first alerted the world about a strange constellation of diseases which had been striking down otherwise healthy gay men (see Jun 5). By the end of 1982, more than 300 would die nationwide out of 800 cases reported to the CDC. Yet the news media remained mostly silent. The New York Times had written only two articles in all of 1981, while Time and Newsweek didn’t get around to writing their first stories until six months after the CDC’s first report.

And as long as the media remained silent, there would be no pressure on the U.S government to fully fund the National Institutes of Health and the CDC to battle the new epidemic. President Ronald Reagan was spending his first year in office implementing massive funding cuts at the NIH and CDC. When adjusted for inflation, the NIH’s budget for 1981 actually declined by 5.6%, and its purchasing power dropped by another 6.1% in 1982.  Reagan’s budget slashed 1,000 research grants from the NIH and reduced the size of the Epidemiological Intelligence Service, whose job it was to track the spread of diseases. Similarly, the administration’s budget for the CDC was also lagging inflation.

Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), whose Los Angeles Congressional district was heavily impacted by the epidemic, chaired the House Subcommittee on Health and the Environment. To call attention to the Administration’s woefully inadequate response to this new disease — it still didn’t have a name; it was known as either GRID (gay-related immune deficiency) or by the opportunistic infections that were associated with it (Pneumocystis pneumonia, Kaposi’s Sarcoma, etc.) — Waxman held the first Congressional hearing on the topic, and he chose the Gay and Lesbian Community Services Center in Hollywood as the hearing’s venue. Waxman began:

I want to be especially blunt about the political aspects of Kaposi’s sarcoma. This horrible disease afflicts members of one of the nation’s most stigmatized and discriminated against minorities, The victims are not typical Main Street Americans. They are gays, mainly from New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. There is not doubt in my mind that, if the disease had appeared among Americans of Norwegian descent, or among tennis players, rather than gay males, the responses of both the government and the medical community would have been different. Legionnaire’s disease hit a group of predominantly white, heterosexual middle-aged members of the American Legion. The respectability of the victims brought them a degree of attention and funding for research and treatment far greater than that made available so for to the victims of Kaposi’s sarcoma.

I want to emphasize the contrast, because the more popular Legionnaire’s disease affected fewer people and proved less likely to be fatal. What society judged was not the severity of the disease but the social acceptability of the individuals affected with it. … I intend to fight any effort by anyone at any level to make public health policy regarding Kaposi’s sarcoma or any other disease on the basis of his or her personal prejudices regarding other people’s sexual preferences or life-styles.

Officials from the CDC and National Cancer Institute were called to testify, but as employees of the executive branch of government, they weren’t in much of a position to be candid about the crippling effects of Reagan’s budget cuts. The CDC’s Jim Curran described how they shifted funds around to try to cope with the epidemic, and the National Cancer Institute’s Bruce Chabner testified that he couldn’t provide a figure for how much grant money was available for research and treatment. But he did announced that his Institute would release $1 million for AIDS research. That was a laughably low figure; a single grant for a research center often ran beyond $10 million. Dr. Stan Matek, President of the American Public Health Association, called the official response weak. “We believe the immunoresponse system of this country is weak, that it needs to be strengthened,” he said, “and that only Congress can do it.” He praised the CDC’s efforts thus far in coping with so few resources, but added:

We believe they cannot cope with Kaposi’s sarcoma and its related syndrome. We believe their intervention abilities are so handicapped that the nation’s health is in peril. (The current approach) represents, I fear, only high-level, ‘ad-hocracy’ There is no guarantee of continuity of effort … It is an issue of budget allocation.

Where is that epidemiologically essential money going to come from? It is not going to come from NIH, or at least not in any significant amounts, given the prior commitments and loss in real funding capability. If it comes from within CDC, it will come from robbing Peter to pay Paul. It will come by shifting already committed and needed resources … which is fine if you are Paul, but not so useful if you are Peter.

The goal of the hearing was to get the media’s attention, and with that attention Waxman and health officials could pressure the White House to agree to more funding. But the media ignored the entire event. Television networks and even local Los Angeles TV stations didn’t bother to cover it. The only mention was an article in The Los Angeles Times. It’s headline read, “Epidemic Affecting Gays Now Found In Heterosexuals.”

It would be another full year before $12 million was finally allocated specifically for the AIDS epidemic.

[Source: Randy Shilts. And the Band Played On: Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1987): 143-146.]

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Nevada GOP drops anti-gay position

Timothy Kincaid

April 13th, 2014

Nevada Republican Party activists met this weekend at their annual convention. And it was a contentious meeting with factions battling over the endorsement process and what it means to be a “true” Republican.

What was not contentious, however, was the move to drop opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage from the state party platform. From the Washington Times (which I nearly never quote, but which seems to be carrying the story before anyone else):

The Nevada Republican Party stripped opposition to abortion and gay marriage from its platform Saturday as state convention delegates instead focused on judging fellow Republicans on their worthiness to serve in office and adherence to GOP values.

The platform, with few changes, was adopted overwhelmingly as the Las Vegas convention stretched late into the evening. The vote mirrors that of the Clark County GOP, which voted earlier to remove platform language defining marriage as between a man and a woman and statements opposing abortion.

Congratulations to Log Cabin Nevada and others who have been working for a long time on this issue.

UPDATE: The Washington Times has inexplicably dropped the story, it seems. But the Las Vegas Review-Journal gave the following detail:

By a show of hands, convention-goers adopted the platform as proposed by a separate committee without the two planks on marriage and abortion, following the Clark County GOP’s lead in removing hot-button social issues from the party’s statement of its principles. Some 520 delegates attended the convention, but less than half were present when the platform was adopted at about 7:30 p.m. Little debate preceded the vote, a far contrast to earlier in day.

State party Chairman Michael McDonald said it was a successful convention at the end of the day.

“I think it was about inclusion, not exclusion,” McDonald said, referring to the platform. “This is where the party is going.”

Republicans who sat on the platform committee said they decided not to deal with social issues this year because the U.S. Supreme Court and lower courts have weighed in and it doesn’t make sense for the party of “personal freedom” to have the government or the political party get involved in people’s personal lives.

“The issue was how can we back out of people’s personal lives,” said Dave Hockaday of Lyon County, who sat on the platform committee. “We need to focus on issues where we can have an impact.”

The Daily Agenda for Saturday, April 12

Jim Burroway

April 12th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Events This Weekend: Women’s Fest 2014, Camp Rehoboth, DE; Virgin London Marathon, London UK; Miami Beach Pride, Miami Beach, FL.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Club Scene, December 1983, page 55.

 
Before Houston’s Brazos River Bottom closed in March of last year, it had been the longest running gay bar still in its original location, racking up thirty-five years of line-dancing and all around cowboy fun. But the fun had come to an end, the owners said, because the 1887 building in the rapidly redeveloping Midtown area had just about had it, and renovations to bring it up to snuff would be too expensive. BRB was host of the annual four-day LUEY weekend, organized by the Houston Council of Clubs. The first LUEY weekend was put on in 1971 by the Texas Riders gay motorcycle club to “keep the party going” for people returning from Mardi Gras.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Texas Police Arrest 64 Homosexuals: 1953. The Associated Press reported the following raid of a private home in Waco, Texas:

Sixty-four men were arrested in a Waco residence early today in what a detective called a raid on a “statewide convention of homosexuals.”

Fifteen detectives and police, a Texas Ranger and Asst Dist. Atty. Burney Walker made the raid on a small two-room house in South Waco.

“It was a state-wide convention of homosexuals,” said Det. Capt. Wiley Stem.

Most of the men were young. The majority were from Dallas. Others gave their addresses as Austin, Ft. Worth, Houston, Ft. Hood, and James Connally Air Force Base near Waco.

It’s what’s not reported that is so noticeable. Nobody in the short report mentioned what laws were violated or what charges were made. There’s nothing to indicate that anyone was actually doing anything to break the law. It was the mere existence of gay people and their gathering at one location that occupied the attention of fifteen detectives and police officers that day. As for it being a “state-wide convention,” I can’t find any record of an organization at that time which would have organized such a meeting. But this was 1953, after all, a time in which conspiracy theories ran rampant , when those fanning the twinned Red and Lavender Scares imagined secret and dangerous cabals in every nook, cranny, and two-room shotgun shack throughout America.

Postscript: One month later on May 11, Waco would be devastated by one of thirty-three confirmed tornados that broke out across the great plans over a three day period. Waco was hit by the deadliest of them all: Of the 144 deaths from all of the storms, 114 died in Waco alone.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
Amy Ray: 1964. One-half of the folk duo Indigo Girls, Ray met the other Girl, Emily Sailers (see Jul 22), when they attended the same elementary school together in Decatur, Georgia. They began hanging out together while in high school, where they began performing together and recorded their first demo in 1981. They went their separate ways for college, but they met up again a few years later when they both transferred to Emory University. By 1985, they were performing together again as Indigo Girls. They secured a contract with Epic Records in 1988, and in 1990 won a Grammy for Best Contemporary Folk Album. (They were also nominated for Best New Artist, but they lost out to Milli Vanilli, who later saw the award revoked when it was revealed that they didn’t actually sing on their debut album and lip-synced their way through concerts.) Ray has also been busy with solo work and running an independent record label, Daemon Records, and she’s an activist for multiple causes, including gay rights, women’s rights, indigenous rights, gun control, environmental protection, and abolishing the death penalty. The Indigo Girls released their latest original album, Beauty Queen Sister, in 2011 and The Essential Indigo Girls in 2013.

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When the Arguments of the Best and the Brightest are Mediocre and Dim

Rob Tisinai

April 11th, 2014

Ryan T. Anderson of the Heritage Foundation is one of the most active, best funded, and intellectually respectable opponents of marriage equality.

Of course, that’s a very low bar. To see just how poor his arguments are, look at the reasoning from this anti-gay wunderkind, as he tries to show why opposition to same-sex marriage is nothing like opposition to interracial marriage:

Bans on interracial marriage and Jim Crow laws, by contrast, were aspects of a much larger insidious movement that denied the fundamental equality and dignity of all human beings and forcibly segregated citizens. When these interracial marriage bans first arose in the American colonies, they were inconsistent not only with the common law inherited from England, but also with the customs of prior world history, which had not banned interracial marriage. These bans were based not on reason, but on prejudiced ideas about race that emerged in the modern period and that refused to regard all human beings as equal. This led to revisionist, unreasonable conclusions about marriage policy. Thinking that marriage has anything at all to do with race is unreasonable, and as a historical matter, few great thinkers ever suggested that it did. 

Well, thanks, Ryan, because except for that historical bit (and maybe not even that), you’ve managed to demonstrate that these bans are exactly parallel. You’ve made it so easy to adapt your statement to this:

Bans on same-sex marriage are aspects of a much larger insidious movement that denied the fundamental equality and dignity of all human beings and forcibly segregated citizens into two groups: those who can marry their committed life-long partners and those who cannot.  These bans are based not on reason, but on prejudiced ideas about gays and lesbians that refuse to regard all human beings as equal. This has led to unreasonable conclusions about marriage policy. Thinking that marriage must be segregated by gender is unreasonable.

Now, Ryan may object that his reasons for opposing same-sex marriage aren’t dehumanizing. After all, he might say, I co-wrote a whole book against same-sex marriage without ever calling gays icky. Mmmm…perhaps. But that book is based on a view of sexuality and morality that does thoroughly dehumanize gay people and our relationships, and is in fact so convoluted that its proponents have literally had to address the question of — and I’m not making this up! — whether it’s immoral to chew sugarless gum (the answer is maybepage 317).

But all that’s irrelevant, because no bans came about because of voters’ nuanced understanding of the convoluted intricacies of Catholic natural law theory. No, these bans happened because voters were told that gays are selfish, defective, immoral dangers to children whose lives are built around lust, never love. That’s why the bans exist, and that, Ryan, is why your reasoning leads to the opposite of your conclusion.

This might not daunt Ryan, though, because he would spy the last sentence in my adaptation (“Thinking that marriage must be segregated by gender is unreasonable”), leap on it with a victorious cry, and proclaim:

In the name of equality, same-sex marriage seeks to codify gender discrimination!

Yes, he really believes that supporters of marriage equality are the segregationists.

Those aren’t his words up there in bold, but they are (verbatim) a position he has quoted and promoted. By this reasoning, laws allowing you to marry a spouse of the same race seek to codify racial discrimination. And laws that allow you to marry a spouse of the same religion? They codify religious discrimination. In reality, of course, it ought to be clear that laws allowing the government to dictate the gender of your spouse are the laws that codify gender discrimination.

I doubt Ryan will ever see that, though, and homophobia is the reason why. I don’t think homophobia requires frothing expressions of hatred. Mere disapproval is enough as long as that sentiment robs you of the ability to think rationally about homosexuality. We call it a phobia because it’s a psychological problem. We call it a psychological problem because it’s hard to understand why otherwise intelligent people make such ludicrous errors of logic. Such as…well, such as not recognizing your arguments achieve the opposite of what you intend, or that allowing people to choose the gender of their spouse is the same as legally-mandated gender discrimination.

Actually, it’s not quite right to say Ryan is irrational because he’s homophobic. That’s tautological, like a doctor saying you’ve got a rash because you have dermatitis. Frankly, I don’t know why Ryan is homophobic, why his ability to reason disappears when he thinks about homosexuality. I just know that it does. If the leadership of our opposition is passing from a rabid Brian Brown of NOM to a gentle and reasonable Ryan Anderson of the Heritage Foundation, and if this is an example of a reasonable Ryan Anderson, then I think we have little to fear.

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