The Daily Agenda for Tuesday, October 5

Jim Burroway

October 5th, 2011


AIDS Walks This Weekend: Columbus, OH; Indianapolis, IN and Kent/Sussex, DE.

Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Atlanta, GA; Orlando, FL and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Also This Weekend: Iris Prize Film Festival, Cardiff, UK.

California Studies Treatment for “Sex Deviants”: 1951. An item appeared in The Los Angeles Times describing efforts which promised “the eventual solution of one of California’s most difficult problems – the sex offender.” California had tried to “legislate sexual offenses out of existence” through more severe penalties, but lawmakers were “finally persuaded medical research might bring results,” and passed the Sexual Deviation Research Act in 1950. And with that, according to The Times, efforts were now fanning out to “several laboratories, schools, hospitals, and clinics throughout the State.”  The Dean of UCLA’s Medical School was already bragging of research breakthroughs. “It is now possible, he states, to predict with a fair degree of accuracy, through blood and urine tests, the onset of a sexually psychopathic ‘attack’.” What, exactly, was being studied was obviously very sensitive; it took eight paragraphs before the LA Times writer finally got around to describing what these “sexual deviations” might be:

Another study underway is concerned with diagnosis and treatment of homosexual males. The purpose of this research is twofold: (1) to make physical, psychiatric, glandular and mental studies of the types of homosexuals who affect feminine behavior and (2) to investigate such psychological factors in homosexuality as the personal, family, social and cultural histories of patients. Results of these studies, it. is felt, should greatly add to more accurate diagnosis of types of homosexuality and its treatment.

Research would continue for at least another thirty years in California and throughout the western world, all to no avail. When the American Psychiatric Association finally determined in 1973 that homosexuality was not a mental illness in need of a cure, efforts to change sexual orientation in the scientific community slowly began to wane over the course of the next decade — with the notable exception of a very tiny religiously-motivated dissident minority, and their efforts to change sexual orientation still come up short. California’s law mandating research into curing homosexuality remained on the books, ignored and forgotten, until it was finally repealed in 2010.

John Addington Symonds: 1840.He fulfilled the expectations of Victorian England by marryng and having a family, but the poet and literary critic was always conscious of “men constituted like me” and became an early proponent of what was then called “male love.” Symonds was among the first to publish works for general audiences with direct references to homosexuality. His 1876  Studies of the Greek Poets, Second Series, included praise for  Greek  “friendship,” which led to withering condemnation from critics. One critic decried Symond’s “phallic ecstasy” and his “palpitations at male beauty.”

While Symonds became more circumspect in identifying himself with “male love,” he nevertheless continued to explore the theme. Symonds’s 1878 translation of Michelangelo’s Sonnets corrected, for the first time, the proper male pronouns which had been rendered female by previous translators. And in that same year, he published his poem “The Meeting of David and Jonathan” (1878), where Jonathan, “In his arms of strength / Took David, and for some love found at length / Solace in speech, and pressure and breath / Wherewith the mouth of yearning winnoweth /Hearts overcharged for utterance. In that kiss / Soul into soul was knit and bliss to bliss.” Whew!

But Symonds kept most of his writings on homosexuality private, first in letters to Walt Whitman, Edmund Gosse, and Edward Carpenter, and later in privately-circulated works like Male Love: A Problem in Greek Ethics (1883) and  A Problem in Modern Ethics (1891), as well as his memoirs, which remained unpublished until 1984. In 1893, he began to publish more openly about homosexuality in Walt Whitman: A Studyand  he began a collaboration with Havelock Ellis, who was then embarking on his landmark study, Sexual Inversion. Symonds died in 1893, ten months into that collaboration. When Sexual Inversion made its English debut in 1897, Symonds was listed as co-author. But Symonds’s executor, scandalized at the association, prohibited his name from being further associated with the book. Symonds was credited as “Z” in the second 1897 printing, and his essay “A Problem in Greek Ethics” was deleted.  Interest in Symonds was revived in 1963 when Phyllis Grosskurth won the 1964 Canadian Governor General’s Award for John Addington Symonds: A Biography. Twenty years later, she would also bring The Memoirs of John Addington Symonds to print.

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?

Timothy (TRiG)

October 5th, 2011

A friend of mine is studying Symonds, and writes about him a lot (if you think her blog has a lot of Symonds, you should see her Facebook statuses). He sounds like a fascinating man.

Incidentally, in the possessive form, the apostrophe should go after the s.


Jim Burroway

October 5th, 2011

I know my grammar and spelling suck, but those are mostly problems of inattentiveness and relying too much on spellcheck inappropriately. But when it comes to apostrophes, I’ve actually looked it up and try to adhere to the rule. An apostrophe follwed by an “s” is still required for indicating possession of singular nouns, even those ending with an “s” already, according to how they are pronounced. Only plural nouns ending in an “s” get the “s'” treatment.

Think: Jesus’s return vs. Jesuses’ return.

Bobbie VandeGriff

October 5th, 2011

It seems it would be appropriate to list the Tucson Pride Parade occuring Saturday Oct. 8th in the Agenda. And Next weekend I believe is the Pride Festival.


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