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The Daily Agenda for Friday, March 23

Jim Burroway

March 23rd, 2012

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Celebrations This Weekend: Black Party Expo, New York, NY.

AIDS Walks This Weekend: South Dallas, TX; Vincennes, IN.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Columnist: “State Department Hires Perverts”: 1950. The early stages of the McCarthyite red scare also had distinctly pink undertones, as gay people became looked upon as being as much as a danger to national security as communists. Deputy undersecretary of State John E. Peurifoy’s revelation (see Feb 28) that the State Department had fired 91 employees for being gay sent shock waves around the country and the nation’s columnist and pundit class in a tizzy. Author and novelist Robert Ruark, whose column was syndicated by Scripps-Howard, weighed in with his own unique literary style:

Looks like a new point in journalism has finally been reached, at which it is possible to face the problem of homosexuality and perversion with the same honesty it took us so long to win in the case of venereal disease. Our peering into the well of loneliness is as much overdue as our realization that syphilis and gonorrhea were something more than “social” diseases, to be hushed behind the hand.

This belated appraisal of a human aberration is due to the fact that our State Department, in record, as been filled with a type of humanity which is not “normal” as we construe normalcy in the broad sense, and that the list of perverted sex-crimes seems to be mounting furiously.

There is considerably more to abnormality in the sexes than a simple negation of boy-meets-girl. There is a great difference between homosexuality and perversion. The homosexual in a simpler sense is less dangerous to the world around him, because his odd sexual leanings creep easily into vicious criminality with innocents as victims.

Divergents from the sexual norm are pitiable, and in general live a life of mental and spiritual torture, full of frustration and persecution. Their residence in a minority group makes them subject to censure by the majority and leads them to a life in shadow.

This creates a constant nervousness that pays off in panic. Most “queers” eventually acquire a tendency to hysteria, which means the blow their tops in time of stress. Since the also must hide from the world that outweighs them — since the must always mask their activities in stealth and secrecy — they are forever open to apprehension.

A pervert fondles a child. The child cries. The creep blows his roof. He is panic-ridden and hysterically afraid of being caught. He throttles the child. A homosexual — possibly even a “happily” married one — is suddenly confronted with public awareness of his abnormal outcroppings. His position, his job, his very life is at stake. He blows his top. He has three choices. He can kill himself, jill his discoverer, or submit to blackmail.

In the loneliness that cloaks a homosexual that places him basically apart form his fellow, he scarred soul calls out for company. So his inclination is to surround himself with his like. Homosexuals travel in packs, as do most divergents from an accepted status.

It is all well to say that a man must live his own life and in a manner which best suits him, but in government which is operated for the greater good of the greatest number a dissenter from accepted behavior is a great liability. The drunkard, the boss who chases every stenographer, the sexual degenerate or homosexual all have a gaping chink in the behavioristoc armour. This leads almost invariably to erratic action, neglect of job, and even to blackmail. Always to blackmail.

When a man or woman is susceptible to easy blackmail, he is a tremendous risk in a position of trust. I know the story of the highly-placed State Department executive who crowded the lists with so many homosexuals that 91 resignations of firings have recently resulted. His appointees surrounded themselves with their appointees, and on down the line. What you have finally is a corroded organization which can be bribed, bulled or blackmailed in the easiest possible fashion.

Homosexuality has figured, off stage, in one of our traitorous operations. Homosexuality and similar irresponsibility has weakened us all over the world through the State Department’s calm acceptance of abnormality. A great deal of the trouble we are in, internationally, can be laid to the tolerance of that kind of weakness in a service which should be above reproach. You can say that the queer ones are pathetic and deserve a right to pursue happiness in most businesses but you don’t need them in positions of heavy trust. I have some case histories tomorrow.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS:
J. C. Leyedecker: 1874. At the turn of the century, men’s shirts were sold with detachable collars, and New York’s Cluett, Peabody & Co. and their advertising agency launched one of the most successful advertising campaign for Cluett’s line of Arrow collars. The Arrow Collar Man was the creation of Joseph Leyendecker, one of the the pre-eminent American illustrators of the era. Little did the nation’s housewives know that when they purchased those collars for their husbands with the handsome and debonair Arrow Collar Man in mind, that he was modeled after Leyendecker’s life-long partner, Canadian-born Charles Beach. By the time Leyendecker landed the Arrow Collar gig at the turn of the century, his work was already making regular appearances on the covers of the Saturday Evening Post, a relationship that would last for 44 years. Meanwhile the handsome Beach would turn up for Leyendecker’s illustrations in ads for Kuppenheimer Suits, Interwoven Socks, Pierce-Arrow automobiles, and wherever style and class were called for.

J.C. Leyendecker

By 1914, Leyendecker was financially secure enough to by a large home in New Rochelle, NY for himself, Beach, and Leyendecker’s brother and sister. The parties which Leyendecker and Beach hosted at their home became important important social events as Leyendecker became acknowledged as one of the country’s great illustrators. But with the stock market crash of 1929 and the onset of the great depression, Leyendecker’s high-society style lost favor among advertising agencies. Cluett, Peabody & Co. dropped him in 1931 as the company had stopped making collars in favor of completed shirts. By 1936, the Saturday Evening Post cut back on their commissions for his covers. World War II brought something of a respite, with contracts for war bond posters, but that work would mark the end of his output. He died in 1951, survived by his sister and Beach. A really great monograph of his illustrations was published in 2008 by Abrams.

(By the way, I know that Leyendecker’s work is a favorite of Timothy Kincaid’s, who often turns to  Leyendecker’s artwork to illustrate his holiday posts. It occurred to me late last night after I wrote this that I should have offered him the chance to write this birthday post. Timothy, feel free to add whatever you think is important in the comments, and hopefully next year we can better do J.C. justice.)

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).

This your open thread for the day. What’s happening in your world?

Comments

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Charles
March 23rd, 2012 | LINK

Robert Ruark’s column makes some odd sense in the context to the time when being considered homosexual was abnormal and those who were active homosexuals could indeed be blackmailed. Thank goodness in today’s time you can be open about your sexual orientation and blackmail is no real threat. Especially if you you are out of the closet. In fact if you are even gay and feel comfortable in the closet, today most people don’t really give a darn.

Timothy Kincaid
March 23rd, 2012 | LINK

Not at all, Jim, you did a splendid summary of Leyendecker’s life. Next year perhaps we’ll add a bit about his rather astonishing level of contribution to cultural imagery.

Regan DuCasse
March 23rd, 2012 | LINK

Leyendecker’s work influenced other artists and certainly his sleek style and brush work was so easily identifiable to millions.
I had a commission work project to do for a well known actor recently, and looked to my own book on Leyendecker and his work for inspiration.
My project was water color renderings of men’s designer suits.

Leyendecker and Beach were one of the handsomest couples of note in their time.

Sometimes, I can only imagine what great contributions can be made, if the factions constantly throwing up barriers would get out of the way. They never consider what’s been lost, and what could be gained.
Which is precisely why the educational system needs to catch up and teach young people about the contributions of gays and lesbians.

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