The Daily Agenda for Sunday, July 10

Jim Burroway

July 10th, 2011

Gay Presbyterians Can Now Be Ordained: Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). New rules go into effect today allowing openly gay men and women in same-sex relationships to be ordained as clergy. In May, the proposed rule changes crossed the crucial threshold for approval when a presbytery in Minnesota became the 87th out of 113 regional presbyteries to approve the change. The new rules, which also apply to elders and deacons, do not require churches to ordain gay candidates, but they remove barriers to their ordination that had added to the church’s constitution in 1997. There are no known ordinations planned for today however. Ordinations typically take place when seminarians are hired by a congregation. The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) becomes the fourth mainline Protestant church to allow gay ordination, following the Episcopal and Evangelical Lutheran churches and the United Church of Christ.

Pride Celebrations Today: Cincinnati, OH; Colombo, Sri Lanka; Munich, GermanyPrince George, BC; San Luis Obispo, CA; Sitges, Catalonia (Spain); and Victoria, BC.

And Also: Bear Week, Provincetown, MA.

A Discovery of a Very Extraordinary Nature: 1766. The following story was reported in the July 10, 1766 issue of London’s Gentleman’s Magazine:

A discovery of a very extraordinary nature was made at Poplar, where two women had lived together for six and thirty years, as man and wife, and kept a public house, without ever being suspected; but the wife happening to fall sick, and die, a few years before she expired, revealed the secret to her relations, made her will, and left legacies to the amount of half what she thought they were worth. On application to the pretended, she at first endeavoured to support her assumed character, but being closely pressed, she at length owed the fact, accommodated all matters amicably, put off the male, and put on the female character, in which she appeared to be a sensible well-bred woman, though in her male character she had always affected the plain plodding alehouse-keeper. It is said they had acquired in business money to the amount of £3000. Both had been crossed in love when young, and had chosen this method to avoid further importunities.

[From Ian McCormick’s Secret Sexualities: A Sourcebook of 17th and 18th Century Writings (p 234-235)]

Texas Editorial: “We’ll Take Gays Over the KKK”: 1985. It all began in 1984, when the Dallas/Ft. Worth suburb of Arlington was having a problem at Randol Mill Park. It seems that the popular park had become a well-known venue for men (often heterosexually married men) to solicit sex with other men among the bushes. After a year’s worth of stepped up patrolling and enforcement by Arlington police, the Mid-Cities Daily News reported, “We have not heard nearly as much about the problem as last year.” But for whatever reason, the Klan was still excited over queers in the park. The Klan’s “exalted cyclops” announced that his group would be holding a picnic at the part — sans white sheets — to send a message that gays weren’t welcome. The Daily News responded, “Given the choice between sharing a park with homosexuals or a bunch of white-sheeted, racist, hate-peddling losers, we thing we would prefer the homosexuals.”

Well sure, given the choice.

When the Klan held their picnic three days later, Scott Patrick, the exalted cyclops of the Garland klavern, sounded disappointed with what he found. ” I expected the situation to be a little more blatant. I’m sure all the publicity kept it out.” That left him with no choice but to complain about other groups. “Would you believe I actually had a Jew ask if a Jew could come to one of our meetings,” he told a reporter. “I said ‘no.’ A Jew would have about as much chance of attending as a nigger. You’ve got to admit they aren’t as intelligent as we are.” The Daily News made a wise choice.

Jerry Herman: 1931. The American composer and lyricists is best known for his scores for the Broadway hits Hello Dolly! (1964), Mame (1966) and La Cage aux Folles (1983). The latter earned Herman a Tony for best musical. His most famous song, “Hello Dolly!”, knocked the Beatles from #1 in 1964 when Louis Armstrong recorded it. “When they passed out talent,” Carol Channing said, “Jerry stood in line twice.”A 2008 PBS documentary about him reported that Herman was diagnosed HIV-positive in 1985 when that diagnosis was an automatic death sentence. He was lucky, and is among of the fortunate few to live to see the lifesaving “cocktail” become available in 1995. The AIDS epidemic wiped out half the original La Cage aux Folles chorus before the show’s final run, but the show’s signature anthem “I Am What I Am” can still bring audiences to their feet with its call for dignity and integrity in the face of bigotry and fear.

Neil Tennant: 1954. With bandmate Chris Lowe, he was one half of the electronic dance duo Pet Shop Boys. Their first single, “West End Girls,” was actually recorded twice. The first version was released in 1984 and became a club hit in New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles. Go figure. After the duo signed with EMI, they re-recorded the song, and it became a 1986 number one hit in the U.S. and the U.K. Tennant was coy about rumors over his sexuality throughout the 1980s, but he finally came out in a 1994 interview with a UK gay magazine. Pet Shop Boys are still going strong. On March 14, 2011, they released a double CD of the complete three-act ballet score for The Most Incredible Thing with the WrocÅ‚aw Score Orchestra. At this moment, they are touring Europe with Take That.

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