The Daily Agenda

Jim Burroway

May 6th, 2011

Henry Velandia (left) and Josh Vandiver (right)

Rally Against Deportation: Josh Vandiver of Colorado and Henry Velandia of Venezuela were legally married in Connecticut in 2010. If they had been a straight couple, Josh would have been able to sponsor his spouse for a green card. But because DOMA discriminates against same sex couples, the federal government doesn’t recognize their marriage and the couple risks being torn apart if Henry’s deportation goes through today. That looked like a certainty until yesterday afternoon, when Attorney General Eric Holder intervened in a different case and directed the Bureau of Immigration Appeals to halt a separate deportation case pending a review of DOMA’s application in immigration law. How that will impact Henry’s case is uncertain. He’ll find out when his case comes before the board at 1:00 p.m. today.

Meanwhile, ten different LGBT advocacy groups will come together at 11:00 a.m. today at the Newark Immigration Court for a rally on Velandia’s behalf. You can sign a petition here. Check Facebook for details if you’re interested in joining the rally.

AIDS Walks this weekend: Charlotte, NC, Cheyenne, WYFt. Wayne, INOgunquit, ME, and Poughkeepsie, NY.

Pride celebrations this weekend: Edinburgh, Scotland and Northampton, MA.

Rudolph Valentino: 1895. Known as the “Latin Lover,” Italina-born Rodolpho Guglielmi di Valentina D’Antonguolla;’s appearances in films like The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, The Sheik, Blood and Sand, The Eagle and Son of the Sheik established him as one of moviedom’s earliest male sex symbols. When he died suddenly at the age of 31, his public viewing prompted near-rioting among his female fans. Valentino had married twice — once to a reputed lesbian actress (according to their divorce papers, they never consummated the marriage), and then to Natacha Rambova, the artistic director for an early film they both worked on. That marriage also ended in divorce.

Neither marriage did much to quell rumors of Valentino’s “effeminacy,” which critics believed they detected in his sensitive and stylish portrayals on the silver screen. One Chicago Tribune editorial blasted his androgynous image as the “Pink Powder Puff.” Wrote the writer, “When will we be rid of all these effeminate youths, pomaded, powdered, bejeweled and bedizened, in the image of Rudy–that painted pansy?” The evidence behind those rumors remains both skimpy and controversial. Oh well, birthday is noteworthy regardless of whether he was gay or not. I mean, just look at him!

Karl-Maria Kertbeny's letter to Karl Heinrich Ulrichs with the word "Homosexualität" (Click to enlarge)

Happy Birthday Homo: 1868. On this date, an Austrian-born Hungarian by the name of Karl-Maria Kertbeny (or Károly Mária Kertbeny) wrote a letter in which he used, for the first time in recorded history, a new word of his creation: Homosexualität. The letter was to German gay-rights advocate Karl Heinrich Ulrich — who was, more precisely speaking, an urning-rights advocate. Ulrich defined urning as a “male-bodied person with a female psyche,” who is sexually attracted to men and not women. Another common term, invert similarly described gay men (and women) as embodying an inversion of sex-role behavior. What set Kertbeny’s “homosexual” apart is the term, for the first time, separated of the object of sexual or romantic desire from the gender role of the subject. This eventually allowed for the discussion of what we now know as butch gay men and lipstick lesbians. Until then, the idea that a gay man could be masculine was nearly impossible to imagine (and would remain so until about World War II). Kertbeny’s new word helped to change all that.

“Homosexualität” made its first known public appearance the following year, when Kertbeny anonymously published a pamphlet calling for the repeal of Prussia’s sodomy laws. Other German advocates picked up the word, and it eventually made its English appearance as “homosexuality” at around 1894, which Richard von Krafft-Ebing’s 1886 Psychopathia Sexualis was translated into English. Adoption in English was slow however. Invert remained the most common term until the 1920’s. That’s when the psychoanalytic theories of Sigmund Freud, who preferred the word “homosexuality,” became popular in the English-speaking world.

You can find a more complete discussion of the emergence of “Homosexualität” here.

Students of the Deutsche Studentenschaft parading in front of the Institute of Sex Research.

When Nazis Attack: 1933. The great German sexologist, Magnus Hirschfeld, established the Institute of Sex Research 1919. Located in Berlin’s Tiergarten it became a major center for gay rights advocacy and research, with a massive research library archive. The Institute included medical, psychological, and ethnological divisions, provided marriage and sex counseling.

All that changed when the Nazis came to power in January of 1933. On May 6, 1933, while Hirchfeld was on a lecture tour of the U.S., Students of the Deutsche Studentenschaft, began parading in front of the Institute. That night, Nazis attacked it and looted the archives. Four days later, those archives served as the fuel for the famous book-burning rally, where some 20,000 books and journals, and 5,000 images, were destroyed. The Institute’s groundbreaking work came to an abrupt end. Hirschfeld remained in exile, first in Paris and later in Nice, where he died of a heart attack in 1935.

If you know of something that belongs on the agenda, please send it here.


May 6th, 2011

This is precisely why DOMA needs to be repealed. This couple is legally married but not recognized by the federal government. It is stupid to think that destroying a gay family will in any way contribute to strengthening straight families. The evidence in Massachusetts proves the exact opposite.

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