Today In History: Another Conference For Creating Change
February 1st, 2009
Today, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is wrapping up it’s annual Creating Change conference in Denver, Colorado. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend. But I did spend some time at our local library, paging through some old LGBT magazines from fifty years ago. That’s where I learned that, by coincidence, another important national conference hosted by leading LGB (not T) leaders was also taking place exactly fifty years ago today.
The following report appeared in the March 1959 issue of The Ladder, which was the official publication of the Daughters of Bilitis, the nation’s first organization for Lesbians. The report was of the ONE, Inc. Midwinter Institute held in Los Angeles on January 31 and February 1.
ONE, Inc, you may remember, published ONE magazine, which was the first national magazine for gays and lesbians. ONE had just come off of a stunning Supreme Court victory one year earlier in which the Court ruled that just because ONE dealt with homosexuality, it was not automatically pornographic because of the unpopular subject matter.
Unlike today’s LGBT conferences which are organized with the goal of changing laws and societal attitudes, this conference was focused on much more pressing needs for the individuals who attended: Are gays mentally ill? (The audience broke into sustained applause on the suggestion that it isn’t) Is it natural? Why is there so much hostility from religion? How do we improve the lives, mental well-being, and relationships of gay men and women? There was even a revealing roundtable discussion on social separatism between lesbians and gay men, a discussion which would foreshadow subsequent debates on political separatism between lesbians and gay men with the rise of the women’s movement in the 1960’s.
One thing that I found interesting is that the esteem held for psychology was never higher than it was then. Psychiatrists, psychologists and psychoanalysts were regarded with the same awe and deference as rocket scientists and astrophysicists. Since this conference was focused on homosexuality and mental health, they naturally took center stage, where their opinions were avidly sought but rarely questioned — except occasionally by each other. A particularly interesting discussion broke out among professional leaders and Dr. Evelyn Hooker, who was in the audience. Dr. Hooker had by then published three groundbreaking studies which suggested that homosexuality was not a mental illness (although because her studies were ongoing, she was coy about making a declarative statement to that effect at the conference). It would be another fifteen years before her work would become the basis for the APA’s removal of homosexuality from its list of mental disorders.
This unabridged report from The Ladder provides a fascinating look at the state of the gay community fifty years ago, and it gives us a great perspective on how far we’ve come since then. The author of The Ladder’s report was listed as Sten Russell, which, in fact, was a pseudonym for Stella Rush; “Helen Sanders” was actually Helen Sandoz. Homosexuality was listed as a mental illness and gay bars were banned or shut down under state liquor laws. Much has changed, but there’s still much more to do. People do still get fired from their jobs and shunned by their families.
They say we can’t know where we’re going unless we know where we’re coming from. We’re still on a long journey, but we have traveled many miles in the past fifty years. This is a good opportunity to pause and reflect on that journey.
Mental Health and Homosexuality
By Sten Russell, with additional contributions by Del Martin and Helen Sanders
The 1959 Midwinter institute sponsored by ONE, Inc. was held in Los Angeles January 31- February 1. Theme for discussion was “mental health and homosexuality.”
Homophile Movements in the United States Today
Del Martin, president of the Daughters of Bilitis, San Francisco, gave a resume of the purpose of The Ladder and its contents during the last year. She mentioned some of the projects which the daughters had sponsored, including sociological and psychological questionnaires circulated among lesbians.
Regarding progress in the field, she referred to Dr. Karl Bowman’s speech on homosexuality before the commonwealth club in San Francisco. While the “San Francisco Examiner” buried the speech, it made headlines and a big write-up in “The San Francisco Chronicle.” The reporter seemed most impressed by one of Bowman’s points that the homosexual social problem might never be solved due to the fear and latent homosexuality in the rest of the population. She referred also to a precedent-breaking two-hour discussion of homosexuality given over radio station KPFA last year, which was entitled “The Homosexual In Our Society” and which featured outstanding citizens of the Bay area.
One of the most recent examples of progress for the homophile was evidenced in the successful legal battle to keep gay bars from being closed down, or any bars, simply because some or most of their clientele happened to be homosexuals. Miss Martin was particularly pleased, not only because the civil rights of homosexuals had been upheld but because the homophiles themselves, by their constructive activities as reported in The Ladder, had been of some help in the case. Morris Lowenthal, San Francisco attorney, had contacted Miss Martin for copies of The Ladder in work on the Amicus Curiae brief for the “Mary’s First And Last Chance (Bar)” case. The appealing brief gave a history of the homophile movement in the United States and in particular, gave excerpts from the September and October 1958 Ladder issues. It also included the two issues in question as exhibits in the case.
Miss Martin read portions of the favorable decision handed down in which it was made crystal clear that it was no crime to be a homosexual or a “so-called pervert” in a bar so long as no immoral or illegal acts were committed while there. So far as the bar owner was concerned, he was not only not liable for the fact that homosexuals were present in his bar, but he was not liable for their actions if they happened to be immoral or illegal, unless it could be proven that he had knowledge of these acts and did nothing to stop them.
Rick Hooper, chairman, Mattachine Society, Inc., San Francisco, confined most of his progress report to the Social Service Division. He mentioned that while this was not yet a legally constituted department of the society, it was to be hoped that it soon would be. The need is great in this field; the problems are just as great. On April 4, 1959, Mattachine will hold a “social service planning day.” Mrs. Farley of the U.S. Public Health Dept. in San Francisco will speak on some of the problems of mental health and welfare. Rick said that in the past year 300 had come for help regarding the need for referral to attorneys who could help in such matters as blackmail, sex offenses, unjust collection accounts, courts martial, dishonorable discharges, etc. In employment counseling a dozen or so had been placed. Rick felt that they had been able to do the most good in lay counseling, however. Some of the ones who came with deeper problems that needed professional care were able to be referred to the “northern California service league.” he added that San Francisco Mattachine membership more than doubled in 1958 and that there now were 81 local members
James Kepner, Jr., vice chairman, ONE, Inc., Los Angeles, referred to ONE’s annual business meeting of Jan. 30, 1959, and the annual report to be published on the organization’s activities and progress in 1958. He mentioned the need for many different types of organizations because there were many different types of homosexuals. He said that ONE was not a membership organization and that there was very little organized socializing. He made the distinction between the magazine and corporation. The magazine was the first, and still the corporation’s biggest, project. However there were other departments and projects of great importance to the homophile. He spoke of the education department’s program and of individualists vs. integrationists and the need to educate both in the history of the homophile, as society needs both the individualist and the integrationist point of view.
Accepting Middle Age
At the luncheon there were approximately 42 men and 14 women to hear a delightful address by T.M. Merritt, Ph.D., Dean Emeritus of ONE Institute.
Dr. Merritt gave three things young people should do in preparing for middle and old age. (This he designated as the MOA group.) Young people should plan for financial competence in their later years. Annuity insurance was one method he mentioned which cost very little to young people and which reaped great benefits for them. Young people should develop hobbies and interests outside themselves. Thirdly, young people should try for the type of relationship which was more likely to become a permanent love affair. For if two young people grow old together the change would be so gradual that neither would ever think of the other or of himself as being old.
Dr. Merritt gave a list of advice to the MOA group larded with delightful asides:
- Don’t cruise.
- Don’t expect what you’re probably not going to get anyway.
- Never pretend to be what you’re not.
- Don’t be familiar with youth. (i.e. don’t smile and wink at the boys. Dignity has its own attractions.)
- Don’t offer drinks to strangers.
- Don’t seek compassion by hinting at your age — such compassion does not exist.
- Don’t try to dance if you can’t.
- Try to cultivate outside interests.
Dr. Merritt gave some of the advantages age has over youth:
- A large and varied experience with life.
- Financial competence.
- Special interests. An example was a gentleman 90 years old who is known as “Mr. California.” This gentleman is reputed to know more about California history than anyone else. The moral here seemed to be that there were great advantages to be had in making oneself an authority in some special field of knowledge.
- The older person is in a position to offer genuine friendship and friendliness.
Dr. Merritt ended his address on the note that if the older person could learn to accept himself, to develop satisfactory intellectual pursuits and hobbies, to be good company with himself when he was alone, then he never needed to “cruise” frantically nor worry about his fate, that friends would invariably seek him out!
Eric Julber, attorney, Los Angeles, Chairman.
Blanche M. Baker, M.D., Ph.D., psychiatrist, San Francisco.
Trent E. Bessent, Ph.D., chief clinical psychologist, Metropolitan State Hospital, Norwalk, Calif.
W. Dorr Legg, A.B., B.M., M.L.D., director, ONE Institute.
Vita S. Sommers, Ph.D., clinical psychologist, Los Angeles.
Mr. Julber asked the members of the panel to give their general views on ”Mental Health and Homosexuality” before proceeding to the panel discussion proper.
Dr. Bessent did not feel that the topic at hand necessarily had any inner relationship; that whether homosexuality and the problem of mental health related or not depended on the culture, the time and the individual involved. He added that in his work at the hospital he dealt mostly with psychotic patients, people who had broken with reality. At the hospital, he and co-workers attempted to reduce the patients’ anxiety and to find out what fear or fears lay behind their anxiety. Among the many learned fears that can drive a person to the psychotic stage, Dr. Bessent listed the fear of homosexual tendencies. This, however, he emphasized, is a learned or cultural fear, instilled into the person, usually before the age of reason. The audience applauded Dr. Bessent. Mr. Julber requested that there be no more applause until the panel was over.
Dr. Blanche Baker said that her interest and concern with homosexuality had begun at an early age when much to her horror and surprise a female schoolmate fell in love with her. She said that fortunately she had an understanding father who gave her access to books on the subject so that she acquired enough of a learned viewpoint on the subject not to be cruel to her friend whom she did not understand. She said that her reading gave her the viewpoint that homosexuality was a mental illness, but that after years of psychiatric work and experience with both heterosexual and homosexual people she had come to entirely discard the concept of mental illness necessarily relating to homosexuality.
She said she felt that understanding homosexuality was the great problem of this civilization. She said everyone was a blend of masculine and feminine qualities; that the dangerous and common misconception that “men are men and women are women” was simply not true. She was greatly concerned over the “creative expression which hides behind a mask… unused… unfulfilled.” Because of this deep concern she has lent her support to the organizations ONE, Mattachine, and DOB whenever possible.
Those who felt that homosexuality was a “crime against nature” simply did not know nature, she contended. “The animals do everything people do in the sexual realm. The problems of the homophile are simply the problems of a person who is misunderstood.”
Dr. Baker thanked us for the honor of letting her attend the panel and added that although she had been advised by both doctor and friends not to attend because of the state of her health, that she would have come against all odds. There could be no doubt in the audience’s mind as to the serious physical handicap which Dr. Baker was working against in attending the Institute and it broke into spontaneous and wild applause for this great and courageous friend of the homophile and the homophile movement. After that there was no hope for the chairman’s plea that no individual speaker be applauded.
Dr. Vida Sommers said that her work was of a clinical nature with special groups of homosexuals who would like to change. She said that she did not necessarily feel that homosexuality was a clinical entity. It had various forms of expression. She said that she came to the Institute to learn from the homophiles there rather than to speak to them.
W. Dorr Legg asked the question, “Is homosexuality a defense mechanism necessarily or can it be a healthy, important part of society? Society needs the homophile and if it doesn’t have him in a recognized, constructive role, society will go down to the destruction of previous civilizations,” Mr. Legg continued.
Mr. Julber directed the question to Dr. Bessent: “Suppose society’s attitude changed towards homosexuality over the next 10 to 20 years; would this cure much homosexual anxiety?”
Dr. Bessent answered, “No, not for those who have their own interjected feelings against homosexuality.” A person asked Dr. Bessent from the floor how this could be when the person would then be raised in an accepting environment? Dr. Bessent said that such a case could only exist many steps forward in the process. He cited the instance of many cases of “masturbation guilt” which come to the hospital; yet, he pointed out, society’s attitude has been most benign of recent years. The point is: children aren’t raised by “society” in general, but by people in particular, who may have radically different views and prejudices than the prevailing temper of the times.
Another questioner from the floor asked Dr. Baker her opinion of the efficacy of “group therapy” vs. “individual therapy.” Dr. Baker answered that there was no “versus” involved; that both were wonderful and indispensable. Dr. Sommers agreed and gave examples of helpful group therapy. She added that group therapy was particularly helpful in convincing disturbed homosexuals that they were not nearly so unique and different from other people as they thought.
Dr. Sommers said that she believed the answers to homosexuality lay in “multiple causes” and the interaction between the psychological and sociological sides of life. The question was: “Why did this person choose this type of adjustment?”
Dr. Bessent said that the program he worked for aimed at reducing anxiety so that the persons so afflicted could function in society or learn to relate to even one other person. He said that they were not interested in changing one’s sexual adjustment if that seemed the best adjustment for that particular person.
Dr. Evelyn Hooker, currently at work on a research project called the “The Homosexual Community,” queried the panel from the floor regarding the question: “Are homosexuals necessarily maladjusted; i.e. is there any inherent relation between homosexuality and mental illness?” Mr. Julber asked her to give her views on the question.
Dr. Hooker did not feel that would be proper under the circumstances, but after a brief intellectual struggle with Mr. Julber did state that the purpose of her investigations was to prove or disprove the concept that homosexuality was either a mental illness or a symptom of a mental illness. As to her personal views, she said that she had a very tentative “no” in mind as she felt that she had concrete evidence to disprove the concepts. However, she continued, her evidence was only a pioneer kind of evidence and she wanted other researchers to bring in all the evidence, to research it from all levels and viewpoints. She said that in her work she searched for non-psychotic, non-maladjusted homosexuals. To find one, she said, would serve her purpose of jogging other researchers in the social sciences to investigate this field from different premises than heretofore. Actually, however, she had found many who were non-psychotic and non-maladjusted to society.
Dr. Baker concurred completely with Dr. Hooker. In medical practice naturally one found all types of maladjusted homosexuals because they were seeking help. However, in her social life and contacts she said she knew so many who were not disturbed or maladjusted.
Dr. Bessent felt that he had already covered the matter, but he stated again that he felt there was no necessary connection between homosexuality and mental illness; that it was a matter of cultural demands and prejudices which cause our anxieties.
Dr. Sommers also concurred but said that “adjustment to what?” had to be considered. After all, this is a heterosexual society; if you are not heterosexual, by heterosexual standards you would be considered maladjusted. She added that there was also a large group of maladjusted heterosexuals.
Dr. Hooker wasn’t looking for concurrence and she didn’t want her “tentative no” to be interpreted as the final answer in lieu of conclusive proof on the matter.
Mr. Legg asked, “What is heterosexuality a defense against?” This question didn’t sound quite so ridiculous when Mr. Legg followed it with the suggestion that ONE Magazine might have a series called “How Normal Can You Get?” illustrated by newspaper excerpts of cases like the mother who boiled the baby to death on the stove. He added that a study of biology would show that “nature” was not nearly as interested in reproduction as we’ve been led to believe.
A questioner from the floor asked Mr. Julber how we should go about getting the laws changed. Mr. Julber said, “Just what we’ve been doing the last seven years.” Mr. Julber continued that there must be much spade work to soften up public opinion first. The young man did not agree, “But wouldn’t a change first in the laws accomplish this?” “No,” said Mr. Julber, “statute follows public opinion, not the other way around.”
Must Christians Live With Guilt?
Moderators: Rt. Rev. Thomas Martin & Father [Bernard] Newman
The discussion was attended by approximately l9 men and 11 women. Father Martin introduced himself and Father Newman as workers for 18 years in the field of homophile problems and in helping homophiles to overcome their conflicts. Father Newman spoke for a short time on his interpretation of the question. He rephrased it to ask, “Is it necessary for one to have guilt?” He felt that it was not. He contended that there was no condemnation by Christ anywhere in the New Testament against homosexuality, per se. He asked, “Why should any man feel guilty for following his natural inborn traits given him by God?” Good question; it seemed strange to hear a minister ask it though.
He took a dim view of St. Paul’s writings wherein much of the condemnation against homosexuality or any kind of sex is to be found. He felt that St. Paul lived one thing and preached another. He said that there was proof that Timothy was a beloved of Paul’s. He cited the 18th Lesson of the 47th Verse of the Bhagavad Gita as having merit for us. He interpreted it to mean that it was better to follow one’s inner traits than to live in a manner not fitted to one. He cited an interesting passage from St. Thomas (the doubting apostle) to the effect that until man learned that he was really two spirits in one body, he would not know God.
Father Martin asked for questions and round-table discussion of the problem. Nothing happened for a few minutes. The people seemed frozen, whether through fear or awe was hard to know. Finally one soul ventured that the people seemed stunned at the possibility that ministers might understand and accept their problems as being very little different from other people’s problems and that perhaps someday they might sit in a church of their choice and be accepted and recognized as homosexuals without any fear or guilt.
Father Newman said that it was perhaps for that reason they were here. One member asked where the concept of sex being so awful came from? Another member felt that it was as Father Newman had said, if you stayed with the ancient writings you were all right; that it was when you got into churches proper that you had troubles. One brought up the problem of having confessed to a priest and having had the man betray his confidence to people he worked with. It gave him a pretty dim view of religion. Father Newman stated that the priest had not really been a Christian in his heart or he would not have done it. Another member of the group told some good stories about priests to counteract the bad impressions given.
One member felt that homosexuals were mistaken in feeling that only they were condemned to living with guilt in the Christian churches. She felt that in all churches sex itself was taught to be a sin except wherein it was used to beget children within the marriage contract, and then the people involved weren’t supposed to really enjoy this experience. About the time the group seemed to be thawing out and getting over its timidity it was time for the discussion to be over.
One person got in a last minute question: Who were these ministers and what church had they come from? They spoke differently from any other ministers she’d ever seen or heard. Father Martin gave her a card which read: “Rt. Rev. Thomas Martin, Abbot; Saint George Chapel and Monastery, The Church of Divine Love, Eastern Orthodox: 1580 Bledsoe Lane, Las Vegas, Nevada.” She asked if that were some offshoot of the Catholic Church. Father Martin said that it was not. Father Newman said the church had been in existence since 64 A.D. and that it stemmed from the teachings of St. Thomas, the doubting apostle. It then became clear what had caused a certain lack of communication between the moderators and the group. They were not connected with any of the commonly known Christian churches which have managed to infect most Christian homosexuals with a deep guilt as to their basic natures, if not most Christian heterosexual people as well.
There is a certain bafflement in speaking to, or in front of, what seem to be orthodox ministers, when these same ministers seem to feel there is no reason whatever a homosexual should feel guilty about his nature. Any orthodox minister, enlightened or otherwise, would know the emotional bias in most Christian churches and society itself which surrounds the subject of homosexuality or “perversion.” If the minister had been working in a different context, however, and had no deep prejudices drilled into him, it is reasonable why he should think that logic alone should solve any problems in the matter.
Should Men and Women Homosexuals Associate?
Mrs. V. Vostwald, moderator
There were eleven women and seven men present at the discussion. Mrs. Vostwald posed the question, ”Why do people associate?” “Mutual interest; business; religion; man is a social animal, and sex” were the answers given by the group. Mrs. Vostwald asked if it was the lack of mutual sex interest which kept the homosexual men and women apart?
One felt that it was not just the lack of sexual attraction, but a positive neurotic hostility to be found in both groups. The group didn’t do much with this thought but generally agreed that there was a need for the mingling of both sexes to share thoughts and attitudes with each other. It felt this was much healthier than strict separation of the groups. One male married couple felt that this was all very well but that in all their experience of trying to have mutual friends among the Lesbian group they had been frustrated. They didn’t know whether it meant that they personally were disliked and unlikeable, or whether it meant that Lesbians were generally difficult people who did not wish to associate with male homosexuals.
The thoughts and justifications brought up by some of the women on this problem were very interesting. Some felt that the reason their invitations had not been returned was due to the difference between the way the men and women lived…that where frequently the men were accomplished and able to entertain on a grand scale, that the women in most cases were not and that since they were unable to return in kind what they had so bountifully received, they returned nothing. This particular aspect was continued after the roundtable with many insights being gained on the matter by the participants.
Mrs. Vostwald posed the question, “Do we have a social responsibility to fraternize?” The consensus seemed to be that we did, but it was brought out strongly in one quarter that no one should be forced into such relationships unless they so desired. This faction felt that all that could be done was being done in such co-educational ventures as the ONE Midwinter Institute. The roundtable was quite successful with much participation from both sexes.
Creative Expression as Therapy
Dawn Frederic, moderator
By way of definition it was offered that “creative expression” is self expression regardless of whether it is an art form. “Therapy” may be either treatment or preventive. This form of therapy is used because there is often an inability to express anything in some mental illness and all mental illness involves isolation and inability to express and identify. Contact with environment comes with ability to express self. Creative expression can also be used in diagnosis.
The group tossed around definitions for a time, bogging down somewhat in an attempt to differentiate between art, actual creative talent, hobbies, etc. It was agreed that creative expression does not become therapeutic until it is shared with others.
Sex Repression and Mental Health
Ron Argall, moderator
The question was posed, “does the mental health program foster sex repression or does it help to overcome such situations?” The group felt that most likely our mental health program is repressive, but that this is because it is a governmental program based on tax dollars and political whim and would most certainly be of conformist nature in these early formative years.
Very likely many or most sex crimes are in some way a results of sex repression and censorship and repressive legislation cannot improve the status quo. It was offered by one member of the group that one may be mentally health even though sexually repressed. An instinctive tendency cannot be destroyed, but it can be expressed in many ways and does not have to be repressed in a given way. There are acceptable and unacceptable methods of expression and in the cases of satisfactory sublimation, the individual need not suffer deteriorated mental health. Mental hospitals and clinics do not give much thought to these philosophical concepts for they are in touch primarily with people whose repressions and anxieties have got the better of them. Undoubtedly many reasonably or highly integrated and healthy persons are sexually repressed but have other means of expression.
Is Homosexuality Natural?
Jim Kepner, moderator
The moderator opened the discussion as to whether the term natural meant normal or average and if the sex pleasure principle were to be considered as well as the “sex for procreation only” theorem. He pointed out Dr. Albert Ellis’ premise that exclusive homosexual or exclusive heterosexual conduct was neurotic.
One woman suggested that the answer to the question of the naturalness of homosexuality would depend on if one subscribed to the scientific or the religious point of view. She quoted from speeches made by Dr. Frank Beach, Jr. and Dr. Wardell B. Pomeroy as reported in previous issues of The Ladder and pointed out that both these men have stated flatly that homosexuality is part of our mammalian heritage, that it is prevalent in all species of animal and therefore cannot be considered unnatural.
Another individual suggested that behavior could be considered unnatural where adjustment has not been made — where homosexual tendencies do exist and cannot be escaped. It was further suggested that homosexuality is a state of being and not just a physical expression, that the fact a person was a homosexual before knowing about or desiring the sex act would indicate some other factor was involved. Homosexual behavior, he indicated, does not necessarily involve “choice.”
The fact that each culture determines what behavior is natural or unnatural was also brought out. What is natural in one culture may be considered unnatural in another and vice versa. It was also pointed out that many professional people in the field of psychology maintain that there is a homosexual component in all people and therefore it could hardly be an “unnatural” phenomenon.
Why the question at all before the group? someone asked. The answer lay in the problem of legal definition in the courts, in the religious point of view, and in the scientific question as to whether or not homosexuality can be cured.
It was concluded by the group that the question as to whether or not homosexuality was natural would be relevant as long as people were disturbed by the question.
Adjustment Through Partnership
Don and Jon, moderators
The need for a courtship before a homosexual marriage was pointed up in discussing necessary factors for evolving a permanent relationship. A basic friendship, companionship, common interests and community property were also found to be components of such a relationship.
One man who identified himself as an analyst said that one of the chief problems he dealt with in marriage counseling was the imbalance the parties felt in what each contributed to the union. Difference in income is often a factor here, he said, and suggested that those so disturbed draw up a balance sheet of assets and liabilities for each partner and so determine that while one may not be contributing as much money, he certainly may be contributing many intangibles of net worth to the relationship.
Difference in age need not be a factor, it was said. It would depend of course on the resilience of the elder and the ability of the younger to adapt.
Warning was issued that jealousy and demand for absolute fidelity could be most destructive in its effect on a marriage relationship.
Psychodrama — ‘A Mental Health Problem Demonstrated’ with Audience Participation.
Conducted by William F. Baker, San Francisco psychological counselor
Mr. Baker gave a short history of “role playing” from the ancient Greeks to the modern “psychodrama.” The psychodrama as such is of recent origin and used primarily by psychologists and psychiatrists in group therapy work with patients in mental hospitals.
Mr. Baker used members from the audience to demonstrate the technique of psychodrama. Two situations were chosen: one, that of a gay bar wherein two homosexual males seated alongside two heterosexual males (one a repressed homosexual) react variously to the entrance of an obvious “swish.” Two, that of a “normal” family wherein father, mother and younger brother await the arrival of 18-year-old daughter at the dinner table. Daughter has just discovered that she is a lesbian and plans on moving out.
The audience hugely enjoyed the extemporaneous performances. Mr. Baker interrupted the enjoyment to explain that in practice not more than eight to ten people could be permitted in such activity as the audience participation made the “actor” self-conscious and ended the therapeutic value of the performance. Mr. Baker had earlier pointed out that the value of this technique was two-fold. The individual could act out his secret frustrations and desires without penalty and later in consultation with his analyst could get at the true roots of his problems.
Dr. Mario Palmieri, world famous consulting engineer and writer, gave a short and moving address on the topic of “classical boy love” as conceived and practiced by the ancient Greek statesmen and philosophers. Dr. Palmieri cited parallel and attendant problems of this phenomenon in modern civilization. Don Slater, editor of ONE Magazine, was toastmaster.
TEA AND POETRY
The “tea and poetry” session, directed by the one and only “Samson”, provided a delightful ending to one of the best Midwinter Institutes ever attended. There was an array of both professional and amateur talent.
W. Dorr Legg read poems from the “Greek anthology” and “the sonnets” of Michelangelo. Antonio Reyes held the crowd spellbound with his mastery of traditional Spanish dances. He was accompanied by Mrs. Pina on the piano.
Some modern poems were movingly read by Morgan Farley, a noted actor. Especially stirring was “Sailor Boy” from “Death of the Scharnhorst.” Rachel Rosenthal, actress and drama coach, read “Songs of Sappho” attired in a striking white costume reminiscent of a Grecian nymph [Note: other sources describe her outfit as “astonishingly sheer — Jim B.]. Later she read more modern poems from J. Phoenice and Edna St. Vincent Millay. The audience was held rapt by the musical quality of her voice and her beauty.